Green Rivers

cropped-arizona-skyline.jpg10 years ago I had asked my oldest daughter to write about a very special adventure. I was reminded of this story when Manette posted about  “Dad Help”. When I looked up this old story I see that Manette, Mandy (Blue Collar Theologian) and David (David’s Daily Dose) had already read it. Wow. It’s worth sharing again and very much worth going to Manette’s story and illustration as well (Click here). I share this again to make an important encouragement at the end of this story. This is how and why Christianity works in this world today. Just look at all the dynamics and add your good thoughts and insights.

Green Rivers

                                                                By Tracy DeMarse

Do you ever look back and notice crazy threads that somehow seem to keep showing up in your life? Like knowing a different couple named “Mike and Julie” in all five cities you’ve lived in so far?  Or no matter how many job changes you have you always seem to have a boss named “Mitch”?  For me it usually involves “Green River.”

The first Green River was a small town in Utah.  Wikipedia tells me its population is around 973. It is miles away from any other large town and surrounded by cattle and desert. It is also where the alien planet scenes from Galaxy Quest were filmed. My husband and I had been married for about a year and were headed to LA for his summer internship when our truck broke down there.  Actually, it didn’t just break down; the engine overheated and then melted back together in a big useless metal lump.  The local mechanic said he could get to it in a week or so. We checked into a hotel, called our parents to tell them our situation and then just sat back to try to figure out a game plan. Twenty minutes later the local church pastor was at our door inviting us to dinner with his family.

Talk about word getting around fast in a small town. Actually, my Dad had gotten out his invaluable little black book and started making a few calls.  Who would have guessed that a girl from Northern Minnesota could find a connection in Green River, UT? But, truth being stranger than fiction somehow the dots had connected.  It turned out my great-aunt had a cousin who knew a guy… Yeah, seven degrees of Gary Fultz had provided the pastor of the only Christian church in town. He turned out to be a very gracious host with a lovely wife and three kids that all helped to make what did end up being a week-long stay an actually memorable and even pleasant experience.

At the time my young self just sort of floated through the week and said that was fun and went on with life. Learn something? Was I supposed to? Recalling now all that they did for us I am so amazed at the kindness of strangers.  They helped us get a used engine from a town on the Colorado border to save quite a bit off the mechanic’s bid and put us up in a house the church owned in exchange for mowing and cleaning.  I got to lead praise and worship music with their small congregation; another new experience. We didn’t have to cover many of our meals because we were invited over for dinner by multiple members of the church. We even spent Mother’s Day with the entire extended family of a local cattle rancher.  Everyone got their own very large and very fresh stake right off the grill.  Yum!

It wasn’t all fun and games, it did come with quite a price tag to fix up our truck and we arrived a week late for the internship. But, those are the things that now seem inconsequential.  When I think of that week, I have fond memories.  Family games, bike rides with the pastor’s kids, long walks with my husband, and being welcomed and showered with hospitality when we could offer virtually nothing in return.

I can’t help but wonder had the tables been turned if I would have gone to such lengths for the young stranded couple in my town?  I was shown a wonderful example of individuals willing to be the hands and feet of Christ.  I got to experience being on the receiving end of that in a time of need.  How would that week have felt without their willingness to serve?

The end of the same summer found us breaking down yet again in Green River.  This one was a town in Wyoming. It was the middle of the night and nothing was open until morning.  We spent the night on the side of a highway in a cold, cramped truck that shook every time traffic blew by us.  By morning we were stiff, sore and exhausted.  However, we were pretty close to the nearest town and the mechanic was helpful and friendly.  It was just the water pump and he could fit us in right away.  He called over to a local hotel that let us crash there and sleep while for just a few dollars. A second Green River experience had been another small example of people making the load a little lighter. Coincidence? Is there such a thing?

Fast forward a decade or so and our young family of four is moving to a small Kentucky town located on, yes, the Green River.  Once more finding ourselves miles from home and trying to navigate new surroundings.  Once more being taken under the wings of some wonderful Christian women and loved, nurtured and upheld as I got my bearings.  I thank God once again for the willingness of those women to be his hands and feet and show me around town and lead me along while I adjusted to a new place and new roles. James tells us that “Faith without works is dead.” Does that mean that works are tied to salvation?  No.  Read the rest of the book, salvation itself is in no way tied to anything we could ever do, but the ever practical James is telling us like it is, that actions speak louder than words and true faith will show itself.  As I reflect I am challenged. This thread is not new.  Jesus himself demonstrated time and again what it should look like. This is my Green River,  the servant thread being woven into my life.  I need to be open and willing to be those hands and feet and to show my faith in those practical ways; to serve.  I’m still here by the Green River, so God must have a few things planned for me.  Maybe I can be His hands and feet in someone else’s “Green River”.  Do you have a crazy thread?  What is being woven into your life?

Tracy

Now Gary’s notes:

Here’s the “Dad” side of the story. Tracy called and told me their predicament. I hope you can follow this trail...I called an uncle who pulled trailers to deliver all over the united states to ask him if he had any contacts in Green River Utah. He said no but his wife had an uncle who was a missionary, then pastored a couple years with the church there. I was able to get ahold of my aunts uncles number and called. They didn’t know anyone as the pastor was new but had the church parsonage number. I called and the pastors wife was in so I told her our daughters plight and their names and that they were at the hotel going for a swim in the pool to figure things out. She said “We will take it from here” She called her husband and asked him to pick up a young couple in room 8 at the hotel and invite them to supper. So the famous knock and the door with a pastor asking a young couple over for supper began an adventure for our kids as well as the church. And, Yes, all those numbers went into my little black book of connections I get teased about by family. They never did figure out the trail of the true tale I just told, and that’s ok.

I have recently been able to say to several people going through very hard times “Be encouraged, God is working behind the scenes” I can say that with 100% conviction because God was using myself and some others to correct a problem. We were a part of Gods solution. An old couple (both crippled but still home) down the road will soon hear these words as their roof is so bad it’s caving in. No money, no firewood for winter and the list goes on. Their adult kids do not care but a small group of us are planning how to take care of the problem. They do not know it yet. God has tapped us on the shoulder and we have said “Yes”.

Jesus said a lot of things like that. He knows what’s happening behind the scenes to the end of the age and also to the end of our lives. We should believe him. If someone says to you “be encouraged, God is working behind the scenes, you should believe them. I hope you get to say that to somebody very soon, because you have inside information. Because God has tapped you on the shoulder and you have already said “Yes”

Thank you for reading. For at least 3 of you…rereading.

Gary

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.

Again

I have a heart condition. It’s a secret to most. Those who have deeply known me over a long period of time just accept the processes of life. Eyes dim, thought delays lengthen, shorter strides gimp as the former wings of my heart and soul grow slowly defluttered. I want a good heart again.

I want to walk through the woods with unspeakable joy again.

I want to see the un-see-able as I gaze through the treetops into the heavens, past the galaxies again.

I want to rescue desire and wonder to mountains above, to wrist away warring-fear-demons smog. Again.

I want my acidic tears of grief to be purified by joy into refreshing life drops where they fall again.

I want my hearts strong rhythm refreshing and cleansing every cell, so what’s dying may live again.

Oh Lord, I need your heart to beat in me again. You can have mine. Again.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

Again

Oh friend, have you ever searched your heart and found it shriveling? After the rocks of life have so cracked the looking glasses of reality, how do we see clearly? Eternity is seen with the heart, but only clearly with the creators heart in us is life and eternity in focus at the same time.

Gary

Surviving The Crash

Several of you have wanted to know more details of my cousins daughter surviving a plane crash in Alaska last month. You may have seen something on the news or googled “plane crash on a lake in Alaska”. Notice the open water in the background if you clicked on the link.

Ashley and Glenn talk some about this in their local rural church. It’s very much worth hearing their thoughts then and today. There is a long journey ahead to get back to the top of a mountain.

This is a “before” picture. I hope it can happen again Ashley!

As a backdrop, keep some little tidbits of information in the back of your mind.

This from a text today: “The hardest part about telling the story is that it takes so long to set up the story that many of the miracles were not even mentioned.  Lake Illiamna is the 7th largest freshwater lake in the world. 1) Had the pilot started the turn 10 seconds sooner (which equals 1/2 mile), the plane would have crashed in open water.  10 seconds later and they would have crashed in the rocks.  It was perfect timing to crash onto 30 inches of ice in a bay.  2) The plan crashed in the middle of a turn, hitting wing first.  This caused the plan to cartwheel, which caused the engine and battery to be ripped off, so that there was nothing to ignite the leaking AV fuel.  3) God allowed for one of the texts to make it out, which gave coordinates and situation.  Just that small detail shaved off an hour or more of search and rescue response. 4) There is the triple A battery, that was in someone’s pocket, which was nearly sliced in two,  protecting an upper thigh from a potentially deep cut”

The list goes on and on of seemingly small details of life and death significance.

This interview, in their local church, is a part of the palm Sunday service. Pick up the conversation with Ashley at 39:45 and Glenn’s challenge as a father at 57:30. going into this. Understand this is someone with a very recent miraculous survival story. (Scroll to Ashley talking at 39:45 and Glenn at 57:30)

Scroll to Ashley talking at 39:45 and Glenn at 57:30

When asked if there was anything else I should put in this post, Glenn asked for this prayer of encouragement from Colossians 1 :9-11.  For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,  being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience”

Ask questions in comments, and, yes an account is being set up to help pay emergency evacuation and medical bills beyond what insurance will cover. I will post that later on my regular garyfultz blog

Thanks

Gary

Rest, Rest, and The _ _ _ Story

A couple years ago I received an email from a new-found writer and blog follower.  RON BOUCHARD, THE BURNING HEART wrote “Hey Gary, don’t neglect the gift God has given you. Write man write!!” I had not put out a post for awhile and he made sure I was not going to quit. So I didn’t. Sometimes it just takes one encouragement. He was short and to the point and he said about the same thing 3 different times…Yep, that’s a friend. A friend I never got to meet.

Since then Ron has battling cancer, taken chemo and gone into remission. We have encouraged one another and he has been on my prayer list. I had not heard from him in awhile on his small but mighty blog so I sent him a message or two around Christmas. Yesterday I was delighted to see a post from “The Burning Heart”, until I opened it.

I admit it was hard for me to see Nancy’s post on Ron’s site. Those who had visited his site will smile and also be saddened. We should remember to lift up Nancy and family to the Lord.

Click here to see Nancy’s post on Ron Click here for update

Ron, as well as many of you, wanted to make it to Minnesota (in the summer) and spent some time in the boat with me. A fireside chat in the back yard with smores to the mosquito hum and possibly the coyotes would yip or the big gray timber wolves moan. We would absolutely have a fish fry.

We will miss his posts and emails while Nancy will miss Him. One thing we could all take from Ron’s life and writings; He did not hold back his heart. His Blog title was accurate. You know his heart is still burning with a flame for God.

Ron related to those on the Emmaus road “And they said to one another, “Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:32 Should that not be said of us?

I keep re-reading this…” He had sent a text that he was tired and going to rest before driving home, and…”

Rest Ron, Rest. at least the weather is perfect there. It’s really cold here. We will keep writing from our burning hearts!

This morning was cold. Xtra Cold…

Ironic that Life here goes on, and on, and un…til it hits forever.

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

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

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