A Tree’s Repose

Towering and Magnificent,

Stately and Strong,

Hung there betwixt the

Azure blue of a prairie sky

And the richness of the golden wheat

Rippling in the never-ending breeze.

Dark smudges ‘round beneath

Invite the traveler to a bit of introspection and


The dark green locks of hair billow and convulse

As the wind hurries through on its way to who knows where.

Nothing but blankness as far as the eye can see,

Still it stands sentinel over the prairie,

As it has stood for a thousand lifetimes

A home and place to breathe deeply

Kiss everything goodbye and simply



Just Playing

Last night I attempted what I thought would be nearly impossible. And I was partially right. It wasn’t nearly impossible, it was completely impossible. I tried to take photos of a fireworks display but failed. Dismally.

In a rather selfish effort to feel better about my photography skills, I began snapping photos this morning.

The Joyful Grace of Endurance

It has been a few hot minutes since I last sat here to jot my thoughts and there is so much I have to tell you but one thing is pressing to the forefront of my mind today. This is what is driving me to take a few moments to pound out on the keyboard what Jesus has pounded into my soul this morning. For the past several days and weeks, He has been opening my mind and understanding of the nuances of the Spirit–His Spirit–and the Fruit of the Spirit. I say “fruit” (singular) and not “fruits” (plural) because that is how Jesus spoke through Paul to pen them and they are the singular fruit of His presence in our lives. These differ from the gifts (plural) of the Spirit that we all have at least one of and none of us has all of them. The Fruit of the Spirit is present in all of us at the moment we turn to Jesus and accept His sacrifice for our sins. All nine of the fruit of the Spirit is given as one evidence of His presence in our lives. We possess all of them because He possesses us and He is the Fruit of the Spirit.

For the past few days, Jesus has been unpacking the truth about Joy. This fruit is listed second in the list of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23, nasb

One of the things we know about love is it endures (I Corinthians 13:7). Joy, like love, endures. For the Joy set before Him endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2). Our trials and sufferings do not last because joy endures and outlasts them all.

If only we would get a glimpse of this truth and recognize the fleetingness of our struggles. Our mindset would change. We would see the trials as something other than a death knell to all we know and expect. We would see them as the grace that shapes us into His image and know they are more fleeting than our life. We would embrace them as ambassadors of His grace and presence in us. The very same Jesus that endured more than we ever will endured the cross for us, to make our endurance possible. It is possible to endure the most stinging trials because His very life indwells us.

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.

2 Corinthians 4:17 nasb

If we want the eternal weight of glory, we must endure the light and momentary afflictions. How much sweeter the glory when we endure with grace and joy. (A side note here: the Greek word for grace often carries with it the idea of joy.) If and how we endure is our choice. Choosing to endure with joy makes the trials softer–not necessarily easier–but our focus changes from us to Him and the sting diminishes as our focus is the Joy of Jesus’ Presence in the trial.

Into the Fog

These are interesting days we are living in. It seems life as we know it has disappeared into a foggy mess. A few weeks ago we were living life as normal and then normal stopped being normal. Fear crept into to our hearts and minds like a roaring lion. For many there is a great struggle to live while not giving into the fear that has seemed to invade our nation, our world, and our minds. This is true even for those who love Jesus.

The funny thing about fog is that is seems to disappear as we go deeper into it. All we can see clearly is the spot where we are and the rest is shrouded in mystery and intrigue. It can be scary as we travel the road from where we are to where He is leading.

Even though we can see the sun, its rays do not touch or warm us. It is not yet strong enough to roll away the fog and clouds. We search for it, desperately desiring its warmth and cheeriness. Gloom descends and we strive to see what we know instinctively is there but is lost to us now.

It is hard to trust in these times. We long for the days of sunshine and blue skies. But all we get is clouds and an uneasy feeling of desperation and alone-ness. We feel isolated. The need we feel for others increases and the last thing we want is to be alone again. In our foggy situations when we are struggling to know who we are, who Jesus is, and where He is leading us, we so often look to others. There are fellow travelers walking the same roads we are on. Sometimes we’ll seek out one who has been in our spot in the fog and made it through. We pepper them with questions and seek to know how they survived.

Here’s the thing, others have been where we are. And others will walk that road after we have made it through our fog, but we cannot look to them to be our savior. We must press into Jesus in our foggy places and in our sunshiney places. It is not that we cannot seek out others who have been here in the fog. That is not at all what I am saying. Others can bring encouragement to us, clarity to our dark places. They can tell us how Jesus brought them through their difficult place and assure us that He is near to us. They cannot be our savior. We cannot make them our Jesus. We cannot take their answers and automatically apply them to our own lives.

We must seek Him for ourselves. We need to cling so tightly to His hand and press into Him. His Word is a Lamp to our feet and a light to our path. (Psalm 119:105) He alone knows the path we are on and where He is leading us.

So, friend, trusts Him in your foggy places. Seek encouragement from others as you lean into Him. Seek His wisdom first. When your path seems obscured, trust Him.

Good Citizens Discuss

This is a paper I recently submitted for my philosophy class.

It is Wednesday afternoon and I am sitting in a coffee shop downtown. The winter sun streams cheerily in the window to my right, but that has not captured my attention. It is the hubbub of noise to my left that makes my mind wander as I try to grab snippets of conversation. The coffee shop is crowded today and noisy, normally I would regret not bringing my earbuds, but today I find myself enjoying the noise. There are only four of us on an electronic device, and ironically all four of us are using a laptop. No one is on their phone, instead the other patrons are engaged in conversation. There is a large group of older women crowded around a small round table towards the counter. There are two other ladies, who seem to know everyone who walks in the door, enjoying each other’s conversation at a long table. They are sitting side-by-side instead of across the table from each other. Two women on my side of the room are engaged in earnest conversation, leaning towards each other and away in a kind of conversational dance. Across the room from where I sit a mom is enjoying an afternoon snack and coffee with her young daughter. There is one man among all the women and is quietly reading or studying. Laughter rings out every few moments and the large group of women just added another to their herd. This is, quite possibly, the western Nebraska version of Cheers. You know, the place “where everybody knows your name.”

Obviously, I do not know everything that is being discussed at each table, but here is what is striking, at almost every table those gathered are engaged in lively conversation. This is an example of what I believe makes a good citizen. Our discussions bring us together in our shared humanness and our love for conversation. And a good cup of coffee.  It is difficult to tell from my vantage point in the alcove window by the door the topics of conversation and the level of disagreement in those discussions. But judging by the laughter there is not much disagreement. But our disagreements, when discussed in a civil manner, are a mark of a good citizen.

Laughter erupts again from the large table of women. Their laughter reminds me of a conversation I overheard at our small group the other night. One friend was telling another of some of the struggles her marriage had weathered. She commented, “I was told ‘why not just let some of those things roll off your back? Why not choose joy instead of anger? Those are both simply emotions. You can choose one as well as the other.’ And I thought to myself, ‘why not just laugh?” so I started laughing. That has helped our ‘discussions’ immensely. Just laughing in the heat of the moment. I laugh. He laughs and we forget we were arguing.” Even I know they do not really forget they were arguing really, but in a sense, a light heart takes the sting out of intense, often loud, and nearly always hurtful arguments. Good citizens remember to laugh together with those they disagree with.

I just spent a few moments looking around the room and allowing my thoughts to wander. I contemplated how the atmosphere of the room would change if an angry argument suddenly broke out at one of the tables. All laughter and cheerful banter would stop, and an uncanny hush would fall over the room. Maybe it would be a political disagreement. Another Bernie supporter attacking a Trump supporter and vice versa. Or maybe a member of the pro-vaccination camp lashes out at the anti-vaccination camp. Or maybe, just maybe a pro-choice person attacks a pro-life person and their argument.

So often when we argue, we forget the one we are arguing with is a real human with real feelings. All we can think of is how we are right, and they are wrong. We refuse to listen to their reasons, because we are sure we’ve heard them all before. Our arguments are valid, theirs are not. The simple fact that “they” disagree with us means they hate us and therefore are not to be trusted. Yet, to have a good discussion, even of potentially volatile subjects, we need to have trust in our fellow citizens. We must trust them and allow them to trust us. It is what makes us good citizens and arguers. Trust often equates with care. We will not, dare I say we cannot, trust those who do not care for us? We cannot truly care for those we do not trust. It is our care for others that leads us into discussions of hard topics with them. It is care for them that prompts us to bring up difficult subjects and seek to understand their viewpoint. Can we truly trust someone if we do not know where they are coming from?

Can we say we care for our fellow citizens if we refuse to engage with them? If we know someone is believing a lie, headed down a dangerous path, do we care for them if we do not mention the pitfalls of their beliefs? Are we good citizens if we simply allow them to flounder in wrong beliefs? Or do we hold so tightly to our need to be right at any cost that we refuse to trust anyone enough to allow them to address our beliefs?

Are our beliefs really our beliefs if we never discuss them openly with others? In taking this class, it has been made so abundantly clear to me how much fear keeps us from sharing at a heart level with our friends and fellow citizens. When we do this, we are not acting as the good citizens we want to be believe we are. We are acting like the opposite of a good citizen.  I have learned that what I need most is simply to get out of my head and engage with those I claim to love, I need to be willing to say “I don’t know” and not fear reprisals or disdain, chances are they do not know it all either. I also need to know exactly what I believe and why I believe it so I can adequately defend it.

The Day My Eyes were Photocopied

Do you ever get busy doing something and completely forget parts of life?
Like eating and health? In other news, my eye doctor has been hounding me to
come and see him. Because you know it’s been awhile. The last text I received
said I was 179 days overdue for my annual eye exam. Not bad you say, right?
It’s not even a year yet, right?

Wrong-O. What they were saying is it was 179 days since I should have been
in to see them. So tired of the guilt, I made an appointment. I don’t know what
they were so worried about, they still recognized me as I walked in the door. I
barely had chance to sit down and begin to flip through an 1875 edition of US
magazine with Tom Hanks on the front when a nice girl calls me back. She ushers
me into a room with a lot of noisy machines, she tells me, “Please remove
your glasses and have a seat. We’re just going to run some preliminary

Preliminary tests? I hadn’t studied for this and my eyes sure as heck hadn’t
either. I knew I was doomed. Of course, that could be because she also told me
to remove my glasses. Those little things that sit on my nose and help my eyes
do their job which is to see! Let’s just say, it’s a good thing the machines
were noisy, it helped me find my way to the little stool they had there for me
to sit on. Using advanced calculus, I calculated the rate of sound as it
bounced off the wall behind me. I used my excellent auditory senses to tell me
how close the walls were to the machines. This college gig is really paying

Okay, I turned, ran into the wall, fell back to the floor and army crawled
my way to the stool. It seemed safer that way. When I was finally seated in
front of the first machine, the disembodied voice of the nurse, or assistant or
whatever they are called in optometrist’s office, was heard, instructing me to,
“put your chin here and press in firmly with your forehead right here. You
will see an out of focus hot air balloon.”

Out of focus hot air balloon? Boy! She wasn’t kidding. It was so
out of focus I couldn’t even tell there was one there. Of course, that have
been because I wasn’t wearing my glasses, but that should be a given. She went
on to say the balloon would come in and out of focus, but I was to focus on it.
Then she checked my brain for contraband information. Or least that is what I
think she was doing as she shined a bright light into my eyeball.

The next words out of her mouth were sweet and kind. “Now, switch
eyes.” I honestly don’t know why she thought looking through my eye to see
into the room next door would help but here came the light again. At least, I
know where to go when the sun burns out and we need a replacement.

So, does that tell you how bad my eyes are?
Well, it tells us a lot of things. It runs numbers, see?
So, did it tell you I’m blind?
Yes, that is exactly what it told me. She said after a quick glance at the printout.

At least all was normal.

Eventually we made it to the final machine. The noisiest machine. It looked like
an eyeball sucking sea creature. All big and black with a small, soft white
mouth that was open all the time. I was instructed to put my eye right up to
the opening of the creature’s mouth, I wasn’t sure if I would be punched or my
eye would be eaten, but what did I have to lose? My eyes didn’t work right
anyway, so I was game for this adventure.

“Great. Now push in a little harder. Not that hard. Perfect hold it
right there.” And then another bright light flashed before my right eye. Again,
and again. Then, of course, she said, “Now, let’s do your other eye.”
Again, the bright light moving across the screen of my eyeball again and again.
If I hadn’t been blind before I went in, I surely would have been blind now.

You know, I could have taken a photocopy of my eyes at home and saved
you the trouble.

The good news is, she laughed. The bad news is, I now need new glasses.

Not a Photography Blog

This is not a photography blog, but I am taking a digital photography class. I’m not only learning to use the camera I have had for a few years, I am learning the ins and outs of PhotoShop.

Gone Fishing

Do you ever pray about something and then have something so grip your thoughts that you can’t help but be assured that is the answer? I’m not saying every time we have a constant, never-ending thought it is an answer to prayer. I’m not even saying this thought that won’t let me go is an answer to my prayer, but it does give me plenty of pause for thought. Just what was the prayer? That Jesus would give me a theme or a topic of study for this year. I wanted one thing I could study more in-depth as a way to know Him in a deeper way. I’m reading a great book that launches next month (February 4, 2020) and it is stirring up all the old longings of my soul. Those longings I believed were long dead.

Jesus has gripped my heart so fully in the past few years. But let me back up a bit. I have long thought and believed I was talent-less. I had no real talent to offer as a means of worship and praise to Jesus. A friend of mine has shared when he was around fourteen years of age he prayed for one great talent so he could praise Jesus with it. Jesus answered that prayer and my friend became an amazing pianist. I longed for the same. Not necessarily an ability to play the piano, but just a talent I could hone in service to Jesus. I read great books that drive me deeper in love of Jesus. I read these books and marvel at how the authors describe life and pull stories and truth from all aspects of life; I’m left marveling and wondering how they do that. Or I’ll watch a ballerina on the stage and think I wish I could express myself in that way. For His glory. But I’m still here dancing like I’m having a heart attack.

Yesterday at the start of this new year, I prayed. And then I read Luke 5:4.

Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.

Luke 5:4 nasb

The thought of fishing would not leave me be. I asked a few fisherman friends about fishing in deep vs. shallow water. It seems it is easier to fish in the shallows. Maybe Jesus told them to put out into the deep water because life with Him is not the easy way. We have to do things differently because we are different. He is always calling us deeper, drawing us into Himself and His life. We find the miracles we are after, we find sustenance for another day on this planet when we go deep.

All night the fishermen had been out fishing and had caught nothing. And we’ve all been there. We do everything we know to do and have nothing to show for it except bags under our eyes. It is in these times we need to know when the answer is No and when the answer is “put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch. How will we know the difference? It takes a walk with Him. It requires listening to His voice above that of our enemies and our own self. It requires our belief in Him and what He has already told us. Jesus always bids us to go deep. I do not want to settle for a shallow life of a shallow faith. I want a deep life of wild and reckless abandonment to the One who drives me deeper for His glory.

As we read further in Luke 5, we find the fishermen obeyed Jesus command to put out into the deep water. We read they were richly rewarded for their obedience. The amount of fish caught in the nets caused them to break and help was needed to haul it all in. In this we learn three things.

  1. Obedience heaps great rewards. Rewards beyond our wildest imaginings. “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works within us.” (Ephesians 3:20)
  2. Heaping great rewards brings conviction of our identity and that of Jesus. When the fish was hauled in, Peter realized he was a sinful man standing in the presence of deity. He knew not only that he was a sinner, but that Jesus was good.
  3. Conviction of identity brings a change of identity and a new job focus. We can hold the same job (Peter did) but after an encounter with Jesus in that job, we are changed. The job is both changed and remains the same. So many of us believe to truly serve Jesus vocationally we must be a missionary or at the very least, work for a “Christian” organization. Jesus says, “Stay where you are. Stay there. I just changed YOU, not your job.”

Change often brings fear and alarm. But Jesus speaks a “Don’t” to each one. Why? Because He is the same. We fear and are alarmed by what we cannot control. And what can we control? Nothing. We simply believe lies that give us the sense of control. This is why we must surrender all to Him – every part – even our soul longing sense of control. Every moment we spend fighting for control, we spend believing we are greater than God. Which makes us both an adulterer and an idolator.

That is not how I want to go into 2020, do you? Would you join me in a quest to put out into the deep waters and lower our nets for a catch? I’m not promising anyone wealth or a life of goodness and ease, quite the opposite. But in Jesus it is worth it.

Let’s go fishing…