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)

Caption This

Be it marriage, kids, church, politics, social media or any kind of relationship, you could probably write a hundred different captions on the picture below. Sometimes birds act like humans.

 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:12-13

Gary

Do you resolve???

A mornings Insight

With a prayer on my lips “Good morning God” I sipped on a dark strong coffee in reflection to some of the Psalms I had read earlier. “Why do I not have the exuberance of the psalmist towards you Lord?” I asked out loud. I stand in front of the patio doors overlooking the deck. The sun was coming up on this frosty morning. “Lord, sometimes I have a frosty heart. My heart is turned cold so easily. Cold when I watch the news, Cold when I lie down and when I wake in the night. Why?

My mind skipped to a line of a memorized verse I John 5:12 “He who has the Son has life…” I whispered. A few minutes had passed in my reflections and I saw my frosty heart melt as I felt it. I saw what God was telling me. Unfolding on the deck was my spiritual insight which I share with you now.

shadows from grill and deck railing keep the deck cold, frosty and slippery

Wherever the sun was shining the frost was melting. Wherever there was shadow, the frost remained. Our hearts are like this

My thoughts and the corners of my life are shadowed so easily by people, events, life and everyday concerns. In Christ is Life, all else can create shadow if it becomes more important or out of place.

What casts shadows on your heart? What things or people are in the way of the warming light of Christ that would frost over your peace, joy and Love given so abundantly by the Love of Christ?

“….let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

May we allow the Son to shine on the deepest pockets of our hearts today and melt any coldness in our hearts.

Gary

Knowing Art and Artist

It was raining and raining and next day raining with low temps and occasional snowflakes. What does a person (who has been deathly ill with a level 10 cold) with a photo hobby do ? I put on a big coat and hat and went looking for art and reflections. My thoughts are at the end.

I will be honest, when I saw that rain drop it looked like it contained two bright fish hooks for trout.

It is said that when one has a hammer, everything looks like a nail (especially if it’s my grandkids). In this case I had a camera (trying to keep it dry under a coat) and was looking for Artwork in nature. I think I found some.

Last years seed strands were still hanging. I see they are full of little drops so I get closer

I can’t quite focus (sigh, I need a better close up lens) but am amazed at the artwork of a seed strand that looks like…fur?
The lowly weed, last years crop. Dead but still standing and catching raindrops reflecting artistry all around.
Winters leftovers, an array of color enhance by the rain.
I am mesmerized by the deep colors all over the woods
last years curled leaf holding a raindrop full of colors (purple showed upon enlarging photo)

I am an absolute nature lover. I have climbed mountains, wilderness camped winter and summer, my wife and I went white water rafting on our second honeymoon and the list can go on and on. There is a deep seated level of contentment looking into the fire while watching the morning fog lift off a remote lake as a pair of loons catch fish in front of camp. The beauty of a small tucked away lake with white cedars leaning over the shorelines while trout feed on an occasional bug falling off a limb is mind boggling. All I did for the above pictures was walk outside into my back yard in the rain.

I am also an avid committed follower of Jesus, the author of creation, the one spoken of in Colossians 1:17 “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” I have led and co-led 64 trips into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (click link for pictures). There seems to be a huge myth about how much we can get to know God by being in nature. I’ll put it in big bold letters.

How well can we get to know an artist personally by studying their brush strokes?

We can’t. We can only know something about them. It is the same with God. we can sure feel good out there. We can sure enjoy his artwork and marvel at the intricate pieces, but, God is not found in the rain drop, the leaf, a most beautiful flower or on top a mountain. Yet, He is here, there, ready to meet with us should we seek him at any given place or time. Always ready, nature or not. Please consider asking Jesus Christ into your life. An immediate effect is his artwork will mean so much more when you know the artist.

Luke 11:9-10 – “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

Gary

Overwhelmed By Detail

I have a constant running quest for details. The reason for this is my weakness for noticing the little things. I often don’t notice the small details. Who can see the trees while looking at the forest? who gets bogged down with the details while quoting John 3:16 as the overarching message of the gospel is contained in one verse? I was reading a good piece written by Mercy Oluokun (yep check her post out) this morning and mentioned to my wife that many books were written on one statement made in one of her pictures “We are blessed to be called His peopleJoint heirs with Jesus Christ” The details of that statement are not only life changing but they are eternity changing for those who have stepped from unbelief into belief in our savior Jesus Christ.

Want a closer look? Lets look at some more detail.

I want to illustrate some details with photos I took this morning in a soft rain. Some of the small details are as follows. #1) In cloudy weather the sun cannot cast a shadow and the lighting is very even. Just try taking a photo on a sunny day of someone with a hat on. The hat shadows their face so much you cannot see it without using your flash.

#2) The lighting is often extremely good on a gentle rain day, beginning of day or end of day for the camera to pick up mirror images, reflections and the colors are deep and rich. Too much light washes out color, too little light and the color doesn’t burn into an image.

#3 No wind or a small wind makes a huge difference in how long you can set the exposure on a camera. The longer exposures will pick up even a minute movement. Reflection photos need time and depth of field to work well. Using a tripod always makes for better still shots.

#4 Water droplets hang wherever they can build up slowly and can contain a reflection of the whole world around them. They are like a 180 degree fisheye lens in miniature, and you can take a picture with the right camera, lens, light, setting.

Fencing wire in the back yard with rain drops containing trees
Forest in a raindrop taken this morning
My first dew drop picture containing a Black Eyed Susan patch

If the smallest of details are so important in photography, are the smallest of details important that make up my character? How about the way I do my job? parent? handle anger, money, unplanned time or social media? how many small details have to line up for me to reflect the character of Christ so others notice that detail? These are questions I ask of myself when thinking about the little details.

If you would go on a wilderness canoe trip with me and I take you to one of my favorite walleye and bass lakes in the spring, I would get very detail oriented on your fishing equipment very fast. You will need a white twister tail 1/8 oz lead head jig on 6lb test line medium action rod and a good reel with a working drag to catch trophy fish. If you do what I say you will catch a trophy fish. You need me to guide you to where the fish are but you will catch a trophy. I told my oldest grand daughter this and here is the picture

Yea, a trophy walleye

I (at first) entitled this post Little Much and More because when all the little things are lined up and working there is much to be gained and so much more coming. I thought of this when I saw these words “We are blessed to be called His people” The blessing was overwhelming when the kids were little and they wanted to know Jesus. Overwhelming when I would talk long distance to them in college and they would assure me with detailed stories of their following Christ. Overwhelming when we said final goodbye to each of our parents. Overwhelming when I see such a detailed raindrop ready to fall to the ground knowing God has seen fit to count me as a “joint heir” with his son when he could have left me as insignificant as a raindrop.

So here I sit, looking at photos of raindrops, worshiping and thanking God. I am overwhelmed

Gary

Worth The Write

Todays journal entry, an excerpt.

Leave your story laying around for a soon to be wiser person to discover and read. You will, in this way, add another brick to building your legacy. This is in part why I journal. I think it’s worth the write

A journal has the potential to be a timeless magic mirror of ones heart and soul. Someone may look into the reflective pool of your life generations later and see the honest sought out thoughts of eternity gained. Knowing, trusting and living out a walk with the one who didn’t stay dead is worth the read and thus worth the write.

It could be said that a journal is a vehicle of time travel to the past and influencing an outcome of the future. Yes, worth the write.

Think of how to leave a trail of bread crumbs to the cross and one of rose petals to the Risen Christ. Record the changes in your life’s actions, thoughts and insights. Write of perspectives, mountains climbed, valleys and wayside rests. Smile, sweat, laugh and mourn with your words. Color, paint, picture and bleed between the lines. All these things are worth the write

Most of all, live your life in such a way it is worth writing about. Leave your pain and your chains on a page or two and leave them with Jesus. They don’t deserve a whole journal. Jesus says HE can make your life “Worth the Write”

May our lives be someday worth the read

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come 2 Corinthians 5:17

Gary