Walking in Sunshine

Kim Gossling over at Chronic Conditions and Life Lessons nominated me for the Sunshine Award a good while back. We share a lot in common as mothers who have had to “manage” a condition in a child. We both tend to look toward the positives and lessons of faith and family that come from our experiences. Kim and I both love photography of flowers, wild life and share our faith in a God who is larger than the obstacles we face.

The Sunshine Award is for “positively and creatively” inspiring bloggers. It is definitely my goal to be positive. We are all faced with enough negatives each day as it is.  I’m constantly working on the “creative.” This process of blogging has actually stirred a passion for photography that is borderline addictive! Yet my new passion has also revealed so much through a different perspective that fuels my faith and stirs passion to share what I see with others.

Kim has my sincere thanks for is inspiring me!  In accepting this award here are ten things about myself. A few bloggers have asked me to share a bit more so here goes…

I am an introvert, I know you probably can’t tell from some of my comments on your blogs but it’s true!

I am officially the cat lady on the corner. Not really officially but I figure my stray porch cats earn their keep by keeping mice and snakes away (see next post). I also have a black indoor cat  named “Lucky.”  DSC_7107 (2)

I don’t like crowds (which may have something to do with being relatively short and unable to see when I’m in them!)

I’ve been married over twenty years to the hubby I met my last year in college.

Chocolate is therapy.

My mother and I were spared from a head on collision with a semi-truck. Traffic literally (in slow motion, just like the movies) parted like the Red Sea on I-475  outside of Atlanta. My mother had been praying to know God was with her. After that experience I told her to please stop praying for that.  It was clear He was and my heart couldn’t take much more!

I am the only person in my immediate family (not hubby’s) who did not pursue teaching as a profession. 

My mother’s maiden name, Shinholster, is German. My maiden name, Finley, is Irish.  My married name, Raphael, is French. Go Figure!

I am named after my mother, Kay. I was nicknamed  “Little Kay” before I was born and my father shortened it to Lilka. While my mother was in recovery someone let him sign the birth certificate.

I’m very grateful you’ve taken the time to read stop by and read this today!

My nominees for The Sunshine Award are











These blogs make my day a little brighter and I suspect they will do the same for you!

If you choose to accept this award, the “rules” are that you post the award on your site (you can create an awards page if you like), tell ten things about yourself  and nominate ten other blogs.  There is no pressure from me to “accept” this award. I do think they are a great way to expose bloggers to great reads they may not find on their own.

May you read and write where the Son/Sun shines on you!

“But the path of the just [is] like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.” Proverbs 4:18 NKJV


































Perpetuate Peace!

 “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification,” Romans 14:19 NIV.  

In this verse, Paul was speaking to Christians who were debating dietary restrictions. Paul saw their argument as insignificant, teaching them instead that God’s kingdom is more than food or drink and is of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

How many times do we get bogged down in nonsense? Sometimes we are so determined to be right that we fail to realize when an argument is irrelevant to what’s really going on!

We often get caught up in details (or distractions) and fail to see the bigger picture. Paul teaches that we should make every effort to be peaceful and do what leads to “mutual edification.” We are implored to build one another up, not tear each other down.

We can surely go to extremes to prove a point or have the last word but is that really satisfying?

Are you drawing people near to God with a peaceful demeanor, loving actions and kind words? Or do you drive people away with a compulsion to prove them wrong? Are you reluctant to even listen to what others have to say, let alone respect their opinion?

Master the art of silence. We don’t always agree with everyone but should we really jump on every opportunity to voice our disagreement? Are our words helpful? Can they change the situation? Do we choose to exploit the faults of others so we can feel better about ourselves?

Sometimes what we don’t say is more significant than what we do say. When we choose not to condemn, criticize or gossip we perpetuate peace, not chaos.

“Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body, It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell,” James 3:5-6 NIV.

Every situation does not need our commentary. How often can we reflect God’s love by keeping quiet? Instead of commenting on what other people do, what if we pray for them? How about we focus on our flaws instead of magnifying those of others?

Can you find common ground with people and build upon it? Can you choose relationships over “religion?” God commands us to love Him and our brothers and sisters.

It is easy to love God. Loving some of my brothers and sisters is indeed much harder. “My command is this; Love each other as I have loved you,” John 15:12 NIV.

“As I have loved you.” Jesus showed compassion for people. Jesus forgave the very people crucifying Him and prayed for them. Jesus didn’t cast stones. Jesus met people right where they were, imperfections and all.  It isn’t always easy to love like Jesus.

But, shouldn’t we at least try?

“Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God,” Matthew 5:9 KJV

 ***And if you thought I forgot, here are my nominees for the Inner Peace Award. These blogs provoke inner peace when I read them or the author exudes inner peace on the site.

Good Stewardship

Light and Salt

Chronic Conditions and Life Lessons

Osborne2029 (just found this one!)

Just Me Being Curious

Simply Blessed

I Give God All the Glory

I am very aware that not everyone has the same opinions when it comes to these awards. If you don’t participate, I’m not offended. I often nominate sites I suspect won’t “accept” but feel many of my readers will connect with. So to those nominated, no pressure!

I have found some of my favorite blogs in this manner and I’m very grateful for readers who have found my site and enjoy as well.

Have a great week and B Blessed! 🙂


“Jesus said to him, “If  you can believe, all things [are] possible to him who believes.” Mark 9:23 NKJV”

When Jesus was crucified and laid in the tomb, His friends and family were devastated. It looked like His ministry was over. Jesus spoke to His disciples of the very events that would take place. However, His disciples didn’t “hear” Him. His friends and family couldn’t see His death in its proper context. They only saw an ending. They had no vision for a new beginning.

How often are we guilty of that very same thing?

We often face situations in life that appear dead. Joy may be gone. There may be no light shining on a particular situation. Even though God has spoken a dream into you, you can’t see any imaginable way it can come to pass.

Abraham and Sara didn’t see how they were ever going to physically produce a child in their advanced age. They didn’t see it but, they believed.

Noah couldn’t imagine just exactly what a flood was but he obeyed and built that ark anyway.

Joseph was sold into slavery and later thrown into prison. He couldn’t from his lowest point imagine his brothers bowing down to him. Yet, Joseph held fast to his faith and his dream become reality.

There are so many more examples in God’s Word of dead situations that looked hopeless but God wasn’t done.  God had a plan. God has plans for us as well!

The above photograph is of an Oak Leaf Hydrangea. I planted it years ago in remembrance of my father. It has grown beautifully over the years but now it is crisp, dry and lifeless.  Or is it?

  hly wk 2

If you merely glanced over this plant you wouldn’t see the small buds of life breaking forth. I think one of the reasons I actually favor this plant is because it is resurrected year after year. In fact the more “dead” branches on the tree, the greater the potential for blooms.

Now if God will do that for a plant, how much more will He do for us!

Believe that God cares for YOU! Believe that your life does matter! Don’t give in to fear over faith!

Resurrection is available for us!

Dare to believe because…He’s… NOT… dead!

Worthy is The Lamb!

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”

And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever” Revelation 5:12-13 NKJV

Flaws and All!

“Every valley shall be filled And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough ways smooth; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God,” Luke 3:5-6 NKJV 

 The Cherry trees pictured above are mostly recognized for their soft fragrant blooms. However, what I find most fascinating about these trees is not their short lived blooms but rather their imperfect trunks. Even the limbs that spread out into pink and white canopies grow irregular and seemingly malformed. 

I think their true beauty stems from the fact that their rough and ill-shaped limbs can still produce something so delicate and beautiful.  Only God can take what is rough and crooked and turn it into something magnificent and breathtaking. The transformation of these trees from something sinister looking into what they are now illustrates how our Father can do the same with us. 

You see, I believe that what God does for these trees, He can do on a continual basis for you and me. Even when we have deviated from the proper path, God can still allow us to flourish, bloom and even glorify Him. DSC_2881

Our twists and turns often take us away from the narrow path that leads to Him. Even our best efforts to be spiritual, church going, or however you choose to commune with God ultimately fall short in developing us into the people we can be. Only God can make us righteous, a blessing to others and develop us into people who look outward instead of inward.   

God uses our “detours” away from Him to define and build our character. And sometimes isn’t always about the choices we make as it is how we react to the twists and turns life throws our way.  

Sometimes we do get where we want to go, just not when or how we expected to get there. Our experiences often become a reference from which we change. Hopefully, we become compassionate. Educated. Humble. Not bitter, mean or hopeless.  

Recognizing our faults and weaknesses makes us wiser because we learn we can’t do it ourselves. We need Him. God is not an accessory in our lives but a vital necessity! 

Only He can make our crooked places straight. Flaws and all, God can use us; we can glorify Him! 

We just have to remember to not let the twists and turns obscure the bigger picture. He does love us. He wants us to flourish, blossom and grow…nearer to Him. Because our God wants the absolute best for us. And that just happens to be Him.  

Though less than perfect, these trees never stop reaching up toward the Heavens. 

And neither should we. 


New Life!

“This is my comfort in my affliction, For Your word has given me life,” Psalm 119:50 NKJV 

The Word of God is essential for an abundant life. It allows us to grow and not stay where we are. You can exist without God’s Word but you won’t truly live as He intended.

God’s Word brings forth new life in us. It combats fear and despair. The Word provides a hope for tomorrow. It fuels our faith. The Word of God is our defense against the hard cruelties that we must endure in this world.

The blossoms on this pear are beautiful but short-lived. The blossoms are often celebrated, but it is actually the leaves that are vital for the growth of the tree. The leaves provide nourishment and rejuvenate the tree after the long cold winter. The leaves are the sustenance for new life just as God’s Word is for us.

Most people celebrate the beauty that comes with spring and new growth. Achievements and promotions can herald our own season of “spring.” We can make gains toward reaching a goal or realize a dream.  These things are often “blossoms” in our lives adding beauty and joy. Yet, it is God’s Word that sustains us and allows us to flourish.

Promotion and blessings come with new challenges, tests and even temptations. The Word of God offers wisdom, stability and direction. The Word promotes humility, love and charity. The Word combats pride, arrogance and greed.  Obedience to The Word prevents your blessings from overtaking you!

In this season of Lent, I have committed to spend more time in The Word. I am hopeful that my heightened awareness will continue far beyond the Easter season. I want to become so dependent on God’s Word that I can’t function without it. I want to read it until I breathe it. I want to be transformed into someone new.

God’s Word has the power to make that happen. He is faithful to me and I want to be faithful too! 

“Then I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh,” Ezekiel 36:26 NKJV 

But He said, “More than that, blessed [are] those who hear the word of God and keep it!” Luke 11:28 NKJV 

But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’ ” Luke 4:4 NKJV

I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

This weekend I was extremely fortunate to attend a reunion with some extraordinary women all of which I met in college. It had been over a decade for many and in some instances more than two since I’d seen most of them.  Yet, our love for each other appears to have actually increased as the years have gone by. 

I believe we were all surprised at the overwhelming love and fellowship we felt as the years melted away, our memories awakened and the support we felt for one another renewed.

Our joy allowed us to laugh and sometimes cry as our affection surpassed the years we’d been apart.  Some of us have experienced exceptional losses. Others are in the midst of amazing blessings. No matter where each of us stands at this point in our lives, we encourage each other very much inspired by testimonies that celebrate gains and mourn losses.  Twenty five years after our first “meeting”  we have survived and even triumphed through the decades.

The speaker for our banquet was one of our own, an exceptional woman touched by God who is walking out the vision planted deeply within her. The Sister Accord by Sonia Jackson Myles is an example of how we are to love, celebrate and encourage one another. Sonia’s testimony spoke of overcoming fear and walking by faith into the future.

Sometimes, what we believe we need, God has already provided for usSomeone who will listen, empathize, support and even pray for us is often readily accessible and often more than willing if we would only open our eyes to the people who are gifts that lie untouched before us. 

We all need a little help from time to time. A hug, a kind word, the experience of someone who has “been there” can help us along life’s journey. Sometimes when we feel we can’t make it on our own, God has already provided people in our lives to help us. Unfortunately, we often don’t recognize the people we’ve been blessed with and fail to open the door and let them in!

I believe our reunion this weekend allowed us to not only reconnect based on memories of the past but also to bind us together for whatever the future may hold.

We were reminded of the love that connects us. The years have taught us that people are important and we can never take them for granted. We’ve lost some of our sisters through the years which makes those who remain all the more precious. We’ve learned since college what life really is and how valuable a gift friendship can be.  Like a special gift wrapped up so perfectly, you have to first tear through some paper, pry open the box and work around the packaging to get to the treasure that lies within. Sometimes the love and laughter you need is readily available if only you would dare to pick up the phone, shoot someone a text or even answer an email.  

God loves us for sure, yet sometimes He extends His love for us through other people.  

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another,” John 13:34-35 NKJV 

“[Let] love [be] without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. [Be] kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another,” Romans 12:9-10 NKJV 

***Happy Anniversary Pearls of Opulence! 

And the nominees are…

My friend Eric, at Hunt4Truth.wordpress.com, kindly nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award on Wednesday. The funny thing is on Wednesday I wasn’t very inspiring. In fact, I was a mess!

Yet, Eric inspired me to get myself together and get it in gear! After a few words from him, I realized I was lacking a proper attitude. I promptly “found my mind” as my youngest child would say and was able to once again think rationally and move forward.

I often have no problem encouraging others yet my efforts to motivate myself don’t always come easy. Sometimes the encourager needs encouraging. Eric does this for me. He truly projects “love your neighbor as yourself,” as posted on his site.

In fact, one of my first “conversations” with Eric was earlier this year when I was ill and couldn’t write as regularly as I had before. He checked in with me to see if the ol’ girl was okay. He inspires me by proving kindness, thoughtfulness and consideration for others does still exist.

Eric writes on matters of the heart and mind. He challenges us to look inward at ourselves and how we interact with others.  He motivates you to look outward into those things spiritual in nature. Eric prods you to check that ego and the selfish acts that often result because of it. I am truly inspired by his blog and am humbled and flattered that he nominated me. My goal is to be as inspiring to others as he has been to me.

That said, my nominees are for Very Inspiring Blogger Award are:


Heavenly Raindrops

Deeply Rooted in Him

Simply Life In Christ Blog


This Ability Of Mine (This young lady is simply awesome)

Soul Healing Art

A View From My Summerhouse


Ann Kilter

Walter Bright

Roses Near Running Waters

Some of these writers inspire with their words.  A few inspire by the sheer beauty of their art. And a few have inspired me with their ability to overcome adversity with a good attitude, a grateful heart and a lesson learned. All of these blogs continually inspire me. And for this, I am very grateful.

I do realize that not everyone does “awards.” And that’s okay too.  This post is to thank you for your time, talents and dedication to inspiring others just like me.


The Forest and the Trees

I read a local church sign not too long ago that stated something to the effect that if we will make ourselves available, God will make us able.

Sometimes we get it into our heads that we must make a difference in some grand way. We may think we can only do something significant for God’s Kingdom or make a huge difference only when we reach the point of attaining that promotion, getting that degree, publishing that novel, or whatever abstract method of measure you may have floating around in your head.

Some may require the approval of other people before starting a ministry or stepping out into a project that God has planted in their hearts. They often have the desire to do, but not enough courage to take the first step because they cannot yet see the second.

Such, I have found is the nature of man. We are often looking way ahead to what we think we should “accomplish” first instead of making ourselves available now. Sometimes the old adage is indeed true. We can’t see the forest, for the trees. Or rather, we are so focused on the forest miles ahead of us, that we miss the trees just inches away from our face!

The good news is that we don’t have to live this way. If we simply give ourselves over to God and how He would use us, we would often accomplish far more than we ever imagined.

David killed Goliath before he became king. He didn’t wait until he fulfilled his destiny to take action for God’s Kingdom.

Paul continued to preach the Gospel while he was imprisoned. Paul didn’t wait for God to free him and then continue his ministry. Paul did what he could where he was. Sadly, many of us don’t do the same.

I missed a simple opportunity to make a difference last week because I over thought what I was being prodded to do. I was in some pain so I thought I was hallucinating. The second thought was that the woman I should aid might think I was crazy. Third, I didn’t want to draw any attention to myself in the process as there were a few people around us. In hindsight, I truly regret not doing what I now realize God placed on my heart to do right then.

I missed an opportunity to bless someone. I also missed an opportunity to witness to the people around me. Now that I think about it, why did I even care if these people thought I was crazy? I don’t even know them!

I plan to be more aware and available the next time I get that “nudge” to do something. It certainly wasn’t a life or death situation; however, the smaller things we can be obedient in now will certainly make us better suited to tackle larger matters later.

There is an old hymn with a verse that goes “I want to be ready when Jesus comes.” I’ve decided I should focus my attention on “being ready” when opportunities arise to do something for others. It may turn out to be something small or perceived as insignificant by most, but is any kind deed really small or insignificant?

I want to be ready. I don’t want to miss the occasional tree in front of me because my eyes are so focused on the forest miles ahead.

Maybe, just maybe, the next time I’ll be available so God can make me able! 

“Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say,” Philemon 1:21 NKJV

“To do righteousness and justice [is] more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice,” Proverbs 21:3 NKJV