The word Shekinah (shuh-kigh-nuh) means dwelling. It refers to the visible manifestation of the presence (or Shekinah Glory) of God. A luminous cloud. It is the very presence of God on earth. (see Holy Bible-Exodus 24:9-18)
A few months ago, we went to a family reunion on the Oregon Coast. At the end of the reunion, we still had another week of vacation, so we headed south along the coast down to Cape Blanco State Park. Besides the fact that the campground was beautiful, sitting atop a bluff overlooking the ocean, we also were just a stone's throw away from Cape Blanco Lighthouse. The first night at the state park, we drove down to the overlook. The wind must have been blowing around 25-30 mph. Somehow, Kathleen was able to get this picture, in spite of the wind, just as the big Fresnel lens rotated around, shining its light right at us. The next day, we actually went on a tour inside the lighthouse and got to stand right next to that big lens, but more on that in my next post...
Like a lot of life situations, it caused my mind to start spinning on some of the spiritual parallels. Lighthouses were created to fill a need. In some areas, they warn of the danger of shallow waters or rocks. Other locations use them to guide boats and ships to the safety of a harbor or cove. When you face danger or uncertain times, to where do you look? When you do not know where to go or what to do, to whom do you turn for advice? Maybe you are like I was two years ago. I was relying on myself, my own intellect, my own abilities, my own reasoning to find what I was looking for or what I thought I needed. In reality, I needed to stop looking at myself and start looking at the Light.
John 1:4-5 say of Jesus: "In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." You can spend all of your time looking in other directions, but all you will see is darkness. A lot of people are perfectly content with the darkness. It is what they know. It is familiar to them. But when the storms of life blow and unseen dangers lie ahead, darkness offers no help, no hope, no solace, no peace. What Jesus offers is so much more: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Are you looking to the Light? Can't you see it? Shining in the darkness?
These little burrowing owls always make me smile! We often see them just south of Kuna. For their small size, they sure seem to have a truck-load of attitude. On one stretch of road we use to often see three or even four nesting pairs. For some reason, there have been NONE so far this year. Maybe they felt it was time to move on. Maybe the nearby dairy farm drove them away due to the smell. Maybe they decided to look for a larger burrow. Only God knows the reason why they are not there this year.
Isn't that just like God, though? Things happen, prospects change, people move, circumstances fluctuate - and our questions cast Heavenward seem to get no response. And yet, someway, somehow, God has all of these things orchestrated into a grand dance that, to us, seems like chaos or happenstance. But He, like a masterful conductor, just smiles, because He understands the music to which we move.
So, after church last Sunday, we needed to drive to the store in downtown Kuna to get a couple of things, and we spot this Swainson's hawk on top of a light pole by the intersection of Avalon and Swan Falls Road, right above a grassy field. We pull a U-turn (something we often have to do when birding) and stop at the side of the road.
Lo and behold, there are also two fledgling Swainson's on the ground, too. One was obviously younger than the other. They were making quite a ruckus and seemed to be finding something yummy to eat in the grass at the bottom of the light pole. I really don't want to guess what it might have been, but I do know that they like insects and mice and the like.
Meanwhile, we spot a dark morph Swainson's flying around overhead. Now, keep in mind, this is all in downtown Kuna on a Sunday afternoon, cars whizzing by, sun blazing. A bit of God's awesome creation showcased right before our eyes!
I don't know exactly how long the fledglings stayed there in the grass, but the younger one didn't seem like he wanted to go anywhere. The older one took off and flew toward a tree not too far from where we were parked. His inexperience at tree landings resulted in him picking too thin of a branch and falling out of the tree. He recovered from his fall and flew RIGHT over us! I could have reached up and grabbed him! Kathleen ducked and didn't get a shot off. I guess she was more concerned about the bird than getting a picture.
After the near collision with our vehicle, he flew over and landed on the fence, right next to the road and about 10 yards from the younger fledgling. It was all quite unexpected and quite a treat! It just goes to show you that you never know when or where God will reveal His glory!
We were camping at Craters of the Moon National Park earlier this year (the end of April, I believe) when this picture was taken. We had been hiking around on different trails, getting more and more tired as the day wore on. Kathleen had been complaining that she wasn't getting any good bird shots and how stupid it all was. Yea...she was tired!
So I prayed that Almighty God would show my lovely albeit tired wife His glory. Within minutes, this beautiful male Mountain Bluebird came by, posing within reach of her long zoom lens. Kathleen practically bounced back to the truck! Isn't that just like God? We can start to get frustrated, tired, grumpy, whatever. But then He pulls back the veil just a little and reveals His wondrous creativity and glory to us. And we are changed as a result.
The ironic thing about this wonderful inspirational picture and verse is that I was in a horrible spiritual place at the time it was taken. And yet, through all my wanderings, God knew what I was doing, how detestable I was inside, exactly what was going through my mind...and He loved me anyways!
Oh how far God has brought me in the past year and a half! If I were to sit in the same spot on top of Kuna Butte, it would be like a completely different person observing God's handiwork. He has given me new eyes to see and new ears to hear. He truly is a God of Wonders! And even though He knows all about me, He still sent His Son to die for me. Praise the Lord!
We had taken a "photo excursion" over to the Little Camas Prairie near Fairfield, Idaho, to catch some of the Camas lilies blooming. Driving around the area, we also spied a number of old buildings. While Kathleen takes pictures, I will often sit in the truck and read. I barely remember this building, but I certainly don't remember being all that impressed with the view.
Somehow, my wife is able to look at a run-down old building, frame it with the right amount of foreground, tweak the camera settings and come out with this absolutely charming scene - Award-winning, as a matter of fact! (1st Place - 2010 Western Idaho Fair) I believe God looks at us the same way. What may appear to be an ordinary person on the outside becomes something wonderful when framed with the right background and tweaked by the work of the Holy Spirit. Whether you want to accept it or not, God considers YOU Award-winning!
The cool air of the
morning had begun to give way to the warmth of a sunny April day by the time we
arrived at Pittsburg Landing.This is
one of the few places where you can drive right into Hell’s Canyon.I was glad we were here in April and not in July
or August, when the heat can be suffocating.The high, thin clouds gave a surreal backdrop to this unique
location.We had just come through a
mountain saddle, lush and green with trees and grass, only to drop down into a
deep gash in the land highlighted by the Snake River coursing along the bottom.
The camera shutter was clicking
away as we walked around the parking and picnic areas.The tree that is the subject of this photo
was nothing special, being so similar to all the other trees that lined the
canyon bottom.And yet, through my
wife’s God-given talent, she transformed the ordinary into something of beauty.
This reminds me so much of what
God does in our lives.He takes the
ordinary, the plain, and the seemingly useless things of our lives and turns
them into works of art.Only the Creator
of the Universe could work such magic.As we deal with the hurts, pains, and humiliation of our past, it can be
difficult to see the potential for the wondrous which God recognizes as
existing inside you and me.After all,
we are created in His image!Every
spring, God takes the dry, brown and dead plants and trees and paints amazingly
brilliant colors with His heavenly palette.If our God can transform the world every spring, then He certainly has
the power to transform you and me.
Another story also comes to mind
as I recall Pittsburg Landing: the story of a prince who didn’t want to accept
the truth of who he was, so he ran away to a desert place, hoping to escape his
own doubts, fears and failures. Moses
herded sheep for 40 years in a place similar to this.The loneliness and solitude, I’m sure, must
have been overpowering at times.And
yet, God used the time in Midian to mold and train Moses for his future, his
destiny.Maybe the burning bush was a
tree like this one: ordinary and plain until it was useful to God for His
purposes.And the world has never been
the same since!
Are you struggling in your own
desert place?Is your life ordinary,
plain, nothing special?Remember, the
verdant green valleys are not far away.Will you allow God to lead you there, to restore your soul, and to work
magic in your heart?
Spring is upon us once again. I am so glad to see the grass beginning to green up and show signs of renewal. I always look forward to the colors of spring after a long winter.
I didn't realize it had been so long since I posted here. Below is some explanation of why it's been so long, or at least part of why.
I haven't mentioned this before on this blog, but I have an eye disease that is slowly causing blindness. You can't tell by looking at me that I have this disease, nor can you tell how the world looks to me. If you'd like to see examples of how I see and more about this disease, CLICK HERE. These examples are not exactly how I see. Some are far worse and some are better or just different. That's the nature of this disease. The symptoms can vary greatly from person to person.
As you can imagine, seeing like this is causing quite a number of difficulties with my photography, which is much of the reason I've not been updating my blogs or facebook page much in the past year or so and have had to turn down jobs. As my symptoms have progressed especially in the past year or so, I've severely decreased my time in the field taking new images. It's so frustrating when I can't tell if the image is in sharp focus, has enough contrast or saturation, etc...and it's very difficult to shoot outdoors due to the glare issues this disease has caused me.
Upgrading my equipment would help with the capturing side of the images as I would have a larger LCD display, more auto focusing points and such, but I may still need to find someone to post-process or tell me how my adjustments look as I do them.
Surgery will alleviate many of these problems, but it will take time. I will get each eye done one eye at a time, when the disease has progressed enough for the surgery, and it will take time for them to heal and all. There are risks and no guarantee my sight will be what I need even afterwards or that my body won't reject the donor tissue.
I am not telling you this to get sympathy or pity. I know God will get me through this just as He has every other trial and obstacle in my life, but I do have a request...
Would you all consider telling your friends and family about my images that are for sale? Share the link to my blog or website on your Facebook or Twitter? Would you consider purchasing one of my fine art images or some of my greeting cards? All orders are much appreciated, as I try to raise the funds for the aforementioned camera upgrades, and I am honored by all who deem my images worthy of purchase for display or gifts for family and friends. Your prayers are also greatly appreciated if you are so inclined.
This past weekend, my husband and I went up to our local mountains to see some beautiful scenery and snow. We just wanted to get away, alone, for a while and enjoy each other's company in God's beautiful creation. God blessed us with falling snow for much of our day. I didn't take nearly the pictures that I usually do, and most of the ones we took were with our little family point & shoot camera. What a special time we had together! I'm so thankful.
My husband and I, enjoying each other, and the falling snow; not to mention the beautiful scenery.
This is a little place in town, where we stopped for lunch. I highly recommend them. We were going to rent one of their cabins for our upcoming, extended get-away but decided to go to Oregon to an old historic hotel instead. I can't wait!
This is the little town on Idaho City, in black & white.
Here I am moving my gear so I can get another shot of Grimes Creek.