Oct 16 2013

There’s More to Autumn Than Colorful Leaves

_CES1172I love autumn.  During the long hot days of summer I start counting the days until fall arrives.  I enjoy the cooler temperatures that come this time of the year but I especially enjoy the show nature puts on during the autumn months.  I get excited when I start to see the foliage changing on trees.  I know what lies ahead and eagerly anticipate the time the leaves will “peak” and display their awesome palette of reds, oranges, yellows and burgundies.  After all, isn’t that what fall is all about?

whitetail-buckIf you happen to live in an area where there are plentiful deciduous trees you might be tempted to say “yes” but I hope you understand that when it comes to seeing Creation fall has far more to offer than just colorful leaves.  There is so much more to see and observe this time of the year.  Wildflowers may be more plentiful in the spring but fall also has its own delightful specimens.  My favorite are the asters but there are others to choose from.  During the autumn months you might notice birds you don’t typically see other times of the year as they migrate south.  If you look closely perhaps you will also notice changes in behavior and looks in various animal species.  Deer and elk, for example, experience the rut season during autumn and lose the velvet on their antlers.

_CES2593During the autumn months the length of daylight diminishes significantly.  You may even notice that the sun now sets in a different direction than it did a couple of months ago.  An elder in my church has a home that sits on a hill overlooking the Ohio River.  Earlier this year he asked me to come to his house and take pictures from his porch of the sun setting on the first day of each season.  The first image I took was at the summer solstice.  When I took the autumn equinox picture I was amazed at how much to the south the sun now set.  I had not really paid that much attention before.

Asters2-crAs we continue through the autumn season I encourage you to pay attention to all the changes you see happening around you.  Don’t focus on the obvious alone.  I often write about God’s two books on this site, the Bible and Creation, and would suggest that when we do focus only on the most obvious changes in nature it would be comparable to only reading the books of the Bible we like the most.  There are lots of wonderful passages in the Scripture that people rarely read or take notice of.  They miss out on a lot when they are selective with their reading.  In the same way we will miss out on learning what God has to teach us through His book of Creation if we just pay attention to the parts we like the most.  By all means enjoy the beautiful fall foliage this year but keep your eyes open to the other signs of autumn.  There’s much more beauty to behold and lessons to learn.

–Chuck

(I took the top image at Breaks Interstate Park, the whitetail buck at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the sunset on the Ohio River in Henderson, KY, and the asters at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.)


Jul 7 2013

Sun and Clouds

_CES5547

“He covers the sky with clouds…” Psalm 147:8

On the Fourth of July I went down to the Henderson riverfront with my sister and her husband to watch the fireworks.   They had a live band playing ahead of time so we got there early and enjoyed the music as the sun went down behind the Ohio River.  I know some people think all sunsets are spectacular but photographically this one was not anything special.  There was a big red ball in the sky and a few clouds nearby.  Shortly after the sun actually set more clouds came in and it was then that things started getting interesting.  The sky became redder and redder.  Soon it was almost purple.  The colors in the sky and those reflected in the river below ended up putting on a show that rivaled, if not exceeded, the fireworks display that followed.  It was truly awesome!

I have been observing and photographing sunsets long enough to know that to have spectacular ones you usually need clouds to be present.   They are what provide the drama and the variety of colors in the sky.  In the short time I’ve been in Henderson I’ve driven to the riverfront numerous times to watch the sun set.  It’s always a pretty sight but if there are no clouds in the sky I don’t bother getting my camera out.  You’ve got to have the clouds!

Bosque 110149In the eastern part of Kentucky a lot of people are presently sick of seeing clouds.  It’s been raining a lot.  In fact, my sister-in-law in Frankfort posted a cartoon on Facebook this morning that said “To think, it only rained twice this summer.  Once for 45 days and again for 35 days.”  I can understand their disgruntlement.  When you have nothing but clouds day after day it tends to get you down.  If you’re a photographer it can drive you crazy!

It would seem that for good dispositions and great sunset photography you need the right combination of sun and clouds.   This is true for life in general if you substitute good times and bad for sunshine and clouds.  It appears to me that if our lives are always “sunshine” then we tend not to appreciate how blessed we are; we take the sunny days for granted.  If we only have “clouds” then life becomes dull at best and overwhelming at worst.

Bryce sunset crI believe God sees to it that we get what we need.  I’m not implying He causes everything to happen in our lives but I do believe that God is actively involved in them.  He knows that we need a combination of sunshine and clouds.  And sometimes He brings them together in such a manner that we find beauty, purpose or meaning in ways we could never have imagined or experienced in any other way.    It is for that reason I’ve learned to appreciate the clouds in my life.

In the Bible God is at times associated with light.  At other times God is associated with clouds.  If we are wise we will learn to discern His presence in both (literally and figuratively) and to pay extra close attention when He uses both at the same time.

–Chuck

(I took the top image this past Thursday in Henderson.   I captured the second sunset image at Bosque del Apache NWR in New Mexico and the third one near Bryce Canyon in Utah.)


May 26 2013

So Blessed!

“And God can give you more blessings than you need.” 2 Corinthians 9:8

_CES5609Since I’ve written about my “new beginnings” a few times in recent months I thought I’d give everyone an update on things. I am really enjoying my new church. That comes as no surprise. I made three visits to the church prior to moving to Henderson so I already knew the people were wonderful and that the church had a lot going for it. Also, one of my best friends served as pastor of this church for ten years and he assured me I would enjoy this particular congregation.  I really do feel blessed to be serving where I am.

_CES2612After being in Henderson for nearly a month I can also say that I am thrilled with my new community. There are lots of things that impress me about this community but here, too, this comes as no surprise. I liked what I saw before I moved here and heard many people give testimonies about how much they enjoy living in Henderson.  What has come as a bit of a surprise to me is the natural beauty of the area.  I will confess I was hesitant about leaving the mountains of eastern Kentucky. They had been home to me for almost twenty-five years.  I love the mountains and also have found great pleasure over the years exploring and photographing them.  Somehow I convinced myself that by leaving the mountains I would not have as many opportunities to photograph the beauty of God’s Creation. I have quickly learned that I was wrong.

_CES2581I spent a couple of evenings this past week watching the sun set over the Ohio River. Yesterday I went out photographing with Gene Stinson, a local photographer I had recently met. He showed me around the Henderson Sloughs Wildlife Management Area. In just a few short hours we saw six bald eagles and numerous other bird species. I also got to photograph several species of dragonflies. We saw whitetail deer and wild turkeys roaming around. Gene also showed me a beautiful cypress swamp. I found myself feeling both ecstatic and relieved. There will be no shortage of things to photograph at my new home!

_CES5660Today I truly do feel so blessed. I am very thankful for my new job, my new community, and for the natural beauty that surrounds me here. I offer my praise to God for being so good to me. I have a feeling, however,  that if you’ll stop and think about it you, too, can offer the same testimony.  If so, don’t keep it to yourself. Tell others about God’s goodness and love. And having been so richly blessed by our Maker, we should do all we can to be a blessing to others.  I have certainly been reminded in recent days that there are more than enough blessings to go around.  To God be the glory!

–Chuck

(All the pictures shown here were taken yesterday at Henderson Sloughs Wildlife Management Area.)