Looking For Light

Sun. It came up again this morning. I don’t always get to see it lately between clouds and wild fire smoke. I had an inkling last night when the rain clouds allowed an evening of fire in the sky. I took some pictures in low light between wind gasps, hoping to catch some leaves being still. I did, but as always the issue is finding light. Light is good when you have a camera and an itchy finger with a posed tree and the leaves are behaving.

I noticed a climbing vine on a spruce tree turning red but it’s always in the shadows. As the sun set the leaves began to show their colors in the fiery sky. I caught them hugging the rough bark and brittle dead mossy bottom limbs that die from lack of sunlight.

I positioned myself to capture the sunset. It’s full of fire and taints everything a bit red. Filtered light has it’s own influence. I take a couple pictures and just watch. I love light. I need light. We all do. Everything we want to see needs light.

Compared to the sun, all else looks dark unless the sun shines on or through it.

Early this morning, before the sunrise, I found myself in 40 degree weather sitting on the deck, reading and praying. I watched the big burr oak in front of me find some sun first. I wanted to share some of my first light with a picture. What I saw is way more than I can show you in a photo but the light allowed this much.

My sky view from the back deck

The sun striking the branch tops have come alive. The presence of sun is life. I can take a picture, the squirrels suddenly explode in and out of the woods, birds are singing, Light shafts appear through the tree branches to the forest floor.

I take a few pictures of the light rays in the nearby woods and walk through the shadows and light shafts. I find what I am seeking as a couple of maple trees have begun to turn traitor to summer. Their green leaves are turning red and yellow. I pause under a branch of leaves fully exposed to the morning sun.

I love sunlight. All is exposed in the light. This is why evil loves darkness and hates the light. I’m remembering some of my morning reading. I go in search of a yellow ash tree which should be fully exposed to the sun by now. I am in search of light. The suns light causes such contrast. The golden glow is mesmerizing. I love light. I love the Sun. I will always be in search of it’s light.

I read recently that one of the most internet searches in our day is “Finding God” I thought back to my teen years when I found God. I found a relationship through Jesus Christ. I found life. I wonder how much Gods son reflects from me? His Love, joy, peace, patience, and his light. Do I glow? I don’t get to evaluate myself.

This yellow ash tree glowing in the sun is like someone who has found God. They are in the light, they receive the light gladly, they glow, they reflect God’s light. They are full of life.

As the tree seeks the sun from God, so we seek the Son of God

It was said of Jesus when He began to minister “the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”(Matthew 4:16)

Someone told me awhile ago they would find God on their own. I told them that the Book of John in the Bible had quite a good map in case they got lost.

Gary

It’s uncanny how much nature reflects truths of it’s creator. It’s common sense. Should we even be surprised?

Ghosts In Frame

I will admit my impulses are not always thought through completely. When I decided to capture pictures of ghosts at a local lake as a prank, I should have known the pandoras box possibilities. Consider my reasoning here as if I was influenced by our present culture.

I don’t believe in ghosts so if one or more gets in the picture, its not real. This allows me to prank people who think they are (this is not even a strange sentence in our present culture)

I decided the ultimate prank possibility would be a “haunted” lake shore area known to spook people who were susceptable to this kind of thing. The rains quit, the dark clouds hung around, the sun was trying to peek out and highlight some clouds on the way out so I grabbed my camera and went.

what do you think happened?

Aside from getting photo bombed by three friendlies it’s a nice picture. The wild rice is ready for harvest, an eerie calm after the rains came and it looks like I can land my boat there.

I did get some strange calls though. You would think people would know better.

Ghosts!…Lol.

Meanwhile I have been fishing alone. I get it, people are busy. I did find out that one picture can create a thousand words or more. No, I did not photoshop this picture. No, I only clicked the shutter once, this is how it turned out. No, I will not let you know the location.

Gary

PS: I thought this might create some discussion on how we arrive at what we believe to be true. If you knew me really well you would know what happened to get this picture. It’s a good (??) Discussion starter. Its worked for me.

how did I keep them away? I met them halfway…see

Hummingbird Picture Problems

I have spent part of the summer figuring out how to take a good photo of the hummingbirds that haunt the flowers and feeder. Aside from some easy still shots and a couple lucky flying fotos, I am being humbled into rookie status (again). I have come up with one main conspiracy theory about those good photographers. Tell me I’m wrong on this one…

To be really good, one must get a hummingbird (or two) that killed itself trying to fly through the picture window. They have a taxidermist friend who stuffs it and puts flexible wire in the wings so it can be positioned at various flying poses. Walla, take in focus pictures to your jolly hearts content. Sell that picture for big money with a bumblebee in it’s beak while grabbing a yellow jacket wasp with one of it’s little spindly feet and landing on a red willow branch with autumn leaves with the other foot. In the background you can just make out a poised (posed) bobcat ready to pounce.

How hard can it be to catch a little birdie in flight with just the right pose, the right background colors, the right lighting, the right framing and right enough so even I say “WOW”. So, I check the deck below the picture window daily.

Factors to consider until the picture window yields fruit… Is the eye in focus? are the feet tucked in, extended or signaling a direction? How much color is showing? can I see the ruby throat? Is it glinting colors in the sunlight? Is the lighting from behind for a silhouette? Can I get two in the picture? Can I get one with it’s beak open or flicking it’s tongue? Once again…is it in focus? Really in focus? How do I get those little squirts in focus? Focus is over rated isn’t it? Why do they chase each other? Hey you, ya you, the bully guarding the feeder…you are acting like our politicians and that’s not a compliment! Argh!

Learning is the process where one finds out how much they didn’t know they had to understand, I mean how hard is it to learn taxidermy? Meanwhile I’ll share a slideshow of the good, fair, interesting and I wish they were just a little, um, better. Here’s to learning a lot about the ruby throated hummingbird. (just click on a picture and see the whole pictures in a slideshow)

You can see the lighting, speed and color differences as no day is alike. To answer a couple questions, NO, I am not hoping for a bird from the window. Yes, I am often very frustrated over so many poor shots. Yes, I know one of those was a hummingbird moth.

Sometimes even a poor picture can get a point across better than just words. Instead of a thousand, maybe it’s still worth 59 words? But lets face it, you and I will never experience life like the hummingbird. If they ever build a ride at an amusement park called “The flight of the hummingbird” I’m not going on it unless I have advanced cancer and have tried everything else.

Gary

PS: I will use some of these pictures for my spiritual blog in a couple days, there are some good analogies and insights for living from those little hummingbirds. The link is https://garydweb.wordpress.com/

Drought Effects

The bees are thirsty, the grass is dry, flowers that rely on rain are gone. The forests are a tinderbox and well over a thousand wild fires burn throughout North America. Yesterday was clear because of the wind direction. Today the air is filled with smoke from several wildfires a couple hundred miles north of us in Canada. I have pictures from yesterday and today. You will be able to see the difference. The nearby lake is 3 feet low but the fish are biting for these boys anyway (Click on any picture for slide show and enlarging).

Nature ebbs and flows. It’s a natural thing. My father and grandfather talked of the wet and dry years, the hot and cold years, winters with piles of snow and others with little. Right now we have drought and are seeing the beginning effects. A couple feet of slow rain over the next 30 days would almost get us back to normal. For now, states south of us have been flooding. Hey guys, send some our way???

Oh the symbolism nature has for our lives. What does drought of the soul look like? If you thought to yourself “it looks like me,” then you might be in company with a whole lot of people. In a world of thirsty people how do we get and give water for the soul? Who even admits their thirst for satisfaction? Do you find yourself a sojourner for another place, a seeker of truth or an onlooker posturing and blaming? maybe you are like this hummingbird moth looking for nectar. I think it checked out the hundreds of blooms on our deck before moving on.

The bees are desperate and short tempered with more bees than blooms. Green grass and flowers are blooming where the underground water siphoning effect has not been broken by drought. Did you know that water from 100 feet down and further will siphon up to the tree roots and deeper plant roots still collecting moisture until the soil dries down beyond the roots? Once the moisture connection is broken the plant dies. Our planet is, was in a sense, one big hydroponic system.

We were designed as people to be hydroponic. Our thirsty souls need that deep living water to experience deep peace and satisfaction. I am speaking of the spiritual area of our lives.

I was asked by our church to share how I have and maintain a healthy relationship with God. They posted it on you tube. Check out the video link or see the outline here “Life is Like that,” (If you follow my other blog you have seen it). This is how I refresh my relationships from neighbors to siblings, my marriage and with God.

Searching and finding little

Consider these hydroponic claims: “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (Jesus in john 4:14)

“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.” (Jesus in John 7:38)

O Lord, the hope of Israel, All who forsake You will be put to shame.
Those who turn away on earth will be written down,
Because they have forsaken the fountain of living water, even the Lord. (Jeremiah 17:13)

The swamps are still hydroponic even though dry

The living waters of life are worth searching for……Gary

Fast Photo

In the wee hours of the mornings first light, when the world around is still, I sit on the back deck reading, journaling thoughts and insights. Taking pictures and making plans here often start my day. I thought I would share a couple of amateur tips on taking pictures for your own blog and share a couple of the mornings shots.

Bloggers: Use pictures, most of us are visual and like pictures

An easy shot. Focus and shoot.

Hummingbird shots are a challenge compared to taking a picture of a beautiful flower. Hummingbirds do not pose for long, the camera must be on and ready. My readiness included the fastest focus and shooting speed for the light available. In my case, I sometimes have the camera on a tripod with the focus already set on a certain spot where the hummingbirds often land or fly in place. My finger rests on the button and I have the camera on continuous shooting so my T3i canon with a 300mm lens can take bursts of pictures. This morning I hand held, focused and shot bursts.

Picture #2 in the burst of shots. The hummingbird is backing off.

Starting with the pictures above, my first burst ended up being my only one this morning. I felt it good enough to share both the shots and how they came about. You can take away insights for yourself, your camera(s) and lens options. One concern about fast shooting is a pinpoint focus is essential as depth of field is very minimal. Slower shooting will allow much more depth of field but your hummingbird will be all blur. save your slower depth of field shots for landscape and moon pictures.

The best shot of the burst

Shot #3 was the best of the bunch for one main reason, the eye is in focus. Always show the eye(s) on a bird or animal if possible if they are the subject of the shot.

An ok shot
another ok shot.

These are the 5 shots my camera took in one burst at 1600 speed. I then recommend a program that can tweak the lighting, color, resize and crop pictures for your blog. I purposefully over tweaked the last shot on lighting to show how much composition you lose. Don’t over tweak. make your shot look as you saw it in real life. Personally I use photoshop for my lighting and cropping. I usually use “paint” for resizing.

If you take a good picture, test it by blowing it up to 100%. From there you will find out if you can crop or blow up a picture for other uses. I obviously used slices of shots for this blog.

Early morning and evening lighting is the clearest and color is pronounced for the best photography. Patience is your friend. Leave the dog in the house for your bird and animal shots. I have never taken a good picture holding a camera and a leash at the same time.

So, plan your shot and shoot your plan. Plus, always have your camera ready. I hope this was helpful and encouraging.

Gary

BWCA Adventure Expectations

I really should leave the page blank as one should embark on a wilderness adventure with no expectations. With expectations at zero and something memorable happens, it’s always a surprise.

Being it was not my first trip, I had some expectation baggage, but being human I pretend to have no baggage. I no sooner stepped out of the vehicle and said in my best drawl “well aaawl be, there’s mosquitoes, deer flies, horse flies and black flies here.” I slapped and flailed till I found some over promoted bottled bug deterrent while picking off a wood tic.

By the time we had our packs filled and into the canoes to shove off, none of us had any pretense left in our bloodstream. It was smeared on our face and arms and clothes. We could have been models for face painting day at a kindergarten class.

I might exaggerate a bit

Once on the lake though the senses go into reverie mode with the pristine water, air, the rugged shores and constant scenic views. My camera was shaking with excitement before I got it out of the bag. The canoe even started screeching it’s excitement till I realized we had hit a Jesus rock (stand on it and it looks like you are walking on the water) and the bottom of the canoe was loosing it’s paint.

It’s natures fault! The wilderness makes a person digress and exaggerate. It’s a good thing only two fit in the canoe. Then there are the portages! you unload all your packs and anything not strapped to the canoe and carry it all over land to the next body of water. We packed two packs per canoe plus life jackets, paddles and fishing rods for one trip over most portages. One person takes the heavy pack and the other a light pack and the canoe. You die. The ones who don’t die revive you so they don’t have to carry everything plus you out. Yep, great expectations and then you get thirsty and hungry, and yes, you need more than candy corn.

Fishing, catching, rugged beauty, cooking over the fire, sleeping on rocks and roots, new species of bugs that bite, water reflections, rock formations, plant life and wonders of nature that suddenly inject joy to your very soul by surprise become an expectation fulfilled. The wonder of it all is like building blocks of insignificance while loosening my own importance. Ones pride unties like a shoestring in the reflective properties of stark honesty . Nature truly doesn’t care. Life is almost as tenacious about living as death is in dying. One way or the other the meaning of life comes to mind.

Here are some expectations fulfilled on last weeks BWCA Trip. Click on one for slide show and enlarging.

I love reflection(s). Seeing natures reflections off the water as well as letting all these things that I have seen and experienced reflect to the corners of my mind. I do not doubt that everything seen in nature reflects life in many ways shapes and forms.

As my pictures show, nature isn’t very perfect, but it sure goes after it with more hope than expectation. The seeds that fall into the smallest rock crevices can become a huge tree splitting the rock apart with its roots. The chewed off beaver birch stump grows new shoots from it’s roots and may well turn into a clump of birch trees all vying for nutrients and sunlight. The limbs of the cedar go out and out and bend upward hoping to catch a few rays of sun.

I often wonder how many expectations people around me think life owes them. I secretly have them. Secretly, because they take me by surprise. I know better in my head. Life owes us nothing. God owes us nothing, but I’m constantly reminded (especially in the wilderness in reflection) I owe Him everything.

I hope to take some of my BWCA experiences and reflections and mostly write on a deeper level using illustration, story and analogies (with pictures. I think in picture form). I’ll post some on what I call “My Spiritual Blog” (click here for a link)

I hope you have enjoyed a snippet of my favorite wilderness area. Let me know if you would like to plan a trip. I won’t set you up but I can give pointers, lists for what to take and how to plan your level of trip. It’s a good place to meet Jesus sooner than expected if you plan poorly or get in over your head.

Until then, push your canoe out into life’s currents with a paddle and a plan.

Gary

Note: All pictures taken with a very small and light kodak easy share camera

Shades of Green

How many shades of green are there? It’s a question I ponder as I gaze in wonder at the earths recovery from winter here in the northland parts of USA.

Many many shades of green

We use the word “green” in all areas of life. Mentally, physically , socially and spiritually. Looking at our present world one could think we have a bunch of greenhorns spending huge greenbacks on a mostly green planet seeking greener days beside the still waters without a shepherd. OK, greatly mixed metaphors leading to a reference to the much quoted Pasalm 23 in the Bible.

I recently helped fight a fire and came back to see what survived and what didn’t. basically the dead stuff burned. The living plants and trees with a good root system, and some substance was singed, but survived well. Green is a sign of life!

Look at the little green tree. A survivor of the fire.

This is the kind of picture that my father would point out to us as kids along with all the life applications he could think of. “I hope you kids grow up to be like this little tree. The hard times only singe you instead of burn you up! You will meet people living with a stack of lies, it’s like trying to grow in a brush pile and someone some day is going to torch it.” Yes, dad was longer winded than that but you get the gist.

I sure want to be like that little tree. I want that kind of green. I want to be like the tree in Psalm1. Green also symbolizes immortality; eternal life verses ashes.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. (Psalm 1)

A tree. Remembering dad, Knowing what it means to be a follower of Jesus

Gary

Who Woulda Thunk

The sun came up to a cloudless sky this morning and it started snowing. Totally weird. I thought it was frost coming off the trees. I guess at 20 degrees (Fahrenheit) the moisture in the air began falling out of the sky in the form of snowflakes up to 1 1/2 inches big. I tried to take a picture. Don’t judge my skills yet please…

Yea, Snowing on a clear sunny day

Sometimes the unpredictable, weird or “didn’t see that coming” happens. I talked to four other guys in the area this morning and we all got the same kind of snow.

Yep, snowing in the sunshine
Look, an animal shaped snowflake on the deck. It measures an inch and a half. looks like several flakes bonded in the air.

Something else happened today that took me totally by surprise. I received my first “like” on a blog written 10 years ago. For all I know they were the first to read it. I wrote it under the assumption that if one writes something, others will read it. 10 years later I know better. Like all “Likes” received I had to look this person up. All the way from Germany (My home country on the Fultz side) a delightful artist found my old blog. Check out Roswitha’s delightful painting-artists blog depicting a modern day Emmaus walk after Easter click here. It’s worth it. I wonder if Roswitha is related distantly to several of my Geisler friends in northern Minnesota?

Me and one big Pike. we won’t swim in that lake anymore!

Please check out my old blog. My writing is changed a bit since then but I made a decent case for taking a wilderness adventure. I caught and released the big pike (pictured above) from a canoe on a wilderness adventure trip. Check out my old blog here It will be worth it as the pictures alone will make you want to go. I have a June BWCA trip (#65) planned.

Who would have thought that Ohio and other states would have their biggest snow storm (at this point of spring according to an old college room mate) in 120 years over night? As my grandfather used to say “Who Woulda Thunk”?

So…You and I. What are we still doing writing blogs? For what? It’s a question worth answering. 10 years of writing for me and I’m working on a book. Who Woulda Thunk? Not me.

10 years of learning how to write. Learning to connect with people in writing, edit out the 90% fluff, connect with people in their comments, figure out SEO, connect with people in their blogs, listen, learn and hear. Last of all, I feel as if I’m finally becoming connectable as a person. I care and just maybe it shows. WWT (I heard that grandpa).

Gary

Raging Waters Rescue

This can’t be happening I thought

She sat above the small cliff on a bold mossy rock weeping over the angry flooded river scene below. Drenched and weak from her own capsized canoe experience she knew the big man in a back eddy current was floating toward the edge and would soon be taken by the rushing white water into a mass of trees hanging on a house sized boulder. She knew she couldn’t help.

No No No, this is not happening!

He was going to die. He knew it as he couldn’t swim, his life jacket still strapped to the canoe seat and the big pack he was hanging on to was sinking. “Tell mom I love her” he said to his two sons who were hanging on to bent over saplings in the mad waters barely able to hang on as they only partially body surfed the churning foamy water. She cried louder as one of our guys picked up a canoe to portage to the lake above us laughed, and muttered “The poor sucker,” and walked away.

Normally this was a gentle, but fast, knee deep gurgling stream winding it’s way between lakes on the Canadian Minnesota border waters. Wilderness travelers, the early voyagers and various tribes had used this route for hundreds of years. Now, the river was carving a new path straight through the woods after seven inches of rain the night before.

Someone Please Save him!

I and a couple of strong teenagers had just finished rescuing a couple of canoes, some packs and paddles from our own group getting across the river in a deeper pool before the rapids. Our plan had been to get beside the waterfall and paddle at an angle with the water flow from a back eddy on one side and hopefully catch a back eddy on the other side unscathed. The fast water was really fast and at last second two of our canoes tipped as they entered the back eddy.

Everyone wore their life jacket in our group and all we did was get really wet. We were safe. Our gear and paddles were safe. Then came a big loud mouthed man and his two college aged sons. I had urged them to put on their life jackets and directed them to the back eddy to run with the current. They refused and tried to cut straight across the river current. Their canoe was instantly rolled. The boys swam across and ended up down stream dangling in the water while pleading for dad to try. Dad grabbed a floating pack, panicked completely and began yelling for help with “I can’t swim” with mutterings of “help me Jesus” messages and then began to accept his fate.

“Let’s rescue him” I said to the strapping teen next to me. “you’re nuts” he replied. “You are going to be an Army Ranger” I said. “Let’s do it” he said. She cried “No” and wept all the more.

We cinched the life jackets and pushed into the current and heavy rolling waves. Adrenalin shot through us and I feared breaking our canoe paddles as we paddled hard to the edge of the waves on the other side, dangerously close to the down-sloped rapids edge. Approaching the dad I saw he did not recognize help had come. He had that “eyes glazed over” look. When I spoke to him to grab our canoe but not to tip us, I saw him coil as if to spring at us. I raise my paddle to put him out as I saw the danger and he raised a hand to protect himself and said “I’m Ok, just help me”.

The next big danger was to drag a huge man to shore with just two paddles against the progressively stronger current before going over the edge. I saw we were not going to make it and urged the man to drop his pack as we were not making headway to shore. He wouldn’t let go. To this day I’m surprised that we made it within 15 feet of shore before going over the edge. In the last second another group of travelers came through, formed a human chain out and extended a long canoe paddle for the next Army Ranger to grab. “Saved” is a good word. “Saved” is an unbelievable feeling being pulled from the foamy waters of death. Now she was sitting on the rock bawling. Yes, “Saved” is beyond description, just ask her. She knows. Jesus knows.

Two weeks later they say I kept a whole building of youth directors awake at three in the morning as I barked out orders and rescued drowning people in a raging river from atop my sleeping bag.

The big man that two sons called dad was never thankful or acknowledge he needed help in the waters of certain death. “Come on dad, at least say thank you” urged one of the sons after the family was reunited. “I was ok, I had it under control” was all he said. She, ranger and I debriefed with the group later, for the next six days in the campsite and are still affected to this day.

This morning I sat in an easy chair with a cup of coffee and was reading some Psalms from the bible and I read Psalm 27 starting in the middle of vs10 and 11, “Do not leave me or abandon me God of my salvation. Even if my father and mother abandon me. The Lord cares for me”. I’m immediately brought back to the raging river again. Kids trapped in a different disaster are praying these prayers right in front of us while some laugh, pick up their canoes, mutter “the poor suckers” and walk away.

Now, I am the one on the riverbank of life crying. I’m weeping at pictures of all the abandoned children in buildings hundreds percent over capacity at Americas other border and I am helpless to rescue from here. They can die in a myriad of ways. I know how helpless I am from my rock. They are drifting toward the edge while we all watch and are told “It’s OK, everything is under control”

So, who is in position to save some kids? Honestly I have no idea what it will take or where to start. I have no solutions but I’m willing to bet someone out there does! I’m just here on the riverbank crying and someday hoping for joyful tears. Jesus please send someone, you know all about rescues!

Gary

Some debriefing notes: True story. Picture above was a different group with a different adventure. I’ve both rescued and lost people in my nightmares over the years. I spent a few minutes lecturing our rescued dad in an adrenaline driven raging mad state for putting our group in that position. The kids told me I said other things as well that Jesus might not have mentioned. I cannot help but think how precious being rescued is for one person and unrecognizable by another. It makes me beyond sad to think that Jesus Christ rescued us all from the death penalty of sin before a Holy God and He died for us. Some will believe and follow Jesus into an eternal life in heaven. Many are like the dad. How sad for eternity. I pray for the illegal immigrant kids abandoned by everyone. Breaks my heart the shape this world is in. We all need Jesus, He has solutions. I wish it was as easy as mine and rangers rescue.

Really Living

I saw the bear coming in the almost dark wilderness campsite. My small band of teenagers I was leading through a long canoe route in the BWCA Wilderness had spotted him and booked it for camp a few seconds ago. I ran and grabbed the camera turning on the strobe flash hoping for a good closeup picture as I positioned myself between bear and food pack. I stopped him about 15 feet away with the flash temporarily blinding him while yelling for the teens to quick get the pack up in the air. The rope was draped over a high limb and the food pack was ready to pull up higher than a bear could reach, all they had to do was grab the rope and pull hard and fasten it off to a nearby tree.

Too late, the teens were in the lake trying to get away from the bear. The general consensus was “let the bear eat Gary.” The bear had run behind a big sloping rock shaking his head while trying to see. I ran up the rock a few feet higher than the bear, when he looked up at me I flashed the strobe again to further blind him. Agitated he ran back to where he was before and I once again ran between bear and food pack. The 3rd strobe flash in the bears eyes was the closest but something snapped in his bear brain that said “I’m out of here” and he turned around and ran straight into a tree with an umph. Bouncing off he broke brush and made all kinds of noise including snapping his teeth to show his displeasure as he ran into the dark forest. The teenagers became suddenly very brave as they raced past me yelling and whooping after the bear and disappeared into the brush. I heard them stop as it was quite dark in those woods, so I yelled after them “He’s coming back!” A few seconds later the teens were in the lake again.

I have at times in my life been accused of “Poor Risk Assessment Skills” and I suspect there was more that could have been said with another dozen stories similar in nature. There are actually a couple stories that were on the line whereas this one was more normal. I am, in my defense, quick to point out that I, and those who have gone with me, are still very much alive. This proves that my risk assessments are actually very accurate. So far.

One of my life skills is helping people “Really Live”

So when I got the call that a northern border river had cleared of ice in most spots, I was ready to go this past Monday with two other guys who have living life qualities similar to mine. I mean, raise your hand if you want to go fishing. Don’t put it down because it’s cold and the winds are, well, brutal. That’s why we put on warm clothes.

Ya, it’s a big one.

After a two hour drive we fished all day. The water temperature was 39 degrees Fahrenheit, the wind chills at zero and the walleye were not abundant. After 8 hours in the boat we agreed it was time to get off the water. Sigh…it was so good to be out there in the wind and cold with the fish sometimes barely hitting. I really don’t know what drives us to call this “really living.” We cannot wait to get out there again. Three men who are so different, but in the boat we have a fellowship of brothers (including the disagreements).

“Really Living” may find one chasing bear and living on the edge. “Really living” to another may be dirty hands and knees in the garden. “Really living” may be in the work shop full of sawdust or metal flakes. “Really living” sometimes forms words, phrases and paragraphs. Sometimes “Really living” is creating special life experiences to communicate, influence and even mentor others.

I get T-shirts and mugs with catchy sayings like “I Fish Therefore I am”, “Fishing Is Life”, “Born to Fish Forced to Work” and a host of other phrases that depict my passions in life. I have, however discovered a passion that works well with my passions. Bringing groups of teens and adults far into the wilderness both in summer and winter forces real life gifts and problems to the surface. On the fear spectrum, I am not afraid of much. I would rather face a bear (risk) than tip a canoe in a storm (high risk) or rescue a drowning man in white water (high high risk). My cliff diving days are over. I think. I probably will do mild weather winter camping from now on. Bringing Teen groups into the wilderness is possibly past, but, I still find myself living on or over the edge as a recent post depicted (Ya, laugh at my expense!!)

50 foot cliff diving
Minus 38 below weather outside, above zero inside..Yea

The truth of the matter on fearless risk taking is that my ball of twine in life will someday run out of string. I know that. We all die once and then face God while He asks us “why should I let you into my heaven?” The worst answer we could give is “Because I am a good person”. If you cling to your good you also keep all your sin and are thus disqualified to be accepted by God. Risky risky risky!!! don’t go there.

This is My own Easter message to you

Instead, accept that Jesus died for our sin and gives us his goodness to present before God. That is “Really Living

Meanwhile, I am a follower of Jesus. I do not follow from afar or slide from tree to tree hoping to not be seen (you know the type) I am really alive when I am in tune with God and his ways….Who would turn down having Love, Joy, Peace and a host of other very real things in ones inner life?


“A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10 (Jesus)

Gary

PS the bear pictures did not turn out. I’m sure glad the strobe worked.