Saturday, December 31, 2011

A New Year

Figaro wetting his whistle

It has been another long spell between blog entries.  The weather remains grim and gray, and with all the holiday activities and my busy year end schedule at work I have not had much time to come up with new photos.  But I have been taking snapshots of my humorous hounds as they have settled in for a long winter hibernation.  Not that they mind.  Laying around in a puddle of their own drool, with perpetual morning breath suits them just fine. 

Houdini waiting for dinner in his kennel

They do enjoy a nice romp in the yard once or twice a day....but with this soggy weather it is a recipe for mud splattered undercarriages and wet ears.  I honestly can't wait for the ground to freeze and reduce the muddy paw marks on the floor and the number of extra towels washed weekly from cleaning them up!

 I did read a really nice JR Miller devotional while preparing this blog entry.  And to some it may seem silly to think of basset hounds when writing about the New Year, but it actually is very fitting for the excerpt below. I will explain at the bottom how these two things relate! ;-)


By J.R. Miller:

Smudge thinks he's king
We ought never to be willing to live any year—just as we lived the last one. No one is striving after the best things—who is not intent on an upward and a forward movement continually. The circular movement is essential too, the going around and around in the old grooves, routine work, daily tasks; yet, even in this treadmill round, there should be constant progress. We ought to do the same things, better each day. Then in the midst of the outward routine—our inner life ought to be growing in earnestness, in force, in strength, in depth.

Yet there are some people whose life year by year is only a going around and around in the old beaten paths, with no onward movement. They are like men who walk in a circular course for a prize, covering a thousand miles, perhaps, but ending just where they began. Rather, our daily walk should be like one whose path goes around a mountain, but climbs a little higher with each circuit, until at last he gains the clear summit, and looks into the face of God. While we must do in a measure the same things every day—we should do them a little better with each repetition.

Now how does that JR Miller excerpt relate to my dogs, you might ask.  Well, if you have never had a hound for a pet let me tell you they are perfect examples of daily routine and circular life.  In fact, I have never known a breed of dogs that was so habit driven as a hound.  If they do it once, the idea or behavior becomes embedded in their furry noggins and they will try to repeat it for the rest of their life.

Take Figaro to the left....he learned the bad habit of tipping over my office trash can as a young pup.  He shredded paper and made a mess.  Now every he has a little timer in his brain, he lumbers into my office in the morning after his breakfast.....and tips over the trash can and roots through the papers and makes a mess.  The only upside....I don't need an electric shredder for sensitive documentation!    It really takes effort to break a hound of a habit.....but people are sort of that way too.   But when it comes to growing in grace and living a Christ centered life, I think JR Miller makes a good point for NOT being like my hounds.

Enjoy these shots of my hounds taking their evening nap all over our living room furniture.  This is likely what they will look like tonight around midnight when we ring in 2012....there is a pretty strong chance I will be in a similar repose as well.  So let me be the first to say, HAPPY NEW YEAR!   May the Lord make us better than we were as we cross into a new year.

James 4:13-15
“Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.”

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Weather Woes

 Hi everyone!  I have been realizing this week how long it has been since I posted to the blog.  I wasn't kidding when I said that gloomy November was a real dry spell for photo taking.  The weather is very soggy and that keeps this shutterbug indoors....because my equipment, like myself, is like sugar and spice and everything nice!  It would be a shame to melt in the I have been waiting for the first snowfall.  But I remember I did have some shots of the first frost from the end of October that I never got around to sharing yet. 

I have been spending more time in the kitchen baking and cooking to beat the blues with the dreary weather.  True to Ohioan form, I tend to grumble about the weather sometimes.  Especially when a day of clouds and rain stretches into several weeks.  And it must have gotten the better of some of the adults in my family, as my very handsome nephew, age 4, innocently said this week, "Well, it is God who makes the weather after all."   Out of the mouths of babes!  What a charming reminder of how a Christan should view the weather....even if you live in the Ohio Valley.

By Arthur Pink:

"He giveth snow like wool: he scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes.  He casteth forth his ice like morsels: who can stand before his cold?  He sendeth out his word, and melteth them: he causeth his wind to blow, and the waters flow."
Psalm 147:16-18

What a declaration is this! The changes of the elements are beneath God's sovereign control. It is God who withholds the rain—and it is God who gives the rain . . .

  when He wills,
  where He wills,
  as He wills, and
  on whom He wills!

Truly, then, God governs the elements!

Earth and wind,
fire and rain,
hail and snow,
stormy winds and angry seas

—all obey His omnipotent word—and fulfill His sovereign pleasure! Therefore, when we complain about the weather, we are, in reality, murmuring against God!

Let His Word speak once more:

"Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.  He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings for the rain; he bringeth the wind out of his treasuries." Psalm 135:6-7

"All things are in the hands of God, have Him for their Author, and are directed and governed by Him to such ends as are most suitable to His wise providence. Whoever complains of the weather—complains of the God who ordains the weather!"  -William Law

 As usual I had a feline companion on this quick pre-breakfast shoot.  Truth be told, I threw outerwear and  boots on over my pajamas and headed outside the minute I drew up my blinds and saw there was frost!  That is a brisk way to greet the day, let me tell you!

I also had a trio of romping hounds jumping on me!  Normally they are on their own in the morning to sniff and patrol the backyard, so they were excited to have human company.  Big Fig, the mature man of the pack, was reluctant to step onto the crunchy cold grass, so he modeled for me with a wagging tail instead.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Falling Back

Well, today we have officially fallen back onto standard time. In my family this usually is synonymous with autumn being over, and winter setting in. 

As I gaze out my window on an unusually clear November day, I see major changes in the landscape from two weeks ago when I shot the double day woodland  walk series.  Most of the leaves are now off the trees...any that remain are brownish hues that seem to blend in with the bark and twigs of the bare trees.  The grass and fields that were vibrant green two weeks ago are yellowing.....the only thing to look forward to now is a nice blanket of snow to cover it all up!

But while there may not be that many grand colors or landscapes in November's drear, I hope to be able to find some lovely aspects of this season to share.   The sunsets, although they happen in the late afternoon this time of year, offer a totally different color palette.  Also, I think the night sky is beautiful in the cold months, and I hope to try my hand at some shots that point heavenward at God's handiwork in the stars. 

But for today's post, I will fall back on some more photos from my woodland walk with my kitty, when the forest was still glowing yellow with leaves.  I also hope you enjoy the readings selected for this Lord's Day post!

By C.H. Spurgeon:

Let every tree in the forest bless the Lord, let each one yield boughs with which to strew the way before the lowly prince. Fruitful trees and all cedars, praise ye the Lord! Adown the fir trees' pillared shade let the soft murmur of praise be heard; and beneath our island's giant oaks let the glorious gospel be proclaimed. Praise ye the Lord ye elms, as peace sports adown your ancient avenues; praise him ye far-spreading beeches, as beneath your umbrageous boughs the flocks feed in plenty; and you, ye pines, for ever clad in verdure, join ye the song. 


Let not a single herb be silent, nor even the hyssop upon the wall be dumb.   

The meaning of the whole seems to be this, that wherever saints are they ought to praise God for redeeming love, whether they climb the Alps or descend into the plains; whether they dwell in the cities or walk in the quietude of the woods.

Excerpt from Charles Spurgeon’s Biography
By W.Y. Fullerton

Dr. Wayland Hoyt says, "I was walking with him in the woods one day just outside London and, as we strolled under the shadow of the summer foliage, we came upon a log lying athwart the path. 'Come,' said he, as naturally as one would say it if he were hungry and bread were put before him, 'Come, let us pray.' Kneeling beside the log, he lifted his soul to God in the most loving and yet reverent prayer. Then, rising from his knees, he went strolling on, talking about this and that. The prayer was no parenthesis interjected. It was something that belonged as much to the habit of his mind as breathing did to the habit of his body." 

Dr. Cuyler bears a similar testimony. In one of the Surrey woods they were conversing in high spirits when suddenly Spurgeon stopped and said, "Come, Theodore, let us thank God for laughter." That was how he lived. "From a jest to a prayer meant with him the breadth of a straw."

My assistant tugging my leg to get me to pet her instead of take photos! 

Our newest hound  experiencing his first autumn.  I took this photo before my walk in the woods.    Houdini seems to think that most things, from leaves to shoes to toilet paper to the kitty's house on the porch...are all chewable toys for him to play with!