Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitude

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These windmills dotted the rural landscape as wind-driven, well water pumping machines.  With rural water associations and electricity, windmills are not as needed now and many have fallen into disrepair. When I posted this picture on social media last week, one friend commented, “They are sadly slowly disappearing.”  However, every sight of one still gives me pleasure as I venture out in my own solitude to capture rural beauty.

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Silently standing

Oasis in solitude

“My days are numbered.”

This post was in response to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitude

Weekly Photo Challenge: Graceful

Almost three years to the date, I mentioned that I was on a photographic hunt for the bald eagle. By the next year, I had more opportunities to spot and capture them at a distance. Finally, last year I saw hundreds at Red Rock Lake and the Des Moines River near Pella, as well as a growing population in my part of Southwest Iowa. This year is beginning well with sightings locally and around Central Iowa. The view of these majestic birds is captivating as they gracefully fly and skillfully hunt. Here are a few shots of these graceful, gliding national birds.

These two are from 2016:

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Two eagles soaring over the Des Moines River near Pella, IA

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The eagles complete for fish among pelicans, geese, ducks and the ring-billed gulls pictured here on the Des Moines River at the Red Rock Lake Dam spillway.

The remaining have been taken this first month of 2017:

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Three shot photo stitch of juvenile bald eagle over Red Rock Lake Dam, Pella IA

As gracefully as they are in flight, those flights often end in a kill. Below is one of those feasts and two captures in the last week.

See more “graceful” posts at WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Graceful.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Anticipation

Dogs just seem to know when they should be prepared for any morsel of food.

“Can I help you?”

This post is in response to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Anticipation

Weekly Photo Challenge: Horizon

This week’s photo challenge “to think ahead and show your work in a representative photo…something that you want to achieve — it could be setting a new goal, making plans…and imagine your new horizon.”

This picture best represents my desire keep pedaling my recumbent trike up a challenging hill on a bike path to a nearby state park, moving past that horizon and on to some additional “bike friendly” locations in the New Year.

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When cycling up a hill, it’s always a treat to see what’s over the horizon.

This “horizon” shot was taken during a fall ride with my daughter while on vacation in Florida.

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Finally, a fun encounter with a galloping “woolly bear” worm while cycling around Green Valley State Park. I can’t imagine his perspective of me as I appeared on his horizon…but I brake at woolly bear worm crossings.

This post is in response to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Horizon.

WPC: It’s Not that Time of Year Without… (Remembering Dennis)

As Advent begins tomorrow, I was setting up my personal crèche to use as an object lesson with the children during the worship service. Starting out with only the animals and an empty manger, I plan to add figurines each week until the Christ child is added on Christmas morning.

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As I unpacked the nativity set, I thought of Dennis. He was a youth in my first church, who gave us the nativity set nearly 30 years ago. I think of him every Christmas as I break the crèche out of the box.

Dennis had experienced a hard life by the time he came to our church at the invitation of classmates. Both of his parents had died, and he was being raised by an older sister. Short, ruddy, quiet but quick witted, Dennis quickly endeared himself to us.  After a summer youth trip to Branson in which he stabbed another youth in the leg (the truth dennisof how that happened never came out), we had a “come to Jesus talk” and he actually did come to Jesus, that is.

Along with the other youth, Dennis spent a lot of time in our home. He was included in a number of our celebrations, with him supplying the giant cookie from the Great American Cookies store where he worked in the mall. One Christmas he gave us the Fontanini nativity set and he added other figurines over the next few years.dennis-2

I moved to another church staff position in Memphis and then to Iowa, and we lost touch. I tried tracking him down through the internet and eventually found a newspaper article, touting his success in producing organic vegetables and selling them at farmers markets in Memphis. I actually emailed the business he operated, but never heard from him.

Today, my thoughts about this youth, who by now would be about 50, caused me to do a Facebook search again, and I found him. However, I quickly discovered the posts were not by him but about him. Shortly, I reached a post that expressed sorrow for his sudden death on February 15, 2012. The news was like a punch in the gut. I quickly messaged another of the “youth” from that church, who coincidentally just “friended” me on Facebook. He shared that Dennis had a heart attack and died…and “sorry, thought someone told you.”  I know that I could not have prevented his death by staying in touch, but I wish that Dennis had known how I remembered his kindness every time I’ve unpacked the nativity set he gave us so long ago.

nativity-setTomorrow is the first Sunday of Advent. We will be lighting the Hope candle, as it represents the hope the people of God had for the long awaited Messiah. Foreshadowed through the curse of the serpent in Genesis 3, promised in the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 15), and prophesied in many other Old Testament passages (Micah 5:2-3, Numbers 24:17, Isaiah 9:6), God’s people were hopeful. They longed for good news to the afflicted, comfort for the brokenhearted, the proclamation of liberty to the captives, and freedom for the imprisoned (Isaiah 61:1). And they were certain that God would fulfill His promises as He had time and time, again.

With every Advent season and every communion we are reminded of the hope that we have in Christ Jesus. The Messiah came to fulfill all that God had promised and there are still promises to be fulfilled. As a lamb led to slaughter, who did not protest (Isaiah 53:7), Jesus willingly took upon Himself my sin and suffered my death, enabling me to have eternal life with Him. He continues to give hope to all who know Him as He is coming again to receive us unto Himself. And for that, I am eternally grateful for the light of hope shines upon me.

And so, it’s not that time of the year without remembering Dennis. But knowing that Dennis and I had that “come to Jesus” talk gives me the hope that I will see him again one day…the very HOPE that causes us to celebrate the first Sunday of Advent tomorrow.

Weekly Photo Challenge – It’s Not This Time of the Year Without…

This was my 23rd Thanksgiving season with the church I pastor in Iowa. The Sunday before Thanksgiving has always been a time of gathering to worship and review the ways in which we have seen God’s blessings in the past year. Of course, it is always accompanied by some delicious food as we “break bread together.”

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Breaking Bread

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BYOB (Water bottle, that is…we are Baptists after all)

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Psalm 100:4-5 (NIV)

This post is in response to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: It’s Not This Time of Year Without…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Magic

Having grown up in Tennessee, snow was infrequent and a holiday if it was six inches or more. Snow is much more common in Iowa, but still has a magical appeal to me as it covers the drab browns of fall and floats through the air like the freshness of white linens on a clothesline. Unlike the noise of rain, this precipitation brings a reverent silence.

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“Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10 (ESV)

This post is in response to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Weekly Photo Challenge: Shine

While in Florida for our annual family reunion earlier this month, I was taking a time exposed shot of the moon’s reflection on the Gulf of Mexico. The “bonus” was when a person searching for something on the beach momentarily aimed the flashlight in my direction.

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Here are a few more night shots with both moon and city lights shining.

For more examples of this week’s challenge, click HERE.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Frame

The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was one of those events that you remember where you were on April 19, 1995, when that act of domestic terrorism happened. I’ve had the desire to stop every time I driven through OKC, but had never taken the time until last October during a leisurely trip through Oklahoma.IMGP1114-2

The Memorial is bounded by The Gates of Time –twin bronze gates frame the moment of destruction – 9:02 – and mark the formal entrances to the Outdoor Memorial. 9:01, found on the eastern gate, represents the last moments of peace before the blast.

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The west gate is inscribed with 9:03 which is the minute that the rescuers began their recovery work.
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The reflection pool between the gates represents the time of the blast.
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The Field of Empty Chairs is arranged in nine rows, representing the nine floors of the building and the arrangement of chairs indicate the floor on which the victims were at the time of the blast. Five additional chairs are on the end, memorializing five victims who were outside the building.untitled-2
The outside inscription on each gate and the museum is: “We come here to remember those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever. May all who leave here know the impact of violence. May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity.”
It is indeed a moving memorial, remembering the 168 people, 19 of whom were children, who lost their lives on that tragic day.
For additional contributions to the theme “Frame,” click HERE.

  Weekly Photo Challenge: Morning

The best part of high humidity on a early summer mornings is that the huge spider webs that have been woven overnight are more visible.

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I love the appearance of God’s handiwork and these transparent “stands of pearls.”

You can find more wonderful pictures of “Morning” HERE.