On Eagles’ Wings

eagle

I, like many people, am fascinated with eagles. Especially bald eagles. They are majestic and beautiful in flight. I have been blessed to see them a number of times in the wild. A friend once lead my wife and me by canoe to a nest on the Manistee River. We got to see a pair in their mating ritual flight, circling gracefully about each other high in a clear blue sky. Getting closer and closer, they reached out and touched their talons together even clasping each other’s feet briefly as they fell through the air.

Recently, I read an article that amazed me even more. Mother eagles have a unique way of teaching their young to fly. Mom flaps her wings until a young eaglet falls out of the nest. She watches then swoops down and catches it on the back of her wings and carries it up to the nest. The process is repeated until the youngster gets the idea and soars on its own.

In the Bible God reminds the Israelites through Mosses that this is the way He has lovingly watched and carried them, “on eagles’ wings” (Exodus 19:4) during their journey through the desert. It was an analogy they would have understood, likely having seen that behavior from eagles they had observed on their travels through the wilderness.

It’s a beautiful example that can still inspire us today.

“Like an eagle that rouses her chicks and hovers over young, so He spread his wings to take them up and carried them safely on His wings.”

Deuteronomy 32:11

Trials and Blessings

canoe two men, morning

A few weeks ago I took my grandson canoeing and fishing on a secluded lake. It was fun.  However, we did not catch a fish. We didn’t even get a nibble. I reminded him of the old saying, “A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work.”

Later we came across another fisherman. When asked if he had any luck, he answered that he had only caught one small bluegill. He added, “You know, a bad day fishing is better than a good day at work.”

It seems that every fisherman knows that phrase.

Life is a combination of trials and blessings. We don’t always catch the fish, get the promotion, or get everything we want at Christmas, etc. Yet, God brings us many blessing if we take the time to notice. We have life. We have hope–even hope of eternity. Children laughing, sunshine, birds singing, the capacity for love are all blessings we sometimes take for granted.

Catching fish is fine, but it does not compare with spending time with my grandson. That’s priceless. That’s a blessing.

Have you noticed a blessing today you didn’t think of before?

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above…” James 1:17 (ESV)

 

Dangerous Animals

moose

A few times I have encountered animals in the wild that are potentially dangerous. It’s exciting. It makes the wilderness more intriguing to know that there are still scary creatures as our pioneer ancestors faced…as long as we are really safe.

I just missed stepping on a copperhead snake one time in a local state part. Another time, my little daughter and I were watching loons on a wilderness lake when she said, “I hope we see a bear, Dad.” I hoped we wouldn’t. However, we did see one cross the road when we were safely encased in our car, making us both happy.

I once took two of my nephews camping at Isle Royal National Park, a beautiful island in Lake Superior.  While hiking, we saw a magnificent bull moose in a pond along the trail. We watched, mesmerized, as this thousand + pound creature dredged up aquatic plants from the water. Raising his massive rack of antlers, dripping water by the bucket full, he glanced our way.

Suddenly, he decided to go somewhere else and marched up the bank in our direction. (Where does a 1,000 pound bull moose walk? Anywhere he wants too.)

I stepped behind a tree, as I thought I had instructed the boys to do. Moose have poor eyesight and will usually walk on by if you are fairly well hidden and don’t move. When I looked around tree, to my horror, the boys were standing out in the open gazing in amazement as the huge beast walked right by them!

Fortunately, during the summer before the rutting season, moose are pretty easygoing. The animal paid them no attention as he walked on.

The point is that one needs to be alert and take precautions when in wild country. Animals usually don’t plan on attacking people. (Except cougars and grizzly bears) They just react to what they perceive as threats as they too live among dangerous animals that would attack them or their young. Unlike some humans that specifically plan robbery, murder, and terrorism. Throw in a few politicians.

There is a threat, however, that is so quiet, sly, and insidious that it attacks us before we realize it. It is all around us. It has destroyed men, women, kids and whole families. It is temptation.

Jesus warned us about it often in the Bible, not to spoil our fun or freedom but to save our lives. At first temptation to do wrong may look attractive and the danger is alluring, when we assume we can control it. One experiment with illegal drugs, a brief, or one time affair, a quick look at pornography may not seem too dangerous. Add prejudice, judging others, hatred, gossip… the list goes on and on. It’s like the light touch of a fly’s wing against the spider’s web.

The way of dealing with dangerous animals in the wild also applies to dealing with temptation in our daily lives. Don’t get close, move away, and when necessary…Run!

“Do not let your heart turn to her (temptation’s) ways or stray into her paths. Many are the victims she has brought down, her slain are a mighty throng. (Proverbs 7:25-26)

 

 

 

 

Blessings Cloaked in Frustrations

autumn lake

It was a beautiful day for an adventure as I drove my wife and daughter to a lake for a picnic. No need to hurry, this was a day for relaxing. Therefore, I chose a road through the country instead of the busy interstate around Indianapolis.

There was just one problem. Being a warm September, it was primetime for road repairs and construction around the state. Before long, we ran into a detour. Soon after we got off that one, there was another that took us toward the capital city.

We saw a lot of country we never expected to see. Finally, we drove onto I-65 to finish the last leg of our trip. Sure enough, as you might have guessed, there was more road work that brought us and our fellow travelers to a slow, frustrating crawl.

So, we were clever on our return home. We took a totally different route through the country.

Two more detours!!!

One sent us almost all the way back to Indianapolis. It seemed that the powers that be decided to repair all the roads in Indiana at the same time.

So, what is the message in this story? Just this. The time we spent at the lake was worth the frustration. We had a pleasant lunch beside the water. Later, my wife sat in the car with the windows open to the breeze, working in one of her word search books, a relaxing activity she especially enjoys. My daughter and I went canoeing. For us two this was special, bringing back fond memories of earlier days.

The moment the we pushed the canoe into the lake and felt it glide across the water, we were in a different world. No cars, no TV’s, only birds for background music. Each unhurried stroke of the paddle sent us moving smoothly along. There was a kind of peace in the movement. Tensions eased.

Along the shore and up into the surrounding hills, the trees started donning their colorful autumn attire. A cerulean blue sky held cottony wisps of clouds. I felt myself breath deeper. I could tell that my daughter shared those same relaxed feelings.

Sometimes we get so focused on the frustrations, we overlook the blessings. Let’s keep an eye out for the blessings.

“The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul …” (Psalms 23:1-2).

 

 

Simple Things

autumn_trees_barn_rural_pennsylvania_farm_creativecommons_fields-115064

As I looked out the second story window of our inn room, golden sunlight rose with the mist over peaceful fields backed by white houses and red barns. The first touches of autumn tented the trees. Cattle and horses grazed comfortably in the meadows. Black buggies waited to be hitched in the barn lots.

It could have been a hundred years ago, but I was watching from the Blue Gate Inn, located in the Amish country around Shipshewana, Indiana. My wife and I were attending The State Convention of The Gideons International. Inside the beautiful inn surrounded by all the modern amenities, we listened to speakers with laptop computers, microphones, and electronic projections share information and inspiring stories of providing Bibles for people in 200 countries around the world.

Outside the inn, a number of people lived a different life than I experience. That was especially evident when I met a couple of them. Having become lost after missing a detour, I stopped to ask an Amish family for directions. After receiving friendly and polite directions, I pulled away in my Toyota Camry. They continued on their bicycles. Dad pulled a wagon holding a couple of their small children while mom pulled another wagon with two more.

They were people like me, just with a little different view of life than mine. My life involves computers, TV’s, and gas prices. Theirs involves un-motorized equipment, and horse manure. I respect that, even envy it a little. The Amish have held on to something the rest of us have lost in our mad rush to build more and more advanced technology to handle every aspect of our lives. They have held onto simplicity.

They are not bothered by the distraction of TV’s blaring out adds to get us to buy more and more products. They are not aggravated by nightly, bickering politics,  or frustrating computers. Dressing simply, they are not concerned about fitting in if they don’t buy the latest fashions. They work hard, go to church, and eat wholsome foods they grow. They awake to the same beautiful sunrises, and retire to the same lovely sunsets we do. But in a more outdoor related lifestyle, they probably enjoy them more often.

Over a century ago, Henry David Thoreau was warning us to, “Simplify, simplify.”

Yeah, I’ll keep my car, TV, and even my frustrating computer. But I’ve been reminded to be more careful to notice, pursue, and appreciate the simple things of life.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” 1 Timothy 6:6-8

 

Resting Places

Sometimes we all need to find a special place to get away. Life is busy and often stressful. I have a few places that provide times of rest for body, mind and soul. A couple of them I shared with a friend last week.

Les is a pastor who is a fulltime chaplain for Hospice. He has a gift for comforting those who are dying or grieving. It’s demanding work, though, that includes being on call twenty-four hours a day.

He had two days off, and I shared some special places with him. We first drove to Starve Hollow State Recreation Area. It has a small, pretty lake nestled down among the hills of Southern Indiana. We walked among towering trees, with the light filtering down, cathedral-like, through the leaves. We ate lunch by the lake and watched the sunlight sparkle on the water.

Later, we drove up a hill in another little-known park (mountain, this flatlander would call it) where we could look out over miles upon miles of pristine farmland.

We stayed the night in a comfortable cabin at Turkey Run State Park. After a hearty breakfast in the park’s inn, we drove on to Shades State Park where we hiked the trail to a nature preserve. After crossing a natural rock bridge between two ravines, we rested beside a crystal clear stream, trickling over a bed of smooth stones below a limestone cliff.

We talked little, listening instead, to the music of the stream, birds and soft breezes. It was a joy to see the man smile with a look of peaceful relaxation. For a moment, the troubles and responsibilities of the world were far away from this secluded place of natural sights and sounds.

Maybe we should not feel guilty or too busy to occasionally go away to a place of peaceful rest. Jesus didn’t. After being surrounded by thousands of desperate people daily, he would sometimes get away in a boat on the Sea of Galilee, or up to a quiet, secluded place in the mountains for a time of rest and prayer. He even recommended it to his apostles, and thereby to us.

“He said to them, ‘come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a little while.'” Mark 6:31 (AMP)

 

 

Bad Day Fishing…

untangle-fishing-line.jpg

“A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work.” It is a statement often seen on posters. I’m not sure I agree. Last week I went fishing along a cold water stream in northern Indiana proclaimed to be good for trout fishing.

Staying with relatives, I rose early to get into the action. It was a pretty stream, clear and fast moving. There was a light rain that morning, but not to worry, fish are said to bite best on rainy, overcast days.

I started with a tiny froglike popper fly. No luck. I switched to a fuzzy fly that looked like an insect. Nope, they didn’t want that either. At last I resorted to kernels of corn, said to be a favorite of trout. Not a bite!

Continuing down the trail, I came to a pond. I could see some bluegills out in clear water, but could not reach them beyond the water vegetation near the bank. However, I cast as far out as I could with a lure that looked like a salamander, also said to be a good bait. No luck.

I heard what sounded like a large bass jump around a bend in the pond. A popper bait that looked like a frog with a spinning rod would have been perfect. I didn’t have that with me. Going back to my car, I found another promising spot in the stream. My line tangled on a tree branch. Later, I lost my lure and part of my line on a submerged log.

So, is a bad day fishing better than a good day at work? I think it’s not neccecarily a good comparison. I had some really good days when I was teaching and some difficult ones, like fishing.

Looking back on it, I did have fun fishing that day. I enjoyed being out among God’s creations, the quiet, the beautiful stream. Yeah, it was  good.

“…all things work together for good to them that love God…” (Romans 8:28 KJV).

 

 

A Surprise Adventure

Rain-Pavement-Rural.jpg

The other day I awoke with an urge to go on an adventure. Where to go? Fishing in one of our newer state parks? Too far for a half day outing.

Go sit in a bird sanctuary a couple counties away? No, not today. A quick prayer, “Lord, where would be a good place to go today?” Then came the thought, how about the Wildcat Creek? I had crossed it a number of times over the years, always hurrying to get to somewhere else. I vaguely remembered there was a county park near there on a lake. Off I drove on an adventure with my flyrod in the back seat.

The farther I went the darker the sky got. Then came the rain and thunder and lighting. Washout? Pun intended. I could be discouraged, but it was an adventure. Who knew what I might discover? I drove on.

After finding the pull-off to the creek under water and unable to find the park on the lake, I turned back for home.

As I passed through the small village of Greentown, I noticed an antiques store. It was open. Stepping through the rain, I went in. There I found very friendly and helpful people. One of the ladies, Carol, was a painter like me. We discussed our interest in art. She took my name and address to contact me for a local art show next year.

I bought an antique fishing lure that caught my eye. I was also given directions, not only to the park but also to a canoe rental on the creek. All great information for future reference. It turned out to be a good adventure.

Life is an adventure. Sometimes the trip leads to unexpected places. No matter the holes in the road, storms or unplanned detours, if the Lord is leading, the destination will be good.

“And we know that all things work together for good  to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

 

A Resting Place

One day my granddaughter came to me and said, “I think you need a time away. I found some money, and I want you to get away somewhere by yourself.” She was right. It had been a stressful summer, and a break sounded good. Actually, the money she found was change I had been throwing into a pot to save for one of those times that it might be needed.

My wife agreed. So, when counted, the money came to enough to rent one night in a rustic two-room cabin on Starve Hollow Lake. It is a small secluded lake nestled at the foot of scenic hills about seventy miles south of us.

I found it to  be a special place. Without phones, TV’s or road noise, I was entertained by bird songs, the peaceful sight of water rippled by the breeze and the feeling of being hidden from the intrusion of humanity in general. I could watch the action of ducks, geese and an eagle crossing the sky.

Later, after finishing my dinner (supper, folks around Chainy-Lakes say) of roasted hotdogs and beans, I watched the golden flames of the campfire. The dancing light stirred dreams and memories of good times past and plans to come.

I snuggled in to my sleeping bag under an open window to the sounds crickets chirping and frogs singing their own guttural songs. Once I awoke in the night, but the moon beckoned me out to view its shimmering dance on the lake’s surface. A camp farther down the shore provided colorful Japanese lanterns as footlights to enhance the performance.

There is no sensation like rising in the chilled morning air to be warmed by a campfire and a cup of coffee as bacon and eggs sizzle over the flames. Some fishing, canoeing or just a hike through natural surroundings add to the peace of such get away time.

I need it once in a while. I think everyone does. It may be a hobby, a stroll, or sitting in a quiet library. It’s okay to take a break now and then. Jesus even recommended it to his disciples in the midst of their important work.

And he said to them, “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31).

 

Great Find

Adventures, Family Style

Dad and Daughter Days

girl canoeing

The day looked threatening as my nine-year-old daughter and I paddled a canoe through the channels connecting nine lakes at Chain-o-Lakes State Park. Our craft glided over clear water between forested banks until we came out into the secluded lake where we would camp.

A misty rain began just as we got the tent set up and started our campfire. A spark caught, but it took much blowing and waving to get it to stay lit. We added wood to the kindling with more blowing oxygen to keep the flame going. Finally, we realized that we were not going to be able to relax and just watch this fire cheerfully flicker along. This fickle phenomenon was going be a constant battle. So, I continued to blow on the flames as my daughter roasted her hotdogs. She did the same for me until supper was finished.

Immediately, we hurried into the tent and listened to the drowsy sound of raindrops pattering on the tent roof.

The next morning was also ‘interesting’. Starting the fire was still a challenge but a little easier. Then we discovered that the food we had planned to have for breakfast was missing. So, wieners cut up into the pork and beans left over from last night still made a filling meal.

Often the mishaps of the past become fond memories. They are adventures. At times yet today I hear a chuckle from my daughter and the words, “Hey, Dad, you remember the time…”

 

The temperature was racing toward 90, and the humidity was rising with it. This, however, was the only time to take my eight year-old-daughter camping at Shades State Park. In earlier days, the area was referred to as “Shades of death” in remembrance of a murder that was committed near there. What a mood setter!

The tent was up and lunch was ready, though, the lunchmeat sandwiches looked like they might literally melt before reaching our mouths. We sat sweltering at the picnic table wandering what we could do to take our minds off the heat.

“Let’s take a hike Dad.”

Well, why not? Moving might stir up the slightest hint of a breeze. As we came to the rustic steps leading down into a ravine, the magic happened. The farther we went down, the cooler it got. A breeze coming down the bottom of the canyon over a trickling stream was cooled as if by an air conditioner.

For a couple of hours we relaxed, enjoying the forest scenery and refreshing air. Entertainment came from dabbling our feet in the stream and looking for crayfish, “crawdads” under rocks.

So, again, seemingly unfortunate circumstances became a joyful shared adventure. The best rewards in life are the best memories.

“Dad, remember the time…”

“Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. 4Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. 5Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them3Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. 4Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” (Psalm 127

 

Dad and Daughter Days

by

Dan L. Fuller

(from, The Ordinary Magnificence: Poems of Nature Praise and Hope”

 

Dad, remember the time…?

I remember,

Story time and kickball,

Learning to drive the car,

 

The little girl with sloshing bucket,

Of tiny fish caught from a neighbor’s pond,

Before Mom and Dad woke up.

 

But unique among the memories,

Are the dad and daughter days outdoors

Special moments shared with each daughter alone.

 

Canoeing a stream to a secluded lake,

A misty rain fighting to conquer our campfire,

One of us roasting a hotdog,

While the other kept the fire alive,

By blowing on the flames.

 

Or that hot and humid hike in the forest,

Discovering a deep, wind cooled canyon,

Refreshed by the breeze wafting over water,

Looking for crayfish under rocks,

Dabbling our feet in the dancing stream.

 

Enchanted canyons,

Campfires in the mist,

Mythical kingdoms,

All ours alone,

Magic moments before “ever after”,

Of dad and daughter days outdoors.