God in all things, Photography, Scenery, Travel

Ordinary

When I saw this Prickly Pear Cactus, I was struck by how “unusual “ it looked to my eye. Ironically, it didn’t even really catch my eye until almost the end of our week in Virginia Beach. Ironic because it was literally right beside the driveway where we were parking the car.

How often do we miss something that is “right under our nose?” That is a great way to think about seeing God in the ordinary. Seeing what is really right in front of us.

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God in all things, Photography, Scenery

Questions and Answers

This is another photo from Sweet Arrow Preserve, taken 2 weeks ago. The flower is a Wild teasel (Dipsacus sylvestris). According to Wikipedia, the name “teasel“ comes from the use of this flower to brush (tease) cloth. Sadly, it is probably an invasive species in the park.

I found the name of the species using an app (PlantSnap) that identifies plants and trees directly from a photo. I have another app for identifying birds but you have to manually enter the distinguishing characteristics (rather than it happening automatically from a photo).

It’s tempting to think of the Bible as a spiritual version of Wikipedia (or the plant/bird apps). Have a question? Just look up the answer! While I definitely believe God communicates with us through the Bible, it’s not quite so simple as just “looking up” answers. Discernment is required. But that is not a bad thing!

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God in all things, Photography, Scenery

About to rain

This photo was taken a little over a week ago at Sweet Arrow Preserve. We had checked the radar and forecast before we headed out to hike and it looked like the rain was going to hold off for a couple of hours. Less than 30 minutes into our hike, it started raining. And then raining harder. And then it let up a little. We stayed mostly on the wooded trails and didn’t get too wet… until we headed to the car. Then we got soaked.

The thing is, with the hot weather we have been having, it actually felt good. Sometimes, we avoid experiences that we know will be good for us. Sometimes, we dread what is about to happen only to realize it really wasn’t that bad. Thankfully, God knows what is good for us.

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God in all things, Photography, Scenery, Travel

Hidden

I find water lilies to be intriguing. I’m not sure why but I used to think they were completely floating in the water. I learned from Wikipedia that is not the case. It seems obvious that they must be anchored to the bottom of the pond or lake, since they more or less stay in one place. I also learned there were about 70 species of water lilies. Genetic studies have shown that they are among the oldest flowering plants.

There are so many things in life that are “obvious” once you know them. There also are so many things that are “hidden” that we make assumptions about. Often without realizing we are making those assumptions. This seems to apply to racism. It is not obvious until you see it. Then you wonder how you could have not seen it before.

(Photo: Indiana Dunes National Park)

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God in all things, Photography

Laboring

Seeing God in all things does not literally mean I think God looks like these flowers. I read a reflection last weekend (www.americamagazine.org) that suggested adding the word laboring: God laboring in all things. I don’t use the word “laboring” often, but I like the idea of seeing God in action. I see God providing beauty through these flowers. In an even larger way, I see God providing love and kindness through the actions of so many people reaching out to family, friends, neighbors and strangers in need right now.

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God in all things, Photography, Scenery, Travel

The Stalks

This is a photo of a banana tree in Panama. Which is really just a plant and not a tree. What looks like a trunk is really a “pseudostem” which grows from a “corm” in the ground. The leaves of banana plants are composed of a stalk and a blade. The pseudostem is made up of tightly packed leaf stalks.

When a banana plant is mature, the corm stops producing new leaves and begins to form a flower spike. The female flowers appear in rows further up the stem from the rows of male flowers and will develop into fruit.

So I wonder – if Jesus was born in Panama, would he have said “I am the corm and you are the stalks?” Doesn’t have quite the same vibe as vine and branches, does it?

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God in all things, Photography, Scenery, Travel

Raindrops

This photo was taken after a morning rain shower in Panama. I like how the rain drops stand out on the flowers. It is a beautiful image that reminds me rain/water is life-sustaining.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

Isaiah 55:8-11

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God in all things, Photography, Scenery, Travel

Waiting in Stillness

This photo was taken earlier this month at Longwood Gardens near Philadelphia. It reminds me that during Advent, we wait in quiet and darkness.

Lord of Light, our only hope of glory,

your radiance shines in all who look to you. Come light the hearts of all in dark and shadow.

O Root of Life, implant your seed within us, and in your advent draw us all to you,

our hope reborn in dying and in rising.

For you, O lord, my soul in stillness waits;

Truly my hope is in you.

(Marty Haugen)

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Scenery

Mountains

I am surprised that I had not previously shared this photo. It was taken 2 years ago in Glacier NP on our hike to Siyeh Pass. There are so many things I like in this view. The wild flowers in the foreground. The spindly pine trees on the right. The creek running through the middle. But what really draws my attention is the mountain in the distance.

Mountains are a symbol of strength. We talk about “mountaintop” experiences. God spoke to Moses on a mountain. Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount.

Thankfully, we do not have to climb a mountain to encounter God.

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God in all things

Change

How quickly things can change!

I remember walking by this flower bed on Wednesday and there were no flowers blooming yet. On Thursday, I was surprised to see multiple flowers blooming and took the first picture. Friday, it seemed like all the buds had opened.

In life, sometimes we embrace change and sometimes we resist it. But we can’t avoid it.

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