This was such a beautiful, wonderful, delightful MINI session. I've known this couple for several years and I photographed their wedding as well. The afternoon weather was delightful for a Missouri late winter day. Overjoyed at how beautiful they are together! Precious! Just click on the images to see the larger version!
This texture is free to use. Please don't claim as your own and don't sell it! Enjoy! No strings attached! You may view it here but in order to get the big image click the file down load below!
2 Corinthians 5:7 “We live by faith, not by sight.”
As I wrote 2 Corinthians 5:7, something quickly stirred deep inside me. I began speaking (praying) to The Lord. “I am always watching for Your direction and to know Your Will. For example, when I post scriptures on Facebook I usually get more “likes” than just on my images of nature. In this way I know I’m successful in doing Your will because if I’m doing Your will I will have success and that keeps me going.” Read that line again. I was basing if I thought I was in God’s Will on my success or failure. Now, I didn’t know I was living by that idea. Didn’t have a clue that I thought that. Yes, I delve deep inside me and contemplate why I do and say and think things but this had escaped me. I didn’t realize I was basing God’s Will on my success or failure. Had not crossed my mind to even question it.
So immediately I think about what I just said to God out of the blue knowing that Jesus must have tossed that up to God for discussion. Lol. My actions, good or bad, cannot form God’s Will. That’s what I was saying to Him when you look at it closely. Yes, I turned it around but isn’t that what we do with math to make sure we know the answer is correct? We work the problem backward from the answer. In this case, if I turn it around, I can see that I was living my life thinking that my actions determined God’s Will for me instead of His heart, His knowledge, His wisdom, His love, His perfection determining His Will for me. Did my success really mean I was in God’s Will? Did my failure really mean I was not in God’s Will? Put the brakes on my heart!! Um. No. Not even close. WE LIVE BY FAITH NOT BY SIGHT. That means that things can look good and be bad. Things can appear to help you but actually hinder you. Things can seem in the physical like they are God’s Will but actually be your own will or someone else's. If that’s the case, and it is, then my success could be a bad thing and my failure could be a good thing and if my success is bad and my failure is good then are they really as they appear? Is success, success? Is failure, failure?
This blew my mind. Of course things are not always as they appear. I am not supposed to be comparing myself to anyone else to decide if I’m lined up with God’s Will. My race is not their race. Their race is not my race. God will lift me up at His time, either in this world or in the one we go to. My success is not based on physical grandness here on earth, how much praise I get or how much money I make. People cannot make me more than I am. Only God can do that. Only Jesus whom I serve can make me successful. If that means I fail in order for something bigger spiritually to go on, then who am I to wallow in that failure? Who am I to ask God why I can’t seem to overcome and conquer this or that? Who am I to question why His timing is not my own when He is perfect and His ways are perfect and He knows all, past, present, and future, and He only operates in LOVE because He IS love? Am I walking in faith or by site in my life? I’m walking in faith and my faith leads me to know that my failures don’t count me out. Not only that but my failures aren’t even failures in God’s book. They are stepping stones to where He’s leading me. What a joy it is that He gives us stepping stones. I can have joy in my failures now instead of feeling defeated or feeling fear that I’m not doing everything right. Honestly. I’m overcome with joy today that God would give me an amazing new outlook on my whole life and everything that I will ever do. I am not a failure and I can’t be made into one ever again. This is a whole new way for me to see this and I’m so thankful God handed it to me right at the right moment! I don’t need to fear that I’m not in God’s Will if I’m holding His hand and making choices that are Godly, if I’m talking to Him daily and making Him a part of my life. If I’m treating Him as my best friend and discussing everything with Him and asking Him to show me and help me understand I can’t mess up on a scale that takes me out of His Will no matter how it looks to the outside world or even to me in times in of doubt. I’m an overcomer and though I don’t understand everything in my life, I do understand that I trust God with all of me.. not just sometimes but all of the time. Jesus never leaves me. He promised us that. I’m so on top of my game today and I know that Jesus will remind me of this conversation and revelation time and time again as I grow stronger filled with more and more of Him and less and less of me.
This is not just for me friends. God doesn’t play favorites.. If He shared this with me it’s for you too and I pray that it helps you all just as much as it’s helped me and more so! =) I’m truly praying that God sends this word out and that it builds His people. Amen! xoxo
I know now what God was showing me a few days ago when He kept reminding me over and over to NOT BE AFRAID. While I waited for a calamity of some kind that I just knew I would have to overcome, God revealed through reading the bible and praying by talking with Him, that there are many things in my life that I handle a certain way based on my fear. No big event was about to happen. He wanted me to look at myself and realize why I was making choices many times that I make: the way I handle my business, my husband, my worship, the way I handle my food, my time, my work, the way I handle my life, the decisions I make. While every single choice of course in not based on fear, many are without realizing it. I’m always traveling the safe road and sticking close to what I know. I keep my mouth shut when I need to speak. I let other people decide where my life is going. I stop working on a project because I’m afraid I can’t do it well enough. I don’t make commitments because I’m afraid I won’t be able to make them happen. I could go on and on.
God is LOVE. He is not Fear. The bible is clear on this.
1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
Now the fear that is spoken of in the bible that means “respect” is not what I’m speaking of. A Holy fear that emobies awe of our Maker is not the same dark debilitating fear that we are instructed to not have. That fear is very much engrained into us as believers.
He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.”
Just wanted to clear that up. 2 different kinds of fears that not everyone understands in the English language but is very apparent to me as I read God’s truth. So hear I am knowing that I am not to be afraid. There is no fear in love and I am loved by The One Who Created the Universe!
What if I was bold as I’m instructed to be? What if I had as much faith as I claim to have and simply made every decision knowing that I had no reason what so ever to fear. I’ve asked God to lead my choices, my life, my path and to protect me from my mistakes. Don’t I believe that He loves me and honors His word!? Do I really think that others choices could harm me or my own if I’m walking with The Lord? If I’m striving to bring God glory in my choices no matter the outcome God is with me. There is no reason to fear.
Can God lie? Certainly not. Then won’t He turn every bad thing in my life to His glory and bless me? I walk by those words. My HOPE every morning is in Jesus and His Word. I cling to that hope because I know the mistakes I made the day before are gone and that God will use them for good, His good. What have I to fear in this world? This is huge people. This isn’t just for me but you all as well. I’m not special. I’m just another creation just like you and I didn’t even know I was afraid. I look way more inward than I do outward trust me, but I sure didn’t know I was living in a spirit of fear. I knew I had moments like anyone else where I felt fear and tried to overcome it but as much as I hate to admit it, I live in fear a great deal of the time and have not recognized it until this moment. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of making someone angry or them not liking me, fear of being out of control, fear of being controlled, fear of being fat my whole life, fear of not amounting to anything and not leading anyone to Christ, fear of never laughing again or singing, fear of being sad forever, fear of looking back at the end of my life and it not really counting on this earth for anything much at all, fear that I’ve hurt those that do love me, fear that I’ll never be truly loved, fear that I’m not worth anything. Yes. Lots of fears that no one really sees, thank God, but still exist deep inside me and create the life around me. The whole time I thought I was trusting God. This revelation actually shocks me. I didn’t begin to know I was afraid. I lied to myself and thought because I was bold and conquered some of those moments of fear emotionally that I was conquering fear itself, never thinking about the choices I was making based on that fear and never thinking of the fact that time after time that fear returned in different situations stemming from the same source. The only thing that will conquer fear is to believe God’s word, not portions of it, but God’s whole word. Placing my faith, trust, in God’s love can conquer every fear I’ve ever known or could dream up. I thought I was battling myself. I’m battling fear and fear is of the devil. This is a spiritual battle and I must be armed with The Word of God, period, to overcome it.
This revelation into myself is a gift. It’s a correction and I need correcting. I do not want to hit the same brick wall my whole time here on earth. I want to grow as a Christian and become the best possible me so that I can help others as well one day. Getting rid of this fear is what will help set me truly free in this life time as well. I know I’m free spiritually but I want to be free physically too. Fear holds us back. I don’t want to be held back any more. God has great things for me to do. If I won’t step out of my box where I feel secure, how can I do what God wants me to do? I can’t.
How good God is to reveal this. Let’s agree as brothers and sisters to no longer live in fear but in boldness knowing The Lord holds us in His hand and there is nothing to fear. Even death has been concurred. Nothing can win against us if our faith is in Jesus Christ. Love conquers fear. God loves us.
John 16:27 Jesus is speaking… “No, the Father Himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.”
I find confidence to overcome my fear in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought (fear is a thought, it may become an emotion but it starts with a thought) to make it obedient to Christ.”
I will overcome these fears and so will you. Paul goes on to explain in 2 Corinthians 10:7 “You are looking only on the surface of things.” I must look down into the Spiritual things. The surface things are of no use folks. What appears as one thing can be something completely different and we must trust that God is in control of our life if we allow Him to be. Paul then goes on to instruct us to remember we belong to Christ.
The knowledge of who we are – Christ’s – will give us courage.
I’m posting this without the normal fear that I would have. I usually fret about how long a message is and how there are so many non-Christians who might hate me for sharing this and of course my fellow Christians who would surely think by what authority does she speak.. who is she that she thinks she can share anything with us? Crazy thoughts but real fears.. I’ve met many people over the years at different times that think these things of me. I never want to offend but if I live my life that way and tiptoe around these topics, I could never share God’s word or His truth. I can’t be afraid of that any longer. Ever. Salvation is more important than anyone’s opinion of me and walking in that Salvation is vital to sharing Jesus with the world. No fear. I trust God that this is needed by someone besides me. I know it helped me a thousand fold and for years to come for God to share it with me as I wrote it. I am so blessed by His love and commitment to me and to you all as well. Every day we will overcome by clinging to His LOVE and MERCY and GRACE!
Have a great non-fear filled day! Let your light SHINE!
This set of birds was taken from a photo I shot. Large. 2278 pixel ABR brush. An example of the brush at work in the image below. I of course shrunk it but you can see how clear the image is. Very nice brush. Yours to use freely. No strings attached. To download the large png to form your brush out of simply click the file below. :)
There are two different textures in this blog. The Multi Light Texture and a Green Light Texture. They are yours free to use. Don't claim as your own and don't sell them in any way! No strings attached. Wanting to pay it forward :) simply click the files under each image to down load the big ones! - Love, shannon
Ephesians 2:19 “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household,”
We are members of God’s household. How amazing is that? I’m adopted. I know the value in this. I know what it’s like to not belong. I had no home to call my own. Where other children that I knew, had a place to come back to that they called home, I did not. I had no idea what it felt like to have that type of safety and love. Foster home after foster home, I was taken out of and placed into. I clung to my sister who moved with me until I was 5 and then even she was gone. I remember as far back as age 2. Vivid memories that remind me how blessed I am today. Each day, I worried that I would be taken by force from the foster home I was in. I always had a plan to keep myself safely in the home instead of being taken again, though I was a tiny child. I remember these plans even now. I longed to make each place and group of people that I stayed at my home and my family. I longed for each one to be a place where I belonged. I wanted the people to love me desperately so that they would keep me.
Amazing to me even now, is that by the time I was 6, I knew Jesus. I mean, knew Him, in the purest since of love that I may ever know Him. I would grow up and run from Him for a time trying to do my own thing before returning to Him, but as a child I knew Him and would learn to turn to him because I had no one else. Somewhere along the way I was taken to church and I recognized the love I had been searching for. I knew He would help me and I battled with being afraid. No one could tell but I realize it now in looking back. Once I knew I could cling to Jesus, every time I became afraid I sang “Jesus Loves Me”. I don’t remember anyone teaching me that song or telling me to do that but whoever taught me those words is still a blessing to me to this day. I believe with everything in me that Jesus showed me to use that song as a comfort. I think the Holy Spirit moves even with small children. I no longer feel that type of fear very often but even in my darkest nights and moments I find myself humming those wonderful words and sometimes actually singing them. They are not just children’s lyrics. I am reminded that I am loved even when it seems the world hates me and that comfort is invaluable. This song saved my sanity even in adulthood when I had gone so far from God that I was on the edge of losing my mind. He brought me back with His reassurance that He loved me at the age of 21. Always being able to return to The Lord’s love is a heart and mind saver. Now I know I don’t ever want to leave it again and I don’t have to leave it. I can turn to Him any time and I no longer want to count on myself!
So, this morning, right when I’m beginning to feel out of place in this world, right when I’m evaluating my life and seeing so many failures over the years and thinking that I’m really dropping the ball here by not taking over and just doing what I want to and pushing forward with my career, God reminds me that I’m a member of His household and that I belong to Him. Well I don’t even know how to truly express my joy and peace and calm at being reminded of this. To be a member of God’s household: the privilege, the honor, the love.
God knows every horrible thing I’ve ever done, every one of them, not just the ones I’ve been brave enough to tell. He knows my thoughts, which are not always so great. He knows my weaknesses and my heartache. He knows the hate I sometimes feel for a moment at being hurt or used or talked to so ugly. He knows everything about me and He still counts me as family… as a member of His household. There are people right now in this word that should count me as family but will not. They don’t begin to know all of my flaws and yet they have disowned me but Jesus, knowing everything, says if I’ll place my faith in Him He will keep me… I’m His.
And what’s more, in Ephesians 2:22 God says that in Christ Jesus I am being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit! I’m a part of His family and He becomes a part of me. What greater love is their?
When I was 7, my Mom let me become a part of her household. She made it official when I was 8 in court. I finally belonged somewhere. She had made the promise and commitment to love me and raise and count me as her own. No one was going to pull up in a vehicle and tell me to pack my bags ever again. No one was going to take me by the hand with tears rolling down my face and make me leave ever again. Though I’m married and am a part my husband’s household now, I still belong to my Mom. I go home often knowing that I’m loved and she and I are a part of each other and that she is my family.
I have a new 7 year old granddaughter. I’m only 39 and had a hard time thinking of myself as a Grandma. I’ve always done things early I guess. I fell in love with this child and was converted to loving the name Maw Maw and being her “other go to Grandma”! She makes my heart smile and I just want to scoop her up and keep her this age and size forever. I love how she thinks and how she handles the problems that come up. She gets to be mine through my son that I adopted basically when I married his Daddy. He married a gal we adore and they became our family as well. I adore this child as my own. She reminds me of me in a hundred ways, though she is blessed with so much more love than I ever knew until that age. She knows she belongs to all of us and to Jesus. What joy that brings me. I often watch her thinking back to the things God has brought me through. She has that same long dark hair and that same wonderful attitude of joy that I always had and something else that I notice is that she has that same attitude of determination I always felt. I couldn’t be kept down and neither can she. We may not be blood but I sure see me in her and her in me all because we love each other. That’s kinda how I picture this with God. He loves me and I choose to love Him back and He and I have become a part of each other spiritually...
I am so blessed that I get to remind you all that you belong to Him if you’ve given your life to Him, that you are His family, that you are a part of His household. We are not alone no matter what we go through on this side of Heaven. People of the world cannot fulfill every need inside of us. They just can’t. We must be filled with the love of Jesus to know wholeness and that begins by knowing who you are and where you belong and you are HIS! Be blessed by this knowledge and be whole. You are loved and you belong to Him!
This texture is free to use. Please don't claim as your own and don't sell it! Enjoy! No strings attached! You may view it here but in order to get the big image click the file down load below!
This light texture is free to use. Please don't claim as your own and don't sell it! Enjoy! No strings attached! You may view it here but in order to get the big image click the file down load below!
This Autumn Tree may help someone out. You never know when you need to add some foliage! Don't claim as your own and don't sell it in anyway as is. Free to use. No strings attached. Click the link under this image to down load the biggest version!