Christmas Shopping Ideas

Why not Deck the Walls with prints of nature, Fa la la la la la la la la?

Below are a few samples of photos available at my website:

https://denisecalandraphotography.picfair.com

These are just a few of the photos available. Go check them out at the website above. They are available in prints, framed prints, canvas wraps, and giclee art prints.

They would make great Christmas gifts! Order yours today.

Copyright: Denise L. Calandra 2021

A Gift Beyond Measure

God sent His son to us as a little babe. A gift beyond measure,wrapped in swaddling cloths.

This is such an important Bible verse. Probably, many of you have it memorized. It tells us about our God, the creator of heaven and earth, loving us so much, He willingly sent His only Son to earth, so that we might have eternal life.

If we turn to the first verse in the Bible we read, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1 (NKJV) He made the world, then the animals, then man and woman. See in Genesis 1:31, “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.” Yes, “God so loved the world.”

We see how much God loved the world, in which, He created. Therefore, one can only wonder why God sent His only begotten Son to earth for us? We seem to forget about the fall of man. In Genesis chapter 3, we can read the account of this tragic event and the consequences of it, for us all.

All creation had sweet fellowship with the living God before the fall of man. After this tragic event, everything changed, our sin separated us from God the Father. In ourselves there was no way back, we were now lost. However, our loving God had a plan all ready for us. He had a plan to save His creation, whom He loved greatly.

His plan began by sending His only Son to earth. He was sent as a little babe. This was the first step. If He never came it would never have worked. We see in The Apostles Creed, the plan. It is stated as follows:

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again; He ascended into heaven,
He is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

Now this sums it all up for us. God sent His Son, Jesus, who was conceived by the Holy Spirt, born of the virgin Mary, was crucified for our sins, actually died, and was buried. He descended to the dead, yet on the third day He rose from the dead. He is seated at the right hand of God, the Father almighty. This is also stated in the scripture verse, John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son …” He was sent, He came, He died for our sins, He rose again and is seated with God, in eternal life. It is now up to us to believe in Him and what He has done for us, so we too, can have eternal life with Him. As I said at the start of this blog, John 3:16, is a very special Bible verse.

Look closely at the photo of the sun setting. As it is going down the glow that is emanating from it is reflecting the symbol of the cross onto the river. It is reflecting the color red on the water. I think about the blood and water that came out of Jesus’ side when pierced. He shed His blood for us that we may have eternal life. Isn’t this truly the gift beyond measure? As Christmas is quickly approaching, take time to ponder the depth of this act for us. This is the reason and meaning of Christmas.

1John 5:6 (NKJV). “This is He who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth.”

May God richly bless you this Christmas. Rejoice in the new born king.

©️Denise L. Calandra 2021

Scriptures for daily thought and encouragement !

https://denisecalandraphotography.picfair.com

Are you watching?

Out in the wilderness, along a hiking trail, stands the watchtower in the photo above. What is the significance of a watchtower anyway? A watchtower is built with an elevated observation platform. The purpose is to provide a high safe place from which a person, such as a guard, can observe the surrounding area. Primarily, they have been used by the military, where a person is appointed to keep watch over the area for any signs of danger.

The tower, along the trail, stood alone and was empty. Only when we climbed it did it become full. Then we were able to stand and look around or “watch.” In this case, if my husband and I never chose to climb up and look around, we never would have seen the lake. We would have missed it, because it could only be seen by looking over the top of the trees!

God wants us to watch in our daily lives. He admonishes us in His word to watch and pray. What do we miss when we do not listen to His Word? Let us read some Bible verses about doing just that!

Luke 21:34-36 (NKJV) “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Matthew 24:42-44 (NKJV) “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore, you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

Matthew 25:1-13 (NKJV) “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with Him to the wedding; and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But He answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”

Matthew 26:40-41 (NKJV) “Then He returned to His disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?’ He asked Peter. Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

From reading these scriptures, we can see, God is telling us about the importance of practicing this discipline in our daily lives. He tells us to watch and pray in several verses. Because God is ever concerned about us and how we are doing; He warns of danger that can come upon us if we are not careful. As believers we need to obey a loving God who saved us from our sin. We want to do His will for us. He knows that our flesh is weak, and we can fall into various temptations in the world. We must always be learning and growing in our relationship with Him. Watching and praying keeps us close to God. If we are not diligent and wise, we may miss what God has for us. Always be prepared and ready for we do not know when He is going to come or need us to fulfill a specific purpose. Are your lamps trimmed? Are You ready? Do not miss out and have the door shut on you. Desire to be your best for God. Be ever diligent so you do not miss Him. Do not be caught off guard as in the parable of the ten virgins!

Are You Watching?

 ©Denise L. Calandra 2021

Scriptures for daily thought and encouragement!

https://denisecalandraphotography.picfair.com

In Everything Give Thanks

Give Thanks With a Grateful Heart

As we, in America, approach our Thanksgiving Day Holiday, we are reminded of all we have to be thankful for; and from whom all our blessings come. However, being thankful should not just be a one day event! Let thankfulness permeate our being. It should be an everyday and all consuming frame of mind.

As stated in the Bible in 1Thessalonians 5:16-18(NKJV) “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Why?

Because God is good!

Psalm 118:29 (NKJV)“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!”

On this Thanksgiving, even in the midst of all the turmoil surrounding us all, I encourage you to be thankful. We still have many things to be thankful about. God bless you all. Happy Thanksgiving!

©️Denise L. Calandra 2021

Scriptures for daily thought and encouragement.

Changes

Are you caught in a time of change? Life is full of them. We can learn and grow from them all, good or bad.

How do you look at change? Life is full of them. Some changes are good, which we openly welcome. Others we find not so pleasant and are not as eager to embrace them. Regardless, in this life, there will always be changes for us to face.

This photo shows a flower going through a conversion process. It is not the more familiar process, which shows new life bursting forth, like in spring. The flower is going from a season of full glory to a dormant stage, a time to rest. The flower loses the color it had and quietly fades away. Yet it does not lose heart! Hibernation helps to protect the plant through the frigid winter season, so once again, it will thrive. During this period, the roots continue to develop and grow, enabling the flower to appear again.

We too, as humans, need to learn from the plants and the process God has put in place. When going through a change point in life it is okay, and even a necessity, to step back. God may have pulled you out for a season to reflect, to rest, study and renew oneself and emerge stronger than before.

God speaks to us through His word. Let us examine scripture verses to see what God has to say concerning this.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1 “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.”

Do not fear or resist the change God has for you. Let go of the old and allow the new to emerge. God, in His way, does not want us to get too comfortable, change is a way He uses to guide us on. He wants us to embrace all He has for us. Remember, we are just passing through and the best is yet to come. Look unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. God Bless You!

© Denise L. Calandra 2021

Photo available at: https://denisecalandraphotography.picfair.com

Lean-To


He is our shelter along the way

My husband, daughter and I were exploring The Remington Recreation Trail in Canton, NY, on a sunny summer day. Not taking this path before, we had no idea of what to expect. We were not sure where the path led, how long it was or where it ended. We discussed this as we continued walking along, enjoying the scenery. Around one of the turns on the walkway, we came across a shed building, known as a Lean-To. It was a picturesque setting to behold along the wooded pathway. It made me think about how it served as a place of shelter if we met up with inclement weather or needed a rest. What a surprise haven to find!     

This spurred me on to consider how much more of a treasure and refuge we have in our Lord and Savior. As we go through our life journey, overwhelming situations may come our way. It is a comfort to know that we have God to look to. He is our safe place. His word confirms this to us. Look at what these verses tell us: 

Psalm 91: 1-2 (NKJV) “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust’.” Or

Psalm 46: 1-6 (NKJV) “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn. The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted.”

He assures us that He is our true Lean-To!! He is our shelter along the way.  Will you Trust Him today? There really is no other way.

© Denise L. Calandra 2021

Photo available at:  https://denisecalandraphotography.picfair.com

He Will Make A Way

Isaiah 43:15-19 (NKJV)

“I am the Lord, your Holy One,
The Creator of Israel, your King.”16 Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea
And a path through the mighty waters,
17 Who brings forth the chariot and horse,
The army and the power
(They shall lie down together, they shall not rise;
They are extinguished, they are quenched like a wick):
18 “Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert.”

When we read these scriptures from Isaiah, we see how God makes a way for us. Imagine how the Israelites might have felt. Finally, they were set free! They were on their way to a better life.  As the Israelites, were on their journey, they came before this body of water right in front of them. There they were, with all their belongings, children and all. Now what could they do? How were they going to be able to cross over? Could they make it if they swam across? Moreover, let us not forget who was right behind, chasing them, not wanting to let them go. Pharoah and company changed their mind about setting the Israelites free.

Can you see our predicament in all of this? We too, once coming to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, are set free. Slowly, we begin to move ahead in our new life. Yet, who or what wants to tag along? Our old self does not want to let go either.

Do we get to a certain point, then become blocked as well? What is your Red Sea? What is your roadblock or stumbling point? Is it fear, doubt, finances, health, addiction, pain, or perhaps old sinful ways? It may not be the actual Red Sea, but it is a real block for us. Are you at your Red Sea?

Although the way can be long, do not lose heart. God is our true help and hope, in all things. Take another look at the verses in Isaiah. Verses 15-17, show us:

-We are set free.

-God parts the Red Sea, making a way.

-He brings down the pursuers.

In verses 18-19, we see:

-God admonishes us to forget the former things.

-He gives us hope that He is doing a new thing for us.

-He wants us to know it and walk in it.

Do not let discouragement bring you to a halt. Do not miss what He is doing for you. Just like the picture in the woods, there is a way to cross over the gully. It might not be the way you think it should be, but the way is there. God will and does make a way for us in our walk with Him. Get through that roadblock to the new thing He has for you. Remember, God will make a way where there is no way. Now go forth and receive it!

©Copyright: Denise L. Calandra 2021

Photo available at:  https://denisecalandraphotography.picfair.com

The Heavenly Stairway

Psalm 37:23 (NKJV) “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way.”

It was at Fillmore Glen State Park, in New York, our family met. The date was September 2020, during the Covid 19 Pandemic. This being an open outside area, made it a great place to gather and enjoy some time together.

There was a 350-stair hike challenge, which we all survived. The stairs were wide and smooth making it easy (well sort of) to walk on. However, over in another section of the park was a much older stairway. It was narrow; the steps had crumbling stones in them. They were very uneven and steep. All of this made it difficult to walk up, unlike the other stairway. This stairway took all your attention and focus, lest you stumble and fall. Sunlight was shining through the trees creating an alluring effect on you. Surely you wanted to climb them, as difficult as it was, all the way to the top!

When I was back down at the bottom, I looked up the stairs and took a photo. I named the photo “The Heavenly Stairway.”  We are all on our journey through life. As we travel along, we face many different trials, temptations, and difficulties. We must navigate our way extremely carefully, so we do not stumble and fall. If you are a believer, then your destination is Heaven. How are you doing along your pathway? Thankfully, we are not left on our own to make it. Let us look at some scriptures to see what God is telling us and how He is there to help us.

Philippians 4:13 (NKJV) “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV) “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”

Proverbs 16:9 (NKJV) “A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”

Psalm 37:23 (NKJV) “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way.”

Romans 8:31 (NKJV) “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

  • First, God tells us all things are possible through Christ. He is in us and is our strength. We can rely on Him to help us. We are not alone.
  • Secondly, we need to trust the Lord, completely. Do not depend on your own thoughts, acknowledge God and His ways, so He can direct your paths.
  • You may make plans, but let God lead you in them. You cannot go wrong with God as your guide.
  • If we are looking to God for direction, He will make a way for us to get through. He rejoices as we go.
  • Even if our way gets difficult and tiresome, He will not leave us nor forsake us. “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

When you see a challenge, do you run to it and give it all you have?  Perhaps, you back away from it, defeated before you even begin. This stairway in the photo can be a bit overwhelming at first.  I realize that not everyone can physically climb these steps, but that is not the point. The point is when you come across a challenge, an obstacle, or a difficulty, as you travel along your way, do not back away. Attack it, even if one step at a time, you are making progress. Eventually, you will make your desired goal. It is well worth the climb to reach the top of “The Heavenly Stairway.” Let God direct your steps in all things.

The featured picture is available to purchase @:  https://denisecalandraphotography.picfair.com

© Copyright Denise L. Calandra 2021

Looking Up


“Unto thee, o Lord, Do I lift up my soul.”
Psalms 25:1

While standing at the front of this church building, it automatically causes me to look up. This steeple is awesome, but at the same time it makes me feel small and helpless. My thoughts turn heavenward, causing me to cry out to my Lord and God. What a comfort it is knowing He is there for us. This is just a building, however it does represent God to us. The building is built with a stone foundation and stands strong. How much more is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ our true rock and foundation? He stands even stronger!

In our daily life, with all the trials and struggles we sometimes face, isn’t it a comfort and wonder to know we have a God who is with us to help? The troubles can overwhelm us, making us feel small and helpless, as when standing by such a towering building. When we choose to look upon our true rock and foundation, God, we feel empowered and strengthened. Why? Let us read what the Bible tells us in His word about Jesus as our rock.

Psalms 18:2 (NIV)

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

While a church building may represent God to us, I am grateful to have the living God, my True Rock and Foundation to stand on. I pray you do as well, and if not, will you consider Him today?

©️copyright 2021 Denise L Calandra