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)


Western Chokecherry

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, June 30, 2020

If you’ve been on this earth more than a few years you undoubtedly have come to recognize that things are often not what they appear to be. For example, you might reasonably conclude the subject of this blog is the Black-headed Grosbeak pictured perching among the leafy foliage of a Western Chokecherry. Reasonable, yes, but this commentary centers on the tree, not the bird. While photographing the grosbeak, I’d noticed the attractive shrub but wasn’t certain of its identity until I returned home and had time to study my pictures.

This confirmed that it was indeed a Prunus virginiana, or Western Chokecherry. It is a member of the rose family and of the genus Prunus, as are a number of other fruits commonly consumed by humans. However, as its name implies, the small red to black fruits produced have a very astringent taste, and being both sour and bitter may cause the consumer to “choke.” That being said, chokecherries were the most important fruit in the diet of many of the North American Native American tribes.

While humans may be able to consume the berries, the wilted leaves can be fatal to horses, cattle, deer, and other animals with segmented stomachs if they eat more than ten pounds of foliage. Apparently the wilting of the leaves, following a frost or after branches have been damaged, causes cyanide to be released as well as making the plant taste sweet, something almost too good to pass up by grazing animals.

Cows aren’t the only ones who find themselves drawn to that which is deadly. James 1:14-16 puts it this way: “No, a man’s temptation is due to the pull of his own inward desires, which can be enormously attractive. His own desire takes hold of him, and that produces sin. And sin in the long run means death—make no mistake about that, brothers of mine!” (J.B. Phillips)

Green Pastures

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, June 29, 2020

A few years ago, I went hiking with some friends on the Chain Lakes Trail in the Mount Baker Wilderness. We started at Artist Point at the end of the Mt Baker Highway and this picture was taken on the descent to the Bagley Lakes and Heather Meadows.

I thought this little wetland was very pretty and peaceful (after a long slog) and it reminds me of the 23rd Psalm.

The LORD is my shepherd;
I have everything I need.
He lets me rest in green pastures.
He leads me to calm water.
He gives me new strength.
He leads me on paths that are right
for the good of his name.
Even if I walk through a very dark valley,
I will not be afraid,
because you are with me.
Your rod and your shepherd’s staff comfort me.
Psalm 23:1-4 (NCV)

Blue Beads

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Maylan Schurch
Sunday, June 28, 2020

Shelley and I have lived in our current home for 15 years. ‘Way back when we moved in, we discovered to our delight that the neighborhood was great for walking, so we explored it thoroughly.

Early on, we would walk through a grassy area near a water retention pond. And we noticed a lot of blue plastic beads lying at one spot on the path, maybe from a kid’s necklace which had broken. I never bothered to examine them—and the kid never stopped to gather them up–but I remember thinking These beads aren’t biodegradable—they won’t just melt away.

Fast forward a decade and a half to a couple of weeks ago. Shelley and I were on the same path, and a blink of blue caught my eye. Sure enough, those same blue beads were still there. Grass and other foliage had died and been reborn again and again, snow had covered the ground and then melted, rainstorms had pounded them, but they’re just as round and blue as the day they were made.

I guess you could add these beads to the long list of other examples of how permanent our thoughtless words and deeds can be to a sensitive heart.

Do you need to forgive someone? Do you need to ask someone to forgive you? Think of it as humbly collecting beads, gathering them back to yourself by heartfelt apology. Want to hear Bible advice about how forgiveness works and why it’s so eternally important? Click the link just below.



Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Maylan Schurch
Friday and Sabbath, June 26 and 27, 2020

The times, they are a-changin’, right? When I was a college student, what you hung from your car’s rearview mirror were a couple of three-inch-square fuzzy dice. Or if you were the more mystical type, you might opt for a Native American “dream catcher.” The dice were, presumably, for luck, and the dream catcher was to serve to enable you to perceive and realize your life’s ambitions.

Nowadays, in many, many parked cars, I see what you see in the photo above—a mask. (And Friday of this week, masks are mandatory in many situations throughout Washington State.) Since COVID-19 is what I’ve heard described as a “droplet-spread” virus, the main thing is to neither emit nor inhale droplets.

So here we have a very practical device. Wear it faithfully when near people, and wash your hands vigorously several times a day, and you’ve got a far better chance of safety than with the dice or the little woven net.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a little Bible hanging from a mirror, but there’s lots of evidence that it too will take you safely and sensibly through any number of spiritual and moral crises. Here are a couple of examples, and you’ll find more in the link below:

Does the world seem dark? Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)

Do you feel hopeless? For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. (Romans 15:4)

Here’s the link to a more complete listing of what the Bible says about itself.


Full On Blessings

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday, June 25, 2020

If your experience is similar to mine you probably know family and friends who are going through intense difficulties and you might face a few overwhelming challenges yourself. So I thought I would share these mountain flowers with you.

This whole area was logged last year leaving brown humps of dirt and piles of discarded logs and brush. It is interesting that in just one season, flowers jumped at the opportunity and covered nearly the whole hillside.

Hold close to God’s promises and keep your spirits up with humor and love for those around you even as we face major problems. I hope that your life can also be filled with color and blessings as mine has just like these flowers covered the hill.

Pacific-slope Flycatcher

Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Let me start off by saying, clearly my bird shots are not going to be anywhere close to what Robert Howson presents on our Tuesday edition of the Daily Photo Parable. With that in mind, don’t focus on the quality of the image but instead the cuteness of these little babies.

Several weeks back, I kept seeing this tiny little yellowish and gray/brown bird dart in and out of our front door area. I did some investigating and identified it as a Pacific-slope Flycatcher. I realized that, for the second year in a row, it was building a nest on top of a gutter downspout, directly under the eaves of our garage roof line. The great thing about this, it’s 6 feet away from our front door and only about 3 feet off our deck. This makes for prime viewing every time we walk in and out our front door. Not sure the mama flycatcher likes all the foot traffic, but it’s a protected spot and out of the elements.

Over the weeks, we’ve been able to see the little ones hatch, open their eyes and start to grow their fluffy feathers. The first image is of all four, squished in this tiny nest – eyes open and mouths usually calling for food. The second image was when one of the little ones, either thought it was time to fly or got pushed out of the nest. We heard the chirping – asking for food – but that wasn’t unusual except for the location of the sound. I went outside and saw it was all the way off our deck – had to maneuver 6 steps in total and about 20 feet of decking. It was out in the open, exposed to the elements and the watchful eyes of hawks, eagles, and any other predator. Without thinking, I coaxed it onto a piece of cardboard and attempted to get it back into the nest. Would you believe it – as soon as it was near the nest, onto the deck below it went. I snapped this image of it – directly below the nest – as I thought I may not see it again. I attempted one last time for the nest and it stayed!

When I came back in the house, I did some research and realized I may have interfered. What I was able to find in the way of guidance was – if the bird is at the “not so cute phase” (no feathers, eyes still closed, etc.) you can attempt to get it back in the nest. If it’s cute and fluffy, you should leave it where it is – most likely it’s trying out its wings and ready to move on. The idea is, the mama is still going to come and feed the little one, still care for it, until it’s truly ready to take off altogether.

Ironically, this research made me think of ME. There are plenty of times when I see a problem or something I need to fix in my life and I jump in and attempt to take care of it myself. Of course I know what’s best for me – right? Wrong. When I/we see things in our lives needing to be fixed, the best thing to do is leave it and ask God to help us. We may THINK we can fix the issue by ourselves, we may THINK we are ready to move on, but we most assuredly need God to come to our rescue. We need Him to feed us, to nurture us. There are plenty of things out there, ready to devour us and our only protection is our Savior.


Photo and Commentary ©2020 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Being in an unfamiliar town we walked into a diner based on advice given by a local. And it was good advice and even better food. We left feeling stuffed with absolutely no room for dessert, but the sign at the checkout left us with a sweet taste in our mouth. Perhaps that was because we recognized the logic on the sign as something we had employed ourselves in different contexts.

Read it for yourself and see if you don’t agree.

We’re all so good at it, rationalizing that is. Our logic may be impeccable, even if our final conclusion is not on a first name basis with truth. It’s easy to talk ourselves into believing what we want to believe because it delivers what we wanted in the first place.

Achan was good at it, maybe not as good as you or me, but he was good. Consider his story found in Joshua 7. You remember how he took some of the spoils of battle after the seven day siege and fall of Jericho. This wasn’t discovered until a minor skirmish with the one-horse town of Ai which ended in disaster. Of course we don’t know what went through his head, but we can fill in the blanks with our own imagination, something like – “nice Babylonian robe, five pounds of silver, and a gold bar – those guys from Jericho certainly aren’t going to use them anymore; I really shouldn’t let them go to waste. We weren’t really paid anything for our all our marching, and there were risks involved. That ought to be worth something, don’t you think?” I’m sure he came up with many more, all of them more convincing, all of them crafted to justify his actions. So, go ahead, have your muffin for breakfast; just make sure you’re calling it by its right name.