MAXINE BILLINGS, Photographer & Author

Fine Art Photography Inspired By Natural Creation & Wholesome Reading For Your Family's Entertainment


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PRIDE AND PREJUDICE

PRIDENo, this isn’t a post about Jane Austen’s popular novelPREJUDICE Pride and Prejudice.  Have you ever accomplished something you were so proud of that you wanted to share it with the world?  Or perhaps you only wanted to share it with your family, close friends, or maybe even your best friend?

When God looked and saw everything He had made, it was very good(Genesis 1:31)  Yet, He did not selfishly keep it to Himself but humbly shared it with mankind.  (Genesis 2:7 & 8)  Being made in His awesome image, we humans have the capacity to accomplish all sorts of wonderful, marvelous, and beautiful things just as He did.  And naturally, when we do so, one of our greatest joys is sharing them with other fellow human beings.  No, by no means are we God!  Therefore, nothing we can ever do can compare to His holy, righteous, and wonderful acts.  However, does it not warm our hearts when others share our joy when we accomplish something we’re proud of?

Sometimes, however, it seems that the emotion some of them feel is the exact opposite of joy, and the result can be painful.  What causes some to react this way?  Could jealousy be a cause?  It’s possible.  Now, we know that not all jealousy is bad.  For example, even God is jealous in that He does not want us to give our worship to any other god besides Him.  And spouses usually do not desire that their spouses attribute affections meant only for them to someone else.  Some people are more prone toward jealousy than others, and sad to say, because we are all imperfect, all of us may at some point in our lives have felt jealousy or envy toward another individual.  That is why our Creator gives us so many loving reminders in His Word for us to continue striving to fight these bitter, contentious feelings that can divide us like the parting of the Red Sea.

All of us, myself included, have many reasons to be proud (not in a haughty way but joyfully, humbly proud.)  First and foremost, I have my relationship with God.  Next, I have a beautiful family whom I love and adore.  There are also many other people in my life whom I consider as my true friends.  The list could go on and on and on.  Outside of these most important blessings, the day I learned that I was going to be a published author was one of the happiest days of my life.  And one of my constant and specific prayers was that I always remain humble regardless of whatever I accomplish in life for none of us should ever feel that we are superior to anyone, no matter what our or their stature is.

Yes, I was happy, and I modestly shared my joy (but never in a boastful way) just as some of them had shared with me things they were rightfully proud of.  But when I did, to my shock and surprise, some of these same ones were the ones who acted toward me as though they were angry with me even though I had been happy for them and cheered them on in their endeavors and accomplishments.  Needless to say, it was excruciatingly painful, and it took me a long time to get over it.

I was so hurt that a dear friend and relative shared something very insightful with me that has helped me throughout the years.  The powerful words that Marianne Williamson expressed in Our Deepest Fear, in addition to my reliance on God, gave me the strength, courage, and fortitude to press on in my writing despite the negative ways I seemed to have been perceived by some.

I chose to write this post because we live in a world where selfishness abounds.  Life is not all about any one particular person.  As long as we are not doing anything to displease God, what is wrong with us as individuals to, as Ms. Williamson puts it, manifest the glory of God that is within us?  I am quite sure that I am not the only person out there who has experienced this sort of pain or any other sort.  Whatever it is that you are striving to endure, you are not alone.  There is no hurt or fear that God cannot and will not see you through!

From my heart to yours,

Maxine 🙂

http://www.maxinebillings.com

http://www.maxinebillings.wordpress.com

http://www.askeevie.wordpress.com

http://www.pearlspearlsofwisdom.wordpress.com

(Photo Credits: Pride Courtesy of states.aarp.org; Triangle and Circle Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com)


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THAT’S NOT HOW NAH-NAH DOES IT!

CRYING BABYRecently, my sister’s husband, their six-year-old son, and I were at my mama’s house.  My nephew wanted his dad to fix him something to eat (what in particular it was, I don’t know.)  I was sitting at the kitchen table while my brother-in-law prepared whatever it was.  When he was done and gave it to his son, he abruptly cried out, “That’s not how Nah-Nah does it.”  As his father tried to appease him, he kept repeating over and over, “That’s not how Nah-Nah does it.”  Finally, my brother-in-law politely replied, “I’m not Nah-Nah.”  I did not say a word during the entire ordeal, but inside, I was crumbling with laughter.

Anyway, it made me think about how even some of us adults (me being one of them) are creatures of habit, and anything that is not within our normal routine simply throws us off course–like a runaway train that ends up reeling off the tracks.  Sometimes it seems as though I’m on auto-pilot; some things become so routine that I do them without even thinking about them.  In the past, I had my comfort zones, and that was where I wanted to stay.  And If anyone so much as came within an inch of me, I would immediately want to start crying like a baby and warn them to get out of my way and leave me alone!

AMOFOne of the things that has helped me to be more adventurous and outgoing is my writing.  In 1999, I began writing my first manuscript.  By 2000, it was complete.  Thereby began my search for a publisher, and all the while, I’m thinking to myself, “I’ve never been on an airplane in my life, and I know that at some point, my publisher will expect me to get on one and travel to a book signing.”  But I wanted to write so badly that I did not let it stop me from pursuing my goal.  In April of 2004, my first novel, A MEASURE OF FAITH, was released.

Finally, the time came for me to board an airplane from Atlanta to my first book signing in New Orleans.  And would you believe that it was during hurricane season in the pouring rain!  I was thinking, Of all the times for me to go on my first flight, it would have to be during hurricane season!  And as if that wasn’t bad enough, when the flight attendant informed us that whoever had an aisle seat near an exit sign would be expected to assist others in the event of an emergency, guess who one of the passengers in that category was!  You guessed it–me!  She then added that if anyone did not feel comfortable being in the position of having that responsibility that we could request to be moved to a different seat.  Now, I was already nervous about flying for the first time, and on top of it, they expected me to help my fellow passengers if the plane crashed!  I came really, really close to raising my hand and asking to be moved.  But I braved it, and both the flight there and back home went good.  I still don’t care for flying, and I haven’t flown again since.  Of course, if I had to, I would do it again, but I’m in no hurry.

Writing has opened up so many doors for me that may not otherwise have been opened.  I have met so many wonderful and interesting people.  I get to share pieces of my many thoughts with people all over the world.  One of the things I asked God when I learned that I had gotten my first two-book contract was to please keep me humble because no matter what I accomplish in life, I never want to feel that I am better than anyone else–because frankly, I’m not.  To this day, I still pray for humility.  I also continue to tell everyone (including my family and close friends) that I am still Maxine and that I’m no better than anyone else.  We are all God’s children, and only He can read our hearts.  (1 Samuel 16:7)

Because of my relationship with God, I have been able to go outside of my comfort zones and accomplish things that I never imagined I would do.  However, I am simply dust, and any little speck of good that may be in me and everything good that I have is because of Him.  Yes, I have grown, but I still have a lot more growing to do–and even if I live forever, I shall never know all there is to know.  But because He has helped me to step into the deep part of the water, my horizons have been broadened.  But more importantly, it has given me the strength, courage, and fortitude to not cry about things that are beyond my control but, instead, to lean upon Him instead of myself.  (Proverbs 3:5 & 6)

HAPPY READING!  And as always, this is from my heart to yours.

Maxine

http://www.maxinebillings.com


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“YOU’RE ACTING LIKE A CHILD!”

CHILDREN PLAYING DR

How would you feel if someone expressed those words to you? Offended or joyful? Before you answer, let’s take a moment to consider what we, as adults, can learn from children.

As adorable as they are, children clearly lack the more mature qualities usually associated with older ones. However, as Jesus so eloquently illustrated, there are lessons that adults can learn from them. One fascinating quality he focused on was their humility. (Matt. 18:3 & 4) One dictionary definition of humility is: modest opinion of one’s own importance or rank.

In my short story, ONE OF A KIND, Paula
has to learn a hard lesson dealing with this quality.
OOAK
Is it possible in real life, though, to recapture any beautiful qualities associated with childhood that we may have lost? The answer is a resounding yes! because with God all things are possible (Matt. 19:26), and we can trust Him to help us in our earnest efforts to do so.

As always, this is from my heart to yours,

Maxine

http://www.maxinebillings.com


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CHILDREN–THE SPICE OF LIFE

Yesterday, I went with my five-year-old nephew and my sister (his mom) on a school field trip to the Atlanta Children’s Museum. It brought back so many wonderful memories of me and my own children when they were younger when I used to go on field trips with them and the tons of other things my husband and I did with them. Well, my children are grown now, but I still love spending time with them (that is, when they can find time for me). My husband and I don’t have any grandchildren yet. Years ago, I used to think that I would feel depressed seeing everyone else playing with their grandchildren while we have none. Now, however, while I appreciate that my husband and I now have more time for each other, we also have many nieces and nephews we can help spoil and spend time with.

In three of my books, A TEST OF FAITH, A HEALING OF THE HEARTS (of the THICKER THAN WATER anthology), and IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH, my little, young characters help to add spice to the lives of their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and others. The Bible even calls our children an inheritance from God and a reward. (Psalm 127:3)

God’s own son, Jesus Christ, was such a warmhearted individual that people (even children) were comfortable around him. His loving and compassionate personality drew them to him. Jesus even went so far as to help us to appreciate that we should imitate the humility of young ones. Have you ever taken notice of how most children are so humble and teachable? That’s food for thought. Also, Jesus loved children so much that he did not hesitate to take them into his arms, even blessing them. (Mark 10:13-16)

I recall a time when my daughter and son were young and we were shopping in the grocery store. I had always taught them that it was rude to tell people to shut up. Well, this particular day, the two of them continued bickering back and forth at each other, and I had continually told them to stop. After telling them to quit for the umpteenth time, I finally said, “Shut up.” My son suddenly covered his mouth with his hand and said, “Ooh, Mama, you said, ‘shut up.’ ” In his mind, since I had trained them not to use those words, I had said what amounted to some very bad words. Thereafter, while still young, he would often ask me, “Mama, do you remember the time you told me and Tasha to shut up?” To this day, I smile inwardly whenever I think about it. He will soon be 27, and my daughter is almost 35.

Enjoy your kids while you can because they grow up much too fast. No, they’re not always sugar, spice, and everything nice, but to our lives, they add a whole lot of spice.

From my heart to yours,
Maxine
http://www.maxinebillings.com

ATOF
TTW
ISAIH