Some thoughts on boundaries

boundariesI took this photo in our friends’ back yard in Kathmandu. There’s a garden just on the other side of this gate. Look closer. It doesn’t even have hinges. It’s just leaning against the fence, held in place by a crooked branch.

If you push on the gate it nearly topples over. But, it gives the appearance of “PRIVATE GARDEN. KEEP OUT!” Or perhaps, “Welcome to the garden.” Either way, it’s making a boundary statement.

I’ve been taking an inventory of my own boundaries in the form of fruit trees in my life. Fruit trees are the things I choose to do every day. I want to see if my fruit trees are bearing good fruit. If they’re not, then I need to take some action. So I’ve been asking myself questions like: Does my character reflect God’s character? Do I have peace? Do the things I do bring meaning and purpose to my life?

The photo of this gate reminds me of how I need to make and keep certain boundaries if I want to see that kind of fruit in my life. So the next set of questions I’m going to ask myself sound like: “When’s the last time you went on a walk with God.. without your phone in your pocket and your headphones stuck in your ears? Compare that with how often you check your Facebook status.” or “How are you prioritizing your time with your family? or “How many times do you complain every day, compared to how many times you say something positive?”

I suspect I’ll be pruning some branches, putting up some fences, maybe even chopping down some fruit trees entirely! And, the boundaries don’t need to be ten feet high. They don’t even need hinges, really. They just need to be clear enough for me to understand them and respect what they stand for.

Have camera, will document

Helen and the girls with the evidenceI think It’s so cool that we can document those little – or big – moments in our lives within seconds just by pulling out a mobile phone. This simply wasn’t the case years ago, unless you were one of those geeky photographers who had a huge SLR camera permanently strapped around your neck.

Many pro photographers today are choosing instead to carry small point-and-shoot cameras, or use their mobile phones, when they’re not working on a regular project, or when they’re on vacation, because their work cameras are too cumbersome.

this is a photo I took yesterday at our midsummer celebration. Helen and these two little girls were having fun swinging on our hammock when suddenly, “RIP!” went the fabric. I heard the screaming and laughter, turned around, and got the shot.

Sniff! Sniff! It was a good hammock. it served us well. Actually, who cares about an old hammock? But, 10 years ago I would have missed the chance to document this humorous event.

Look at me! Here I am ranting about how cool it is that we can document life’s little happenings with our small cameras or mobile phones, when actually, I made this photo with my big bulky SLR.

Ah! Well, the principle still applies, doesn’t it?

How raw milk made me a better person

group travelWe were five adults and five children, stuffed into a minibus that leaked oil profusely. For eight hours we virtually flew along winding, Nepali, cliffside roads at breakneck speeds. We passed just about every freight truck we could find on a blind curve. We slammed on the brakes, so we wouldn’t read end the travel bus in front of us. And, oh yes. The toilet stops. Driver! Stop! – I discovered that squatty potties and Swedish children are not a great match. So many small, individual, harmless events, that tend to gang up on you after a while.

It’s like being on a game show, where the goal is to be the last one to snap. Nobody wants to be the first one to snap; to say something they probably shouldn’t.. no.. something they definitely shouldn’t say. But the compilation of all those small, harmless events, one after another, begins to grate on one’s nerves. Finally, your patience barrier bursts, and you lose it.

On this trip, the first one to snap was me. But I gave it a good run for the money! I was able to hold my tongue the entire trip, till we returned from our week-long journey. And it was back in Kathmandu, in the kitchen, standing over a pot of raw milk, boiling on the stove, that I snapped. I won’t say who I snapped [at], or what I said. But I lost it.

Now, I had a choice to make. Do the right thing and say “Sorry”, or let pride and stubbornness put mortar to the ‘brick’. Do you want to know what I chose?

You can ask me.

10 things Nepal has that we don’t

Nothing to do but wait

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Veronca and the boys sit on the Thiessen's sofa in their flat in Kathmandu, Nepal, after just arriving on our four week journey.

 

This photo sort of sums up where we are at the moment as a family. After four weeks of traveling through Nepal and Thailand on various missions – visiting friends, leading retreats and investigating ministry locations and opportunities – we are now resting and waiting on the Lord. It’s a hard thing to do, rest and wait on God when you want to see the next step we are to take with our lives.

During a prayer time, we clearly heard God say that he wants us to wait for now and just give our minds and expectations a rest and let him do his thing. “God! It seems everybody is waiting for an answer. They all know that one of the reasons we went to Asia was to see if there were any possibilities of moving out there!”

But God showed us that he wanted us to simply wait and not worry about what people think. I think about when Jesus took his time to reach a person he was asked to heal – Lazarus and Jairus’ daughter –  They both died before he got there. But then he raised them from the dead! And there is God’s encouragement to us, that he will not leave us stranded with no road map and directions.

So, this month will be a time of resting and waiting. In the meantime, I hope you will enjoy the stories and pictures I have to share.

Utflykt

Veronica reads a Bamse comic book to the boys while Matsola fiddles with his new digital point-and-shoot.

Utflykt means ‘outing’ in Swedish. Like, when you go for a hike and bring along some snacks and coffee. So Veronica, and the boys, and I did that with her Pappa. Ramsus and I rode our bicycls, on the big road! Wow! Then we headed over the bridge to Restenäs Island where we had fika, watched the boys play in the small playground, tried to feed melon rinds to the sheep across the fence and hunted for blackberries. We didn’t find but a small handful of blackberries, but we found a whole heap of quality time together. It makes a huge difference when we take time out for family, or relationships or even just some time alone to clear our thoughts and connect with God.

Who wants to be a serious player?

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I remember when I was a boy, and I would lay just like Rasmus is doing in this photo. Not a care in the world, just playing and making believe. and if there was a care, well.. the play would extinguish it almost instantly. There is something unique about play. I heard recently from a famous designer that our work should be like serious play. when the play becomes somber play, then we lose our edge, our creativity, and life becomes bull and uninspiring, Here are a few more photos our serious play.  I hope you will enjoy them 🙂

The Alpha lion and his kingdom

Happy child with harmonica

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One evening, I caught a few shots of the boys playing in their room. Lucas was humming away on the harmonica and had this great laughing face which I was lucky enough to capture. It feels as if every time I pick up my camera I learn a new trick, or principle, or technique, or at least a small portion thereof. I think I caught the light just right here. I used a tethered speedlite on manual mode and held it off to the left of Lucas. At least I think that’s what I did. If I didn’t, then I had the flash facing off to the left and used the left wall as a giant light modifier to bounce the light from.

My next adventure in flash photography is to juggle my tethered speedlite with a small softbox I ordered form Amazon attached to the end of it. I tried it tonight but it felt really clumbsy and the box kept falling off or getting in the way of the lite’s distance sensor. Any advice out there? Anybody wanna come and be my assistant?