My Friend Rob

I wanted to share my photography blog with you today. I thought this opportunity was such an amazing example of God’s creative beauty. Hope you enjoy!

Andy Oldham Photography

I was sitting on the patio swing yesterday when Rob flew over the fence and landed right in front of me. We were both surprised at how close we were to each other. My friend Jeff Zablow is an amazing photographer of butterflies. One of the many things I have learned from him is that you can not make fast, sudden, or jerking moves in photographing wildlife. Quite frankly, it scares them away. You have to be patient and wait for the right opportunities. Please check out his site: https://wingedbeauty.com/.

Well, today was one of those wonderful opportunities and I was determined not to blow it. Rob saw me and stood very still. I moved my hands slowly to raise my camera. He hopped up on top of the fence, uncertain of who I was and my purpose for being where he wanted to dig for worms. I remained calm…

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Cathead Biscuits and Cave Spiders

worldform.com

                Photo from: worldform.com

Pushing and grunting did no good. Kicking did no good. Three twenty something year old men could not push a snag down a mountain in northern Tennessee. Though dead, the tree was still standing and we struggled to move it. “Come on, we can do this,” Ash said. The resolve to our purpose of knocking this deadwood off the cliff would certainly be rewarded with a manly feeling of achievement. Commitment to the task culminated in the tree rocking back and forth. Woody debris fell from its sides. With each push and moan the base of the tree became weaker. Anticipation grew. We knew it was going down.

A desperate chittering and clicking at the top of the tree forced us to stop and look up. A frightened squirrel flittered back and forth at the top investigating the demolition. She leaped into the air and displayed a graceful glide down the mountain. What a site! This flying squirrel was one of the most beautiful creatures I had ever seen. The parade was not over. One by one, her pups climbed into view, hurled themselves into the air, and coasted down the mountain to their mom. Not one, not two, but four of these babies put on a show of magnificent beauty.

We stood in awe and humility, astonished that while we loved nature, we had no respect for her. We had nearly destroyed their home. Together we agreed to move on and let the tree stand.

Our first day ended and we hiked our way down the mountain to Mike Ashburn’s Grannie’s house. Grannie’s home was typical in rural Tennessee. Built in the 1940’s it was an old clapboard siding home with a tin roof and neighborly front porch. Her life was set in the old ways, unfamiliar to me. Echoes of hardship grooved a patterned face acquainted with rural life. Her home was small but open and welcoming. I shall never forget the pencil portrait hanging on her living room wall—two old mules, husband and wife. Someone had given it to her to remind her of her husband who had passed many years before. I could tell by the way she talked, she loved that drawing, but not as much as she missed him

Though it was late spring there was coolness in the mountains that would bite you in the butt if you didn’t cover up. We slept on old feather beds covered in handmade quilts. At the end of the bed was a thunder mug to keep us from trekking the darkness to the outhouse. Most enchanting was the fireplace sitting on the floor against the wall. It was not a wood fireplace. I was so tired from hiking the mountain that first day, sleep overcame this unacquainted odor of sulfur from coal. Morning brought a refreshing air about it. While snuggling under the quilts I could hear Grannie wrestling pots and pans in the kitchen.

       Cathead Biscuits -             dmataflour.com

            Cathead Biscuits – dmataflour.com

Yes, there is a God. Hearing Ash hug his Grannie, I walked into a favorable aroma of fresh bacon in the kitchen. I was ready for an amazing breakfast. With the aforementioned came farm fresh eggs, and cathead biscuits. I don’t remember what kind of jelly she pulled from her pantry but it was homemade and delicious. In case you don’t know why they are called cathead biscuits, it is because they are about the size of small cathead and very fluffy (recipe: http://www.mtnlaurel.com/recipes/766-old-fashioned-cat-head-biscuits.html)

Our purpose for being in Tennessee was to go caving. I had never experienced this sport but was eager to try. Grannie warned us to be careful. “There have been people lost in those caves and never found,” she said. Her caution made us a bit nervous. Still, we were young and stupid and moved on in our manly pursuit.

Photo from: Penterest

                       Photo from: Penterest

The first cave greeted us with a huge, amphitheater entrance. We entered walking tall and daylight showed our way. The path began to narrow to a point where we had to crawl on our knees. Not too far in, the ceiling started moving. Huge cave spiders crawled upside down. I knew they would not hurt me but it was still creepy wondering if one would fall on my back and into my clothes.

We arrived at a point where the stark reminder Grannie had given earlier made us aware of possible danger. We were able to stand again and walk through eight to ten foot tall cavern trails. Awareness that water had, over time, carved these rugged walking channels brought caution. Yes, we had marked our journey so we would know how to get back to the mouth of the cave, but what should we do if water arrives? This thought initiated our climb to the top of these walls scooting forward with only spread out arms and legs holding us above the floor.

A small opening, illuminated by our flashlight, suggested we climb in to see where it would go. On our bellies we crawled a few feet before I said, “Stop!”

“What’s wrong?” my little brother, Dick, asked.

www.richard-seaman.com

              Photo:                    richardseaman.com

“Back up, I am face to face with a bat.” My light shined on a bat, just inches away. I am glad I saw it before I climbed through and knocked it awake. I shudder to think my reaction to that proposition. The response would not have been a calm one, I assure you.

Ash told Dick and me this cave was very long. No one knew where it came out. Dye was placed in the channels many years before and it turned one of the rivers red. There was still no sign where the cave ended. The suggestion was that the cave traveled under the river and seeped up into the riverbed through an underground spring. We enjoyed the cave for several hours, memories of this one time event were gradually embedded in my mind. We had one more cave to explore but desired a much-needed rest for our throbbing muscles. We went back to Grannie’s for lunch and enjoyed her company while she listened to our adventure.

When Ash told her we were going to the cave by another grandmothers home, this upset her. She raised a second red flag. “That cave is too dangerous. Some have even drowned and washed into the mountain and never been found. There are underground springs that gush through the rock this time of year without warning.” She didn’t beg us not to go, but her voice pleaded.

Okay, so now we have fought off cave spiders and a bat—worried about getting lost in a huge cave that has no end, and now we have to be fretful about an underground torrential river burying us in the mountain for eternity? These are the thoughts I kept to myself on the drive to this cave. I was unsure I wanted to continue this exploration. But, being the man I was, I sucked it up and persevered with the other two manly men.

https-_farm9-staticflickr-com

          Photo: https-_farm9-staticflickr-com

The entrance to this cave was smaller and extremely wet. We were still able to walk in. Once inside, the area was small. There was an opening in the wall just large enough to crawl inside. Filled with thoughts of this being my last day on earth, I went last. There was a choice. Go right, or, go left. The right tunnel would take us uphill, the left tunnel would take us downhill. Uphill was chosen. We slow crawled on our bellies through a narrow passage with shoulders rubbing both walls. The floor held about an inch of, “colder than a frog’s butt,” standing water soaking our clothes. The chill prompted me to remember Grannie’s warning. There had already been water rush through here, and not too long ago, I thought out loud. “I’m backing out and getting out of here,” I said. Crawling backwards was slow. I didn’t think I would ever reach the entrance. When I did, I climbed through to live another day. My words must have been what the other two wanted to hear; they were right behind me.

We met Ash’s other grandmother, a beautiful Appalachian woman. We stood outside her home to visit. Our clothes were too nasty to go inside even though she asked. Wet and cold we left for Grannies. We spent one more cold night snuggled down in feathers and covered in quilts. We left for Anderson (IN) early Sunday morning.

This was an adventure I will never forget. Considering the unpleasant thoughts of death at any moment, I never want to go caving again. Once was enough.

 

One Nation Under God: Healing Race in America

As we continue our discussion on Bridges, Keith Haney has presented his eye-0pening interview allowing us to understand a little more about our black brothers and sisters. Read this interview and listen with your heart. Evaluate your own feelings in light of his words, and in light of God’s Word, and decide if there is more you can do as a Christian to encourage one another.

The Light Breaks Through

lightstock_162922_churchFor all those who have been waiting for my Bible Study on One Nation Under God: Healing Race In America. It is coming out March 4, 2017.  Here is the link to the promotional site.  Sign up for updates on the release date.

http://blog.cph.org/around-the-house/cph-authors/qa-rev-keith-haney/

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The Unfaithful Preacher

iChristian

The unfaithful preacher

(David Porter, “The Nature and Power of Truth“)

Ministers of the gospel hold a place of immense responsibility to God and the souls of men. If they suppress the truth as it is in Jesus, for fear of offending their hearers; if they substitute laxness of principle, for the doctrines of the cross; dry external morality for practical godliness–they do it at an awful peril. They are not placed on Jerusalem’s wall to amuse the multitude with a mock religion in human attire. They are not sent forth to fabricate new theories, or gloss the truth, to render it less offensive to the carnal heart. For no such end was the Christian ministry instituted. The gospel heralds are not at liberty thus to aspire. They are ambassadors from God to deliver His message in its true spirit and genuine simplicity. If they depart…

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Could You Forgive a Murderer?

I recently ran across this post on forgivness. Our God is so good and he promises us that, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10

Even In This

Could you forgive someone who killed your loved one? A few years ago, I reconnected with a long-distant friend on Facebook and phoned her to catch up. She told me about her husband’s heinous murder and the heartache that followed his death which included her grown son’s drug addiction. I sat there, glued to the phone. But it wasn’t the details of his murder or her son’s addiction that captivated me as much as her response to these events.

Time passed and I was inspired as I watched my friend get involved in prison ministries. I asked if I could write her story and share the message of God’s grace and forgiveness with others. This is Wendi’s incredible story Inside Job that was published in the online magazine: Now What?

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Bridge The Divide

BRIDGES – If you are following us in the Bridges series, here
is our next post, by Pete Gardner. Thanks Pete!

Pete Gardner's Blog

­­This post is being written as part of the Bridges group, seeking to close the divide that is creeping into our society.  I want to thank Susan Irene Fox, Andy Oldham and Lilka Raphael for their work on this project and for inviting me to be a part.

I will l readily admit that I have prejudice in my blood.  I have long been leery of other races and religions, of people who speak in a foreign accent, or who speak another language when I am present, and of people who may not be as responsible as I in finding work and getting their lives in proper order.  Yes, I have a lot of problems in this area.  I joined the Bridges group to try and get some direction and answers to deal with this prejudice, and it has helped tremendously.  I have been pondering this post for a while…

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One Night of Terror

My little brother, Dick, and I decided to go fishing at the Salamonie Lake in northern Indiana. We stopped and picked up the required fishing license, some food and drinks, red worms and a bucket of minnows to entice the fish to our hook. Because it was late afternoon when we arrived we quickly found a primitive camping spot on top of a hill overlooking the lake. Laying out our sleeping bags and gathering wood limbs for the campfire, the camp was readied. Grabbing our poles and tackle boxes we headed downhill to the lake and fished for a few minutes before dark—we caught nothing. Arriving back at camp the prepared fire pit was lit and we pulled out hamburger meat and began frying.
Now, I don’t know if you have ever experienced the joys of primitive camping or not. There are so many unexpected things that you cannot prepare for, or, for that matter, do anything about. As we began frying our burgers the firelight brought the arrival of hundreds of large beetles. Flying above the light, and sometimes too close to the fire, they would pop and fall into the frying pan. Dick was cooking, so he flipped them right out on the ground while another fell in the pan. I must say it was one of the best burgers I’ve ever eaten. It must’ve been the bug juice.
There is nothing I enjoy more than being outdoors, in a secluded location, enjoying the peace and quiet of brotherly conversation. We talked into the night. Once we realized that if we were going to get up at the crack of dawn and feed the fish a few gold-plated Eagles Claw hooks with a worm of minnow attached we fell asleep.
The tree-covered night was pitch black when all hell broke loose. Sounds of a war zone competed with fear and trepidation when it entered the camp. Startled from our sleep with the ripping and shredding of a peaceful nights sleep in these woods terrified us. There was nothing we could do but lay still and wait on death to suck the last pant of breath from our lungs. Neither of us had a gun. Dick lay in his sleeping bag with our only defense, a long machete. Of course, that was no comfort to me as I didn’t know Dick had it with him. Even if I had, how would that help me, if I was chosen first? We had flashlights but could not turn them on; we certainly did not want this enormous creature to know our locations.
We were paralyzed to move. Not a noise was made as the clamor grew into louder racket emulating raucous reverberations of destruction. What ever was coming our way meant business. The horror and vulnerability of being reduced to chicken feed intensified, bringing with it panicky thoughts of extermination.
The clatter of pandemonium stopped as fast as it had begun. We did not move until the morning twilight began its revelation of stately trees. They covered the moon and stars through the night yet witnessed this ceremony of venomous hysteria. If only the trees could talk and tell me if the demon was gone, then, perhaps, I could get up. Dick climbed out of his sleeping bag, looked around and started laughing. I followed his lead and pulled myself from the safety of a warm bag, stood, and chuckled along with him.
I believe the bug juice flavored burgers was the first thing that alerted this devil to our location. But, the sniffing around our camp and destroying a Styrofoam minnow bucket  made that little raccoon’s night. While he ripped and shredded, scaring us senseless, and feasted on fresh minnow, Dick and I each had a penitent conversation with our Maker. Don’t you laugh, unless you’ve been in our camp.

Photography Award

Although Christian Grandfather is an award free blog, I am pleased to announce that I have been ranked in the top 50 of most popular photographers in 2016 among my “View Bug” (photography site) peers. I feel honored in every way. When I tried to copy the award it was so small on this blog you couldn’t read it so I posted on top of one of my floral photos. the original is posted at the bottom of this post.

award_3967_edited-3If you would like to see more of my photos you can find them at andyoldhamphotography.wordpress.com

Here is the little bugger that won me this honor.

Click to enlarge detail

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This is the copy of the original award that could not be read here on WP.

view-bug-2016_6167

View Bug is a wonderful place to post your photos. You will receive instruction, encouragement, information on contests, and awards for your photography. Please visit at viewbug.com