Puzzling Strays

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cleaning ones self is hard.

Gary

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

Wonder-bird Lessons on Life

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

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

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

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

Unbelievable maneuvers.

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

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

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

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

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

Gary

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

Questions

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

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

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

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

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

Gary

Life is like that…

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

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

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

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

Take a Walk

Have a talk

Get Right

Stay tight

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

Gary.

Left Out

Scruffy weed

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

I care about that plant

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

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

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

Gary

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)

Seeds of Thought

Spring is coming to our neck of the woods. There are the usual signs. A powerful thought that kept popping into my head today as I took a few pictures. I purposefully wanted to see “what life grows out of an old dead stump?” And, Yes I found life. See for yourself! Keep this thought in mind as you look at these pictures.

Never underestimate the power of a seed

The last two pictures were from a wilderness trip. The rest were taken in the woods out back today. Where a seed lands, given any chance at all, it will take root and grow. If you and I are any kind of Follower of Jesus at all, we should look to sow seeds of the Good News of Jesus Christ in lives around us. Thank God the power is not in the sowing. The power of the Gospel is the Word of God. The same Word that spoke and there was light. the same Word that is sown as a seed possibly in the hardest (like a rock) life. So I’ll say it again…

Never underestimate the power of a seed!

All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.  In him was life; and the life was the light of men .John 1:3

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

Ponderings lost, Deep In

Thought

I’m the smartest person in the room. It was obvious to me but the look on everyone’s face puzzled me. So I pontificated more. It was a great moment.

Years later as I was fondly remembering that highlight in my life when I suddenly came to another realization. I was the dumbest person in the room. Now that I know so much now. I digress.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Proverbs 9:10

Have you ever?

Gary