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6 years, 11 months ago 1

I have a very dear friend, that I met at the Savannah workshop last year. We have drawn closer over the months since first meeting. He is dealing with a knee that is requiring surgery. He may miss the October Reunion because of this issue. I’m concerned for him, as a good brother should be. I wrote him and email the other day asking how he was doing. This was his response. If it impacts you half as powerfully as it did me, you better sit down.

I have nothing to complain about and sooooooo many things to be thankful for.

My new granddaughters have changed my perspective more in the last five weeks than I think it’s moved in the last twenty years.

It goes something like this:

About a year and a half ago a pair of two and five year old sisters were living in a mud shack with a broken grass roof in a neighborhood of a city in Ethiopia that is so poor and destitute we can’t even imagine it. No clean water, no sewer, no anything. They ate only when they could find something in a dumpster, someone dropped food and they got to it before the dogs did, or the rare occasions when someone would share something with them. But even when they found food, it did them no good. The were so full of parasites that the chronic diarrhea kept them horribly malnourished, extremely dehydrated, and the anemia slowed their brains down to a crawl. The pain from the cavities and the broken roots of their teeth made eating anything that required chewing almost impossible. They barely had the strength to cry.

They at least had a shack to call “home”. Thousands of children in that ciy and hundreds of thousands in Addis Ababa live on the streets. The UN says that in Addis 250,000 orphaned children under the age of 12 live like that with less than a 40% chance of seeing their 18th birthday. 500 of them die in those streets each day. They literally send trucks out each day to pick up the little bodies that just didn’t have the ability to keep breathing anymore. How long these two would have survived had they remained there would have been measured in weeks, maybe months, but seeing their next birthday was not a probability.

They had a birth mother that loved them, but since their father died of malaria three years ago, she had no way to support any of them. She was physically as bad or worse than they were, as anything decent she had for food she gave to them. She approached an orphanage to see if they could take the girls. The orphanages are always full to overflowing and can seldom take another two. Whether she tried several times or only once, we don’t know, but because American couples had adopted two of the children, they could take in two more. That at least got them a bed and two meals a day and some basic medical attention to clean out most of the parasites Whether their birth mother is still alive we don’t know, nor probably ever will.

And because my daughter responded to the call that God put in her heart to adopt these two little girls, now three and six, every morning they now wake up in comfortable beds in a house that is warm in the winter and cool in the summer and the rain doesn’t come in. They have several choices of clean clothes to put on. They sit at a breakfast table with cold milk and orange juice from a refrigerator and cereal and toast waiting for them, and the hardest choice they’ll have to make that day is when to play outside and when to come in and play with their dolls. When they cry or the night overwhelms them, they are held and comforted. Their teeth still sometimes hurt a little, but one more trip to the dentist will finish that. They get to have temper tantrums, argue over the red crayon, tattle on each other, want ice cream when they haven’t finished their dinner, and swing on the swing set that “Papa” built until the sun is long gone below the horizon.

They have a hope and a future.

But it will be years until sleep comes easily and the nightmares subside. It will be as long before they stop wondering when they have their picture taken if it means they will be moving somewhere else, maybe soon, that is if they’re cute enough and someone wants them. Who knows how long it will take before they have any hope in their hearts that when someone says good bye that they will ever see them again.

Our prayer is they will come to know Jesus early on, and the probability is they will come to Christ easily because they have seen His model for salvation played out in their everyday life. They already know someone who gave up her life to save and love them even when she had never met them. She is their Mommy, and they don’t now know but one day it will dawn on them just what she did.

And she didn’t just save two, she saved four. Because the day those two left the orphanage, it left open beds so two more children can have a chance to see their next birthday.

That “Mommy” calls me “Dad” is an honor and a privilege.

So, nope, a bum knee isn’t worth complaining about. 🙂

The church my daughter is part of, Harvest Church, in Billings MT is doing wonderful things to address this whole issue in Ethiopia:

1. They’re working on adopting 100 kids into the church family so there will be a community of people that look like them and understand what they’re going through. Also makes for a great support group for the adopting parents; they need it.

2. They’re supporting orphanages there to increase capacity to provide both beds and day care/meals/and basic healthcare to more children.

3. They’re doing micro economic development work to create the ability for widows to earn an income to support their families and for extended families to take in children when both parents have died. When all it takes is a dollar or two a day to survive, a sewing machine given to three women can support three families.

You can see more of what they’re doing at http://harvestchurchbillings.org/ethiopia-hope <http://harvestchurchbillings.org/ethiopia-hope>

All this is part of why I think Scott’s work with Springs of Hope in Kenya is so awesome. The orphan problem is unimaginable all over that continent; we’re in danger of losing a whole generation.

This went a lot longer than I intended, but just seemed to need to be written to someone. Hope you don’t mind.

Love you, man

Big Guy

I’ve decided to postpone any complaining for quite a while. Thank you Lord for this act of supreme love, that has been given to these two children.

the pilgrim

*Photo note: This image was shot in Alcatraz. Many are in prison around the world and right next door, Jesus has the only key to unlock the cells, His love and sacrifice.

6 years, 11 months ago 0

Photography is about the decisive moment. We attempt to shoot at the very moment that all the elements are in place. I would love to be able to tell you that I not only caught the two Blue Angel’s F18 Hornets about to cross, but also timed the rest of the team to be in the background at the same exact moment. I did catch the jets, after several failed attempts, the background, that was
either chance or something else.

We would all like to believe that we have control over what happens in our lives. That is to some degree, or another, both true and false. We do have some control, but not total control. Circumstances can arise that we have no control over at all. Yesterday I shared about why I believed my dear friend Scott Kelby has been so blessed. The question you might ask yourself is can I put my self in a position to be blessed like that as well. The answer is a resounding yes. Would your blessing look like Scott’s? Probably not, because you’re you, and he’s Scott. Let me share another scripture with you this morning that backs up the scripture from yesterday.

Psalm 37:4 (New Living Translation)
4 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.
What does it mean to take delight in the Lord? If you believe that Jesus was the Son of God and that He came to earth to teach, live as an example, and then die and be resurrected for you, then you have accepted Him for who He truly is. If you accept that, you have no doubt offered your heart and life to Him. Having done so, you will come to grow in your relationship with Him. Soon your every moment will be affected by this close friendship and brotherhood that has arisen and grows stronger with each passing day. When you start to care more about what he wants, more than what you want, your desires will change. As you desire what He desires, He is more than able to make the desires of your heart a reality.
Let me give you a very earthly example; As you know I love airplanes and aviation. Around 14 years ago I decided to learn to fly to be able to shoot landscape images from the air. God has provided not only the experience, but my safety, and three airplanes. Are the airplanes and the flying vital to what God really wants in my life? I believe so. I do know for certain that because of the interesting experiences I’ve had I get the opportunity to share with others about these grand adventures, and in the process, more importantly, I get to share about my love of the Lord. Many people have shared with me that these “sharing sessions” have been important to them, spiritually. That is God’s work, not mine, my job is to be obedient when He calls. As Woody Allen said, “90% of success is just showing up.”
I don’t believe in blind chance. I believe things happen for a reason, sometimes the reason is something very grand in the overall scheme of your life, sometimes maybe just something pleasant, but always for a reason. God has a plan and he is under no obligation to share it with us. We probably couldn’t handle the details if He did reveal them. This is where faith comes in. If I truly believe that He loves me, and cares for me, and that He is always doing what is best for me, why would I worry or be concerned?
So is my life, Scott’s life, and your life chance or something else? I’ll leave that for you to ponder.

the pilgrim

*Photo note: Shot at the Reno Air Races in 2009, D300s and 70-300 AFS VR lens.

6 years, 11 months ago 0

No I’m not the pilot and Scott is not in this plane. Actually he and I are on the ground shooting together, but that is not the story. Please allow me to start at the beginning.

For ten years through the nineties and into early 2001, I ran the Great American Photography Workshops. We hired the absolute best nature photographers in America as the star talent at our workshops. Names like; John Shaw, Art Wolf, Galen Rowell, David Muench, Jim Brandenburg,
John Netherton, Pat O’Hara, Bryan Peterson, and on and on……. Given a couple of months they would easily fill up a workshop. Tuesday, Scott announced our Moab Event on his blog. The workshop was sold out with a 10 person waiting list in only 24 hours!

Why does Scott Kelby have such a following? Well, let’s see, he is arguably the best Photoshop instructor in the world, he is a exceptional photographer, and he is one of the best presenters, on stage, you will ever see. Want more? O.K. he is also a great musician and a one man comedy act on stage and TV. Did I mention that he is the biggest selling author in the Photoshop and Photography world by a very, very long margin? He’s also a really nice guy. In spite of all those accolades I think the reason for his phenomenal success is something completely different.

Matthew 6:33 (New Living Translation)
33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
Simple, Scott lives his life by that scriptural principle.
I know Scott Kelby, and I know the people that are closest to Scott, and I know what they think about him and why. If you got to know “the real Scott Kelby” you would find he is a very down to earth, honest man of integrity, who cares deeply about his family and his friends, and most of all honors God in his life. Read the introduction of any of his books an you will see that the last paragraph is devoted to his thankfulness for all God has bestowed on him.
“To God and His Son Jesus Christ: Thank you for always hearing my prayers, for always being there when I need You, for blessing me with such a wonderful joy-filled life, and such a warm loving family to share it with.” Scott Kelby
There are several ways to display your faith. Some shout it from the hill tops, I guess I fall into that category, and for some people that is how God chooses to use them. Honestly even more effective is what people learn about God by how they see you live, that is the category Scott falls into. Ask anyone that really knows Scott how he treats his friends, family and complete strangers. The answer will explain it all. His day to day life is his proclamation of faith.
I’ve always been honored to call Scott Kelby my friend, and we are joined together by a love for many of the same things, the most important being, that God that has given us all we have or could ever hope for!

the pilgrim

* Photo note: Sun n’ Fun 2010, with Scott, D700 – 70-300 AFS VR.

6 years, 11 months ago 0

A short note from the just ended, Boston trip. You can’t go to the cradle of freedom and not come away feeling more patriotic. Boston, is a great city to visit to remember our beginnings. From the old North Church to Paul Reveres home, from Constitutional Hall to the Freedom Trail. All are reminders of the great heritage that formed this nation. Inspite of the attempts of the revisionists,
America was founded by men that believed in a soverign God.

Please pray for our country. It is my opinion that only if those of us that truly love and serve God return to our knees in submission to Him, will He heal our land.

the pilgrim