It felt silent but rather, it was the gentle orchestra of the backwoods.
My dogs stay close while all around us acorns bounce off of the ground that is covered with pine needles the color of an amber beach.
The transitioning green ferns now spotted in shades of brown, dance in the breeze as autumn’s-colored leaves flutter like butterflies.
Almost tiptoeing, we walk, scanning trees and fallen wood branches for any sign of hidden life.
Caught by surprise, a chipmunk makes its shrieking, chipping noise and scampers away.
Squirrels bark, warning the forest of a hawk or an owl which is present and looking for lunch.
Spotting some raccoons, I call the dogs in to sit and stay nearby. Always attentive, they move their heads, instinctively sniffing the air with their noses and perking up their ears.
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)
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."
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.
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 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.
From my days in high school, helping Patty Johnson with the family Christmas tree/wreath business, I have many precious memories. Later, while supporting my then young children with my own Christmas business, I gained many more sweet moments filled
with bonding & laughter.
“I get by with a little help from my friends.”
Since my marriage to Dave I have continued to make & send wreaths to loved ones. This year I only made two, one for each of our daughters & their families.
Dave & I decided we wanted to support WreathsAcrossAmerica so we ordered our other wreaths from them. The unyielding volunteers at WreathsAcrossAmerica make wreaths in honor of or in memory of special people in our lives. 1000’s of wreaths are then driven by trucks & escorted by Patriot Riders on motorcycles to Arlington Cemetery.
Those wreaths were placed on the graves of the fallen on
December 13 2014.
In Honor of Buck Sargent W.Lawrence George (Army)
In Honor of Lieutenant John R. DelCamp (Navy)
In Memory of Bernard F. Rossi 110 Infantry at Normandy
In Memory of Georgie Ann W. Forney, my mother
Wreaths…a gesture of appreciation to those who have served & to those we have lost.
God Bless and Merry Christmas