The Cross Should Be Ugly

The Cross Should Be Ugly


I wrote this poem recently and placed it over a digitally created cross. It seems today that all the emphasis is placed on the eternal life we have believing in Jesus. People may have forgotten that Jesus had to die on the cross to pay for our sins, our sins that we do today. Sometimes it seems people treat Jesus like a “Get Out of Hell Free” card in the game of life, as though we can do anything we want and Jesus will snap his fingers and all is fine. Jesus is so much more than that! Remember, Jesus CHOSE to walk among us as human to feel what we feel, to work, laugh, play and cry with us. He showed us how to live with God and with each other. He CHOSE to suffer and die for us. Let us remember the high price Jesus paid, and let us do our best to live as he lived. Instead of looking at the cross as a pretty silver or gold pendant, let us remember the pain and death and take the chance to change our lives into something that Jesus finds truly valuable.

(The Cross Should Be Ugly may be purchased from Fine Art America and through RedBubble ( ).

Ta-da-da-daah Announcing!


I have joined the ranks of artist belonging to Fine Art America. This is a site where people may buy quality prints, cards, and posters.  You can see my work at

Better yet! You can visit the new “Shop via Fine Art America” page found on the Menu bar. This page links directly to Fine Art America, and you will be able to make purchases without leaving Fedeler Mule Farm Arts.

I don’t have all of my old photographs and drawings at Fine Art America. If you see (or have seen) an image that you would like to buy but it isn’t on the “Shop” page, please email me at Please include the title of the image (if possible) and/or a detailed description of the image. I will do my best to put the image into my Gallery at Fine Art America.

Of course, you may still order prints and cards through RedBubble at

You may have noticed that images have changed as well. I am working to make my site smoother to use. I am not a computer geek in any way, so my progress is slow. If you have suggestions which could help me, please email me at or write a comment. I have several options of viewing images on different pages. Please let me know which view method you prefer.

Thank you for visiting my site. You really make my day when you do!

Deb Fedeler


Learning As I Go

I am learning all the time. Even at my advanced years, (a friend considerately reminded me of my upcoming _0 milestone birthday) I still learn something new nearly every day whether I am aware of the lesson or not.

For instance, my car suddenly started registering 20 mph higher than I was driving. The discrepancy was less at lower speeds and increased as my speed increased. I had accidentally hit a curb 2 days earlier, but had not noticed any problem with my car. We had dense fog (dense enough for an advisory), so I wondered whether moisture had gotten into some thingy somewhere. (Note my use of highly technical terminology.) I stopped by my mechanic’s shop as I was driving through town on another errand. He seemed stumped as to the cause, and I made an appointment for a couple of days later to have my car checked out.

Out of curiosity, I searched “speedometer too high” on the internet and scanned a couple of articles on the subject. Various people of various competency in auto mechanics suggested looking at the speedometer cable, the speedometer circuit board, and a couple other areas. Then I found an article that said to check if the MPH/KPH button was pushed so that the car was registering the metric units.

Ding! Ding! Ding! A bell went off in my head. (Perhaps this is why some call me a Ding-a-ling.) I knew my car had such a button that would be easy to accidentally push; although I had never “accidentally” hit the button in the 10 years I have driven this car. Sure enough, the car was in metric mode and was showing me KPH. I pushed the button and, Wha-la! (Voila?) the car was registering the proper MPH that I am used to seeing. I cancelled my appointment with my mechanic with a feeling of pride in finding the problem, but also a little sheepish in not seeing the KPH lighted on my dashboard instead of the MPH. Ah well, if it happens again, I know where to check.

I have also been amused by the human mind’s predilection to think that experiences always repeat themselves. This isn’t surprising since science is built on the repeatability of experiments. For instance, we know that water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit repeatedly. (Yes, I know it varies with salinity, but let’s keep this simple, eh?) However, when trying to photograph wildlife, a great many factors are involved and the likelihood of seeing an animal in the exact same place multiple times is pretty low.

For example, I photographed an owl in a certain tree by a creek once. Now every time I go by that tree I expect to see the same owl. I know it is silly to expect an animal to spend its time in one spot just so I can see it again, but I still look. (No, I have not seen any owl in that tree since.)

I walked with a friend through Lake Meyer Park near Calmar, Iowa, and I wanted to go past a certain tree because we had photographed a chipmunk playing on its roots several weeks before. She asked if I really expected to see the ‘munk again. I said, “No,” but still wanted to walk that way. Lo and behold, I was able to take this picture.

Chipmunk on Tree Root

Yes, indeed. I saw a little chipmunk in the same place I had seen a chipmunk earlier. The same chipmunk? Most likely not, but possible if its home is in the area. The odds against seeing a ‘munk in the same place again should be very high. We had a good laugh over this after we took our photographs. But, I must admit (sheepishly), I do expect to see a chipmunk in the same place the next time I go to Lake Meyer.

Ah, the wonders of the learning mind!

Hope for America


Like this Blue Jay, I have at times sat down to think about life, painful though thinking  can be to me.

America seems to have dropped into a deep, dark valley. Wild shootings, out of control deficit spending, divisive rhetoric, a pervasive feeling of entitlement are just some of the problems we face today. Sometimes I feel as though a great, heavy, black weight is crushing me to the ground.

And yet, I know there is light and hope. I meet and talk to people every day who shine like fresh daylight. These people are:

  • Hard working – They understand that things don’t just happen. Reaching goals require work, sweat, and toil. It takes time and effort to do a job well.
  • Respectful – My Webster’s Dictionary defines respect as “an act of giving particular attention: consideration.” People listen when others speak, even if they don’t agree. Words like please, thank you, excuse me, sir, madam, and miss are commonly used. We pause our actions when another person talks to us, and, conversely, they will wait patiently for us to finish our tasks before they begin speaking.
  • Independent – They want to “make it on their own,” even if it means doing without the pretty “toys” that they see other people have. There is a quiet pride in being able to stand on one’s own through the tough times.
  • Thinking – Their minds are always at work planning, analyzing, working to solve the puzzles of life. This keeps ideas fresh and new. They also know that new ideas presented to them need scrutiny with a critical eye before being accepted.
  • Moral – As defined in Webster’s Dictionary, moral means “of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior.” It is too easy to justify our actions at the moment of choice. Morality must be built on higher principles like “Treat others as you would want them to treat you.” The Bible is a good source to understand how we are to behave.
  • Forgiving – Forgiveness is a blessing to both the wrong-doer and the wronged. The wrong-doer is freed to live a life better today than yesterday. The person hurt is freed from the weight of hatred and pain which can harm and distort one’s soul. Everyone involved can benefit from forgiveness.

Many other positive traits also enlighten our world. Now is the time that we need to allow these traits to become beacons of light. A better life is realized when people as a group live according to a higher code of conduct. Like King Arthur’s knights, we can take pride in standing up for truth and fair play. Like Jesus’ disciples, we need to not only teach how God wants us to live, but we need to live how God wants us to live. We can live in a better world, but we are going to have to work for it; it won’t just happen.

After the Ice Storm

Iowa has returned to winter. On January 27 we had a pretty big ice storm come through our area. A thick layer of ice, about a third of an inch thick, covered everything. Knowing that this can create some wonderful scenes for photographing, I headed outside with my camera.

This was the view from my deck.


This was the view from the bottom of the deck stairs.


This was the view from the end of the sidewalk.


Just kidding, I didn’t fall once (which is surprising since I usually end up on my backside when there is any amount of ice around), but I did get out to take a few pics. Unfortunately, we had heavy fog after the storm, but I did manage to find a few photographs out there.

Icy Clothespins

These are the clothespins on the line in my back yard. I loved the little icicles coming off the end of the pins.

Ice Covered Broken Branch

The ice-covered this twisted end of a broken branch. The ice made the reds of the wood brighter.

Thick Ice on Wood

Wow! What wonderful lines and curves!

Ice Covered Arborvitae Leaves

Arborvitae leaves are interesting in and of themselves. Add a little ice and they become beaded jewelry.  I do worry about the trees during and after an ice storm. Only a bit of wind will break off limbs, branches, tree tops, and even cause whole trees to topple. Thankfully, we did not get any wind (hence the dense fog) so the trees are all fine.

Today we are having a winter storm. Fortunately the storm appears to be about over here.  I also would like to tell you of a fine person who used his pickup with a blade on it to open my drive. I can’t recall his name just now, but he did this without any word from me and left before I could get out there to thank him. There is hope for America as long as people like him exist. How wonderful it is to know that people will help one in need without expecting any reward. God bless him and America.

Gun Control – A Different Point of View

The shooting in Connecticut has once again brought out a cry for stricter gun control. The general outcry seems to be for more laws, more restrictions, more of our freedom taken away. I will instead begin a cry for respect for others.

For the past 20+ years I have watched the people of our nation become self-centered and mean. First I saw people gouging consumers and destroying small business. When questioned about the morality of their actions, they would just shrug and say (with a wink and a nod) that, “It was just business.” Sadly, they were able to make money with these kinds of actions, and many people started to copy them. How sad that money should be placed above care for people in value.

Then came movies about “mean girls” that became inexplicably popular. Even talk show hosts became meaner and more ugly with their jokes. The one late show host whose opening monologue I once enjoyed turned to this road of mean-spiritedness. I stopped watching him because it saddened me to see a great comedian turn to such a base and ugly style.

Today it seems that a great many shows on television are about irresponsible sex, violence, and making cruel and demeaning comments to others. They say that it is ok to be disrespectful to others as long as you get what you want. Commercials tell us it is ok to do things in Vegas that we wouldn’t be caught dead doing anywhere else. Commercials also tell us it is ok to be self-centered and buy ourselves presents at Christmas time. Christmas is about giving to others selflessly. God showed us this by sending his own son to Earth as a way to bring us closer to him. Giving to others is a moral valued not only in the Bible, but also in many secular writings.

Self-centered egomania is not conducive to a healthy society. I repeat: Self-centered egomania is NOT conducive to a healthy society. Most people are good, honest people who are trying to do the best they can. Being constantly exposed to abuse, whether physical, verbal or sexual, causes depression and can cause a person to lose him/herself. I know because I went through such an experience after I went out into the “real” world to work after college.

I suddenly found myself surrounded by people who told me I was going to fail, that I was a screw up, that I was crazy to do the things I do. I was ill prepared to handle a constant barrage of negativity after growing up in a caring family and friendly community. Certainly I had had to deal a few people who were mean, and I learned to handle such occasional times. However, when the abusive words and actions came so consistently at me, I developed an overload of anxiety. I found help at the right time. My family stuck by me despite my negative attitude, and God sent me some wonderful people as friends who also helped me to find my real self again, a person who is tender, caring, and wanting to help others when possible.

But what about people who don’t have a family’s support or friends who can teach them about real friendship? What course might their minds take when it appears that no one will help them and they are constantly told they are no good? People will come to believe what they are told, and, sadly, they will come to act in such a negative way as well. I think we can see from recent headlines what can happen. Not all will capture headlines by shooting guns at others. Some will kill themselves, and some will treat others as they have been treated, and many will simply exist, giving up any attempt to try for something better.

We can not allow this to happen any more. We must make changes in our society. How? Some have suggested random acts of kindness, doing a good deed without expecting anything in return. This is fine as far as it goes, but for it to be a great idea, acts of kindness cannot be random. Acts of kindness must be a way of life! We need to live kindness 24/7. How?

  1. Treat others as you would have them treat you.
  2. Be polite.
  3. Take time to listen to what others say, don’t assume you know what they are saying.
  4. Offer to help someone who is struggling, even if it is only to hold a door open. If they decline your help, say, “OK, maybe next time.” and leave it there.
  5. If what you are about to say something that will hurt another, DON’T SAY IT! The old adage, “If you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all” is very wise.
  6. Take time to try to see a situation from the other person’s perspective. This is not as easy as it sounds. To do so, one must try to find the reason(s) why the other holds their point of view. If you can find the reason, you are usually less likely to treat the other person as useless.
  7. Don’t join anyone in treating another person harshly. Try to stop it if you can; otherwise, walk away. Do not support bad behavior by standing next to it. Better yet, support the person being bullied and help them to get away from the bully.
  8. The Bible has many examples of how to treat each other, especially in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Listen to the words of Jesus to learn how we are meant to treat each other.

One more secret I will share with you. When you give another person respect, they will usually treat you with respect. Many times in my life have I given a person commonly described as a loser respect, and they have treated me better than others. Not everyone will respond positively, but the majority will.

Changing back to an attitude of respect for people is going to take time. This is something that will take daily practice, every minute of every day. Don’t despair if you fail to be kind all the time. We are, after all, human and will make wrong choices sometimes. Just keep trying to be better today than you were yesterday. If we can become a nation that is more positive toward one another, the chances that guns will be used against people will diminish.

Wonderful Gift

I went out for a walk through my parents creek pasture a couple of days ago because the sun was shining after several gray days. I was just getting underway when I heard a group of crows making a racket just a little northwest of me. I kept my eyes and ears open as I walked. Finally I saw a large bird in a tree. I tried to get a picture, but the tree was some distance away. I was able to tell that the bird was an owl, most likely a great horned owl judging by its size and length of the ear tufts. I tried to get closer, but the crows caused the owl to fly deeper into the woods.

So I went on to find other pictures. I had not gone far when I came upon this.

History Written in the Snow

The parallel lines on the right side of the photograph appear to be from the tips of the wings dragging through the snow surface, and the other marks are most likely from the battle between the owl and the prey. This is only my supposition, but having seen the owl, it makes sense to me. I also assumed the crows were making the racket as they tried to take the prey from the owl.

Why do I consider this a wonderful gift? Before I go out on a photo shoot I ask God to guide my eyes, my ears, and my mind to find what He wants me to photograph. I count seeing the owl and finding this battleground as an answer to my prayer. This is not the first time I have found something wonderful after asking for God’s guidance. I got photos of an 8 point buck, wonderful sunsets, beautiful images of new life in the spring, flowers I never knew existed, and much more after similar prayers.

I don’t really deserve such wonderful gifts, but God loves me and is willing to help me find the beautiful and interesting in this world. In fact, God loves me so much, he sent his own Son into this world to die and rise again just so I can live forever with God. The truly wonderful thing is that God has done this for all people. God loves you, and wants you to be a part of his family as well. Just open your heart to God’s love, and He will do the rest. And don’t be shy about asking God for wonderful gifts, but ask Him to keep your eyes, ears, mind and heart open so that you can see the wonderful gifts he will send to you.

I’m Back!

Contrary to popular belief, I have not be abducted by aliens from outer space. I still have a great interest in photography and have many images to share.

I was busy this summer working for Maifeld Landscaping out of Sumner, Iowa. Sometimes I worked in the office on the computer, and sometimes I worked on site. I have learned a great deal this year about patios, plants, planting, and anatomy. I found that I have muscles I didn’t even know existed. The good news is that those muscles did not kill me, but have instead become stronger. This did not come without complaint (me to my family, my muscles to me), but the positives gained far outweigh the temporary negatives.

Amazingly, this is a life lesson for me. I don’t know what I can do if I don’t try. I have doubts about how much I can do. Sometimes this prevents me from trying something new. When I can get beyond the doubts, however, and attempt to do what I don’t think I can do, I find that I can often do what I thought I couldn’t! (Did you follow that?)

I guess the point is that if I don’t try new things, how do I know that I can’t do them? There is also a stigma about failing these days that prevents many people from trying to do new things. What I like to think, however, is that even if you fail at something, at least you tried, at least you made an attempt to do something more! That attempt, in and of itself, is a victory to be proud of!

So I proudly hold up my aching muscles (slowly, painfully but proudly) and say, “Yes, I can” or even “Yes, I tried”. Then I take ibuprofen, fall into bed, and dream about the next feat I shall try to accomplish.

Why Do I Take Photographs of Nature?

The Carnegie Center in New Hampton, Iowa had a reception for the three artists (including me) in their current show, “Three Women and Mother Nature”. I had thought that we artists were going to have to stand up front and talk a little about why we photograph nature. We didn’t have to, but I hate to have all the time I put into writing down some notes go to waste, so I will tell you my thoughts on the subject.

My plan was to get up front, strike a dramatic pose, look off into the distance and say, “Because it’s there!”, and sit down. I would do this knowing that Juanitta would give me a dirty look and knowing that I would have to get up and say more.

I have always loved being outdoors, feeling the sun and the wind. I even enjoy playing in the dirt. I grew up on the farm working with cattle and pigs, picking up rock, baling hay, and learning to how nature does what it does through interacting with it and observing it.

In school, I really enjoyed science as a method of learning to look at things closely, trying to figure out how things are made and why they work the way they do.

I also grew up drawing all the time. I would draw just about anything I could see, but early on my attention began to focus on natural things (as opposed to man-made items). Details were (and are) very interesting to me which I suppose is an extension of my interest in science and how things work.

I received my first camera I think in my early teens. I also took several courses in photography while attending University of Northern Iowa. These courses fine-tuned my eye. I began to understand why certain things attracted my eye, and I was able to take better photos because of this.

But this was (gasp) 20 years ago. Why does nature still hold my interest? Nature is full of life and change. It’s life forms range from single cell organisms to truly huge and complex animals and plants. The inanimate parts of nature, like rocks, sand and water, are also fascinating. Nature is an inexhaustible variety of shapes, textures, colors, lines and forms.

There are many beautiful subjects in nature – flowers, sunsets, and birds to name a few, but there is also beauty in things not “normally” considered beautiful. A big old turtle with 3 inch claws has beauty in its solemnity and steadiness. Dead plants that have shed their leaves can now display the grace in the curve of a stem and the marvelous intricacy of intertwining vines. How can I put into words the wonder that fills me when I see a shed snake-skin or an empty cicada exoskeleton clinging to a tree?

God has created a world full of good things, not just beauty, but energy, grace, simplicity, mind-boggling complexity, straightforward facts and elusive mystery. We humans have created a painful, stressful life by chasing after things we don’t have. While I want my photography to bring a smile and enjoyment to people, I also want people to think about what we have, the wonderful gifts God has already given us. I want to encourage people to look for the good in life, even in unexpected places. If we can learn to find the good in the natural world, maybe we can start to find the good in ourselves and in each other. Just think where that kind of thinking could lead us!