Looking Through the Lens…Photography Contest


Have you been bitten by the photography bug?  Do you get a high when you are looking at your latest batch of photos and discovered that you got one really great shot? 

Be it people or nature shots…I love taking photos.  So when Rachel at Hope Journey posted about a photography contest taking place at “Looking Through the Lens”…I was on it.  Had to check it out to see if I would be able to submit an entry or two. 

I can hardly wait to see all the entries.  If you’d like to participate in the contest and post some of your favorite photographs…click on the link and go to “Looking Through the Lens” to learn the details about the contest.  The deadline is November 10th…which is just around the corner…so don’t delay!

Below are my entries for the theme of Seasons.



This photograph really was taken in the winter…to be more specific…a California winter.  It’s a view from the Oceanside pier in January as the sun was setting. To get the full effect of the colors of the sunset…click on the picture. 

Is Your Email Saved?

I’ve wanted to write about the topic of email for some time now.  Specifically, about the emails that I receive from Christians.  More often than not the emails have been forwarded from someone else.
When I take the time to read the email…all too often I find myself wondering, “Did this come from a Christian?”  Did they actually take the time to read this before they sent it?  If they did read it, why did they think it was remotely fitting or appropriate for a Christian to send?
I receive emails from Christians that have filthy language, sexual innuendo or worse.  There are the emails that mock people for their looks, how they dress and their race.
I’m not surprised when I receive something like that from an unbeliever.  But when it’s from a Christian…not only am I shocked and amazed…I’m deeply saddened.  In fact, I’d say I get less inappropriate emails from non Christians than I do from Christians.  Why?  Because the unbelievers know I’m a Christian and they are respectful of that fact.
If someone were to read the email that you send…would they know that you are a Christian?
Here are some general guidelines that all Christians should apply to our communication…be it emails, conversation, or what we read, watch and listen to.
You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.  But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.  Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices.   Colossians 3:7-9

….as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” – 1 Peter 1:14-16

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; – Ephesians 4:22

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; – 1 Thessalonians 4:3

The LORD detests men of perverse heart but he delights in those whose ways are blameless. – Proverbs 11:20
At first glance some of the emails may seem funny…but when you take a closer look…be it something that mocks people, uses cuss words or laughs at sexual immorality…what’s so funny about that?
I don’t think it any accident that the enemy has deceived Christians to go along with the world and be just like them.  We can even laugh at that which Christ died for.  When we compromise…what does the world see different about Christians?  What do we have to offer the world…when we are living like unbelievers? 
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. – Romans 12:1-2

I’m sure that there are many Christians that are shaking their heads…and saying, “Loosen up Susan…there’s no harm in it…we’re just having a good laugh or two.  Who are you to judge?”
I’m not worthy to judge anyone.  But I know that I will give an account to God.  He tells me that I will give an account to Him…for every idle word.  Everything will be laid bare before Him and He knows the motives of my heart.
It’s not about following the rules as much as it is about loving Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.  Wanting to live my life in such a manner that what I do is good and pleasing to Him.
Lest you think I’m deluding myself and believe that I actually achieve that all the time…I know that I don’t.  I know that I fall short.  Without the power of the Holy Spirit within me…I’m incapable living a life that is pleasing to God.  But as I yield to God, strive to live in a manner worthy of my high calling…I’m able to do it more.  I won’t be made perfect this side of heaven.  But praise God…He is in the process of sanctifying me.
In light of God’s word…does your email reflect your Christian faith?  Is your email saved?

Sinners & Saints

Today I found myself
Overwhelmed with sorrow
As I witnessed sin and rebellion
Active and alive in both sinners and saints

I was grieved over the one called Christian
Who powerfully wields their tongue
Only to criticize and condemn
In pride, crushes the reputation of others

I wondered do I pray
For the salvation
Of the one who proclaims belief in Christ
But is walking with one foot in the world

What do I say
To the brother or sister
Engaging in filthy language and course jesting
In whom there’s little difference from an unbeliever

Oh Lord,
May my heart be burdened
For their salvation and Christian walk
May I be faithful in prayer for both sinners and saints

Susan Bunts Wachtel
October 19, 2009

Recently God has burdened my heart to pray for other believers.  I’ve tried to very specific.  That their words, the overflow of the heart, would be good and pleasing to God.  That their words would be used to encourage and build up others in the faith.  That their lips would praise and glorify God.  That they would be humble before God, burdened for the lost and faithful in prayer.  That their Christian walk would be blameless. 

That’s why I experienced profound sadness when I found that those prayers have not been answered yet. 

But tonight I experienced some peace when studying Beth Moore’s “Jesus The One & Only”.  In tonight’s lesson she explained that some believers choose to sit by the word of God, rather than sit under the authority of the word of God. 

That insight helped me to understand…that while what I’m praying for people is in God’s will…it’s not something that He will force upon them.  Instead He desires that we willingly choose to obey Him. 

When I love God and choose to walk in a manner that is good and pleasing to Him that is more desirable than having God force me to be good. 

Though momentarily discouraged…I’m reminded that I need to continue to be faithful in praying for we are engaged in a spiritual battle…and I don’t want my fellow saints to fall prey to the enemy.

Fresh Faith

One of the reasons I love to study the Bible is that each time I study a passage, whether it’s for the first time or the tenth…it’s fresh and new and applies to me right where I am.
Just recently I listened to Beth Moore’s “Believing God” study during my drive time.  I think that this was the third time I’ve heard the study.  The last time was back in the summer of 2006…a pivotal and transitional year for me.  Both personally and professionally.  God used that study to help me during a turbulent time. 
But I must say that what I learned back then pales in comparison to what I learned this time.  So much so that I listened to many of the CDs at least twice this go around.  There was so much good material that it was hard to take it all in during one sitting. 
As I was driving home tonight…listening to a different study, I marveled at what I was hearing.  Then I got to thinking…what’s the difference between what I’m hearing now compared to three years ago? 

  • Back then did I have a hard, unbelieving heart?
  • Was there a lack of spiritual maturity?
  • Or do I have a hunger and thirst for God’s word today that was missing a few years ago?
  • If so…how did it develop?
  • More importantly…how do I continue to grow and not grow cold in my love for God and His word?
I see the power in God’s word and the necessity for prayer that I didn’t fully understand back then.  I want to know Him more and I want to dwell in His presence.  I want Jesus Christ to be my All in all.

Ru Tube – Rudy’s Back Yard Encounter

Rudy was enjoying the view of backyard, when what to his wandering eye should appear, but outdoor kitty. Rudy was not pleased. Not pleased at all. Rudy has a tiny little voice. While his meow sounded sweet and cute…he was not a happy camper and made every attempt to let outdoor kitty know that his presence was not welcome! 

Chris & Susan Wachtel Wedding Video – 10/4/08 Becoming One

This video is comprised of pictures and audio from our wedding which took place on October 4th, 2008.

Most importantly we thank Jesus Christ, the Author and Finisher of our faith for bringing Chris and I together when it seemed all but impossible. For holding our marriage together as we learn to grow together.

There are so many people to thank who helped in all aspects of our wedding. We are so grateful for our family and friends love and support, both now and then. Without it, our marriage would not be nearly as rich.

Thank you Donna and Jay Hoyt for standing with me in place of my parents. Thank you to the Silvestri family Denise, Pete, Travis, Reed, Alyssa, Scott, Susan and Danica for being there. Thank you Susan for taking care of my make up!

Thank you to my new family for taking me in…Ron and Carol, Cindy, Molly and Nathan, Kylan and Madison, Andrew and Amber, Hannah and Zoe and Casey too. I look forward to a lifetime getting to know you.

Thank you to Pastor Dave Dunn…for performing our wedding ceremony…you did a marvelous job and made it so memorable and personal. Thank you to Chance Conner who performed the songs for our wedding…thank you for sharing your talents on our special day. Thank you to our wedding photographer Sherry Hebestreit and Mike Farrel who did the audio and video for our wedding.

Thank you to Chris, my beloved husband. Thank you for marrying me and loving me, working through the hard times and laughing with me during the good times. I love you so much. You are a good man and I am most blessed by God to call you my husband. Love you Dub! Happy 1st Anniversary!


I had a “tude” today
I could have given you a laundry list of everything that’s wrong
Lament about things that aren’t fair
Drone on about things that are just not right

I know that there is a fine line
Between a heart that is hurting, sadden and grieved
And spirit of grumbling and complaining against God
I crossed that line today

But my God was patient and gentle with me
I know that instead of whining and complaining
Against circumstances, people and God
That I should go before God with my cares and concerns

Today, He went before me
Offered grace and mercy when I deserved none
He heard my cry of pain
Thinly disguised as complaining

He worked out the circumstances of a busy day
Smoothed out the path before me
Allowed me to accomplish all that needed to done
Showed me that my fear was for naught

He led me to the healing balm of praise and worship
Through hymns, songs and spiritual songs
Reminded me of His sovereignty in all things
Assured me that He is working all these things for good

While I may not know His purpose
In allowing things that are wrong, not fair and just not right
He does have a purpose and a plan
None of it escapes His notice

At God’s appointed time
He will provide deliverance
Work through my circumstance
And bring much more than I could ask or imagine

Susan Bunts Wachtel
October 3, 2009

Yester day my attitude stinketh.  I meditated on everything that wasn’t fair or right.  I mulled over the things that are wrong in my life. 

But I was amazed at how gently God dealt with me.  I know that just like the Israelites grumbling and complaining as they walked through the desert was wrong and an offence to God…so too is my grumbling and complaining.

In the midst of my bad attitude day…God led me to put in a worship CD from Kristen and Keith Getty called “Awaken the Dawn”.  Was a wonderful way to be reminded about the sovereignty of God!  Of His tender loving care even in the midst of difficult circumstances. 

In thinking about the sin of grumbling and complaining…I see that it is simply a manifestation of doubt and unbelief.  It’s doubting God…doubting that He is who He says He is.  Displaying a lack of confidence that He can do what He says He can do.  It’s my failure to trust His goodness and character.  It’s focusing on me.  It’s wanting things my way, in my timing.  It’s having no regard for God’s plan, purpose and timing.

Grumbling and complaining is doing the easy thing.  It’s not disciplining my heart and mind to go to God in prayer and lift up what concerns me. 

When I grumble and complain…there is no room for thanksgiving or prayer for others.  Just as the Israelites complained about the manna that God provided…my bad attitude and grumbling was really a complaint against what God has seen fit to provide me.

When I grumble and complain, I fail to recognize that God is doing a greater work to conform me to the image and likeness of Christ. 

Complaining make my heart hard and resistant to the hands of the skillful, knowledgeable Potter who seeks to form this pot as He sees fit.  The hardness of my heart against my circumstances and God makes the work that God is doing in me, more painful than it needs to be. 

Thank You Lord Jesus for Your mercy to me.