Dad, I See You Put Your Life Into Words

Each Day With God

By Doyle Fultz

When in the early morn awake, slumber from your eyelids shake.

Hasten to thy closet fare, Begin the day in humble prayer.

Thank Him for the day at hand, and the sun so bright and grand.

Ask for care through early hour, And for strength and serving power.

The morning hours have passed so soon, now the sun is high at noon.

Hasten to thy closet fare, Sustain the day in earnest prayer.

Thank Him for His care and power, and the peace of early hour.

Ask Him for sufficient grace, to end the day at normal pace.

Oh, the day has passed so fast, as darkness spreads its hovering cast.

Hasten to thy closet fare, End the day with grateful prayer.

Oh, the days they come and go, Peace and war with friend and foe.

But the one who hastens fare, to his closet in petitioning prayer.

Is the one who stands abreast, and wins the victory of trial and test?

Life is one big cross to bear, Bear it strong-in fervent prayer.

I found this poem in dads things. It’s time (after a couple years) to share the thoughts of a man of God trying to grow through all life’s struggles. I still hear his voice sometimes and I turn around in the old shop to ask him where he put….???

This is how I remember my father. I have spent much of my life on my own journey, yet, experiencing the presence, power and sometimes the absence (feeling) of an ever present God who enjoys and rewards one drawing near.

Standing on the promises here in the woods Dad…bye for now. I’ll be along in a while.

Gary

Lavender Morning

It’s still dark out as I try to read the outdoor thermometer. Close to 40 below zero but getting warmer, all is frozen except for some wildlife and birds. I have no idea how a deer’s ears or the chickadee’s feet do not freeze. I park myself in an easy chair in front of the picture window, open my bible and let the Lord speak to me through his word. He does.

In Matthew 19:13-15 I read where people brought their children to Jesus. He laid hands on them and blessed them. In our culture today it would have been a moms club that got together, collected the kids and marched them to Jesus. However it happened the disciples were not in on it as they were rather miffed. Jesus’ time was too important for that. Another flaw in their religious thinking was toppled as Jesus told them that the kingdom of God was made up of children such as these.

I immediately asked the Lord if he would lay his hands on this old guy 2000 years later and bless him. I immediately received a response. “I did that when you were a child, don’t you remember?”

A flood of memories came to mind through the years. Instances of intimacies with the Savior, incidents unexplainable apart from the hand of God. My parents had often presented us (and a slew of other children) to Jesus. “Age aside my child, you can still bring people to Jesus.”

Yes Lord, I am willing to bring someone to you today.

I watched the morning sky lighten to lavender then rose and finally blue. It’s 10 degrees warmer and light enough to take a picture of the thermometer. A deer walking the perimeter browsed on spruce bough ends as the chickadees came to our outdoor-left-over Christmas tree (click any picture to enlarge for slide show)

The phone rings and I get my winter clothes on and go help my neighbor quickly get to Emergency (another ongoing story for sometime).

Beauty in the cold morning as the sun crawls down the spruces

Gary

A Day Away

She volunteered to be with our daughter for an afternoon and overnight. My wife and I were finally getting a mini-vacation from caring for our daughter in one side of a small duplex on the edge of a very small town. Respite was desperately needed as I was working long hours in a new place, my wife was with our daughter 24/7 and we really didn’t know anybody yet.

Just in case something went wrong, bigger than the normal things that go wrong, we found a nice room with a hot tub, ordered a pizza, snacked on people treats, held each other, soaked, talked and found deep sleep.

My phone started ringing at 3:30AM. I couldn’t grasp what it was for a few rings, being in the deepest sleep in a long time. I realized upon answering that something was wrong bigger than the normal wrongs by the sound of her voice. I pieced together that she had stepped outside with the little dog in her PJ’s (shorts and tank top) and bare feet and the door had locked behind her. She knocked on our daughters window to let her know the predicament, but that confused our daughter. It would have been okay in the summer but it was January in northern Wisconsin, the snow had been shoveled but it was all snow and ice and a below zero (Fahrenheit) night.

She assessed the situation quickly. Conclusion: “Not Good.”

A car slowly drove by the driveway on the icy street and turned the corner. She scooped up the little dog on the run, using her previous track skills she sprinted after the car but didn’t catch it before it sped away on the main highway (yes, still in bare feet, tank top and sleep shorts). She was now lost and freezing. Looking around, she spotted a nursing home entrance. Could she be saved? There were lights and people inside. She could be saved! After beating on the locked doors for awhile someone let her in. Saved!

While thawing toes, feet, and really all of her, the story came out. She can be an entertaining story teller and this time she had a lot of material and adrenaline to work with.

She did not have her phone, so, it took awhile to track down our phone number registered in the office of the duplex we were renting which oddly was attached to the nursing home office (or she might have had to sleep there). We were only a half hour away so I drove to the nursing home, picked her up and let her into our home to care for our daughter until we got back.

Thankfully she had several things on loan (head to toes) from the nursing staff. We also traded the “I’m so sorry” lines as she really really felt bad. She only really felt bad when I told her I had forgot to tell her where the spare key was hidden outside. When she knocked on our daughters window she was close. When she tried the back door (wading through two feet of snow), all she needed to do was look up and the key was taped to the top of the frame. Now she was down to feeling bad. I should have told her where the key was in the first place…sigh. Now it’s my fault.

I drove back to our hotel, my wife was up and packed and we went home with yet another story and more than a dozen life applications.

If you have read this far, you probably have some good ideas on life and spiritual life applications on your own. Read the story to a small group of people and they will find a dozen key principles to remember and live by. Read it to Adam and Eve and they will tell you how one wrong bite changed the trajectory of life and relationships with God and on planet earth for all time.

How many doors have clicked shut behind you with no way to return? Have you told your family, friends and neighbors where the key is to Knowing God’s plan for restoring our relationship with him? Have you ever experienced “being saved?” and can tell the story of life’s icy road and not catching what you thought would help?

There was a light, she saw it, went there and knocked.

Let me show you two pictures of the same thing. One is a view while in the storm while the other is the view with clear weather, after the storm with the sun coming up. Only one picture is crystal clear.

It’s impossible to see things like truth, right and wrong, others motives, and certainly not life’s best pathway in the storms of life. How can we possibly be prepared to storms that take us by surprise? The truth is we find ourselves in our bare feet and sleepwear in the cold of relationships, jobs, illness and loss.

This story happened nine years ago but my pictures were taken this last weekend. I was reminded of this as I read these verses today from psalms.

This is the key!

Psalm 91:1 (amplified) “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty” [whose power no enemy can withstand].

Psalm 27:5 “For in the day of trouble He will hide me in His shelter; He will conceal me under the cover of His tent; He will set me high upon a rock.”
Psalm 32:7″You are my hiding place. You protect me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah”

Your comments are welcome on all the ways the above story can be used when story telling, speaking, writing and general conversations about life. And…SHE will remain anonymous.

Gary

This story is a follow up to the storm with pictures in my post “Great expectations” on my other blog at Garyfultz.com

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

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

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

Knot… Priceless

Look at the old rotten cedar log. The screw like structure is a knot. The rings and point are very sharp and hard.
A most scenic restroom.

10 portages deep into the Boundary water Canoe Area Wilderness, we made camp. Designated campsites have a fire grate (usually with a view of the lake) and a latrine back in the woods. Rules of the wilderness allow gathering only dead and downed wood can be gathered for the fire. Many people bring a small portable single burner stove and fuel for ease and in case it’s raining or too dry so a fire ban is in place. We gather firewood and cook over the fire grate or over a little bug fire wood stove Lots of heat for a fifth of the wood or less.

On the edge of this particular campsite was a very rotten cedar log. I have no idea how long it had been there but cedar doesn’t rot real fast. Out of possibly hundreds of campers on this very desirable site over the years, no one bothered to give this log a second look in their wood gathering. Nobody saw any value in the old rotten log.

Experienced campers knowing the ways of wood and the woods have already spotted it. A priceless Knot.

The limb grows out and out and upward in the cedar to find the suns rays. The knot of the branch anchors it to the main tree trunk.

I don’t know all that causes a branch to begin growing out of the main stem of a tree, but the base of the branch tied all the way to the center of the tree begins to build immense strength and structure as the knot may end up holding a huge branch a long ways out from the trunk for a hundred years. It must survive heavy winds and is the only supply line of water and nutrition. The branch must be tied in extremely well to the tree or it will die. This is the priceless knot area. The place where the tree interacts with the branch. The knot is the anchor area of the branch. A priceless area.

Knots don’t rot. Eventually yes but this log was full of extremely hard, loaded with pitch knots. I walked down the rotten log and kicked them out easily. To one who wants fire, priceless!

Solid knot cores. It looks like campers sawed off the branches long ago.

A pitch filled knot will burn a long time and put out a lot of heat. They burn like a torch and the pitch inside boils out before the wood burns up. I found five logs nearby full of pitchy knots I could pull out of the rotten logs. The hardened knots went to the center of the log, formed from the center out, always connected to the flow of sap from the core of the tree out to the greenery on the branches. Even in death they held a reservoir of sap now dry and hardened.

A burning knot will stay burning in a rain. A knot will hold it’s fire and coals long after the rest of the wood is gone. knots can be used as a spare tent stake. Knot ridges are so sharp they can cut a tent cord. A knot could be a dangerous weapon, although I’ve never herd of anything dying by knot (That’s a murder mystery book idea for someone).

Long after I am gone, my hope is in the knot area of my life. The knot that anchored my life’s branch. The knot that embedded deep into the tree of life I was grafted into. The knot that developed and grew with the strength given by the trunk. anchored securely, drinking deeply, and supplying life.

How else can new growth happen? Only from the growing knot anchored (abiding) in the main trunk (the vine)

Just as we can see a tree growing out of a rock and say “behold, the power of a seed”, I believe God leaves pictures and analogies of truth lying in a rotted log on a wilderness forest floor. As I pitched a few knots into a pile some one said “what’s that?” I replied “knot…priceless’

Jesus said in John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

The analogy of the knot as an anchor point connecting sustenance and nutrition to our lives in Christ here and for eternity as the knot does for the tree and it’s branches. works for me. The strength of our knots anchor lies in how much time we spend connecting with the savior. This is why we are encouraged to “pray without ceasing” 1Thessalonians 5:17. Never sever our connection to Jesus (That wood rot and lead to “not…priceless).

Gary

To see BWCA Adventure Expectations and this last trips pictures go to my other blog (click here)