Mar 2 2014

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

_DSC1397As I write these words western Kentucky is getting showered by ice.  My car is covered with ice, as are the trees in my yard.  None of this is a surprise since this winter storm has been predicted for a number of days.  Up to three-quarters of an inch of ice is expected and then several inches of snow.  I do not mind driving on snow but ice is a different matter.  It can be extremely dangerous to navigate in a car.  It is also something quite treacherous to walk on.  This morning I had to be very careful with my footing.  A few weeks ago I fell on the ice and I did not want to repeat that adventure.  I’m hoping that tomorrow I will be able to photograph the ice.  Ice covered plants and trees can be extremely beautiful.  If I do get out with my camera I will be extra careful.  The key to dealing with ice is to respect it.  If you do not you are likely to pay dire consequences.

_DSC1429That reminds me of something else.  I happen to be reading through the Bible again this year and am covering now the opening chapters of  Deuteronomy. In this section Moses is speaking to the children of Israel who are about to cross into the Promised Land.  He tells them, “Know therefore today, and take it to heart, that the LORD, He is God in heaven above and on earth below; there is no other. So you shall keep His statutes and His commandments which I am giving you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may live long on the land which the LORD your God is giving you for all time.” (4:39-40)

But Moses did not just urge the Israelites to respect God and His commandments that day, he also warned them of the consequences that would come if they did not remain faithful.  Their lack of respect and obedience would cause God to withhold His blessings.  They would stand in danger of losing the land they had just come to possess.  Moses told them “you shall surely perish quickly from the land where you are going over the Jordan to possess it.  You shall not live long on it, but shall be utterly destroyed.” (4:26)  The Israelites were specifically warned not to take on any of the gods they encountered in the land before them.  Moses reminded them that God is a jealous God and would not tolerate any rivals.  After all He had done to deliver them from slavery and bring them to the very verge of the Promised Land God deserved their utmost respect and loyalty.  If they did not give Him this they would certainly pay.

_DSC1250I know this kind of talk makes some people uncomfortable but there is definitely a lesson here we need to be reminded of.  God, as Maker of heaven and earth, and the One who sent His Son to save the world, truly does deserve our utmost respect and loyalty.  When we consider all God has done for us we can come to no other conclusion.  He gives us the freedom, however, to do as we please.  We don’t have to be faithful; we don’t have to show Him our respect.  But when we don’t we too suffer the consequences.  I don’t believe it’s so much that God directly punishes us as it is we reap what we sow.  We pay the price that comes from following false gods (and there are plenty of them out there) and ignoring the paths God has graciously laid out for us for our own good and that of others (not to mention Creation itself).

Just as it would be foolish for me to go out in the ice and pay it no regard or respect, we are incredibly foolish not to give God the respect He is due come sunshine or rain, hail, sleet, or snow.

–Chuck

(The pictures shown here are some I took nearby after another ice storm hit the area last month.)


Feb 9 2014

Finding Contentment In Any and Every Season

_DSC1497I could not begin to count the number of times I have heard in recent days the words, “I’m ready for spring.”  Here in western Kentucky we have had, like much of the United States, quite a winter.  We’ve had a lot of snow, ice, and sub-freezing temperatures.  The longer the winter goes the more complaints I have heard about this most unfavorable season.  Some whine “I’m tired of all of this snow and ice” while others wish winter “would just go away and leave us alone.” I heard someone say “You can bet I won’t complain about the heat this summer after this.”  If I was a betting man, I’d wager this person will still complain about the heat come August.  That’s just the way we are.  When it comes to arctic blasts and tropical heat waves we seldom seem happy.

_DSC1403I happen to enjoy winter a lot.  As I get older the extreme temperatures are a bit more painful and apparently I am not as sure on my feet as I once was, but still it is a wonderful time of the year.  In places like I live winter offers us beauty you cannot enjoy any other time of the year.  With the leaves off the trees you can see things as you drive down the road that you cannot see when the foliage is full.  It’s almost like shades have been drawn back so that we can see what we’ve been missing. In winter the birds come more frequently to my feeders and if it snows you can count on a good show from them all day long.  When there’s snow on the ground you can see the tracks of the various critters that have visited your yard and you may even be surprised by what creature a certain set of tracks belong to.  In winter you will likely view wildlife that are not present other times of the year.  I’ve been photographing short-eared owls quite a bit the past month.  It is my understanding that they will not be here once winter has passed.

Winter’s cold, its snow and ice, also causes most people to slow down a bit.  This is quite conducive to helping us pay more attention to our surroundings.  When I slowed down this past week I found many wonders through the viewfinder of my camera.  Using a macro lens I discovered beauty and things to marvel at that, once again, will not be available to me once the cold weather has passed.  Some may wish winter’s demise or spring’s early arrival but I, for one, am grateful to God for the wonders and beauty of winter.  I feel incredibly blessed to have seen the things I have in recent weeks.

_DSC1550Upon reflection, I think that our general discontent with the weather is a sign of an even greater discontentment.  It seems like far too many people spend their time wishing their life away.  They’re always hoping for a better day to come.  There’s certainly nothing wrong with hoping for better days but the fact is none of us have any guarantee of tomorrow and if we spend all of our time wishing for better days we may very well miss the wonders, miracles and beauty of today.  I suggest we quit complaining about the weather and make the most of today.

The apostle Paul once wrote, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” (Philippians 4:12)  Perhaps we should make it our goal to be  content in any and every season.  That contentment will not only make us happier individuals but may well enable us to see far more of God’s handiwork than we are currently seeing.  Finding contentment and seeing more of God in Creation are certainly worthy goals to pursue.  Wouldn’t you agree?

–Chuck

(I took each of the pictures shown here last week in Henderson County, Kentucky.)


Feb 5 2014

Ice Therapy

_DSC1234We got quite an ice storm last night.  My car was covered with ice when I got ready to go to work this morning.  As I drove into town every tree in sight was covered with an icy glaze.  Thankfully I thought to grab my camera before leaving the house.  Once at work I took some time to photograph the ice on the trees behind the church.  Later I stopped at some church members’ home.  They are out of town and have asked me to feed their birds while they are away.  As I was preparing to perform this task I slipped and took a hard fall.  I hit my head on the concrete driveway and lay there stunned for a few moments.  When I got up I thought to myself, “I bet I’m sore tomorrow.”  Actually I was sore much sooner than that.  When I got home I told my wife that my back and shoulders hurt.  She suggested that I put ice on them.  Having just come in from the frigid cold that did not sound appealing at all.  Still, I know that ice therapy is a legitimate aid in healing.

_DSC1190After Bonita mentioned the ice therapy I thought about the images I had taken earlier in the day and how taking the pictures was a form of ice therapy as well.  Those of you who are familiar with my photography know that I’ve developed a style of photographing that I call “macro therapy.”  I have found that when I use a macro lens with very little depth of field I am able to explore subjects in a new and creative way.  This practice soothes my soul and I often feel like I’ve been to therapy once I have finished photographing.  The primary subject of my macro therapy has been flowers up to this point.  Today that changed as I discovered the same effect and experience could be had photographing the ice with my macro lens.  There are no doubt hazards that come with an ice storm but there is also a great deal of beauty—especially when you look close.

_DSC1280Practicing macro therapy has enabled me to see a new world.  It has also helped me to see aspects of God’s Creation that I would never see otherwise.  As I began to focus on one particular icicle I was amazed to see that it had crystal formations on it.  I saw patterns and shapes I would never have dreamed of.  I noticed pine and spruce needles embraced by ice and they reminded me of the truth that we are all embraced by the love of God.  All of this made me feel good, very good.  It truly is amazing what a little ice therapy can do for the soul!

–Chuck