I Noticed

I saw it coming out of the wind and rain. A sign. An opening in the clouds appeared.

A ray. Slim, tentative, gathering other rays. to speak through the opening. Speak to me?

Just a word for the dark, rainy, windy, angry day. Just a word for the good, bad, sometimes great, beautiful, gloomy, nearing the end game of life.

Just a word gathering past the finale coming from the sun. Just a word coming from the Son. God cares. He really does you know. When you notice, you can feel it inside. It’s bone deep and heart felt.

HOPE

sunlight through clouds 2eml
Picture taken as the storm seemed to be abating this afternoon by GaryFultz

Big storm, small Rays, big sun (Son)

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:5

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.  We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed 2Corinthians 4:7-9

 Sometimes we need the storm to notice the Son. May your clouds part, if only for a small a ray of hope. Remember where those rays come from!

Signiture

The Many Faces of Spring

Spring came, and went, came again, April fooled the birds with rain, snow, melting, and now it’s winter again. All four seasons in a few days. Click on the slide show to see The Faces of spring in our own back yard.

   The Faces of Life 

Change, the constant of life. Sudden change, the story of our lives. The birds seem to roll with change. Flocks of robins were on the green grass this morning but now the snow is beak high if they stand on each others backs. Now they are eating last years sumac berries out of the trees. They are singing in the blowing snow storm.

It’s fitting in our times that spring was interrupted by a massive storm. So much of our lives have been interrupted by the Covid storm. We can sing in our house.

One thing not interrupted or changed was Easter (I mean what Easter really is). Jesus Christ didn’t stay dead. He is alive. His resurrection power lives in those who trust and follow Him every day.  I find myself a little stunned at changes but not afraid.Woodpecker stranded eml

Today this little woodpecker hit one of our windows while I was taking pictures out the window. He would have died in this prickly bush. Totally captured. His worst nightmare, a human, grabbed him, held him and thought of how much more Christ did for me as I set him free to recover (he did after a couple hours)Woodpecker resting eml

I hope you know how to rest in Christ and are willing , ready and able to help rescue those caught in the turmoil of our times. Hey we are alive, because He lives.  A lot can happen in three days!!! ironically springs melting face will come in about three days again….Don’t be as fickle as spring with Jesus…OK?

Signiture

Did you notice how many ways the wind blows in the one sunset picture?  ya, don’t be like that!

 

Shaky Faith

It’s raining said the farmer as he spit into the wind…(An old saying on the farm). Yes, it’s a perception saying.

I took the above picture in the wind on my regular camera settings for still shots. Not very clear is it? In fact I spent part of the afternoon taking high speed pictures and captured some excellent mediocre shots. My subject matter was all over the place, often in the same picture.

black eyed susan eml
I think they all moved slightly

This brings me to some questions we must all ask ourselves if we claim to be people of faith. “Does the subject of your faith change? When you feel like your faith is on shaky ground is it because your faith is really on your circumstances? recent events? other people? your faith community? The cataclysmic event that just happened in your life?Rocks Cry eml I took a picture of a rock in our yard. It doesn’t move in the wind. Awhile back I wrote on it but that’s another time (The rocks cry out one of my first blogs way back).

Here is the deal. When others see us, watch us and take a look at our faith. what people see is a blurred confusing image if the subject of our faith is not Jesus Christ. He is our Rock and our salvation. We are to fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith and put to the side everything that gets in the way Hebrews 12:2 

When Our Faith is all on Jesus, others can still see Jesus through our storm. 

I put together some pictures taken in high winds from this afternoon. They may not be perfect but each one was in a protected niche from most of the wind. God is our shelter, rock, provide, protector,and I could go on…You get the picture. (Click for slide show)

 

I imagine God shelters us in ways we do not even see or understand. Consider a few lines from the old hymn “He hideth My Soul”

A wonderful Saviour is Jesus my Lord
A wonderful Saviour to me
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock
Where rivers of pleasure I see
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock
That shadows a dry, thirsty land
He hideth my life in the depths of his love
And covers me there with his hand (repeat)
 
A wonderful Saviour is Jesus my Lord
He taketh my burden a-way
He holdeth me up and I shall not be moved
He giveth me strength as my day 
One more thought: I put my camera on a tripod for getting clear pictures whenever I can. People who watch our lives to see if Jesus is real (and they do) often have enough things shaking their world as it is. Hey, who among us sees clearly? Let’s not present a moving target of faith for shaky people trying to get the picture.
When Our Faith is all on Jesus, others can still see Jesus through their storm. 

Gary

Check out the video of the haven of rest quartet G.W posted in the comments section. “He Hideth My Soul”

Reaching For Good Enough

As a person I’m probably smarter than you may think I am, and, quite a bit less smart than I think I am. I prove the last part of that statement daily and a couple times a year the first part seems proven (to me). OK so I got the first part wrong, moving on…

Take today for example, I refinished an ash table top that we use for a picnic table on the screen porch. The table sits outside all year. Grand kids use that table to play on with toys and sometimes my tools they think are toys. It was really beat up and looked like it was sulking and looking forlorn out there. Here is where I step it up and refinish right? Happy Table right??Black Ash Table eml

I stripped off the old finish, sanded and sanded this table. Sawdust everywhere. I set sanding and finishing records for an old black ash table top. I made it look nice, and it does from a distance. I got the old scars out and put in my own. Argh!..not again! Everywhere. Take a lookBlack Ash Table scars eml

Sander marks from using too course of sandpaper (rookie mistake) and then being in a hurry to put some finish on. Hey, it’s only a picnic table that sits outside so it’s good enough right?

Aren’t you glad God does not treat us this way? Yet some think He does. Do you think Gods version of renewing our minds (Romans 12:2) is to reach for “Good Enough?”

Oh He lets us experience all of life’s poundings and we have the scars to prove it. However, God does not abandon us, give us a rough clean up and only make us look nice from a distance. God goes for the heart of the matter. Clean inside first. Our outside might look tough until the inside is so changed it starts showing through (2 Corinthians 4:16)

God is not finished with us yet so let Him do His work. When he is done, eternity will know it. For now the world will be satisfied with seeing a “Love” construction zone in us.

We should be allowing God to produce in us what the whole world wants. 

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Finally: If God can put a flower garden and the horizon into a dew droplet (see header picture) He can put Love in your heart and a bunch of other good things!  

Gary

PS: My wife says “I like it”  This is why we have a good marriage, but that’s another topic (or is it?)

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. 

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

A Time to Tell

It’s a story that needs telling. Maybe some stories are sacred enough to leave for the telling in eternity. Maybe some can be told as a teaser for story time a hundred years from now. I will leave most things out but you will get the gist.

sunset in the storm eml
  Ominous sunset with a storm coming. I wonder what clashing spiritual forces look like? 

A while after moving to a strange place, with hardly an acquaintance, my wife casually mentioned to me she had an aunt (I had never met) living in the same small town where we lived. Odd situation I guess. Auntie didn’t like any of us or care to meet but she had cancer and was not long for this world. My wife had never felt moved to get to know auntie until now. “I’m going to visit her starting tomorrow” she announced “and she probably will not want to see me”. 

My wife found her address,  knocked on her door and when the door opened a crack with a “What do you want” greeting, she was quick to stick a foot in the door and let auntie know who’s daughter she was, that she wanted to visit and she brought a few cookies. Auntie took the cookies and shut the door.

This went on for awhile until my wife made it inside the door to talk a little longer and visit with one cold old bitter women. Seems Auntie didn’t need sympathy, prying relatives and even rejected her own children half the time. Auntie had no time for prayer or anything to do with God.

Auntie believed that when one dies, that’s it. No after life, no purpose to life, no God, nothing. Burn the body and get rid of the ashes.

In all this, my wife seemed more and more confident that God was pushing her from a weekly visit over time to daily visits by the time Auntie went into the hospital. “She needs someone” my wife kept saying. The nurses drew straws (they actually did) to see who had Auntie duty. Auntie was not a nice lady and even refused to let her grandchildren visit her. She did not want to even know their names or see their faces. When my wife or her  grown children would visit, Auntie would pretend to be asleep. If they tried to hug her she would say “You may shake my hand”. My wife would not ask. She would hug her anyway. Gradually her stiffening at hugs became less like hugging a wooden board.

My wife would sing hymns and read Auntie bible passages about knowing Jesus when Auntie would pretend to be sleeping. Some days Auntie would actually talk to her. She would not let any clergy see her or anyone pray with or for her.

A few days before Auntie died, My wife felt moved to ask her if she could pray for her. Auntie said “I suppose it would be OK”. My wife thanked Jesus for dying for all the things that separated us from God. She prayed the whole plan of salvation as she had been reading to Auntie in the bible. She prayed for Auntie to just believe in Jesus. If she would just believe. When she was done Auntie said something no one had heard from her lips in a very long time, “Thank you”. Then she went to sleep and My wife went home.

The next day some of Aunties kids said to my wife “What did you do to her?” Alarmed my wife said “I prayed with her, why?”

Auntie spent the last few days of her life smiling, thanking nurses and asking to meet her grandchildren. Hugs happened and Auntie was a different person. Auntie never acknowledged praying with my wife or believing in Jesus but there isn’t any other evidence to explain the complete change from an angry and bitter old dying women to a sweet little old cancerous women in pain. She was not getting more morphine. She actually seemed to be living beyond the pain drugs. She died much happier than she had lived most of her life.

“All I did was do what I felt God was telling me to do” says my wife.

My wife and I thought God had relocated us from family, friends and great fishing lakes for a job and better income. Now we are thinking God had far bigger things in mind. It’s very possible that God moved my wife here and gave me a job while He was at it.

  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”declares the Lord  “As the heavens are higher than the earth,so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  Isaiah 55:8-9

Gary

Please comment below, thanks

Wintering the soul: Get a Glint

Winter the soul eml

I ask a coworker friend often; “How is your wife doing?” Before saying anything past “OH,” and a sigh; there is a telling glint in his eye that means more than words.  A small deep glint at the core encrusted within weary, torn and sad eyes. The glint matches the smile on his face and humor held in check by 3 hours of sleep a night. “We pray for you often;” I say. “We know and feel it” He says and we go about our work.

Sometimes there is a Bond of Brotherhood that defies depth and definition. Pain has hunted us down and we are fighting it together. Lots of people have pain. Awful pain. It’s normal to just survive it the best we can, hoping for better days. As hard as it is, there is more than just a dark side. There is a side that produces my coworkers steely eye glint. The Aurora Borealis of glints in an eye.

It’s a choice.

Pain, especially ongoing never ending pain, causes people to pick a path. Some of us go numb for awhile, retreating into a shell. We play the “poor me” card. Some wave a big flag and call attention to all their woes. Many cards are usually played here including the “send me money” card, and there is a whole deck of personal reaction cards. I want to tell you about our friends who live differently in their pain than most. I will call them Mr. and Mrs. B.

Mrs. B’s story (short version)

Mrs. B has had a degenerative disease for many years which has led to her body not working correct on many fronts. She is bedridden and can sit in a wheelchair sometimes when seeing doctors and such. Her pain is so bad she is chipping her teeth from clenching her jaw. A mouth guard is now needed. Her pain triggers a PTSD type situation where she does not recognize her husband for time periods. Mr. B is the main caregiver as well as husband and is totally committed to seeing her through. Mr. B has long hair and a long ponytail (from the old days) that he will never cut off as Mrs. B can only be convinced that Mr. B is really her husband as he has her grab his ponytail. He gets about 3 hours of sleep a night after keeping any sharp objects away from her. God, humor and friends keep them going; mostly God. I asked our company to hire him and let him leave and come back as often as he needs for his wife. Every company needs a Mr. B (for 100 reasons plus his work ethic and influence on work culture) although he falls asleep in meetings.

Another side of the story

Early last sunday morning Mrs. B felt “weighed” to pray for our pastor. She did not know he would have to quit in the middle of his sermon and ask our associate pastor to step in and finish. She seems to know things before they happen because of her unusual walk with God, this is normal. Her trust in God is a Redwood Forest of trust compared to a normal forest. Seeds grown in the soil of pain and nurtured by walking with God.

Mrs. B had her doctor in tears because of her reaction last week to all the bad news about how bad her body is doing. She assured her doctor that she was really OK because in the big picture she knows where she is going and life here is but a blip on the screen of eternity. She has that glint in her eye that is physically real. I believe (totally unsubstantiated) God has given this couple a glint connected to eternity.

The hundreds letters of encouragement to missionaries, scores of college students and others in the community that have needed prayer have waned over the years. The ability to host a small group in their home is probably gone. A silent unseen spiritual warrior gaining more strength in the heavenly realm as the physical slips away. Who does this? Actually there are many stories, many silent lives strong in faith and weak in body. Mrs. B has been assured deep within her soul, by God; that she will someday have her body redeemed. Our Spina Bifida daughter is another and you may know someone like this. Should we not all have this faith and assurance in the depth of our being? Should we not all “Get a Glint”?

Romans 8:22-24 (NIV)

 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 

Now that’s something worth glinting for!

Gary

This blog is also a continuation of my outdoor blog at https://garyfultz.com/2018/01/20/wintering-the-weather/