Each day, a number of our church members who are also photographers post photos and spiritual commentary, following this schedule: NOTE: To see previous blog entries, access blog archives on the right sidebar.
- Sunday (Shelley Schurch)
- Monday (Cheryl Boardman)
- Tuesday (Robert Howson)
- Wednesday (Darren Milam)
- Thursday (Russell Jurgensen & family)
- Friday and Sabbath (Pastor Maylan Schurch)
Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Shelley Schurch
Sunday, September 22, 2019
This past week, early on, had its challenges (but what week doesn’t?), so when I came upon this sign Tuesday afternoon I had to grin. “Challenge Course” – seems like a succinct definition of life on this planet.
I noticed that this sign, with its arrow pointing to the left, gave me the option of turning that direction and taking on the challenges it promised, but life doesn’t always present us with that choice. Sometimes we are blindsided by challenging circumstances and scramble to find our footing on what has become unstable ground. Have you ever muttered to yourself, “It’s not supposed to be this way!” when confronted by unwanted, unwarranted events?
But this is looking at the negative. There are welcome challenges that perk us up, put a gleam in our eyes and renewed energy in our souls. We rub our hands, lick our lips, and perform other clichés as we look forward to taking on a challenge.
The day after I came upon this sign I was talking to a friend about her love for languages, and how many she had tackled thus far in her young years. When I confessed that I’d had difficulty learning German, especially the grammar, she said she knew what I meant, but that she had enjoyed the challenge. In fact, what she loved about learning any language, she said, was the challenge of it.
Last Tuesday as the work retreat that brought me to Sunset Lake Youth Camp (and this sign) concluded, I lingered a bit, savoring the peace and beauty of forest and lake. I suddenly remembered one of my favorite phone apps and pulled it up to measure the quiet I was enjoying. I was not surprised to see the needle of my decibel meter register almost as low as it could go, labeling the sound the equivalent of “rustling leaves.”
Psalm 46:10 whispered to me then: “Be still, and know that I am God.” I realized once more that it is God, and God alone, who equips me for any challenge I might face, and that getting to know Him, the truth about what He’s really like, is the greatest adventure of all on this Challenge Course of life.
He is with you, and for you – be encouraged this week!
Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, September 21, 2019
Earlier this week in a thrift store’s book section I noticed these four handsome royal blue volumes. Thrift stores usually don’t have enough staff to rigorously categorize their used books, so these were hastily shelved above a “Gardening/Home Improvement” label.
A Course in Miracles could be classified as new-age-y. It claims that its teachings will help the reader have a better life through a deeper understanding of love. Needless to say, the “miracles” taught in its pages are not Bible stories, nor are they modern phenomena arrived at through direct, personal prayer to a Creator God.
But, apart from these books’ teachings—just going by the title—I thought these books were perfectly shelved. Any gardener who believes that God created the original Garden understands that every sprouting seed is a demonstration not only of the miracle of organic growth, but of the love which inspired its design. Science can study plants, and they can adjust their mutations, and maybe even tweak their genes, but they can’t create them.
For several Bible texts which carry this idea further, click the link just below:
Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, September 20, 2019
A week or so ago on a walk in our neighborhood I found my eye caught by these gloriously backlit leaves. So I snapped a few photos, and later tried to tweak them so that they would show as nearly as possible what my eyes had seen.
I was so intent on the backlighting that I totally missed the beams of light coming from the photo’s right margin. It’s as though a kindly Creator is saying again, “Let there be light!”
Tree-leaves, as we know, thrive not only on water but on light. The magic of photosynthesis is what flings out those branches to their largest possible spread.
Light—metaphorically—is a spiritual idea as well. Take a moment to read and meditate on three “light” texts at the link below, and give God thanks for being a glorious God!
Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, September 19, 2019
Eastern Washington gets dry and can seem like a desert. So having rivers and water from the mountains is an important thing. In this image, the Wenatchee River spreads out like an oasis among brown hills.
The world can seem like a desert with little love to go around. That is why it is good to find a church family where people try to share God’s love. Wherever we are, we can play a part by finding ways to share God’s love with those around us. One way to love someone is to listen carefully to their ideas. You may not agree with everything, but by listening you might better understand where people are coming from.
It is good to remember that other people are like us, deserving forgiveness, consideration, and thoughtfulness. Let’s try to make our corners of life like an oasis where God’s love flows.
Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, September 18, 2019
This isn’t my dog, but I took a picture of him anyway. In fact, this was from a few years back when we didn’t have a dog in our life at the time and we were walking along a beach and saw this one having a blast in the water. I remember there were several people walking on the beach, a few other dogs around, and sea kayaks in the water. The owner would call out for him to “come in” or “stay close,” and without missing a beat, he’d turn back, or start steer towards the beach.
One of life’s challenges appeared to be one of this dogs’ strengths – listening. Remember there’s a big difference between listening and hearing. With ‘hearing’ you may be able to verbally absorb the words that are spoken, but converting that into an action is – listening. This dog not only heard his master calling out an important piece of guidance, but he quickly processed the words into actions – correcting his course appropriately.
In Proverbs 8:32-36, we can see, read and absorb the words that are written for each one of us:
Now then, my children, listen to me;
blessed are those who keep my ways.
Listen to my instruction and be wise;
do not disregard it.
Blessed are those who listen to me,
watching daily at my doors,
waiting at my doorway.
For those who find me find life
and receive favor from the LORD.
But those who fail to find me harm themselves;
all who hate me love death.
Listening is really easy – in theory, the difficulty comes in the practice. Make sure you practice a lot – your life depends on it.
Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, September 17, 2019
Grace – the word carries with it a richness of images that come to mind: a ballerina dancing the part of the swan in Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake; a wide receiver, fingers extended as he dives to grasp the pass thought to be uncatchable; and to me at least, this Eared Grebe outlined among the reeds. It’s one of those words that seem to have no negative compatible qualities. To have grace sets one apart from the mundane, the ordinary that plods through our existence. To have grace elevates to a position akin to refinement. And it’s for these reasons that we stand in wonder when we are fortunate enough to be blessed with its presence.
Grace – in spiritual parlance the word carries even more of that which deserves our awe. For God’s unmerited favor towards man is beyond the scope of human understanding. Joel caught a glimpse of God’s grace and our response to it: “Rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious (full of grace) and merciful (full of mercy), slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.” (Joel 2:13 New Revised Standard Version) God’s grace, it goes beyond the commonplace; it inspires us to seek the best, to demonstrate what life could be when blessed with His presence. Thank God for beauty, for that which uplifts and inspires. Thank God for His grace.
Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, September 16, 2019
I saw this sign on a recent trip to Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park in Central Washington. I was on my way to check out Dry Falls Lake and consider it an accurate description although I was able to make it in my two wheel drive passenger car and there was adequate room to pass in most places.
Show me the right path, O LORD;
point out the road for me to follow.
Lead me by your truth and teach me,
for you are the God who saves me.
All day long I put my hope in you.