Measuring God’s Will

In every situation that arises I try to make sure I am in God’s will… that I am doing what God would have me to do. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell, many times I don’t want to do what God wants because it is contrary to what I want, it is contrary to what makes sense. Sometimes it’s even contrary to what appears to be good for me. In those cases I always have the hope that God will bless me for what I have done and make my obedience worth the trouble.

Many times I find however that He does not. Sometimes it appears that my only reward for doing His will is hardship. So yesterday on a particularly bad day that I was having, I was filled with doubt about my course of action over the last couple or three years. Pain and hardship appear to have been my reward for what I believe was following God’s will.

So maybe it wasn’t God’s will? Perhaps God is angry and punishing me for my choices… perhaps they were the wrong choices, maybe I should have spent more time taking care of myself? Maybe my time and money has been wasted. Surely if I had been doing God’s will He would have blessed me by now so that I would know I was on the right path?

But maybe that isn’t the way to measure God’s will. Hosea 6:6 For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. Of course we don’t sacrifice burnt offerings anymore, but what exactly does the verse mean? Sacrifice in the time of Hosea was a mindless ritual. A ritual performed with little cost to the giver, a meaningless trinket thrown to God out of habit. A few dollars in the offering plate, a bake sale to raise funds for the church, an afternoon with the church kids at the park? All good things of course, but nothing too costly, risky or difficult.

What of the other side of that verse, โ€œI desire mercyโ€. Maybe God’s will can be measured another way… maybe it can be measured in suffering eased in another person’s life. Maybe it can be measured by the results in another persons life? Maybe rather than looking back trying to measure God’s blessing on my own life for what I have done, I can look back and wonder what would have happened if I wasn’t there, what turns would someone’s life have taken without my hand, my experience, my strength and my skills? How would things be different if I had not chosen to be merciful?

When I look at things that way, it becomes obvious that I have taken the proper course, that everything I have learned and experienced has worked together to prepare me for the next moment, a moment that could be critical in the life of someone else. And maybe our reward will only be the satisfaction of seeing suffering and hardship averted in another life.

 

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography.

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The Pawn Shop

This was a rough month, from sheer craziness including my ax wielding neighbor and the loose dogs to unexpected financial expenses including a few extra unexpected road trips in my gas guzzler truck. Picture sales always dip in the summer and I took a couple days off of work to climb mountains so needless to say, money is running short! Last years trips to the auctions left me considerably downsized, so I don’t own much of any value at this point.

Goat-PeekingSo this week I was face with being stuck at home with nothing to eat and no money for goodies at breaks for work. My backup camera is already in pawn as well as the new hydraulic jack that I don’t need for awhile and a couple of pairs of snowshoes that I don’t wear anymore. One of those was my huge back country โ€œBlack Hawksโ€ and the other was my late wife’s lightweight pair which I kept, I guess on the remote chance that I would find a girlfriend who wants to snowshoe! Lol… so far that doesn’t appear too likely :

I don’t have any big mountain climbing trips scheduled, at least until Ralph recovers from his spinal shots and is done with hunting season. As far as I know there are no events this week to photograph and I haven’t seen any decent opportunities to shoot the local deer all summer. Well ok, I thought, maybe I’ll be safe to take my main camera in for a few bucks until Thursday when I get my paycheck from my day job. Well, low and behold, the next day after I take the camera in the deer show up. I couldn’t believe it.

So to make a long story short, people started contacting me wanting my address so they could help, some of whom had expressed an interest in purchasing pictures. So I said, hey weren’t you interested in such and such, just buy one! That would help and you would get something for your trouble ๐Ÿ™‚ Then I got to wondering, I wonder how much that would cost them? After reviewing my prices, I discovered that the price for my prints on Pixels.com were way out of line with what people might be willing to spend, at least anybody I know! So I have spent my morning redoing the prices and the landing page for my pictures. I also noticed that I have some way cooler captures to use for gallery logos so this whole episode may have been a blessing in disguise.

I also noticed that a number of new products have been added since I set up my default pricing, I now sell prints on metal, acrylic, canvas and traditional paper with optional frames. There are T-Shirts, phone cases, beach towels, tote bags, shower curtains and all kinds of novelties available! Stock images for personal and business use have also been added for those needing to use images for their publications and advertising campaigns.

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to payday tomorrow… Thankfully it will not be docked for last night’s damages ๐Ÿ™‚ I was struggling to pull about a thousand pounds of dog food onto the floor with a pallet jack. The warehouse didn’t stack the pallet very well and it was leaning to the side and as I passed the picture frames it must have clipped the end cap. The pallet was so heavy I didn’t even feel the obstruction and didn’t know about it until I heard the screams and the ensuing crash and fearsome sound of breaking glass ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Many thanks to the nice picture frame ladies who helped me restock the shelf with the non-broken ones and to the manager who helped me rebuild the shelves!

 

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography.

24th Annual Salute to Veterans Bike Rally

Saw on the city billboard earlier in the week that it was once again time for the colorful annual Salute to Veterans Bike Rally. The ride starts in Woodland Park and progresses up Ute Pass to the historic town of Divide where it turns onto highway 67 past Mueller State Park and on to the old west gambling town of Cripple Creek. The ride is done in remembrance of American POW’s and is always a popular spectator event in the southern Rockies.

Bikers

Salute to Veterans Rally

 

I almost missed it this year, forgot all about it until I saw the billboard as we were driving past. When I saw it I kind of halfheartedly commented, โ€œI should probably shoot that.โ€, thinking it has been such a crappy summer that I probably wouldn’t. But my friend Erika enthusiastically replied, โ€œI want to go!โ€, so we made plans to fight the downtown traffic and watch the mass start at 10 a.m on Saturday. Friend Michelle also wanted to see it, so I was encouraged to find the camera and once again get the colorful and inspiring shots of all the flag waving Harley’s making their way through my town ๐Ÿ™‚

Ever looking for ways to optimize my time I identified a time window for a trip to the gym on the way to the rally, but it almost cost me the whole day! Cops had half the town closed down between the gym and Highway 24 and I wasn’t sure I was going to get through. Finally I found an open street and made it through to pick up my friends. We decided on a parking lot on the west end of town that didn’t look too full and made our way down to the main drag.

Biker-Chicks

My favorite hot biker chicks

As I scoped out a spot to get the best shots I heard my name being called from across the street… Holy crap, a bunch of people from my church were down there street preaching. Great I thought! I’m at the bike rally with two hot biker chicks while my church buddies are preaching! Lol… Well it is what it is, Photographers work on Saturdays… It’s not my fault that my job sometimes involves hanging out with hot biker chicks ๐Ÿ™‚

Flag-Wavers.jpg

Flag procession out of town

The veterans did not disappoint. It wasn’t long before hundreds of Harley’s were roaring down the highway towards their Cripple Creek destination. Flag waving bikers and spectators instilled a feeling of unity, pride and solidarity with our fighting men on a beautiful sunny day high in the Rocky Mountains! I’m glad we went, it was an awesome break from all the strife affecting our great country this year, and a cause for hope for our future.

 

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography.

Peace

Today in my walk through the woods with the doggies, I pondered a question posed to me, โ€œHow can there ever be peaceโ€, in reference to the chaos which has beset my life as of late. Peace is of course a good thing, something that should be sought by everyone. I even had a wise pastor one time give the advise to โ€œseek after peaceโ€ when trying to figure out how to handle difficult situations. So I’ve been thinking about that lately and it is a bit of a continuation of my previous revelation on faith and taking on life’s hard problems.

The answer lies in determining what exactly is peace… Some people’s lives have the appearance of peace, good jobs, nice looking families, nice homes and stable lives. I once had this, nice house in a beautiful subdivision near Denver. Looked great, but it was far from peaceful. A bully for a boss at work, rich neighbors fighting over everything imaginable, home owners association constantly harassing people. For about a year towards the end of that mess I couldn’t sleep… As I lay there in the dark, in my mind all I could see was the bleakness of a cubicle and a workstation, something that after 30 years had become more of a prison than an office. I would lie awake staring into the darkness, wondering if there really was going to be a Heaven, and if I was ever going to get to do any of the things I really wanted to do. 50 pounds overweight, suffering from chest pains and wondering if I was going to die in that cubicle. During the day in the cubicle it felt like I was going to die. Every time I sat down at the computer my heart rate would start to climb, I would start to sweat and finally I would run out of the room and walk around the little pond in the office complex, only to sit back down and repeat the scenario.

Obviously this is not a sustainable situation and I finally just turned in my resignation. We had a few side businesses that were sustaining us before I got that position and we decided to work harder on those to get by. Unfortunately, the crash of 2008 came along and the music stopped. The short story is, we wound up in the mountains, right where I wanted to be anyway ๐Ÿ™‚

Now I don’t have the stability of the nice home and big job, but I sleep like a baby at night. In the daytime I see the magnificence of the beautiful Rocky Mountains, wildlife, and breath the fresh mountain air. But my life doesn’t have the appearance of peace. In doing God’s will for me I have stepped into chaos and conflict with some seriously low life people in my neighborhood. You can’t plant the Cross on a hill of demons and expect to find the peace that the world recognizes and pursues. Yet I look forward to every day and sleep like a baby at night.

So what is peace?

Philippians 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Peace is between a man and his God, knowing that you are on the path He has set forth for you. Knowing that He is there in the midst of the storm. Knowing that all He has to do is say to the storm โ€œPeace be still.โ€, and the storm will have no choice but to obey. The answer to the question is that peace is from within, not from without.

 

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography.

God Wouldn’t

Every once in a while when I’m out hiking on the mountain the answer to some perplexing question will come to me and I feel compelled to write it down. Here’s something I’ve come across lately… the God Wouldn’t people. Was trying to put a finger on something I’ve been encountering lately. I was called upon to help someone through a tough time and some people I know aren’t too happy about it. God wouldn’t put you at risk they say. God wouldn’t ask you to do something that might cost you.

This doctrine is of course based on the idea of โ€œGod wouldn’t allow more than you can bear.โ€, a patently false statement that is found nowhere in the Bible. There is a verse that is similar, the one that this idea comes from. It is 1 Corinthians 10:13:

โ€œThere hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.โ€

So the verse pertains to sin and has nothing to do with what sort of challenges or suffering God will allow in our lives. Therefore I believe there are two kinds of people, the God Wouldn’t People and the God Would People. The God Wouldn’t people have a form of belief that looks good. They go to church on Sunday, proclaim their faith, sing hymns and generally put on a pretty good show.

But the God Would people understand that God would ask us to risk our possessions, our money, and for some even their lives. And the truth of it is, the higher up you are on the faith chain, the more likely it is that you will be thrown into the hard fights.

Psalm 34:19 : “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all” ย 

After all, would the commander of an army platoon send his weakest guy in to accomplish some life or death task that the whole platoon was depending on? Of course not. But the God Would people also understand true faith… the God who asks us to do the hard things will bring us through the hard things. If we have lost much in the battle He is well able to cover the loss. He might not, but He is able if it is His will.

Someday God might be up in Heaven looking down thinking about some battle he needs fought, some person who needs help or rescuing, thinking I wonder who I have who I can count on… who won’t run from the hard things, who is strong enough to win this fight? One of the God Wouldn’t People might get tapped to go, but they will say to themselves, โ€œThis is too hard, God wouldn’t ask me to do this.โ€. And then finally, one of the God Would people will have to step up to fight the battle. Somebody has to do the hard things.

 

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography.

Balance

Working on the right life / work balance… I’m finding that four nights on the loading dock and a 14er on the weekend may be just a little bit much for my chronologically challenged body … So I asked my boss to cut me back to three loading dock marathons per week and thankfully it appears my wish was granted ๐Ÿ™‚ This should be the perfect balance of steady money and physical exertion. More time to make money with my photography and less time and less money unfortunately, trying to keep up with the young whipper snappers on the docks!

SunriseSo it turns out that I now have this next Saturday off and the next adventure is being planned as we speak. Talked to Ralph tonight about pushing an Oxford / Belford 14er 2fer up to this next weekend with something else for the 20th, maybe Columbia. The Oxford trailhead is on the dirt road to the ghost town of Winfield, which will be heavily populated by Leadville 100 crew vehicles on the 20th, so I’m thinking the smart money might be on doing that this weekend instead of during the race.

So we are looking at two peaks on one trail, three actually since we will have to climb back over Belford again on the way back. 6000 feet of elevation gain over 11 miles or something like that, a daunting challenge for sure. We may have a good sized group for this one, three or four maybe from our little Divide, Colorado group of hikers ๐Ÿ™‚ Spent tonight looking over my gear, only to find out that I forgot to clean my water bottles after the last climb and had to tackle a sticky Gatorade mess ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Better tonight than Friday night though!ย  Thinking it might be a good idea to leave my big zoom lens home and replace it with an extra 32 oz Gatorade. Another balance to worry about, liquids versus weight. I’ll still carry my filter pump though, just in case.

Tomorrow is a day off… will I carry through with my planned day doing laundry, or will I blow it off and get in a day of training in preparation for the big weekend. Hmmm… Probably no one ever on their death bed said, “I wish I had done more laundry.” ๐Ÿ™‚

Hiking Mount Harvard Colorado

Wasn’t quite physically ready to climb another 14er just one week after Mount Massive, but I didn’t get the days off I wanted and that’s the way the chips fell. I didn’t want to wait until the 20th to climb another one, so I called Ralph to see if he was ready to give another one a go. It doesn’t take a lot of talking to psyche Ralph up for a climb and a few minutes later the plans for a 14,420 foot Mount Harvard summit were in the works ๐Ÿ™‚

WildernessAccording to 14ers.com, the Harvard route we wanted is 12.5 miles long so an early start was in order. We decided on a 3:30 rendezvous in Divide at the usual place, so I set my alarm for 2:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, July 30th. By 3:35 a.m. we were drinking coffee and on the road for Buena Vista. Sunrise came a few minutes later than on our last adventure, so it was still pitch black when we got to BV and we decided on a pit stop at Loaf and Jug for more coffee and power food.. some donuts ๐Ÿ™‚ By the time we hit the trail head at about 5:30 there was a hint of light in the eastern sky which illuminated a packed parking lot! We did find a spot however and decided to start the long hike before sunrise.

It wasn’t too long before we were greeted by a beautiful clear Colorado sunrise, and a confused looking guyย near a Y in the trail, apparently camping. Friendly fellow though, wanted to know where we were headed. Harvard we responded… and with a slow southern drawl he commented, “Oh, I wasn’t smart enough to get in there.”. As it sank it what he said and occurred to me that he wasn’t joking, I commented to Ralph, “I’m not sure he knows where he’s going?”. Ralph replied, “I’m not sure he knows where he is!”. Well anyway, he wasn’t there on the return trip so he must have figured something out ๐Ÿ™‚

As the beautiful morning light began to illuminate the peaks a particularly large monolith came into view on our right. We wondered if that was our summit and after we got tired of discussing it and wondering, Ralph checked the GPS and we determined that one was probably Columbia, which would make it sort of on the way back from Harvard and a candidate for a second 14er in one day, adding only two or three miles to the return trip. Our destination had not yet come into view.

The trail had climbed to about 10,000 feet by the time it was getting light enough for pictures and we found ourselves along a beautiful stream in a high meadow surrounded by rugged peaks. The GPS indicated that Mount Harvard was directly ahead and there was indeed a series of high peaks in the distance, one of which was certainly our summit. We began to encounter other hikers at this point, all hoping to be on right trail to Harvard. We assured them we were hoping for the same ๐Ÿ™‚

SummitingFinally the summit became obvious and we whiled away the next hour or so mapping out possible routes the trail might take to the summit. Perhaps up a ridge and around back. The face we were looking at looked way to steep and rocky and there was no discernible trail. But soon we could see a couple of hikers heading right towards the south face and Ralph says, “It looks like it goes right up through the rocks!”and I’m like… “Naaaaaa …”. Well as we got closer we could start to make out the trail, going right exactly where earlier I said, “There’s no way the trail goes through there!”.

And for the last two miles or so, up it went, one of the steepest trails I have been on yet! I couldn’t decide what was going to explode first… my knees or my lungs! But we just kept forging ahead walking when we could, resting when we had to. The boulder field was long, but the trail through it was well defined and relatively easy to follow. The difficulty there is the sheer steepness of it. Finally the summit party came into view so that we could see our exact destination. Up until that point there were several high points that were possibilities for a summit. Suddenly we were there, but the people who were writing the trail reviews that indicated a Class I trail all the way to the summit except for a few rocks at the top,ย  were apparently suffering from oxygen deprivation, the Class I trail disappeared into a steep wall of boulders with some cracks in it, and a pile of trekking poles at the bottom. Ralph abandoned his poles there, and I put my camera in my pack and strapped my monopod onto it’s holder on the back.

Boulder ClimbingThis was my first summit where there were hikers standing around with ten feet left to climb, wondering if they were going to attempt the last ten feet, and some didn’t. Some were content to almost make summit. Ralph was already on his way up and I didn’t stop to look too long or to even think about it. There was no way I was going to come that far and let a couple of boulders stand in the way of making summit, so I just grabbed a hand hold and hoisted myself up. The route through the cracks was fairly obvious, but the hand and footholds not quite as obvious. My arms were tired, but still able to do the job. My new leather gloves I found at Walmart proved invaluable in the last few feet of this climb. The leather protected my hands from the usual beating and bloodying that the boulder fields offer and I noticed my grip was better too. A pair of Wells Lamont gloves with pigskin palms and some sort of breathable backing. $10 at Walmart, one of the best investments I’ve ever made ๐Ÿ™‚

Steve at HarvardSoon we were both on the small summit area for the usual selfies and picture taking, lunch and coffee. We made summit in record time for that distance, 6.25 miles in six hours. Ralph has a “Jet Brew” or something like that he makes coffee with and got some water boiling for instant coffee. We also sent out the usual summit texts and calls, Facebook posts and ETA’sย  for the arrival back at the bottom. I of course received back the usual encouraging words, like “Glad you are still breathing, lol!”. Ha, well breathing we were, but dark clouds were approaching from the west and a hoard of people from the south. We decided to have an abbreviated summit party and get back through the cracks before the weather and before the traffic jam.

Getting back down through the rocks wasn’t as hard or scary as I thought… There was one place where I couldn’t actually see if my foot was on a foothold, but the guy behind me said I nailed it. Ralph was like, “lol… good thing that guy wasn’t mad at me for some reason!”. Come to think of it, that is a lot of faith to put in someone you have never seen before in your life! Anyway, we were glad to be on our way back down to the trees when the hail hit… Most of it wasn’t too bad, but it was amusing to hear the occasional “ouch”, as nearby hikers were getting hit by a particularly big hailstone. Many were still headed for the summit, but few showed signs of giving up. We did come upon one party who had given up at the bottom of the approach, before any of the steep climbing. Don’t know where they were from, but they were talking about “sea level”. I can imagine 14,000 feet might be a bit rough for someone acclimated to sea level!

The remainder of the hike proceeded without incident and the storms that were threatening to form never really amounted to much. The “death march” to the bottom when you are worn out and all the rocks are jumping at your feet and bashing your toes was actually not as bad as sometimes, and we were back at the truck by 4 p.m., with plenty of time for me to get home and make it to little Charity’s two year birthday party ๐Ÿ™‚ followed by the usual monthly Motown dance at the Crystola Bar and Grill with the band Sugar Bear.

I haven’t checked my work schedule yet, but I think I should have August 20th available for another climb with Ralph. We are thinking Columbia looks like a good 14er to climb next!