Daily Photo Parable

Warmth In the Cold

Photo and Commentary ©2024 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Over the past couple of days, we’ve had snow flurries mixed with full sunshine and then freezing temperatures. I don’t know if the weather knows what it wants to do. Amid the snow, sunshine and freezing, I was able to capture an outdoor light with ice and snow resting on it. I don’t know about you, but when I look at this, I get a cold shiver – the blue light, mixed with the icy conditions, just looks like a cold situation.

Life on this planet can be the same way, a cold situation. There are times we feel alone or discouraged. When we aren’t connected with our Father, we feel the exact opposite of warm and fuzzy. That unconnectedness can really make us uncomfortable. We need that warmth in the cold; we need that comfort we find in the connection.

2 Corinthians 1:3 & 4

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Look at that! Not only do we get comfort (those warm and fuzzies) from God, but we get to share the same feeling with others. If we ourselves feel the coldness of this sinful planet, what do you think others feel? You got it – the same. The difference is, we have a source of warmth, a source of comfort. Why would we not want to share that same feeling?

Feel the warmth. Relish the comfort. Reflect to others what God gives to you.

Dusky-faced (cheeked) Tanager

Photo and Commentary ©2024 by Robert Howson
Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Even though the Dusky-faced Tanager is a fairly common species on the Caribbean slope of Central America and on into the northwestern part of South America, there is not a great deal written about this bird. Perhaps that’s because the more brightly colored members of the family have drawn more of the attention. Or maybe it’s because of its willingness to take up residence in the heavily degraded lands that once were beautiful forests. Another possibility is that while relatively common, it tends to stay ensconced in the low undergrowth and thick vegetation and out of sight of the casual observer.

Quoting the Cornell Lab of Neotropical Birds, “There is a lack of general knowledge about the natural history of Dusky-faced Tanager.” And although I don’t read French, the bird’s name in that language, Mitrospin obscure, leaves little doubt it isn’t what you’d call a headliner.

Ever heard of Shethar-Bozenai? Me either, at least not to the level of any recognition on my part. This fellow was what you might call a Persian bean counter, a government employee who simply did his job behind the scenes to make sure things were working as they should. He doesn’t get much attention in Scripture because his role isn’t central to the salvation story, but that doesn’t mean he is overlooked. His boss was King Darius, in far off Persia, but his own responsibility was to make sure the Jews who had returned from captivity to Jerusalem were behaving as they were supposed to. When the Jews began rebuilding the temple, Shethar-Bozenai wrote to the king asking if they really had permission to do so as they had claimed. In response to his letter, the king wrote back informing him that indeed they did, and that he should even give assistance to the workers in their building project. (Ezra 5:3 and 6:8) Isn’t it nice to know that God doesn’t just give permission; He is an enabler, even using people like this otherwise insignificant government worker to accomplish His purposes.

Resting in Green Pastures

Photo and Commentary ©2024 by Cheryl Boardman
Monday, February 26, 2024

This photo was taken from the Washington side of the Columbia Gorge. The location is near Cape Horn and it’s looking east.

It was pretty foggy but I love how green everything was. It makes me think 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.

You prepare a meal for me
in front of my enemies.
You pour oil of blessing on my head;
you fill my cup to overflowing.
Surely your goodness and love will be with me
all my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 23 (NCV)

Farewell to the Filigree

Photo and Commentary ©2024 by Shelley Schurch
Sunday, February 25, 2024

This year I’m documenting the firsts of the season. A couple of weeks ago we rounded a corner on our morning walk, and there were camellias in full bloom on three tall bushes. A few houses down we spied the first crocuses. Last week I saw a very ordinary retail business parking lot beautified by our first blossoming fruit tree. The next day I walked by a rhododendron blooming away. At each discovery I whipped out my phone to record the welcome sight.

Spring is edging its way in, and we greet it joyfully, even as we stock up on allergy meds.

While we say hello to the new season, which pays no attention to manmade calendars, I say a fond farewell to winter. I’m thankful it has not been a trying season, filled with weeks of icy roads and event cancellations and power outages. I’m thankful for its times of celebrations – Thanksgiving, Christmas, the New Year.

I’m also thankful for its beauty. In addition to all the lights and sparkle we humans add to its darkness, I’m thankful for its natural beauty. For many years I didn’t notice much, but then I looked closer and saw the trees.

Growing up in southeastern Alaska, I was most accustomed to evergreen trees, who were true to their name and did not become bereft of their finery in the fall. And so I was sad to see all the deciduous trees in our Seattle area lose their leaves in the fall, especially after many of them put on such a lovely show of fall color. Cottonwood, oak, dogwood, ash, birch, aspen, maple – all became stark and bare. Lifeless and bleak.

But one year my vision changed, and I had to change my vocabulary. I suddenly saw the beauty in their bones, hidden in summer by all their leaves. I now love the patterns they create against the changing canvas colors of the sky. I started murmuring contentedly about “the filigree of trees.”

I liked the rhyme sound, but I also hoped the word “filigree” meant what I thought it did – delicate, fine, intricate patterns. When I finally looked it up, here’s what Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary said: “a) ornamental openwork of delicate or intricate design b) a pattern or design resembling such openwork; a filigree of frost.”

Close enough. And I would rather gaze upon a filigree of trees than a filigree of frost!

I like mulling over how each season has its unique characteristics, brings its own blessings. I like how the change of seasons reminds me of our Creator, who changes not in His love and provision for us. And I like how He not only brings about the change in seasons, but how He also changed my view of winter trees from bleak and bare to beautiful filigree. Most of all, I’m head-to-toe grateful for His power to change not just my vocabulary, but my heart, and my future.

As we step out into this brand-new week, eyes wide open for all the spring signs, we keep our ears wide open, too, so they can hear this melody, as God sings it over us:

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you . . .” (Ezekiel 36:26 NKJV)

And a second song:

“ . . . being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

He is with us always, all ways, walking us all the way Home.

Care Labels

Photo and Commentary ©2024 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, February 24, 2024

Late last July I ran a post office errand, and while the clerk went into another room in pursuit of something, I got out my smartphone (hoping it wasn’t illegal to take pictures inside a post office) I snapped this shot.

What you see is a collection of stamp devices which the clerk keeps handy for when people bring in packages to mail. After examining a parcel, the clerk decides whether a stamp is needed.

If you can read the titles, you’ll see that none of them (except possibly “Spoiled” on the lower right) actually forbids a package to be mailed. Instead, these are “care labels,” announcing to the carrier whether special treatment is needed so that the item can safely make it to its recipient.

As long as we don’t push the parable too far, we could think of God as a post office clerk, handling packages (you and me) and deciding how best to send them on their way. Some of us are indeed “Fragile,” and need special handling. Because of sin, we’re all “Received in Damaged Condition,” and are naturally “Perishable.” However, He considers us all “First Class,” and He’s an expert at refurbishing the “Spoiled.” And finally, for those who have accepted Him into their hearts and long to live with Him forever, He will send us “Air Mail—Par Avion” to heaven!

Here is a “Bible bio” of God, made up entirely of Scripture passages.

https://www.bibleinfo.com/en/topics/god

 

Opening the Ports

Photo and Commentary ©2024 by Russell Jurgensen
Thursday and Friday, February 22 and 23, 2024

My daughter handed me her phone with a comment about the USB charging plug not staying in the port. After turning off the power and using a thin sewing needle, a fair amount of hay debris came out–evidence of caring for horses. She tried plugging in the charger and got a big smile. It is wonderful to have a working charger connection.

It reminds me about the things I let get in the way of a connection with God. Let’s resolve to keep our charging ports open by praying, listening, and keeping unhealthy influences from getting in the way.

Watches Over Me

Photo and Commentary ©2024 by Darren Milam
Wednesday, February 21, 2024

I recently took a trip to my companies’ headquarters, in Irvine, California. I was there for a week of training. During breaks, when it wasn’t raining, I would go and walk a couple laps on the soccer field/track they have. Given the proximity of the campus to the John Wayne Airport, there is a steady stream of airplanes that fly over. The image you see is a bit misleading, as this plane is coming in for a landing, yet it looks like it’s taking off like a rocket. I can assure you; it’s landing and about every 4 minutes, another one shows up – just overhead, heading to the tarmac.

As I walked around the track and heard the roar of the engines in final approach, it struck me (my thought, not the airplane) that there was this constant viewing from above. As I mentioned, about every 4 minutes, right overhead. It made me think of our Father – at ALL times (not just every 4 mins) He is watching over us. Ensuring we are taken care of. Our needs are being met. What an incredible thought.

In Psalms 121:5-8, we can read of this very promise:

The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm – He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

How about that?! Can you think of anything better? I can’t. Our God, our Father, watching over us – during the day, during the night. He’s watching our comings and goings – now and forever! Talk about relief.

So, the next time you see an airplane way up in the sky, think of that overwatch we have in our Creator. He’s got you!

Blog Archives

Warmth In the Cold

Photo and Commentary ©2024 by Darren Milam Wednesday, February 28, 2024 Over the past couple of days, we’ve had snow flurries mixed with full sunshine and then freezing temperatures. I don’t know if the weather knows what it wants to do. Amid the snow, sunshine and...

Dusky-faced (cheeked) Tanager

Photo and Commentary ©2024 by Robert Howson Tuesday, February 27, 2024 Even though the Dusky-faced Tanager is a fairly common species on the Caribbean slope of Central America and on into the northwestern part of South America, there is not a great deal written about...

Resting in Green Pastures

Photo and Commentary ©2024 by Cheryl Boardman Monday, February 26, 2024 This photo was taken from the Washington side of the Columbia Gorge. The location is near Cape Horn and it's looking east. It was pretty foggy but I love how green everything was. It makes me...

Farewell to the Filigree

Photo and Commentary ©2024 by Shelley Schurch Sunday, February 25, 2024 This year I’m documenting the firsts of the season. A couple of weeks ago we rounded a corner on our morning walk, and there were camellias in full bloom on three tall bushes. A few houses down we...

Care Labels

Photo and Commentary ©2024 by Maylan Schurch Sabbath, February 24, 2024 Late last July I ran a post office errand, and while the clerk went into another room in pursuit of something, I got out my smartphone (hoping it wasn’t illegal to take pictures inside a post...

Opening the Ports

Photo and Commentary ©2024 by Russell Jurgensen Thursday and Friday, February 22 and 23, 2024 My daughter handed me her phone with a comment about the USB charging plug not staying in the port. After turning off the power and using a thin sewing needle, a fair amount...

Watches Over Me

Photo and Commentary ©2024 by Darren Milam Wednesday, February 21, 2024 I recently took a trip to my companies’ headquarters, in Irvine, California. I was there for a week of training. During breaks, when it wasn’t raining, I would go and walk a couple laps on the...

Blood

Photo and Commentary ©2024 by Robert Howson Tuesday, February 20, 2024 Blood. More specifically, my blood. Generally, it goes unnoticed until we see it being lost. It’s quite likely that all of us have injured ourselves in an accident which didn’t really hurt until we...

The Way

Photo and Commentary ©2024 by Cheryl Boardman Monday, February 19, 2024 Some people believe that there are many ways to come to God and that you can pick and choose whatever you find most convenient for you. When Jesus was talking to His disciples, He told them:...

Heart Water

Photo and Commentary ©2024 by Shelley Schurch Sunday, February 18, 2024 The colors caught my eye first, rows of bright pink and bright purple bottles lined up on the store shelves. Then the name of the product drew me to a closer inspection. I picked up a purple...