Tuesday, September 30, 2008
I will be traveling to Colorado next week, and cannot wait to see which fox might be waiting for me in the front yard, watchfully resting on the hill by the front porch. I got to know Light and Ember well enough to feed them peanuts. Unbelievably beautiful animals along with the jays, bears, deer, elk, squirrels, hummingbirds, and assorted wildlife have become such a draw for me to go spend time on the mountain that has become my own resting place.
A resting place can be a physical locality, but also a state of mind. The last few days have been invitations to gloom and doom, and speaking out lack and failure. How about speaking out abundance, health, and gratitude, instead??? There is a resting place for your faith:~~~
1 Cor 2:4-9
My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.
We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age, or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.
It is written:
"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him."
Thursday, September 25, 2008
One of my favorite things to encounter on a photo trip is a wonderful river or stream whose waters have personality of color, curves, and dancing sprays around rocks. Here are a few of those rivers of joy we encountered in Idaho.
Even though my uncle is persevering in dire physical health, we have had so much fun together through a visit and phone calls and e-mails. We are laughing and letting the joy of the Lord bubble up IN SPITE of what comes at us to kill, steal, and destroy. That river of joy, present and available through the heart and mind of Christ, winds up to the very city of God.
I have no fear, even if the world blows up and the mountains crumble into the sea, because I am filled with the river of joy that flows through the city of God, where God Himself lives.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
The last days of August were spent in Nebraska. Even then there were a few signs of one season passing to another. Though it may have been only one leaf on a whole plant, it foretold the chilly mornings and first flurries to come for the midwest autumn. In nature those things invite us to look forward to the harvest, settling in to enjoying big pots of warm soups, football games, and hot cider or hot chocolate.
The last handful of years has brought the thrill of a new generation going to a pumpkin patch to pick out the best one and take it home to carve. Those trips bring back memories of cold noses on hay rack rides, crisp caramel apples, and hikes through the woods; kicking up the piles of leaves in the path before us.
If you have been paying attention to the political and financial news of late you have no doubt heard the word, 'change' bantered about. Yes, the times, they are a changin'. The Wall Street mess sends us all invitations to be frightened and insecure. But I take some comfort in knowing that God already knows who will be the next leader of the free world, and what will happen to our economic future as a country. No matter the circumstances, God will not leave me. My fit spiritual condition depends on believing God has my hand and indwells my heart.
For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged,
for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
Monday, September 15, 2008
I remember singing a song called SIMPLE GIFTS that I think is also known as LORD OF THE DANCE. It has a wonderful verse in it:
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend, we shan't be ashamed.
To turn, turn, will be our delight
'Til by turning, turning, we come 'round right.
As I was walking with my sister-in-law on campus, she pointed out this tree limb. I wondered what had made it turn. It was quite large, yet had managed to straighten itself out again after turning a full circle. This wasn't a little shoot...it was a huge limb.
Since then I have wondered what God would give me for this picture. When I ran into the words of SIMPLE GIFTS the idea came to me. In my life I have made some very bad choices. But I know first hand that God runs to meet the prodigal sons (or daughters) when we choose to turn back to him. He is waiting with a banquet, and maybe even a dance!
Dance, Dance, wherever you may be.
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he.
And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be,
And I'll lead you all, in the dance said he.
(also from SIMPLE GIFTS)
I often find myself searching through old and new hymnals, looking for words to encourage myself. They often give me new insight and links to scriptures that I might not have fully appreciated before the wisdom of the word enlightened me through the lyrics of the song. This is one such hymn, "Lo! How a Rose E'er Blooming", an old German carol tune.
This Flower, whose fragrance tender
With sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor
The darkness everywhere.
True man, yet very God,
From sin and death He saves us
And lightens every load.
I thought it fitting to post some of my favorite rose pictures. Don't know that I will smell a rose again without thinking of the tender fragrance of our Sweet Lord, and lingering for a few moments more.
There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
As in my previous post, I was not aware of all the details I was capturing when I took these pictures. While looking through the uploaded photographs in larger size I discovered that there were insects on each of the flowers. I hadn't seen them at the time. I was not focused on them, but on the flowers. They went unnoticed. hidden. But God knew they were there.
You may have to click on the photo to see in larger view in order to find the insect.
Not a creature is hidden from God's sight.
On our recent trip to Nebraska we headed out to the countryside to see if we could find an apple orchard that we had previously visited. It was in disrepair, but we discovered some beautiful fields of giant sunflowers. Across from the huge blooms screaming for attention was a field of all green unassuming soybeans. The only reason they caught my attention is that I have become crazy about edamame. As I noted the beans on the green plants, I realized what they were.
One of the delights about having a camera that can capture such detail is that I don't know sometimes what tiniest thing might become visible that I couldn't see until I uploaded the pictures to the computer. On the big screen these tiny things become apparent, and sometimes have a startling effect. The little things take on a whole new significance.
When I saw this on the big screen I could see all the tiny fuzz/hairs on the soybean. I was reminded in the spirit that God know the numbers of hairs on my head. May seem insignificant, but even when the count goes down by three or four as I brush my hair, God immediately can answer the question of how many hairs are left. He knows how many stars are in the sky, how many freckles are on my granddaughter's cheeks, how many tears of mine he has collected.
The 'count' is always correct, current, and personal...you can count on it!
Saturday, September 13, 2008
I was listening to a remake of some hymns yesterday, and these words brought to my mind the wonderful alpine meadows of Idaho filled with wildflowers:
Fair are the meadows,
Fairer still the woodlands,
Robed in the blooming garb of spring;
Jesus is fairer,
Jesus is purer,
Who makes the woeful heart to sing.
(From Fairest Lord Jesus)
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Sometimes before embarking on a photo trip I will share the desires of my heart with Papa about what I would like to see there. Sometimes he lets me see what I asked for, but always immeasurably more than I asked for, even if I did not see the 'specific' thing for which I had asked. He gives me freedom, but how I believe he chuckles when I submit to his road choices and not mine. For instance, I remember the trip I so wanted to see a bear in Colorado. I didn't get to see the bear, but I did get to hand feed a red fox a peanut. One of the greatest thrills of my life! Man oh man, GOD OHHHHHH GOD!
I just finished reading a book by William Young called THE SHACK. I highly recommend it. It is not for the lighthearted. It deals so much with the misconceptions we have in our relationship to our Heavenly Father. Our thoughts are not his. We expect him to answer our prayers the way we ask. Asking and praying are important, but we often think that he does not love us so much, or that we are unlovable and not good enough because our prayers were not answered as we wished. Especially, as in this story, when innocent children are killed by a very sick individual.
I have learned, and need to submit to the teaching again, that having 'expectations' of anyone is a sure set-up for some dismal attitudes of disappointment and homemade soups of suffering. However, if I submit to God, as in my trips, knowing he will lead me to the paths where my blessings lie, I can go to that uncharted territory with great 'expectancy'. I have faith that he will be with me, no matter if I am traveling through the valley of the shadow of death or to high places filled with alpine wildflowers.
So what has any of this to do with the pictures above? Sometimes God gives me a photo that I do not understand at the time I have the divine appointment to take it. I know that it gave me a punch in the spirit when I took it, but do not know understand at the time how God will use it. Later on the Holy Spirit will show me what message to link with it.
The leaf seemed to me to be a small representation, with all its veins looking like rivers or highways between mountain ranges, to be like all the choices of paths we have in our earthly bodies. We may choose, because God has given us free will, to go down any road we desire even if it is away from Him. But listening to that still, small voice may lead us to the moose at the side of the road around the corner! (See a previous posting of that moose!)
The butterflies I photographed on the morning leaves and flowers spoke to me of rebirth. The caterpillars submitted themselves to the cocoon in order to become new creations. Did either know what they would look like at their coming out? Did they know there would be a coming out so beautiful? Is it just to be dismissed as science of what caterpillars instinctively do? Perhaps it is God, in his creation, giving us a glimpse of his nature and wisdom in our own becoming. He wants to transform us and give us beauty for ashes as we submit to him.
Man is given the capacity to have a relationship with his creator. Yet, scripture says the rocks will cry out if we don't. I have great expectancy that there will be many more divine appointments with my camera. I just don't know what roads to turn down until I get there and listen. Believe me, there have been times when I haphazardly started down a path and the Holy Spirit told me to turn around. It seemed benign at the time, but I believe I was being directed out of the path of danger.
Great dread and disappointment often follow expectations. Great anticipation and joy likely accompany expectancy. I know in my heart that whatever circumstances I find myself in, God loves me and never leaves me.
His love endures forever, never-ending!
Monday, September 8, 2008
As I walked the campus I was captivated by the webs on some of the trees. They were fascinating and beautiful in their own way, though I knew they meant death. The veins and leaf imprints left inside the webs were only an outline of the living green leaves that had been consumed. When I saw them, I could not help but photograph the evidence of destruction.
Again, when walking with my sister-in-law, we came upon huge mounds of vines. I could not resist capturing the beauty of the twisting vines going hundreds of directions in tiny spirals. However, they had totally covered some very beautiful sculptures underneath. They had blocked out the opportunity to see the beautiful work underneath. My sister-in-law went to work making a dent in the growth by ripping many of them off the scuptures they had strangled.
The vines on the brick of one of the campus buildings were striking in design and shape. An artist's eye could not help but be drawn to the design and color presented in beautiful light. However, I have seen brick homes with lots of damage to mortar where vines have consumed and damaged the exterior walls.
The farm implement was overgrown with vines. I imagined all the tilling and readying for seed it accomplished in its day. Now it was rusty and abandoned to the weeds. It certainly was great content for a photograph, but also great fodder for the mind.
I think what God was trying to repeat in different venues was that the enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy. We cooperate by our appetites for beauty. Perhaps a ton of money is beautiful to us, or our neighbor's wife, or a car that will really impress, or a home of huge proportions behind a gated entry. or fill in the blank. It doesn't have to be big...perhaps another pair of shoes or another piece of bling. Our self-centeredness, appetites, and desires for beautiful things of earth often deceive us into forgetting where real beauty and treasure resides. Our values become based in the need to impress others or bolster what we think of ourselves. God seems to be taken out of the equation of what is beautiful.
It becomes what we can buy, do, and say to garner what is beautiful in human terms.
...their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again; Rejoice!
He will beautify the meek with salvation.
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
From Zion, perfect in beauty,
God shines forth.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
On my first morning walk through Doane College Campus I came upon these swans under this fountain. I had seen swans on another pond, but had never been this far west to see the other pair play under the fountain. The second morning I took my camera with me. They seemed quite content to have their morning shower and retreat to the quiet shaded corners of the pond when the temperature rose. They were so graceful as they glided through the fountain rain.
Without knowing that they were purposefully present under this shower, one might think from some of the other views that they were weathering a battering rainstorm or even sleet/snow. As the weather gets cold they are housed and fed in another area on campus. I will always find time to go discover their hiding places when I am in Crete. I often use their images of gliding across the water when I get ready for sleep or want to relax. I don't count sheep...I imagine the Doane swans gliding across the pond.
Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name;
you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Thursday, September 4, 2008
I usually do not post many family pictures on my blog. But these activities bear an important message. It is about remembering to work and play together as a family.
An apple tree broken because of the weight of its fruit was the blessing that sent us to work and play together.
Earlier that day my sister-in-law and I discovered the splintered tree and all the apples going to waste. We gathered our spouses and headed back with a few buckets to carry home our bounty. The playing and working together will hold special memories for me, as well as the taste of the warm and spicy cinnamon-laden offerings we enjoyed later.
We walked back home through the beautiful college campus and played some spirited 'Baltimore, apple core, who's your friend' around the base of the huge tree in the front yard. Sort of like a snowball fight, if you've never played. We got into the joy and wonder of playing a child's game out in the fresh air of early fall.
That evening we had fried apples with dinner. A skillet full of self-picked apples cooked down with brown sugar and butter made us feel a little like we had gone out and contributed to 'catching' some of our meal by the sweat of our brow. The following night we had a delicious apple crisp topped with vanilla ice cream. As Rachel Ray would say, "Yummo!"
Picking apples, playing together, and enjoying the fruits of our labor...a good day!
Being 'childish', acting immaturely, is not to be coveted; but being child-like is a priceless treasure to us and to our Heavenly Papa.
Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
In the words of Jesus, "I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."
I took my camera with me on my walk through Doane College campus on my second morning walk in Nebraska. The light streaming through the trees and landing on stunning flower beds was extravant! As it danced through leaves and around these incredibly long trunks of such stature, my spirit was laughing and my eyes were feasting on the menu of beauty before me.
I am very sensitive to light, design, color, and movement; especially when I have my camera in hand. I had noticed the handsome design of the leaves and seed pods on a particular tree. As my eye followed the blue sky and leaf design, it found its way to the very top of a particular tree. I was about ready to take the picture when I realized there was a little guy staring back at me right in the center of my focus on the sky and leaves. He held himself totally still, but knew that I was looking right at him. He seemed to have an attitude of astonishment that I could find him way at the top of this tree. He had been skittering around on the ground earlier, perhaps gathering nuts in the cool morning to put away in his winter storehouse. I had lost track of where he had gone.
Perhaps he could hide from me, but God knew where he was going before he got there!
We have boldness without judgment to think that we can watch anything, think or speak anything, do anything, or be anywhere without God's knowledge. We are so foolhardy in useless hiding. We might as well tell on ourselves. He knows where we have been and where we are going. He wants to guide our paths and be asked to search our hearts.
Search me, O God, and know my heart. Ps. 139:23
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far edge of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. Ps. 139:9
Not a creature is hidden from his sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:13
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
I loved finding out the meaning of 'Le Tournasol' when I took French in college. It literally means 'turning to face the sun.' I grew up in western Nebraska, so am quite familiar with the smaller sunflowers. I was delighted to find these fields of giant sunflowers out in the Nebraska countryside.
These are a few words from a song I wrote recently:
He seeded the meadows with flowers;
a work of art, every one.
We could take a lesson
how each turns its face to the Son.
It was amazing to see the giant sunflowers all turned in the same direction, with faces boldly soaking in the brilliance of the life-giving sun. In fact, in the third picture I could see two sets of angel hands clapping in response to the flowers giving the source of light their full attention.
They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
As I was out on my fast walk this morning I thought about what God might want me to say about this photo. We saw this rainbow on the Kansas/Nebraska border yesterday morning on the beginning stretch of the long trip home to Fort Worth. The sky was changing so quickly at the beginning of dawn, yet the rainbow remained for a good amount of time in its entire span from beginning to end. It ministered to me on several levels:
First of all, the joy of seeing a whole rainbow always brings out the delight of the child in me. It was stunning as it spanned the sky. But it was only the second time in my not short life that I had seen the actual beginning of the colors right on the ground. Most I have seen fade away before reaching the horizon, or are blocked from my vision by buildings in front of their beginnings and endings. This magnificent arch moved in a huge area along the ground as the base traveled across the field. There was such majestic covering of the harvest.
Second: the stripes reminded me of the lanes of a race. Each of us has a race to run. (Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith...Hebrews 12:1-2).
Third: it struck me deeply that I got to see the beginning of the rainbow move along in a field that had produced an abundant harvest. Hmmm...coming out of the dirt, extending again, back to dirt. Dust to dust. God gives each of us a race to run equipped to produce a harvest for our use and his glory.
Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains in righteousness. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. The threshing floors will be filled with grain...Joel 2:23-24
I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth. Joel 2:28-30
Fourth: though the rainbow, our 'race' and lifespan in this earthly body, ends in dust, I have a future in heaven:
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly...Hebrews 12:22
...a beautiful forever home after the race is done...filled with stunning jewel colors that would put a rainbow on Earth to shame!
Our rainbows are so full of hope and promise of what is yet to come.