********** A Christian Journal **********

Growing in the Spirit of Jesus Christ

Friday, December 31, 2010

December 31, 2010 (winding down)


2010 is winding down…
very soon it will be 2011.

Like all years, it was filled with ups and downs
but the blessings from God our Father
continue to bring us joy and peace.

Back in late October, early November,
I finished two new projects…
my first published book and
a 2011 calendar.

The calendar was created using software from Mpix.
The book (It is how I see) was created
using Blurb’s software and is still
available for purchase at…
http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/1599714

A full preview of the book can also be seen
at the above URL.

This upcoming year, dependent on the Lord’s guidance and will,
I have tentative plans to publish another book or two
as well as a new calendar for 2012,
and hopefully a few other projects as well.

Up to this point in time,
I have been using a Panasonic Lumix (DMC-FZ20)
point-and-shoot camera for my work.
Post processing was done in Adobe Photoshop CS2.

For Christmas this year, my daughter,
has made it possible for me
to get a new camera and an extra lens.
Cost was the limiting factor but
as I researched the products
available to fit my needs
I found a camera kit (the Canon Rebel T2i)
and a zoom lens (Tamron
SP 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di VC USD)
that received high marks
and still adhered to the budget.
This will provide me with a much better sensor
for larger prints and will permit me to shoot in RAW.

Thanks to my son, this spring,
I will have a new (custom made) computer
and a newer version of Photoshop.

Hopefully all of this will allow me to
take my photography to a higher level.
Saying that, it is remembered,
that it is still the photographer
and not his equipment that captures
and processes the final image.

It is the Holy Spirit
within me that allows
me to see.

I am excited to see where the Lord
will lead me in the new year.

I pray that all of you experience
a very blessed and joyful 2011
in Jesus name and for God’s glory.

Let us remember each other in our prayers.

Friday, December 24, 2010

December 24, 2010 (Artificial Submission)


It has been quite a while since I last posted here.

No excuses… I am sure you have heard them all before. J

Artificial Submission

Years ago I never thought I would have anything artificial…
I wanted the real thing. A wood burning fireplace with a cord
or two of neatly stacked firewood outside along the shed;
real candles that required a match (or two)
to ignite and with wicks to trim;
a real Christmas tree that we cut down ourselves
and required some work to stand up
in a stone crock surrounded by stones
and rocks strategically placed to keep
the thing upright and straight…
and a tree which required periodic watering.
Ah, the smells alone were enchanting.
This is being alive
and living life to the fullest.

Now I am older and perhaps a bit more… well older.
You get the picture… now, or you will eventually.

The artificial “electric” fireplace looks pretty good.
The artificial candles even flicker.
And the artificial tree has finally, after 5 years,
paid for itself.

No more smoke in the room because of poor draft and
a lot less dirt and soot on the curtains, etc. No more lugging in
firewood (or paying to have it delivered),
constantly stoking the fire, and cleaning out the ashes.

No more candles that burn unevenly
or won’t stay lit, and less danger from
three very active cats.

And no more struggles with the “perfect” looking
Christmas tree year after year. I don’t even have
to string the lights anymore. How about
the allergies from a real tree, the poison ivy,
and the hatching spiders that migrate to the
tree top and decorate the angel or star.

Yes the cats still like to play with the tree branches,
the ornaments, and they even try to eat
the artificial needles (with accompanying throw-up)…
hmmm… how about artificial cats?

Life is simpler now… ???

Oh but how I miss those smells… artificial
smells in a can or perfumed scented whatever
just isn’t the same… yet! Nor is the
fireplace sounds on a CD and you can’t even
roast “artificial” marshmallows or have the fun
of putting out the candles between your two fingers.

Still… I have adjusted. I don’t even have to squint
my eyes shut a bit to make it appear more magically
less plastic looking… age is doing that for me.

My point to all of this is to draw the line somewhere.

Lets consider what is really important.

Have we let
ourselves become comfortable with an artificial faith…
less genuine, less passionate, less active?

Do we have a “pose able” faith?
One we put on for show… a faith without works?
That is not even an artificial faith…
that is a dead faith… non-existent.

“Faith and works are bound up in the same bundle.
He that obeys God trusts God;
and he that trusts God obeys God.
He that is without faith is without works;
and he that is without works is without faith.”
- C.H. Spurgeon

Keep the “real” flame alive…
the one that counts.

Monday, October 4, 2010

October 3, 2010 (Bethesda Mission)

We served two groups of 30-40 in each group... all were appreciative...


The Bethesda Mission


In the lobby


Getting instructions and getting ready to serve


Ready to serve (the cold items)


cleanup


the crew from the mission and our church crew together

Friday, September 17, 2010

September 17, 2010 (GO, and sin no more)


“Go and sin no more.” – John 8:11

Have you ever wondered what happened to people
that are mentioned in the Bible
and then are never mentioned again?
Or watched a TV series where a character is,
for one reason or another,
written off the show.
If they die, that is one thing,
at least that is some sort of closure…
although, even then,
I still wonder about the condition
of their soul.
If they don’t die, don’t you at least wonder
what happened to them…
what are they doing now?
Yes, some few may be brought back
and/or, at the very end of the series,
we may be told what eventually
became of them… but not always.

When my wife and I are out in the car,
she will sometimes turn to me,
and ask me… don’t you
wish you knew where all these people
are going and why?
Or an airplane will fly overhead
and she would wonder again
where they were going.
Even I, seeing an old house
would ponder about the stories
made within its walls.

Go and sin no more…

What happened to those, in the Bible,
that were healed, forgiven of their sins,
and told to go and sin no more?
Did they go and sin no more?
Was their life forever changed
and were they now complete?
Were they forever filled with His joy and peace?

What about those, like the young, rich man
who came to the Lord and went away sorrowful
because he was unwilling to forgo the world
and give His all to the Lord?
Where did he go and
what did he do with the rest of his life?

Go and sin no more…

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could hear…
”Come and abide with me”, or
”Come and walk with me” and eventually hear
”Welcome, good and faithful servant”, or
that we were a person “after God’s own heart”.

This is our choice… we must make that decision…
the offer stands open to all of us.

It is terrible never to have known God,
but it far worse to have known Him
and rejected Him.

Personally, I hope I never hear…

GO and sin no more…

Friday, September 3, 2010

September 3, 2010 (A new venture)

A New Venture


Lately I have been rather busy…
several events and celebrations,
household maintenance, new ventures, etc.

I’m sure all of you can relate.

This has required me to temporarily reset my priorities.
The Journal has suffered the consequences
with a missed (Friday) post because of the time
required to create a new entry.

Bible reading and time spent with our God
must always be our top priority.
The SonRays daily devotional (my other blog)
takes precedence over the Journal as well.

Saying that, I will take a little time
in this weeks Journal post
to promote my newest venture.
I have decided to “test the waters”
and sell some of my photographic art.

This venture was not undertaken without prayer
for His guidance.
Up to this point, I have avoided selling my photography
because I wanted this gift from Him
to be entirely for His glory
and not for any personal gain.
Please note that I continue to be
very open about my photographic gift,
His creation, and the relationship
between my photography and my faith.
The personal profile and each image
reaffirms this connection and hopefully
will provide others with seeds
for their own spiritual growth.
The money received from the sale
of these images will be used
in His service either directly
or indirectly (through ministry upgrades).

The images for sale (as of now)
will be through the online site IMAGEKIND,
and will be available in several sizes,
different formats, framed or unframed,
and as greeting cards.

The artist screen name is techranger and
the direct link to my work is…
http://techranger.imagekind.com/.

This link will automatically update as I add
new images and galleries.
Currently there are three galleries…
TreesAndLeaves
Wildflowers
and Flowerscapes…
a total of 14 images overall.

“Your talent is God's gift to you.
What you do with it is your gift back to God.”
- Leo Buscaglia

Please pray for this new venture to be used
for His glory.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

August 20, 2010 (Some thoughts...)

Some thoughts on
excessive indulgence
and sinful behavior…




“Lord, I do not want to sin.”

Perhaps, but, in fact, you do desire
and enjoy the pleasure and satisfaction
you receive from sinning.
So, in part, that is a lie.

You do want that extra piece of cake,
one more drink, or that feeling
of self-gratification, whatever it may be.

Acknowledge to God that
you have these cravings and
that you do enjoy the pleasure
derived from your sins.

After all, he knows.

Now ask God to replace those desires with
the everlasting joy and peace
of remaining in His presence.

By being ever mindful of Him
you will avoid circumstances
that may lead to temptation.

When temptation does strike,
immediately flee closer to Him,
(your fortress in times of need)
and pray that He remove
temptations power from you.

Keeping yourself out of situations
that promote temptation involves commitment
and discipline… the strength to resist
temptation once it appears comes from
seeking God’s refuge and the support
of His Holy Spirit within.


Both require you to believe, love, obey, and trust
the Lord with your entire being…
all your strength, your mind, your heart, and your soul.

You either turn to God or you turn your back on God.
You either stay in His presence or you attempt
to hide from Him.
We can’t continue to play hide and seek…
one moment seeking His presence and the next
hiding from Him.
This makes us spiritual shallow and eventually
we will grow to love the one and hate the other.

If we pursue the dangerous course, sinning
will become such a lifestyle that we
no longer attempt to hide
and seeking Him will cease altogether.
The heart will become hardened
like untilled ground and only God’s plow
of tribulation will stand a chance of making it
into an area for productive re-seeding.
Responding to God’s plow is a chance
for a new beginning but the choice
remains… don’t be foolish…
hearts can become permanently hardened.

Surrender your heart to God’s keeping
by allowing the death and resurrection
of Jesus Christ to be your salvation…
and allow the Holy Spirit to work within you.
This is the best and only security
against a hardened heart.

“Help me, O God,
to look back on the long way you have brought me,
on the long days in which I have been served,
not according to my deserts, but my desires;
on the pit and the miry clay,
the blackness of despair,
the horror of misconduct,
from which my feet have been plucked out.
For my sins forgiven or prevented,
for my shame unpublished,
I bless and thank you, O God.”
- Robert Louis Stevenson

Friday, August 13, 2010

August 13, 2010 (weekly capsule)

Sunday, August 8th

Have you ever become enamored
with a dream? Dreams are fine
as long as they do not become a roadblock
to spiritual growth. All dreams must be
brought before the Lord to be certain
that they follow His will for your life…
then the hard part…
while pursuing your dream,
take time to wait and trust in Him.
Some doors open, some close,
and some forever remain shut.

My dream (currently) is to have a bigger
and better camera… one that will allow
larger hardcopy prints of high image quality.
Money, of course, is the issue.

I have been told by two different reliable sources
that a fine art photograph in my possession
(by George A. Tice)
could go a long way in providing that money…
the problem is to find that “special collector”
willing to pay what it is worth.

I will trust in the Lord.




photo by George A. Tice
(Amish country – near Lancaster, PA)
taken sometime in the late 1960’s


Monday, August 9th

Today I attended my first “silver sneakers”
class at a local gym. I had no idea
what to expect. The class consisted of myself
and eight ladies.
I felt, at first, very much out of place.
Here I was the younger male exercising
with a group of senior females.
I should have been in a class more suited
to the stronger of the species.
My embarrassment soon turned to shame.
These classy ladies, of the fairer sex,
could run circles around me…
and they were so much more coordinated,
as I stumbled to keep up.
Remembering that football players
take ballet lessons to improve
their reflexes and flexibility,
my manhood was reaffirmed.

I will go to the Thursday class as well.

Tuesday, August 10th

Back to the gym in the afternoon… this time
for a cardio workout on the treadmill.

Later, that evening, my wife and I
took a leisurely walk down the lane
near our home.
Two whitetail doe and a fawn
crossed our path ahead, followed by
a buck and another fawn.
This is the first time I have ever witnessed
a “family” of deer together in the wild.
Always before it has been a lone mature buck,
or a grouping of doe with or without fawns.
They move so silently, with grace,
but with such speed…
definitely a joyful moment, as I took
my mate’s hand in mine.

Wednesday, August 11th


I had breakfast out this morning
with an old friend. We were good friends
all the way back in elementary school…
another blessing to renew a friendship after
almost 50 years… and to discover
that we share the same faith and love
in Jesus Christ.
Please pray for Ronnie as he goes
on a short-term mission trip to Uganda.

Later in the afternoon I accompanied
my daughter to deliver a load
of Styrofoam to a recycle center downtown.
We all must be good stewards of
the Lord’s creation.

Surveying our yard, I see a need
to remove some excessive (and unwanted)
vegetative growth circling our house, the shed,
and the borders of our property.
What is one man’s weed is another man’s flower.
I love native plants and enjoy wild violets,
yellow wood sorrel, cinquefoil, clover, etc.
(our lawn is full of them) but…
this overgrowth must go.
With the high heat and humidity
this summer’s greenery has been
excessively flourishing.
This year we have already had 25 days
of temperatures over 90 degrees.
Last year we only had three.

No gym today, so my wife and I took another walk.
No wildlife and very still… the air thick and heavy.

My son has flown to Texas for a job interview.
I pray that he will be lead into
a job and a place where he will
be of greater service to the Lord.
Please pray for him and his safe return.

Thursday, August 12th

It is early morning and still mostly dark.
There is a gentle rain.
Out on the porch with our three cats…
it is sultry but the rain is still refreshing.
With a distant rumble of thunder,
two of the “scaredy-cats” bolt for the door
and rush inside. Kokomo,
he of the Hemingway paw, remains.
Kokomo appears, at times, to be a bit kooky
and is subordinate to the other two.
However, he shows no fear as he settles down
on a cushion and enjoys a reprieve
from his “superior” feline friends.




“I will give peace in the land;
you shall lie down and none shall
fill you with dread or make you afraid;
and I will clear ferocious (wild)
beasts out of the land…”
- Leviticus 26:6 AMP

Back to the gym for another ROM class…
this one was well attended…
AND… eight men along with eleven ladies.
The instructor worked us a bit harder
and included some cardio exercises.
I’m feeling better and more fit already!

It rained again later in the afternoon…
more blessings from Heaven.

This evening the rain ended
and my wife and I took a (this time more
brisk) walk. The rain cooled things off considerably
and lowered the humidity… feels wonderful.

Friday, August 6, 2010

August 6, 2010 (weekly capsule)



Friday, July 30th

Today, my wife, daughter, and I took a day trip to Doylestown, PA.
We toured the Fonthill Museum, home of Henry Chapman Mercer.
Henry, quite eccentric, designed and constructed Fonthill
from reinforced concrete.
The exterior and interior of the building both reflect his
passion for the bizarre.
Here was an extremely intelligent and driven man,
always learning and always collecting artifacts
from wherever he traveled. Henry spoke
at least five different languages and earned
two degrees… one from Harvard
and a second from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

This guy survived on only 3 hours of sleep each night.
That would allow, for most, an extra 3-4 hours of active time
every day… approximately an additional full day per week.
Just think… an eight day week…
more time to learn, to grow,
to worship, to be of service to others.
The idea is tempting… but at what cost?
I need more rest to remain at a productive level.



Saturday morning - early
(the last day of July)


It is said of Edward Weston that he arose
around 4:00 AM to focus and reflect.
”Peace again! – the exquisite hour before dawn,
here at my old desk – seldom have I
realized so keenly, appreciated so fully,
these still, dark hours.”
– Edward Weston
(Daybooks)

The way to overcome sin is not so much
to remove what the Lord says is wrong
as it is to “replace” those wrongs
with what the Lord says is right;
to replace the selfish, uncontrolled
pursuit of childish behavior with
child-like trust and obedience…
to allow the “old man”, in me, to die
and to replace him with the new man
in the likeness of Christ.

I get angry with myself, then upset,
and finally ashamed with my repeated failings.
It appears that I still have quite an appetite
for worldly pleasures and a nagging
lack of self-control.
The difference now is that over the years
I have grown, and more importantly,
I know I am forgiven through the death
and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Edward Weston, reflecting on his earlier life…
”How young I was. That covers everything.”
- Edward Weston
(Daybooks)

How young in spirit, I still am…
I am still learning to forgive myself.

Sunday, August 1st

Our pastor just recently started a new series of sermons
titled WOW - Works of Wonder.

Just think of all those times
when we are so completely amazed
that we just can’t help but say,
WOW!

This reminds me of a series of books,
that I highly recommend,
by Squire Rushnell…
the WHEN GOD WINKS SERIES
http://www.whengodwinks.com/

Monday, August 2nd

The highlight of the day was going out to dinner
with my son and daughter…
Dad’s day out with the “kids”.

We went to a Thai restaurant…
The Bangkok Wok.
This was my first experience with Thai cuisine.
I had the chicken Pineapple Curry
(Pineapple chunks simmered
in coconut milk red curry.)
Very yummy!

OK, I admit it…
I asked for the “mild” version.

Tuesday, August 3rd

My wife and I went to Roots…
a favorite farmer’s market
for fresh fruit and vegetables.

We also picked up some ham loaf…
a mixture of ground ham and ground pork
that is made similar to meatloaf.

My wife makes both a great
meatloaf and ham loaf.

We eat well!

Wednesday, August 4th

Thought about mowing the yard today
but will wait until Friday… forecast… not so
hot and humid.

My son and I went for coffee this morning
before he headed back home.

My daughter had us over
for shish kabobs on the grill.

Did I mention that we eat well?

Thursday, August 5th

Coffee out with a very good
friend today… since he is Jewish
and I am a Christian,
we occasionally, as relates to our different beliefs,
have some interesting conversations.
Whatever the topic,
it is time well spent with a great guy.

Went to the “new” gym I signed up for today…
orientation for “Silver Sneakers” program.

Read that Medicare will last
an additional 12 years from last report (maybe)…
to the year 2029.

I will be 84 by then, if not
taken by the Lord before that.

Tomorrow, it is to the gym, early, after
my devotional time. Have to work off
all that good food and keep
God’s temple fit.

Then it will be time to mow
the grass before I have
the equivalent of a wheat field.

Friday, July 30, 2010

July 30, 2010 (my career - my faith)



MY CAREER - MY FAITH

I am a retired high school biology teacher,
having taught in the public school system for 30 years.

The question of how I justify my career
and my faith has often been asked.
No justification is necessary as there is no conflict.
Oswald Chambers said, “The boundaries
of our knowledge must continually enlarge and alter.
That is why no intelligent person would ever ask,
‘Does the Bible agree with the findings
of modern science?’ The question all enlightened
persons should ask is, ‘Do the findings of modern science
give us a better understanding of the scheme
of things revealed in the Bible?’”
Does each new scientific discovery lessen
the “miracles” of God and explain how events
took place without need for a “supernatural”
God directed intervention or does
each new scientific discovery
(our increasing knowledge)
perhaps give us another, very tiny, glimpse into
the workings and plan of God?
He not only created the earth and the heavens
but also the laws of nature and the universe
by which he uses to accomplish, even now,
His will. This is not to say
that God cannot step outside those laws
if he so chooses. I happen to think
however that God’s original
plan (His creation) is so perfect and His control
so without limit,
that He can, and does, work within
the parameters He set
from the very beginning.

Our knowledge is less than puny compared
to the awesome knowledge and understanding
of God… perhaps that is why… each small discovery
we make becomes, to us, such a glorified accomplishment
of man. Instead we should glorify the Creator.
“How great is our Lord! His power is absolute!
His understanding is beyond comprehension!”
- Psalm 147:5 NLT
“Does a clay pot argue with its maker?
Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying,
‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’
Does the pot exclaim,
‘How clumsy can you be?’
I am the one who made the earth
and created people to live on it.”
- Isaiah 45:9,12 NLT



What appears supernatural to us
simply shows how little we are capable
of understanding. We will never
be able to understand God
or possess even an infinitesimal
amount of His knowledge and wisdom.

Once again… to quote Oswald Chambers…
“What is a miracle?
There is no such thing as a miracle
to the soul who belongs to Jesus Christ.
There is nothing unusual in the work
that the Holy Spirit does,
even though it seems out of the ordinary course of nature
to our finite sense and judgment.
Jesus Christ can heal the body.
He can deliver the tortured mind.
God grant us the grace to know our ignorance
and to get out of the way with our limited knowledge,
so that we will let the Holy Spirit
bring our majestic Christ face to face
with the diseased, sick folk we have to face!”

Admitting our ignorance and believing
in the active presence of an all powerful
divine intelligence is a first step
toward wisdom and understanding.
A giant step is taken when we
allow Him to guide and direct us…
trusting, obeying, and following His will
for His glory.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

July 23, 2010 (my photography - my faith)



MY PHOTOGRAPHY – MY FAITH

“I want creation to penetrate you with so much admiration that wherever you go, the least plant may bring you the clear remembrance of the Creator. …One blade of grass or one speck of dust is enough to occupy your entire mind in beholding the art with which it has been made. … The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof." - St. Basil the Great

I started taking pictures when I was 13 or 14. My dad bought me a Leica Visoflex 2… my first “serious camera” when I turned 16 (1961). I remember his one main condition… learn how to take care of it and maintain it before you use it. He even had the sales clerk give me instructions. He knew he didn’t have to tell me to make “good use” of it… to learn about the art of making pictures and the process of photography in general… I was already hooked by then. Taking photos was… as Dorothea Lange said… “getting lost again”. That simple quote has become very important to me and my faith. For I believe that, as in photography… you must take the time to get lost in the art… you must get lost in the Lord in order to develop all that He wants you to be. He has a plan for our life… being receptive to Him is the only way to find it.

This camera was my answer to a “creative urge” that I have felt throughout my life. Lacking skills in artistic painting or sculpture, in writing novels or poetry, and having no musical talent, the camera was my crutch… the necessary link between my seeing eye and a produced image. Actually artistic painting and photography could be considered exact opposites. In one you start with a blank piece of canvas and add to produce an image… in the other, you start with the whole world and learn to isolate all but the essential image… “seeing” what already exists.

Photography increases your sensitivity to the world around you and helps you to see the essential. The same process allows your faith to grow… listen for Him in all you experience (that takes practice and commitment), eliminate the garbage, and allow Him to work within you, concentrating on the truth of His Word. Be ever mindful of Him.

I keep my images as simple as possible… sometimes (as several have told me) taking photographs of things others would either ignore or never even see… such as this image seen in dead leaf litter.



Having taken formal classes in photography, attending several seminars; reading extensively on photographic history, photographic art (the “masters” of photography), and many articles on photographic technique, I nonetheless shoot almost all of my photos on automatic… relying on the camera for the settings and concentrating instead on the subject and its surroundings. Post processing is done in Adobe Photoshop to slightly adjust the final image to appease my inner eye. Teaching a couple of classes in photography helped me clarify what I learned. Perhaps the whole photographic process is intuitive… an ability that comes through a lot of experience.

I have never lost the excitement of seeking, seeing, and capturing an image. Images are found everywhere and the child in me stands in awe of God’s creation. I am not a man of many talents… but I believe this is a gift from God… and in using His gift for His glory… I feel the Holy Spirit guides my eye. To quote Ansel Adams, “Sometimes I do get to places [and see things] just when God's ready to have somebody click the shutter.” I could not do as well if left to my own ability. Anything in these images that is praiseworthy is from Him… anything less… well, that is all mine.

Photography continues to have an impact on my developing faith and spiritual growth. My faith continues to influence my photography. It is how I see. "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." - C. S. Lewis

Friday, July 16, 2010

July 16, 2010 (after the storm)


backyard after storm
showing our porch and the dead
Sugar Maple tree

7/12/10 (evening)
It has been hot here in the Northeast (USA).
We were spoiled by the cooler temperatures
over the last few summers.
Today there was a thunderstorm
with rapidly descending volumes of rain.
Now with just a gentle rain falling
my daughter and I have moved
out into the screened-in porch.
Our three cats joined us after spending
most of their time inside, darting back and forth
between the loud claps of thunder.
Kokomo is cleaning between the toes
of his oversized “Hemmingway” paw.
Zembie, the red/orange cat,
is surveying the backyard for birds
while perched atop the porch railing.
Willow, the older matriarch,
just lounges on her settee.

In the distance is heard the plaintive cry
of mourning doves.
My mother used to say that they were
crying for rain… guess they didn’t get enough today.
As a child I used to love to hear them… still do.
A friend recently told me that if he were to pick a totem,
his would have to be the Red-Tailed Hawk.
On his frequent road trips, he would see one
early most mornings.
I guess then mine would have to be the Mourning Dove.
Some find it a sorrowful cry (hence mourning)
whereas I find it peaceful and relaxing.
In the same way, I find a lot of Celtic music (even laments)
peaceful as I do the soulful music
of Native American flutes.

As for saddening, this week we lost a favorite
Sugar Maple tree… suddenly dying,
the leaves on the tree shriveled
and turned brown within a day or two. It felt like
losing an old friend. The tree provided us
with many years of privacy, shade, and gorgeous
autumn leaves but thankfully I caught
much of the autumn splendor on camera.
Perhaps I will replace it next year with an oak tree;
of which, we have none.

The bluebird house
in the far center of the backyard
is finally home to a pair of bluebirds.
Up to this year
other species have nested there.
Often, as is the case this evening,
we see the male making
several excursions for food…
what a spectacular flash of blue.

Tomorrow, the 13th, my wife,
her very special friend, and my daughter
have planned a shopping trip.
Called a FADDOWE (pronounced FAD-O-WE),
it refers to Faye and Darlene’s day out…
this time with Erin.

These excursions are always a lot of fun for them
and it gives me some time alone (on the porch)
with my books, a glass of iced tea (or coffee),
my thoughts/reflections and the Lord.

Take the time, every day, to spend alone with God.
Read His word and meditate on what you are reading.
Take the time to enjoy His creation.
Take the time to reflect on your relationship with Him…
nothing is better than getting close to Him.
Pray for wisdom and understanding
as you listen for Him to speak to your heart…
then trust and obey.

Friday, July 9, 2010

July 09, 2010 (new growth)


deer damaged tomato plant

Our backyard borders a wooded area
and is frequented by a plethora of animals
and animal species.
We love the wildlife and have,
many times,
spoken affectionately about the diversity
of species, and total numbers,
that visit us.
Whitetail deer, rabbit, squirrel, chipmunks,
wild turkey, skunk, opossum, an occasional
eastern box turtle, and others drop by
from time to time.
Not a day goes by without several of these
making an appearance.

Food is plentiful throughout the habitat.
Why then do they feast on my few
native perennials and four tomato plants?
Perhaps it is the lure of “forbidden” fruit?
My attempts at keeping them away
have been mostly unsuccessful.
Dried blood, homemade pepper spray
(using Tabasco sauce),
a type of garlic scented spray, etc.
have met with little success.
I refuse, and can’t afford,
to spend much time or money
nurturing and protecting these few plantings.
Forget a fence and long ago I switched
my “weapon of choice” from a gun to a camera.
I shoot to capture God’s creation
in photography not to kill anymore.

Next year, I will try a few more plantings,
some of those that escaped
the attention of my animal friends,
and one or two new “experimental” plants.
The right garden for the area
takes time… I will let His will be done,
as I too continue to grow in Him.

It is the process, the journey;
the lessons learned
by which all is developed for good.

"What lies behind us
and what lies before us
are tiny matters compared
to what lies within us."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Today I have given you
the choice between life and death,
between blessings and curses.
Now I call on heaven and earth
to witness the choice you make.
Oh, that you would choose life,
so that you
and your descendants might live!”
- Deuteronomy 30:19 NLT

Friday, July 2, 2010

July 02, 2010 (gardening again)


“I think that if ever a mortal heard the voice of God
it would be in a garden at the cool of the day.”
- F. Frankfort Moore
(A Garden of Peace)

Years ago, as a teen (late 50’s – early 60’s), I worked my summers
in a rather large “truck garden” (about 2 acres or so)…
you name it, we probably grew it.
In addition there was several different fruit trees,
nut trees, berry bushes, and a couple of grape vines.

The vegetable garden was maintained by my father
and I along with a neighbor, his wife, and son.
My mother also helped in the garden, although
she did most of the canning and freezing
for our family.
The trees, bushes, and grape vines
were my responsibility alone.
Then there was the grass mowing,
which if done in the same day,
took most of the “entire” day.

After my father passed away,
so did most of the gardening.
Eventually my wife and I sold the place
and looked for a larger house (1980)
for our growing family and
less yard to maintain.
All that gardening at a young age
left me somewhat jaded.
I had little desire to garden again.

Looking back…
my gardening experience was a character builder
and physically, mentally, and spiritually therapeutic.
There is a lot I miss even though it was
back breaking work.

“I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day,
and stand in deep contemplation
over my vegetable progeny
with a love that nobody could share or conceive of
who had never taken part in the process of creation.
It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world
to observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil,
or a row of early peas just peeping forth
sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green.”
- Nathaniel Hawthorne
(Mosses from and Old Manse)

As it turned out it also lent itself well
to my chosen profession…high school biology teacher
(majoring in botany during post graduate studies).

After we moved and during the next 30 years
I did some minor landscaping around the new homestead…
planting 8 trees, a row of lilac bushes, a forsythia hedge,
some flowers, etc. Not much working in the dirt
considering the long time span.

This year the forsythia hedge, which was getting
unmanageable for me, was removed
and I developed an interest in perennial,
native wildflowers. Not wanting to spend
a lot of money, the wildflowers selected were few.

Eventually, I hope to expand the plantings over an
8 by 40 foot section bordering one side of the property…
that is if the “native” animals
don’t treat it like their personal salad bar…
more on that later…

The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God's heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.
- Dorothy Frances Gurney
("Garden Thoughts")

Friday, June 25, 2010

June 25, 2010 (day of sorrow)


As we continue to grow we experience ups and downs
in our spiritual life.
The other day I went through one of
those “days of sorrow” - full of anger and doubt…
a “chasing after the wind” mindset.

Depression and self-pity followed.

Allowing the Holy Spirit to regain control,
I experienced remorse for my actions and thoughts.
Counting blessings brought me gently back
to the right path of gratitude and praise.

“When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’
your love, O LORD, supported me.”
- Psalm 94:18 NIV

Without these periods of sorrow
we would experience little growth
and would be in danger
of abandoning our reliance upon Him…
switching from a life of humility
to a self-centered life of pride.

It also helps to have
an understanding and loving soul mate
growing right along with you.

Here are some quotes I used
the other day in a SonRays devotional.

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
- Author Unknown

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.”
- Albert Einstein

Let me share with you a part
of my morning prayers.

Dear Lord,
Please talk to me.
Help me to see Your presence and Your message,
throughout my day, in everything I see,
hear, and experience.
Let me be ever mindful of You…
listening, attentive, and trusting.
Grant me the wisdom necessary to understand,
the desire to pursue, and
the obedience to fulfill
what is Your will for my life.
In Jesus name I pray,
Amen.

Friday, June 18, 2010

June 18, 2010


This week my wife and I went
to a farmer’s market about an hour away.
It is one of the largest in the area,
and they are open only one day a week.
You find a tremendous variety of fresh,
and imported, fruit and vegetables.
Also there are many meat counters,
bakery stands, and vendors selling
plants, flowers, and other goods.

The day was near perfect.
Temperature was in the 70’s (low 20’s Celsius),
low humidity, and the sun was shining brightly.
Always attracting a huge following,
today the crowd was massive.
The place we choose to park is a bit out of the way
and we usually have no difficulty finding a great spot.
This time, however, we were lucky to find
a space in the corner sandwiched between
an oversized pickup and a tree.
Thankfully our car is small.

If you have ever had the privilege of visiting
one of these markets, yearning for wonderful
things to eat, you know that you end up buying
more than you had anticipated.

It took us over 30 minutes to find our way
out of the complex through the maze of traffic…
but it was worth it.

We are so blessed, in this country,
with an abundance and variety.

Sometimes I think we have too much…
too many choices, too much of a “good” thing.

I get a headache just looking for a particular cereal
at the grocery store… so many different types
and lots of variations of each type.

The problem of “too much” lies in the temptation
of overly possessing or indulging,
and desiring these things
more than our God from whom all
good things come.

And never let us forget others
in their need as we follow
the will of God.

“Do not love or cherish the world
or the things that are in the world.
If anyone loves the world,
love for the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world -
the lust of the flesh
[craving for sensual gratification]
and the lust of the eyes
[greedy longings of the mind]
and the pride of life
[assurance in one's own resources
or in the stability of earthly things] -
these do not come from the Father
but are from the world [itself].
And the world passes away and disappears,
and with it the forbidden cravings
(the passionate desires, the lust) of it;
but he who does the will of God
and carries out His purposes
in his life abides (remains) forever.”
– 1 John 2:15-17 AMP

Friday, June 11, 2010

June 11, 2010


If you followed the TV series “Lost”,
you are aware of the series finale.
It’s an aptly named series as I, for one,
was lost through much of it.
The show always left you
with more questions than answers.
Not unlike real life… I might add.
A Christian friend once told me
that although he was a believer in Jesus Christ,
he had a lot of questions he would like answers to
once he reached heaven.
If only we would spend as much time
contemplating, praying, and
discussing (with other true believers)
the mystery and enigmas of this life
and our divine purpose in it…
Then again… that is why we have
faith and trust in Him.

I don’t watch a lot of TV,
but this series, for some reason,
peaked my interest.
Here was a group of travelers
from different backgrounds,
each (like all of us),
carrying a lot of excess baggage
(no pun intended).
They, like us, waver between
right and wrong, good and evil.
Although not Biblical in nature,
the series finale was exceptional
in pointing out, that in order
to be forgiven, we must first
learn to forgive.
And in order to “move on”
we must accept that forgiveness
and forgive ourselves.

To do so we become part of the harvest
from a hopelessly “lost” world.

Friday, June 4, 2010

June 4, 2010

photo by Ronnie Benner

“He walked with God.”
How fantastic is that?
To walk with God.

Enoch (Genesis 5:24) and Noah (Genesis 6:9)
are both mentioned in the Bible as walking with God.

So many say that they believe in God
but it is a god of their own making.
Instead of “God created man”
they follow just the opposite…
a man created god.
They want a god on their terms…
a caring, protective, giving god
that is only around when they want him around,
and who will look the other way
when they desire to follow
more worldly, sinful pursuits.

So what is walking with God?

It is to be “ever mindful” of Him.
It comes only through consistent prayer,
daily digestion of the Word,
and obedience to His commands…
all of which is the foundation for
true belief, trust, and faith in Him.
It is the process of spiritual growth.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

contemplation
photo by Erin Doyle

“No man has a right
to lead such a life of contemplation
as to forget in his own ease
the service due to his neighbor;
nor has any man a right
to be so immersed in active life
as to neglect the contemplation of God.”
- Saint Augustine

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Coming soon...

This site will be a personal journal of sorts containing reflections, past history, current happenings, etc. as I continue to grow in faith and the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Hopefully it will be a blessing to others as much as I am praying it will be for me.