Tag Archives: love

My Orchard Awaits …

a visit from me.

Or maybe it doesn’t.

It isn’t really my orchard, but my father’s, and his father’s before him.

Maybe it doesn’t need me nearly as much as I need it.

It is lying, quiet and serene beneath the mountain peak, on a little flat on top of a rise.  It is perfectly happy to be there, in the cold, soaking up the rain and snow that will make for succulent, sweet, juicy red apples in the summer.

The gnarled trees will stand, stalwart and solemn through the worst that Winter can bring without ever missing my presence or needing me among their barren branches.

They take no glory for the music the wind makes as it weaves and wanders through their wonderfully crooked branches.

They accept no praise for the beauty they exude as they stand firm against a gray, snow-laden sky.

They refuse thanks for the fragile seeds of  the fruits they protect through the bitterness of cold nights so that when the times comes, they can say come, eat of me, for I am sweeter than nectar.

They entice the bees and butterflies from their hiding places so that they, too, can partake of the bounty.

I imagine if God had a taste, He would taste like the sweet apples born from the mountain orchard that waited silently through the harsh winter.

They stand and they wait and they will live.

They have no idea how much I need them.

My orchard.

My solitude.

Laying on the brown grass of winter looking up through their branches and knowing that I, for this moment, am part of what grows beneath the earth.

No, it has no need for me or anything that I can offer, but part of my sanity, my strength, my well-being comes from what the orchard gets from God and passes on, without ever being aware, to me.

I suppose, because I love it so, it is my orchard, after all.

redbuds-49

I wish I could promise to lie in the night
And think of an orchard’s arboreal plight
When slowly (and nobody comes with a light)
Its heart sinks lower under the sod.
But something has to be left to God.
~ Robert Frost

Through His creation …

He speaks to me.

Who, you say?

Why Jesus, of course.

How, you ask?

By showing me what He sees through the eyes He sees them with.

And by allowing me to capture on film that which He chooses to show me.

Being a photographer is one of His greatest gifts to me and I don’t take His beauty lightly.

I am, in the space of time that I walk through the beauty of creation, one with that creation.

I am part of that which lives, thrives and survives.

I am His.

He reminds me every day of His love for me by showing me the wonders of the earth He created, of His beauty and, for whatever reason, He allows me to see it through His perfect eyes.  I am often blinded by life, by moments, by disappointments and disillusionment, but He reminds me, every single day, that I am His.

Through the fragrant blooms of springtime that make their way even while winter tries to force his hand.  They are strong and resilient, those blooms.  Strong-willed and fearless as they burst forth with courage and strength.

The Creator's fragrant palette

The Creator’s fragrant palette

Through the fireflies of summer, which frolic beneath a summer moon and compete with the magnificence of the stars.  They blink and fade, wander and mesmerize, bringing magic and comfort and the promise of something wonderful.

Like a moth to a flame, so the fireflies are drawn to the moon of summer.

Like a moth to a flame, so the fireflies are drawn to the moon of summer.

Through the colorful leaves that adorn the trees that catch my eye, the smell of decay on the ground mixed with the subtle scent of of beauty that can only be felt in the heart.  The joyous chatter of the brilliance of fall as it rains down on forgotten paths and leaves the mind reeling with possibilities.

the beauty and mystery of fallen leaves

the beauty and mystery of fallen leaves

Through the winter, the cold air and frigid temperatures that can freeze a waterfall in her tracks, making her song one of unrivaled silence as her beauty emanates praise and thanksgiving.

The magnificent song of Winter silence

The magnificent song of Winter silence

Creation, frozen in time, for a time, for a season

Creation, frozen in time, for a time, for a season

A bubbling creek becomes suspended in something, motionless and full of such magic that only the heart can understand it.  Some things are  so rare, so precious, so full of beauty that nothing is left but to offer praise.

Rocks, suspended in silence, yet singing their winter song

Rocks, suspended in silence, yet singing their winter song

Winter speaks with a strong voice even when it is silent

Winter speaks with a strong voice even when it is silent

Seeing it, immersing myself in it, becoming a part of it reminds me that I, too am, a child of the creator.

A beautiful view of a snowy Clinch Mountain ... one that I call home

A beautiful view of a snowy Clinch Mountain … one that I call home

My cup runneth over.

His beauty unfolds before me in the misty rain of barren landscapes, foggy sunrises behind mountains and beneath a black sky glittering with stars.

without rain, there can be no rainbow

without rain, there can be no rainbow

From my front porch

From my front porch

I am blessed and, when I forget that, He reminds me with His magnificence.

From my driveway, I am reminded that i am worth His magnificence.

From my driveway, I am reminded that i am worth His magnificence.

I shall be telling this with a sigh, Somewhere ages and ages hence:  Two road diverged in a wood, and I — I took the ones less traveled by, And that has mad all the difference ~ Robert Frost

Politics, Religion and Coffee …

are the three things you don’t argue with anyone about as it is an argument you can never, ever, win.

I could tell you in less than five seconds what I know about politics.

Religion?  I’m not a fan.

That may be misleading to my Christian friends, but it is true.  I have little use for “religion” as the world sees it.   I tend to lean more toward the teachings of Jesus than what “religion” has to offer.

But this post isn’t about politics or religion so those of you who just bristled at my comments are off the hook.

It is about coffee.

I love coffee.  I drink it several times a day and, contrary to the popular consensus, I use it at night to help me sleep.

Mayhaps it is because I have drank it for so long and have such an affection for it, it soothes me into dreamland.

On more than one occasion when I have been sleepwalking, the evidence of coffee brewing is strewn about the next morning.

If it keeps me in the house on bitter winter  nights, I’m all for it.  Duct tape doesn’t always work.

And yet, I digress.

I like my coffee strong; strong enough to eat the end of a stainless steel spoon, but I like it light.

Extra light, with real cream.

Milk will do when there isn’t anything else, but real, honest-to-goodness cream is how I prefer it.

A friend told me that I should be ashamed for using cream in my coffee.

I’m not sure if he was offended that the cream came from a cow or that I put calories in a zero calorie drink.

I don’t really care either way.

I can’t drink black coffee.

Ok, I suppose if I were stranded on a desert island with nothing but coffee and water, I would, without doubt, learn to adapt.

But I’m not on a desert island and Food City is on my way home, so you can bet your bottom dollar that there is, at this precise moment, cream in my fridge.

I eat healthy three times a day with at least one healthy snack somewhere between lunch and dinner or dinner and bedtime.

I exercise every day and me and my Pentax hike difficult mountain trails nearly every weekend.

I will put cream in my coffee, dammit.

Real cream.

The hard stuff.

And I will close my eyes and smile like the cat which ate the canary while I do.

Challenge my politics and you will find me a poor opponent … my eyes will roll back in my head and I will retain less than zero percent of the words that come out of your mouth.

I know who the President is and I feel pretty good about that.

Challenge me about religion and I will let you talk until you are blue … it won’t change my belief that I am saved by Grace, have my name written in The Book and religion has little to do with Jesus.

Challenge me about coffee and you will find yourself in a shallow grave covered in decaying leaves while I sit nearby, drinking a stellar cup of java lightened just right with real cream.

That’s just how I roll.

Bring it on.reallly?  REALLY?

Were you talking to ME?spring_042012-29

Music to be buried by …  the clarinet is a fine choice.  Just sayin’.clarinethands

In everything you do, be yourself; nobody else on earth can accomplish that.

Friends are like a Robert Frost poem …

or at least real friends are.

I’m talking about the ones who take you at face value and don’t hold your weirdness, insane moments or idiosyncrasies against you.

They ignore you when you begin talking to yourself but poke you and raise an eyebrow if you keep doing it.

They are the ones who see your random, rambling text messages or hear the off the wall, beyond the grid, call the men in white coat voice-mails and don’t freak out, run for cover or actually call the men in white coats.

They have your back.

They are the ones you can depend on in the darkest days or the most joyful moments and know they will embrace them with you either in tears or laughter.

These are the people that you can call on when you are hurting and know they will console you, pray for you, or hold your hair back while you puke.

They take the good, the bad, the ugly, the grumpiness, the tears, the yelling, the bitching, the nastiness and the smiles with a grain of salt,  a kind word or a get a grip speech.

They will tell you when you are being a jerk and hold you accountable when it is important.

They will hope your dreams come true and ground you when you get above your raising.

They won’t tell you are brilliant if you aren’t and will, if your butt looks big in that dress, be the first one to say so.

These are the people that will pick you up at two am when you run out gas in the middle of nowhere, tell you when you are being an idiot and encourage you when you think the world is coming to an end.

They will be few, but they will be there when you need them.

Everyone you meet may like you, but only a handful will be in your corner when you paint yourself into one.

Remember to thank them for liking you even when you are unlikable.

They are, after all, the flowers in your springtime and, without a doubt, the joy and encouragement on the road less traveled.

Do not take them for granted … they don’t have to like you, they choose to.

There is a difference.

You’ve got a friend in me … friendship

Just call out my name … beach2012_wed-166

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

Trust should be …

a four letter word.

It is one of those things that can make or break us as we amble aimlessly along our path of life while trying to build friendships, relationships or other ships.

It is elusive to me.

I admit it.

I trust rarely and with great trepidation.

I suppose if I were to consult a shrink about the essence of my mistrust, I would be given an earful of information about inadequacies on my part, past issues and other useless reportage.

As a photographer, however, and all that nonsense aside, I trust nature.

I trust light, shadow and beauty.

I trust that every sunrise will bring a new and magnificent beginning.

I trust that every full moon will fill me with awe.

I trust that Winter will bring snow-laden limbs of bare trees and stark, gray landscapes against the exclusively winter aqua sky.  A force, in itself, to be reckoned with for it occurs no other time of the year.

A magnificent color in a desolate season.

Nature at a pinnacle of  his and her beauty … Old man Winter working with Mother Nature.

They don’t get along all that well, but in the aqua sky surrounding the evening sun in the throes of Winter, they are flawless.

I trust that Spring will bring with it fragrant blooms of recently sleeping trees and streams filled with heavy rains.  Waterfalls that exceed my expectations, fiddler-heads unfolding, moss as green as the  hills of Ireland and rocks sublimely submerged beneath heavily watered creeks.

I trust that Summer will bring the heady, intoxicating scent of honeysuckle, sunlit spiderwebs, lightning bugs, views of the ocean, seas of wheat and barley, acres of wildflowers and stunning, irrepressible  heat.

I trust that Autumn will bring the smell of decaying leaves, foliage in a myriad of colors, an early frost, snow in the high places and an incredible peace of mind that only fall can bring.

I cannot be certain if I love Spring or Autumn most of all …

I suppose I love them both equally, as I do Summer and Winter.

How can I choose when each one brings unfathomable beauty unequaled by any other thing?

hands … old and  young, with a daisy between them hands

A fiddler-head unfurling on my mountain.mountainspring-12

The Outer Banks of North Carolina … my centerouterbanks_bodieislandlight-62

Standing outside in the snow …

is one of the most freeing of experiences.

I liken it to standing in the midst of a summer rain while nature falls all around, touching, caressing, permeating my very being and making me one with its magnificence.

How wonderful it is to feel the snowflakes, each different and individual, falling on my skin, touching my lips, landing on my lashes?

The peace of the falling snow is, in itself, a wondrous thing, but to feel it on my skin takes me to a place where my dreams live.

I suppose, to some, it will sound irrational to hear that someone purposely stands outside while the snow or rain falls, or while the wind whips through the air.

It shouldn’t.

It should, instead, be an invitation to feel nature in real time, to partake in her joy as she showers the earth with beauty and marvelous things.

Bask in the magnificence of nature … stand in the rain, stand in the snow, feel the wind on your face.

Find peace in the solitude and realize who you are at your core.

Who you are meant to be.

What you are meant to be.

Listen to the voice of the earth for it is the footstool of Jesus.

Find solace.

Find joy.

Find what you didn’t even realize you were looking for.

Simply be still and let all that creation has to offer overcome you.

It will, without doubt or reservation, change your world for the better.

Listen to the wind, feel the sunshine, bask in the light of the moon, hear the pounding of the surf …

Find sustenance and sublimity in the beauty that surrounds you.

I promise you won’t be sorry.

But don’t simply take my word for it … immerse yourself and find, for yourself, the wonder of nature.

The joy of snowfallSeriously?

A winter wonderlandsnowfall

Finding joy in every momentkisses blown from an angel

The thing about money …

is that it is only really important when you need it but don’t have it.

Most of us are working class people who know how to make a penny squirm.

I know I do, and yet, there are times when I don’t have a penny to bully.

That’s the way of it.

Of life.

There are times of plenty, on occasion, but for the most part, the times are lean and we find ourselves trying to make a dollar out of thirty seven cents.

It isn’t easy to cough up money we don’t have when it essential that we have it, when it seems impossible and unattainable, but that is the essence of faith.

Of believing and hoping when there isn’t anything else but belief and hope.

That is the epitome of life.

Ups.

Downs.

Blessings.

Joy.

Sorrow.

Triumph.

I live in my own little world most of the time.  I have a job and am happy for such, for but I long for travel and photography and writing.

I don’t want to work for a living, I want to live for a living.

But I digress.

My point, the main point in fact, is that I am not worried about money.

It always seems to be there when I need it.

Jesus promised many times to supply our needs and to  come to our rescue when we were in trouble.

He asks little, really.  Only that we believe in Him and have faith in Him that He will do what He says He will do.

I have what could be construed as an insurmountable thing, but I haven’t given it a second thought.

I gave it to Jesus to let Him sort it out according to His will.

I have faith that He will, as He said He would, take care of me.

It is difficult, I know, for some to live simply by the faith that someone will actually do what they say the will, but I live by it.

I depend on it.

I rely on it.

The promise from Jesus, that is.

I take His word for what He says He will do and leave it at that.

Do I have the money I need?

No.

Will I have it?

Most definitely.

I have no doubt that what I have need of will be provided to me.

It is really no different than the trail shoots that I go on with nothing but my strength, stamina, camera and tripod.

I could see the same things that everyone else who walks the path sees, but instead of looking through my own eyes, I rely on the eyes of Jesus to guide me and the results are beyond anything I could have imagined.

The same goes in my day to day.

Is it always pleasant?  No

Is it always what I hoped for?  No.

Do I find blessings in the unexpected?  Yes, more often than not.

I won’t say that every experience is a good one because that would be a lie, but for the most part, when I give myself over to Jesus and let Him lead, I learn something about myself, humanity, love, grace, or some other wonderful thing that reminds me that I am a child of God.

A blessing to Him.

A flower in His crown.

As hard as it is to believe sometimes that I could be an asset to anyone, I am, according to Him, His glory.

How magnificent is that?  To be glorious to someone?  To be important enough that someone would willingly die on my behalf?

I am breathless at the the mere thought of it.

But breathless or not, it is true.  He did.

Without reservation.

And therein lies trust and belief because I was important enough to die for.

We all were.

Some of the lessons are hard and leave me shattered and nearly broken.

The keyword here is “nearly”.

I have what I need when I need it.

That, in itself, is a beautiful thing.

I don’t have to worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself.

I don’t worry about today because I have given it to Jesus.

My past is just that, a past that I, if I choose to, can regret, or if I use it wisely can learn from the successes and failures.

I am only concerned about now, this moment, this particular space in time.

The rest, well, it is out of my hands.

As it clearly points out in Hebrews 11:1 ~ Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

It pretty much says it all.

Faith.  Hope.  Evidence.

Right now is my priority, tomorrow is uncertain, yesterday is beyond me.

Now is what I have to work with.

Period.

I choose to have faith, believe, hope and know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that He meant what He said.

There is my comfort, my strength, my joy, my thanksgiving and my life.

Life is, whether in the valley or on the mountain or soaring above the mountains and valleys, good.

And I am blessed.

Amen.

Hope makes us more than we really are.

Hope makes us more than we really are.

Old Man Winter …

is on the warpath.

I guess this is the moment where he shows everybody just who is in charge.

I feel a little guilty complaining about the possibility of single digit temperatures while other places are looking at negative double digits on the mercury scale.

But only a little.

Cold is cold, wherever you are.

Here in Southwest Virginia, single digit temperatures are rare.  We don’t usually have to worry about getting frostbite on our fingers and noses as we walk from the house to the car.

It is a bit of an adventure, actually.

As a photographer with a healthy dose of wanderlust, this gives me a taste of winters elsewhere without actually going anywhere.

Not that I don’t want to go.  I mean, experiencing a Minnesota winter or feeling the wind chill in Chicago would be quite the thrill and, ones I hope to experience first hand at some point.

Ice fishing and snow shoes are things that live and play in the back of my mind just as dreams of July in New Orleans and August in Dallas make me swoon.

Live like the locals live, see it first hand, feel the heat or the cold or the rain or the snow or the wind.  That is part of what being a photographer is about, at least to me.

I want not only to see the things God created, but to feel them, immerse myself in them, find my coping mechanisms as I’m challenged by the diversity of His wonders.

It makes me who I am and I’m cool with that.  Being born a Sagittarius was just a bonus.

For now, though, stay warm folks because Baby, it’s going to be cold outside.

icicle

Lunch with a friend …

turned into a five-hour visit.

Five hours.

Just visiting.

The waitress came by regularly for the first 45-minutes.  After that, we became a novelty.  She would still come by and offer service, but it was with a different attitude.

It wasn’t that she had to serve us (which she did because she gets paid to do so), but that she wanted some of what we had.

A friendship.

A kinship.

A shared knowledge of how much we were loved and cherished by Jesus.

People cringe at that word.  Yes, cringe.  You can say God all day long, but mention Jesus and people start to squirm.

But that is a post for another day.

Back to the point at hand …

Our simple lunch turned into five hours of worship, confession, joy, praise and thanksgiving.

Day two, resolution free, and I’ve already been blessed abundantly.

Living life in real time.

Speaking of real time, I encourage everyone to check out So Real Ministries, founded by my friend Lori, who along with myself, sat in a booth at Teddy’s in Nickelsville today for the whole five hours.  We did.  And nobody ran us out.  But I digress.  Check out So Real on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SoRealMinistries and on Twitter at @SOREALMinistry .

octoberleaftour_day2-16

Sometimes, at Christmas …

people are sad.

They are lonely and grieving and sorrowful for things they can’t change.

Even happy people get sad during this time of year.  They start thinking about what they have or haven’t done.

Things they’ve said or left unsaid.

They look away from the homeless on the street and the hungry in their own hometown.

The look for friends where there aren’t any and find reasons to feel sorry for themselves.

I can say this because I live it.  I experience it.  I understand it.

I am an optimist, but sometimes, my smile is painted on and my heart is heavier than I think I can carry.

I look around at my life and take stock as Christmas looms on the horizon, as the New Year stares me in the face and I think “what do I have to offer anybody?”

And then, like the soft light rising out of a foggy Spring morning, I am reminded that Christmas isn’t about me.

It isn’t about trees or gifts or money or family or friends.

It is about something so magnificent, so profound, so incredibly huge that it leaves little room to be sad.

It is about a child that was born of a virgin.

Not just any child.

The child.

The Christ child.

Think about that for a minute.

In this sex-crazed world, think about a young girl who had never given herself to a man and yet found that she was pregnant.

If you feel crazy, imagine what she was feeling.  Imagine what was going through her mind when she told the man she loved that, although she had never been with anyone, including him, that she was pregnant and that God had told her that it was ok.

How insane would that sound?

How could Joseph possibly trust her?

He trusted her because he trusted God and God trusted Mary with His son.

It sounds complicated and weird and yet it is so beautifully simple.

Who among us would not want to be chosen to carry the Savior of the world and who among us would not want to care for and love the one carrying that child?

Who among us would not want to be an integral part in raising that child, in cherishing Him, wiping His tears, telling Him bedtime stories, hearing Him say “I love you” as He wrapped His little boy arms around our neck?

I find that, when I think of the reason that we celebrate, the joy and inexplicable magnificence of it all, it is difficult to be completely sad.

Not impossible, for we are human and as humans, we can always find things to complain about, be sad about, be mad about.

We can always find ways that people hurt us or make us feel unworthy, who leave us wishing for more and hoping that tomorrow will bring the fulfillment of our dreams.

But if we let all the human emotions crowd our minds and hearts, we will forget why we celebrate to begin with and if we remember why we celebrate, then there will Joy unspeakable.

Yes, there will still be sadness and loneliness and melancholy … There will be loss, grief and memories that threaten our sanity … but they will, if we put them in perspective, be in their rightful place.

Behind joy.

Behind thankfulness and awe.

Behind beauty and love that surpasses anything we will ever find if we only see with our human eyes.

And because the feelings that threaten to destroy us are behind the Joy of remembering why we celebrate to begin with, we will live through them, move past them, learn from them and be stronger and more resilient because we have hope in something bigger than who we are and what we feel.

With hope, there is nothing impossible.

With hope, there is always the possibility of another day.

With hope, there is the image of Heaven.

Sadness can’t hold a candle to that.

My hope is that each one I know, each person I come into contact with, each spirit that crosses my own will know joy and that, even for a moment, the sadness will become obsolete.

Merry Christmas, my friends.

snowfall

Luke 2: 7-14

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.