When I was a kid, my Dad would sit and read National Geographic magazine. I loved to look at the photos and dream of one day being able to not just see the places, but shoot them for others to see and share the wonderful world I dreamed was out there.
Several years ago I made plans to go see and shoot Caddo Lake (nature, swamp and gators and stuff). We had a cabin on the water and guide to take me out in the swamp. God had other things (family issues) that we needed to attend to that week, so not then.
Fast forward to this year - The past 5 years had been the hardest times of my life, I was laid-off from my job. I sent out 50 resumes plus and no response. I was feeling total loss. We shared in adult bible class that we needed friends and help, but no one called. They said, “we will walk thru this with you,” but no one came.
My last day was to be the 24th of November on the 22th I got a call from another division that they were trying to get me transferred to them. God had a plan, I needed to just trust Him not people.
All my life I have tried to please people, not knowing if I was doing what God wanted or if I was just doing what people pleasing thing needed done next.
I was picked up by the best division at 3M in Austin. They had to extend my release date till December so all of the interviews and paper work needed to complete. My new supervisor, like my wife, believed in me with no doubts. She walked with me, but she new things were still hurting from the past.
The one thing I still needed was to learn to like me and do something for me, (God is smiling at this.)
I have been sharing a photo a day now going 900+ days. Even in the dark days I still wanted people to see what a wonderful world we live in. God has given me such a desire to help people see with their own heart what they have around them that is so good.
So one more time I got a cabin and a chance to shoot Caddo Lake (nature, swamp and gators and stuff). I got a guide. I asked the people we were renting the cabin from to recommend someone. They gave me the number to call, R.L. Spencer “Broken Chains Prison Ministry”. I asked for a price for a 2 hour sunrise tour. He said he just takes donations and whatever money he receives, he uses to buy bibles that he gives away in his prison ministry. We make a date for Thanksgiving morning at 6. He has 2 boats on small swamp thing and a pontoon boat 27’. I was planning on Karen going with me (she is and always will be my best friend).
Thanksgiving morning at 4:45 Karen said, “ Mike please go without me and Rusty, this is just for you. I will love the pictures you bring me back but this is your time your National Geographic time. This what I want for you.” I said, “Thank you” and Karen and Rusty walked me to the Dock at 6.
R.L. Spencer is what I want to be like when I’m 70 years old. He has a warm heart, bright eyes, and a love for sharing what God has made in this wonderful world. He said his swamp boats lights need work, so he was taking the big Pontoon boat and Karen and Rusty should go with us. This was a God thing, because I wanted to share this special moment with the 2 things in my life that mattered the most, Karen and Rusty. Karen went and Rusty too. Rusty found a spot next to R.L and Karen and did not move even with the duck hunters (he hates loud bangs).
The morning is cool and clear say 50ish, There were some cloud wisps. And then the sunrise -what color - as if this one is just for us and I’m sure it was. Red, blue, orange, yellow! And to see it reflecting out on the water with the huge Cypress trees and Spanish moss, water birds, ducks, fish jumping, and great herons. The colors are so rich. I’m at the front of the boat tears running down my face because this is really happening and Karen is with me experiencing the best moment of my life because this is just for me.
We turn the boat to go up some tree lines looking at all the red color of fall the sunrise has lit. As I’m shooting I see a gray old cypress tree with Spanish moss hanging from it. Someone nailed a piece of wood to it. I took one shot as the light was perfect , as we were moving pretty fast to a open part of the lake.
We came in about 8 that was good. R.L. had ask us to come to Thanksgiving lunch with them that they were serving the town of Uncertain, there at the marina.
Well, I was complete. I got my National Geographic moment. As I’m looking thru pics back at the cabin and I find the old gray cypress tree with the wood nailed to it. When I zoomed in I could read the sign. Someone had carved it years ago. It said “Welcome To My World” and it was signed it in small letters vertical “JESUS”.
At lunch, R.L. said grace and came over to welcome Karen and I and introduce us to his wife and others. I asked him when he put the sign up, as his family had owned the property since 1917 and that all he ever wanted was to share what God had created there on the lake. (Caddo lake is one special place) He said, “What sign?” He had never seen it before. He knew where he took us and was going back out to find it.
“Well I was complete. I got my National Geographic moment.” and came to be the most memorable THANKSGIVING of my life, because it’s not about me. It’s about sharing life with the ones that love you. It’s about giving yourself over and over again to living life in a world that we are just passing thru for a small moment in time. This is His world and I’m so blessed to share what I see and my heart.
I’m thankful for family, even the issue 5 years ago when this trip was to happen. And I know that my trip to Caddo happened when it was supposed to happen,
To quote “Steven Tyler –“I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing”
Thank You my family. Please look around and see what life has for you.
Mike - kinda old and gray with things hanging and stuff about like the gray old cypress tree
Cat, there are no words
Larry Q. thanks for calling