Happy Easter!

Jesus Christ has risen from the dead.  He has conquered death.

He is alive!  Happy Easter!

Easter Wishes

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God’s Valentine

God's Valentine Single?  Married?  Doesn’t matter.

Young?  Old?  Doesn’t matter.  Rich?  Poor?  Doesn’t matter.

College degree?  Didn’t go past the 6th grade?  Doesn’t matter.

God’s valentine is for everyone.

Have a sweetheart or not, you don’t ever have to be alone.  God loved the world (that includes you and me) so much that He gave his one and only Son for anyone who believes in Him.

Astonishing love!  Happy Valentine’s Day!

http://www.stephaniehalstead.com

Direct My Steps

Direct-His-Steps.  Childwalking in open field. Child with cowboy boots and cowboy hat.Late January. . . which way to head?  The year ahead will hold joys, surprises, good times, hard times and maybe sorrow.

I can plan and I should.  I am.

But my encouragement and comfort is the fact that God directs my steps.

Not a macro image, but one of my favorite photos of one of our small grandsons.

http://www.stephaniehalstead.com

Life is to be Savored

In the past two weeks it has been  a privilege and delight for my husband and I to have visits from both of our “big” sisters. Each has played tremendously positive and significant roles in our lives.  Lydona and Cindy both enjoy “going to tea” so this blog post is dedicated to them.  Included are some some images I recently shot of teacups."Savor Life".  Photos of multiple teacups..

They have taught us to savor life."A Touch of Elegance".  Teacups on rose background.

Sometimes life can be sipped like a cup of tea.  Other times it is like the quick big gulp you take as you race from one thing to the other!

Some events this week have reminded me to savor life with those I love, whether it is in the times of delight and fun together, or in times of stress and crises.

Last weekend we visited the Titanic exhibit.  http://www.titanictheexperience.com/orlando/ Learned  a good bit that I did not know.  As I looked at the various exhibit items and photos I was reminded that this was not just a historical event that Hollywood has made into a movie more than once.  These were real people whose lives were forever changed by one event.

Life is to be savored today.

The Little Things

Photo of child's handBetween two chubby young fingers a small blooming weed is grasped and then presented to me.  We have been running and playing in the park.  The sun is bright.  It is hot.  A cool drink of water would be a welcome treat.  The gift is small.  The light in the child’s eyes is loving.

I am reminded that little gifts in life are often the ones that cheer my heart the most, especially when they are unexpected: a smile, an encouraging word, a hug, someone who takes the time to stop and pray with me concerning a burden I am carrying, a thank you that is verbalized.

Little things and little gifts . . . sometimes they are the ones that matter most.

Can We Just Skip the Comparison?

fiery skipper butterfly on cone flowerThe overhead sun was heating up the concrete patio on which I sat.   I waited, hoping another butterfly would land to take a sip from the pink and orange cone flower within range of my macro lens.  A Fiery Skipper butterfly, not as colorful as previous winged guests, quickly landed.   In this photo you can see his short clubbed antennae and the “elbow” in his proboscis (feeding tube) which allowed him greater flexibility in reaching the nectar he sought.  Obviously different in size and characteristics from the Monarch and Gulf Fritillary butterflies I was photographing, he was interesting in his own way.

The same evening I viewed this shot on my computer I read words posted on Facebook by a long distance friend.  She did not give specific details, but it was obvious she had been wounded by careless, hurtful words someone had spoken about her.  Ever notice that when a comparison is made someone often up ends being “less than” in some way?

It is hard to not get caught up in the comparison game.  Our culture and human nature encourage it.  We frequently compare ourselves with others whether we just dwell on it in our mind or take the next step and speak the words.

As I heard the pain in her post, I pondered why we are so eager to instantly share with the world whatever comes to our mind.  I am all for using the electronic media we have at our disposal.   However, the danger can be that it allows us to speak before we really think and consider the damage we may do in a moment of intense feelings.  You don’t have to take the time to address an envelope, find a stamp and wait for the postman to pick it up the next day.  The cooling down period to think about what we are saying has been subtracted from the equation.  We may be more electronically savvy than last year, but are we kinder too?

Another friend and I meet once a month for an uninterrupted, extended lunch at a local deli restaurant.   It is a time of being honest about where we each are in our life struggles,  disclosing practical things we are learning, laughing together, and even sometimes crying together.  I always come away encouraged!  Some months ago I heard the definition of a real friend . . .  someone in whose mouth your name is safe.  I like that!  It means being valued because you are you.

So can we just skip the comparisons that cause pain and follow the wisdom of Ephesians 4:29?

Ephesians 4:29

Good News Translation (GNT)

29 Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you.

Happy Father’s Day

"Resting in Father's Arms".  photo of chld with fatherSometimes words or pictures stick in your mind long after you have encountered them.  They become part of you, as if engraved on your heart or written in permanent ink in your mind.

This image was shot at our oldest grandson’s birthday party in April.  Noah had enjoyed playing in the backyard and splashing in the kiddie swimming pool.  Running through the spray of water from the garden hose seemed to especially delight him.

Later, for just a few moments, he rested quietly, leaning against his father’s chest.  This image reminded me that God desires the same from me.  He wants me to lean on Him and to rest in his arms, even during my busy day to day activities.  He is safe to lean on, because his character is above reproach.

It’s Father’s Day weekend.  I remember leaning on my father’s chest many years ago, watching Shirley Temple and Tarzan movies on a Sunday afternoon.  Was my earthly father perfect? No, but I know he loved me.  Is my heavenly father perfect?  Yes, and I know He loves me like no other ever can.

Happy Father’s Day!