Glistening Twigs

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The ice and snow didn’t wait until 2016 to fall on our fair city, but nature was gentle with us, as we didn’t get blasted like much of the country has. Just the usual cold front with nasty winds, driving sleet and blowing snow, but the end result was only a small amount of moisture. No doubt, there will be more to come. Not in a hurry, though.

As I stepped outside to shovel I was reminded how striking ice on tree branches can appear when sunlight illuminates both. With only minutes to spare before the sun’s rays began melting away nature’s artwork, I snapped a few images. Frozen water on wooden twigs…simple, yet astounding beauty !

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May your new year be filled with wonderful surprises !!!

The Soul of a Coffee Shop

Tuesday's CoffeeWhile visiting a well-known-chain coffee shop during the Christmas holiday, I decided to sit for a while and enjoy my drink rather than scoot out the door to my next destination.
The cacophony of sounds which embellished this locale reminded me of an orchestra tuning their instruments prior to a performance. At first the sounds seemed like unorganized noise – and could even be considered annoying if in a grumpy mood. But since I slowed down that morning, I heard instead, a strange harmony.

As I listened, I heard eclectic Christmas music playing through the overhead speakers; steamers making hot milk and froth for lattes and cappuccinos; employees taking and repeating orders; a middle-aged man talking with a younger man about weekly events and faith (a Bible lay on the table); two men sharing stories at a perimeter table; the gentle clicking of a young woman typing away on her laptop; the shuffling of the morning newspaper; and the constant stream of people coming and going while exchanging pleasantries and orders with the staff. And, of course, continuous texting.

Most of the customers were in a hurry, but a few not so much. They seemed to be the frequent visitors known by manager and employees alike. There were somber-looking people and joy-filled souls, and preoccupied folk from all walks of life. Some ordered regular coffee, but most selected specialty drinks, custom-made to their particular tastes. Many of these specialty drinks are rather expensive, too, but this is an affluent community and the average customer wants for little materially. Nevertheless, there are needs…there always are.

As I sat listening and watching the steady flow of consumers and busy staff, I realized that this coffee shop (like most) represents a cross-section of our current culture. Some of the people I witnessed could be on the verge of a collapse: emotional, relational, career-wise, health related or possibly financial. Most, I suspect, struggle with something. I certainly do. This much I know…everyone has a story. Some are tragic while some are remarkable and inspiring. Most fall somewhere in between. Perhaps this is why we are drawn to the exceptional, the heroic, and the inspirational. Average can seem so boring.

If we are honest, the majority of us see ourselves as average – and we probably are. There is nothing wrong with that, for without average, we wouldn’t have exceptional. Those who are exceptional-who excel above most-are flaunted and often placed on precarious pedestals of admiration. To be considered the best or most popular at something is alluring. Haven’t we all thought what it would be like to be the best athlete, musician, surgeon, writer, race car driver, entertainer, etc.? And yet, if we actually achieved this vaulted status, we would become susceptible to a host of potential problems, such as loss of privacy, inflated egos, self-absorption, detachment from average people and average lives, forgetting those in poverty, and the list goes on. We’ve all read stories of celebrities and athletes who still struggle to find love and acceptance, despite having achieved fame and worldly success. So many dream of achieving some sort of remarkable status or gaining peace of mind, but, instead, find ourselves miserable, especially during the holidays.

I think most of us try too hard in just about everything we do. Whether at work, at home or at play, we push-push-push until we have nothing left to give. Life becomes a balancing act, and peace and contentment are forced out of the daily equation. We miss out on the simple act of living-of being alive. There is this constant striving for that piece of golden fruit which is just out of our reach. When we fail to secure it, we panic inwardly and ask ourselves, ” Why not me?”. When some of us do grab onto it, it soon loses its luster and we become dissatisfied again. We humans are masters at repeating this cycle.

With the world seemingly spinning out of control, we become even more anxious. This tension leads to lives devoid of hope, and ultimately, joy. I know about anxiety and striving and even self-pity. I don’t come to you as one who possesses exceptional anything or as living a care-free life. On the contrary, 2015 has been a very difficult year for many reasons. Yet, I awakened today. No chalk lines outlining my body. Inward wounds perhaps, but I am still alive and have eternal promises spoken to me by the only One who can legitimately offer and secure them. Yes, this source is Christ. His love is extravagant, and far better than any of the gifts we may receive or give.

My Christmas wish for all is to find Him who seeks us. By doing so, all of our problems won’t vanish immediately, but our souls will be renewed, and a sense of peace and joy will eventually take residence. This world has nothing close to compete with this gift of love filled with grace. His fruit will never tarnish nor fade. Merry Christmas !

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Lookin’ Out My Back Door



Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR) created and published this hit song in 1970 on their Cosmo’s Factory album. The reason I bring this up is because this song was sung at my brother-in-law’s funeral recently. You would have to know Gene to appreciate the significance, but suffice it to say that he would have wholeheartedly approved. Another brother-in-law played it on his guitar and sang it-along with everyone in the pews. His funeral was more of a celebration than a sad event. I dedicate this post to Gene who is finally free from suffering. I loved him.

The photograph reflects my pup looking out our back door. The quality is poor, but I like it anyway. This image seemed to fit this blog. I shot Carson while I was on our deck and he was in this viewing posture, looking out our back door which brings me to the point of this post.

Ever since this song was played I can’t get it out of my head. It is a fun song, seemingly full of subtle references to the drug culture, but most of all a whimsical look at life from not-so-serious eyes. John Fogerty, the bands’ leader and song writer stated that he actually wrote it for his then three year old son, and that the characters he introduces were inspired by Dr. Suess and not the drug scene in California. This explanation makes this song even more enjoyable due to the innocent nature of the lyrics.

I encourage you to look up the lyrics, or better yet, watch a video of CCR playing this song. It will put a smile on your face. There are many verses which are simply enjoyable to read, but one in particular catches my attention every time I sing it. The verse goes like this, “Bother me tomorrow, today, I’ll buy no sorrow. Doo doo doo, lookin’ out my back door”.

With that thought stated, I wish all who read this post no sorrow…at least not for today. Life can be so exciting and yet so difficult at times, so set aside anything that bothers you and start singing. Doo doo doo !