What Doesn’t Work

First Ice. Last night I walked out on the lake and took a picture of the sunset. All the migrating birds were gone. It’s winter here. In a couple of cold days and freezing nights the ice will be safe enough to go fishing. I know…I know, “safe” is a word with wide borders for some and quite rigid for others. “Safe” is a here and now word for some and an eternal word for others. “Safe” is a false perspective outside the game of baseball and the gates of heaven.

Three young guys were checking out the thickness of the ice with an ice auger. They are standing on less than three inches of ice. They didn’t fall through so it’s safe ice. How much ice do you need to feel safe?? My siblings tell me I need more inches of ice than thin teenagers in skinny jeans. Technically-scientifically safe? That’s different isn’t it. We desperately want to be safe in this world and it’s prudent to do the best we can but we deep inside know life here will never be safe. Time will prove that statement to be true.

This morning I went down to the lake and there was a single young signet swan on the ice. Evidently it could no longer stay with the rest of the swans. Sometime in the night it dropped out. Left behind it is vulnerable and has a 50/50 chance of survival. The ice is not safe as open water would be much safer. Eagles, big owls, coyotes, wolves, otter, fisher, mink and bobcat would all love a meal of signet. They need to eat to survive as well. I’m rooting for the signet but if it’s too weak to continue the migration with another flock it will die.

My wife and I for 40 years have tried to keep our handicapped daughter safe but we can’t and it hurts. Several Life flights and many many emergency surgeries make one either jaded in life or sure of the bottom line of life, or, both. In Christ we are promised both death and life. We live and then die. We die to live. Both are true but only dying to live is safe. Our daughter knows the score. She is like the signet on thin ice and the world is getting less and less safe for people like her. Several doctors have advised “Let her go” because she is handicapped. We are getting older as her protectors. Her safety and ours is found in Jesus. We talk of these things often. Meanwhile her safety here has been way out of bounds miraculous. Someday her Jesus will say “come home where it’s safe”.

Trying to control our own safety doesn’t work. Like walking on thin ice, it works until it doesn’t.

We are not “safe” people. Jesus is not “safe” to follow, yet safety is ultimately only found In Him. This is campfire talk. Deep talks. Time to think of the realities beyond just living each day out. Time to really know our creator now rather than meeting his refusal at the gate. “Safety First” should include “Safety at last”

Gary

When You Frame It Like That…Glad You Asked. Yes, The T-Shirt Is Important To The Story

This post was written as a response to Mama Lava’s post “When You Frame It Like That” You may want to add your own post to the collection of posts on her site.

A fish of a life-time, A nice boat, two guys talking about life and a sunset coming on to stamp it’s approval on the evening. I even brought my camera. The rest of the story goes more along with the words on his t-shirt

“I Find Your Lack Of Strength Disturbing” Fitting words coming from a couple tours in Afghanistan. Not so fitting in the rest of society when mixed with a face to face confrontational style when around people. the actual setting was 2 guys having a heart to heart talk in the middle of the lake so he couldn’t swim to shore if he didn’t like it (he didn’t). Mentor to mentee talk. Work, church and family relationships at stake, and the stakes had become quite high. He chose me to mentor him and I had agreed. I told him it would be in a boat away from distractions. He bought a fishing license, learned how to cast and then caught the biggest fish of his life with my fishing tackle and in my boat.

When it was all done we headed home. Only one fish was caught, sun was setting and my talking was done. I asked him for his thoughts. All he said was “God sure has a sense of humor” You agreed to mentor me, took me fishing, positioned the boat too far from shore to swim, told me some really hard things I needed to hear and I caught the biggest fish I will ever catch. “Thanks for the picture…you make me look good”

I often think of this picture. As a photographer I realize I often frame parts of my life to look good, look important, distract from the real issues and a host of other reasons. I even find myself framing my actions and sometimes my talks with God as well as others. That reminds me. I need to change some wording on my resume’.

May our trophies in life be worth it in eternity. I would like to think my friends trophy fish will always remind him of the important things out of frame that day. Maybe someday??

Gary

Too Much Is Never Enough When Less Is More

The photographer in me never seems to be satisfied. I take a picture of the moon. It’s a good picture but it’s worth one word, not a thousand. Moon. I take a picture of fall leaves. Now I have doubled my words in a picture. Fall Leaves. I need more ingredients, different light, more context, well maybe I don’t know what I need. Something with depth, something that evokes questions, something that says there is a story worth finding here, something that shares or illustrates a concept or just looks so nice it’s worth blowing up and putting on the wall.

Which leaves do I look at? Somethings missing. Too many leaves. This picture is not enough by being too much. Less is more?

So, if I take a bunch of these, add some of this and that and put more variety into the picture, will I call it “enough”?

This is a better picture but I was taking a picture of autumn leaves, now it’s not about the leaves anymore. It’s autumn though.

Every added ingredient changes what the picture is about. I would like to take a picture of autumn leaves that would make people say “wow, autumn leaves” in other words “enough”. Maybe less is more and thus “enough”?

OK, we are getting there. Autumn leaves. not all are in focus so the eye is drawn toward a few yellow leaves and some brown and a red leaf on the same tree. Still too much to be “enough” ?
Autumn leaves. Some fallen some still attached on a very young tree. There’s a story here. Life, death, winter preparation, Will the young tree winter well and some day have thousands of colorful leaves to display the glory of God it’s creator?

What is enough? Is it not being satisfied with what we have? Is it being content in whatever situation we find ourselves? Are we not like a picture to the rest of the world around us? What do they see? Too much of ourselves? Vain attempts at too much of God with words? Too much of deeds with no apparent explanation? When others see us do they see a story they want to hear?

I sure hope my life on display evokes the postures of others to lean in and hear a wonderful story. A changed life because of knowing Jesus as my creator and rescuer, as my friend and Lord, as my guide through life and as one who is more than “enough”.

Last night in the boat I was thinking about what makes a picture “enough”? What makes my life “enough”? I glanced up to see a large hawk land in a tree. I was a long ways away from the hawk and even further from the moon coming up. Low light and I’m in a rocking boat so the odds of a picture turning out were short of miraculous. For just a picture I’m going to call it “enough”.

He is watching the moon come up and keeping an eye on me trying to get closer.

I like to think my life is worth more than any picture could be. Too much (of me) is never enough when less of me (with Christ) is more.

Gary

Context: Cut A Hole In The Wall

What great lengths are you willing to take to live the life for which you were created?

Cut a hole in the wall, frame openings and put windows in your life. Get a big window, not a peep hole. Know what’s happening outside your space. Next: open the window and throw any insulting parrot voices out and close the window (Not your spouse or kids, but perhaps your television).

Build a deck to sit on and watch the world in it’s context, go by. Meditate on the words of Jesus because they have the substance of life. The words of God give us the context wherein (and within) we were created to live, wherever we happen to reside, in whatever circumstance we find ourselves.

Take walks in nature. It’s as close to God’s garden as we can get, understanding that nature is not God but it’s a great place to meet and talk with him. There are overt hints of God’s character, creativity and lessons of life and insight to gain from God’s creation. Take a peek at some of my nature and deck views this autumn. This is often my physical context. Sometimes God’s context for me is seen through the camera window framed.

All nature is in context with God’s word

Click on any picture for a slide show and to enlarge smaller pictures. I tried some catchy captions which will appear at the bottom of each picture. You might come up with better ones.

These were my thoughts as I spotted a deer peeking at me through a hole in the woods (header picture). All of nature is in the moment. No matter the season or food source or conditions, life is moment by moment. As the leaves fall outside, I am reminded that my life is like a vapor that appears and then disappears (the big context James 4:14). In the moment I want to be in context of God’s words to me through Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

I want to live in God’s context. On the deck, at home, driving down the road, in the grocery store, talking with the neighbors and in anything I may post or read online. The life and words of Christ in me is the context which begs me to cut a hole in the wall. His love within me compels me to view the world as needing his love.

Gary

ps: I posted some pictures for free download on my unsplash site here

Eye Confusions

My thoughts as I took these pictures

I tend to believe what I see. In eye I trust. In brain I trust. My interpretation I trust. It’s a natural default without thinking about it. I have just exposed a weakness towards the reality of the real truth, have I not? I only believe what I see in my frame, just like my camera. What may be missing is a whole lot of unseen context outside my frame.

I could really concoct some stories out of this picture. I won’t of course. It’s a piece of exoskeleton found near a known UFO sighting, It was even on the news (that’s a hint it’s believable). Um, we found this secret cave when we were lost. Before we could scoop up what looked like diamonds on the floor of a deep shaft lit by my cell phone, we heard bear sounds and got out of there. We have never been able to find it again. I admit it was quite a traumatic dream and I can’t figure out how this picture got on my cell phone?? (It will be in my next book).

Would you believe that electromagnetic currents around the earths surface can be detected by satellite? Side note: I didn’t know either. This a simulation picture of it as hacking in to the feed would be discouraged (wink).

De Ja Vou. I think I saw this when I was 6 years old. My brother found a horse shoe, wound up and threw it. It landed on my head. That’s it! this is what I saw!!

I found the gold! See, Pictures!

I contemplate how little it takes to help people believe partial truths and outright lies. I think often how much our life’s framework, relationships and emotional disposition makes our decisions for us rather than seeking the truth in it’s entirety. Lies always have a blanket over them or made in the shadows. The eyes and ears have been tricked starting with Adam and Eve. It feels like the whole world is askew these days.

I even have a picture of me in deep contemplation!

Yep deep thoughts going on!!

Confessions: None of my picture explanations are true by the way. I stuck the camera over the edge of the boat in six feet of crystal clear Lake Superior water and took a lot of shots. Between the sun glinting, water ripples gathering little light shafts and seeing the bottom through refracted light in the waves, this is how the pictures turned out. Sorry, no gold.

 “The Lord knows the thoughts of man that they are futile. Blessed is the man You discipline, O LORD, and teach from Your law”…Psalm 94:11

“I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” Jeremiah 17:10

How about we know Jesus and thus know truth. He is the author of all that exists (Colossians 1:16-20) “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the father but through me” (Jesus) John 14:6

Another Truth: Everybody knows that trees grow straight up!!

This makes me think there is hope for everyone of us. Ever feel like this tree? Look up!

Gary

I had an aunt who believed everything. one day Uncle and aunt drove in the yard and saw her brothers car. The backend was lifted and the nose down like a street rod back in the day. She said “honey, why is my brothers car so high in the back and low in the front?” Uncle answered “Your brother wants to get better gas mileage because this way it’s always going down hill!”. Auntie, bless her gullible heart, shook her head in wonder and said “Wow, isn’t that something!”

Puzzling Strays

I was perplexed. I had an immediate immature thought last week when I looked up the statistics on my free share photos posted. nine months ago. My thought? “wow, I wish I had a dollar apiece for each photo downloaded and a kick-back per click on advertising. The numbers? 597,911 views and 2979 downloads (proud moment here). The next few thoughts along with the first though needed to be hunted down and interrogated because they were just as immature. I realized my pictures would need 200 views before anyone would download one (humbling self abased moment).

Here I am, thinking that life is about me. I know better than that, in my head. I guess not all the stray thoughts stayed in the fence and they roam about and feel free to brush against me and I become familiar with the foul scent not realizing the infected aroma lingers and grows. Selfishness thinks of self first, always. sigh…

I had posted some pictures to share with the world on Unsplash.com from the urging of a few bloggers, namely Ted Martins (Thanks Ted), and have added a few here and there. I’m up to 57 photos that anyone can download for free to use on their blog, make Christmas cards, crop and use for their purposes. I’m a giving person, I thought.

I have taken the time to take a walk, have a talk, get right and stay tight. I have rounded up some stray thoughts and offered them to the Lord and posted some more of my photos for the world to use as they will. For now.

I recognize that stray thoughts happen. My fence probably needs more mending then I am aware of. It’s ongoing and not a once a year roundup like the old west cattle days. I am encouraged and wish to encourage you as well to be on the alert for those puzzling strays, not just the obvious ones. If I wait till others start pointing them out, I have a bigger problem than I thought and I smell quite bad to those around me.

May God align our thoughts, thinking patterns, our words and actions with His thoughts permeating His word to us, daily.

“casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” 2 Corinthians 10:5

Cleaning ones self is hard.

Gary

PS: I would be honored should you find one of my photos useable for your purposes. Unsplash has literally 300,000 people contributing photos for free download. I do not need a tip through the paypal option (seriously). Use key words to find what you are looking for. I can be found using unsplash.com/@garyfultz

Wonder-bird Lessons on Life

“Come play with me” He said. OK I read his mind. I may have confused it with “get off my deck” but his chirps sounded more inviting then that. Does anybody you know speak hummingbird? In my world I sometimes forget how to speak wife…

There is no way I can relate to a hummingbird. If I could fly and try to land like that, there would be a hole right through the glass feeder. I can only marvel at the little winged design and wish I had wing (arm) muscles like that. Am I doing what I was created to do? My arms may not flap well but they can help my neighbor get his firewood up for the winter. I can help the widow down the road get ready for fall and winter. I can take my neighbor fishing.

Hovering and drinking some good nectar for fuel to catch bugs while being alert for danger. I can only do one at a time usually. I know people who hover. They are another danger but that’s another conversation.

I used to wish I could fly. I later on wished I could fly like a hummingbird. Now, I’m OK just watching and living longer. “What are my passions Lord that can bless others in ways where I really fly?” May I never bury my talents!

Unbelievable maneuvers.

Hummingbirds have the ability to be aware of everything around them. They seem to be able to drink nectar and avoid danger or bullies in an instant. I have so much to learn in this area. Am I aware of others and their needs or just focused on mine? Am I aware of dangerous lies dispensed so liberally in our world, even churches? Am I aware of drifting toward a prayer less life and the worries and fears that can sting? Like the Hummingbird, I must put on the brakes and flee these dangers.

The black hornet was guarding the feeder so I got a fly swatter and took care of the danger, I do have something in common with the hummingbirds. I strongly dislike and am afraid of bees, especially Big Black Hornets.

Photography gives us a lens and frames what is intended to pass on to the viewer. Jesus Christ our creator gives us a clean lens and the right framing in focus. I am convinced we were created with a fixed focus where we only see clearly when our eyes are fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2)

My hope is that we will all begin to see Jesus Christ, all he created, and his amazing grace and sacrifice for each of us clearly. So much of life is unclear and we see through a very dirty lens and look at life from such a wrong angle (ours) until it is washed clean and our lens turned to follow Jesus.

Clear enough??
And we get to feed on what God provides. He really does provide, and provides on so many levels. Eyesight, awareness, spiritual food, physical food, Truth dispenser, His perspective framed by is Word, peace, Love and joy…
For more hummingbird pictures, click on my other blog Hummingbird Picture Problems

Gary

PS: I want to see a movie where a human being somehow can be inserted into a hummingbird body to understand and save the hummingbirds from certain extinction (or some involved action plot). I want it in 3D along with Dramamine and a barf bag better than what the airlines provide. If I was strapped into an interactive chair that moved with the action, you might as well plan my funeral. Seriously, these little midgets in the bird world have moves that would kill most humans. Maybe someday?? After the trumpet??

Questions

Sometimes, like this morning, I sit on the back deck with tweety bird song, bee hum, early mornings stillness, lake birds in the distance and a big animal making noise as they walk by in the woods. I read (now in psalms), journal, sip a Gary coffee (strong and black) and ponder the ways of God and the questions of mankind. I’m quite sure they are not very original questions.

This mornings question “why am I here?” I asked of God. “Did I retire to live in the woods, take care of our crippled daughter, enjoy nature and accomplish nothing else?” These questions are not new but the vail of God’s silence seemed to leak out a couple of questions back. “So like the Lord to turn questions back on me” I thought.

“If you could cut down the forests around you, mill out all the lumber and build many buildings would you feel like you accomplished something? (we have a sawmill on the place). Or, would you be content living in wonder of all that surrounds and learn to hear my voice when I want you to join my accomplishments?”

Do you want Stature before me or gain a Statue before the world?”

God is in the business of helping us gain His perspective. Take a walk, Have a Talk, Get right, Stay tight. Psalm 119:2 “Happy are those who keep his decrees and seek Him with all their heart”

Gary

Life is like that…

You Tube Video Link (skip music and intro at 24 minutes into it) (Life is like that) 4 Points listed below.

I was asked to share my personal template for my walk with God to our little but mighty church in the north woods of Minnesota. At the very least you will enjoy a personal story at the beginning of my talk. you can skip the music and introductory remarks by starting at 23:53 Watch and listen here

The picture I had put on the screen (unseen in the video) was a hummingbird picture featured in my other blog where I tell how to shoot these kinds of pictures https://garyfultz.com/2021/06/29/fast-photo/

I outline my template for living and growing a personal relationship with stories and scripture. Our little u-tube set up is just a camera on a tripod taking sound from the speakers mic. It works for people who cannot make it to the church service.

Take a Walk

Have a talk

Get Right

Stay tight

I share my heart. I will admit to being a better fisherman than a rusty, sometimes crusty speaker. I felt it worth sharing with you, Some of my side comments have been influenced by recent blogs (possibly yours). Life has been hard lately so I have been off grid a lot. I will enjoy coming back. Till then, I encourage you to know Jesus more and more, no matter what life is like for you these days.

Gary.

Left Out

Scruffy weed

5 words. Clear as could be. Have you ever had a voice speak to you in your head? Did I really hear that? I have been connecting with God in so many ways on this wilderness trip. Analogies from nature like the “knots” I just wrote about. Our wilderness trip group had just waited a couple hours for high winds to lessen so we could paddle in very dangerous winds in big water. God had been with us, I’m sure of it. I didn’t die or even capsize the canoe and nearly die (been there…). Now on a 3/4 mile (190 rod) portage, trudging over small mountains, through mud and up-down stairstep terrain, God says 5 words out of the blue as I step over a small insignificant, growing in the wrong place scruffy plant.

I care about that plant

I can think of a hundred other things I would have liked to hear from God and this?? Sigh…yes I sighed. I knew what He was saying without saying even though He said it long ago. My thoughts immediately they went to Jesus words “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.” Matthew 10:29

“I know Lord” I prayed. “You care about me. You care about our daughter racked with a painful handicap and getting worse. I know you care about my wife 24/7 taking care of her. I know. I know” The world is falling apart Lord and you care about an insignificant plant enough to point it out while I’m carrying a 70 pound pack and running low on energy after an adrenaline laden paddle…”I know Lord, I know…Sigh.

You are God and you care…I know Lord I know”…sigh

Gary