Feb 9 2014

Finding Contentment In Any and Every Season

_DSC1497I could not begin to count the number of times I have heard in recent days the words, “I’m ready for spring.”  Here in western Kentucky we have had, like much of the United States, quite a winter.  We’ve had a lot of snow, ice, and sub-freezing temperatures.  The longer the winter goes the more complaints I have heard about this most unfavorable season.  Some whine “I’m tired of all of this snow and ice” while others wish winter “would just go away and leave us alone.” I heard someone say “You can bet I won’t complain about the heat this summer after this.”  If I was a betting man, I’d wager this person will still complain about the heat come August.  That’s just the way we are.  When it comes to arctic blasts and tropical heat waves we seldom seem happy.

_DSC1403I happen to enjoy winter a lot.  As I get older the extreme temperatures are a bit more painful and apparently I am not as sure on my feet as I once was, but still it is a wonderful time of the year.  In places like I live winter offers us beauty you cannot enjoy any other time of the year.  With the leaves off the trees you can see things as you drive down the road that you cannot see when the foliage is full.  It’s almost like shades have been drawn back so that we can see what we’ve been missing. In winter the birds come more frequently to my feeders and if it snows you can count on a good show from them all day long.  When there’s snow on the ground you can see the tracks of the various critters that have visited your yard and you may even be surprised by what creature a certain set of tracks belong to.  In winter you will likely view wildlife that are not present other times of the year.  I’ve been photographing short-eared owls quite a bit the past month.  It is my understanding that they will not be here once winter has passed.

Winter’s cold, its snow and ice, also causes most people to slow down a bit.  This is quite conducive to helping us pay more attention to our surroundings.  When I slowed down this past week I found many wonders through the viewfinder of my camera.  Using a macro lens I discovered beauty and things to marvel at that, once again, will not be available to me once the cold weather has passed.  Some may wish winter’s demise or spring’s early arrival but I, for one, am grateful to God for the wonders and beauty of winter.  I feel incredibly blessed to have seen the things I have in recent weeks.

_DSC1550Upon reflection, I think that our general discontent with the weather is a sign of an even greater discontentment.  It seems like far too many people spend their time wishing their life away.  They’re always hoping for a better day to come.  There’s certainly nothing wrong with hoping for better days but the fact is none of us have any guarantee of tomorrow and if we spend all of our time wishing for better days we may very well miss the wonders, miracles and beauty of today.  I suggest we quit complaining about the weather and make the most of today.

The apostle Paul once wrote, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” (Philippians 4:12)  Perhaps we should make it our goal to be  content in any and every season.  That contentment will not only make us happier individuals but may well enable us to see far more of God’s handiwork than we are currently seeing.  Finding contentment and seeing more of God in Creation are certainly worthy goals to pursue.  Wouldn’t you agree?

–Chuck

(I took each of the pictures shown here last week in Henderson County, Kentucky.)


Apr 7 2013

The Discipline of Thanksgiving

flowerThere is a daily devotional book called “Jesus Calling” that appears to be quite popular.  Two different people have given me copies of this book.  The author is Sarah Young and she claims that the messages were given to her by Christ to be shared with others.  I have to confess that I tend to be skeptical when people make claims such as this but I also have to admit as I’ve read these daily entries the last couple of months there have been numerous times I felt the words were indeed divine.  Yesterday’s reading is a good example.  It concerned  thankfulness.  The reading begins: “Bring me the sacrifice of thanksgiving.  Take nothing for granted, not even the rising of the sun.”  It then goes on to talk about how Eve lost her thankful heart when she began to desire the forbidden fruit found in the Garden of Eden.  The point is made that when we focus on and desire what we don’t or can’t have we usually lose our sense of gratitude.

Pacific Coast sunset 609The writer then says, “When you focus on what you don’t have or on situations that displease you, your mind becomes darkened.  You take for granted life, salvation, sunshine, flowers, and countless other gifts from Me.  You look for what is wrong and refuse to enjoy life until that is ‘fixed.’  When you approach Me with thanksgiving, the Light of My Presence pours into you, transforming you through and through.  Walk in the Light with Me by practicing the discipline of thanksgiving.”

These are words I needed to hear.  I’d be surprised if you didn’t need to hear them, too, for it truly is difficult for us to remain grateful for God’s many blessings when we fix our gaze or that which we don’t or can’t have.  We will experience much more peace and joy in life if we can learn to focus on what we do have, not what we don’t.  The apostle Paul said he had “learned to be content whatever the circumstance.” (Philippians 4:12) It would be nice if we could learn to do the same.

_CES1915The words from this daily devotional also remind us that living with an attitude of gratitude will open our eyes to all the blessings that surround us.  We won’t take for granted the sun, the flowers, the budding trees, the birds singing around us or the grass growing at our feet.  God’s blessings literally surround us every day but if  our minds are darkened by ingratitude we’ll miss these blessings.  What a shame that would be!

I suggest we take the words from this devotional reading to heart.  Let’s all strive to walk in the light of God’s presence and practice daily the discipline of thanksgiving.  We have nothing to lose by doing so and everything to gain.

–Chuck

(I took the top image at Cypress Gardens in South Carolina, the middle image somewhere along the coast of California, and the bottom image at Redwood National Park.)