Is Enough “Ever” Enough?

Except for the red hair and flashlight, the image below reminds me of a long-ago youngster. I vividly recall lying in bed hidden beneath sheet and blankets, eyes focused on a book which I was determined to read even though the lights in the room were switched off and I’d been duly tucked into bed. Undaunted by the dark room, I depended on an outdoor street lamp which cast its muted light through my second story bedroom window. Many a night I fell to sleep, captivated by tales of heroic deeds and imagined adventures.

Image by Amberrose Nelson from Pixabay

My motto at that time might have been So many books, so little time! Books were my favored pathway and the universe seemed unlimited. After mentioning book recommendations in my previous post, I was reminded of several volumes I (1) have recently started, (2) am currently reading through or (3) have just completed. Contemplating the image above, I understand vicariously the delight and joy reflected in this child’s face.

Continue reading “Is Enough “Ever” Enough?”

To Be Something – More

Book recommendations are one of my major weaknesses. Especially when someone I admire suggests a particular book, I have little-to-no resistance. Given the number of books on my bookshelves (many still unread), it seems I’m dealing with an obsession a costly one!

If I were blessed with unlimited resources, I envision “my” library looking something like the image above from Prague … maybe I’d add a comfy chair or two since the straight-backed chairs on the right don’t look terribly cozy! Give me a cushy chair and footstool (plus a cup of coffee or cinnamon tea) and except for refills, I might not venture out for days (or weeks). Continue reading “To Be Something – More”

Time To Let Go?

New Year’s Day 2024 came and went swiftly, moving us into the freezing winter weeks of January. Belatedly, I bid all a Happy New Year! I expect this will be a year filled with promise as well as trials. May God teach us through both.

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

Considering it’s an election year, I couldn’t help focus on how quickly things have heated up (metaphorically, anyway). At least one presidential hopeful caught my attention with a description of the US Senate as a “privileged nursing home.” Though others are more cagey with their rhetoric, similar opinions abound. The leaders of our country are old. How old? I did some research.

Continue reading “Time To Let Go?”

RPG (1908-1975), Never Forgotten

People who have any kind of connection to St. Louis, MO will probably be familiar with Marlin Perkins, the renowned American zoologist who died in 1986. His television show, Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, ran for more than two decades and originally aired in 1963. The man’s love for animals began much earlier.

A recent Facebook comment (noted by my dear cousin) brought to mind another of our relatives, because of his association with the animal-loving zookeeper Perkins. Richard Phillip Grossenheider (whom ancestry.com informs me is my first cousin twice removed) was assistant curator of birds at the St. Louis Zoo from 1930-1937 and an internationally known wildlife artist as well. Continue reading “RPG (1908-1975), Never Forgotten”

My “Lucky” Day

The Washington Post ran a story the other day about the expected surge in Las Vegas tourism traffic this week because couples have chosen to marry on the upcoming “lucky” day (12/31/23). The next time there’ll be a similar date with the repeating 123 numbers will be in 100 years! I’m reminded of an old Lawrence Welk/The Count meme … a one and a two and a three.

For Las Vegas – always eager to cash in on a unique (and possibly lucky) event – they’ve installed a small pop-up marriage license bureau inside the airport to accommodate arriving couples in their quest for the perfect wedding venue. In this city that’s billed as the “wedding capital of the world,” Las Vegas makes it happen for newlyweds, especially since the average wedding now comes with a hefty $30K price tag. Continue reading “My “Lucky” Day”

Fifty-Four Years Along

This world was quite different in 1969. Average cost of a new home was $15,550 and average income was $8,550. Minimum wage was $1.30 an hour. The price of gold averaged $41.10 per troy ounce. We had no such thing as Internet, nor one cell phone.

It was at the end of that relatively chaotic year (Hong Kong Flu pandemic, Moon landings, the first artificial heart transplant, the Manson family murders, Woodstock, Hurricane Camille, a military draft being reinstated for the first time since World War II, and much more) that December introduced the most life-altering difference for two young kids – my Beloved and myself. We declared our wedding vows to each other before God and an assembled group of family and friends.

Imagine what those times were like! Richard Nixon was sworn in as our 37th US President. An oil spill off the coast of California inspired a Wisconsin politician to organize the first Earth Day which was launched the following year. The Concorde (based in France) conducted its first test flight. President Eisenhower died. The Vietnam War was raging.

Were we crazy? Plighting our troth in such dire, mixed-up times?! Continue reading “Fifty-Four Years Along”

The Artist in Real Life

Two birthdays have gone by since my sister-in-law Terri graduated to her heavenly home. Today marks the second anniversary of her passing. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her, missing her dear and delightful companionship.

Even in her absence, her presence surrounds us. Framed paintings lovingly created by Terri grace the walls of our home. Other decorative touches are visible everywhere: a pair of ornate candelabra, a table centerpiece of dried heather, crocheted tea-cozies for glassware, brightly-colored placemats and lace-edged gingham napkins. She found joy in beautifying our lives in the same way she enhanced the lives of everyone she loved.

The Lifetime Works of a Beautiful Young Girl  (click on image above to view the video)

In the two years since Terri’s home-going, my brother Eric worked on a unique project. He compiled her art works (as much as possible) into one PowerPoint presentation. This was a challenging task because Terri was so generous in sharing her art with … well, just about everyone! For many months, individuals contacted Eric to provide him with copies of paintings Terri had given each person. There were so many, some long forgotten.

Once he’d compiled digital images of Terri’s art, a natural timeline took form. (The image above is one part of the collection.) Given his artistic approach, my brother added specific background music to provide a professional touch. The finished production (more than 300 images) may be viewed by clicking the image above or being re-directed here. The video runs slightly over 30 minutes but I highly recommend it as time well spent.

Terri’s life was a huge canvas where she expressed her artistic vision 24/7. The sonnet I’ve included below expresses my own reflections about Terri’s sudden death. I think it also expresses emotions which are universally felt after a loved one dies.

Before her death, Terri and I often discussed getting some of her art and writing posted to the worldwide web. She launched a blog (two posts, I think) but after that, it languished. More recently, my brother took a look at what she’d begun and decided he’d continue where she left off. He’s learned a great deal about the process, so now he posts most days, offering daily devotions which feature some of his as well as some of Terri’s artwork. Please check it out here and I think you’ll find his commentaries thoughtful and incisive.

We remember Terri today and celebrate our privilege of having known and been loved by her.

Culture As Report Card – Part II

In my previous post, I discussed how the culture has made an indelible mark on today’s Church. There’s a statement making its way around social media which addresses culture and the church. While there are various versions, the image (below left) is one I screen-shot from Facebook. 

Considering the number of places online where I’ve noticed this (and similar) expressions of concern, I think it’s safe to say many people are becoming more aware of the downward slide of the church. According to a 2019 Gallup poll, US church membership has declined sharply over the last two decades. An even more recent poll shows US church membership falling to its lowest level ever.

It’s difficult to identify the exact cause (or causes) of this decline. Some observers have even suggested the slide began in 1517 when a priest named Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the All Saints’ Church in Wittenburg (Germany). Luther was, after all, challenging church authority and doing so in a very public way.

Continue reading “Culture As Report Card – Part II”

Culture As Report Card – Part I

A pithy observation has tucked itself away within my memory. Though I can’t recall who said it (else I’d provide proper attribution), the comment begs for reflection and due consideration, especially as our social norms face new challenges almost every day.

Culture is the Report Card of the Church

Over the years, the terminology for a Report Card has morphed into something meant to sound less ominous:  Progress Report … Student Assessment … Quarterly Evaluation. Still, whatever it’s called, this periodic report often causes unnecessary dread for the person (or organization) being evaluated. Continue reading “Culture As Report Card – Part I”

Come, Let Us Worship the King

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Isaiah 9:6

Image by <a href="https://pixabay.com/users/geralt-9301/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=4705532">Gerd Altmann</a> from <a href="https://pixabay.com//?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=4705532">Pixabay</a>

Our church held Christmas Eve services yesterday. They’ve held similar services every year, I guess, but since we’re usually at home with family, this was the first time we’d taken part. The particular service we attended was designed as a family service so lots of children were in attendance. We’d been told it might be noisy … and it was.

Christmas decorations were beautifully displayed in the large foyer outside the worship center. A Christmas tree … pictures of angels painted on large canvases … a child-size Manger / Nativity scene … the kind of seasonal displays where families gather to snap a Christmas photo.

I happened to stand in front of the Manger scene and my attention was drawn in. The figures and presentation were similar to numerous displays I’ve observed through the years … but something was off. When my daughter-in-law walked up next to me, she noticed it as well. “Joseph’s foot is larger than the Baby Jesus and the manger together!” she said.

She was right. The standing figures were proportionally out of sync with the Child lying in the manger, as if two different Nativity scenes had been (carelessly) combined. I should have taken a quick picture of the scene but I found it too grotesque.

Like Mary (Luke 2:19), I’m given to pondering the inescapable irony. With all the various ways in which we celebrate Christmas, has the occasion’s central meaning (focused on the singular Person of Jesus Christ) been shoved into the background? As the shopping and gift-giving and parties and feasting keep us hyper-busy, does the Babe in a Manger recede to forgetfulness?

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love Christmas! It’s a joyous time and should be celebrated with gusto and jubilance! Christ is come! Let us worship and adore Him!

Still, I’m the first to admit I can go overboard and the temptation (too often) is to get things out of balance. The unfortunate image of a shrinking Baby Jesus will stick in my brain and (I’m hopeful) nudge me to remember always the real basis for our hope, joy, peace and love — our Saviour’s birth.

May God bless you on this special day. Merry Christmas!