Saturday, February 16, 2019

Murals



I'm also a big fan of murals, painted by local artists on sides of buildings.  There are so many kinds - whimsical (like the one above in Flagstaff, Arizona), beautiful, historical, and just downright fun.  I love them all - and its even more fun to interact with the  painting.  I hope you'll enjoy a few of my favorites:


There were many wonderful murals in Gruene, Texas


I could almost smell the fragrance of the flower in New Braunfels, Texas


You might think this was in Switzerland, but it's in Greenville, SC


Larry's helping the lady with her baby in Dalles, Oregan - good job, Lar!


Here is a most interesting picture of camels being ridden across the desert
in Barstow, California.  It seems that back in 1857, the powers that be decided
it might be a good idea to use camels to carry freight across the desert.  


I'll end with this beautiful tiger painted on the outside wall at the Celestial
Seasoning Tea Company headquarters in Boulder, Colorado.  

Aristotle wisely said, "In all things of nature, there is something of the marvelous." 

The Psalmist knowingly spoke of God as being the author of all that marvelous nature:
  "Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands" 102:25.
  "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork" 19:1.
  "When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him" 8:3-4.



Saturday, February 9, 2019

Signs and Street Names



Along with license plate messages, I also get a kick out of unusual - and sometimes bizarre - street names and signs.  The above sign was in a window in Cottonwood, Arizona.  For some reason, that area of the country is big into alien activity, so I thought the sign had a double meaning.  Not only would we be welcome, but aliens are welcome as well.

Just for the fun of it, here are a few street signs I found particularly interesting:

Cowboy Street in Blanding Arizona

 Silver Saddle Avenue   /   Buckboard Trail   /   Last Chance Road
     – all in Flagstaff, Arizona

Surprise Street in Searchlight, California

Mud Springs Road and Bloody Basin Road in Prescott, Arizona

Ax Handle Canyon in Nevada   /   Sleepy Hollow Road, Taylorsville, NC

Frogbend Road, Yadkinville, NC

Two Notch Road, Columbia, SC

Crooked Mile Road, in Granite Falls, Washington

Coal Creek Parkway, Bellevue, Washington

    I for one, would NOT want to live on a street called "Bloody Basin!"


Then, there are the signs that tempt our tastebuds and make us smile (:


A sign in front of a bakery in Apex, North Carolina


A sign in the window of a Macaron shop at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas

This is just a fun post, done for chuckles and and smiles.  Hope you had a bit of both.  Now, go out and enjoy a cupcake or macaron!







Saturday, February 2, 2019

License Plates


I get a kick out of looking at car's personalized license plates.  A few years ago, I claimed the license plate above and I was so happy to have it as a sort of message to be seen on my car.  Of course, it does make me more aware when I'm speeding, because I want to be a good testimony for the cause of Christ, so I try to keep it "not too fast."

There are times when I'll get out of my car in a parking lot and someone will comment on my license plate - always in a positive way, so far.  One instance was just last week when I went to the jail to do some volunteer work.  When I got out of my car, a young woman who'd been in the car behind me was getting out of her car as well.  She pointed to my plate and said, "Thank you for that."  I'm always thrilled when the message on the plate touches a heart, so I smiled and we started a conversation. 

The young woman was stressed about a situation with a friend who was an inmate.  I talked with her a bit and tried to encourage her.  I was thankful that a simple license plate had opened an opportunity to help someone.  God so often works in mysterious ways.  It's really a beautiful thing!

In addition to having my own happy license plate, I enjoy "collecting" phrases on other car's plates.  Here are some of my finds along the roadways.  Hope you'll get a chuckle from them:

 SKEPTCL        OOVRIT          SAYESIR               LVS MONY
LADY J2U        SLOLIFE        LIVFR2DA             HIT RD
BTR DAYS        HNCHO3       NOT PLAYN          HOOS NO1
GO CRY            EVL WMN 
    That last plate is scary to me.  I don't think I'd advertise that attitude!

 Occupations
GOTMYAR  (on landscaping truck)     SEL HOME    TU-TER  RTCANAL       TREE911

 Sporty plates
WHOL N1      4HOOPS      EYE GOLF      R8DRFN

HEKPME      HIS HAND      EPH 4-5       RIZUP        STJOHN3
SAY AMEN      JNT-HE1R      GDWRKZ       GZGLRY       JUS BLSD
BLESSNG        GODS TME     GD GRCE        AMAZN GRC





Thursday, January 24, 2019

Butterflies


Butterflies are surely one of God's most beautiful and amazing creations.  They are so fragile, yet they have such a vital purpose on the earth.  The butterflies and moth in this post all lived in the butterfly house at the Life Science Museum in Durham, NC.  My grandkids delight in going into this warm butterfly sanctuary - and I do to!

I wrote that these butterflies "lived" in past tense, because, sadly, I took these pictures in July last year and so, these beautiful little creatures will have passed on by now.  You see, butterflies have a very short life span.  The average lifespan of an adult butterfly is 20 to 40 days.  Some species of butterfly only live for three days. 


A short poem called Time, by Rabindranath Tagore, reads:  "The butterfly counts not months but moments and has time enough."  What a profound statement!  A butterfly that lives for three days has slightly over 4,000 minutes to perform its entire life purpose - yet - it "has time enough."


Although its life is short to our viewpoint, the butterfly does not frantically rush about trying to accomplish as much as possible.  Rather, this dainty creature gently flutters its wings, flitting from flower to flower, unhurried - quietly doing the job for which it was created.  And what beauty this little darling gives to the world along the way!


What about us?  The Bible reminds us that our lives are short in the scope of eternity.  In James, we're told: "For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away" 4:14.  And in Psalms 144:4, David writes, "Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow."

Such reminders shouldn't alarm us, but rather cause us to take the wise advice of Moses, who wrote, "So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom" 90:12.  If the little butterfly has time enough, then we do too.  God created each of us with a separate purpose and He gives to us the time necessary to complete that purpose.  When our vapor vanishes off the earth, we want to echo the words spoken by Jesus when He said, "I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do" John 17:4.


This large, colorful beauty is actually a moth, but moths have their purpose as well. The butterfly - and the moth - bring glory to God, their Creator, during their short life journeys because they faithfully perform the duties for which they were created. 

Like the butterfly, we are beautiful creations with a purpose. Let's live that purpose for Him and we too will have time enough.


Saturday, January 19, 2019

God's Spotlight


A couple weeks ago, I was sitting at the breakfast table, spending time with God.  It was a rainy, cloudy morning and I was feeling a bit down and stressed.  As I looked out the window, all of a sudden, sunshine burst through the clouds and lit up my backyard with a golden glow.  My tears turned to smiles as I recognized God's, "Good morning, my child.  Know you are loved!"

One tree at the back of my yard seemed to glow.  It stood out from all the other trees.  One side looked like it had been painted a fluorescent greenish color that shone in the sunlight.  I look out that window ever morning and I had never seen that color on the tree.  I recognized that God was particularly pointing out that tree to me and impressing a message on my heart (Thank you, Lord!).

The bright green on the tree is some sort of lichen that was reflected in the bright sunlight.  I felt God saying to me, "You see that lichen?  It lives off of the tree.  If it falls off the tree to the ground, it dies.  It gets it's life and nourishment from the tree.  It grows and thrives attached to the tree."

I was reminded of the verses, "Without Me, you can do nothing," and "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  Like the lichen, I need to stay attached to the Lord in my daily life, for it is He who nourishes my soul and gives me strength to do the things I need to do.

By this time, I was praising God and enjoying the assurance that He is right there with me - always.  We are so blessed to have such an almighty Father God Who keeps the universe spinning smoothly, yet cares enough to shine a beam of sunlight on a particular tree, at a particular moment and impress His needy child with the assurance that He cares about every detail of her life.

Thank you, Lord, for such an all-encompassing love!



Saturday, January 12, 2019

Grace of God




I wrote about Grace in an earlier post (sola gratia - Latin for grace alone), but grace is such an inexhaustible subject - we can never fully capture the wonder of it.  The grace of God surrounds us on every hand.  He tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:9, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness."

In her Bible study, Entrusted, Beth Moore writes, "Grace is the divine means by which God makes Himself everything we need to utterly abound."  Ponder that truth for a moment.

When I read the section Beth wrote on grace and all its wonders in our lives, I was so overwhelmed with it all, I started weeping.  As I continued thinking about it, I imagined grace like a gentle rain on the thirsty ground of my heart.  I soak in its refreshing, healing touch and I'm surrounded by the warm, secure feeling of a heavenly hug.  I smile through my drying tears and rest in a joyful feeling of peace (:

The God of all creation works in such mysterious and wonderful ways to help us see/find that needed grace for whatever it is that we're going through.  We tend to try and take care of our needs in our own strength - it's human nature.  That's why Paul reminded his protege Timothy, "You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus" 2 Timothy 2:2.  Strength and grace come from God, not from our selves.  That's something we have to remind ourselves of and to deal with on a daily basis - but, God has grace for that too.

I'm using a picture I took of stained glass from Christ Episcopal Church in New Bern, NC.  What greater evidence of grace is there than the cross of Christ.  Everything about Jesus life and death and sacrifice, and God's pursuit of mankind is permeated in grace.  We can't even comprehend the depth and width of such grace.  We can, however, fall on our knees in praise and thanksgiving to the One who offers this free and generous gift of grace to all who believe. 

Just a few thoughts this morning on the wonder, sufficiency, and joy of the grace of God.

Amazing Grace, O how sweet the sound! 


Friday, January 4, 2019

The Starry Hosts


Gazing up at the night sky, with bright white dots twinkling like diamonds across the black velvet expanse, we stand in awe of such a grand display.

As children we used to chant, "Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might have the wish I wish tonight."  It was silly, but fun.  Seeing stars sparkling in the sky has always been special.  These days, stars are even more meaningful to me.

I always knew God created the stars along with everything else, but when I read about Him actually breathing them into the sky, I was blown away by the image of such an amazing event. 
  
 "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, their
starry host by the breath of  his mouth" Psalm 33:6 NIV.

And on top of that, there was a time during creation "When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy" Job 38:7.  Stars singing, you ask, really?  Why not!  A God who is capable of creating everything there is, can certainly cause His stars to sing.  The symphony of stars and angels singing together must have been the most incredible music ever heard!

 
My youngest granddaughter enjoys "touching the stars" during a visit to the Children's Museum last year.  People are often told to "reach for the stars," meaning to be the best they can be in life.  God wants us to be the best we can be and tells us we, "... can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" Philippians 4:13.
 
God used an especially bright star to announce the birth of His Son Jesus. The picture below shows another granddaughter (some years ago) at Chrysler Museum viewing a Thomas Cole painting featuring that famous Bethlehem star.  Once again, we see angels singing praises to God as they joyously announce the birth of Christ to the shepherds.
 


As we begin this new year of 2019, we want to remember that amazing moment when the stars and the angels sang together, praising God with all their abilities.  Let's join them as we step into a new year.  Let's determine that our lives will be a song of praise to our great and holy Father God, who has promised to give us all the strength we need through His Son Jesus Christ.

All praise King Jesus!


Photo:  first photo is stained glass at Christ Church in New Bern, NC