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3 years ago 7


It was 1991 and I was embarking on one of the greatest adventures of my life, the forming of the Great American Photography Weekends.  My father had passed a way just a few years before at the young age of 66 and I was bound and determined not to work to 65, retire and then die within a few months as he had done.  I remembered how my dad, an avid fisherman, had dreamed of opening a bait and tackle shop and hanging out with fisherman for his “Golden Years”!  Well his golden years never arrived.  My dream retirement was to travel across the country and world and photograph all the places and things I had never gotten to see!


Starting your own business, even in better economic times, was a challenge.  Someone would have to guarantee that the family finances went on while I struggled to start a new venture.  I made a promise.  I would take some years off from holding down a regular job to chase this dream, and Sherelene would make sure we kept our heads above water while I ran the GAPW.  The GAPW was an instant success bringing in truck loads of money, however in the process of running the business we spent truck loads of money.  In some years I took very little salary in order to keep the ledger out of an iron lung!!.  Eventually, it was very self supporting, but through it all, thick and thin Sherelene kept her word.


When 9/11 happened workshop companies fell on hard times.  Since by then I had  investors in the company, I stepped down as the manager of events, and president of the organization and took a regular job again, being a Tech Rep for Nikon.  The GAPW limped along for another 8 years and finally went out of business early this year.


I have really enjoyed doing my work with Nikon, but the vigorous schedule was starting to get harder as more age piled on me.  I started to dream of retiring and doing more workshops and shooting more, and not being away from home as much.  I even started making plans to do just that.  Sherelene and I had several conversations about retirement and she encouraged me to consider working a little longer, so that we might be better prepared for the day we were on a fixed income.  Truthfully, I really didn’t want to put retirement off.  Even though my health is good and I feel capable of working longer, I was ready.


Then Sherelene reminded me of my promise,which I had conveniently, (for me), pushed to the back of my mind.  It was apparent that she was concerned about my hanging it up early.   This is when being a Christian means God will have a little talk with you in your spirit.  I was reminded that I “had” given my word and she had kept hers.  It didn’t take me long to know that I needed to keep mine.  So I told my boss and friends Scott Diussa and Bill Pekala that I would like to not talk about retirement for now that I would like to remain a member of the team a little longer.  To my shock they both seemed happy to hear it!  I kinda wondered if they would be happy to see me ride into the sunset.


Now this has all been way too much information about my life, more than you need to know, or probably could care about.  I will still teach my several private workshops a year under the His Light banner, I’ve completed my 5 course deal with Kelby Training, and I will not change anything about my website, I’ll just be at Nikon a little longer.  The important message is this; when you give your word you have to stand by it otherwise your word doesn’t mean a thing.  It also means that I deeply love, and appreciate my wife.  When I was traveling around America seeing things I never dreamed I would get to see and experience she was home holding the home fort down.  While she is great at what she does, and does love her work, her level of enthusiasm about getting up and going to work didn’t rise the level of my “chasing a dream across the U.S., Africa, the Galapagos Islands, Europe, and beyond….”   No, she was faithful to her promise, and  now, I can do no less.  If I said to her, but I want, what I want, I would never be able to look myself in the mirror again.  Before anything else in life, I refuse to disappoint, my God, my wife, and family, and those brothers and sisters the Lord has entrusted to me.  Of course, I can’t do that on my own, but with God’s guidance, strength, and help, I will make my very best effort.


the pilgrim



*Photo Note:  D700, 17-35 AFS f 2.8 lens, ISO 200 f22 t 1.6 seconds  HDR.

3 years ago 2


Sorry, I’ve been out of commission!  I had my tests on Tuesday and it seemed things went well, then Wednesday morning I started bleeding internally.  Spent most of the day trying to figure out what was the source.  By last night we had it stopped and I was wiped out.  All is well now, last night the bleeding stopped and I think we are past it now.  I felt awful not getting anything posted, but I was under the weather.


I really miss reaching out when something stands in the way.  I never realized how much blogging meant to me until I was not doing in for a day and half.  When God tells you to do something, and you obey, He opens up so many wonderful blessings from it.   It’s fun to share what He places on my heart and then see when He is blessing others.  I’ve always known that it isn’t me and that the kind of repsonses that come could only be from Him, but it’s still fun to just get to ride the bench for Him.


Today I had to have some more blood work done and sitting in the waiting area, (I hate sitting in the waiting area), a lady asked if I was Bill Fortney, turns out she used to live in Harlan where I’m from.  She knew some of my family and I knew some of hers, we had a really nice conversation.  In the conversation she mentioned that her mother had died about a month ago.  I could tell that it was helping her to talk about her and so I listened and shared with her.  By the time she left I think her spirits were lifted, I know mine were.  Everyday God gives us a chance to reach out and comfort others and He also has people reach out to you too.   What a loving Heavenly Father we have that He knows what our needs are and places people right in the right place at the right time to meet our needs.  Some people would say those kinds of things are only a coincidence, no way, it happens way to often to be anything but he Hand of God.


Make yourself available to Him, to be used and to be blessed……….


the pilgrim


*Photo Note:  Nikon Coolpix P7000.





3 years ago 14


Today was not one of my best days, a lot of things went wrong, or happened, that upset me, or angered me.  I was not at my best.  Now before anyone gets the wrong conclusion, my annual cancer test results seem to be fine, so no bad news was learned there.  I won’t go into any of the details but lets just say that I felt this was a pretty awful day.  I was very upset, and acted pretty much like a child about it, until I got home. Please let me explain.


I hit the door feeling awful and was just about to plan, and throw a big pity party,  when I turned on the TV.  I switched over to ESPN in hopes that a little sports would get my mind off the other experiences of the day.  I wasn’t ready for what happened next!  ESPN had a special on an athlete I’ve always liked, Randall Cunningham.  He was a quarterback some years ago that had some really good years before he retired.  In the piece they went through some of the ups and downs of his career and there was a number of both!   The story went on to tell how he found his faith and endured some tragedies few of us could survive.  Randall and his wife lost a 2 1/2 year old son to a drowning and of course, they were crushed by the loss, but the faith they exhibited, and their trust in their Heavenly Father was a deep witness to me, and reminder of who I am supposed to be, and who God can help me to be.  I was so touched that standing in my kitchen I wept and asked God to forgive me for my actions, thoughts, and forgetting that we are not alone, no matter what we have to face.


Those of you that come here and read what the Holy Spirit inspires me to share deserve my complete openness and honesty, I know that days and weeks go by and I sound so positive,  and on top of my game, but you need to know how badly I stumble, and how short I fall, not because you need to know that about me, but because you need to know how faithful He is to pick us up.


God never promised us that every circumstance would be easy, or fair, or comfortable,  He did promise us that we would never face any of it alone…….


the pilgrim


*Photo Note:  My dear brother Kent Irvin in Arches National Park.  Nikon D3s, 28-300 AFS VR lens.


Below is a short excerpt from the film, if you can find the full program I promise it will bless you, as it did me.

3 years ago 4

I’m off this morning for my annual cancer tests.  Haven’t eaten since midnight yesterday, If Sherelene doesn’t keep me locked in the car I might attack a McDonalds.  I’m so hungry I might even eat an egg, and I hate eggs!  I taught a workshop last night with Jim Begley at my church and the group seemed overly concerned about my tests, if they know something I don’t know, it beats me.  A lady asked me if I was concerned having had such bad news from former tests?  I really don’t think about that very much.  My life is in God’s hands, has always been.  When I was diagnosed with terminal cancer 31 years ago, He saw me through it.  When it’s time, it’s time.  I’m not a fatalist, I just know who has my back.


I write my entries in the hopes that someone that doesn’t know Him will meet Him here.  I was laying in bed this morning and the thought came to me, what if this entry were the last I ever got to write, what would I say?  It would be titled; “The No Risk, Limited Time Offer…..”


If you answer the knocking at your hearts door, there is no risk, and the only time we have to open that door is while we are still here.  Pretty simple proposition……….  and one I hope you will consider.


the pilgrim