Sweeping God’s Porch

Fondation Claude Monet - photo by Veronica Reverse (unsplash.com) Fondation Claude Monet, France – photo by Veronica Reverse (unsplash.com).  Note: This is not what our house currently looks like — I need a tad more time.

16 years ago, my family and I moved from L.A. to Cincinnati, Ohio. From living in a snug little SoCal condo to a rambling leave-it-to-beaver suburban home, one we could never have afforded in California. But a big house and big yard = big responsibility. At first, I liked mowing “my lawn,” but pretty soon the novelty wore off. Likewise, having a big basement was nifty (room for a workshop, ping pong table, gym equipment). But not when it flooded. Repeatedly.

Add in my passion for my work (writing, filmmaking, storytelling), and our home soon began to feel like an interruption, a chore. One I barely had time for.

But then something clicked: I realized this was my home, and how blessed I was (basement flooding and every species of weed known to humankind notwithstanding) to have it! For the first time, I began to think not just of upkeep, but of beautification—landscaping, painting, a new cupola for the garage roof. In short, I began to thank God for what he’d given us by taking pleasure and pride in caring for our home.

“Then the LORD God took the humans and placed them in the Garden of Eden to cultivate and care for it. And whatever they called each living creature, that was its name.” And behold, I did name our wild bunnies “Flopsy, Mopsy, and Beakerhead” (don’t ask), and our squirrels…forget it, too many.

And it was good.

I knew about stewardship, that the earth belongs to God, and that we, like Adam and Eve, are merely its privileged administrators. I liked the concept, philosophically, but it always seemed a bit of an abstraction.

Until last Saturday.

We’d heard a heavy rain was coming. And that meant reinforcing the castle moat, i.e. the strategic ramp of dirt and powdered concrete I keep banked against the house walls so the rain will run away from our basement rather than into it. But then, as I was finishing up, raking my dirt all-pretty-like and sweeping off my front porch, it struck me:

This is stewardship. I’m not protecting and beautifying my house, I’m protecting and beautifying God’s house! Suddenly stewardship was no longer an abstraction. And yet, the funny thing is that rather than being demotivated by such a reminder, I’m more motivated than ever to care for my God’s house. Because I’ve discovered yet another way to love and thank my Creator!

The only thing is, my wife keeps eyeing that weird fruit tree in the back yard…

You know, the one God told us to stay away from?

Posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Humor, Memoir, Quips and Quotes, Religion/Faith | Tagged , , , , | 20 Comments

Contentment

Thought for the Week

Old Covered Bridge, Ohio

During a recent Sunday drive, my wife and I stumbled across this wonderful old covered bridge above. It was an ordinary day (our original plans had fallen through) made special by warm conversation and a light fall of snow; note the blips in the photo. We didn’t own anything we saw that day. But we owned the day–and still do.

“In this universe everything has its rightful owner. If something does not belong to you then you shall not even have a bit of it. However, the fresh breeze over the rivers and the bright moon above the mountains are exceptions. If you can hear it, it is a sound for you. If you can see it, it is a sight for you. It never ends and it is never exhausted.” ~Su Shi (11th Century)

“Yes, there is a Nirvanah: It is leading your sheep to a green pasture, putting your child to sleep, and writing the last line of your poem” ~Kahlil Gibran

“(When) the picture of the fruit you have not found is still before you…you make the real fruit taste insipid by thinking of the other.” ~C.S. Lewis

“Never let the things you want make you forget the things you have.” ~Sanchita Pandey

One of life’s greatest challenges is to strive for what could be and ought to be, while learning to be content with what is.

φ

Posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Quips and Quotes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Know Thyself

From Your PreceptsArtwork by naradjou14 (deviantart.com)

“People travel to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars, and yet they pass by themselves without wondering.”

~St. Augustine

To know our Creator is to know our true selves.

~AΩ~

Posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Quips and Quotes, Religion/Faith | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Fall Into Winter

Guest Post by Stephen Geisel

Stephen Geisel is a Toronto-based photographer, videographer, motion-designer whose stunning artwork is available in print and other forms at his blog site love-fi, and at several others. These images from the last two months alone show what a remarkable eye Stephen has for form and detail (I particularly love his macro-photography).        Visit his site to see more!

Freezing Rain II.
By Stephen Geisel, Love-fi
Freezing Rain II.
By Stephen Geisel, Love-fi
Freezing Rain IV. Macro Photograph
By Stephen Geisel, Love-fi
Freezing Rain IV. Macro Photograph.
By Stephen Geisel, Love-fi

Staying warm and keeping creative, as the colder weather rolls-in. Here in Toronto, Canada there’s been a bit more rain than snow. I’ve been really enjoying photographing the cold rain slowly dripping down various plants, which form beautiful designs.

Freezing Rain.
By Stephen Geisel, Love-fi
Freezing Rain.
By Stephen Geisel, Love-fi
Liquid Earth.
By Stephen Geisel, Love-fi
Liquid Earth.
By Stephen Geisel, Love-fi
Cicada Macro Insect Photograph.
By Stephen Geisel, Love-fi
Cicada Macro Insect Photograph.
By Stephen Geisel, Love-fi
Aqua Drops.
by Stephen Geisel, Love-fi
Aqua Drops.
by Stephen Geisel, Love-fi
Earth Capillary.
By Stephen Geisel, Love-fi
Earth Capillary.
By Stephen Geisel, Love-fi
Neighborhood Pigeon.
By Stephen Geisel, Love-fi
Neighborhood Pigeon.
By Stephen Geisel, Love-fi
Wooden Trail.
By Stephen Geisel, Love-fi
Wooden Trail.
By Stephen Geisel, Love-fi
Hawk on a Wire.
By Stephen Geisel, Love-fi
Hawk on a Wire.
By Stephen Geisel, Love-fi
Afternoon Moon.
By Stephen Geisel, Love-fi
Afternoon Moon.
By Stephen Geisel, Love-fi
Green Leaf Hydration.
By Stephen Geisel, Love-fi
Green Leaf Hydration.
By Stephen Geisel, Love-fi
Freezing Rain III. Macro Droplets
By Stephen Geisel, Love-fi
Freezing Rain III. Macro Droplets
By Stephen Geisel, Love-fi
Robber Fly. Macro Photograph.
By Stephen Geisel, Love-fi
Robber Fly. Macro Photograph.
By Stephen Geisel, Love-fi
Spread Wings Seagull.
By Stephen Geisel, Love-fi
Spread Wings Seagull.
By Stephen Geisel, Love-fi
Land of Lily Pads.
By Stephen Geisel, Love-fi
Land of Lily Pads.
By Stephen Geisel, Love-fi

Photos Taken with:
Fuji Film X-T3 (On Amazon)

Sky Crystal. Macro Snowflake
By Stephen Geisel, Love-fi
Sky Crystal. Macro Snowflake
By Stephen Geisel, Love-fi
Crescent Moon Photograph.
By Stephen Geisel, Love-fi
Crescent Moon Photograph.
By Stephen Geisel, Love-fi
Posted in Quips and Quotes, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Future Movie Settings

Interesting Structures

Many of you know that I write, direct and produce movies. You may also know that, while some scenes are filmed on sound stages (especially effects-heavy shots), most are filmed on-location. Finally, I’m guessing most of you know (understatement, duh) that there’s been a pandemic going on. And so, while filming has been largely shut down, my wife and I (she co-produces with me) decided to kill two birds with one stone by taking location-scouting daytrips to snap pics of potential future film sites. Our area has a ton of great architecture, as well as historical sites and natural settings (I’ll post more in the coming weeks). So here, for starters, is a sampling of houses, buildings and other interesting structures we’ve gathered.

Click on any image to enlarge it, or to begin slide show.

Posted in Movies, Popular Culture & Entertainment | Tagged , , , , , , , | 41 Comments

Just a Reminder…

Presentation1

“First of all, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be offered for everyone–for kings and all in authority–so that we may lead tranquil and quiet lives in godliness and dignity. This is good and pleasing in the sight of God our Savior.”

~1 Timothy 2:1-3

Posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Quips and Quotes, Religion/Faith | Tagged , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Peace With Justice: Inauguration Week 2021

facebook_1412910226574My Featured Blogger this week is Gregory Joel, business consultant, founder of the back-to-work program ‘HopeWorks,’ and board member of numerous charitable outreach organizations. Gregory’s infectious compassion shines through every blog he posts. And even though this Inauguration Day-themed piece features the words of another, it shines with that same compassion. Visit Gregory’s site and you’ll see just what I mean.

gregoryjoel.com

I finished my morning prayer and meditation on the porch this morning and headed for the desk. I found this gem from Chalice Press in my inbox and had to share it with you all. Chalice Press is a great publisher with some amazing writers.

In honor of this Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we share this prayer from Rev. Dr. Michael W. Waters from his new book, Something in the Water: A 21st Century Civil Rights Odyssey.

A PRAYER FOR HOLY SOLES

Dear God,

teach me to pray

with my feet.

The steps of the ancestors were sturdy and strong.

They somehow carried them to cut down strange fruit

dangling in the breeze.

Up and down Montgomery’s hills,

To mass meetings, lunch counters, and courthouses

To face canines, tear gas, and water hoses

As bullets and bombs wrought martyrs,

Their blood still crying out from the deep.

LORD God,

View original post 191 more words

Posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Quips and Quotes, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

How I Invented Coffee

Coffee foam art by Kazuki Yamamoto (worldfullofart.blogspot.com)Coffee foam art by Kazuki Yamamoto (worldfullofart.blogspot.com)

Full Stomach, Fuller Heart

(an occasional series)

Unlike my oldest daughter, who as a newborn would have been thrilled if Mommy’s breasts dispensed House Blend and Dark Roast, I had to learn to like coffee.

The Coffee-Milk Era: My mom let me try her coffee when I was 7. Too bitter! But then she poured a little into my milk and I loved it! My first Coffee-Milk was a pretty palomino color and tasted mysteriously wonderful! I didn’t like coffee, but I loved the flavor. So I happily imbibed my Coffee-Milk, along with coffee candies and mocha malts.

The Singing Coffee Era: Sophomore year in high school I joined the elite audition-only A Capella Choir (translation: you had to be able carry a tune in some semblance of a bucket). The A Capellas met during “Oh! Period,” too early for mere mortals. So, like many of my fellow-elites, I began stopping at the school snack bar and buying a cardboard coffee to take to rehearsal. I didn’t like it, but I loved how adult I felt walking into class with my cuppa joe (in truth, I often bought a watery cocoa instead, doctoring it with a nearly equal amount of cream).

The Techie Era: I was a theatre major in college, and one of my first experiences was as a techie (crew member) on a three-hour production of Marat/Sade, the bizarre, vaguely true story of play produced by inmates at a mental asylum. I was trying to slim down so I could land all the juicy dramatic leads in productions to come, so I avoided snacks and guzzled gawdawful un-creamed crew-brew every night. I didn’t like it, but I got used to it. And by the time the play and my diet were over, I’d developed an addiction to coffee, along with Nestle’s Crunch bars (so much for the diet).

The Dark Days: I later worked next to a hot-water-dispenser. Result? Instant coffee all day. Jitters? Yes. Stomach ache? Yep. Happy? Hardly. Hooked? Oh, yeah. I’ll say no more. Except that I later repented and have since forgiven myself. Please, can we just move on?

And Then I Invented Coffee: One magical day, I discovered the little-known Swiss pour-over method, and had an instant dancing-and-singing conversion! Finally, after all those years of wandering I’d found The Source!  I started buying amazing locally-roasted beans, and learned how to grind them to my own demanding specifications. Result? The Best Coffee On the Planet. Need proof? A few years later, I met a beautiful girl who loved coffee, but LOVED my coffee. And so she married it. And me.

And we rode off into the caffeinated sunset together.

Posted in Humor, Memoir | Tagged , , , , , , , | 44 Comments

Dr. King’s Legacy

Darkness-cannot-drive-out-darkness

Thought for the Week

“In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline…we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.”

Today America celebrates the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King’s fame is tied, of course, to his leadership in producing positive change for black Americans. But he is equally famous for insisting that that change be accomplished through peaceful, respectful means, through loving rather than hating our enemies—who so often turn out to be our neighbors. Dr. King loved his friends. But he also loved his enemies.

Do we?

How desperately we need his legacy today. True, many told Dr. King (and Gandhi, and Mandela, and Jesus) that “only force and fear can produce change!” But the problem, Dr. King knew, was that after the smoke cleared, we would all have to face the future together—those who’d forced the change and those upon whom it was forced.

If change is not brought about peacefully, respectfully, it doesn’t last. Instead, it only lays the groundwork for the next act of violent, forceful change.

And on and on it goes.

So let us refuse to drink from the cup of bitterness and hatred. Instead, let us “rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force,” of driving out hatred…

With love.

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A Childlike Faith

Childlike FaithPhoto Credit: Santa Monica, United States – Lauren Lulu Taylor (unsplash.com)

“A complete life is the life of a child. When I am fully conscious of my awareness of Christ, there is something wrong. It is the sick person who really knows what health is. A child of God is not aware of the will of God because he is the will of God.” ~Oswald Chambers

When we live in Him

we thrive in Him

and nothing else matters

~AΩ~

Posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Quips and Quotes, Religion/Faith | Tagged , , , , , , | 12 Comments