Weekly Photo Challenge: Near and Far

I took this photo while riding with my sister as she took her very first flying lesson.  I went along, carrying my camera and two of hers, in order to document the event for posterity. Although flying in large jets does not make me dizzy at all, flying in this tiny three-seater put my head on a merry-go-round. The only time I could keep it settled was when I looked down, so I concentrated on taking a lot of pictures of the ground. This photo is my favorite.  It is a section of my home town, and when I enlarge it, I can actually pick out my house.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Free Spirit

This photo is of my grandfather on my mother’s side. His name was Elmer, and he was truly a “free spirit.” Sometimes he could be short and cantankerous, and I’ll have to say he did not get along with everyone as well as he did with me, but I loved him and his unique personality. He was a serious Christian, as was I, but we saw a number of things differently, and we had many a strong discussion over the years. Sometimes now I think about one particular thing on which we disagreed strongly. In later years – after he went to be with the Lord – I came to realize that he had been right about it all along. Many times I’ve thought, “My, I wish Grandpa were here so I could sit down with him and talk about this again – now that I can see what he was really saying.”

He had a real knack for taking things apart and putting them back together. And he loved doing it. There was something in him that just had to see what made things work. So at nearly any time, he could be found with some piece of equipment or machinery lying spread out in parts, waiting to be reassembled at Grandpa’s leisure. I even have a photo of our huge family celebrating Christmas – everyone passing around gifts and opening them – while Grandpa sits in front of the TV set with his flashlight and screwdriver, doing his own thing.

In his forties, he developed lung cancer and had surgery to remove part of his lung. That was back in the days when that kind of surgery was extremely rare, and there was not much in the way of treatments. People pretty much fended for themselves, and they either made it, or they didn’t. But since Grandpa believed in God as a healer, he had that extra Power to rely on, and he did make it. In fact, he lived more than two decades beyond that.

He spent his life farming and doing factory work, but by the time he was in his 60’s, that kind of work was beyond him, and he looked for something else to fulfill his work ethic. Our town had one Dairy Queen and another ice cream stand that was open during the summer only, but we had nothing like an ice cream truck that went around the neighborhoods offering treats. So my grandpa, innovative “free spirit” that he was, decided that, instead of growing old and run down, he’d start a brand new career. He created himself an ice cream wagon.

He bought a Cushman motorized cart (electric motor), mounted a freezer unit on the back and filled it with ice cream treats. He had to keep it plugged into an electric outlet overnight in order to charge the motor. He also mounted bells and a cassette tape recorder, from which he played children’s songs along the routes. From that point on, for many years, from May to September, he could be seen all over town spending his days with the kids, who affectionately called him “The Ice Cream Man.” 

It was also during those years that he decided to take up the guitar – not learn to play it – just take it up. His youngest son was actually a musician with a band in northern Illinois, and the photo above shows Grandpa playing around with his son’s guitar. Though very old and worn, this photo is one of my favorites of my grandfather. It shows him at a big family picnic – looking again like the farmer he used to be – in his undershirt, suspenders, and hat – “goofing off” for his kids and grandkids. I personally think that this photo shows a man who refused to be bound up by a lot of social rules, and who lived his life as a “free spirit” to the best of his ability.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Movement

Moving Forward and Clearing the Hurdles

You will see in this exceptional photo that the horse is literally flying over this double hurdle with a measurable amount of clearance. A particularly difficult feat, and a beautiful sight to behold. I was inspired to see in this photo the meeting of a challenge in a quote from a woman named Dorothea Brande. She said: “Act as if it were impossible to fail.”

The beautiful horse in this picture believed he could fly over this hurdle with room to spare.  That is the only reason he is doing it successfully.  I found that looking at this picture and dwelling on it encouraged me to challenge myself to do the same, and I’m passing on that challenge. Whatever it is in your life that you need to — or even want to — accomplish successfully, believe that you can do it.  See yourself doing it.  Throw your heart over the hurdles that look like they could hinder you.

A famous trapeze artist from two generations ago was training a new student who, one day, suddenly became filled with fear as he looked at the precarious perch where he had to perform.  He froze — couldn’t move a muscle — and began to gasp, “I can’t do it! I can’t do it!”  The long-time veteran put his arm around the young man and said, “Yes, son, you can do it, and I will tell you how: throw your heart over the bar, and your body will follow.”  The Word of God backs up that premise with the truth from Proverbs 23:7, which says of man, “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”

The horse in this picture threw his heart over those bars.  He believed he could make that jump with plenty of room to spare.  So he did.  He simply acted on what he believed.  When you go through a difficult situation in your life and the hurdles seem so enormous that you feel you’ll never clear them – or when you find yourself facing the challenge of doing something that looks a little too big or too high for you – come back and take a long look at this photo.  Meditate on it; then obey Dorothea Brande’s wise words:  “Act as if it were impossible to fail.” Make one forward movement, and the rest of the moves will follow.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Close

I was so touched by this Apache Wedding Blessing when a friend shared it with me.  He is the former president of the Four Winds Intertribal Society, Inc. in the U. S. and travels the country teaching Native American history and culture. I thought it was appropriate for this week’s challenge, since it so accurately describes one of life’s “closest” relationships.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Hands

When I think of “hands,” one  of the first things that comes to mind is the cover of my book Healing Is For You!  The artwork for the front cover, reminiscent of the theme immortalised by Michaelangelo, is actually a portion of an original work by artist David Davis (House of David, Christopher, Illinois.) Since there is no hand as powerful, as tender, as creative, as victorious, or as life-giving as the hand of God Himself, I couldn’t think of any picture more appropriate for this week’s theme than one depicting God’s healing hand reaching down to touch the hand of His creation.