Monthly Archives: July 2015

Kisses from God- Part 2, in which I am reminded He loves me

Brian wasn’t the only one that got Kisses from God while we were in Alaska. I got several, as well. (You can read about Brian’s here if you missed it.)

In order to understand my kisses from God, you have to know a little about me. I’m a photographer.  It’s about more than having a camera and knowing how to use it; it’s about experiencing life in pictures, to the point of thinking in pictures at times. While most people are distracted and pulled out of an event when they taking pictures, I am actually more immersed. I’m watching for that one, defining moment among everything that’s happening. Where is that one vignette in the midst of all the activity that best captures the feel of the moment? When is that one split second when something happens that captures the glory, fun, or whatever, of what is going on around me? I take photographs not just to record, but to remember and to communicate to others that aren’t there to experience it all first hand. This matters to my story, because without knowing this what happened to me won’t sound like much. It may not anyway, but trust me; to my heart, these moments were huge.

The first kiss from God came while we were at Hubbard Glacier. The cruise ship pulled into Disenchantment Bay and pulled as close as it safely could to the glacier and parked for a while so everyone had a chance to stare in amazement at the splendor. And stare we did. I of course stared mostly through my camera lens. I had mentioned to God that I’d love to see the glacier calve, something we didn’t see on our last trip. This time I was looking through my camera’s viewfinder, clicking like a crazy person, when all of a sudden, right there through my lens, I saw movement. A huge chunk of ice, about 250 feet tall, broke free and tumbled into the bay! I clicked like an even crazier person and managed to capture five or six photos of the event. During our short time there, we saw the glacier calve repeatedly in several different places, and I was able to capture a couple different sequences with my camera. My little photographer heart was soaring!

The next day we were in Juneau, and I got to fulfill a lifelong dream: to stand on the blue ice of a glacier. It was a three hour expedition that included several short helicopter flights, a dog sled adventure, and a walkabout on the icy surface of Herbert Glacier. My photographer heart was concerned because we weren’t allowed to take any bags with us. That means I had to strategically stuff extra batteries and cards, along with my wallet and other necessities in my pockets and hope for the best. Changing batteries and cards is not a big deal, except in the cold, with cold fingers, while whizzing across the snow on a dog sled, digging things out of your pockets, or wedged into a tiny helicopter… Yeah, could be interesting. In spite of my usual clicking like a crazy person (see above), both battery and card made it through the expedition. We had just returned to the airport and were waiting for the shuttle to take us back to the dock, and I started reviewing my photos on the back of my camera. I had only looked at about 10 images when my camera went dead. I started to cry. My battery lasted.  As in, there was JUST ENOUGH power to get me through. If it had died on the glacier, or in the helicopter, meh, it happens. It’s a pain, but it happens. But God kept that little battery running, making my expedition simple and carefree. For me. Because He loves me. That my friends, is a kiss.

The final kiss (at least that I’m going to write about here) happened in Hoonah, Alaska, the site of our whale expedition. As usual, I was (say it all together now!) clicking like a crazy person. I got photos of sea lions, sea otters, bald eagles, and whales, whales, whales. For three hours I clicked. The captain announced we had to return to the dock soon, so we would wait just a couple more minutes to see one final surfacing of the whales. This was the closest encounter we had yet with the beasts; they were close enough we could see the scratches and scars on their skin. Then, with a flick of their tail they disappeared for the final time and the captain returned to the wheel to head back to the marina. I looked down at my camera, and saw a flashing message on the LCD screen: CF CARD FULL. Yep. The card held exactly the number of photos I took of the wildlife! The EXACT number! A coincidence? Meh. I say a kiss from God.

So what do I believe God was saying through these kisses? These little things that I could have lived without: things that wouldn’t have destroyed the trip had they not happened? “I love you, daughter. I enjoy they way you experience My creation through your art. Go for it!” My heart is singing, and I still get a big goofy grin every time I think about all this. Little things that mean so much. He loves me. He really loves me.

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Kisses from God- Part 1, In which we both become blithering Idiots

Last week we took our second trip to Alaska in two years. We had such an amazing time on the first trip we just had to go back to share it with our kids. Amongst everything going on there were a few little incidents that were kisses from God. You know, those events or moments that weren’t by any means necessary but tap you on the shoulder as being put there by a loving Father to remind you of His love. Yeah, we had several. The most spectacular one was for Brian. I mean, we were all thrilled, but it was definitely put in place to touch Brian’s heart.

Brian has a thing for whales; for years he wanted to go whale watching. In fact, that was what prompted us to take our first Alaskan cruise: his desire to see whales in the wild. That first trip we had a beautiful time hanging out in a cove with one mama whale and her baby, watching them repeatedly bubble feed. This time was different. It took a while to find the whales, but when we did, there six of them. Six! One showed up just as we were leaving to wave its tale at us as we drove away in the fishing boat we had hired, but the other five swam around, spouting and showing off their tails. (The photo above is one of these whales when it was positioned just right in relation to the sun and us to make a beautiful spectrum appear as it spouted.) I didn’t know until later that Brian felt like, as awesome as the experience was, it was a little incomplete because we didn’t get to see bubble feeding. But God knew.

After a lovely lunch of freshly caught fish and chips sitting on a restaurant deck overlooking the water, Brian and Amanda decided to take a walk on the rocky beach below before heading back to the ship, and Adam and I opted to stay on the deck enjoying the cool breeze. I was enjoying the view, thinking back on the morning’s adventure, when I noticed something strange in the water. There was a ripple. A huge, circular ripple, not more than 30 or 40 feet off the shore. My first thought was that it looked like bubble feeding, but it obviously wasn’t, since it was so close to shore. I kept watching and noticed the ripple was intensifying, and finally saw a huge bubble along the ripple, and realized it was in fact a whale about to have lunch.

At this point 3 conversations broke out in my head. Conversation #1 was with Brian and Amanda. It was “Hey, guys, look! There’s bubble feeding just a few yards off shore right in front of you!” The second was with Adam: “Hey, look, Adam! Down there by where your dad and sister are standing. See that ring in the water? That’s bubble feeding. If you watch, you will see a whale burst up through the center of it grabbing a giant mouthful of fish!” The third was with myself: “I can’t believe there’s bubble feeding so close to shore, but there’s no other explanation. You need to pick up the camera, turn it on, and get the settings right. You need to hurry; there are just a few seconds before it’s too late.” Yes, I had all those thoughts, all at once, as the world seemed to switch to slow motion. In the heat of the moment, though, all I was able to say, while reaching for my camera with my right hand, pointing with my left hand, and pushing my wheelchair out of the way with my foot, was “Look look look look look!” Not very erudite, but it was effective. Not only did Adam manage to look just in time to see the whale above water, but 100-200 of my closest friends/total strangers heard and ran (yes, RAN) to the railing to see whatever it was that was causing the crazy old lady in the wheelchair to freak out.

Brian and Amanda had a front row seat (to everything except my freak-out). The whale surfaced directly in front of them. Not up the shore a ways, but directly in front of them. What I didn’t know until later was that Brian noticed the bubbles right away, and knew Amanda might not notice since she hadn’t experienced bubble feeding before. Being the good dad he is he wanted to say “Look, daughter. See that ring of bubbles? That might be bubble feeding. Watch closely and we might see a whale.” Instead, he pointed and said, “Bubbles bubbles bubbles bubbles bubbles!” Once again, not eloquent, but effective! Amanda looked in time to see the whole event unfold right in front of her. After that the whale swam along the shore a ways, gave us a wave of his tail, and was gone.

The whole family knew this was for Brian. It was God saying, “I know what moves your heart, son. I’m here. I love you.” Like I said, it wasn’t a necessary part of the trip. None of us prayed for it, or was even looking for it (before the babbling started, at least), but what a beautiful token of affection we were given that day! God is faithful and really knows how to throw a party!


Brian and Amanda, pointing excitedly as the whale swims away.


Brian and Amanda (lower left) watching as the whale waves good-bye

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