Sunday, July 31, 2011

Birds n Such

 Well, as much as I enjoyed Flower Week, I am delighted to offer a couple shots from a few summers ago that I really enjoyed shooting.  I have been fortunate enough to shoot in a coastal marsh rookery in South Carolina a couple times, and I enjoy trying to get detailed shots of the herons, egrets, and other birds.  Their feathers, slender necks, long legs, and bills are just so fascinating and seemingly delicate.  I have ALOT of great shots I took at this same rookery this year, but I am going to start by sharing these two old ones first with a perfect verse for the photo below.  Enjoy!  I hope you enjoy this week's rookery photos as much as I do!!  Stay behind the lens!

Song of Solomon 2:12
The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;

Sharing the mossy marsh

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Lord's Garden

Old print I took of a garden gate in Camden, Maine
When I got my first apartment I had a little wall hanging that said, "Grow where you're planted."  Simple idea, but very nice advice for a young person starting out in someplace new, exciting, and a little (or alot!) scary.  Years later, as a Christian, I think of that little wall hanging and think about it in another way...not just bowing to God's sovereignty in circumstances but also in a deeper spiritual way.  We are either growing in the Lord's garden or out in the wilderness of the world....we are growing in the things of the world or things of the Lord.  We ALL grow where we are planted....question then becomes where are you planted?

Genesis 2:8
And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; 
and there he put the man whom he had formed.

Enjoy this excellent excerpt about being in the Lord's Garden!

By J.C. Ryle:  “The Lord’s Garden”

Song of Solomon 4:12  "A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse;"

The Lord's garden is not empty—it is always full of FLOWERS. It has had many in time past, it has many at the time present. Believers are the flowers that fill the Lord's garden.

In some things they are all ALIKE.

(1) They have all been transplanted. Not one of the Lord's flowers grew naturally in His garden. They were all born children of wrath, even as others. No man is born with grace in his heart. Every believer among the Lord's people was at one time at enmity with Him, and in a state of condemnation. It was the grace of God that first called him out of the world. It was the Spirit of Christ who made him what he is, and planted him in the garden of the Lord. In this the Lord's people are all alike—they are all transplanted flowers.

(2) The Lord's flowers are all alike in their root. In outward things they may differ, but underneath they are all the same. They are all rooted and grounded on Jesus Christ. Believers may worship in different places, and belong to different churches, but their foundation is the same—the cross and the blood of Jesus.
(3) The Lord's flowers are all at their beginning weak. They do not come to full maturity at once. They are at first like new-born babes, tender and delicate, and needing to be fed with milk, and not with strong meat. They are soon checked and thrown back. All begin in this way.

(4) The Lord's flowers all need the light of the sun. Flowers cannot live without light. Believers cannot live comfortably unless they see much of the face of Jesus Christ. To be ever looking on Him, feeding on Him, communing with Him—this is the hidden spring of the life of God in man's soul.

(5) The Lord's flowers all need the dews of the Spirit. Flowers wither without moisture. Believers need daily, hourly, to be renewed by the Holy Spirit in the spirit of their minds. We cannot live on old grace, if we would be fresh, living, real Christians. We must be daily more 'filled with the Spirit'. Every chamber in the inward temple must be filled.

(6) The Lord's flowers are all in danger of weeds. Flower-beds need constant weeding. Believers need daily to search and see that they do not let besetting sins grow on undisturbed. These are the things that choke the actings of grace, and chill the influences of the Spirit. All are in peril of this—all should beware.

(7) The Lord's flowers all require pruning and cutting. Flowers left alone soon dwindle and grow small. No careful gardener leaves his roses alone all the year round. Just so believers need stirring, shaking, mortifying—or else they become sleepy—and incline like Lot to 'settle down by Sodom'. And if they are slow about the work of pruning, God will often take it in hand for them.

(8) The Lord's flowers all grow. None but hypocrites, and wolves in sheep's clothing, and 'painted Christians', stand still. True believers are never long the same. It is their desire to go on from grace to grace, strength to strength, knowledge to knowledge, faith to faith, holiness to holiness. Visit a border of the Lord's garden after two or three years' absence, and you will see this growth. If you do not see growth—you may well suppose there is a worm at the root. Life grows—but death stands still and decays.

Fresh Cut!

I picked these fresh cut zinnias up at the farmers market yesterday...they sell lovely fresh cut flowers all summer, and most of the time I can't resist taking home a bouquet.  Cut flowers are a great luxury because you can bring the garden indoors.....for a while.  But in the end, even in water, the flowers wither and die without the soil and roots.  It reminds me of the Parable of the Sower.  And unlike the planted flower, these flowers cannot grow, cannot produce more flowers, or seeds for future plants.  So cut flowers are a nice example of our withering earthly life, as well as a nice example of how a Christian's spiritual life is quite the we are always growing when we have the Root of Jesse, the good ground, the Sun of Righteousness, and watered by the Word.

By C.H. Spurgeon:  Life Proved by Growth
Excerpt from “Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden”

“Where there is life there will be growth, and if grace be true, it will surely increase.  A painted flower keepeth always at the same pitch and stature; the artist may bestow beauty upon it, but he cannot bestow life.  A painted child will be as little ten years hence as it is now.” - Thomas Manton

What need there is to observe the wide distinction between the picture and the living thing!  Of painted likenesses of Christians we have more than enough; nor is the manufacture of portraits a difficult operation: what we want is the real thing and not the artistic imitation.  Manton saith well that growth is the test. 
Reader, how do you stand under this test?  Come, search yourself, and  see whether you are adding to your faith, courage; and to courage, brotherly kindess; and to brotherly kindess, love.  If there be no growth, it may be, nay, surely it must be, that you are not a child born into the family of God, but a pretty picture, which may adorn a room, but which cannot perform any of the actions of life.  

*Well, my assistant caught wind of my being out and about with my camera, and decided to crash the photo session because she was taking the "stop and smell the roses" part of Flower Week very literally.   She even tried to snuggle the Ball jar, which nearly tipped over... luckily I caught it before we had a mess on our paws! 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Watering the Garden

Yesterday I had to step outside and give our gardens a drink from the hose as we had a sunny hot day.  Afterwards I thought I would just grab a few snapshots as part of Flower Week.  Not the best ever, as watered flower beds tend to get muddy and the petals tend to droop a bit when soaked. But the colors and waterdrops were fun additions to the composition. I also read the following excerpt from Spurgeon which I thought was a stellar choice to go with shots from a cultivated garden.

By Charles Spurgeon:  “Christ’s Garden”

       "I have come into My garden—My sister, My bride!"   Song of Solomon 5:1

        The heart of the believer is Christ's garden. He bought it with His precious blood, and He enters it and claims it as His own.

        A garden implies separation. It is not the open common; it is not a wilderness; it is walled around, or hedged in. Would that we could see the wall of separation between the Christian and the world made broader and stronger. It makes one sad to hear professors saying, "Well, there is no harm in this; there is no harm in that," thus getting as near to the world as possible! Grace is at a low ebb in that soul, which can even raise the question of how far it may go in worldly conformity.

        A garden is a place of beauty, it far surpasses the wild uncultivated fields. The genuine Christian must seek to be more excellent in his life than the best moralist, because Christ's garden ought to produce the best flowers in all the world. Even the best is poor—compared with Christ's deservings; let us not put Him off with withered and dwarf plants. The rarest, richest, choicest lilies and roses—ought to bloom in Christ's own garden!

        The garden is a place of growth. The saints are not to remain undeveloped, always mere buds and blossoms. We should grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Growth should be rapid where Jesus is the Gardener, and the Holy Spirit the dew from above.

        A garden is a place of retirement. So the Lord Jesus Christ would have us reserve our hearts as a place in which He can manifest Himself, as He does not unto the world. O that Christians were more retired, that they kept their hearts more closely locked up for Christ! We often worry and trouble ourselves, like Martha, with much serving—so that we have not the room for Christ that Mary had, and do not sit at His feet as we should.

        May the Lord grant the sweet showers of His grace to water His garden this day!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bird's Foot Trefoil (what?)

I didn't make that name up, I promise.  It is the name of a wildflower, or wildweed, depending on you view of it.  It came from Europe to North America, and like many plants and animals not indigenous to our country they can tend to be invasive to our native ecosystem.  (My nephew grudgingly chases away European Starlings from birdfeeders every year because of their harm to native songbirds!)  But native or not, this yellow flower grows up in our field and it seemed to keep me busy behind the lens for quite some time this evening.  Here are some of the results....wildflower or be the judge. However you classify it, I think it is just one more dainty bloom of color from a loving Creator!

Upclose and personal

Interestingly the buds are red, and then they turn this vibrant yellow

Old Hymn:  “Thy Word is Like a Garden,  Lord”
By Edwin Hodder (1863)

Thy Word is like a garden, Lord, with flowers bright and fair;
And every one who seeks may pluck a lovely cluster there.
Thy Word is like a deep, deep mine; and jewels rich and rare
Are hidden in its mighty depths for every searcher there.

O may I love Thy precious Word, may I explore the mine,
May I its fragrant flowers glean, may light upon me shine!
O may I find my armor there! Thy Word my trusty sword,
I’ll learn to fight with every foe the battle of the Lord.

Trefoil mixed with some clover. Bees and bunnies unite!

** Once again, I had an assistant in the field for this photo series.  My camera strap was covered in kitty fur as she was even cuddling my monopod as she figure eight crossed around my legs.  Nice to have an experienced field kitty along though...just in case we ran across any mice!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Seeing God in the Every Blossom and Bloom

I think flowers are one of the best ways to see the hand of God.  We should always, "take time to stop and smell the roses" because I find the Lord offers a good example in those colorful delicate blooms.  Much instruction can be found in the Husbandman's creation and sustaining love for His garden.  And if He cares in such ways for all those stems and much more the cedars of Lebanon?  Christians should take great hope, comfort, and courage looking at flowers....and learn much in how they flourish in all types of climates and conditions....all with the Hand of the Lord upon them...beautiful things are possible!   

So I am going to make this FLOWER WEEK on the blog.  I am going take time this week to stop and smell the roses and stay behind the lens!  Whether it is a garden petunia or a rogue dandelion in the lawn....I am going to shoot a flower picture each day and share only flower photos this week. 

From J.R. Miller (1912)
Jesus loved nature. He saw in it—the tokens and expressions of his Father's love and care. What could be more exquisite, for example, than the thoughts of a little flower—as we find them expressed in the Sermon on the Mount? He was urging people never to be anxious. Just then, his eye fell on a lily growing in its marvelous beauty by the wayside, and he used it to teach a lesson about the care of God. God cares even for the smallest flower—and his hand weaves for it, its exquisite raiment. "And why are you anxious concerning raiment?" Thus our Lord saw in every flower which blooms, something which his Father had made and beautified, something he cared for with all gentleness. And of whatever other use the flowers are, he at least wants us to learn from them, this truth of trust, so that we shall never be anxious. The flowers never worry.