Mowing the Straight and Narrow


It’s spring. Gentlemen and gentlewomen, start you mowers!

When we finally bought a house with an actual yard, I was excited about mowing.

Yeah, I got over it.

Still, if ya got grass, ya gotta mow, and that means:

  1. Ya gotta cut it often (i.e. before eagles build nests in it)
  2. And ya gotta cut it straight.

136200261⇐ The first few times I mowed, it looked like this. I finally figured out I needed to maintain a straight line. But how?


Years ago I asked a ballerina-girlfriend how she kept from losing balance every time she did those amazing turns. “Spotting,” she replied. Dancers pick something to focus on, spotting it again each time they come around. This keeps them from flying out of control, and throwing up on their nicely dressed opening night audience.

It was worth a try. I began looking at shadows on the grass and in the bushes at the edge of the yard. The result was, well, not as bad as the zero-technique approach. But pretty bad, nevertheless. The problem was that the shadows were constantly shifting.

So I tried following my own feet.

Yeah, that was a disaster.

So I began focusing on permanent things. And on my point of destination.  Things like trees and window shutters. Result?  Straight, beautiful lines! I even managed to create some pretty patterns. Then one day, while I was mowing, it occurred to me:

What trees are to mowing, God’s word is to my life. Before entering a life of faith, I’d lived by focusing on either: 1) the constantly changing light and shadows of modern culture or, 2) Myself.

Yeah, that was a disaster.

God’s word (illuminated by his Spirit dwelling in me) became my Tree, my permanent, unchanging focus–my destination point. And this has produced a consistency, a purpose, yes, even a beauty that I would never have dreamed possible. If the old atheist>agnostic>seeker me could see the direction my life has taken since I learned to “spot,” he’d be…well, he’d be a bit confused because he wouldn’t know what I know (or rather Who I know). But I think he’d be excited, nevertheless.

More excited than I’ll ever be about mowing.

     “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.”      ~Isaiah 40:8


Posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Humor, Memoir, Quips and Quotes, Religion/Faith | Tagged , , , , | 23 Comments

Happy Earth Day!

Here’s a thought:

This year for Earth Day,

instead of giving our planet a Present

planet-earth1Let’s give it a Future


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If I Could Just Fix Everyone…

a Kempis quote

              “To be good is noble, but to teach others to be good is nobler,          and less trouble.” ~Mark Twain

“Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“With humility comes wisdom.” ~Proverbs 11:2

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Unfinished Business

Man-hanging-on-a-branchTom and I have been friends for many years, and I love him to a fault. Which is convenient since he regularly confesses his faults. He’s a sincere but weak believer who is sick of his own weaknesses and moral lapses, sick of himself, really. And he has been for as long as I’ve known him. I regularly pray for his progress, however gradual, but sometimes fear he’s stuck in the rinse-and-repeat pattern of: 1) feel bad about self, 2) announce to the world that you are human feces, 3) gather “you’re not that bad!” responses, 4) bolstered by responses, feel better about self for awhile, 5) repeat cycle.

I understand Tom’s zaftig need for approval (although I’m more comfortable in my fur, I too crave petting), so I’m often among his encouragers. But in doing so I fear I may be contributing to the cycle.

So a couple of days ago, in response to his latest “I’m a piece of crap!” announcement, in which he expressed the desire for God to finally end his worthless existence, I took a different tack. Being careful to identify with him (easy to do), I wrote:

“Tom, unfortunately, or fortunately, God is not in the escape-provision business. He tends to keep us around until our work on others and on ourselves is done. Ironically, it seems that the people who have “everything to live for” are the ones He calls home. The rest of us have too much unfinished business to complete to take an eternal holiday just yet. As a reminder of this, and of why it must be so, I regularly recite James 1:2-3:

“‘Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you fall into various trials. Remember that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And perseverance, when it has finished its work, will make you mature and complete, lacking in nothing.’”

So press on, Tom. Finish your business, no matter how long it takes. It’s worth it. Infinitely worth it.

Love, your equally slow growing brother,


Posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Humor, Quips and Quotes, Religion/Faith | Tagged , , , , , | 24 Comments

A Filmmaker’s Journal

Two years ago, on the verge of directing my first feature film, a drama entitled “Over-the-Rhine,” I wrote my first Filmmaker’s Journal (now an ongoing series). Today, as I re-post that first Journal, I’m preparing to write and direct my second feature film, an over-the-top comedy entitled “Notzilla.” I’m still scared and still excited, and still covet your prayers. ~Thanks and blessings, Mitch

Mitch Teemley


Less than a month from now we begin shooting my feature film Over-the-Rhine (I’m writing and directing). I want to share the experience with you, my bloggish friends, partly because I think of you as my extended family (aww) and partly because I’ll be too busy to do much else (a typical shooting day runs 12+ hours). So I’ll be posting regular Filmmaker’s Journal updates once we get rolling. This is only a test, test, test, test…

Some facts:

  1. It’s a low budget movie–about as much money as Spielberg spends on craft service (“coffee and bagels”) for one of his movies.
  2. It’s a faith-based film–no, God doesn’t appear onscreen, but he has a key role in the story, nevertheless…and has agreed to play himself!
  3. It’s a dark drama–many of you think of me as a humorist, and there are some humorous moments in the film, but this story, inspired by true events, will take us to some…

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The Wishing Map 112

Have you ever feared the you you might become?

Mitch Teemley

Wishing pix-Title-(framed)

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

The Wishing Map

Chapter Twenty-Two: Everything (Continued)

Previously: Buigor, the coach’s hired guard, began teaching Gina how to use her broadsword.

⇔ ⇔ ⇔

Two hours after her first sword practice, Gina crawled, every muscle moaning, into the coach’s empty front cabin and buried herself in her book of Frengan history. Her mood began to lighten when she read about Farnottien the Fair, a newlywed whose husband had died in the Third Holosian Rebellion. Fifteen year old Farnottien had single-handedly defeated an entire garrison of Holosian soldiers (using all of the brutal sword cuts Buigor had shown Gina), and then, as if that weren’t enough, had found a dragon’s egg and become the first dragonmeer!

Gina also read about P’leusa the Perceptive, a chieftain of old D’nair who’d had fourteen extra eyes implanted into his head…

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It’s a Cat’s World

We just live–and serve dinner, and provide rubs–in it.

Proof the world is round:Proof the world is round

What? You said, “Don’t get on the chair.” I’m  not “on” the chair.kitty-destroyed-armchair-r-default

There’s never a bad time to touch noses.There's never a bad time to touch noses

Holy moly! So that’s what they call “canines.”Holy moly, look those canines

Maintain warp drive, Number Two.kitten-car-drive-on-head-of-driver-no-respect-for-personal-space-r-default

A Study in Contrasts, by Tigger, Jr.Study in Contrasts

“Traction,” he calls it. I’m dubious.Neck therapy

Yes! He has the nap gene. Like this, son

The Great Dinner Heist, Attempt 14Dinner

Terror in the Hallway, Part TwoNightmar in the Hallway

When I make my escape, I’m taking you with me.When I escape, I'm taking you with me

Resistance is futile.Cat-resistance is futile

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