"Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere, that Jesus Christ is born."
Christian thoughts about Christmas-time
I love the book of John in the Bible. In this book the mystery of Christ is written so beautifully.
“ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. “ John 1:1-2
"Through Him all things were made: without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.” John 1:3-4
I also love the book of Hebrews in the Bible. In the mystery of Hebrews it is revealed how the OT Judaism law had come to an end through the fulfillment of Christ. This book goes back and forth to the law of Moses and returns to the outpouring of love and grace through Jesus. Hebrews along with John describes the majesty of God, who God is, and what He has done. They both mention in essence that the Lord Christ Jesus stepped out of heaven to do the will of God the Father.
While I refer to the Bible as, in some ways a mystery, it really isn’t when you read it cover to cover that allows the illumination of the Holy Spirit to speak. I have most certainly studied it, using Bible dictionaries and church history to confirm its authenticity. But I am convinced that to know truth as it originated from God, one must believe by faith and trust the words…
“ He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, (Meaning the Jewish people), but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God--- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” John 1:9-13
I say this because I’ve been thinking about Christmas. I do not support or oppose what many people refer to as the ‘war on Christmas.’ From a Christian perspective the discussion is far too limited to a debate on political correctness. Any conversation on Christmas should involve a discussion which should delve deeper into faith itself. After all, Satan could care less if people buy a bunch of toys, cashmere, and diamonds, and spend money. He could care less about Wal-Mart’s profits or how Wall Street is doing in December. It’s laughable to think that the war is about Christmas. No, the war isn’t about a pagan day on which many ignorant folks think Jesus was born and use as an excuse to embrace gluttony in shopping, eating, drinking, partying, and the like. If people actually believed in Jesus and really thought this was His birthday, there would exist a true sense of awe and reverence among the masses of revelers, among whom would readily tell you that they refer to themselves as "Christians."
It doesn’t matter that we say on December 25 Jesus was born. What is most significant is that ‘HE CAME INTO THE WORLD’ in which He created, to do the Fathers will and to offer reconciliation for us: that we may have Eternity with Him. That should cause us to celebrate every day. If we understand that, then we can better understand the true nature of the spiritual war which has existed since the time of the fall of Adam and Eve. In understanding that, we can come to grips with Satan's continual attack on the believers and followers of Christ.
I have no issue with the idea of Christmastime being a season of remembrance for Christians.
I do feel that a skirmish exists with rulers, powers, authorities, and evil forces (Ephesians 6:12) at this time of year in the songs that are song. Think about it. Many homes have beautiful Christian music playing. On Christmas Eve and Christmas day churches are singing songs that praise and recall the Lords arrival in a manger. The words, so familiar from childhood, fall off our lips. While they sound pretty and sweet, many people probably don't even believe the words they're singing.
Perhaps the 'political correctness' angle and the resultant confusion are Satan's way of taking our collective eye off the ball. Maybe all of the strife, debate, pressure and self indulgence is to cause upheaval and keep people from truly knowing God…
But what if, just what if, all the people in homes and congregations at Christmas time fell to their knees, embraced the whole story of the gospel and so were saved? What if people rededicated themselves to drawing closer to God and recognizing His love for mankind? What if people turned away from evil and toward righteousness in His name?
Now THAT would be a Christmas miracle.
"THEN LET US ALL WITH ONE ACCORD
SING PRAISES TO OUR HEAVENLY LORD,
THAT HATH MADE HEAVEN
AND EARTH OF NAUGHT
AND WITH HIS BLOOD
MANKIND HATH BOUGHT
NOEL NOEL NOEL
BORN IS THE KING OF ISREAL"
Unto The Lamb...
Years ago my mother gave me a book (one of many). The book is called The Book In Review, by Herbert Vanderlugt. It is a quick and wonderful review of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. The book follows two streams, one of individual salvation and one world redemption- as they flow through the Bible. (page 192)
At the very end the last words or quote is from a man named Eric Sauer and it is one of my favorite messages about God.
" We behold with worship this age-long plan of God. The record of salvation in the Bible has conducted us from the gate of eternity before all time to the gate of eternity after this time. The goal is exactly as the commencement (Psalm 90:2), God Himself...But He Himself, the King of ages (1Timothy 1:17), will then bring ages upon ages out of His inexhaustible, infinite fullness (Revelation 22:5; Ephesians 2:7). In heavenly jubilees will His redeemed creatures praise Him, and through the spheres and worlds of the new creation will ring and resound the triumphant, exultant song: "Unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, be the blessing, and the honor, and the glory, and the dominion, from eternity to eternity. (Revelation 5:13,14).
(This picture was taken on a lovely September long drive with my dad)
Journal of a photographer... Herring Seagulls
As a local, well who really is a local, I am privileged to have other locals unlock many doors for me. And so it was when last year about this time a gentleman showed me his private stash. He said to me "Do you want to see my favorites?" When I said I would he excitedly lead me to a place, he opened the door and before me were several empty bird nests. I asked him where the chicks were and he said they had already hatched and flown away.
This was the local waterfront treasure "Herring seagulls !!!"
I made sure I paid close attention to all that he told me. I kept his information close in anticipation to now, a year later. I watched that fall as the gulls roosted and flew. Throughout the winter I continued to observe them, their habits, their demeanor, and where they gathered to stay warm on cold winter nights. After all I am a "local" originally from away, but ever present in my beloved city.
When the time came for the seagulls to nest this year I began a semi vigil. I met people, "locals", who could point me in the right direction. I started sitting for hours and establishing a relationship with these sky rats, what an awful imagine for such a wonderful creature! I started feeding them and learning about their nesting behavior.
I also fell in love ! To know them, the gulls, is to love them...
Herring Seagull Chick.jpg
I remember the day well, it was overcast but warm. I walked down the road , through the path , and onto the beach. The waves were strong and I was glad that I had my boots on to keep my feet dry. I looked and saw birds and seagulls laughing in the wind. I lowered my body almost flat on the sand as the salty air filled my lungs. I dug my elbows into the ground and positioned my camera. At that time I didn't know how to shoot in manual and I didn't know the different types of beach birds by name.
All I knew was that it was beautiful...
I am close to being done with my heron project, though I have a few more details to work out.
I am moving on and beginning a new "the wonder of it all" photography and observation. I'll be watching seagulls for a while. Yes seagulls! Like the Canada geese of last year I already adore them. Here is a bit of information I've learned about the herring seagull.
The adults are very protective of their young and territory.
Seagulls don't reach adult maturity for about 4 years.
Juvenile gulls stay near their parents and close to their colonies.
Below is a picture of two juvenile herring seagulls at different stages. They are playing and the younger is on the older ones back.
Southwest of the bog...
It was quiet all around me with only an occasional sound from the wind or a yelp from the herons which I'd come to see. Bundled up in layers of clothes along with water boots, I turned off my iphone as to not disturb nature. I watched and waited, hoping to see the dance of the great blue herons mating. I saw one pick up a branch from a nest, drop it, then pick up another one and fly off. I thought to myself, "it’s close..."
Herons and egrets present sticks to the one that tickles their fancy during courtship and nesting. It’s like a man bringing a woman flowers...the sticks are gifts and a show of affection. Herons don’t mate for life so this is a yearly ceremony. I’m eager to see it in full display.
I thought about my life today and said aloud, “I cannot believe it.” How blessed I am. I reflected over how time flies and the gentleness and grace of God. Experience and age changes us but He is the conductor of life's orchestra: the beginning and the end. I said again out loud, “ I never thought I’d see and do the things I’ve been privileged to see and do these past few years. I never even imagined it.” I’ve been immeasurably showered over by my husband’s generosity in allowing me to pursue the things I feel passionate about. I hardly ever put down my camera and I thrive on crazy abstract adventures, especially on rivers and in the woods. I am not well liked by most but to my husband I know I am his whole world. This is a delicate and sacred knowledge and my own heart is full of flowers every day.
Many years of my own life were about survival. They were unstable years, stained with much sin that haunted me with deep sorrow. For years I cried because I knew that as a mother of three children I had not had the wisdom or strength to give them what they deserved. It was only when I met my husband that he provided a sanctuary and a home. Together we gave them our best, together we sought the Lord, and together we attempted to fill their brains with His truth before they left our home. In a way it was a crash course in parenting and priorities as we worked to make up for lost time.
I turned away from friendships then so that I could look to God alone, ignoring others' opinions about right and wrong. I needed time to work through all the feebleness and the grandiose, “there are many truths” mindsets which are so pervasive in today's society. I did have friends who I loved and adored. It was they that helped me to get by many tragic crossroads in my life. For that I will always smile when I think about them. I found, though that I didn’t want their truths I wanted “THE truth.” I spent several years reading the Bible word by word, line by line, verse and chapter by chapter, book by book,(I still do). I also studied doctrine, theology, church history, cults, progressivism, Catholicism, dispensation, Calvinism and the likes. Name it, I’ve likely studied it. I discovered that to be an intellectual one does not have to be an academic.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15
Though I continue to examine the Bible, I also have entrenched myself to nature and Gods creation. I find it fascinating. I recall thinking last year as I was embedded with Canada geese, how anyone could possibly believe in evolution. Evolution is about evolving but geese are practically perfect. Herons, on the other hand are predators and they look like dinosaurs. Sarcastically, I wonder if that’s why so many people like them. I like them too. They’re beautiful, graceful and like all things, they are Gods handiwork. I know I’ll learn something and I am looking forward to that.
"Only one who has learned much can fully appreciate his ignorance. He knows so well the limits of his knowledge and how much lies waiting to be learned."
There was a wet snow falling on me as I stood high on the rocks along the bank of the river.
Earlier I had been to a sandwich shop and found out from a fisherman that they were putting up the nets to catch the alewives. For some reason I thought they did that in May, not in April. My curiosity was peeked and I drove over to walk the paths high above the water with my camera around my neck and protectively tucked into my coat.
I am not a people person but I have a longing to learn new things. Gaining knowledge of something drives me, I think that is why I love the outdoors and wildlife so much.
As I stood watching, I thought to myself "Who in their right mind would stand in the cold and be this excited?" I glanced up the river and saw two fishermen hanging nets. They were dressed like lobsterman in boots, hats and warm clothing. It was very interesting to me to see how much work it was for them to hang and secure their equipment. Mind you it was wet, overcast, and snowing.
To the left of me I heard some younger boys come down another path. They were carrying small hand held nets, smoking cigarettes and dressed in jeans, unzipped jackets, baseball hats, and all weather boots.
They put down their gear and came my way. After a nice conversation they informed me that they were fishing "blind." Which meant they couldnt see the fish. Apparently they drag their hand held nets in and out of the water to get whatever they can catch.
I asked them questions. They explained that the alewives run mostly during high tide. The fishermen usually come to gather their haul during low tide. Sometimes they stay throughout the day, checking and adjusting their gear.
After they left I kneeled down on a rock and drew my camera out, using it like binoculars. I focused up and down the river. It was pretty cool taking a closer look at all the netting on both sides of the banks. I felt wound up with anticipation, imaging how the river anglers must be feeling too, preparing for their season. It's a tough way to make a living. In a way it's an honor for me to witness, as the wife of a seafaring husband. Like my husband, these men work hard, they likely sacrifice long hours to get the job done. Like my husband who is an engineer, these fishermen work with their hands. There is no glory and no glamour. It's dirty, it's messy, and it requires concentration and quick thinking. I so admire those who I like to say are, "working for a living."
Journal of a photographer
When I first started doing photography I took pictures of everything. I practiced the fundamentals (I still do) of sunsets, lighthouse sunrises, sea smoke, landscape, action, wildlife, and people. You name it I played with my camera in many environments just to learn. ( I still do) Eventually I started paying attention to myself so that I could “be in touch” with what I really enjoyed, what was I passionate about, what did I get excited about? I began to narrow that down and ...today I mostly do only what I love to do. I have found that it is important for me to be excited about the process. It’s personal… I try never to lose sight of that. I am a loner to extremes. Networking is not my “thing” although I am told over and over again how important that is??? I spend a tremendous amount of time outside. It is not an exaggeration to say I am outside 4-5 days a week in all weather for 5-10 hours at a stretch. I track in the woods and on rivers sitting quietly and observing for hours. I’ve been chased by fisher cats and carry pepper spray, especially in the spring. (I am quite concerned about bears right now.) When I need a break I head to a city to “get away” from everything and play with my version of street photography. Yesterday I traveled west and ended up in the woods and river quite some distance from our house. It was a great day. I was in solitude, I was surprised by nature, I observed, learned, and captured images that fuel my love for photography and the lifestyle I’m so blessed to enjoy.
Photography, Lyme disease and thoughts...
I’ve had many thoughts reeling around in my mind which I’ve wanted to write about. Photography, Christianity, despair, ongoing grief, life, marriage, and a new grandchild en route are only some of the things I’ve been thinking about. In my mind I’ve written full blogs, complete with sarcasm, honesty, and humor. But alas, my Lyme disease has gotten the better part of me causing tiredness, confusion, and procrastination. As a result I’ve done plenty of contemplating and had time for personal evaluation of my past year.
Having Lyme disease feels, at times, like depression...or worse yet, (my Achilles’ heel), having Alzheimer’s. Not prone to whining or seeking a doctor, I have found it to be a bit crippling and downright annoying! I have bursts of energy and work steady for a few hours only to have that followed by days of sitting, resting, and diminished focus. I don’t nessecarily think of myself as having chronic Lyme but since being diagnosed last July I have times that I just hit a wall for days or weeks. I am learning to adjust… but I refuse to get overly analytical or neurotic.
I have had good days. I’ve been able to go out and find eagles. I’ve observed waterfowl. I’ve walked new paths and come across big cat paws. I’ve met some wonderful people in the past weeks. They have told me stories about themselves and have been encouraging towards me and my lifestyle of photography. They’ve told me about places they’ve discovered “along the beaten paths.”
I often run into people who pull out their smart phones and start to show me all of their pictures. I hardly ever show people my pictures. Most don’t ask to see them, but they see my camera and assume that I want to see their pictures, which I find interesting. I am a study of character, personalities, and a person’s peculiar estimation of themselves. I do at times have to pull myself away from some “longwinded” grandiosity.
Pictures, pictures, and more pictures. “Are you a photographer?” This is a question, not only asked of me but one that I have given considerable thought to. What is a photographer? Who calls themselves a photographer and why? What makes a person a photographer? It’s not a good time to “be” a photographer, as the world is full of pictures. Iphones, smart phones, social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Audubon, National Geographic, magazines, and the list goes on ad nauseam. Everybody, or at least 1 in 5 people, is a photographer. The word itself as found in the dictionary doesn’t help to define the matter; a person who takes photographs, especially one who practices photography professionally.
Wikipedia offers a better explanation or one that better describes the word photographer:
“A photographer (the Greek φῶς (phos), meaning “light” and γραφή (graphê), meaning “drawing, writing”, together meaning “drawing with light” is a person who takes photographs.”
An artist of sorts… Pure, edited, manipulated, or not photography is more than a hobby and more than just a picture. It is an obsession and a way of life. Photographers think about photography all the time. When we see something, when we travel, when we plan, when we read a magazine or watch TV our minds are pondering how, what, where, when, and capturing a scene. Many, like me, consider what speed or iso was used to capture a picture that we may admire. Photography is more than simply taking a picture; it is a focused, practiced, and disciplined craft/art.
Yet in this day and age, with just about everyone being a photographer, it is competitive, cut throat, and snarky. It is veneered with “niceness,” pride, and clicks that in some ways reminds me of adult high school. "Are you published?" "What equipment are you using?" "How did you edit that?" "Have you met so and so?" Once I was on a beach photographing and was asked, “who do you represent?” as though my credentials meant something. To me nobodies’ credentials mean much. Once a photographer is deemed as popular, they're always popular. Even when a new photograph is not very good, critics continue to hand out positive feedback, while the social media world of validation give out mindless thumbs up and “likes.”
Many so called photographers want handouts on others work and edits. They see something they like, they follow crowds of favored photographers, and they flood landscapes for sunsets, sunrises, and established preferred in demand pictures. I appreciate that for gaining understanding on how our own camera works and advancing personal knowledge, but let’s face it... learning how to photograph requires perseverance, growth, and blood, sweat and tears. As my husband can attest to it is not without meltdowns and disappointment.
I am a photographer, I am a book publisher, and I am a writer. Good, bad, indifferent, or rejected it has to be a passion. It cannot be about seeking others' approval. It is art. It is intimate. It is sincerity shared.
SIDE NOTE: This is not meant against my FB friends who share their wonderful pictures of family, kids, and animals. I love to see your life! This is about a different segment of people.
The leaves not yet red, orange, nor yellow.
I sit silently watching and barely moving as the colors seem like they're about to burst!
The air smells different and the light in the sky reflects a gentle haze on the treetops.
My heart waits in anticipation of barnyard animals and fairground cotton candy, fries,
and gooey sandwiches. Oxen pulls, sheep shearing and funny chickens are all coming
The river nearby flows and flowers along the way are beginning to turn rusty and
brown. Overhead the sound of summer birds grows faint...
Like some good "ole" fashion handclapping gospel music in the background
September's amber glow gleans a little bit of sorrow, remembrance, and hope...
William W. Webster &Family get ready for the "Big E"
Recently at my husband Dave's class reunion I had a fun&lively conversation with one of his classmates. Marla, the woman I visited with, worked for a time at the U.S. Embassy located in Tel Aviv. In 2011 my husband, son and I toured Israel. The hotel we stayed at was right beside that Embassy. Dave and I have dreams of one day retiring in Israel to live in Tel Aviv. I told Marla that before we make a final decision we would talk to her again. She shared that it's much different being there as a tourist versus actually living in the state. She is right. The cost of living is high, the religious strain is combative and intense, the country is surrounded on all sides with the Middle East unrest. By her reaction, I'd say that she sensed that we are probably delusional. She did say that it is easier to live there if a person is solidly spiritually centered. We talked some about the Jewish religious divides within the priesthoods and the tension that exists on many street corners with vigorous, animated outbursts of argumentation. I had to laugh as I joined her in our own spunky, give and take of opinions. I really enjoyed Marla; she was straight up, smart&gutsy !
In my own studies, I have done some in depth research on most of the Jewish priesthoods. I have very strong viewpoints about this subject. I am aware of the political persuasion&influence in Israel by the Orthodoxy Hasidic sect of Judaism, which took hold&inserted its own brand of legalism, righteousness&peity in their society. Like the days of Jesus when the Sadducees&Phaisees comprised the ruling class, so it is today with the Hasidic authoritative impact. I find them fascinating to study, watch and talk to, but with all due respect my theorem position always stands on biblical doctrine. Therefore, only the Jewish priesthood of eternal value is the Leviticus sect. I recall having this discussion with a Christian scholar who happily declared that, "...there is no such thing today as the Levites priestly function and that there are none..."
Hmmm...perhaps he should go to Israel and walk the Kotel Tunnel.
God is at work.
Excerpt from my book
When It's All Said & Done
I cannot begin to express the awe of this trip.
Dave, Nate&I bonded in a way that only those who love God&His word can identify with. We stayed in Tel Aviv, at the Park Plaza Orchard, on the beach. We took daily trips from this point of origin, returning at night. We bicycled to Old Jaffa, traveled to the Jordan River, saw Meggiddo, walked the old cities of Jesus's day, gazed at Old Jerusalem from the Mt of Olives, cried at the Garden of Gethsemane, stood on Calvary, witnessed the place of Christ's tomb, climped the stairs to the Rotunda, took pictures of the Chapel of the Franks, toured the Kotel Tunnel, bowed&prayed near the supposed place of the Arc of the Covenant.
We talked to Leviticus Priests, covered our heads at the Western Wall& Old City, strolled&smelled the aroma of the Cotton Merchants Market. We were stopped at the entrance of the Dome of the Rock by gun toting guards, soaked in the Negev Desert&the Dead Sea. We toured Masada&the West Bank, went to Haifa, Mount Carmel, Caesarea, and walked the Crusader underground city&the grand gothic Knights Hall. We saw the Roman Theater&aqueducts, Herold's palace, and saw the beauty of Rash Hanikra, along the Lebanon-Israeli border.
We talked, and visited with people, whose lives&personal stories were magnificent. It was extraordinary&unbelievable. We cried, laughed&pinched ourselves at this blessing of a trip. It was intense, historical& deeply profound for all three of us.
Some marvel at evolution I marvel at creation...
“Sitting in the front row” is something mom said to my brother Scott. She was proud of all of us but she liked to use this saying especially with Scott, in terms of his accomplishments & career.
Sitting in the front row…
My husband and I often talk about how blessed we are as Christians to be “sitting in the front row.” We are not alone in the front row but are joined with all Christians who have excepted the extended hand of God’s grace by faith in Christ Jesus. We marvel, not because we are better than others but because we trust in the words written in the Bible. We are in awe at how God has revealed Himself through these 66 books contained within the full manuscript. For us, sitting in the front row allows a different panorama on the world. We experience the geopolitical decline of morality, a plethora of evil, and news which, from a Biblical point of view gives us a context not shared by all. Dave, my husband, and I are not immune from all that we witness in terms of anger, rage or disbelief in this rise of evil seen in the world, but we are comforted by the hope which passes all understanding and by a future anticipation of heaven with our King.
It is a quagmire to me when I listen to the sophistry of the world either on TV or in person or by reading an article. My mind cannot absorb so much foolishness... and yes, ignorance, yet such were I before my rebirth in God.
All around me people pump themselves up, needing to be right for arguments sake. There is a “cause” for anything, a worldly righteousness, and clamoring for relevance in misfit land. I know that for many it comes from a place which is believed to be “noble.” In some ways I admire them. I admire those who take a stand for what they regard as good; I do not, however, admire inconsistency or hypocrisy. My admiration, though, is not my compliance to any form of belief other than a homogenous Biblical aspect.
I find it suspicious when non-Christians use the Bible to justify something. How is it that a miniscule “part” of the whole can be used to advocate a principle in a secular incitement generally geared against a Christian or (more shocking), an adherent to Biblical Christianity? I don’t mean to be harsh. I know many Christians who have not read their Bible cover to cover who do this too. Sadly it is a red flag for deception within the church. A single verse out of approximately 30,000 or better will never satisfy, unless, that is, one understands the magnificent truth of the fullness of time at the Cross. As a general precept though one doesn’t get to borrow a verse and quip, “touché I’ve won!"
In trusting in God, some would find it uncomfortable that I am thankful that God in his word warned us of the battle by telling us in Ephesians 6 that, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” I believe it! It is not beyond my ability to make this leap of faith and so I imagine the unseen war just behind the veil of my vision. There are those who faithful get up every morning and run to the horoscope section in the newspaper. They read their daily brief and they believe too, never really questioning their obsession with superstition... taken, by the way, from the real meaning of the zodiac found in the Bible.
I am thankful that God made me and that He has always known me. That leap of faith is as easy for me as those who believe that they evolved from ape-hood and goofy muck into the stunning human being that they are today.
I like sitting in the front row and being challenged to dig into my Bible deeply when I have questions. I am thankful to have a person in God to turn to in prayer when I doubt, when I am sad, when I am feeling alone and when I want to quit. I am thankful for the presence of the Holy Spirit, along with the illumination in wisdom to my heart and mind. Sitting in the front row means I am His guest… He is the councilor, the mentor, the one on center stage.
Sitting in the front row means my eyes are fixed on Him.
Alzheimer's...Just the facts
Almost 2/3’s of Americans with Alzheimer’s
disease are women…
Anyone with a brain is at risk for Alzheimer's.
...On March 26, 2013 I lost my mother to Alzheimer's,
she was only 73 years old.
Mom is really sitting in the front row today !
I can't wait to see her again!