Learning to Seek First the Kingdom Everywhere

Pond in Back Yard
Pond in Back Yard

I’ve been living in this phrase, “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” found in various places in scripture, trying to determine it’s sway and meaning for me personally. Ever since I wrote this post about my idea of what 2013 would look like, I’ve been asking myself the question, how… and where? It’s easier to look at my back yard and see the fog rising off the pond at sunrise and say, there He is, but seeking the kingdom above all else requires looking in those places of darkness where he is the only light that shines, and it’s not nearly as bright as it is above.

Realistically I’ve been walking down this path of making, what seemed like, several small and moderate lifestyle changes, really for years now. Over time of course they are more significant than perhaps they seem in the moment of the decision. In fact, collectively, they clear a path to allow more of God in and less of those things that distract and tend to pull us in the opposite direction. I still love reading about the drastic and dramatic though, like Paul Miller’s story, Paul Miller returns to the internet after a year away, where he took an entire year fast from the Internet only to find his demons (my words) followed him offline. The more I live in this phrase Jesus spoke the more I’m finding what I once thought was dramatic and impossible is now possible, and dramatic only to those who have ears but refuse to hear.

Right now I’m pouring over Jeff Shinabarger’s new book, More or Less, and I can’t wait to do a full review on this book. His book basically tries to answer the question, “What is enough?” For some reason it keeps reminding me of this scene from Wall Street when Bud Fox asks Gordon Gekko “how much is enough?” a question we get confronted with every day. Jeff has taken this to a new level, and is at the same time helping me understand new ways to “seek first the kingdom,” some of which I’m looking forward to sharing when I finish his book.

Fall in the Face of a Child and His Parents

The Brian Johnson Family

Last week I did a photo shoot with this little guy and his family. I love his countless expressions, his pure innocent adoration of his father, and the love he has for his mother. Here are a few shots from that day on one of the last warm days for a while. We just barely have enough leaves on the ground to make it somewhat fall like, but being the first of November, fall is finally here.

The Brian Johnson Family

The Brian Johnson Family

The Brian Johnson Family

The Brian Johnson Family

The Brian Johnson Family

The Brian Johnson Family

The Brian Johnson Family

The Brian Johnson Family

The Brian Johnson Family

This was Someday Saturday Today with Pine Needles

Pine Needles in the Garden

I really hate “someday,” because usually, someday is just no-day. That usually ends up being my answer when I don’t want to do something, or can just put it off to some unknown time in the future that may or may not ever come. This is why people create bucket lists, so some day doesn’t turn into never-day. Well today, and just about every Saturday for the last 4-5 weeks, has been someday Saturday. Sometimes around 2008 Deborah and I decided we were finally going to clean out the attic, the garage, and do some of the things around the house we have been wanting to do for years. That was back in 2008.

A few weeks ago we finally got tired of putting it off, and started working on all of the above, a little at a time, each Saturday morning. We have a very small one car garage, (which the car has been been in before) and today ended up being peg-board and organization day as you can see Deborah doing below, then pine-mulch in the garden. The pine straw required picking up 15 bales of pine needles at the local feed store, which was weird since we basically live amongst a pine forest, and spreading them out in the 90 degree high humidity heat of Alabama.

I know these aren’t life changing events here, but they aren’t unimportant either. I think I read somewhere recently that there really are only a few days in everyone’s life that are super important, the rest is life, just living life. That’s what this post is about… this is just what we have been doing on Saturday mornings around here. Life isn’t always about the super high and super low points, but the events this week in Aurora Colorado just reminded me how precious life is, and how quickly it can change.

Project 365 [Day 158] Tree Swing on the Farm at Sunset

Project 365 [Day 158] Tree Swing on the Farm at Sunset

This is one of my favorite places in our backyard, and of course if you have been around this site for a while you will recognize the tree swing, but I keep finding unique ways to shoot it. I’m working on getting all the photos on my site of this swing to be searchable through “my swing” but they aren’t all up there quite yet. Yesterday afternoon I was cutting the grass and noticed the sun setting right behind the tree and actually took this shot while I was on the tractor, mowing. I later stopped and tried to setup a better shot with Deborah in the swing but none turned out as this one did with the sun right in my face. Today it was my Project 365 photo for Day 158.

Greyhound MCI-9 Bus Conversion We Called Home :: Throwback Thursday

MCI Bus Conversion Before Painting

The post for this Throwback Thursday is an “On This Day 10 Years Ago” post (from this point forward OTDTYA), which I now realize is actually getting into a time period that is presented on my blog. The very first posts on my blog were in March 2001, which we posted three articles about our bus conversion in the photos above. I still need to go back and post-date some blog posts for that time period to fill in the gaps, but the two shots above was what Deborah and I were doing on this day 10 years ago. After we picked up our used (former Greyhound) bus from Ocala, Florida, we drove it back to Alabama, stripped it down on the inside, and then “shelled” it with plywood (image on the right side at the top), starting a long long long process of converting it into a motorhome we would use and live in for about 5 years.

It was about 10 years ago when we got our first digital camera, an HP Digital Camera 2MP gem, we used until I bought my first DSLR, the Nikon D100 a few months later. These photos were the very first set of images that were taken in digital form. From this period prior, almost all our images are taken, and still stored, on film. One item on my list is to take 1,000,000 photos, and since I can’t count the film images until at some point I can get them all scanned in, this started a count of digital images that still goes on today. So far I’m up to about 350,000 images taken, and it all started about 10 years ago, just about this time of year.


Still Adjusting to Life in the Fast Lane :: Friday Feet

This is just about the first time I have felt like or had the energy to get back on my blog since I got home from Uganda. This particular trip has been the most difficult trip to readjust from and just back into just the normal routine of things. I got sick just about the day I walked into my house (and am still recovering), then Deborah got sick yesterday (and she is still recovering) so I never could distinguish between jet lag and sick lag. I could probably have seen this coming as I spent every ounce of energy I had in Africa over that 10 day period.

It’s more than that though, it’s a deeper connection made with some people literally half way around the world, and our life in my cultural context doesn’t give you any time to “adjust”, it just keeps moving forward at breakneck speed. There is nothing wrong with life over here any more than life anywhere else, ever single place has it’s own struggles, and often they are almost identical in nature, we just always think they are different because of the lens we look through every day.

Today’s Friday Feet comes to you from Kampala as we waited with the gals from Sixty Feet to go inside the second children’s facility in Kampala. I took those shots above that day with this post in mind, even if the two K’s (Kelsey and Kirby) didn’t know what I was doing, and honestly, I can’t remember which K’s toes are shown below, I think they are Kirby’s. What was really amazing to me about life over there is that almost everything we did was either preceded or followed by some kind of worship to our King, and it was often 60-90 minutes at a time, and it didn’t matter what day of the week it was. They just hauled the drums over, dropped them down and we were good to go.

I know Sixty Feet’s ministry name has to do with number of feet deep not actual toes and shoes, but it works for my Friday Feet today, thanks for being such great sports and for the work you two are doing over there Kelsey and Kirby.

Happy Birthday Dad from 10,000 Miles Away in Uganda

So today is my dad’s birthday. He was born the same day as Dottie West and Eleanor Roosevelt, (but just a few years later), is an aficionado of all things Auburn, a lover of clean cars, freshly cut pasture grass, is great at being a grandfather to many, and today I want to wish him a long distance Happy Birthday! I just happened to be in Africa today, so, sorry dad, I’m going to miss your birthday party, but I didn’t forget it (as I’m sure your thrilled to see haha). I looked through all kinds of different shots from way way back like the Throwback Thursday photos from the 1950’s but I couldn’t find anything any more appropriate than this photo above. There’s always something about fall when our family can just hang out on a Saturday and watch Auburn football.

It’s so hard for me to even understand or describe the difference between being here in Uganda and being at home in Auburn, but my dad is a big reason why I am able to do what I’m doing right now and I’m so thankful for that gift. Happy Birthday, can’t wait to see everyone again when I get back home.

Trying to Figure out How to Tell a Thousand Stories Simultaneously

I came here, in part, with the hope of being able to tell some stories through pictures, now, with a few days left on this trip I don’t even know where to begin. There are a thousand stories for every scene and situation that we come across. If I have time, I’m going to post a few here tonight while we still have power (it’s off and on). Yesterday we went to a few houses to install rain catches. I know nothing about installing these things but the lady of the house came out to get water in this 50 liter jug(?) thing and I couldn’t believe she was going to do this by herself. As you can see below I couldn’t even carry it by myself. This lady, and several others were around the front of the house and they got to laugh at the two white people trying to carry something a woman did every day. There were really sweet ladies. For some reason I haven’t figured out yet, the kids when you take their picture (for the most part) grin from ear to ear but the adults go stone-face when their photo is taken, so many of the adults, like these three woman in the photo below were laughing with us and smiling until the second we took the pic. They are pretty amazing.

The first shot below shows the rain barrel that was partly full of rain runoff. I am filling the blue bucket with a pan to take it back to her house. The second shot and third is just trying to life the can which had to weigh something like 70 pounds at a minimum. The lady in the shot below is who we were taking the water to and if you look in the back behind her that house (the lady sitting in the opening) also had a great story. The shot of me with the little boy actually ended up being Tonya Styles sponsor child who was watching us install the rain catch systems (so if anyone on Facebook can tell her it’s over here that would be great).

A Midnight Summer's Dream in the Night Sky

Ok, well it’s not Shakespeare but it is just about that time of year when the days are really long and the nights are clear and hot. Sometimes it’s hard to find new and fresh images when your routine seems to stay the same, but there is always a lot more to creation than meets the eye. Out here we actually still have a dark sky at night, most of the time. We can still see the lights from the Auburn-Opelika metro area and on the other side we can just see the glow from Columbus, GA, but it isn’t anything like what the sky looked when we lived in the big cities like Dallas. Those big cities like Atlanta and Birmingham have almost no night sky left. Luckily out here we still do… so… I’m off to try to get some shots of the Milky Way or whatever else my nephew finds while stargazing. Hopefully I’ll have something interesting to show for it tomorrow night.

This Was Kid Weekend on the Farm with the Camera

We had so many different families out on the farm collectively this weekend it was hard to keep track of who was who and what everyone was doing. I know what I was doing, taking the photos. Pictured above is William Fillmer (my grandson), Martha and Abby Marchio (two of my nieces), and Maddie Metteer (my grandcousin?). It was great fun getting to take their photos all weekend since I don’t really ever get a chance to practice my photography on the little ones.