Monday, April 29, 2013

Of Trees and Life

I have always loved trees.  I remember as a small child gazing up at the sky through the branches of a lone tree in the backyard.  Even then, I wondered where my life would take me; what I would see, who I would meet, where I would eventually live and what I would become.  The tree with its covering branches and leaves gave me a type of comfort as an entity that didn't change while I was in constant change from child to teen to young adult.  Throughout the years, the tree remained solid and solitary, a witness to the seasons of my growth and a silent partner to my thoughts.  Since that time, my childhood home has vanished to progress... a simple two lane road became a busy four lane Trans-Canada Highway and the surrounding fields became gas stations, convenience stores and fast food restaurants.  The tree is long gone as is the house and familiar neighborhood.

Now, fast forward to the year 2013 and Eastern Oregon. There is another solitary tree in the backyard of where I live.  This photo was taken on an early summer morning when the sun was streaming through pasture fence-posts and spilling through the apple tree and into the lawn.  A friend had made a swing out of rope and wood for our grandson.  It is now weathered but still sturdily attached to a heavy branch, which remains solid through his growing years from toddler into boyhood.  Already, the tree holds many memories being a testament to laughter and play along with childhood dreams and wishes, not only to our grandson but to our two grown daughters as well.  The tree was here long before our grandson arrived and it will continue to be here as he grows into a young man who embarks on his own personal journey in life. It is a comfort to know that this will be a familiar place for him as he returns to visit from time to time, just as our daughters do.  I doubt that there will be any freeway built across this particular land to demolish what has been known for the sake of progress.

I received the following story on 'The Three Trees'.  I tried to locate an author to credit the story to but could only find that it is a traditional folk tale.  Perhaps you have read this already, but it is worth reading again.
Once there were three trees on a hill in the woods..... 
They were discussing their hopes and dreams when the first tree said, 'Someday I hope to be a treasure chest.  I could be filled with gold, silver and precious gems.  I could be decorated with intricate carving and everyone would see the beauty.'
Then the second tree said, 'Someday I will be a might ship.  I will take Kings and Queens across the waters and sail to the corners of the world.  Everyone will feel safe in me because of the strength of my hull'.
Finally the third tree said, 'I want to grow to be the tallest and straightest Tree in the forest.  People will see me on top of the hill and look up to my branches, and think of the heavens and God and how close to them I am reaching.  I will be the greatest tree of all time and people will always remember me.'

After a few years of praying that their dreams would come true, a group of woodsmen came upon the trees.  When one came to the first tree he said, 'This looks like a strong tree, I think I should be able to sell the wood to a carpenter', and he began cutting it down.  The tree was happy, because he knew that the carpenter would make him into a treasure chest.
At the second tree the woodsman said, 'This looks like a strong tree.  I should be able to sell it to the shipyard'.  The second tree was happy because he knew he was on his way to becoming a mighty ship. 
When the woodsmen came upon the third tree, the tree was frightened because he knew that if they cut him down his dreams would not come true.  One of the woodsmen said, 'I don't need anything special from my tree, I'll take this one', and he cut it down. 

When the first tree  arrived at the carpenters, he was made into a feed box for animals.  He was then placed in a barn and filled with hay.  This was not at all what he had prayed for.
The second tree  was cut and made into a small fishing boat.  His dreams of being a mighty ship and carrying kings had come to an end.  
The third tree  was cut into large pieces, and left alone in the dark.  The years went by, and the trees forgot about their dreams.  

Then one day, a man and woman came to the barn.  She gave birth and they placed the baby in the hay in the feed box that was made from the first tree.  The man wished that he could have made a crib for the baby, but this manger would have to do.  The tree could feel the importance of this event and knew that it had held the greatest treasure of all time. 
Years later, a group of men got in the fishing boat made from the second tree.  One of them was tired and went to sleep.  While they were out on the water, a great storm arose and the tree didn't think it was strong enough to keep the men safe.  The men woke the sleeping man and He stood and said 'Peace' and the storm stopped.  At this time, the tree knew that it had carried the King of Kings in its boat. 
Finally, someone came and got the third tree.  It was carried though the streets as the people mocked the man who was carrying it.  When the came to a stop, the man was nailed to the tree and raised in the air to die at the top of a hill.  When Sunday came, the tree came to realize that it was strong enough to stand at the top of the hill and be as close to God as was possible, because Jesus had been crucified on it. 

Each of the trees got what they wanted, just not in the way they had imagined.   

How true that is in our lives.  Blessings come through many unforeseen doors as well as tragedy.  Both are a fact and again, a paradox, in this imperfect world.  But God has the ability to turn tragedy into triumph, which becomes a blessing in itself.   Never underestimate our Father of Lights as well as the human spirit, which can be indomitable buoyed by His Presence.

I found this delightful video clip which was created by Tamso64.  The background music to this photo production is called 'In Memory of Trees' by Enya.    I thought it was a fitting conclusion to this week's post.  Enjoy the peace that it brings.
You can also view at:

Join me next Monday at the Turn-Up Patch... until then, go and hug a tree!!  Could be a bit of magic in it for you!!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Love, Peace & Martin Richard

A tragic week for Boston, Massachusetts and West, Texas.  A tragic week for us all.  As these horrific events have unfolded and still unfold as I write this, we are touched with the devastating loss experienced as part of the human family.   We are connected in soul and the ripple effect of such destruction touches us in the loss of life and damaged bodies, both physical and emotional.  As we try to make sense out of insanity, order out of chaos, peace out of terror, there are more questions than answers.  

The intent of today's post is not meant to dwell on terrorism; we are well aware of what took place this past week in Boston.  However, I did look up the dictionary meaning as to accuracy:   terrorism - the calculated use of violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear.

My short consensus.... Belief systems run the world from said political to religious to ideology as well as  personal mindsets, which are instilled by culture, indoctrination and environment.  And most believe that they are right and have the truth.  Atrocities occur because of a belief, which becomes tainted and turns radical in nature with the intent to kill, wound, maim and justify in the name of a cause or vendetta.

Jesus Christ said this: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength and Love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:30,31)  A very short and simple Commandment containing the formula and power for peace and harmony.

We would experience peace in the world if  ALL would come to believe, obey and adhere to this one great and pure Commandment.  What a Utopia  this world would become!  If it could only be so - however; it becomes complicated in execution because of  the clash between light and dark in a fallen world.
Scripture:  2 Timothy 1:7  God did not give us a spirit of fear but of power and love and sound mind.  
Different Bible versions use self-control, sound judgment, wise discretion for sound mind.  They all mean a mind that is well balanced and under right influence.  It is not a mind that is bedeviled and fooled into acts of carnage for personal revenge or a group agenda in a belief that becomes corrupted by departing into extremism.  Blindness overcomes reason and rational.

In this day of fast media through the internet, smart phones and TV, we become instantly aware of what human beings are capable of in causing destruction to other human beings and in places and things throughout the world.  The age of innocence has long passed us by.  And yet there is a paradox, for where there have been untold sufferings, people have been heroic in such efforts as....
- to right a wrong
- to do good and counter evil 
- to aid and comfort the downtrodden
- courageous in the face of terror
- imposing against cowardly deeds
- victorious in overcoming adversity 
- perseverance through hardships
The human spirit has risen to meet the challenge in great moments throughout the centuries as documented in history as well as our present time.  

Martin Richard had it right when he wrote this sign - "No more hurting people Peace"  A young boy who held the truth of the Love Commandment, which was written on his sign and in his heart.  His life was cut short in the Boston bombing, a victim of madnessMartin's essence lives on, enjoying the ecstasy of exquisite Peace as He beholds the face of His heavenly Father and has become one of God's own stars set in His Kingdom of Peace and Love.   

Little Martin caught the desire of God's heart in his young age more than many do who live out a long life on this planet.  May we all join Martin in wishing for peace in this earthly realm.  May we pray to the Bright and Morning Star for His edict of "Peace and Good Will among men" to finally reign among mankind.  In the name of innocence and the innocents,  I present this wonderful "thought" in Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star - a song we all sang as children.  It is a bit of fantasy and delight, refreshing in the simplicity of message and brings a light heart during a heavy time.  Enjoy a few moments to escape from the worries of this world into a place of starlight and star-bright and catch a shooting star.....

"...make a wish with all your heart..."
 Martin, may your wish for Peace come true

The above video is created by GiggleBellies Musical Adventures, an award winning DVD series for children and family.  Check their website at : 
(Just check the X on any advertisements that come up and it will disappear from the video)

Come and meet me next Monday at The Turn-Up Patch...... 


Monday, April 15, 2013

Horse Magic, a Camera & Ray Hunt

Living in Grant County and on a ranch gives me plenty of photo opportunities from wire fences, old sheds, farm equipment in unique twists of metal, wooden posts, sagebrush and juniper hillsides, even weeds can take on a form of artistry under the camera lens.  Then, there is wildlife; to name a few - there are deer, antelope, hawks, turkeys, an occasional eagle, even domesticated rabbits gone wild.   Elk frequent Grant County in higher elevations, much to both the photographer and hunters delight.    

Then, there is the horse!  Not exactly wildlife as you can tell by the picture below.  Sugar is actually the name of the mare that was nuzzling inside Jim's jacket.  He is a cowboy who has always cared about horses and enjoys raising quality quarter horses in the foundation bloodline.  He passed this appreciation down to our daughters and now, a grandson.   "Sugar in my Pocket"  was one of my  first photos taken with a brand new invention, called a digital camera and I've been hooked ever since.
"Sugar in my Pocket"
Volumes could be written about the horse but I leave that to the experts.  In my simplicity, here are some tidbits of information regarding horses.
-  Throughout the centuries and countries of the world,  a horse has been used in peace and in war, was instrumental in exploration and migration and were vital in transport, whether it was to haul people or supplies.  
-  They were effective as the first mail delivery system known as the pony express and pulled covered wagons in the days of the frontier.   These are just a few of the many roles that a horse has played 
-  Because a horse is an intuitive type of animal, a more recent role is to help children with emotional and physical disorders in equine therapy.  
-  There are different breeds of horses and according to their particular  strengths, can be trained in the specialized interest of their owner.  This could be in the realm of ranch work, rodeo, recreation, show events from cutting horse to dressage and jumping, horse matador and racehorse; all of these and more, which expresses the magic of performance and connection between horse and rider.

For some horse owners, it is almost offensive to call the horse an "animal" since a horse can cross the bridge into the human heart in a deep bond with their owner and they become best pals.  Horses and horse lovers are a breed unto themselves.  They experience a communication with each other that I appreciate from afar.   I say afar since I am much more comfortable with my cat and my camera!   And you know, a horse knows that!!  Since we have come to this understanding (the horse and me), we get along just fine.  I love to photograph these noble animals but I leave the riding to those who enjoy the topside of a saddle, whereas I'd be getting a view from underneath!   It would be wonderful to experience that sense of freedom which horse and rider have as they trail ride together or work cows on the range and in corrals, or gallop across fields in sheer delight of speed and power, or experience competition according to chosen event.
"Heading Home"

The above photo is a group shot of our horses, which were moving down off the hills towards the bottomland.   I call it  'Heading Home' because of their focus and intent in a unison stride to reach greener fields in pastures below.  Horses are herd animals and find their own grouping of friends just as we do in social situations. A horse has been known to intuitively "read" a person because of their instinct in detecting and also sympathizing in problematic areas of the human soul.   This is one of the reasons why they are so successful in therapy for the young (and old) who are disabled in mind and body.

The photo below is one taken of the neighbor's pig who had wandered into the pasture and found himself surrounded by yearling colts.  The colts had not seen such a sight before and were very curious about this strange looking critter that entered their domain.  I captioned the picture 'Alone in a Crowd', as I'm sure that is how the pig was feeling even as we humans can feel in social situations at times.  There is much to be learned from animals just from observation.
"Alone in a Crowd"
Ray Hunt
There was a master horseman and an original horse whisperer, Ray Hunt,  who would give training clinics across the country and was renowned for his expertise in horsemanship.  He developed a technique called "Harmony with Horses".  Some of you may be familiar about him through his clinics and his books.   He has since deceased but his legacy lives on and other trainers have picked up on his methodology and continued on with his style of training. I had the privilege of attending several of his clinics and watched his method of  'becoming one with the horse'.   He would take an unbroken horse and employ a practice in groundwork called flagging, which is the beginning step in conditioning the horse in acceptance.  Ray would know exactly when that horse would begin to trust and yield to him.  The horse, at a certain point in the session, would quit running or walking away from him and stop, look at Ray and walk to him in submission.  Ray would call it as it happened and he predicted correctly each time.  He instinctively knew when that horse would give up and give in to him in trust.  This was the first step of  his process to the actual ride of the horse.  Ray Hunt credited his gain of knowledge from his mentor, Tom Dorrance, who introduced the concept of  'True Unity' with the horse.  I can't help but draw a parallel spiritually... God knows, as our Divine Master, just when we will quit running from Him and give in to trust and yield to His Hand.  And this is what is called  'becoming one with God'  to experience harmony and true unity with the Almighty.

As I stated before, I am not an equestrian but through the lens of a camera, I can study this magnificent animal and gather some sort of knowledge without a direct hands on.  Photographers, generally speaking, look for heart in any given situation to convey a deeper understanding to the viewer The photo below is one such image, which I call 'Hear My Heart'.

"Hear My Heart"
The following are several horse quotes that I share with you:
-  There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.  ~Winston Churchill

-  Look back at our struggle for freedom... Trace our present day's strength to it's source; And you'll find that man's pathway to glory... Is strewn with the bones of the horse. ~Author Unknown

-  Horses lend us the wings we lack.  ~Author Unknown

-  True unity and willing communication between the horse and me is not something that can be handed to someone, it has be learned, it has to come from the inside of a person and inside of the horse. ~ Tom Dorrance

-  A horse doesn't care how much you know, until he knows how much you care..... Pat Parelli

-  Horses make a landscape look beautiful. ~ Alice Walker

-  Give a horse what he needs and he will give you his heart in return. ~ Author Unknown

-  The horse knows...  He knows if you know...  He also   knows if you don't know...  Ray Hunt    

 I hope you have enjoyed this posting as much as I have in putting it together.  For all you horse lovers, you truly understand and live this concept of Horse & Rider; for the rest of us, we can only admire and be a little bit envious of your experience.  HAPPY TRAILS until next Monday at The Turn-Up Patch.


Monday, April 8, 2013

Seasons & Surprises

As I write this, Spring has suddenly emerged in Eastern Oregon.  An amazing tribute to nature as dormant life begins its seasonal transition from winter to spring.  The color green appeared as if overnight in lawns and pastures and the hillsides are starting to turn from the drabness of winter gray and brown to early shoots of green grass.  I am reminded that spring is an example of the reviving of the human soul.  A quote from Robert Orben... Spring is God's way of saying, 'One more time.'

God splashes his earth with a coat of many colors, particularly in areas which have seasons.  Living in the John Day Valley, we are treated with winter in snowy white, spring with the appearance of multicolored life, summer with deep hues of crayon colors, and fall with its golden splendor.  Occasionally, nature can orchestrate an original delight to refresh our soul through a unique display that only God can create during any season.

One such occasion occurred on a summer day last year, which also happened to be on my friend's birthday. Kathy was taking a moment out of her busy life to have a "walk-about" in enjoying sights, sounds and smells of the surrounding countryside where she lives. She discovered an unusual creation in nature, which greeted her in an unexpected way.  With my camera in tow, she invited me to take photos of her unique find.  What you see is an irrigation pipe jutting out of the hillside that was broken and of no use with just a trickle of water dripping at the end.  The water was just enough of a component, along with random dirt and seed, to develop a creation of wild flowers in the midst of juniper trees, sagebrush and dry hillside.  Nature's colored bouquet burst from the end of the pipe in a styled arrangement, which would rival a florist's talent.  I share these pictures with you, my readers, to illustrate the ingenuity of God in blessing my friend on her special day. 
Kathy's birthday surprise....
 ... nature's hanging flower bouquet.... the end of an irrigation pipe  (click on photos to enlarge)
Just as the earth goes through seasons in changes, so do we in our journey along the pathways of life.  No matter what season we are in, we are never alone in our experience because of our Ultimate Friend. By His Spirit we are encouraged from within and once in awhile, He creates a 'bit of magic' just for you to brighten your day in surprising discovery.

The following is a great inspirational video, which completes my message in today's post.  I encourage you to watch it in its entirety.   May you be heartened in your day and your week through the words and the music of  "The Seasons of Your Life".

"The Seasons of Your Life", Inspirational video by ARAND Video Services - Music selection "Remembering the Light" by Kevin Kern.  You may also view at:

Come and visit The Turn-Up Patch for next Monday's posting.  In the meantime, have special days during the week ahead.