Nov 3 2013

Change, Fear and Creation

HS0139When I moved to western Kentucky six months ago I already had in the back of my mind the question, what will I do for fall photography?  Living in the mountains of eastern Tennessee and Kentucky the past twenty-four years had spoiled me.  For autumn beauty few places can match the splendor of the southern Appalachian mountains.  After that many years in the area there were numerous locations I could count on for spectacular fall images and I returned to many of them year after year.  But now I live between five and seven hours from those spots.  I knew I would not be able to return to this familiar territory this year and could only hope that I would be able to find something to photograph.  Part of me feared that I would not be able to find anything in my present region that would move me like my beloved mountains further east.

GG7146Thankfully I can report that I have found a number of wonderful locations to do nature photography in western Kentucky and southern Illinois and Indiana as well.  The scenery nearby may not have tall mountains but the beauty of God’s Creation is surely manifest here as well.  I’ve enjoyed photographing in Henderson Sloughs Wildlife Management Area since moving to Henderson, Kentucky, but really did not think it would be a good location for fall photography.  On Friday I learned I couldn’t have been more wrong.  I also made another trip to Garden of the Gods in southern Illinois on Friday and was impressed with the colors there.  There is a ruggedness to this location that already has found a niche in my heart.  Today I spent a couple of hours photographing at James John Audubon State Park.  Here in Audubon’s old stomping grounds I found a brilliant display of autumn’s palette.  As I drove home I found myself offering thanks for being able to live in such a beautiful part of the country.

ASP0294I share all of this to remind myself and you that the change we often fear can, at times, turn out to be a wonderful blessing.  I have never found change to be easy.  I understand that change is inevitable but at the same time when I know changes are coming fear is usually my first response.  I start to worry about whether I will be able to adapt to what is to come.  I stress out about the unknown before me.  Still, over the years I have come to learn that despite my fears I can always move forward because God is with me.  Countless times I have turned to Joshua 1:9 for comfort.  There God says “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”   In God I find my constant in the midst of change.  He is, after all, the God who is the same yesterday, today and forever.

ASP0397I am also discovering that the constancy of God’s presence is evident in nature.  I do not have to be in the mountains to feel or sense God’s nearness.  The geography, flora and fauna may change in the places that I live and travel to but the One who made all things continues to reveal Himself to me through that which He has made wherever I happen to be.  In nature we find a perpetual reminder that in the midst of an ever-changing world there stands the unchanging Creator who has promised to never leave us or forsake us.  That makes facing change far less scary for me.  I hope it does for you too.

–Chuck

(I took the top image at Henderson Sloughs Wildlife Management Area, the second image at Garden of the Gods in southern Illinois, and the bottom two images at John James Audubon State Park.)


Feb 26 2012

God’s Gift of Courage

“Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” —Joshua 1:9

Last Sunday afternoon we got the biggest snow we have received thus far this winter—about five inches.  It was a lovely wet snow and gave me an opportunity to photograph some birds.  I have a bird feeder about ten feet from my bedroom door.  When it snows the birds flock to the feeder and I am able to open the door and actually photograph them while I sit on the bed.  For over two hours I snapped picture after picture of cardinals, chickadees, titmice and other species.  With the snow on the tree branches for a background I was able to capture some beautiful images.   The following day the snow was still on the trees so I thought I’d take some more pictures.  As I had the day before, I opened the bedroom door, set up my camera, and prepared to photograph.  An hour later I had yet to take the first image.  I had seen plenty of birds prior to opening the door but none came back to the feeder once I set up.  What happened?  Why such a big change from the day before?

The best I can figure out, the birds did not cooperate with me on the second day because it had quit snowing.  My guess is that during the snow storm the birds threw caution to the wind and didn’t let the funny looking guy sitting on his bed with his camera frighten them.  They were in survival mode and were willing to take risks they would not normally take. Apparently, storms can cause birds to do things they might not otherwise do.

I’ve discovered that the same thing is true for humans.  When storms come–and I am referring here to more than just the atmospheric kind—we, too, sometimes take risks we wouldn’t otherwise.   When our survival is at stake we often find a courage that is not necessarily there day by day.  In tough times we sometimes surprise ourselves and others with what we are able to do.

I’m convinced that the courage to take risks and rise above the storm is something God gives both man and beast (or in this case, birds).  He gives His beloved creatures both the will and the courage to survive.  This is His gift—a wonderful gift indeed!  Storms are a part of life and is good to know that God has equipped us with what we need to address them.   And if, for some reason, our courage still fails us, He is always there to see us through.  That’s just the kind of God He is!

–Chuck

(I took both of these cardinal pictures last Sunday afternoon here at my house.)