Near As I Can Figure

My first time visitor from across the lake wanted to see the little saw mill operation. He was a bored brother-in-law visiting the neighbor and got my number somehow and found our place after assuring me he wasn’t a telemarketer on the 3rd call. “So, what made you decide to build a little cabin?” “Well (I scratch my head through the sweaty cap and stroke a short beard) I had 3 windows and some lumber left over from a project and felt it was a good fit”. He paused to slap at a gaggle of mosquitoes on his arm “why in the woods?” I squelched a small chuckle in half and said “Where would you put the in-laws? (Now you guys know this is in good fun right?). He pressed on. “How soon will you have it done?” I shrugged my shoulders and grinned, “when the fish quit biting and probably after I help some brothers on two other building projects here and there.” His sigh was audible. It made me feel like a country hick. Felt good!!

I dropped the act a bit and shared the real reason for a little rustic off-grid cabin in the woods by our house. Guests are a gift and often need a gift. A writers cabin. A nature photographers cabin. A fishing buddy cabin. Grandkids and scary story cabin. A personal retreat cabin. I could go on, but I will share some of the things I pause for in my life. Things which make me realize how much nature often upstages my level of wonder, awe and worship of our creator. We all need a big rock on the lawn with an inscription “If You Don’t I Will” (He says in Luke 19:40, “And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.”)

In This Case…Flowers, seeds and garnish

Gary

Several bear have helped themselves to the yard and back deck. some day I will take a clear picture while I’m not chasing them away.

Artists Law of Thermodynamics

I wanted to show you a header picture I took this week. You had to be there to appreciate the full beauty and grit of an Iris flower growing in a foot of water and high grass. The dynamics and lighting were astounding. The color contrasts were worth staring at for a long time. Several species of bugs were attracted enough to have a steady stream of insect visitations. Then I tried to take a picture and capture the scene, the mood, the color and light and insects. I fell as close as one might fall in love for a wild flower as a picture taking artist-writer.

You may have just looked at the picture and said to yourself “hmm, nice picture”, if you like pictures of flowers. A whole lot of something(s) were lost from my experiencing the flower to your experience seeing a picture worth quite a few words (by my estimation). We just experienced this natural law; “The second law of thermodynamics states that as energy is transferred or transformed, more and more of it is wasted.” My emotional experience transferred to a photograph and words to you have lost about 95% of it’s energy. More than that if I cannot find good words to bring it together.

Simply translated: I write about an awesome experience or insight the world needs to hear about and the reader says “hmm, nice thoughts”. I take two hours or two weeks on a perfect fantastic picture which conveys the essence of nature in it’s fullest beauty. Someone looks at it and says “Oh, nice.” Yep, lost a ton of energy from the creator to the rest of the world.

So, let me add something to the picture (as I took more than one). I may get an “oh my, would you look at that” on this next picture of the same flower. Or not.

See the eye? You didn’t know flowers have eyes did you?

Now I have lost your interest in the flower and my flower picture is about the eye looking back at you. You are totally distracted. It’s a really good picture though and will probably be worth more words to everyone except botanical people. So what am I writing about here? Oh ya, how much energy is lost from writer to reader? About 99.9%

One more example from this weeks pictures. I took 20 pictures of this Barred owl placing it’s self in the same tree as nesting robins. our whole backyard was full of bird protesters of every small species incited by the robins. I named the spot beside the raspberries “Cacklephonia.” Seemed fitting.

Seems innocent enough. and yes, I got close.

I experienced these pictures in real time. I spent an hour attempting to shoot pictures I couldn’t get from the ground while listening and watching dive bombing birds at the big owl. The owl would merely mew softly like a cat while giving me “the look” everyone sums up in one word “who?” My point exactly made by a friend “that’s an owl”

If a picture worth a thousand words can, at best, convey only a small percentage of the experience of being there, think how hard we as writers, artists and photographers have to work at communicating our thoughts, emotions and stories. How much work and talent does it take to make a difference?

In this light, think of how amazing this experience was for the world to conclude this about the disciples of Jesus? “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13

I cannot begin to imagine the powerful experiences (many recorded) these men had to effectively change the world. So powerful the pagan world around them was constantly being changed. The second law of thermodynamics doesn’t work on God. Jesus last words prove correct for the last 2000 years and the great artist and writers energy is transferred 100% with no loss of energy

 “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1:8

This challenges me to the core. I want to know and experience Jesus in such a way.

Lets keep growing…noticeably, and rely on his power.

Visible New Growth in a balsam

Gary

Psst…And the eye?? it’s a bumblebee.

Being Five

I picked up a small stone and tossed it into the center of the smooth surfaced pond. I began to understand. I waited until all the little ripples had dissipated, the frogs had quit but began to croak again. The surface was once again as still as the morning air. Once again I could see the fluffy white clouds moving in the waters reflection. I picked up a fist sized rock and vaulted it high to land in the center of the pond creating a big splash and bigger waves that eventually swayed the cattails, and small willows on the sides of the pond. Now I understood. I was five.

Maybe mom helped my understanding when she disciplined me for sassing her. Maybe my little brother helped by doing what I did and was disciplined, then I was disciplined again for being his example while mom cried. Maybe the time my little brother killed a chicken with a board; not on purpose but in trying to scare the chickens one got in the way. It was quite small but that was supper. The weight of the board was enough to kill even if it was the chickens fault for getting in the way. I threw another rock in the water, each time knowing and feeling the ripple effect. One thing changes everything. One sin and I can’t seem to quit. One funny thing and everything is funny. A pebble quiets frogs. Think what a monster could do. I’m hungry – I must go home.

60 years later I watched in horror as some watched in glee, as a man signed many many documents changing hundreds, then thousands, then millions of lives. Now world economies and massive gains and losses on many fronts are in the waves. The weight of a signature in the name of ideology has been around for centuries. I watched a squirrel bury an acorn; possibly food for later or a giant oak tree. Cause and effect effect effect effect effect effect …..only God knows. Only God can interject. Only God can keep track of it all. Only God’s signature has more weight. Meanwhile, we are at the edge of times pond waiting.

It’s true from Adam and Eve if you can believe what God said; “eat of this fruit and you will die.” You meaning you and everyone following. You; meaning plants, animals, bugs and all of nature. You; meaning thistles, killing to eat, killing each other (by the first generation). You; meaning decay of the mind, will and emotions inside as well as the exterior. You; wait until what’s bad is good, good is bad, the innocent guilty and the guilty innocent. You; declaring rocks are the problem, waves do not exist, you do not matter except to exist as matter. Now we have cyberspace rocks; “Oh Lord Save Us”.

Turns out He did save us; if we can believe God.

So here I sit with my thoughts. How much weight can a signature have? How much weight does God have when he says He signed for us? It’s the gospel truth. He signed with all his lifes blood and that’s as serious as one can get. He promised “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…” (Isaiah 49;16). He delivered. Doubting Thomas like many of us would say “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” (John 20:25).

(26) A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” (27) Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” (28) Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” (29)Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

God’s signature is everywhere if you believe. God’s signature is nowhere if you don’t. Oh that we could all be five and understand.

When a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a sound? I say, ask the beaver, his signature is all over it.

These were my thoughts as I Wandered around on foot to the lake and through the woods with a camera a couple days ago after almost 5 inches of rain melting massive amounts of snow….The signature of God is everywhere in nature. I am glad he has inscribed my name on his hands. I believe he honors his word. I understand effect effect…. Maybe it’s because I am walking the same exact land and stand in the same exact places as when I understood. Please understand, because sometimes I am five.

Click to enlarge and for slideshow. 4 of these pictures were taken earlier this spring of the beavers.

Gary

Writers Drift

They do. They drift. Okay, so do I, maybe, I guess…Lot’s of life applications here.

I thought of this while shoveling out our driveway and then three more driveways on our road. The winds created a ground blizzard and made huge packed drifts where cars and trucks once passed through. All our drives are 100 yards long (give or take some distance). At this point I need to show you a picture of my shovel in case you think a retired guy is superhuman. Disclaimer: I wrote that for me as I know it never crossed your mind.

My snow shovel.
Yep, snow piles are everywhere this year.

Think about how easy it is to drift in life. Life’s storms and winds come up and change our direction. things pile up and our energies are used just to cope and get by.

I write this to encourage those of us who write to consider how grounded we are to the message we have set out to get across. It’s easy to drift with the winds and react to the times. If we write just to be read, it is like me shoveling snow (with the skid steer bucket of course) because I like shoveling and piling snow. Anywhere, everywhere. It’s fun! I’m afraid I have accomplished many things in life needlessly.

Truthfully, I have heard many public speakers who just like to hear themselves talk. I have read many a blog with a sigh thinking “and your point, encouragement, entertainment value or motivation is…?”

My last point is a spiritual consideration directed at those who follow Jesus.

I use a skid steer to shovel snow as it’s not humanly possible to move that much snow after a storm with hard packed snow drifts. We have no business tackling jobs without making sure we are onboard with God’s will and God’s power (not from asking God to be onboard with us). This is the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. This is from a conviction that this is what God wants us to be about. This is from our walk and living relationship with a risen Christ in us.

When we drift from operating on God’s leading and his power, we fall into the big drift of powerless mediocrity.

So, watch out for those prevailing winds of time, the storms and blizzards of life and the drift that so easily happens. “We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” Hebrews 2:1

“Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman wakes but in vain.” psalm 127:1

  1. Take a walk 2) have a talk 3)get right 4)Stay tight!

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

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

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??