Saturday, December 26, 2009
The crud has camped out in my family through the holiday season. I got into the doctor on Christmas eve day because I knew I was in trouble and could not get through the Christmas activities without some antibiotic. Glad I went, though I hate going to the doctor. He said I was headed for pneumonia. I could not get a full breath and surely began to feel panicked.
However, one 14 dollar pill down, I began to feel better in half a day. I was heartbroken to miss the Christmas eve service, but sent my husband on ahead. That is when the blizzard started. After the early service everyone was dismissed to head home before the roads became impassable.
Lo, and behold, we got a record snowfall, and woke up to the most astounding heap of wet, heavy snow in our backyard. Two pills down the hatch, I was beginning to see a big change in my breathing capacity. I went out into the sun, bundled up to enjoy the sunlight and beautiful snow. Before you know it, the joy that comes in the morning had me making a snow fox. We rarely see snow in Texas, and when we do it is not of the quality or quantity to build anything that last more than half an hour.
I moved on to make a grizzly bear, but thought better of expending too much energy while recovering from infection. The pull to continue to create in the snow was overcome with a gift of common sense and wisdom from the holy spirt.
If you know anything about me from following my blog, you will know that I am crazy about wildlife. The friends I have made on Evergreen Mountain have changed my heart forever. On one particular visit I was able to hand feed a red fox. It was an exquisite, thrilling experience.
I had been transported from the heaviness of sickness and lethargy to rising on Christmas morning to the joyful energy of a child playing in freshly fallen snow. God had invited me to co-create something to express the incredible joy that was blessing my spirit. Abundant life; joy in the morning. It was one of the most joyful Christmas mornings of my life, following one of the most dismal Christmas eves of my life.
God is so good! Restoration, hope, life, breath, faith, trust...
My true Joy did come on Christmas morning to a manger long ago, but he is as real to me today as that freshly fallen snow.
Joy Comes in the Morning!
Thursday, December 17, 2009
I came upon the word 'expectancy' in the book, "The Shack" a few years ago. It has rolled around in my mind, straightening my path, my attitude, and my actions since then. I can tell you that it is in the opposite direction and trouble of that other word, 'expectation', which usually leads to resentment, disillusionment, depression, and general malaise! Not a good path on which to travel or stay for very long.
I found myself overwhelmed as usual this time of year with too much to do, too little time, too many expectations, too little energy, and a general lack of excitement because of the emphasis on what needed to be done, bought, cooked, cleaned, then add one hundred more words. Mostly on the unrealistic expectations others have and I have of myself.
It seems that each Christmas season some small thing pierces the 'doing' and gets my heart back to the childlike expectancy of Advent. Waiting, joyfully watching, believing. Some of that arrived in my house today when I was putting together some gifts for my husband's workplace. An idea came to me about how to do a personal gift for some folks that do not expect one. It is such a fun thing to do because of the very fact that they do not expect anything. No exchange, no drawing names, no reason, except to be singled out and given a gift. Those are sometimes hard to get and receive for many reasons. Freely given? Must be a catch. I must hurry out and get something to give back. What do they want? What did I do to deserve this? Oh my!
I decided to post a picture of this creche that I photographed at a house on the Progressive Dinner route. Its simplicity shot an arrow of love right to the point of my need. I remembered how Jesus did not come in the way he was expected. Surely this could not be the Messiah! Our KING born to a virgin as a baby in a lowly manger? Expectations of how and when his kingdom would come to be? They are still all over the chart.
But the expectancy every Christmas, when it pierces my heart, is fulfilled when I realize I have been the recipient of many undeserved gifts. GRACE, MERCY, UNSPEAKABLE JOY, PEACE WITH GOD, A FUTURE AND A HOPE, ETERNAL LIFE. I can't earn any of that list. I can't even give a gift back except to love this little one who would grow to be my Savior; to let that seed of the kingdom which lives in me shine with love.
Expectancy can only be quenched by God. It is not a Christmas list to be fulfilled. It is more simple and complex at the same time than something that can be written down and demanded. It is the awesome way in which God shows up, perhaps in the way we least expect; then in the manger, and now in our daily lives. The LIGHT came to earth that we might be LIGHT to others.
Monday, December 7, 2009
I am the vine, you are the branches.
We stopped at a roadside market and got to see the vineyard of Black Bridge Winery. Lee told us how the grapes must not be harvested until every bit of goodness can be moved from the vine into the grapes. The top leaves were already brown and some seemed to be frostbitten; yet, it was still not time to pluck the grapes.
God wants us to bear fruit, but we must be attached to the vine to do so. We can spin our wheels, be in control; on paper seem to be getting lots done. We can get exhausted in doing.
You could say to a productive sort, "Hey, slow down. You don't have to do everything. Delegate!" Well, some of us with 'mother' hats have not so much of a window to rest in a day, and not a full night of rest before it starts all over again. Sometimes there is no one in human skin to help, or we have too much pride to ask. We caregive to everyone but ourselves. We can start or restart some healthy snacks, praying throughout the day, a short walk or nap if possible, smiling, and practicing an attitude of gratitude. We all can take a few connecting breaths and get centered again in the truth of what we are...the BRANCHES, not the VINE! Lord, help us to remember our life-giving attachment that nourishes our soul and produces good fruit.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
If you have read the previous blog you know about the elderly couple we met at Lake San Cristobal. They were charming, and we noticed they were headed in the same direction after the stop. We have wondered if they caught sight of this moose just a few miles down the road as we encountered fallen snow passing over the Continental Divide before heading to Creede.
The interesting thing is that, living in Texas, we seldom see snow. We miss its beauty, though not so much the scooping and driving. Growing up in Nebraska, I never thought I would be taking pictures of snow on our trips just because it was a beautiful oddity! Playing in the snow or photographing the glittering crystals on trees and hillsides makes me giddy.
As we rounded the corner past Lake San Cristobal, we found ourselves in a winter wonderland. We slowed down so I could photograph the small drifts and seedlings. As we resumed the drive I thought I saw a sillouette of a moose back in the trees. I yelled, "MOOSE! GO BACK!" My husband remarked, "I thought I saw it, too!" We were able to circle around and catch this lovely cow moose in the snow. I think this was the first time I photographed a moose in snow. What a gift!
Now, I must get to the point. We have seen millions of what we thought were bears on our travels, but they only turned out to be 'stump' bears; brown short stumps that we mistook for the real deal. We have seen bush deer, limb elk, and rock moose as well. After awhile, the eye gets trained, even from a fast moving car driven by a husband that is tired of stopping. He continues speeding along because I gave the wrong wording ("That's gorgeous!" does not equal "Stop, I want to take a picture!"). My eyes, ears, AND communication skills have improved on my journeys. We have an understanding that I need to say "STOP!" if I want him to do anything but agree with my commentary.
My friend Mike, who just passed, would often pray for heightened hearing, sight, and courage in me to capture God's love, glory, and essence in my photographs; that I would bear fruit in encouragement to others with the stories and pictures of travel through His stunning planet Earth. Thank you, Mike, for praying me into all those trips. Thank you, God, for giving me eyes to see and ears to hear. What a wonderful blessing that God has put heart's desire and opportunities in front of me to do this.
But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
This is Lake San Cristobal, the second largest natural lake in Colorado. It is a few miles south of Lake City, just before going over the Continental Divide. We stopped alongside another car, and came upon an elderly couple walking a small distance up the trail trying to get a better view of the lake. We chatted for a few moments and I continued up the trail as it narrowed and became much steeper. The view past the obstacles was stunning as the whole blue expanse became visible. I shouted back to my husband to ask permission to get their camera and take a shot of the vista farther up the mountain. They agreed and we were both tickled that we would be able to take these photographs home to share with others.
I thought about how sometimes we just do not have the stamina to go another step. Others in our lives are perhaps a step ahead in their wisdom and life lessons. They share with us, when we need their wisdom. They take our camera and get the shot for us. They can see the whole picture and speak into our lives accordingly. I am thankful for all the wonderful mentors I have had in my life. They encouraged me and literally saved my life at times. Likewise, I hope in ten or fifteen years when we can't get farther up the hiking trail, that some younger hikers will get the shot for us.
I love meeting other people along the beautiful arenas of wilderness. We are in the great natural cathedrals that instill in us the worship for the Creator and the love for those we meet along the path, though they be strangers. We are in the churches without walls, in love with our God.
Love God and love one another.
Friday, November 20, 2009
These photos were all taken of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The many stops at the rim of the Canyon were breathtaking. Then we took the steep incline down to the river. The grade was quite harrowing, and we met several deer along the roadside at dusk. The first two photos were taken at the base of the Canyon; the last two from the rim.
It is overwhelming, wonderful love that bubbles up in me when I acknowledge that the same hands that made this Canyon knit me together in my mother's womb. Neither decision was a mistake or accident, but fashioned by God out of dust. Amazing!!!
Thursday, November 19, 2009
I took this picture along the shore of Lake Louise in Canada several years ago. The sky was quite ashy because of some recent forest fires. This vista gave me a sense of peace and trust as I photographed the fireweed bent over the water from the shoreline. On the return trip a whole different view greeted us with clear skies, intense blue water, and peaks across the water. It was equally awesome, but the first had a greater sense of intimacy and private showing of God.
I believe that in heaven there will be no fear, no tears, no sickness. I miss my friend Mike today, but I take great comfort and joy in knowing he is well.
Rest in the Lord.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Sorry I have not posted for so long. But today, in memory of my prayer warrior and wonderful friend, I felt the need to post my thoughts. He died this afternoon after a battle with colon cancer and the following chemotherapy that left him unable to fight off any infections.
I saw him at the hospital before noon. I went to sing to him, but was not allowed in the room. I trust that his spirit received the song. It was one I wrote and he had heard me sing before. 'Peace I leave with You.'
All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.
When I returned home to meet my daughter and new grand daughter, I got the news that he had passed. It did not take the ache away that Mike had died, but blowing into my grandbaby's tummy and eliciting a string of giggles was salve to my spirit. The inheritance and legacy of generations is amazing.
Looking at the autumn's loosing of seeds and the iced grasses wearing their first wintery coats, there is beauty in the passing of the seasons. One generation passes and another is born of the seed. The circle of life.
The grass fades, but the love of our God is forever. Blessings and great joy to my friend Mike for whom God has prepared a room. I know Mike has unspeakable joy in tossing the crowns at the feet of the one he served.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
As we continued our journey out of Marble and over to the Carbondale area we pulled off at Paonia to visit a roadside market and vineyard. The swan gourds were beautiful, the Merlot grapes bountiful, and the Honey Crisp apples lip-smacking good! Come to find out, the owner knows my husband's cousin who is also growing vines for the wine up at Grand Junction.
Lee, the owner, welcomed me to take pictures of the the Merlot grapes. He explained that even though the top grape leaves were wrinkled and brown, the harvest would not take place until the lower leaves had given all their goodness to the ripening of the grapes. The grapes were draped with netting to keep the birds from destroying the crop. It was an enchanted time being able to see the work of the fields yield this beautiful harvest.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. John 15:1
I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers...
This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
One of the scariest drives on our Colorado trip was the mountain road between Silverton and Ouray. We entered low fog and sleet as the altitude rose. The turns along the canyons and gorges would have been difficult in good weather conditions, but this mix was terrifying. However, as we proceeded into some visibility the aspens with snow-covered evergreens popping through seemed to shout the changing of the season from autumn to winter. The snow on golden aspen reminded me of one of my favorite scriptures and songs:
To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.
In our family lately there have been hardships and joys. But God goes with us always. Here is some of our list:
Having a baby,
getting the swine flu,
starting a dream,
losing a job,
seeing a moose,
bugling elk downtown Evergreen,
seeing snow and ice on golden aspen leaves,
precious hugs from kids and their kids,
a friend failing with serious illness,
a new cabin home for Colorado friends,
a wonderful husband that still adores me,
and me him...
knowing that God never leaves us,
no matter what season we are in!
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
I got to revisit one of my favorite places on our recent trip to Colorado: The Great Sand Dunes National Monument. The dunes cover 39 square miles and raise to 700 feet at the base of the towering Sangre de Cristos. They seem to be out of place, more likely to be seen on a seashore or desert. The geological explanation is that the wind carries sand worn down from rock to the Cristos. Their height acts as a barrier and the wind's continued pattern of dropping sand forms the dunes.
Something about seeing footprints and sledding stripes as well as persons walking the crests looking like small dots shouted an invitation to interact with these stunning hills of sand. The unexpected glorious landscape excited the center of spiritual pleasure that calls for relationship with the creation. I found that playful tickle in my spirit leading me to roll down one of the dunes. I knew the pictures would make my grandkids giggle. I was elated with joy.
As I get older I find myself doing things that I would have thought improper, embarrassing, dangerous, not age appropriate or frowned on by someone else's standards. I am interested these days in following my joy. I want to be able to encourage others to follow their joy. THE JOY OF THE LORD IS OUR STRENGTH.
Don't we need to see and have good and happy hearts? Believe me, there is plenty of stuff in our family right now that invites fear and discouragement. Depression, doom and gloom, and fears can all be spread easily. Not that we don't need to talk about things we are going through or walk through some pits. But what are we doing, thinking, speaking that brings us and others more JOY??? Do something today for someone else in secret. Smile at strangers. Tell the checker to have a good day. Run with your pet. Snuggle or hug. Lots of ways to practice JOY! I think a gratitude list and a thanksgiving prayer are always a good jumping off place to develop an attitude of joyfulness. A relationship with the Lord encourages joy and hope.
So make a gratitude list,
walk out some JOY,
and LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Our journey on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad had be be on the top of our list for vacation experiences in Colorado last week. We stopped at this location for the steam engine to take on water and felt like we had stepped into a place out of time. The light rays coming through the trees gave an ethereal feeling to the river and its banks. It seemed like we were in a Thomas Kincaid painting of light.
Sometimes we passed on the same road different times of the day and the light reflected in water or coming onto the mountainsides made the very same place seem like two different locations. It reminded me of how we are different when we submit ourselves to reflecting God's love or are self-involved and seem disconnected and perhaps rude to those around us. He says as his children that we are the Light of the world; the Salt of the earth.
Wouldn't it be great if we could aspire to be Light to those around us? Like when coming around the corner on the train to confront this beautiful display of light, those in our presence would want to stay awhile to experience the peace and grace that radiate from us as a result of our relationship with Jesus?
Arise and shine, for the Light has come;
the Glory of the Lord is risen upon thee!
Sunday, October 11, 2009
I am back from Colorado and think I have not spent so much time in church in just a week. After all, aren't these all 'Cathedrals' in a way? When God's creation calls forth praise, we are in word and deed a precious place where we know we are part of the Body and overcome with the standing we have in our God's heart. When you look at these beautiful scenes it is quite overwhelming to know He counts us more precious than anything else on the earth. He made it all for us. Not a mistake, not an accident; but a gift to His children. Praise Him!
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
My husband was packing his bags for our trip, had eaten supper, and I noticed the sky. I was done with most of my preparations, so I took off to capture the sunset. I knew just where I wanted to be at its peak. Didn't make it to the lake by the time the sky died down to grey, but I DID make it to the windmill.
A windmill, black against the coral sky, brings back so many memories of living in the country. We had a windmill on our farm, and the surrounding farms usually had one as well. We couldn't afford many toys. We were sent outside to use our imaginations and play old-fashioned games. I remember playing outside until it was too dark to see anything but the moon and the fireflies. I remember playing tag until you couldn't see anything but shadows of movement. I recall running so fast to beat being caught that my heart nearly beat out of my chest. I remember the rising up of giggles that could not be turned off.
The sunsets with silhouettes of barns, windmills, cattle, field implements, and all things 'country' breathe a peace into me. Tis a gift to be simple, as the song goes. I think that spending time with the bookends of the day is a good way to harvest serenity from the ONE who is the author of peace.
Monday, September 28, 2009
My friend and I were waiting in a small restaurant having a bite to eat while the innkeeper across the road got our cabin ready. A couple came in and started a conversation with us. They advised us to go back up the road the next morning and turn by the red mailbox. Continue up the mountain road for about 18 miles.
We did as they said, wondering a few times if we were still on the right road, and wishing perhaps our wise husbands were with us. As we came to the top of the ridge we could see the stunning aspen trees, the cloud covered valley, and the Sangre de Cristo range on the other side. Every few feet afforded a different perspective. There were a few lakes at the top also, adding an element to the almost overwhelming views. We felt very small, but very blessed to be on such sacred ground seeing such a display of God's glory.
I will be, in a few days, hopefully visiting the same spot with my husband. Snow on the golden aspen leaves is a layer that is exquisite, but not so fun for driving. We always seem to get breaks when it is time to capture the gift, and be able to navigate the roads. I hope to bring back some pictures for all of you that will encourage and increase your faith.
Praise the Lord from the earth,,,
you mountains and hills...
Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his splendor is above the earth
and the heavens.
Psalm 148:7, 9, 13
Friday, September 25, 2009
Yesterday a plot was revealed to take down this beautiful Dallas skyscraper. 'Fountain Place' is a beautiful dark glass structure that reflects the skies to the passersby on foot and in cars. The angles almost give a feeling of spiraling to the structure. Its destruction would have been a great loss in human, economic, and architectural aspects.
On one of our TRE trips with our grandchildren I was able to get a photograph of this beauty. Aesthetically, it is one of my favorite skyscrapers of all the cities that I have visited. Having it be so close to where we live and being the target of terrorism gives rise to all sorts of concerns. But it will not put me in fear to stop traveling, or visiting Dallas with my kids, or stop leaving my house to enjoy the abundance of life my God affords.
I wonder and pray mostly about the difference in perception of God who says, 'Love your enemies' and God who commands to kill your enemies. I pray for this young man, only 19, who was perceived as being fun, hard-working, a great guy and friend to everyone he met. In contrast, on internet and behind the scenes he was planning the destruction and death of human life and a beautiful structure. To those who say, "How could God let this happen?" I have to present the fact that He gives us free will. Our trouble lies in that freedom.
Yet, our God is able to use for good what is planned for evil.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
I finally finished a task that I had been contemplating even before our last trip. We will soon be headed out again to the mountains, so I wanted to get a photograph from the Yellowstone/Jackson Hole area matted and framed to put above my dresser. I wanted this choice, since I have several of just mountain scenes, to include some wildlife. I finally settled on the bull moose we spotted on Wilson Road headed out of Teton Village. He was magnificent, dripping water from his drinking and eating in the pond. He turned to look at me, and I was amazed at how awesome, beautiful, and graceful he was. Oh, I forgot funny-looking. I am crazy about foxes, moose, and bears. All wildlife, really; but these three categories are at the top of my list.
My photographs in my house, and this one will definitely do such duty, are sanctuaries. I can remember the roads, smells, circumstances where they were taken. It is a way I can enter into a spiritual sanctuary, thanking God for his wonderful gifts and be grateful for where all the roads have led.
Acknowledge Him in all ways and He will direct your path.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
I was sitting at the computer catching up on the day's cyberspace when I noticed the outer space was on fire. It was a challenge to get to an open space to photograph the quickly changing sky. What a way to bookend a day, huh?
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised. The Lord is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens.