While in Lancaster, PA, my wife and I toured the Amish area. Through our tour guid, we learned about the passion and purpose, which inspires these Godly people. Their Christian spirituality is the framework that sets their lifestyle.
The picture below show mules that are the power force to pull the plows, hay wagons, balers, hay cutters, and wagons through the acres of farm land.
Tractors often must be adapted for off-road use only, lest they provide the opportunity to go too far from home. This usually means steel tires rather than rubber.
The Amish look to God for help in this dangerous world. When they are face with problems, their first instinct is to pray rather than to seek a quick fix. They learned patience; they feel demanding a quick fix signals a lack of trust in God.
I hope you enjoyed this little article and have an opportunity to tour and visit an Amish community.
When looking at the Angel Oak Tree, it’s like a walk through a mystical time period. Spots of hazy, heavenly, light shows its beams through the leaves onto the branches. I expected nymphs and winged fairies to flitter under the huge canopy of the massive oak tree. This centuries-old tree continues to grow near a dirt road that leads to the Angel Oak tree; which is surrounded amongst many Low Country trees.
The Angel Oak tree is located on St. Johns Island, about twelve miles south from downtown Charleston, NC. When I saw the Angel Oak Tree in 2019, it is free admission. There just aren’t many free places to stop, and this is one that is definitely worthwhile.
This peculiar tree is said to be one of the oldest living oak trees east of the Mississippi River. Arborists estimates the Angel Oak tree is 400 to 500 years old. Several reasons for the Angel Oak’s longevity is its natural hardiness, long taproot, and widespread root systems, that anchors the tree deep into the ground. This is how it has survived natures elements of winds, storms, earthquakes, and hurricanes through-out the centuries. It does show scars from natures elements; but the old oak tree still stands strong and brave.
The uniqueness of the tree is that it grows both up and out. Its massive, twisted, and gnarled branches reach out like tentacles from a giant monster. It’s said, by tour guides, the tree stands 66.5 ft (20 ml), the trunk measures 28 ft (8.5m) in circumference and produces shade that covers 17,200 feet (1,600 m2).
Local folklore tells of another source for the name of the tree; ghosts of former slaves are said to appear as angels around the tree.
In her Ghosts and Legends of Charleston, Denise Roffe interviewed a woman descended from the slaves who toiled on the island’s plantations. She recounted the legends of the tree, including that it was once home to huge birds (likely vultures) who fed on the bodies of lynched slaves. The old woman continued saying that many people were buried under the tree including Native Americans who met under its shady branches. She stated that these spirits still gather around the oak and that they also work to protect the tree.
Recorded history traces the ownership of the live oak and surrounding land to year 1717. When Abraham Waight received it as part of a small land grant, the tree stayed in Waight’s family for four generations, and was part of a marriage settlement to Justus Angel and Martha Waight Tucker Angel. The Angel Oak tree is now owned by the City of Charleston and has become the focal point of a public park.
Many weddings and engagements take place under the canopy of this beautiful historical tree.
What would your life be like if you had no emotional contrast? A human life is filled with contrast. I can’t imagine a static mind or body.
When I was young I had a mix of distinguishing characteristics. Now, what sets me apart from some people are my responses.
Which side does your emotional contrast lean to?
Do you show:
Love when others are Hateful
Joy when others are Depressive
Peace when others are Stressed
Patience when others are Impatient
Kindness when others are Rude
Goodness when others are Insensitive
Faithfulness when others are Backstabbing
Gentleness when others are Rough
Self-control when others are Controlled by a passion
When I know I am focusing on the negative side, I refocus and set my mind on the positive side of life. If we stay focused on the negative side, it is like a cancer it will eat at you until you can’t handle that pain. It is better to lean to the positive side.
A shelf will hold objects that will show a story. What do the things on your shelf say about you? Maybe that rigid piece of material holds pieces of your past. A few pictures of friends from a school graduation you haven’t seen for many years. “Friends for ever” many years later dust covers the frames, the pictures start to fade. If you know the address of those friends, maybe it’s time to send those friends a handwritten note. Does that shelf hold your trophies and objects? A trophy for first place. The joy and excitement at that moment lessen with time. Later the pride begins to humble. Is it time to move on and take the trophies off the shelf? Some objects are things to indicate your hobbies or career are now dust collectors.
My friend and I volunteer to paint murals on the walls through out the hallways of the Veterans Administration hospital. The hallways were painted an institutional drab tan. Now, with painted murals, it brings life, joy, and contentment for the patients, staff and visitors as they pass through the halls.
One particular morning, I asked God for His blessing on a mural my friend and I were to paint. I prayed for direction, help and assistance to paint this mural.
Unlike my friend who is a professional artist, I am a novice painter. As like most novices we don’t see our mistakes and faults as well as others see them. Throughout the painting, my friend Stan found fault. He’d say your lines are not smooth, you need more value, use more water, or you’re holding your brush wrong. This was one of those days, he was not himself. I was ready to give it up and hand the brush over to him telling him, “if you can do it better, then you do it.” But I didn’t.
I just stood aside and watched him paint. Inside me, I pouted and I started to put myself down. I was thinking I’ll never be a good artist.
When I got home, I realized that Satan was telling me all those negative things. But, God answered my prayer from this morning. I asked Him for direction, help and to assist me. He did it through my friend Stan who told me my problems and showed me how fix them.
It was then I realized God was there the whole time as I painted. I seemed to have given up not only in myself, but in my faith, trust and belief.
God was there the whole time. My lesson is to focus on God not on myself. I pray this story may help others.
Below are a few murals we painted at the Veterans Hospital
This is a piece of digital art I did of a parent owl and its young with a harvest moon surrounded by a starry night. The young owl on the right waited over an hour for its parent to return. When the parent returned, the young owl showed its love and joy as it nestled against the parent.
I get great pleasure in photographing birds. It’s not just to capture the detail, light, or composition of a picture. The enjoyment is the outdoors and to learn from the animals, in my case the birds. Like this picture of the Hermit Thrush, food is there for the picking. They eat what they need and leave some for others. Nature provides the material, source of nutrients and water for their survival. Not only does God provide for all animals and insects, He is there for all who believe.
The common house sparrow adapts easily to environmental changes. They are seen in many geographical areas. We know the sparrow existed in the Arab countries. In the Biblical reading, Jesus used the sparrow to show that God loved all his creatures. It was ceremonially clean and eaten as food by the poor.
These birds are not native to America. They first came to Brooklyn, New York in the 1850’s. Now, the house sparrow is a year round species in the continental United States. Some people consider these birds undesirable. They make a nuisance by nesting in man-made structures, especially in the eaves of homes.
Like the elephants and hippos, these little creatures enjoy dust baths. They are often seen creating little dust storms as they roll in the dirt. When the sparrows move on the ground they hop instead of walk like other birds. The adult sparrows are mainly vegetarian, but the young birds, when first hatched, feed on insects for their diet.
This white-throated sparrow speckled in an array of earthly hues camouflaged with the help of fallen autumn leaves and broken twigs. At this moment in time, I am its’ predator, but only to be shot through the lens of my camera.
I captured this picture of the parent and the young in early June 2013 on the lower end of the James River. I like the diamond uniformity; the parent pelican is at the rear while the juveniles are in the front. A great day for the pelican family to float down the river.