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.

Project 365 [Day 170] Retreating into the Safety of Our Shell

Project 365 [Day 170] Turtle Waiting to Be Released

I captured this big guy crossing the road over by our house on the way home from work yesterday, and while he was sitting in my truck I took this shot with my iPhone. My intentions were to keep him from getting run over by picking him up, putting him in the trunk, and bringing him over to a new greener pasture (literally) and a nice pond already stocked with his friends. He was quite heavy and as soon as I picked him up his nails pushed my hand off his shell and I dropped him in the grass. Luckily he was only about a foot off the ground, but as one of my little nephews pointed out, his leg was bleeding. It wasn’t bad, but the turtle was startled for sure, and spent the better part of 30 minutes in his shell, refusing to come out even when he was put in the water.

He eventually stuck his head above water to take a breath, and then finally stretched out his legs and swam away into the big open expanse. It got me thinking about how often we shrink back into the safety of our shells when someone is trying to help us, even if the help sometimes hurts. Well, he should be making new friends now, and he also made my Project 365 photo of the day (gallery), hopefully he will stay off the roads now.

Reflections on the Grey Days of Fall in the South :: Friday Feet

We can’t seem to escape from these cloudy grey days down here, but it could be far worse, we could be somewhere farther north where it’s got to be colder. My Friday Feet today came from an impromptu photowalk around my the block, so to speak. I was taking a very needed break from writing one of three research papers that are due by next Friday.

One of the subjects of photography I have always loved to look for are reflections. Reflections are one of the more rarely photographed views basically because you have to search them out, and then try to make the subject useable. Reflections are everywhere, and they look great when they show up naturally. We have a small pond in the back of our place that has very little water in it right now, and consequently, it’s very black and still.

As I walked around the property I found a great combination, and created the shot below of me with my iPhone. There isn’t any special filters or photoshopping done to the image below, just a little boost to the contrast to bring out the leaves (see exif metadata here). The reflection of myself comes from the water, just like the trees above my head. The color and texture comes from the leaves sitting on the mud bottom of the pond, so the shot is both translucent, and reflective. The shot just below of me holding my iPhone out over the pond is my P365.me :2012 (Project 365) image today for Day 11. All shots in this post were taken on my iPhone. Have a great weekend everyone.

Southern Drought No News Wants to Cover :: Friday Feet

We have been in this drought for some time now, it seems like years, because it has been. For about the last 5 years or so we just have not had any steady rain at all. The best evidence of the drought, at least on our property, is our pond. This is basically a 2 acre pond that is rain fed. From the feet shot you can see it is dry as the Arizona desert. From the shot of the pond area, almost the entire view of the photo should be under water, in fact I am basically standing where the water should be. Anyway, I know it’s not the most photographic Friday Feet but it’s what this summer is turning out to be like on our side of the world. We could really use an active hurricane season where we get some nice slow moving weak storms over and over again. I know the fish shot is kind of gross so I left you with my moms yellow flowers blooming like mad in this 100* weather.

Coming up soon, some uber cute shots of my nephews in their Chick-fil-a cow costume for their annual photo contest. It was quite something to shoot people in cow costumes in 100* weather. Have a good weekend.

Using the Beauty of Simplicity in Photography

Sometimes I really like abstracts for their simplicity. This image was taken in Gainesville, GA (not the “other” one in Florida), on a mountain pond. I almost didn’t stop to take the shot but I am glad I did.  This particular shot was one of the first sets of images I did on film back in 1997. Some of the most powerful images come from isolating the background and use only one or two colors.  This particular shot with basically two colors and a cool smooth background make for a more stunning image than if there were other elements in the background.

Any time you are trying to make a clean quality photograph, one of the first things you want to look at is the background of your image.  Move to a spot where the background is either blurred out or is one smooth tone, this will simplify the image immediately.  If your subject has to compete with your background the viewer might now know where the important elements of the photograph are supposed to be in, and any image that has to be explained wasn’t composed very well.

I love the lines in this photo. It gives the image architecture, grace, and elegance. Sometimes it is hard to reproduce an image, this is one I have tried for some 10 years to find again without any luck.  Another example of this type of image is this grasshopper.

Image Specifics

Lens – Nikon 105mm Macro
Film – Fuji Velvia 50
Tripod – Bogen

Long Drought in Alabama and Southeast Continues

Drought in Alabama, Pond

The water in the pond is gone. The fish are easy pickings for the birds these days and the plants are all struggling too. We have been in this drought all spring (and really going back into the winter) and the pond has just slowly gone away. Here is what it looks like now.

This pond at one time was filled to the brim, which would make the entire pond about 10-15 feet deep in the middle, now you can practically walk across the pond.  You can just see the pipe going into the pond on the right.  That was completely under water and unseen last year and the total volume of water this little pond holds is enough to be visible on Google Earth, but not right now.

This summer we are having to go around and water individual trees to keep them alive.  A high pressure system remains over the southern part of the United States and just will not give up any ground.  So, we are left with these scortching clear skies every day.  No clouds, no rain, no humidity (which is really strange for the south in the summer), just a clear blue hot sky.  Eventually it will have to start raining again, but it doesn’t look like it will happen for a while.

Filling the Pond During a Drought Takes a Well

This weekend Scott, Christopher, and Larry rented a trencher and did lots of work at the farm. One of the projects they tackled was constructing a fountain and pulling it into the middle of the pond so that it could be gradually filled by our new well. Here is the pond prior to filling.

They dug a trench from our well up and over the embankment to the pond. Then they laid lots of pipe and constructed the tacky, but functional fountain you see below.

Trench from well to pond

Trench from well to future garden site.

Scott and his plumbing handiwork

Installing the fountain

Isn’t it lovely?

Larry is so proud