Friday, May 9, 2014

She Shares Truth: Commissioned Moments

I love that She Reads Truth has asked us to talk about "Commissioned Moments" (rather than big mission trips or other such things) based on the verses in Matthew 28:16-20, which are often called The Great Commission.

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There was a time when I was in college, when I suddenly noticed that the Christians I'd been around talked almost exclusively about The Great Commission as if it meant to go away from where you were to spread the gospel.  Suddenly, after encountering teenagers here in the US who had never even heard the name of Jesus, I realized it is absolutely not just about going elsewhere.  It's also about staying right here (we are part of "all nations") and listening for that still, small voice that says "Speak now, here, my child."

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During my last two years of college, I was taking full-time classes, and working two part-time jobs, which added up to almost full-time hours - we're talking full schedule from 8am-8pm every day.  I was busy.  It was not necessarily easy or fun, but I did it, and mostly successfully with a smile on my face.  I loved my major and both of my jobs.

One afternoon, a girl from my major, with whom I had taken multiple classes, walked up to my desk at work and said something along the lines of "Esther, I've decided that I need to get a job, because you are always so happy, and I'm just sure it's because you have this job."

Would you believe, friends, that I just looked at her and said "I think that's a great idea!"
My job, after all, was to connect students who wanted jobs with employers who wanted to hire them...

I didn't even say anything about the true source of joy in my life - Christ and his Helper within me.

When she left my office, I was devastated.  I knew I had missed out on a fantastically clear calling from the Lord.

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To a certain extent, I still carry regret from that experience, but ever since that day, I have tried to live more with an open ear and eye on what the Lord would have me do.

I have tried to bring him into every conversation I have.

"Tried," of course, is the operative word here.  I fail more times than I succeed, but I am continually encouraged by the multiple scriptures which tell me that God is more powerful than I, and He will accomplish His purposes, whether or not I listen to every little command He gives.

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But oh, the pay-off when I do listen.  He is a wonderfully giving and loving Father through our obedience, and even our disobedience.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Small Town Saturday: Picnic Edition

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My family and I recently decided to try out a new picnic spot.  We headed out to Lake Naconiche, which has been in the works for as long as I can remember.  It is now a thriving fishing destination, but picnicking?  Not so much.

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When we discovered that was not going to work out, we headed up to the ever-reliable arboretum at the University.  This is a trusty spot we've frequented for many years, which boasts plenty of seating spots and spring blooms.  In fact, the arboretum is in bloom practically all year round, but I'm particularly partial to it in the Spring.

The arboretum is generously populated with pines to give shade to the plants that live there, and the humans who visit.  This makes me quite happy.

One of my favorite things about East Texas is the gorgeous forest full of Pines.

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One of my least favorite things about East Texas is the gorgeous forests full of Pines.

Yep.  You read that right.  I love 'em and I hate 'em.  They are by far one of the most beautiful species of tree I have ever come across, but I am so so so allergic to the pollen, and I'm just miserable for most of the Spring time as a result.  I clearly haven't tried too hard to escape the misery, though...

Nacogdoches is pretty proud of it's plant life, and I can't say that I blame it.  Azaleas are the undisputed favorite, and I can say that I blame that.  Wait, it doesn't work very well to turn that phrase around like that, but you know what I mean.

Azaleas have just never been my personal favorite flower, though they probably should be since they're apparently impossible to kill, and I pretty much have the opposite of a green thumb...

I just really like more delicate, less in-your-face plants.  Take. for example, the plant commonly called the "Wild Azalea" around here.

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I may be wrong, but I don't think it's actually related to what we call an azalea at all.  Sort of like how we call a "Tulip Tree" by that name, even though it's not related to a Tulip at all.  Somebody *ahem* maybe an Abt? *ahem* correct me if I'm wrong, please.

The Wild Azalea is really a diminutive tree with tons of blossoms in little circular sprays all over it.  They are just lovely plants, and come in a great array of colors.  Someday I'd like to have them all over my backyard.

Well, let's get back to the subject at hand - the Arboretum.  Our arboretum has an entire section called the Azalea Garden which really has much more than just Azaleas, and is truly wonderful all throughout the year, but imagine my joy when I discovered that the section across the street from the Azalea Garden is populated by wild azaleas, and other such woodland plants that suit my fancy much better than the big, showy ones of the Azalea Garden.

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I took the opportunity to practice with Manual focus on my camera, and am feeling a little better about my photography skills again.  Every photo on this post is completely unedited, and I am semi-happy with all of them.

Also?  If you're lucky enough, upon arriving at the Arboretum, you may get to park next to one of these...

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Probably the closest I'll ever get to one.

Any suggestions for Small-Town Saturday?  Anything locals or non-locals are interested in seeing featured here?  I welcome your input.