Original Sunset Photography by Julie A. Smith

Original Sunset Photography #1 by Julie A. Smith

Original Sunset Photography #2 by Julie A. Smith
Original Sunset Photography #3 by Julie A. Smith
Original Sunset Photography #4 by Julie A. Smith

Original Sunset Photography #5 by Julie A. Smith

Original Sunset Photography #6 by Julie A. Smith

Original Sunset Photography #7 by Julie A. Smith

Original Sunset Photography #8 by Julie A. Smith

Original Sunset Photography #9 by Julie A. Smith

Original Sunset Photography #10 by Julie A. Smith

Original Sunset Photography #11 by Julie A. Smith

Original Sunset Photography #12 by Julie A. Smith

Original Sunset Photography #13 by Julie A. Smith

Original Sunset Photography #14 by Julie A. Smith

Original Sunset Photography #15 by Julie A. Smith

Original Sunset Photography #16 by Julie A. Smith

Original Sunset Photography #17 by Julie A. Smith

Original Sunset Photography #18 by Julie A. Smith

Boldness and Faithfulness (A Devotional Thought Based on Daniel)

For the last several years, I have been really drawn to examples of boldness and courage. You could say that I am drawn to the Katniss Everdeen types (a.k.a. Hunger Games heroine), or to people like Rosa Parks, who stood up for her convictions and caused monumental change to ensue in the famous Southern bus boycotts by African-Americans who were tired of being treated as second-class citizens compared to Caucasians. I am also greatly inspired by the heroes and heroines of the Bible.

Two of my favorite people in the Bible are Joshua and Esther. However, another amazing individual in the Bible who epitomizes boldness and faithfulness to me is Daniel. In Daniel 6, it talks about how King Darius set up 120 satraps to be in charge of his kingdom, and there were three presidents over the satraps. Daniel was one of the 3 presidents (Amplified Bible, Daniel 6:1-2). Daniel was distinguished above the other presidents, and the King thought about setting Daniel in charge of the whole country. As you can imagine, this idea was not liked by the satraps and other presidents. They sought to bring accusations against Daniel, however they could not find fault in Daniel, because he was faithful (v. 3-4). Thus, they knew that the only way to accuse Daniel and have it stick was “concerning the law of his God.” Thus, they set-up King Darius to sign a royal statute that could not be changed, which was according to law of the Medes and Persians. Essentially, the statute that they convinced the King to sign elevated the king to a type of God-like status, where no one could “ask a petition of any god or man for thirty days.” The people could only petition King Darius during this time (v. 5-9).

Daniel was a faithful man who knew that the decree which was signed essentially prohibited him from worshipping his God as he always did. To worship his God meant one thing: death. If he followed his beliefs and his conscience, then he would be cast into a den of lions, as the statute specified. What did Daniel do in this situation? Did he give up his beliefs for thirty days? Did he hide in a closest when he prayed in order to not risk his life? No. Daniel was 100% aware of the consequences of his actions, and he still boldly and openly prayed and gave thanks to God three times a day JUST LIKE HE AWAYS HAD DONE (v. 10).

Daniel’s faith blows me away. He was BOLD. He was DEVOTED. He was FAITHFUL. He was CONSISTENT. He was NOT AFRAID.

So, what happens next? Of course, Daniel’s adversaries find Daniel praying. It was an action worthy of death in their eyes. They run to King Darius, remind him of the irrevocable decree, and point out that Daniel praying is like treason- it disregards the king and the decree. King Darius was distressed, and I imagine at this point he may have realized that this was a set-up to do away with Daniel. The King set his mind to deliver Daniel and even “labored until the sun went down to rescue him” (v. 11- 14). Because the law couldn’t be changed EVEN BY THE KING (which I find interesting, since the King was the one who initially MADE the law), King Darius unhappily commanded Daniel to be cast into the den of lions, but with the hope, “May your God, Whom you are serving continually, deliver you!” (v. 15-16).

Things are looking very grim for Daniel at this point. However, even in the darkest hour, God will shine through. That is a lesson for us all to remember. The next day, the king raced to the lion’s den, hoping that somehow Daniel would be spared by the “living God” who Daniel served continually. Daniel was alive, and he replied that God had sent an angel to shut the lions’ mouths so that Daniel was unharmed (v. 19-22).

Whenever you are facing a tough time, or when you are tempted to give up on your faith, I hope that you remember about Daniel, and know that God loves you and will protect you in the storms of life.

A Pictorial Snapshot from my iPhone

Life, thoughts, and journeys are expressed well in pictorial snapshots.  An eclectic mix of random moments full of mundane things, fun adventures, emotions, and the fascinating color of life all combine to create the kaleidoscope of our lives. Since I seldom use actual photographs that I have taken in my blog, I decided to make a short pictorial snapshot of photographs that I have taken in the last few months from my amazing iPhone camera.

This is the view of the Mississippi River taken out the window of the Figge Art Museum (formerly Davenport Museum of Art).  I saw the only known self-portrait by Grant Wood (artist of American Gothic fame), plus other art from the museum’s permanent collection when I visited this museum with my Dad recently.  I especially liked an Andy Warhol painting of the American moon landing that was part of a travelling exhibition.

This photo was taken when I was looking for the fitness aisle at Wal-Mart, but I was drawn to the toy aisle first.  I am a kid at heart, truth be told.  As I perused the toy aisle, I couldn’t help but ponder why there were no cool Lego’s like this for girls when I was a kid.  I appreciate how today there are many girl-oriented Lego’s with fun colors and scenes showcasing various career options.  Definitely awesome and progressive.

 Beautiful sky at my favorite park.

Pretty flowers.

Chicago Bears Training Camp that I went to with my family on my vacation.  I like Illinois and Chicago sports teams, but I am not a die-hard fan by any means.  This was a fun family time, which is what I was most excited about.

Majestic fountain that fondly reminded me of Scotland, a country that I would love to visit again.

This is pretty decor at my church.  One of my Pastor’s has a good eye for decoration.

This picture is of pretty furnishings at my church after our recent remodel.  A fire damaged the building we were renting last November 2011, and we were displaced to a hotel for 4 months.  However, a beautiful blessing is that this past Spring we were able to buy our own building.  We did a remodel of the building since it used to be a publishing house and a Moose lodge.

Here is a link to the recent story about my church’s restoration after the fire:

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/religion/2012-08-26/less-year-after-fire-church-its-new-home.html