One hour 249 Steps 117 pictures

 

 My wife and I sat together on the screen porch this morning and talked about all the signs of spring we could see outside. It’s been a long winter season in our lives as well. There are signs of spring everywhere!

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The Blue Bird started it from 20 feet off the ground.

A Blue bird! Sitting at the top of a spruce tree outside the window singing away. I grabbed the camera and proceeded to notice spring in the north land through the camera lens. I spent an hour of last daylight, took less than 250 steps and over 100 pictures,

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With a constant eye on the furling clouds and peeking sun, I began to become aware. The details of spring, new growth and a challenge to my Soul. Can anyone see new growth in me or am I like the rocks in the field just getting older and taking up space.

 Enjoy a few photos of spring taken within 60 steps of the front door. All photos taken the last hour of daylight May 11 2018. Truly, it’s all changed by now. Same sun, trees and all but I could take a million more pictures and not gain the exact same perspective. Click on one for an enlarged slide show. 

Spring signs are bursting forth right through the tree bark. Blossoms are waving in the wind as I try for a still shot. It was not even 50 degrees out and the rabbit did not even try to run away.

Lord: Are there signs of new growth in my life? Or, am I like the thorn bush still hanging on to last years berries?

The fast racing formations often remind me of the spiritual forces unseen to us. So much is beyond our control yet I am challenged to grow daily in my closeness to God.
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The sun sets as the sky is clearing. All is well with my soul.

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What season of life are you going through? Are there signs of spring?

Gary

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12 

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Monday Worship

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Monday morning, a balmy 40 degrees Fahrenheit  on the screen porch

When I can, which is most days, I approach the author and creator of this universe boldly on our screen porch (or the breakfast table inside). The loud traffic outside comes from hundreds of birds excited over a few patches of ground showing up in the snow (and three birds I have named Martha 1,2 and 3 fighting over a single bird house. I listen and worship today from the book of James. So much peace, joy and worship comes from this screen porch. I suspect someday some will want to ban screen porches.

Where is your place of worship? We all worship something or someone everyday.

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Praising God and reflecting on his word. When hard times (which we see) and God’s goodness (only God sees) collide, we are never the same. We are Gods masterpiece created in Christ Jesus (EPH 2:10) 

Dressed for the occasion in my wilderness wool, blue jeans and moccasins. It is finally above freezing and the screen porch is a great meeting place with my Lord and savior Jesus Christ for now. I am competing with scores of upland song birds vivaciously singing at the top of their lungs. Sometimes God may enjoy their unabashed worship more than mine. Oh that God would melt the snow patches on my own heart and in that melted puddle reflect his glory.

What or who do we reflect?

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Morning reflections from the woods as the snow melts. The suns reflection  is noticeably absent

I Pray that the light of Jesus is not absent in the reflections of my life.

James 1:22-24   

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  

I’m looking forward to the eternal display of those masterpieces!

Please add your thoughts as well. Thanks for reading.

 Gary

Weathering Expectations

 

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A sure sign of spring but a few hours later….

It’s supposed to be spring. It’s supposed to be 30 degrees warmer. I should be getting my boat ready for the fishing opener in three weeks. I could go on a longer rant but a couple of pictures will tell the story. This is a huge storm and they happen. It will keep happening for another day says the weather forecaster. Cars are guessing where the road is and hundreds of people are guessing wrong from reports.. Lives are being lost. Maybe it’s just a human condition to ignore messages we don’t want to hear.

 

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Is there a “Footprints in the snow” poem?
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This is why the baseball game was canceled

Right now as I write and look out the window, it’s only the weather. It’s bad but it will go away. A few million people are affected but it will pass. I’m disappointed in my expectations but it’s supposed to be spring. I’m not alone but that knowledge is only helping us stay home.

It’s been a day to lay some of life’s expectations on the table for me. It seems there has been quite a margin of error on my part between what is supposed to happen and what really happens as the years roll by. I think I am less accurate than the weather forecasters. I thought this snow was supposed to miss us. I guess I listened to the wrong station.

After six decades of hoping  for life’s expectations I have some disappointments. I should be in better shape physically, make more money at this age, be more prepared for retirement, have more friends around me,  live closer to family and help take care of dad. I guess I thought I would become “More” as a person than I have. There is more, way more but I can’t somehow put those cards on the table yet. Life is often filled with false or unrealized expectations.

There is one message I have not ever regretted following

One pursuit that I have vowed to follow from age 15 throughout my life. I pursue an intimate relationship and daily walk with God. My Creator, Savior, Comforter, Sustainer, Guide, King and Friend for eternity is who I listen to and follow. Yes, I have the expectation of living eternally with God. I am way more sure of the fulfillment of this expectation than any weather forecast. I have experienced His presence, blessings, guidance, peace and even His love for those I naturally wouldn’t. My wife and I talk often of the evidence of God and his hand on us throughout our life together.  The evidence stack is really high. I believed 1 john 5:11 This is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is found in his Son.

Conclusion: Believe the right source. Let God design life’s priorities and expectations. Trust God forever. Completely trust God’s revelation to us. There are even real and powerful witnesses. Here is a quick sample.

2 Peter 1:16

 For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

 Gary

PS I will be taking a wilderness canoe trip in may (5 weeks?) and the ice on the lakes is over 3′ thick yet. I still have summer plans and expectations (and the BWCAW permit to show for it). The canoe is ready…see!  It’s dark and still snowing and I should have put shoes on, but it’s just for one picture.Canoe 4eml

 

Getting Invited

This is how to get invited to events, camps, fishing and hunting trips and so on. This picture and pun will reveal all…Getting invited eml
Bring something to the table

We all have something to offer. We all have our particular ways to be in demand. To serve is a better way of understanding how to be invited. While it may seem to be self serving with this approach it is also a good personal measuring stick of our own character.

I met a couple of young gals (at a men’s retreat) who were invited everywhere. It seems they had bought the equipment from a coffee shop going under and were willing to be portable and serve. They had skills and great coffee. How about: they had skills and 100 kinds of  really great coffee! They were also willing to take a stab at making anything requested with an adventurous smile. Side note: They were not single very long.

This morning as I plopped an easy made breakfast and some coffee onto the table I saw how the plate, cup, and book represented me. I cook, make special mugs (and a mean  coffee) and speak in public at special events. I get invited. What’s more they invite me back (Remembering that journey will hopefully keep me humble).

What are you willing to bring to the table to serve others?  

My day job keeps me very busy as well as home life. My heartbeat is summed up on the coffee mug of this second picture. This side of the mug says it all.

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What Jesus brought to the table; The Hebrews 11 Hall of Faith Roll: Mine and Your part?

Gary

Credits: 3 eggs, 1/4 onion, 2 baby bell pepper, Men’s breakfast mug with thrice heated coffee and my bible opened to where I am at in my morning  time with God (Hebrews 11). Oh ya, and bacon…don’t ever forget the bacon at a men’s breakfast.

Images: One Frosty morning

It happened. I was in a hurry…again, and posted a new blog on the wrong blog site…Or did I? This is why I do not sky dive. My http://www.garyfultz.com is supposed to be an outdoors blog. I may merge them as I find I am no different in either blog. I do tend to have a more “secular” readership in the outdoor blog. We will see after this mix-up. Maybe it’s a good thing, You decide, and then I will. I now repost what I wrote this morning. I think you will like it. For those of you who get both blogs…sorry, you are “double dipped”, whatever that means. I will put a couple more pictures to help.

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Images: One Frosty Morning

    I’m sorry but I can’t do it. I can’t imagine what is not because of what I know and experience on a daily basis. Beauty is everywhere, should one care to have beauty in their life. Standing in the middle of immense beauty leaves me in tears often.

Click on one of this mornings photos for the slide feature and enjoy some slices (just small slices of what I experienced this morning) of beauty. It does exist and we were created to enjoy this beauty. I believe it’s a part of being created in the image of God. I tried to get our dog to understand this but…well, you know. Dogs don’t seem to have a beauty appreciation app.

I got up this morning, looked out the window, grabbed my camera and ran into our attached, but heated garage in my PJ’s and moccasins. A quick look at the temperature outside confirmed my suspicions that it was zero degrees F and I would freeze fast. A parka, hat and outer layer ice fishing pants were handy so I was able to last 10 minutes before my fingers couldn’t function anymore. I captured a few images within a few yards of the house and enjoyed breath taking beauty that could never be captured in whole. I’m sorry that I can only show you some thin slices of from this amature photographer.  You can click on a picture and go to the slide show feature. I hope you enjoy them.  Which is your favorite?

Imagine for a moment that we have no ability to know or understand the concept of God.

    I’m sorry but I can’t do it. I can’t imagine what is not because of what I know and experience on a daily basis. Like beauty I have a life-time experiencing an interactive walk with God. He is! God shows himself in so many slices, should one care to have God in their life. 

I can however imagine eternity with God if only in small slices of what I see, hear, feel and experience here (without the pain). I cannot, however, imagine an eternity without God. I cannot even go there. No one has to go there. A relationship with God is way more than an app and it’s free (click here for starters). Please at least take an honest look at Jesus Christ the only way to knowing God.

The words to the captives in ancient Babylon are as true for us as to them as recorded by Jeremiah “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

Gary

One last shot…

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You know what red sky in the morning means in february? Ya, another 8″ of snow like it did yesterday

Wintering the soul: Get a Glint

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I ask a coworker friend often; “How is your wife doing?” Before saying anything past “OH,” and a sigh; there is a telling glint in his eye that means more than words.  A small deep glint at the core encrusted within weary, torn and sad eyes. The glint matches the smile on his face and humor held in check by 3 hours of sleep a night. “We pray for you often;” I say. “We know and feel it” He says and we go about our work.

Sometimes there is a Bond of Brotherhood that defies depth and definition. Pain has hunted us down and we are fighting it together. Lots of people have pain. Awful pain. It’s normal to just survive it the best we can, hoping for better days. As hard as it is, there is more than just a dark side. There is a side that produces my coworkers steely eye glint. The Aurora Borealis of glints in an eye.

It’s a choice.

Pain, especially ongoing never ending pain, causes people to pick a path. Some of us go numb for awhile, retreating into a shell. We play the “poor me” card. Some wave a big flag and call attention to all their woes. Many cards are usually played here including the “send me money” card, and there is a whole deck of personal reaction cards. I want to tell you about our friends who live differently in their pain than most. I will call them Mr. and Mrs. B.

Mrs. B’s story (short version)

Mrs. B has had a degenerative disease for many years which has led to her body not working correct on many fronts. She is bedridden and can sit in a wheelchair sometimes when seeing doctors and such. Her pain is so bad she is chipping her teeth from clenching her jaw. A mouth guard is now needed. Her pain triggers a PTSD type situation where she does not recognize her husband for time periods. Mr. B is the main caregiver as well as husband and is totally committed to seeing her through. Mr. B has long hair and a long ponytail (from the old days) that he will never cut off as Mrs. B can only be convinced that Mr. B is really her husband as he has her grab his ponytail. He gets about 3 hours of sleep a night after keeping any sharp objects away from her. God, humor and friends keep them going; mostly God. I asked our company to hire him and let him leave and come back as often as he needs for his wife. Every company needs a Mr. B (for 100 reasons plus his work ethic and influence on work culture) although he falls asleep in meetings.

Another side of the story

Early last sunday morning Mrs. B felt “weighed” to pray for our pastor. She did not know he would have to quit in the middle of his sermon and ask our associate pastor to step in and finish. She seems to know things before they happen because of her unusual walk with God, this is normal. Her trust in God is a Redwood Forest of trust compared to a normal forest. Seeds grown in the soil of pain and nurtured by walking with God.

Mrs. B had her doctor in tears because of her reaction last week to all the bad news about how bad her body is doing. She assured her doctor that she was really OK because in the big picture she knows where she is going and life here is but a blip on the screen of eternity. She has that glint in her eye that is physically real. I believe (totally unsubstantiated) God has given this couple a glint connected to eternity.

The hundreds letters of encouragement to missionaries, scores of college students and others in the community that have needed prayer have waned over the years. The ability to host a small group in their home is probably gone. A silent unseen spiritual warrior gaining more strength in the heavenly realm as the physical slips away. Who does this? Actually there are many stories, many silent lives strong in faith and weak in body. Mrs. B has been assured deep within her soul, by God; that she will someday have her body redeemed. Our Spina Bifida daughter is another and you may know someone like this. Should we not all have this faith and assurance in the depth of our being? Should we not all “Get a Glint”?

Romans 8:22-24 (NIV)

 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 

Now that’s something worth glinting for!

Gary

This blog is also a continuation of my outdoor blog at https://garyfultz.com/2018/01/20/wintering-the-weather/

Merry Christmas everyone!

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To all you readers and fellow bloggers, Merry Christmas from the frozen lakes areas of northern United States. The sun is a bit inconspicuous through the cab and the trees as it sets over the small lake I was fishing.  A safe 7″ of ice with the fold up shelter allowed me to see 9 fish and catch 3.

When I read your blogs from South Africa, UK, South America and so many warmer countries, I often wonder what I am missing that excites you. I only know what you are missing if you have never driven or walked on a frozen lake or peered down a hole in the ice as a monster fish suddenly appears to bite your hook (Or decide not to).

I dropped a camera down the hole to show you just what it looks like down there. I was catching some blue gill that day.  Check out this utube video 

Have a Merry Christmas fellow readers and bloggers. may you keep connected. May you also become more connected to the God who created all that we know and love.

For me, Christmas is a time where I reflect on how our creator exchanged His eternal Glory for a different kind of glory never seen before. A glory He wants to pass on to us through God in a finite human body as a baby. Inconspicuously inserting himself into his own creation to make a way to restore our relationship to Him.  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. ” Luke 2:14. take some time to mull over what the angels proclaimed to some obscure shepherds who would worship God in the form of a baby born in a barn. Glory to God both in heaven and now on earth

May you make room for Jesus in your everyday life this next year.

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We have a christmas tree wall for some of our Christmas Cards

 

Merry christmas All from the Frozen state of Wisconsin, USA. It’s -8 F actual temperature and diving. Wind chill close to -30 F.

Gary

Second Hand Experience

It’s a trap. To think we have a close relationship with God by only listening to sermons and christian music. By only going to church you may be missing out on the intended first hand experience with God we were created to have. Maybe a story will help me explain.Spider web art email
I remember as a kid helping mom round up things to bring to church to send to missionaries in other countries. We called them “Missionary Barrels” because we literally packed big barrels. People brought clothes, books, plates, toys for the kids and mostly common but useful goods from our perspective thousands of miles away. Looking back there were questionable things packed as well. High heels in the mountains probably did nothing but kill a few spiders.

It’s an old and sad but true story. Someone actually packed a tin of used tea bags for one missionary couple. I heard they were actually used when the good tea bags ran out. Talk about a second hand tea experience. Is it possible we do this with God?

I have met people who are content in their relationship with God but see no reason to experience any personal time with God. I want to ask them if they like used tea bags. To develop an intimate relationship with God doesn’t happen second hand. Experience Jesus  first hand each day and Church will become the place where we express our love to God and one another. I’m just not going to settle for a weak knee relationship with God. How about you?  Let’s not settle for anything even close to a “used tea bag Christianity”

Colossians 3:16 

  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Gary

 

Am I, Are You?

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I asked Dad what he is speaking on tomorrow as he is still able to communicate well in front of groups. I guess it was my way of seeing how prepared he was and because he has lost a bit of zip over the years. Losing mom, having a heart attack and fighting cancer over the last couple of years has given him a longing for eternity while still wanting to make a difference here and now. Life is very very tough at this stage.

His answer: “I will be speaking on three questions so many people need to ask themselves every day.

#1) Are you prayed up? (for anything, and I mean anything! that comes our way today)

#2) Are you fed up? (yes it’s a double meaning on spiritual food and on the condition of our culture). 

#3) Are you fired up?

Go get um Dad!

Gary

The Real Deal

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I had to take a picture of this intimidating project

My neighbor shot a framing nail through his hand (between the knuckles) on his DIY project a couple of days ago. He obviously cannot do much for awhile. What would you do?

I have more than some experience in building projects. What would you say I should do?

Answers I have weeded out so far: 1) I’ll pray for you. 2) “What a bummer man” (yes we are products of the 70’s era). 3) Were you drinking again? 4) Well. I’ll put you on the church prayer chain (I might without his knowledge).

This is real life. I have an ongoing daily walk with God but my neighbor admits he personally does not like “religious people” for a long list of (sad and real) reasons. He likes us as neighbors and hopes our house does not sell so we stay put. So, how far does one go for his neighbor?

One of my favorite quotes; “The Bible is clear here: I am to love my neighbor as myself, in the manner needed, in a practical way, in the midst of the fallen world, at my particular point of history. This is why I am not a pacifist. Pacifism in this poor world in which we live — this lost world — means that we desert the people who need our greatest help.”
― Francis A. Schaeffer

Consider this; I do not even consider “religious reasons” to be a factor in how I treat people. Let’s face it, we are who we are and the core of our being is tested by those around us every day. Who are we and who are we becoming? Does what we say, do and post on facebook draw people into becoming more like Jesus? most everyone except for the religious flock liked Jesus.

If Christ lives in us, His unstoppable unimaginably infinite love will go to great lengths to shove our plans aside to help our neighbor in need.

So, guess what I am doing besides helping? Ya, I have asked a couple of guys (who are on their church prayer chain) to lend a hand. I am scouring the neighborhood for some more equipment (a monster fork lift as my back won’t take carrying the shingles up this long of a ladder). And…We are having some great conversations. I would like to think this is in part who Christ wants me to be.

(Matthew 5:40-42)         40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Now, The story behind the story

One of my last morning times in the word was from John 21:15-17  Jesus points to the pile of fish on the shore and said to Peter “Do you love me more than these? Hey, I love fishing and move my schedule and priorities around to be fishing, so this is how God set me up. This is an example of how he communicates through His word. In my devotions and prayer time last week I had already said yes to my neighbor. My neighbor didn’t ask, God did before it happened. This is the real deal and I will get some more wood slivers, find muscles I didn’t know were there and catch less fish. What an adventure following Jesus. I told my neighbor three hands were better than one after asking how his gimpy one was doing.

I can’t wait to hear all your real life stories in the re-telling around the campfire in eternity. Not that we have done anything great but what God has done in and through us. I want you and my neighbor to be there! I am really praying for him, hammer in hand and fishing rod in the garage.

Gary