Fire On The Mountain & Alone Time With God

They had been walking for a very long time. Everyone was exhausted and cranky. The children were crying and the old people just sighed with “that look” on there faces. Along the way there were miracles and even now all of there shoes looked like brand new but still the people complained. Moses lifted his eyes to see the fire settling down on top of the mountain.

One of the most important things in life is alone time with God. That’s actually a lot of the reason why I crave the moments of solitude and the quiet places. It always helps to get out and away from society and the distraction of various responsibilities and obligations. I like to sit down and talk to God just like I talk to anyone else in the room or on the trail. There may not be fire and smoke or the voice of a trumpet but He’s always there just the same.

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The Long Night And Meaning Of The Lights On The Tree

Recently I made the comment that I was more excited about the 21st of December than I was for the 24th or 25th. The 21st of December is the longest night of year. And, when the dawn breaks on the 22nd the light returns to planet Earth. Most people are aware of the winter solstice and how the early church decided that it was just perfect for celebrating Jesus’s birthday.

Saint John 1:4-5

4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

Simply put, the lights on a Christmas tree represent Jesus Christ as the light of the world.

The Appalachian Winter is one where we can have snow or rain or both for Christmas but the darkness of December is a constant. The steep incline of our hills and low angle of the sun makes the normally long night even longer. The darkness like sin seems to suffocate you. It brings a coldness that seeps into very core of your being. But just when you think it’s going to be dark forever the light breaks over a distant ridge and the cold night begins to retreat. The light returns and with it comes new life.

As I’ve studied the deeper meanings behind our Christmas decorations I’ve come to understand that the Christmas Tree itself is a microcosm of the Jesus experience. We can decorate the tree with all kinds of trinkets and bobbles and assign different meanings to them and make it a beautiful and artistic expression of our Christian faith but it’s when the lights are turned on that it comes to life and brings us joy.

So, that’s the meaning behind the Christmas lights. It’s the expression of new life coming into world and the exit of the long dark night.

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All About The Christmas Holly

Well by gosh by golly, tonight’s post is all about holly!

One of the more familiar icons of the Christmas season in North America holly is a direct analogy to Jesus Christ.

Obviously the red berries are said to represent the blood that was shed for the remittance of sin. Only innocent blood could break the curse of Adam.

The prickles on the leaves are in relationship to the crown of thorns. In Roman Times the highest honor a leader could receive was a crown made from the grass of the battlefield where he had just gained victory. Because the thorn is a symbol for the curse of Adam a crown of thorns could be seen as a symbol for Christ’s victory, awarded to him by the sinners who He was born to save.

Holly is evergreen representing eternal life bestowed upon us by Jesus.

The wood produced by holly is white and symbolizes purity.

On a side note, if you want to have pretty red berries on your holly tree you need two trees. Holly comes in male and female trees. Holly grows wild in my area and before I understood why I would be disappointed to see one without berries.

In addition to that, one of my Forestry instructors would tell us that “holy wood will guide you right”. The wood is very fine grained and somewhat oily. Because of this it was once used to make guide pins for saw mills.

Even though Christmas holly is evergreen there is a type of holly tree that is deciduous. It has bright red berries like it’s festive Christmas cousin but the leaves turn bright yellow in the fall and drop in winter.

The berries of all hollies are poison but beautiful to look at making them great landscaping for the drab backdrop of winter.

That’s pretty much it for holly as it relates to the Christmas season. I hope that you have enjoyed this post.

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Tonight’s Feature Image is titled “Christmas Holly 2018” and is available for purchase by usingthe Contact Form on my website. ( just click the picture of the bell below)

The second picture is titled “Deciduous Holly 2018” and is also available for purchase by using the Contact Form on my website.

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About That Ivy On Your Antique Decorations

You really couldn’t find a better symbol of resilience than English Ivy. Not only is it evergreen it seems to thrive wherever it puts down roots. I had always noticed that in some older Christmas decorations that English Ivy seemed to be present but I really didn’t know why. Here in the Southern United States holly and Mistletoe are staples of Christmas decor. So much so that unless you are an active observer you might mistake the Ivy for stylized holly. But it’s not. As I started to dig a little deeper into Ivy as a Christmas symbol I learned that it’s use peaked somewhere around the year 1200 Anno Domini. Like all Christmas symbols it has roots in paganism but then if people can be converted then why not symbolism? But I digress. The Christian symbolism of Ivy at Christmas is that of the believer. Like the Ivy the believer thrives wherever he/she is planted. Like the Ivy the believer is evergreen in having eternal life. And like the Ivy the believer must have support. English Ivy must have a wall or something to hold it up in order to reach the heavens. And the believer must lean on Christ throughout his/her life.

The next time you are pulling out those antique Christmas decorations look closely at the filigree. For years what I thought was holly turned out to be English Ivy.

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The Shaking

The small Virginia Pine stands out in a sea of Broomsedge. The open ridge line invites a harsh wind on most days. The winter here in this spot is ruled by freezing rain as well as blizzards. The wind has come through with enough rage to shake my big blue truck from side to side and knock down the power lines but still the crooked little Virginia Pine continues to flourish. I have watched it for several years now and it’s growing stronger with each storm. While it’s obvious that wind shake can damage trees it’s also true that a certain amount of wind is necessary for the trees to grow strong. If the tree isn’t shaken as it grows it never develops the mechanisms to deal with storms.

Often in our spiritual life we become distraught when troubles come and our faith is tested. But, it’s in these challenges that our strength develops to our full potential. Without them we never develop the coping mechanism that that gives us the strength to survive the storms.

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The Little Brick Church

Tonight’s Feature Image is Virginia’s Chapel in Cedar Grove West Virginia. The link will take you to the Wikipedia article. The article is short but states that the Church (also known as the Little Brick Church) was built in 1853 and used by both sides of the Civil War And that’s in the national registry of historic places. But, is that all that history is? A few facts and dates can’t tell the whole story. I often pass through when a wedding is taking place and the Little Brick Church is all decorated. I see friends and family gathering on the walkway and occasionally see someone taking care of the cemetery on the other side of the chain link fences. I have to wonder about the memories that were made here when the lot was more open and cemetery less full. Back in days when the roads were not paved. I imagine that the fields were open and picturesque. The church was full of live music and joyful noise. I imagine that a few sour notes were sung as the rest of congregation gave each other “that look” and continued to worship God in earnest.

The church wasn’t fully completed until 1912. A full generation after the Civil War. I don’t think that was a coincidence. It could only be completed those who had put away their harsh feelings about the past and fully committed themselves to becoming one family. And that brings me to main thought for tonight. If we want to complete the work set before us then we have to put aside the outside world and come together as one people. I’m speaking mostly to my brothers and sisters in Christ but this concept goes for secular organizations as well. Time on this earth is finite. Effective time is in even shorter supply. Don’t waste a second of it. Find some middle ground and complete the tasks at hand.

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Return To Wading Willows

The sound of the rippling water lapping at the shore combined with song birds brings a sense of peaceful joy. I approached the wading willows as if greeting old friends. The willows seem to dance ever so slightly in the river’s currents and it feels as though they are listening to the songs of nature themselves. In the distance the osprey soars across the sky looking for a pearch stunned by falls. Dragonflies skim the waters surface as they hunt occasionally leaving little ripples of their own and the evening sun reflected in the tiny waves produces a light show that only God himself could engineer. The breeze coming off of Kanawha Falls is cool and gently stirs in and around the small park. I take a deep breath and release the stress of the workday into the river so that it will carry away the cares of the outside world. I thank God for choosing to place this natural sanctuary here for me. I take a few minutes to tell him about my day and seek his wisdom. But most importantly I listen. I listen to voice of peace spoken by God and echoed by the moving water. The conversation isn’t long and with my peace renewed I climb back up into the big blue truck and head for home.

It’s important to take time to decompress and find peace throughout the day. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. If you have enjoyed the photos or the writings please share to your social. You can also like and follow Lloyd’s Lens Photography on Facebook

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