Monday, August 29, 2016

The Stress Factor

An apple tree was planted in the back yard of where we live a number of years ago.  It grew from a seedling to a mature tree bearing branches of apples, to the enjoyment of humans and horses. Just as we love the taste of apple pie, the horses salivate and slobber munching on apples freshly picked from the tree.  As the tree became a fixture in the yard, it also became witness to the growth of family in their changing seasons as well.  Daughters that surrounded the tree in their play and laughter, who also grew up from seedlings into maturity, eventually leaving to begin their own lives in fruitful adventure.  A swing was eventually fixed to the tree when a grandson came along... again, its branches played a part in giving pleasure. Apple blossoms became a part of spring with the promise of summer fruit.  The tree has never disappointed us in its yearly seasons.

This summer has been a particularly fruitful season.  Many locals have said that fruit trees of all varieties have been extremely full in bearing fruit.  Our apple tree was no exception.  I watched how the branches became ample in produce.  Then, I saw how burdened the branches became in holding such a heavy load.  Combined with the apple weight and the heat of summer, the branches now look miserable in such pregnancy.  The photo below shows a broken branch that could not bear up under the strain put upon it by nature.  I took the photos below to explain the tree's distress.  A bounty of apples for sure but I hope the tree will survive after this summer's labor of fruit.  As I write this post, there are more branches that are in the process of breakage as they bend further to the ground with so great a load.

I would like to use the illustration of the tree and its apples and apply it to the human condition of stress in our every day life.  Imagine the apples to be stress and you are the tree.  Pressures, pulls, strains and tensions all identify stress and if too many and carried too long, can bring about a breaking point.  It has been stated that stress is one of the major causes of illness, whether emotional or physical in our human makeup.  What is a counter to stress?  How can we relieve ourselves of the
burden of stress?  Books have been written about this but what it comes down to is one thing - our individual paths to peace.  Some look for peace in unhealthy ways but end up toxic in varied types of addiction.  Some look for peace in outward pleasures only to find a temporary fix and return to the cycle of stress upon their lives.

God does give us an antidote for stress but it requires an awareness that He is bigger than the turmoil of stress.  Instead of the old saying "mind over matter", it becomes of spiritual significance to remember that we need to go one better... God is greater ...  'Greater is the One living inside of me than he who is living in the world'.   Our minds only complicate stress in its many forms, whereas the Spirit brings relief in ensuing peace.  We can be like that tree planted by the river of life referred to in my post "Current"....

Take time out to watch this short music video called "Greater" - it is a reminder that no matter our circumstance or condition, He is just a breath away with all that you need...

As we roll into September, I hope you will join me in two weeks at The Turn-Up Patch on Monday, September 12.  Until then, here is a great little saying to ponder on... "Cherish Yesterday,  Dream Tomorrow,   Live Today".


Monday, August 15, 2016

Magic as Enchantment

Magic!  One of the definitions of magic is as enthralling as the name implies... "a mysterious quality of enchantment".  It can be something as enchanting as sunlight breaking through the leaves of a tree, leaving the viewer captivated with delight in its beauty and attraction.  We now how powerful tools to use in capturing such moments of magic to bear witness to God's wonderful creation of living nature.

This is the same tree that was in my last post, entitled "Current" and the photos used were taken with a Nikon digital camera.  The photos used in today's post were taken with my iPhone camera of the same tree at  different times and in varied angles.  The sun was in the right position to cast its light through the foliage and water, giving the picture an ethereal or magical effect in the play of filtered light.  It is mesmerizing moments like these that can transport the ordinary into an extraordinary viewer experience.  

We live in a day of explosive technology and the digital camera and the smart phone camera are two such inventions that are just an eye lens and shutter finger away in capturing scenes of life around us.  Both are in constant re-invention, applying science in the advancement of performance.  As it is with digital cameras, smart phone cameras are increasingly improving in capabilities and convenience.  The future may read.... "a good photograph is only a smart phone away" as zoom and wide lens features are developed in the progression of improvement for the sole purpose of photography all within a small package of the smart phone.

It is said that a camera is only as good as the photographer taking the picture.  Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder.  However, as technology improves, so does creativity in optimizing this technology to full potential.  I am amazed at the talent of photographers and how ingenious they become in attempting the unusual in a display of "magic" upon nature.  Fredrich van Schoor and Tarek Mawad are two such artists who are able to transform a forest into a fairyland of vibrating and luminous lights.  Please take time out and check their informative website, complete with a video that is awesome in their production of forest bio-luminescence. 

Another unique photography artist is Vitor Schietti who uses the process of tree lighting for his personal magic.  Here is a sample of his photos.  Read about him and see more of his photos at


Come and join me at The Turn-Up Patch for another visit on Monday, August 29.  Until then, look for a bit of magic in your days and allow God to inspire the common into the exceptional....

Monday, August 1, 2016


Today's post is simply entitled  "Current",  a word typically associated with movement.  This movement is in the moment; it is about progress now The below photograph of a river scene is an illustration that shows off the flow of current defined upon its waters.  I remember the feeling of peace that came as I watched the water move in gentle ripples accented by the play of light.  It reminds me of  the breath of God that stirs ripples of movement upon our spiritual lives.  If we are honest with ourselves,  there are times when movement seemingly has gone, stagnation has set in resulting in still water.   Too often we look outward anticipating an external action to stir up inward movement and when action doesn't come, leads to disappointment.  It is during such times as these to remember the character of God - the character of God whose very nature is to move upon still waters and bring life.

There are many references in scripture about water, but I chose several to use in relating to movement.  In Genesis, the very story of creation, speaks about how our God made something out of nothing.  There was emptiness, no form and darkness. That can aptly describe those inward times of stagnation in personal still waters.  But what did our Creator do?  The Spirit of God moved and He took darkness and brought forth light.  He brought forth form and substance to that which was void and empty.  Our wonderful God hovers over our still water to cause movement in new life and brings hope.

The above photos using ducks and water as an illustration of Psalm 23: 24, 23...."He makes me lie down in still waters; he restores my soul."   The ducks are in their natural habitat of water.  There they rest and are nurtured, content in the experience.   In the still waters of our soul, there is movement - a movement of healing, of restoration, to get back to the basics in the simplicity of "God and me".   It is a time to rest and allow God to expand our vision of Him and to bring forth a greater awareness of the eternal.  It is a time to be and not to do.  

One final thought before I close this message.  Most of you are familiar with Psalm 1:3: "They are strong, like a tree planted by a river..."   We gain strength during the learning process 'of being', an art of discovery in itself.   During this time of separation from the doings, we get our internal compass back.  We will be ready to produce in due season but meanwhile, symbolic as a tree, we receive nourishment from God's movement by the river of life.  We can imagine our personal leaves that bud and form that will not wither but be alive in vibrancy.  A greater enrichment occurs as we gain insight as to who we are and what really matters in our individual universe.   A tree has many leaves and God does not limit us to the familiar but rather brings forth a new day in the understanding of life abundant.  "Everything they do will succeed"  ....  In the prosperity of spirit as a tree planted by a river, the being  will propel success in the doings.  The movement of being must come first to flow as a current into doings orchestrated by our Father of Lights, who is all and in all.

Come, join me at The Turn-Up Patch for another visit on Monday, August 15....