A Calm in the Midst

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They speak of a calm

before the storm

but there is a calm

in the midst of the storm

that comes from knowing

we are not alone

The Western Hemisphere has been struck by a monstrous alphabet of storms. First Harvey, then Irma and Jose, now Maria, each a “Storm of the Century.” But no storm of the century can stand against the God of Eternity. So Pray for those in the Gulf states, in the Caribbean countries, in Puerto Rico, and for those affected by Mexico’s Earthquake of the Century. Pray that they will know his presence, his comfort, and see his hand at work in the hands of those who arrive to remind them…

they are not alone. 

For Charity Navigator’s list of the most effective organizations in the region, click here. Many religious groups are involved, too (USA Today reports that 80% of aid for Harvey and Irma has been delivered by churches), so check with your own congregation!

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The Wishing Map 83

Helping someone discover a gift they didn’t know they had is exhilarating. And terrifying. On the one hand, you’re changing their life forever. On the other hand, you’re, well, changing their life forever.

Mitch Teemley

Wishing pix-Title-(framed)

Note: To read The Wishing Mapfrom the beginning, click here.

The Wishing Map

Chapter Eighteen: Spiffwits and Storysmiths (Continued)

Previously: Deciding the only way to escape from Naimian was to teach the naims how to be storysmiths, Zack invited their most talented “pretenders” to meet with him.

⇔ ⇔ ⇔

He arrived at the Great Chamber to find two hundred of Root Naimian’s best pretenders already assembled. “What’s that?” he asked, pointing at an un-carved panel in the twelve foot high ceiling.

It was as if he’d asked, “What’s the square root of pigeon?” A naim youth two or three years older than Zack replied, “It’s nothing, Master Zaggyzim, because its story hasn’t been told yet.”

Zack sighed. He pointed at an aqua colored streak in the rainbowwood grain and asked, “Do you see the river?”

Tick, tick, tick, tick…ding!

“Oh, yes, Master Storysmith, plain as your toes, now…

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Pictures of Heaven!

It is generally assumed that there are no actual photographs of heaven. This is incorrect. There are many pictures online!  Hint: It helps if you’ve read a lot of books. Then you’ll know exactly what to look for.

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More: I’ll Buy a Kindle When They Create a “Book Smell” App

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Octoberfeast

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We adopted Cincinnati as our home in 2005. The Germans adopted it in the mid-1800s. In fact, by 1850 the number one spoken language in Cincinnati was German. And the number one beverage was beer. Not surprisingly, it’s now home to the second largest Oktoberfest in the world (number one is in Munich, Bavaria). Oktoberfesters love their bier und schnitzel, und bratwurst mit sauerkraut! But there’s something that loves Oktoberfest even more, or rather loves Oktoberfesters even more: Gnats!

gnats1Oktoberfest actually begins in mid-September, while the weather is warm…

And sticky.

And gnaty.

In fact, when they write their relatives about their beloved city, the little critters spell it Cinci-gnati. And even though feasting on humans is nearly always fatal, they don’t care. Here’s a Gnat’s Oktoberfest To-Do List:

  1. Find human face
  2. Fly into it
  3. Die

At our first Oktoberfest, hosted by Cincinnati’s Germania Society, we sat under a tent slurping Märzen lager and noshing hot krouty mettwurst (well, OK, I did–my wife sipped lemonade and demurely nibbled chicken). Predictably, the flies fought with me over who could consume the most mustard.

But not the gnats.

They headed straight for my face, causing me to flail fecklessly, while sloshing more beer and dropping more kraut than I ever actually got in my mouth.

So what’s the deal with gnats?

It turns out they’re actually called eye gnats, and they live not by beer alone, but by all the mucous that proceedeth out of the mouths–and eyes and noses–of humans.

Consequently, the average human consumes three to four thousand gnats in a lifetime. Which is not only disgusting, but seriously unsanitary–gnats are covered in germs (so that’s why they call it the Germania Society). It’s a pretty raw deal for all those hard-working gnat dads, too. I mean, they’re just trying to bring home the bacon (or, well, mucous) so their gnaty little families can live. There must be a solution, right?gnats3

gnats2I Googled “gnat protection” to see what could be done. Here are a couple of the stylish solutions that popped up. Hmm. And how does one drink beer through these, exactly? Ah, well…

Pass the gnats, please.

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Don’t Trust God?

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Person to Person

Helping Others

How often do we get stuck on numbers (I know I do), thinking that unless we can sweep across the land like good deed crop dusters, eradicating all pain and suffering (or ignorance, or violence, or?) there is no point in beginning? Mother Teresa began with one person. And then another, and then another. By the end of her life that one person had become thousands helping hundreds of thousands in 140 countries. And yet in every situation it came down to–and still does–one person helping another. Teresa of Calcutta never forgot that.

If our hearts are open, God will show us that person. And the next person. And the next…

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.”  ~Luke 12:6

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Greedy Love

Yellow Flowers And View Of A Beach In Corona Del Mar, California

As of today, my wife Trudy and I have been married 32 years. I’m greedy for 32 more.

Last week, without premeditation, we revisited many of the places that live in our memory. We’d flown to L.A. from our current home in Cincinnati, Ohio, to attend the Burbank International Film Festival, so it was a “working vacation.” But since we’d formerly lived in the area, including four years in Burbank, we were near many of the places where we’d loved, played, fought, and made up: my wife’s childhood home, our first apartment as well as our last before moving to Ohio with our kids, our favorite date night restaurants (Gordon Biersch, California Pizza Kitchen) and the AMC movie theater we so often attended on those date nights—where our own film was now screening!

Most emblematic of our journey together, however, was rocky Pirate’s Cove in Newport Beach where we’d sipped dark coffee from a thermos during a time our premarital relationship had grown equally rocky (interestingly, I’d also been baptized there). We wanted to love each other, but didn’t know how.

Now, just days before our 32nd Anniversary, we soared past Pirate’s Cove on a whale watching boat, heading out to open sea, no longer bound by a quaint but confining cove. We hugged the rail and each other as the wind intermingled our hair and the sun turned our faces the same coral red. “We’ve learned how to love each other,” I thought, “and we’re going to learn to love even better in the years to come.”

And that’s why I’m greedy for 32 more.

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