Archive | Faith in God RSS feed for this section

Moon pictures/visit to Second Street Market

21 Jun

I woke up at around 4:30 AM the other night and couldn’t get back to sleep.  That is another symptom in Parkinson’s – sleep disturbance.  I noticed that the moon was full, so I got out my camera, 70-300 zoom lens and tripod for a picture-taking session.  There were clouds crossing over the moon which I hoped to capture, but they didn’t turn out, the sky was too dark around the moon.  Take a look at the pictures at the link:

(At website, click on image to enlarge)

Also, a few Saturdays ago Carol and I went to the Second Street Market in downtown Dayton.  I had a good time snapping some pictures of the colorful sights there.  The cabbage roll I had was excellent.  A very enjoyable place to visit! See the link:

I haven’t posted much recently because I have been concentrating on remodeling the basement, which has turned out to be an enjoyable project but very slow because I can only work a little while at a time.  Another symptom of Parkinson’s is fatigue.  So after a little while of working, I have to rest to regain my strength.  That lengthens out a project quite a bit (from weeks into months).  That is a lot different than when I originally worked on the basement when we moved into this house in 1992.  About 1/3 of the basement was finished and I built 4 additional rooms into the remaining space each evening after working 8-10 hours that day. 

Sounds like I’m whining about my current lot in life, but God has allowed this disease to impact me.  I can either choose to move on with Parkinson’s or give up and give in to the symptoms.  He doesn’t promise to heal every infirmity or take away every pain but I keep going back to Paul’s writing in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10: “My grace is all you need.  My power works best in weakness.  That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecution and troubles that I suffer for Christ.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 

It is in my attitudes that Christ can gain the victory as I choose victory over defeat, strength over despair, helping people who are worse off than me rather than lounging in my own troubles.  God has a purpose for each one of us, even those who struggle to move or speak well or work a part-time job.  Each day is a new adventure.  I need to grab life and live it in the fullest way possible.


Hero Parents

28 Apr

Last Saturday I had the privilege to photograph a long running event at Fairhaven Church called “Egg-stravaganza”.  Out of respect for the privacy of the parents and kids I won’t show their pictures here.

This event was for special needs kids.  I was touched as I wondered among the families gathered for the event. No matter what the challenge each child faced, the parent or parents were there,  smiling and involved in the moment.  I’m sure if you asked them if they always were smiling and happy, many would level with you and relate times of great sorrow or depression or frustration.  I’m sure there are many times they want to scream or run or give up.  But their love and dedication to their child keeps them going.  Carol and I had the normal frustrations, pain and joy while we were parenting our now adult children.  And in the last 6 years we have had to face up to Parkinson’s Disease.  But I honor these parents of special needs kids!  God has given them additional grace, faith and strength to meet whatever challenges they face.  James 1:2-5 says:  “Dear brothers and sisters,when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.   If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”  (New Living Translation) 

None of us is exempt from living life in all its colors – bright, dark and all the shades in between.   However, we can choose how we will face all those colors, especially the dark ones.  Will we react in faith in our God, recognizing His care and love for us even in the difficult and demanding times?  Or will we react in bitterness and anger.  These emotions are the normal face of an initial challenge or disaster, part of our initial reaction as human beings.  But if we cling to bitterness, hold it to us and own it, we will be destroyed by it along with all those around us.

Many of these parents have chosen to trust God and look at the positives of their circumstances.  I choose this as well.  How about you?

Color in God’s Creation

17 Apr

Recently I bought a bird feeder for our feathered friends and planted it outside my office window at home where I can make business calls and watch birds at the same time.  So far I have Cardinals, some Black Billed Chickadees and sparrows.  With the bird feeder planted close to the window and my 70-300 lens in place, I have been able to get a few interesting pictures of the birds who have come visiting.  Not that I know that much about birds yet.  I need to get a bird book from the library!  The squirrels have not figured out how to climb the skinny pole yet, but they enjoy eating some seeds under the feeder.   For the entire gallery go to:

Seeing the colors God used to paint birds (from my extremely small sample so far), animals and plants, why did He create color?  I understand it has some use in nature for protection, camouflage, defense, mate attraction, etc.  He specifically created humans with special rods and cones in our eyes to see color.  “The retina contains two types of photoreceptors, rods and cones. The rods are more numerous, some 120 million, and are more sensitive than the cones. However, they are not sensitive to color. The 6 to 7 million cones provide the eye’s color sensitivity and they are much more concentrated in the central yellow spot known as the macula. In the center of that region is the ” fovea centralis “, a 0.3 mm diameter rod-free area with very thin, densely packed cones.”  

A very informative article by Bill Hilton Jr., a science education consultant, about “Animal Colors”, says “Camouflage, warning, sexual attraction, and species recognition are all among the functions of colors in animals. Even within a species, different colors may play different roles. Our male cardinal’s bright red plumage declares his presence to other males, and shows a prospective mate that he is adept at finding foods rich in carotenoids; this also indicates he could be a worthy provider with necessary skills to help feed a female and her nestlings. The female cardinal herself, however, is distinctly less colorful, with only a tinge of red and orange mixed in with otherwise tan feathers. This coloration works in her favor as she sits on her nest for three weeks; after all, an incubating female with bright red feathers would only attract predators bent on taking eggs, nestlings, and mother bird alike.”

Even with all this, God could have created everything without the use of color.  The world in black and white (which are colors!) would have been a very different place.  He created it all with color for so many reasons we count count them, for both nature and humans.  Obviously He gave us the ability to see colors in the full spectrum of light.  I never get tired of hearing how the human body is “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139).    Think about it – “6 to 7 million cones provide the eye’s color sensitivity and they are much more concentrated in the central yellow spot known as the macula, packed into a 0.3 mm area!”  What are the odds this one fact about the human body which gives us so much enjoyment could have “evolved” out of the primordial soup?  

There are so many examples of complexity, harmony, and beauty in nature that no thinking human should be able to reject God as the ultimate Creator.  But they do reject God, possibly because they don’t want a “higher power” bigger than themselves telling them that the things they are doing are not in their best interest and restricting them from their “rights”.

Human dignity and worth are written all over our created bodies.  Everyone no matter what their abilities or disabilities have worth in God’s eyes.  Psalm 139:13-16 says “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place.  When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before on of them came to be.” 

The fact that a loving God brought color into creation for our enjoyment is one way He shows his love for us.  That is why I named my company “Creation Source Images” because He is the Source of all creation and I try to show that creation in the images I take.

Purpose of life musings, our “legacy”

13 Mar

Last week Carol and I were on vacation, a much needed break from the routine!  Our main purpose was to visit Carol’s brother and wife in Lake Wales, Florida south of Orlando.  That was very relaxing and enjoyable and we it was great being with them.  On the way there we stopped at the Biltmore Estate and spent two days at Savannah, Georgia (more on that in another post).

The Biltmore Estate was built by “George Washington Vanderbilt II between 1889 and 1895. It is the largest privately owned home in the United States, at 135,000 square feet (12,500 m2) and featuring 250 rooms (and 43 bathrooms!). Still owned by one of Vanderbilt’s descendants, it stands today as one of the most prominent remaining examples of the Gilded Age, and of significant gardens in the Garden à la française and English Landscape garden styles in the United States. In 2007, it was ranked eighth on the List of America’s Favorite Architecture by the American Institute of Architects.”  (From Wikipedia)

The mansion has enormous spaces and perspectives!  They don’t allow photographs of the inside of the mansion and it was pouring rain and alternately snowing (in North Carolina!) outside so I only have one picture.  It was too early for any gardens to be in bloom.  From the one picture I was able to take, you can get a feeling for the perspective by looking at the “ant sized” people going into the mansion.  (Double click on the picture to enlarge)

As we were taking the “ear phone” tour of the mansion, I began to think about the world view of George Vanderbilt.  He was part of a family which had amassed a huge fortune through steamboats, railroads, and various business enterprises. George “inherited $1 million from his grandfather and received another million on his 21st birthday from his father. Upon his father’s death, he inherited $5 million more, as well as the income from a $5 million trust fund. He ran the family farm at New Dorp and Woodland Beach, now the neighborhood of Midland Beach on Staten Island, New York where he had been born, then lived with his mother in Manhattan until his own townhouse at 9 West 53rd Street was completed in 1887. The Vanderbilt family business was operated by his older brothers. This left George to spend his time in intellectual pursuits.  An art connoisseur and collector, George filled his mansion with Oriental carpets, tapestries, antiques, and artwork, including Pierre-Auguste Renoir and James Whistler, as well as a chess set that had belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte.” (From Wikipedia)

I wonder what George Vanderbilt’s world view was.  Did he ever ponder the eternal perspective in relation to his activities?  He knew eight languages and was obviously intelligent.  George and his wife, Edith, were very generous, supporting the local church and I’m sure funded many other charities.  But to what end was the house built?  To spend so much of your time and treasure to construct the largest privately built home in the country is a very worldly pursuit!  What was his motivation?  Was it a monument to himself?   Wikipedia says at Biltmore George lead the life of a “country gentlemen and spent his time in intellectual pursuits”.  He certainly couldn’t take it all with him when he “died of a heart attack after an appendectomy” at age 52.  The estate stands as a monument to his dreams and life’s work, something which is his legacy and it lives beyond his life.  Is that were our significance comes from?   Libraries, government buildings and highways are named after people who donate money.  Is that were we get our significance?  What of the millions of ordinary people in Haiti or India or Kenya who live life for a while and die in obscurity?  Are they any less significant than George Vanderbilt?  He inherited most of what he had and I guess you can say he put it into building a lasting legacy for his family.   But to what end?  Today the estate is privately owned by George’s grandson, William Cecil, who has preserved the estate and opened it to the public.  So, the masses can still view and be amazed at what he built.

From my musings about this I see two levels of thinking about the “legacy” we leave after our life is over.  On one level George Vanderbilt left a monument of the years he spent building and caring for the “largest privately owned home.”  Is that a worthy pursuit in life?  What does a leaving a legacy really involve?  Presidents of the United States are always aware of the legacy they will leave from their time in office.  The world’s recognition of a job well done, or some substantial building or road named in our honor, or the recognition a famous author or actor receives are all fading.  As the Bible states, they will all “burn” in the end.  1 Corinthians 3:11-15 says:  “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ. Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw.  But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward.  But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.”  The Biltmore Estate will not last into eternity.  It consists of earthly stuff.   The fact of my Parkinson’s disease is also temporary, earthly, a “thorn” I need to deal with in this life, but not for eternity.

On the other level, God and people are eternal, nothing else is.   The purpose I pursue with my photography is to show the beauty of God’s creation and a few of my pictures may last beyond my years on this earth.  But in the end they are meaningless.  That is the main theme of Ecclesiastes where Solomon says “work…all of it is meaningless.”  But he concludes with the conviction:  “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.  For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” The real legacy I leave is my love for God and the impact I can have on our children and people around me.  In a very real way my earthly reward is the legacy Carol and I are leaving through our adult children.  And my urgent and heart felt desire is for all of us to spend eternity together in Heaven!

I don’t have any brick and mortar statues or houses dedicated in my honor which will outlast my life on this insignificant planet hanging in the vast universe.  My legacy, our legacy, is our love for the God of the universe and the people we interact with daily.  Those interpersonal relationships and our dependence on Jesus’ sacrifice for each of us will be our eternal legacy!

The Roles We Play, The Masks We Wear

2 Mar

We all have roles we play, such as:  husband or wife or single person, mother or father, brother or sister, employee or employer, manager or subordinate, being a friend or befriending someone, caring for sick family members.  These roles are important for our personal survival and to the community as a whole.  We need to play these roles for our free society to function.  We need to be responsible for our roles in life or the community around us breaks down.

But we all wear masks also.  Are masks always bad?  Possibly, but sometimes they allow us to function within our various roles, though not perfectly.  There is the victim mask – I am weak, help me and don’t hurt me, I can’t do it myself.  There is the “macho” mask – I don’t need “nobody”, I can do this myself, I am an island.  There is the Romeo (arrogant) mask – I’m hot and I know it, you are privileged to know me, I can and will take advantage of you.  There is the brave front mask – I am hurting inside either mentally, emotionally, or physically but nobody will see my hurts.  But are these masks helpful in our roles as people who don’t operate in a vacuum but operate in families and various communities?  If we remain on the surface in our lives and relationships, the masks help us get through life though but only in a shallow, non-effective way.

Gary in an “old man” mask

There is a better way forward, though.  It is the way of transparency, of dealing honestly with our emotions, our desires, our hopes and dreams.  2 Corinthians 10: 12: “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves.  When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.”  In verse 18 Paul says:  “For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.”  And Romans 12:3 says:  “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you:  Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”

Maybe the key to a proper view of roles and masks is to “think of yourself with sober judgment” according to your faith.  If we compare ourselves with ourselves our perspective will probably be very cloudy out of focus and wrong.  We will be puffed up with pride or ashamed because of past darkness’s.  I believe a proper view of ourselves is found by looking at Christ’s actions and words when he was here on Earth and His view of us now.  As a believer, saved by His sacrifice for me on the cross, I am forgiven.  Clean.  Pure.  Jesus has a place for me in heaven not because of what I have done, but what He did.

So, a proper view of myself involves seeing me through Jesus’s eyes, taking stock of the gifts He has given and also the limitations He has allowed and push forward in life, depending on God for strength.  I may be looking at an out of focus future because of Parkinson’s Disease, but with God there is hope.  Am I am being as transparent as possible with those around me in the various communities where I live out my life; whether my family, work, friends or church groups?  Transparency will yield satisfying and eternal results in all my roles.  Masks aren’t necessary with the this prescription enriching our lives.

Legacy of a life well lived

23 Feb

January was the one year anniversary of my Mom’s death.  My Dad also passed away in September, 2010. Mom was 91 and Dad was nearly 96, so they lived a long life. We are sure about their entrance into Heaven with God because they were believers in Jesus’ sacrifice for them.  So, though I am parent-less now I don’t really grieve them.  They were not happy in their health situation since they had taken turns being in and out of the hospital over the last few years.  Mom was unhappy about being “old” and not able to travel anymore.  Dad was unhappy after Mom died because they had been married for 71 years and he missed her.

Speaking of traveling, they loved to travel and had been literally all over the world!  I was a benefactor of some of those vacations, having been to Hawaii, eastern and western Canada, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Germany, Switzerland, Germany and many states in the U. S.  I am thankful for the opportunities to travel with them on these trips as a teenager!

But, I guess the thing that stands out in my mind about the funerals for both of them was the legacy they left for all of us.  The qualities of honesty, duty to country and family, keeping your word, being frugal (except for their vacations) and a quiet faith in God were hallmarks of their lives.  As I worked a sales territory in the area where my Dad had also worked as an agronomist, people who knew him would tell me what a fine quality person he was.

Have you ever thought what people would say if you were to pass away tomorrow?  What kind of a legacy am I leaving for Carol, my kids and those around me?  What is the main purpose of my life and do people know my purpose from the way I live?  Do people see Jesus when they look at the actions of my life?  These are questions for all of us to ponder.  Psalm 90:12 says:  “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.”  Compared to all eternity, we are here but an instant.  Living 70 or 90 years on this Earth is really nothing compared to living eternally with our Father in Heaven.  Lord, let me live life well, gain wisdom and live for your glory and not mine.

Ralph and June Kunze

Orchid Mania Macro Photography

21 Feb

Weekend photography – Cox Arboretum Orchid Show.

I enjoyed some macro photography taking close-ups of these orchids with my 60 mm lens.  I usually have to go with manual focus when I take pictures this close.  Auto focus goes nuts and usually can’t focus.  The orchids were displayed with lights, making a nice picture-taking environment.

God’s creation was in force with these orchids!  Color is the reason I named my company Creation Source Images.  God is the Source of all creation.

Think if He made the world in black and white!  Our quality of life wouldn’t be anywhere near the same as it is now!   We could argue that color isn’t necessary in nature or the natural world.  God made colors strictly for our enjoyment! Beauty shows His care for us as humans.  Thanks, Lord!

Go to:

Thanks for cleaning up my mess!

15 Feb

Well, wake up at 2:00 AM to go the the bathroom and find the bathroom trash turned over.  Cleaned  it up. Prime suspect – Alfie, the Cocker Spaniel.  We had been putting her in the cage each night, but gave her a try at roaming the house.

She blew it big time!

I peaked in the kitchen and the kitchen trash (which had been full) was emptied all over the kitchen floor – peels, orange rinds and all!  After picking that up and placing the full trash bag outside the door for disposal later that morning, I glanced in my office on the way to the bedroom, the trash in there was emptied all over the room.  The offending party came to see what the fun was and I showed her the mess, told her in no uncertain terms what I thought of her actions, let her outside to do her thing then stuck her in her cage!  She is losing her privilege of roaming free around the house when we are away and at night.  I still love her and she is still the cute, curly Cocker she was, but for her own good she has to be disciplined.  Who knows what she might eat from the trash that could kill her?  Besides the mess we have to pick up!

I started to think about Alfie’s offenses in light of my own mistakes and sins.  I can picture God bending down and patiently cleaning up my messes, then instructing me through His word and consequences what the right actions would be the next time.  He cares for me and doesn’t want me to harm myself by my own thoughtless actions and poor decisions.  I, and we as people, make small decisions daily which lead us in the wrong direction.  I find that I “tip over the trash” and endanger myself without realizing it.  Lack of exercise – I’m trying, but I can do better.  That extra milkshake.   Having one today won’t hurt.  Or that one the next day.  That extra brownie – one (or two) won’t hurt, much.  Skipping time alone with God – I’ll be there tomorrow, Lord!

These small decisions in our everyday lives add up to obesity in the future, or a heart attack, or cancer…or having major regrets when  we are 85 in poor health and realize it didn’t have to end that way, we could have taken control of our thoughts, attitudes, habits and done better.

I’m convinced that our attitudes as we grow older carry into our senior years.  A mean younger person will be a mean senior, someone people don’t want to be around.  Lord, may I have a servant’s heart, honoring You and serving those around me, staying positive despite my Parkinson’s, working diligently to serve you no matter the limitations I have in the future.

Thanks, Lord, for cleaning up my mess!


Trust is one of the keys to life

7 Feb

This morning I read in Isaiah 43:2-3a:  “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  For I am the LORD your God, the Holy one of Israel, your savior.”

Being a Parkinson’s patient, even with the miracle of the Deep Brain Stimulation operation, I still face disability at some point in the future.  This was pointed out when the programming appointment last Friday didn’t bring entirely positive news.  I am at the best setting (since last October) that helps me to feel like a normal person.  Most symptoms of Parkinson’s are held at bay.  But I am at the maximum of this setting and other settings that are available don’t seem to work as well.  Parkinson’s will eventually overtake this setting and we will have to find some other possibility.  The medical community is always looking for better solutions or a cure, so there is medical hope.

But I feel like I am sitting on a ticking time bomb.  I need to get as much life in as possible in the next few years before the bomb blows and I am not able to function as I am now.  That means making the most of every opportunity God puts in front of me!  I am seeking the ministries He wants me to participate in.  He has a plan for every person, no matter what our capabilities are, small or great, all people are have inestimable value in God’s kingdom!

The passage in Isaiah above points out that “when” you pass through the waters, river and fire, I am your God.  Later on verse 5 says “Do not be afraid, for I am with you.”

God does have a plan for our individual lives no matter what type of “fire” experience we are going through.  Proverbs 3:5 encourages us to “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”  So, trust is one of the keys to living.  I choose to live this day and day by day, not worrying about the future (I’m still working on this, but it is a choice each of us can  make each day).


Electricity and Faith

3 Feb

Our power went out for about 15 hours on Tuesday night in an ice storm.  An electric power substation literally blew up (I saw the blue electric flash through the window).  During the night for about two hours while the wind began blowing, the temperature went UP (strange) and the ice clinging to the trees came DOWN, hitting the roof and windows like rapid fire gun shots.

In the morning we got along fine with a vented kerosene heater and candles.  It was a temporary inconvenience.

But, it brought up some question:  What if no electricity was the “new normal”?  Such as after a terrorist attack?  Our lives run on a knife’s edge.  Things can change in an instant.  Look at Egypt!  Three weeks ago was the ordinary citizen thinking about chaos and riots? Do we contemplate the possibility of some disaster happening?  Do we do any planning?

Faith is like that.  Our lives can be running along on “normal”.  We can live on “automatic pilot” so to speak.  Go to work, come home, eat dinner, watch TV, get some sleep, etc., etc.

But when the inevitable chaos comes into your life – cancer, heart disease, Parkinson’s, death of a loved one, an auto accident – what is your “go to” position?  Are you prepared?  How will you survive?  Are  you emotionally close to people who can help you?

My contention is that every day life is meant to be preparation for this kind of chaos.  A regular quiet time with God, prayer, trust in Jesus’ sacrifice for salvation, service to those around you.  These are like an Olympic athlete running laps or lifting weights or practicing the bob sled run over and over.  The spiritual disciplines prepare us, make us spiritually strong and ready for whatever comes our way by God’s sovereignty.

Psalm 144:2 says:  “He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge…”

The next time ice is raining on your house, the power goes out or your best friend dies, grab His hand and use your spiritual training.  You can be ready with a little preparation!