Tag Archives: symbolism

Is Your Window Broken?

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Ever heard of ‘The Broken Window Theory’? I hadn’t until a few months ago when our deputy chief referred to it during one of our fire department meetings. Although ‘The Broken Window Theory’ is based on the premise that disorder leads to crime, within the framework of the theory is a principle that can be found in the book of Proverbs.

I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man. —Proverbs 24:30-34 KJV

Whether it’s a broken window, things left undone or out of place, or disintegrating relationships, it conveys a sense of complacency and apathy, and can become a new ‘normal’ if left neglected or disregarded. Those directly or indirectly involved are basically saying, “I don’t care enough,” or “It’s not my problem or responsibility,” or “We don’t feel led to get involved”. Neglect leads to disorder, disorder leads to chaos, and chaos leads to tragedy.

We are all a part of something, even if only a part of humanity. We all have a responsibility. If we want peace instead of chaos, happiness instead of sadness, beauty instead of ugliness, success instead of failure, and growth instead of decay, then the little things matter, and it’s up to us to take ownership and fix the broken windows.

 

If you liked this, you might also like… Wisdom Wednesday: Neglect Destroys

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Lift ‘Em Up!

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with special thanks to Chris Ward, Jeremie Dufresne, and my other brothers.

Wanna build a stronger, better team or crew? The subject came up when Bill, one of my firefighter brothers and I were talking about my experiences at a recent structure fire. He is very knowledgeable and has years of experience, but since I am a ‘probie’ with comparatively little knowledge or experience, and being the smallest member of the fire department, in some ways I am the weakest member. I expressed gratitude for the on-scene training I received from both my own department brothers, as well as from other departments who were also on-scene. Although Bill would not agree that I am the weakest member, he stated a key concept in building a stronger crew— lift up and strengthen the weakest member, and the whole team becomes better and stronger.

That reminds me of an illustration I used in a blog post a couple of years ago using a wooden bucket with broken and worn slats. The bucket can hold only as much water as the shortest slat, so if we work to fix and raise it up first, the bucket will hold more water. If we fix and build up a taller slat first, the bucket will still hold only as much water as the shortest one.

If lifting up and strengthening the weakest member makes the whole stronger, then it stands to reason that kicking the weakest member when she’s down would only serve to weaken the whole, right? Jesus said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.” I am grateful for those who have lifted me up instead of kicking me down when I’ve messed up.

My friend, Scott, says something that is similar to a quote by Nate McConnell:

“The whole is the sum of its parts, so be a good part.”

Let’s show our strength by giving a hand and strengthening those who are weaker.

 

If you liked this, you might also like…

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Resolution Bucket: A New Strategy and Wisdom Wednesday: Teamwork


Where Heaven and Earth Meet

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“Behold, He shall come up as clouds, and His chariots shall be as a whirlwind.”  —Jeremiah 4:13 KJV

 

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Wings Like Eagles

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Like Raindrops, Dew and Showers

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“Let my teaching drop as the rain, my speech distill as the dew, as raindrops on the tender herb, and as showers on the grass.”  —Deuteronomy 32:2  NKJV

One of the things I love about photography and God’s creation is how they can help me gain a deeper understanding of scripture whether I read a verse and try to compose a photo for it or shoot a photo and try to find a verse for it.  Consider the verse above and what it says, even if you’ve read it a hundred times.  I have read it many times before and missed its depth.  It is the Lord’s desire and instruction that His teachings be abundant as rain, His words a gentle covering like dew, beautiful and magnifying like raindrops, and refreshing like showers.

If you liked this, you might also like:

Time to Cuddle

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Harmless As a Dove

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Knowing Facts Is Not What Counts

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A grackle on Kure Beach in North Carolina

Yet another post inspired by ‘coincidences’.  My daughter and I watched the movie Good Will Hunting, and it contains a scene in which Sean, the counselor, expresses a realization about Will, the troubled young genius he is counseling.  It parallels the quote by the late American physicist, Richard P. Feynman.  Sean said:

“So if I asked you about art, you’d probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written.  Michelangelo, you know a lot about him.  Life’s work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientations, the whole works, right?  But I’ll bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel.  You’ve never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling; seen that…. And I’d ask you about war, you’d probably throw Shakespeare at me, right, “once more unto the breach dear friends.”  But you’ve never been near one.  You’ve never held your best friend’s head in your lap, watch him gasp his last breath looking to you for help.”

The same could be said about God.  We can know all of His names and even memorize the Bible but not truly know Him.  We can study about Him, but unless we interact with Him on a more personal level and actually put some of the things He said into practice and experience Him, we can never truly know Him.  It reminds me of when Jesus said, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself,” as well as, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.  If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.”

Because the disciples had walked with and experienced Jesus, they knew Him.  They didn’t just know about Him.  And Jesus said if they knew Him, they knew the Father, too.  Knowing and accepting, though, are too different things.  Judas Iscariot experienced life with Jesus, but he betrayed Him and rejected Him as Messiah.

Knowing facts is not what counts.  Knowing what someone or something is doing, knowing by experience and genuine understanding is what really counts.

 

Disclaimer:  Although the movie has a good plot and was well done, because of the movie’s vulgarity, I would not recommend it.

 

If you liked this, you might also like:  Knowing Vs Knowing

 


Reflecting God

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“The more tranquil the water, the more accurate the reflection. We are made in the image and likeness of God.  As with the water, the more tranquil we are, the better we reflect God.”  —Jim Finfera, photographer

“For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.  But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.  And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.”  —James 3:16-18

 


Like a Tangled Slinky

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I have a little friend I sometimes pick up and take to school, but since her older brother and sister have to be in school earlier, she comes to my house for about an hour.  She loves playing in my office and pretending it’s a secret lair.  She also loves playing with toys my second son had as a little boy that my granddaughters now enjoy.  One of those toys is a plastic rainbow Slinky.  Just as it was time to take her to school, she brought the Slinky to show me she had gotten it tangled.  Her sweet voice was so apologetic.  I took the tangled mess from her little hands and said, “That’s okay.  I’ll take care of it.”

Later as I began to untangle the Slinky, I believe the Holy Spirit helped me to see that we are like my little friend, handing our tangled messes to our Heavenly Father when we can’t fix them ourselves.  I had created a tangled mess this week, but Father was so tender and loving when I handed Him my ‘Slinky’, and people I had hurt reflected His mercy and love as well.  I’m so grateful I can go to Him with my messes and not be scolded or turned away.

“Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.”  —Psalm 103:13


Time to Cuddle

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Have you ever wished you could crawl up into God’s lap and cuddle with Him?  While weeding my garden at twilight last night, I observed a curious sight.  Eleven bumblebees seemed to be sleeping under my oregano blossoms.  I’d never seen anything like it, so I grabbed my camera, took some photos, and googled “sleeping bumblebees”.  Apparently, bumblebees don’t have hives like honey bees, and since they are cold-blooded and need to be warm in order for their flight muscles to work, they can’t fly when temperatures fall, so they must find a place to rest.  Because flowers provide shelter and a certain level of heat, as well as breakfast when they awaken in the morning, they choose to sleep inside or under flowers.

IMG_8839 bee.bum_smwThis morning I went out and found a sleeping bumblebee with its ‘bum’ sticking out of a hosta flower.  The sun had not yet reached it, so while other bees were buzzing around hostas just a few yards away in the sunshine, this little bee remained safe and cozy.  It reminded me of a nursing baby cuddled by the one providing it with nourishment.

I couldn’t help but think of how we can learn from the bee.  It works hard during the day, gathering its food and benefiting others at the same time, and it takes the time to find shelter and rest.  We were created to work and provide for ourselves and to benefit others, as well as to rest 8-10 hours a day and one day a week.

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”  —Exodus 20:8–11

Let us take the time to take shelter in the Lord, our Provider, and rest in Him.

I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.   —Psalm 4:8

(To see more photos, click here.)


Gardenia and Genesis Unspoken

Gardenia:  transluscent haze 49%; Rosemary 40% masked off of flower

Gardenias are my favorite flower.  I love their creamy white petals and rich, sweet scent.  And being a Southern girl, they remind me of home.

While doing some research on the gardenia, I was drawn to its Chinese and Japanese names— Zhi zi (zhr zzz) and Kuchinashi (koo-chee-nah-shee) respectively.  Did you know that some Chinese characters confirm Biblical accounts in Genesis?

Having heard and seen examples years ago, I was compelled to try to analyze the characters for gardenia.  I didn’t really get very far, because I don’t understand one of the symbols or how it all fits together, but I am still intrigued that both the Chinese characters and Japanese kanji are basically the same, except the Japanese kanji omits the character for seed, but that they both contain the symbol for snake and tree, is reminiscent of what transpired in the Garden of Eden.

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Interestingly, the fruit of the gardenia contains crocetin, a chemical compound that can protect against retinal damage or degeneration.  Why is that interesting?  Because the serpent in the garden told Eve if she ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge, her eyes would be opened.  Am I suggesting the gardenia bush or tree was the tree of knowledge?  No, because the opening of her eyes was spiritual and not physical.  I just found the parallel interesting.

The characters without the tree and seed represent an ancient Chinese wine container.  Could that be symbolic of the flowers intoxicating scent?  I don’t know, but here’s my take on the whole thing— I could be wrong.  There was one snake above the others that intoxicated Eve with the promise of power if she ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  Because he tempted Eve to sin, God cursed the serpent by saying the seed of the woman, which ultimately symbolizes Jesus Christ, would eventually crush his head or power over mankind.  Is it too much of a stretch?

Another strange thing about the Japanese name for gardenia is it has no connection to its kanji that I can see.  Kuchinashi literally means “no mouth”, and from what I could gather, the name was given either because the seed exit doesn’t open or the flower is symbolic of being unspoken.  Perhaps because its scent and beauty say it all?  I like the second reason better, don’t you?

Is my love a reflection in a mirror?
We meet and yet we cannot speak.
Can he not sense my love unspoken,
The scent and color of gardenias,
Does he not know me?  Oh, my misery!

—Naohimi in The Legend of Semimaru, Blind Musician of Japan


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