Bellevue Seventh-day Adventist Church
Bellevue Seventh-day Adventist Church

Daily Photo Parable

Thanks to all the photographers who have kindly accepted my invitation to provide their photos and commentary. Here's the schedule of those whose excellent, thought-provoking and encouraging work you'll be seeing, and when: SUNDAY--Bev Riter; MONDAY--Cheryl Boardman; TUESDAY--Robert Howson; WEDNESDAY--Darren Milam; THURSDAY-- someone from the Jurgensen family. I handle Friday and Sabbath, generally using photos from the point-and-shoot camera I keep on my belt.-- Pastor Maylan Schurch


NOTE: To see previous photos from this current month, simply scroll down. To see previous months' blogs, click the month you want on the menu at the left.






And Please Wait
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, October 31, 2015

I snapped the above photo earlier this month on a visit to the University Hospital to see a patient. If I remember right, this sign was on a door in a maintenance area, and it might possibly have been a repair shop for hospital equipment.

I grin whenever I look at this photo. As you can see, the original message was printed out from a computer, covered with plastic, and mounted beside this lighted buzzer.

And you can guess what happened. Every person desiring service, and seeing the sign and the buzzer, pushed the buzzer. And pushed the buzzer some more. And then really leaned on the buzzer. (Notice the hole in the center of buzzer button?)

And the service provider behind the door, hard at work providing service for someone else, was forced to yank open the door and talk to the visitor in order to silence the buzzer. And finally he or she located a Sharpie marker and scrawled the message below.

Isn’t this kind of like prayer? “Dear God, I’m in trouble. Help me! Are You listening? I don’t see any help coming! Don’t You care about me? If You do, why don’t I see things changing for the better?” And on and on.

God, of course, isn’t limited to working on one person’s issues at a time. He may have several excellent reasons for not perceptibly coming to my aid right away. In fact, I should probably stop talking here and let you click on the link immediately below, which will give you a very complete Bible study on many aspects of what prayer is, how it works, and how God responds, and why we should keep praying.

http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/prayer


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All Around the Neighborhood
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, October 30, 2015

Thursday morning of this week on a pre-breakfast walk, I spotted a familiar sight. In a cul-de-sac near ours, a family has substituted blue and green lights for the standard white color at the corners of their garages. I’d seen that before, but what was new was that the house to the left of them had decided to display an orange bulb.

Even the least vaguely interested Northwest sports fan knows that the green and blue lights are the Seahawks’ team colors. And of course orange is in honor of Halloween.

These color-substitutions signal very strongly that these homeowners wish to send messages to their neighbors. Take the Seahawks fans, for instance. What could they be trying to communicate? Some possibilities:

--“In this household, we are Seahawks fans.”
--“We know that we are in a neighborhood where most people are Seahawks fans, and we want to assure everybody that we fit in.”
--“Go Seahawks! Win this coming Sunday’s game!”
--“We are willing to sacrifice our home’s security and use these lightbulbs, which are dimmer than white and don’t emanate as much light, in order to communicate our love for our team!”

The orange-bulb homeowner has made it a bit harder to determine a specific message. Again, some possibilities:

--“We love Halloween!”
--“Our house is trick-or-treater friendly! Ring our doorbell!”
--“We believe in the spirit world and all it signifies!”

Well, maybe that last one goes a bit too far. However, you can perhaps see my point about the importance of what we signal to other people. As a pastor, for example, I would never dye my hair green and grease it into spikes, nor would I wear a nose ring. It would send the wrong message – maybe several messages – and turn scores of stomachs. And any sermon I happened to preach while adorned like that would fall as flat as a deflated football.

I believe that as Christians, we have an earnest responsibility – maybe more than any other religion – to make sure that we take responsibility for the signals we send off. For example, I may faithfully attend church and bring my tithes and offerings, but if at work I am a jerk, or if I blaspheme the name of God, or if I otherwise behave inconsistently with my Savior’s example, then I am sending mixed messages. And I would also, by the way, be defaming the name and character of my Creator, and be giving abundant ammunition to those who scorn churches because they are full of hypocrites.

Maybe we can take our example from the homeowners in the photo above. When the Seahawks play Sunday, there’s an excellent chance that everybody in the right-hand household will be watching the game on TV or listening on the radio. And when trick-or-treaters arrive Saturday night, the left-hand house’s inhabitants will cheerfully disgorge fistfuls of goodies. In other words, no mixed messages. All around the neighborhood, I'm gonna let it shine . . . .

For a great Bible study about how important it is to obey God from our hearts, click the link immediately below:

http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/obedience


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Unparching the Ground
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Caleb Jurgensen
Thursday, October 29, 2015

I took this picture of the bottom of a small lake about a month ago. I thought it was interesting because even though it was covered in water, parts of the lake bed were still cracked. The water level probably had risen past the cracks about a week or two before I got there, when there had been some rain storms in the area.

Psalms talks about dry ground:

Psalms 63:1: "You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water."

Psalms 107:35: "He turned the desert into pools of water
    and the parched ground into flowing springs."

We often feel parched and dry in many ways, and just like David wrote in Psalms, we can ask God to relieve our thirst.

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My Friend the Crow
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The above photo is fresh off the press—I snapped it, plus those below, Tuesday afternoon. I’d just returned to my car from a quick eat-out before heading to a Bible study, and to my astonishment I discovered this crow perched on top of my car.

I froze in place, surreptitiously got my camera out of its belt-case, and raised it, hoping against hope that the bird wouldn’t spook and fly away. He didn’t.

Instead, he calmly turned and walked along the roof toward the back of the car . . . . .





Then he gave me a look . . . .





And calmly faced forward again.





The above is only a slight telephoto. If I had stretched out my right hand, I could have touched the shoulder of his wing.

A young woman was approaching her car off to the left. I called out to her, “Have you ever seen a crow on a car?” She smiled suspiciously and got quickly into her car and drove away. Who was that kook, anyway? she was probably asking herself.

I leaned my elbows on my side of the car roof and just looked at that bird. He looked back at me, cocking his head from time to time. And I thought about Eden, and Eden restored, and how all the birds and animals, and all the humans, will be our friends in the New Earth.

And as a last, good-humored gesture, my new friend left a little present . . . .





He was still on the top of the car when I finally got in. I didn’t see him fly away.


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Pronghorn
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
                 
It seems there are fewer and fewer of us who can remember dreaming as a kid of living on the imaginary frontier, a place where the deer and the antelope play.  Perhaps that’s because we’ve become more enlightened, or at least more informed, and realize that what we thought of as antelope weren’t that at all, but really Pronghorn.  But dreams die slowly and old cowboy songs do still have their place.  At the beginning of the 20th century it was determined the “extinction was more of a probability than a possibility” for the Pronghorn, yet, conservation measures have paid off.  In fact, until just recently, they outnumbered people in the state of Wyoming.
 
During the winter months, they form herds composed of both sexes, but come spring, young males will split off and form bachelor groups.  Both sexes have horns, but the males’ are larger and the females’ are seldom pronged.  These fleet-footed animals can run up to 35mph for four miles and are considered to be the fastest land mammal in the Western Hemisphere.
 
Impressive creatures they are, but the last verse of the afore-mentioned cowboy song poses an interesting question.  There under the night sky, the lonesome cowboy looks up at the stars strung across the heavens and wonders if their glory exceeds our own.  The song doesn’t answer the question, but for the Christian, the answer has to be a resounding “yes”; there is a better place out there prepared for us.  And the reason for that?  “The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.’” Revelation 11:15 NIV) Did we take this passage out of context?  Of course, but that doesn’t make the promise and the prospect any less sure.


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Metamorphosis
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, October 26, 2015

This photo is of a Lorquin's Admiral butterfly that I saw this summer.  The wingspans of these butterflies are about 2 to 2 1/4 inches. This one seemed to be drinking moisture from beneath some mulch in a garden.

I like butterflies.  Besides being beautiful, their whole life cycle is fascinating from the egg to the larva (caterpillar) to the chrysalis to an adult.  I think the metamorphosis from the caterpillar to the butterfly is miraculous because it becomes a totally new creature.  

I like this second definition of metamorphosis found in the Webster's New World College Dictionary (5th Edition):  a marked or complete change of character, appearance, condition, etc.  This fits in with the Bible definition of what happens when people become Christians:

When someone becomes a Christian, he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun!  All these new things are from God who brought us back to himself through what Christ Jesus did. And God has given us the privilege of urging everyone to come into his favor and be reconciled to him. God was in Christ, restoring the world to himself, no longer counting men’s sins against them but blotting them out. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others.  2 Corinthians 5:17-10 (NLT)

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Life’s Reflections
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Bev Riter
Sunday, October 25, 2015

I’m sure you’ve looked in the water and seen a reflection.  Sometimes when looking at photographs, it’s hard to see what the actual image is and what the reflection is.  I took this first photo of the Upper Emerald Pool in Zion National Park.  Notice the reflection of the rocks in the water.  A photographer in the photo provides color and interest.  





This second photo shows more of the reflection of the rocks in the water, but without the photographer it isn’t as interesting!

What does your life reflect?  Take a minute and think about it.  Are you happy where you are?  Have you discovered your purpose in life?  Is serving God part of your life?  He has a purpose for each of us.  “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”  II Timothy 1:9  At His last supper, Jesus gave His disciples a new commandment, “That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”  John 13:34, 35  Showing love to one another is a way of reflecting Jesus in our lives.

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Why Go Back?
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, October 24, 2015

Not long ago, in pursuance of my practice of keeping current on what’s available in our local Goodwill stores, I spotted this glossy display.

If you’ve been a member of my congregation for a number of years, you will immediately understand why the above chairs spoke to my inner photographer. And maybe, like mine, your lower back also felt that old familiar twinge.

Back in the 1970s—maybe even in the late ‘60s when our church was founded—the church leaders procured lots and lots of chairs with this exact design. All of them were green, not the glazed green you see in the stack closest to the camera, but a more muted shade. And over the years, those chairs bore the weight of many worshippers and potluck lunchers and social event attendees.

And all those years of service began to affect the plastic just above the two rivet-heads in each chair’s back, so that in recent years, if you leaned back at all, that plastic bent backward too, and you felt a lack of support.

A couple of years ago, as part of a church renovation project, we donated the green chairs to a good cause, and got modern chairs which are so wonderful that as soon as you sit down on them you forget about them and can concentrate on what you’ve sat down for. No more subconscious bracing yourself for that breakway plastic back!

The bottom line—and indeed, bottoms and backs figure prominently in the opinions our faithful congregants have of the above old chairs—is that nobody is clamoring to go back to them. We love our new chairs, and ain’t gonna give them up.

In Galatians, the apostle Paul writes to a church who is severely tempted to leave the freedom of Christ’s gospel and return to earlier belief systems—false gods, and then a legalistic way of trying to worship the true God.

In fact, the entire Bible story is about the joy of leaving bondage and approaching the God who can set us free. When’s the last time you reviewed what the gospel really is? You can do this at the link immediately below:

http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/salvation

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What Is It About Death?
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, October 23, 2015

What is it with our fascination with death? On a morning walk a week or so ago, Shelley and I passed the house of a family who gleefully decorates their yard for every possible holiday. And sure enough, in honor of Halloween they have erected a well-stocked graveyard.

As a kid, I re-enacted World War II with my friends on many occasions, and delighted in dispatching as many imaginary Nazis as possible. I read mystery stories, which often seemed incomplete without the obligatory murder or two. I could never have imagined that there would be video games which allowed the players to commit the same atrocities in viscerally realistic fashion, or that there would be TV series featuring dead people who come back to life and attack the living.

Though the above “campy” graveyard scene brings a wry grin to my face, as a pastor I have been too close to death for comfort. I have been in hospital rooms while patients died. I have stood in many a cemetery beside many a yawning grave, watching while a casket was inexorably cranked down to its final resting place.

But even though I have read aloud passages from 1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15 at too many memorial services, I take great courage in what the Bible and its Inspirer say about death. God is death’s most implacable enemy, and He will eventually vanquish it.

To read more about death and its defeat, click the link immediately below.

http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/death

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Peacefulness
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, October 22, 2015

A fishing boat is towed by another fishing boat as they end the day and quietly slip back home during a peaceful sunset on Puget Sound near Rosario beach and Deception Pass.  I can imagine that earlier in the day there may have been some excitement as the boat started having engine trouble while out on the water.  The fisherman must have used a radio or cell phone to call home port for help.  There would have been a wait while the friend came on another boat.  After tinkering with the engine a while, they decided to tow it home.  On the slow ride home the fisherman stood at the bow to keep an eye on the towing process and admire the incredible sunset and scenery all around.





Jesus values peacefulness.  Philippians 4:6-7 says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  A good reminder!



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Forgive. Be Forgiven.
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
 
It sounds silly but it works. In the Luke passage below, we can read a few things we can do in order to get through our day a little easier.
 
Luke 6: 37 & 38,“Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.  Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
 
I don’t know about you, but I think having the ability to be forgiven, not being judge and having measure (good things) coming back to you, sounds like a great way to go through life. I think we are leery of directions, or steps that seem too simple.  We feel that’s too good to be true.  In this case, it is simple and it is true.
 
Speaking of simple – meditate on the image above and focus on those that you need to forgive.  God will help. See what happens next.

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Red-bellied Woodpecker        
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Red-bellied Woodpecker is a common eastern species that makes its way west as far as Montana.  It can be included in a list of species that seem inappropriately named, with their name reflecting nearly obscure characteristics while ignoring distinctive attributes.  But Red-bellied it is, perhaps because the less common Red-headed Woodpecker had already utilized that name.  
 
Like many other woodpecker species, it uses drumming to attract a mate and establish territories.  Both the male and female employ this technique of communication, but the male seems to use it more frequently.  In establishing nesting sites, here too the male takes the initiative by excavating several holes in dead trees.  The female shows her acceptance of one of these and completes the excavation to her liking.  Communication continues through this process as the male will drum from inside the hole and the female will respond, signaling her approval with taps from outside.  I’ve wondered how biologists can distinguish this exchange from work being done.  Could it be the male may just be hard at work completing his task while the human observer concludes this must be some sort of amorous head banging?  Whatever the case, it seems to work, for each year more eggs are laid and more babies occupy the nest.  
 
The building of a Christian home has some parallels to that of the woodpecker.  Certainly there is a lot of hard work involved in both, and communication plays a vital role.  But the most important component doesn’t involve carpenters, masons, or other skilled workers.  In fact it doesn’t even center on the couple themselves.  Psalm 127:1 provides us with the answer.  “If the Lord does not build the house, the work of the builders is useless.”  (GNT)

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Reflections
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, October 19, 2015

I took this photo of this beautiful female mallard and her reflection this past winter.  These ducks are so common that we tend to overlook them when we see a pond full of them and just look for the ducks that are not mallards.  

As you can see, the water was really smooth except for the ripples she was creating while swimming.  If we only looked at her reflection, however, we would get an idea of what she really looked like but our view would be distorted.  We would be missing all sorts of details from the three dimensional version.  Even the photograph gives limited information.

The Bible tells us that while God knows everything about us, we can only know some things about God.  We can only see a reflection in the things He has created and from reading His Word.    

Now all we can see of God
is like a cloudy picture
    in a mirror.
Later we will see him
    face to face.
We don’t know everything,
    but then we will,
just as God completely
    understands us.
1 Corinthians 13:12 (CEV)


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The River
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Bev Riter
Sunday, October 18, 2015

When at Zion National Park, some adventurous people in our hiking group chose to walk The Narrows.  The beginning of the walk is shown in my photo.  If you’ve been there, you know what it means!  For those of you who haven’t been to Zion, it’s walking up (or down) the canyon where the Virgin River flows.  There’s no trail and people are in the river most of the time, often knee to chest deep in water.  In places the canyon walls are only about 20 feet apart.  Many people walking The Narrows go two to three miles up the river; however, one can go all 16 miles one-way if they are up to it (and have the time)!  If you’ve walked in rivers, you know the power of the flowing water.  Likewise, God is powerful. By following Him, we can be like a “River of Life.”

“I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me!
Makes the lame to walk, and the blind to see.
Opens prison doors, sets the captives free!
I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me!
Spring up, O well, within my soul!
Spring up, O well, and make me whole!
Spring up, O well, and give to me
That life abundantly”.  (L. Casebolt)

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Irrevocable Trust
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, October 17, 2015

I’ve mentioned more than once in these blogs how much I enjoy the office-supplies sections of thrift stores. A week or so ago I was in a Goodwill store, again indulging my addiction, and I was delighted to see—towering over me on the top rack—what you see in the photo.

This well-built three-ring notebook, which at one time must have contained all sorts of legal information, was empty. I tried and tried to make up some personal justification for spending two bucks on it, but was forced to conclude that I didn’t need it. But I love its title.

Aside from its legal context, irrevocable trust—which we can redefine as totally committed faith—is hard to find these days. But according to the Bible, faith is an absolute essential if we want to live forever in eternity with God.

Here are a couple of links which will lead you to Bible passages which make faith and belief easier to understand—and experience.

http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/faith

http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/beliefbelieve


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Ready for Use
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, October 16, 2015

Earlier this week I dropped by the University of Washington hospital to visit 23-year-old Kaelyn McIrvin, who on Wednesday would receive 60% of a liver belonging to another woman she’d known most of her life. This operation, which took place on Wednesday and was successful, was the UW hospital’s first living-adult-to-adult liver donation. Both Kailyn and donor Jaime are doing well. (Below I’ve given the KOMO News link—which includes a video--from a few weeks back about the as-yet-future operation.)

I parked in the S-1 parking garage, and walked through this long hallway which led to the main part of the hospital. On this floor is the shop that repairs hospital equipment, and along this wall are always different kinds of equipment in various stages of repair. All have signs taped to them: “Do not use—waiting for parts,” or (in the case of the second bed, above), “Ready for Use.”

What’s sad, of course, is that eventually, all of these beds will be back in use again. A bed upstairs will break, a nurse will be sent down here to see what’s available, and he or she will grab that “ready for use” bed and wheel it to the elevator.

Christians around the planet long for heaven, where unbroken health will be everyone’s. Until then, we can do a lot to experience better-than-average health.

To find out what the Bible has to say about health, click the link below this paragraph. The link below that is the heartwarming story of Kaelyn and Jamie from KOMO news.

http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/health

http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Shelton-Mom-Donating-Her-Liver-To-Neighbor-326527861.html


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A Weak Argument
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Caleb Jurgensen
Thursday, October 15, 2015

I saw these mountain goats on a hike to Third Burroughs Mountain next to Mt. Rainier. They were standing roughly 200 feet away from the trail, so they didn't seem to be bothered by all the hikers going by. There were a few young goats that had probably been born last spring.

Goats are amazing at finding and being able to eat food. Even though there wasn't much to eat, they just kept munching away on the dry grass and whatever else they could find.

The book of Romans has this odd section about food:

"As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him." - Romans 14:2-3

I would have loved to have read this when I was younger. "See mom? The Bible says I will be weak if I eat my veggies!" But after reading the context, I think the biggest point in these verses is to be accepting.


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Standing Out
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, October 14, 2015

This past weekend, we had the difficult challenge of attending a memorial service for a friend of ours. Her name was Katelyn Wilson and she passed away after a courageous battle against ovarian cancer. Katie had only been married for couple of years and they had just added to their family, with their beautiful baby girl, of 8 months. The story of Katie is a sad one but this writing isn’t about sadness, it’s about Katie’s amazing strength and faith during a horrific time.
 
The image above is a shot I took many years ago up in the Skagit Valley. The single yellow tulip, standing in the midst of a sea of red tulips, made me think of Katie. She stood up for God--and this past weekend, I was able to hear all the stories, as we reflected on her courage to stand. During her procedures, treatments and doctor visits, she would make sure to pass out little Bible promise cards, to EVERYONE she came in contact with. On the back of each of those cards was a little message from her and an invitation to visit her blog: https://flightofasmallsparrow.wordpress.com/ (I encourage you to visit). What you’ll find on this blog is incredible. Katie wrote about her journey, starting with her diagnosis, which she received only weeks after giving birth to their daughter.
 
What strikes me most about this story is, even though Katie was going through a horrible situation, being treated for an illness, only being married 2 years and just welcoming in a baby girl, her focus (above and beyond her family) was her God. Unwavering faith.  Continual witnessing. From her visitors, to the doctors, nurses and orderlies. Always focused on others and sharing her story, which was intertwined with the story of Salvation.
 
The best part of this story, is it’s not over.  In fact, Katelyn started something. She started her own ministry of inviting all to Heaven – not just people she knew or became acquainted with, but every single person she met and was willing to take the small card, visit her blog and read about her God.
 
I can't fathom the pain and loss, her husband, parents, and siblings feel. The hope we all can cling to is this – we get to see Katie again. Her faith has made that a fact.  Now all we need to do is accept that invitation, that our Creator has promised us. The same promise Katelyn Wilson wanted to share with all she met. I can only speak for myself but I certainly hope I can have the same courage and strength when I face hard times, as Katie did.
 
Visit: https://flightofasmallsparrow.wordpress.com/


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Ovenbird       
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Oven Bird
By Robert Frost   1874-1963
 
There is a singer everyone has heard,
Loud, a mid-summer and a mid-wood bird,
Who makes the solid tree trunks sound again.
He says that leaves are old and that for flowers
Mid-summer is to spring as one to ten.
He says the early petal-fall is past
When pear and cherry bloom went down in showers
On sunny days a moment overcast;
And comes that other fall we name the fall.
He says the highway dust is over all.
The bird would cease and be as other birds
But that he knows in singing not to sing.
The question that he frames in all but words
Is what to make of a diminished thing.


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Shelter
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, October 12, 2015

I saw this small cove this past summer and the boats that were anchored there seemed to be sheltering from the elements.  David's psalm reminds us Who provides shelter for us:  

Deliver me, O LORD, from my enemies;
In You I take shelter.
Teach me to do Your will,
For You are my God;
Your Spirit is good.
Lead me in the land of uprightness.
Psalm 143:9-10 (NKJV)

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Living Water
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Bev Riter
Sunday, October 11, 2015

Most of the terrain in Zion National Park was dry when we were there in May.  However, in the presence of water, plants seemed to flourish.  These maidenhair ferns at Weeping Rock as seen in my photo were being fed by the steady streams of water trickling down to them.  They had plenty of water and the needed nutrients to live and grow.

You probably know the story of Jesus and the Samaritan Woman.  Jesus, tired from his journey, was passing through Samaria and sat down by a well.  A woman came to the well and Jesus asked her for water. (Jesus asked her, a woman and a Samaritan woman at that!)  Later, Jesus told her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water that I shall give him will never suffer thirst any more.  The water that I shall give him will be an inner spring always welling up for eternal life.  ‘Sir,’ said the woman, ‘give me that water, and then I shall not be thirsty…’” John 4:14 NEB

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Safe House?
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, October 10, 2015

Friday morning on our walk, Shelley and I spotted this beautiful little snail on a street on a sidewalk in our neighborhood. We rarely see snails in our area--more often we see slugs.

When we saw this snail, we stopped. At this point its body was maybe 2 inches longer than it is now, and I worried that by the time I got out my camera it would totally disappear inside its shell. But it obligingly kept its head out so I could get the camera close and take its picture.

Even though snails are no friend to gardeners, they are still dazzlingly sophisticated creations of God which—in their proper place and their original Garden—no doubt served a useful or at least ornamental purpose.

What’s fascinating, of course, is how they can retreat into their shell when they feel threatened. Yet their shell would mean nothing if instead of remaining on the sidewalk they tried to cross the street in the path of oncoming cars.

A lot of people these days seem to be trying to take shelter in “shells” which won’t really provide much security—such as money, popularity, real estate holdings, fortified and alarmed homes and so on. It’s good to take precautions, but even better to trust in the God who created us, redeemed us, and promises a reunion with Him.

For comforting Bible texts about security, click the link immediately below.

http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/security


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Who Belongs on the Boulevard?
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, October 9, 2015

A few days ago while in a bookstore, I spotted this interesting juxtaposition of action figures. At the top is Wonder Woman with fist clenched for battle, and below her is Mary with arms outstretched. At the side hangs a street sign—“Blvd. of Dreams.”

To have these two women so close to each other made me wonder which of them would be most likely to live on a street of dreams. Mary, of course, was as real as any woman. And she was unable to dream the same dreams for her Child as another woman might. After all, her Boy was bound for a far different mission than the children He played with.

Depending on how you define Wonder Woman, she might actually qualify to live on a boulevard of dreams. After all, she never really existed, but was a comic book figure who became a movie character. Her response to life was to use her super strength to vanquish evil.

I’m sure that there are many comparisons which could be made between these two women. Here’s just one more: these figures can portray two ways of approaching life’s challenges. Wonder Woman swoops in and does damage to evildoers, then flies away. But Mary’s Boy grows up as a baby, and then spreads His arms even wider than His mother’s, and lets them be nailed to a cross. Because even though Jesus will one day eradicate evil, He knew that His first step was to die for the evildoers.

For several Bible texts on how and why He did this, click the link immediately below.

http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/salvation

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Perspective
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, October 8, 2015

Sometimes our problems can seem like mountains and sometimes mountains can become as small as mole hills.  You have probably experienced problems that seemed big at the time and then discovered that it really wasn't a problem at all.  Other times a person really can have big problems that have seemingly no solution.

God wants us to look at our problems through His eyes.  In Matthew 17:20, Jesus says, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”  

Jesus may have been talking about problems that seem like mountains as well as literal mountains. I also like another perspective offered in the Bible in 1 Corinthians 13:2.  "If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing."

Let's try to use these thoughtful perspectives to trust the Lord to move mountains and work with others in a kind and loving way.

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Can’t We All Just Get Along?
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, October 7, 2015

It feels like this time of year, with all the political discussions, debates and social media comments, people seek out things to disagree on AND end up treating others with less than respect.  Maybe that’s just my interpretation, but maybe that’s how you feel as well. Regardless, if we take a good look at what’s being said or how people are treating others, it doesn’t feel right.  

This image, to me, shows the exact opposite of “doesn’t feel right.” In fact, it makes you feel good.  Smiling faces. Instant love. I say “instant” because within minutes of meeting these kids, at the elementary school we got to work out, in Kenya a few years ago, we loved them.  They ran up to us, as we drove in. They circled around us, as we toured their school and as we left, they crowed around our vehicles and ran after us.  

As I mentioned, this was in Kenya, specifically in the Masai Mara area. The elementary school is the (you can sound it out ) – Olopikidongoe. Not easy, huh?  (OK, I'll spell it phonetically – Oh-lee-pee-kee-dong-way). This specific school, because of where it is, who funds it and who it’s run by, allows a lot of girls to attend school. This sounds strange, but the alternative is being married off at a very young age.  It gives them a different chance at life--not only the ability to continue their education but to be treated and cared for the way they deserve.  

In Romans 13:8-10, we read, “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘You shall not covet,’ and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”   I love the that last statement, ‘…love IS the fulfillment of the law.’ If we base our lives--what we do, what we say, how we treat others--all on the laws of God, we shouldn’t have any trouble with this. Right?  We want to fulfill the laws God has given us. Not because we feel obliged or forced into keeping the commandments, but instead because we love our God and we want to please Him. According this, God wants us to get along and care for one another.  Let’s try doing more of that.


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He Shall Direct Thy Paths
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, October 5, 2015

This picture shows part of the Chain Lakes Loop Trail which starts at Artist Point (at the end of the Mt. Baker Highway, State Route 542).  The trail is less discernible where it crosses talus slopes.

Life can be like that sometimes.  We may not know where we are supposed to be going but we need to remember Who is leading our way.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (KJV)



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A Heart for God
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Bev Riter
Friday, Sabbath and Sunday, October 2 - 4, 2015

A lock feature near the entrance to Zion National Park, as seen in my photo, attracts the attention of those walking by. The top reads “Hearts Together, Love Forever” on the giant Dream Catcher.  Couples “lock their love” by leaving a lock here and tossing the key away.  Some choose to have their names engraved on their padlocks at a nearby shop where locks can be purchased. Apparently love locks is becoming a trend, even though many people are against it in public places because of safety and littering issues.

In a spiritual sense, where is your heart?  Is it set on God and being in His presence? “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed:  I will sing and give praise.” Psalms 57:7  Let’s “lock our hearts” into a close relationship with God!

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Stay Focused
Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Caleb Jurgensen
Thursday, October 1, 2015

We were hiking at Mt. Rainier when we spotted this red fox about 15 feet off the trail. It was busy trying to dig up something and it didn't seem to be bothered by us at all. After about a minute, it ran off down the trail and into the woods.

When Nehemiah was rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, many people tried to stop and discourage him and the rest of the Israelites. For example, a man named Tobiah used a fox in his insult:
"Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, 'What they are building—even a fox climbing up on it would break down their wall of stones!'” - Nehemiah 4:3

The fox we saw was quite small, and Wikipedia says that they can weigh from 5 to 30 pounds. Obviously a fox couldn't do much to a wall. But the builders ignored the taunts. Verse 6 says: "So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart."

Their determination and trust in God payed off.

Nehemiah 6:15-16: "So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God."

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My Friend the Crow

Photo and Commentary ©2015 by Maylan Schurch

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

 

The above photo is fresh off the press—I snapped it, plus those below, Tuesday afternoon. I’d just returned to my car from a quick eat-out before heading to a Bible study, and to my astonishment I discovered this crow perched on top of my car.

 

I froze in place, surreptitiously got my camera out of its belt-case, and raised it, hoping against hope that the bird wouldn’t spook and fly away. It didn’t.

 

Instead, it calmly turned and walked along the roof toward the back of the car . . . . .

 

(insert bird walking)

 

Then it gave me a look . . . .

 

(bird giving me a look)

 

And calmly faced forward again.

 

(closeup)

 

The above is only a slight telephoto. If I had reached out my right hand, I could have touched the shoulder of his wing.

 

A young woman was approaching her car off to the left. I called out to her, “Have you ever seen a crow on a car?” She smiled suspiciously and got quickly into her car and drove away. Who was that kook, anyway? she was probably asking herself.

 

I leaned my elbows on my side of the car roof and just looked at that bird. It looked back at me, cocking its head from time to time. And I thought about Eden, and Eden restored, and how all the birds and animals, and all the humans, will be our friends in the New Earth.

 

And as a last, good-humored gesture, my new friend left a little present . . . .

 

(crow’s “gift”)

 

He was still on the top of the car when I finally got in. I didn’t see him fly away, but he must have.

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