Wandering Into Highlight

Notice, be alert and unravel little mysteries. When the sun goes down look for the reds, yellows, purples and other miscellaneous colors wafted on the clouds. Look for the highlights.  When a small child yells out a command on a solemn occasion. What’s with that? When all 7 teenage boys commit their life to follow Jesus because their Sunday school teacher asks them if they would, find out the whole story. Some stories may be told for a life time. Some a short meaningful wisp. No matter what, the sun always sets.

fire Haze sunset
Wild fires hazed the sky, colored and magnified the setting sun view from our front lawn.

16 year old Alexa was getting baptized a couple weeks ago along with 20+ others as a public announcement to follow Jesus. A solemn occasion. A six year old boy yelled out “Alexa, tell me a joke!”  A very funny moment for those who knew little johnny (we will call him) lives in a smart house (can virtual Alexa tell a joke??)

Times are a changing are they not?

 

CP Sunn eml
A hot summer evening watching colors and rays appear, change and disappear.

I had coffee and an amazing conversation with a friend Sunday afternoon. Somewhere between fishing, family and church stories he mentioned that all seven of his teen boys  in Sunday school class had prayed with him to follow Jesus. I pushed him a little to know how that happened. After his normal disclaimer (it was all God and not me) the story of seven boys studying the scriptures about the basics for the past year. Things like redemption, sanctification and their biblical threads on through the ministry and purpose of Jesus death and resurrection. These boys were ready to pray. What a highlight!

 

Sun Tonight 9 10 18eml
Another Sunset from our yard. Every night is different, every sunset unique

Just a thought:  Life’s truths are like puzzle pieces still in the box. Sometimes I am the six year old just reacting and unaware of what’s going on. Other times I am like my friend helping those around me (maybe too selectively) put some puzzle pieces together and introduce them to Jesus.

   My hope is that on my final sunset, there will be some highlights, even in my wanderings, but highlights non the less.

 Gary

 

 

 

When We See. Really See

 

Let me ramble a bit about some wilderness wanderings with my family last week. The sites and sounds were awesome! So much of our trip is a parallel to a life with God, pictures and all. Let’s talk about what we see. really see.

Most of us have our wilderness wanderings of the soul as well. One is in the seeing beyond ourselves.

otter 3
3 otter swam by in the wee hours of daylight. It seems they were created to fish and play

Let’s face it. Most of our seeing is positioning ourselves to see. Awareness is another ingredient to seeing. Capturing a photo is another step in seeing. Framing that photo is then important to explain what we saw. Maybe, God shows off sometimes. Just for us?? He loves us you know. Maybe we see (really see) that and know that He is God, Creator of all things. He has framed our world, all the molecules in the universe and beyond. He has framed you.

BWCA sunset Camp cp eml
The rain stopped, the sun came out and set as night came. See the wolf? The sun prevails.
Liz Walleye eml
Our Grand daughters senior dream vacation (A wilderness canoe trip). She will outfish most.  

It’s entirely possible to have a dream vacation and only have an adventure, see a nice sunset, catch some fish, do some exploring and that’s about it if it works out.

There’s a better way. What if we position ourselves to see God’s handiwork in marvelous ways? What if we don’t? What if we spend some alone time with God expressing our wonder at the sights and sounds?

fog eml
Early one morning I waited until I could see through the fog. kind of.

What do you see? Is life just rambling in the fog between storms? Are you positioned to see God’s handiwork all around? How about in your life? God is in the business of opening our eyes you know. I only know about this because He has done it in my life and coutless others throughout time. Like the man born blind and healed by Jesus in the Bible, he knows. He sees John 9:25
He answered, “Whether He is a sinner I do not know. There is one thing I do know: I was blind, but now I see!”

I strongly reccomend some wilderness wanderings. Find someplace to have a long chat with your creator. Check out going to the BWCAW sometime. Watch out for bear! (really).

Gary

 

Mom

veggies-eml.jpgI know you are gone, along with so many others. Bye for now our parting words. I understand I’ll see you at the gate when time is over. Meanwhile, the moms who are here…We are celebrating life and doing something special today for all moms out there. I am also doing something special for the women of my life…Here is to you dear. Our kids even turned out exceptionally well. kabobs em

Just a little something I cooked up if that’s ok. Thank you Lord for the women you put into my life. Help her (my wife) recover from losing her mom this spring. We miss her..Amen

Gary. 

 

Once upon a sculpting

 

A storm makes a mess. We can allow God to Sculpt us in the strongest storms of life

Wind snow sculpture close up eml
Snow sculpture edge close up     Dictionary:To carvemodelchiselsculpturefashionformshapecastcuthew.     Everything is being sculpted outside our house right now. Wind, gusts of wind, bigger and longer gusts of wind, and then hold your breath I think the creaking house is moving in these monstrous gusts of wind. Wind snow blow cp eml

Lately it seems like every couple of days we are having 50 hour storms. Piles of snow. As I type and look out the window, high winds are sculpting the landscape. Nature plays for keeps. So does God.

Wind snow blow 4 eml
Not a tweety bird in sight, sometimes nothing is in sight

There are probably a lot of overlapping  lessons  here. Possible titles: Storms of life anyone? In the Storm? After the Storm? When Harsh Winds Blow? Help Me Find My Car? Winter Camping Anyone? Can’t Find My Igloo? This is Fun! Where have all the bluebirds gone?

Wind snow blow 2 eml
Disclaimer on photo quality: The only thing holding still is my camera on a tripod taking pictures of moving things from inside the house through the windows.

I know, in my head, that God uses all things to Sculpt us. The One who designs one of a kind in everything from each snowflake in the storm to you and I. When I say this I think of the abused, the quadriplegic, the cancer ALS and other disease fighters, the inner and outer scarred and broken, the forgotten in special homes and you and I. We all have, or will, fit the bill sometime in our life before the dates separated by a dash are sculpted into granite. Life can be just cruel and harsh.

In This Sculpting by God, We can Trust. He has a plan that takes all the accidents, splats and storm damages of life to sculpt us into the likeness of his son for eternity. I do not say this lightly. I have lots of life’s scars and only some are visible. You probably do as well.

Wind snow sculpture eml
A larger view of some small snow sculptures in my yard. As I type they are changing, bigger, tougher, prettier and the winds are much harder. I’m not going out there!

God is bigger than any storm and does more than patch up storm damage. He is so powerful that he can take the storm damaged life and make it part of your christ-like-eternal-DNA masterpiece

Trust God, Trust God, Trust God not only with your life but with your storms! (Proverbs 3:5-6). Walk with Him daily. He will direct your paths

Gary 

I took the above pictures an hour ago (below, just now). The winds outside are getting seriously worse. I’m going to see if I still have a boat behind the shed (or a shed for that matter), make some coffee and watch the storm. Yep wind gust coming

Wind gust coming eml
Picture taken through the patio door and through the screen porch…not going out there!

Simplicity of Legacy

This is me and my chubby partial feeling fingers. If you can wiggle your fingers you can make music….eventually

Mom was a beginners piano teacher. She influenced the world. I will use myself as an example as all 7 of us siblings took lessons and I qualify as the least talented in my eyes. While you read, please put on this youtube video of me playing my rendition of moms favorite old hymn. This is a bit of an unconventional way to blog so let me know if it was worth the effort to play and read at the same time.

Now this is important! Please Open another window on your computer, go here https://youtu.be/Ehr5dukFjzw Click and start Video, then come back to read the blog while playing…trust me it will make sense later

VS 1 “Tis so Sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to take him at his word” (Musically hesitant)

Well mom thought so all her life. She told me that God had a plan and could be trusted completely. I was 11 years  lying in the hospital, both arms in casts after a saw blade came off a machine and cut both my arms to the bone on the inside near the elbow crease where arteries and nerves are housed . My median nerves were completely severed (a specialist tied them together). I couldn’t feel below the elbows on both hands.

“Just to Rest upon His promise, Just to Know thus saith the lord” (Musically slow but getting there)

Mom did not waver in her faith and trust in Jesus even though the hard times were sometimes very hard. She loved us and sometimes would cry when trying to discipline us (for our good, but didn’t seem so at the time). She had God, her huge garden, a piano, a community full of kids needing lessons and seven kids who ate very well off her cooking.

Chorus: “Jesus Jesus how I trust him” (Musically a little more sure and quite simple)

Even when we seemed to be wandering down the road away from God (she was not silent here). My siblings each have their own decision making and Mom stories. We would need many a week of campfires to sit around and tell those tales.

“how I’ve proved him o’er and o’er”  (musically a few extra notes added)

I was mad at God. I blamed God for allowing my hands and arms to be useless, have no feeling or cramping phantom feelings. My muscles acted as if there was no one in charge. it would take 3 years to do a push-up and pull-up in gym class. I hated the doctor for telling my mom (which gave her way too much leverage) I would have clothes pins for fingers if I did not learn to play the piano or learn how to type.

 

“Jesus Jesus precious Jesus, Oh for grace to trust him more” (Musically ending a thoughtful phrase)

Mom was gentel, kind and cruel all at the same time. I sat at the piano for hours it seemed. “God has a plan” she would say. I was good at saying “ya” a hundred different ways. I didn’t see any plans coming down the pike anytime soon. I couldn’t feel the keys. My fingers didn’t really work. It took me 10 hours to play a little tune when others could do it in 20 minutes.

VS 2: “I’m so glad I learned to trust him, precious Jesus, Saviour, Friend” (Musically changes keys and begins an uplifting era of life)

I began to test the waters of life and one day made my choice. As a teenager I Chose to Follow Jesus. I knelt on the floor of our barn and told him I was all in. Like Mom and Dad and a few other people I knew, I was all in.

“and I know that thou art with me, wilt be with me to the end” (Musically sure, ready to run off a cliff with the music)

It was a learning struggle more complicated than cliff diving (which I would later try); it was more like making a run off the cliff in order to clear several boulders below and reach the deep safe water 50 feet below (tried this also). God proved himself in countless ways. Like Mom I was learning how to fly with trust even in the crashes.

Chorus: Jesus Jesus how I trust him, How I’ve proved him o’re and o’re (Musically marching through life) 

We all got older. Mom began losing her memory. Quietly memories were stolen as the world marched on. I began to renovate this old hymn to play for mom, hoping she would be proud of her son.

“Jesus Jesus precious Jesus, Oh for grace to trust him more.” (Musically challenging and dynamics added for the massive ups and downs of life)

Mom got a fast acting cancer. Her prayers had been that she would not forget her kids and grandkids before she died. She didn’t. I played this song for her as she was in her wheelchair by the piano. She was all there and more. It was not just a “favorite” hymn. It was a lifes song, unwavering in a dimming body.

Chorus again:  Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!          (Musically recapping moms life. I end with the final resolve chord then a little run up the piano as she leaves us to be with her Jesus, savior, Friend.)

I am not an accomplished piano player. My fingers can play some music and I have partial feeling in my hands and arms. This blog is not just about mom or about me playing the piano. I would like it to be a challenge to you the reader and listener in this way: that you would consider living your life all in. the only way I know how is to walk, listen and talk with Jesus, Savior, Friend daily. The proof is in the consistent upgrades that God’s Spirit brings about in our thoughts, speech and character of our being from within. This is The Simplicity of Legacy. 

I hope this in a small way can be a part of Gods Legacy in you. get to the deep and safe waters my friend! Eternity awaits us all, choose and follow Jesus. No hesitation, no excuses. No wallowing in the “this happened to me stuff”. Tis so Sweet to trust in Jesus (till you close your eyes the last time sweet).

Gary

Disclaimer: I do not have video capabilities with WordPress which made this a little harder for you the reader, sorry. It was an experiment, let me know if it kind-a sort-a worked. I tried it on myself but I know the song too well. 

Inside Outside

Inside outside winter 2019 eml

Inside and outside are the same.  Kind of…

Have you ever tried to take a picture inside with the outside showing? Normally there is glare, too much light and a flash is needed unless it’s dark outside. I actually set up the camera in the living room on a tripod and waited until the light density was similar inside to the outside. A 70 degree difference from inside to outside as it was a snowstorm just ending outside.

It’s February and very nice out… temperature wise.  

In september the temperature made it’s way down into the 30’s and it was cold. October made it a little colder. November temperature went down into the teens. December made it down to zero and into a few degrees below zero. this January we found 20 below zero a few times and the beginning of February in the minus 30 below zero range (some saw minus 40’s but you get the picture).  What was cold in September is now t-shirt weather. January weather seems warm from February’s view. 

icicles ed eml
Our Spruce tree seems cold as the sun sets. We love our views from the inside

We live and adjust to relativities in so many areas of our lives, not just the weather.

We live and adjust daily without even thinking about it. I have 6 pairs of outdoor boots and combinations of 12 layers of different types of outer and layered coats and jackets (I can stay warm in minus 30 with a wind chill of -60 degrees). A few days ago I was outside unloading my ice fishing equipment and I thought “It’s warm out here”; I looked at the outdoor thermometer and it read -32 degrees. The wind had died down and it felt warm outside. I called dad mid January to let him know it was minus 20 degrees. He said “wow it’s warm there, it’s -42 here”. I just gave my oldest kentucky daughter a text telling her “it is 40 degrees colder here…must be nice”. She texted back “and I thought 21 degrees was really cold”

Even though it feels warm, it would still be a disaster to stick one’s tongue on the car door handle. There are some things that are not relative. You will still lose part of your tongue if stuck on freezing metal (I have a winter camping story with tin cups for another time). A bad diet seems ok until later in life. Smoking seemed ok for our health a long time ago. We can come up with an endless list of how we live life as relative. Maybe it actually kind of works; until it doesn’t.

A relationship with God is not relative. Sin is not relative. God’s love is not relative. Don’t stay outside in relativities on this one. Come inside. What God says and has revealed to man and carefully recorded and preserved in scripture trumps our relative spiritual ideologies.

I would encourage you to read the Bible. Unlike any other book ever written, the Holy Bible is compiled of writings that cover a span of about 1400 years and include some 40 writers. Within its pages are 66 books, yet it is considered one book, The Book, The Holy Scriptures, The Word of God. The time period recorded during those 1400 years covers nearly 4000 years of human history and God’s revelation of Himself to and through man. The history of the Holy Bible is the history of God’s involvement with mankind.

I’m getting ready for tomorrow. Another snowstorm coming. Warm weather as it will stay above -10 tonight. Maybe. Tomorrow morning I will also continue getting ready for another tomorrow (someday my tomorrow will be in eternity) as I read a passage from God’s word, pray (my personal talk time with God), reflect and allow God’s Spirit to set my tone for the day. I have a personal relationship with my creator God. It’s real and I am changed. I trust the changes in me are not like the weather outside. temporary. Relative. To be more like Jesus is reality. Truth. Inside.

Gary

Moonset Morning at Ten Below Zero

moonset morning at ten below zero eml
I  stepped outside and took a 10 second time exposure. Long enough to get cold in my sleepwear. 

I watched the moon set before the sun would light the morning.  I pondered and identified with the Psalmist.

“You, God are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you in a dry and parched land where there is no water. ” Psalm 63: 1

I thought of the all the sailors who have been adrift in life boats after losing their vessel in storm or war; often muttering “water water everywhere but not a drop to drink.”

I think often of the happiest people I have ever seen in a third world country and they have nothing.

I think of the change of one’s whole being when they finally understand how much Jesus loves them; enough to die for them. It’s like coming home from vacation and all your plants look dead and they spring to life with water. Only we get “Living Water.”

I ponder how this passion for God in our dry and thirsty land affects my speech, word choices and topics of conversation today and through the week. Will I use alternate swear words? slang? Will I confront or come alongside when differences arise? will I wash the dishes when my wife looks tired even though I have had an 11 hour work day? Will I say a kind word to a harried cashier? Will I live intentionally? Generously?

It’s now daylight. Will I live as a child of light? A delightful sunday morning. I read on. “I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you Psalm 63: 4-5 (even if I don’t know the song?)

Gary

Sacred Moments

To many this would be sacrilege. but to those who have realised they just escaped hell, sacred.

 I came a stranger, a visitor and casual observer. I left immersed in wonder.  

 The place was packed. The air as electric with excitement as a tied championship game in final seconds. Yelling, clapping and (very) loud cheering sounds from young and old alike. God winning. Testimony and story from several teens, twenties and some elderly as they declared hardships and victories before being dunked in an icy water filled cattle tank. Tears and much shaking of heads as memories of who they were “before Christ”. Gods power was evident, powerful, overflowing and permeating. All were participants in this sacred gathering.

Thirtysome quick stories and baptisms before moving on to thirtysome child dedications. The electricity was still there. Clapping, yelling and various carrying on continued as parents gave their kids to God and pleaded with the people to help them raise their kids to Love God. Not a dry eye in the place as a mom gave her child to God. “Before Christ”, Strung out on drugs at life’s bottom she had given away her young child for adoption.  Now in her new life in Christ, she was now giving her child to God. A child she may never see again on earth. She desperately wanted to at least see her child in heaven someday.

[Side notes: extremely organized, the youth band was great but their drummer is an alien with six arms I think. How could over 70 events happen with people talking and take only 2 hours? Wow, they didn’t come for the cake afterwards! I still feel compelled to pray once in awhile for the barren mom with purple and pink hair. So this is where my grandkids are being raised…]

There was nothing ordinary about this afternoon church service.  God wasn’t just “talked about”, God permeated the room and the people with his presence. A sacred excitement. We were there with His Spirit. I could  picture Jesus in the eyes of the little kids standing on chairs clapping with glee. The year was 2018. I shall not forget this sacred moment.

Ask God for a sacred moment in your life and church (and by faith carry ear plugs)

Gary

PS: a bit of irony on the backstory. This meeting was held in a nice church building given to this ministry. Seems the church grew old and disbanded from lack of people and funds. This ministry grew out of that church a few years back but was attracting people that made the church people uncomfortable. Now that ministry is a church and the old church building is just big enough for the youth ministry. God wins.

He Restores My Soul

6-9 people will sleep in this house each night. The Motorcycle will transport up to 4 people at one time. My world is different from this.

I fell asleep praying and pondering deeply on Psalm 23:3 last night. I awoke praying and pondering the depths of God’s work of restoration when I let him. I think somehow I prayed and pondered in my sleep…is that possible?  I’m quite sure His remake is quite different and beyond what I have in mind. Like the picture above we might be asking for a bigger bike when our house needs a rebuild.

new house
A brand new house in Guatemala

 

On this day of thanksgiving (our american set aside holiday to mostly over-eat), May we say “The Lord is my Shepherd” and allow his remake process to be happening in our lives.

Our team built a new house for a family. Great as it was for them, it’s only a house. Oh the undiscoverable depths God wants to build restoring our soul.

Now that’s something to be thankful for. My personal challenge: Give someone else a reason to be thankful today.

Gary

 

 

And We, Like the Bee. Maybe

Sun Set on Soybeans emllessons from a Battered Bumble Bee

Bumble Bee eml

The sun was setting, it was close to dark. I was walking to the house after taking sunset pictures that were odd colored when I noticed a bumble bee on a fall flower. I took a full one second time exposure to capture the light and the bee. An OK picture I thought, but I could not see everything. Sometimes we just do not see the whole picture unless we stop and see. Really see.

Battered Bumble Bee

For the bee this is as good as it gets.  

A bee, clinging to a flower when it should have been in the hive. Old, torn wings, badly wounded leg and foot and feeding late into the evening. A bee on it’s last feeding perhaps? We all end up in tough shape if we live a long life.

This is how good it can get…

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty (John 6:35)
 But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)
 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. (Revelation 21:16)
The promise that came to me as I walked into the house: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”. (Matthew 11:28)

Gary