A Turtle

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(photo by Sherry Moore – SM Photography)

I was in my front yard this afternoon refilling my bird feeders.  I suddenly see a 17+ old teenager running down the street, past my house, and stop a couple of houses down.  I went back to my feeders because after all it’s just a teenager running down the street.  It’s what a lot of of them do here because they are athletes in school.  However, a short time later I hear a long scraping sound.  I look up.  Oh, no.

The teenager had found a large turtle and started kicking it down the road.  I watched kick it around in circles and then give a strong kick and down the road it went.  The teenager walked up to it, kicked it in circles, and another strong kick.  Trying to maintain a sense of calm I called out to the guy.  You never know these days what anyone will do when called out.  The threat of violence is always a possibility.  So, I carefully considered my words.  Did I mention that this guy’s mother was one door down from me on the other side of the street?  Yeah.  She was at her car waiting on him.

I said, “Whatcha got there?  A big ‘ol turtle?”  The teenager nodded.  I continued, smiling, “Just kickin’ ‘im down the road, huh?”  The guy shrugged his shoulders.  I then suggested, “Hey, why don’t you just leave him there and I’ll take care of him.”  The young man kicked him around in a circle, still.  I then sternly, but calmly said, “Just leave him there and I’ll take care him.”  He stopped and looked at me.  “Okay?,” I asked.  He nodded and right then his mother yelled out his name to get in the car.  He ran down to her and they left.  I let out a big breath relieved they were gone.  This particular family is known to have pretty much no respect for their neighbors.  Loud music, basketball with the thump, thump, thump into the wee hours of the morning, etc.  The police have been there a few times for whatever reason at times.  In other words, what this kid was doing was not really a surprise, but it still completely disgusted me.

While their car was still leaving I walked out to the road and picked up the turtle.  He probably weighed about 3-4 pounds.  I carried him to my garage and got my husband to come and see him.  We have a lot of turtles in our shared pond.  This little guy was actually a tortoise.  Land-dwelling.  I picked him up and placed him in a grove of trees.  I haven’t named him yet…but I am sure I will come up with something fitting later.

As a incredibly smart species on Earth we can be rather stupid when it comes to our little planet.  I could argue the case for taking care of it all day long and debates would rise up from those who firmly believe that all animals are “dumb” and do not possess emotions.  People are going to choose their own ignorances to brand their consciences.  I can’t change that.  They have to have their own revelations to overcome it.

I only want to offer a small grain of truth to anyone reading this.  It doesn’t matter if you are a Christian, an atheist, or whatever religion.  This one little nugget applies to all humans.

The animals were here first and we are supposed to have respect for all nature.

Science is in agreement with this.  The Bible is in agreement with this.  All religions…to my immediate knowledge…is in agreement with this.  The ones who are not choose not to be as intelligent as they should be or can be.

As a Christian, I view the wanton disregard for nature as not only an ignorant mind, but after they are told the truth and still continue on in their ignorance as an act of Satan in their lives.

The lack of the teaching of science regarding respect for all creatures is unacceptable.  I truly believe because of the parents not teaching their children to be kind to all of nature and the lacking in our schools to teach it is partially why there is so much violence from kids today.  We have failed our generation.  we have failed our children and our grandchildren.  We have failed Earth.  We have failed God who commands us to take care of what He created for us.

Please, if you are a parent, teach your children respect…for everyone and everything.  Teach them kindness.  Teach them to be servants who can lead others to do the same.  Teach them love for all.  Hatred for none.

God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them
        reflecting our nature
    So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,
        the birds in the air, the cattle,
    And, yes, Earth itself,
        and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.”
    God created human beings;
        he created them godlike,
    Reflecting God’s nature.
        He created them male and female.
    God blessed them:
        “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!
    Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air,
        for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.” 

– Genesis 1:26-28 (The Message Bible)

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A Crepe Myrtle Observation

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(photo by Sherry Moore with an iphone – SM Photography)

This afternoon as I walked out to my driveway it was barely sprinkling and the real rain was moving in any moment.  I looked up and noticed how much growth had returned to our crepe myrtle in just a month’s time since pruning.  This year’s cuts as well as previous years were still very evident, but out from those new growth was coming in nicely.

I got into my car which was facing the little tree and I looked at it again.  The backdrop had some some blue sky, but mostly storm clouds…today.    In the month’s time since the pruning there had been many other days of sunshine and blue skies.  The cuts were even more visible then, but growth was coming.

And the thought came to me, “When it’s first pruned it’s so bare and ugly until it starts filling back in, fuller and prettier.   In spite of the harshness, the brutal pruning, year after year, it doesn’t matter.   Crepe Myrtles don’t shrink from it, they don’t stop growing…they just continue on.  They keep growing.  They keep living.  They keep blooming more and more.   Almost as if  trying to prove to you, the pruner, that surviving comes by maturing, and returning more and more full with each season.”

I got back out of the car and took a photo of it with my phone (that’s the photo above).  And got back into the car. Suddenly, I began to be pelted by memories like the raindrops on my windshield.  Memories of past struggles, relationships, choices I made, betrayals, choices others made for me,  and even past doubts that I had about God in times of tremendous trials.  How many times had I failed in my endeavors? How many times did I fail others?  How many times had I failed God?

I looked back up at the little tree…and there I was.  There we all are.

A lifetime of shortcomings are there and sometimes all too visible, but in spite of them rather than give up and die, we have to continue to strive for growth in every area of our lives.

In spite of all the adversities in life you have to want to keep learning, keep maturing, keep proving that with God’s help you can continue to come back wiser and richer with each experience.  The storm clouds and the rain they produce will always come at times.

Soak up the rain…and then bloom.

Snapdragons

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(photo by Sherry Moore of SMoore Photography.  Taken at St. Simons Lighthouse, St. Simons, Georgia)

As I was about to pass a flower container full of snapdragons I happened to look down in the midst of them and see this handful of different little flowers. There they were buried among their taller neighbors, holding their own piece of the dirt.
I thought of people like these little flowers holding their own in a world full of snapdragons. They snap at us daily, saying, “You need this! You need that! You have to own such and such things to be accepted and it has to be THIS particular expensive kind! You have to wear THIS fashion or you won’t be accepted! You have to have THIS kind of education or you won’t get a job! You have to be currently working or you won’t get a job! You have to support this candidate, this idea, this Senate bill, this way of thinking, that way of thinking! You have to accept that any faith/belief system is obsolete! There is nothing immoral!”
With each sway they assert in confidence, “We are the majority, we must be right, we know what’s best.”
These dragons are really only saying one thing.
“IT’S ALL ABOUT WHAT MAKES US FEEL GOOD ABOUT YOU!”
Yet the little flowers in this world stand their ground as the snapdragons grow taller and taller. They sway back and forth over them nearly becoming the only view.   However, the little flowers face upward and say,
“We can still see the sky, we can still see the light and know the sun is still shining.”
And they grow. Their bright, non-conformed colors and shape get noticed. I know.
I know because it was these little flowers I pushed my lens through the snapdragons to photograph.

Photo Challenge: Smile

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(detail of child statue at Atlanta Botanical Gardens – photo by Sherry Moore – Smoore Photography)

 

Is there anything more pure or innocent than a child’s smile?

It brings a moment of joy on the worst of days.

It elicits a smile in return from the toughest of characters.

It reminds of your own days of youth full of wonder and utter abandonment in a world yet to be discovered.

It begs to be captured in all forms of art even if it is just a snapshot.  It may lie buried in a family photo album and not seen again for years.

Ah, but when that album, or box, or frame is uncovered, and light shines upon that smile again it brings emotion, a sigh, maybe a tear, or a quick laugh.  Perhaps, even the words breathed out quietly, “Those were the days.”

Smiles, like children, mature all too quickly and takes on new meanings.  Grateful.  Understanding.   Sad.   Contemplative.  Entertained.  Every once in a while it becomes one of pure joy again…my favorite.

Right now…smile.  No matter what you are doing, or what situation is occurring, just smile.  Today is a good day to find some joy somewhere.   Light up the darkness.

Smile.

A Lesson From a Drake and a Hen

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Two drakes and a hen. (photo by Sherry Moore)

I spent some time at our pond recently.  I had just heard a sermon from a prominent teacher who is considered by many as a great leader in some religious circles.  He believed he had an answer for people’s needs and how to get answers to their broken hearts in situations beyond their control.  As I listened to what he had to say there arose in me a “check” in my spirit.  Some of which he was saying was great and truth.  Then there were some things he called as facts in the spirit realm, without much scripture to back it up.  Although what he was proclaiming sounded relatable I couldn’t lay aside the red flag warning I was experiencing.

The war in my own intellect began to reason that this teacher was very well known and respected.  He was big in circles of influence of non-denominational leadership.  Should I lend my ear to this guy now?  Should I have an “open mind” to accept this teaching?  I prayed, “Lord?  Is this for real? What (the guy’s name) is saying…is it true?”  It was obviously time to take a step back and go sit for a moment and hear what the Lord had to say about it.

So, out to the pond I went on a cold, blustery day.  I tried not to think about the video I just watched, and be quiet.  I had received a scripture during prayer the day before and as it came back to me I knew the Lord was about to show me His own teaching.

“Look at the birds…” – Matthew 6:26

I looked out across the water and four Mallards came into view.  Three drakes and a hen.  Two drakes had dark purple heads. One drake who had a bright green head stayed close to the hen.  Everywhere she went, he went, too.  He was constantly all around her, circling, swimming alongside, or trailing behind.  On the other hand, the hen went about her business eating, swimming along, doing what ducks do.  She never even looked in the direction of the other two drakes to be concerned about them.  That was the job of the green head drake.

Whenever a purple would try to get close to the hen the green head would fly at them and chase them off.  Sometimes he would quack angrily and sometimes he would outright attack them.  Each time they would go with all speed to get away from him.  And the hen?  She never got her feathers ruffled.  She continued paddling here and there, and eating, and enjoying her day on the pond.  Every now and then when the green would paddle back she would come up alongside him very close and they would swim as one, mirroring each other for a little bit.  He remained her one focus among all others.

I pondered this for a moment.  All three drakes were ducks.  All Mallards.  The only difference I could see was two had purple heads and one green.  Suddenly, I realized that’s how it works with false teachings.  So similar to the truth, but add a twisting here, an added word or two there, and maybe a subtle insinuation dropped at the right moment.  Satan did it to Eve.  He spoke the truth to her, but he also twisted it to confuse her and spoke the insinuation that God didn’t want her to be more than she could be which was a god, like Him, he told her.  She believed his false teaching that her disobedience was necessary to keep God from holding her back in life.  She believed his lie that she wouldn’t die.

The Lord showed me that as long as He alone is my focus I don’t need to be concerned or anxious because:

His Word feeds me real truth and keeps the false teachers at bay.

His voice is the one I need to listen for and heed.

It is Him who I trust and rest in knowing He is loyal and faithful to those he loves.

And this I know and have peace: God loves me and He is with me always.

Anyone who teaches something other than what God’s Word says then they are just purple headed ducks…paddle away.

 

Let There Be Peace

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A couple walked up my driveway this morning to talk about their faith as Jehovah’s Witnesses. They invited me to join them this Friday for a service. With a smile I declined saying that I was committed to my faith and my community church. The woman was wearing a very nice hat and I complimented her on it (I honestly wanted to try it on, but I didn’t ask). They thanked me for my time and told me to have a nice day. I did the same. You may now be asking, “Sherry…is there a point to this little snapshot of time in your life?” Why, yes, there is…thank you for asking!
 
They came to tell me their belief, and to tell me why I should join them (whether I had a church home or not). I politely declined and told them why. There were smiles. There were compliments. There was chit chat about the day’s weather. There was no name calling. There was no accusations about one another’s beliefs, or their fellow believers, or disparities made about one another’s stations in life. They didn’t try to force me into their belief nor did they disparage mine. We were just neighbors sharing what was on our hearts at that particular time.
 
In the end…we parted in peace and appreciation for one another.
 
And as I turned to go back to my day’s errands…I paused and thought about the splitting of a city and of a county looking on and shaking their heads at it all. People of many faiths pointing fingers at one another and appealing to the God of Heaven to fight for their side. The lies. The corruption. The class-ism. The hatred.
 
All that has really been accomplished is a grieving of the Holy Spirit.
 
I turned back around and watched that couple walking on to the next house. They had been so nice and so respectful. I wanted to run to them, throw my arms around them, and cry out, “PEACE!! PEACE!! Come to lunch with me and let’s talk about the weather some more, and how to help people in need, and pray for one another, and talk about how GOOD GOD IS and how He loves us all!!”. They probably would have thought I was a nut job.
 
Instead I got into my car, and wept in my heart, and prayed for our little community out loud.
 
“Let the sin…the corruption..the lies…all of it be brought out into the light, Father God, no matter what side it’s on. Bring conviction to bring about remorse, repentance, and forgiveness.
 
And let there be Peace. In Jesus Name, Amen.”

Represent

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Yesterday, as we waited for Scott to get his CT Scan, his name was called to come up to the receptionist for paperwork. I went up instead and the clerk asked, “Are you representing Mr. Moore?” I replied, “Yep. That’s me. The wife.” I said it lighthearted, and maybe that’s what made the clerk laugh, but I was suddenly struck with one of those epiphany moments.

As I went back to my seat next to Scott, hands filled with paperwork, a scripture (well, chapter) popped into my head. Ephesians 5. I love my husband. I love him enough that when he needs me I drop everything and he becomes my sole focus. I am his biggest fan, supporter, nurse and chauffeur to the doc’s, cook (try to be, ahem), and if he needs defending I can have the strength, claws, and bite of a bear, and the heart of a lion. I love my husband, and yeah, I represent him.

I also love Jesus, and that is where the epiphany comes in. As Christian believers we all represent Christ here on Earth. When people see us…how we talk and act…they should be seeing Christ. Are we kind? Are we patient? Are we merciful? Slow to anger? Forgiving? Do we display any of 1 Corinthians 13? How easy is it for you to tell people all about the highest and greatest love of your existence? Do you know His character traits? Do you know how great a love He has for you and for your neighbor who is…everyone? Can you defend the love you have for Him? You represent Jesus. He already represented you…on the cross. Make time to read His Word to you today. Rediscover His steadfast love for you.

Live for Him in such a way that it’s clear Who it is you represent.