January 31, 2011

Inhabiting the earth


his morning I read a quote that made me think about life. It made me think about how we spend so much of our days rushing from one task to the next without taking the time to enjoy life. It made me think about how we so often focus on the things people do to annoy us rather than the wonderful things people do around us on a daily basis.

I am often reminded that I need to notice the little beauties in life—the amazing sunrises, the sweetness of a warm summer breeze, the deep azure sky pebbled with soft fluffy clouds. But then I find myself experiencing repetition fatigue as I move by rote from one daily task to the next without thinking along the way. That lack of deliberation seems to be fertile ground for pessimistic thoughts and the crop from that fertile ground is rapidly growing depression.

Quite often God steps in and reminds me of his steadfast love and faithfulness. This past weekend was one of those times.

Luigi Barzini

The Italians know that everything in their country is ... imbued with their spirit. They know that there is no need, really, to distinguish or to choose between the smile on the face of a cameriere and Donatello’s San Giorgio.... They are all works of art, the “great art of being happy” and of making other people happy, and art which embraces and inspires all others in Italy, the only art worth learning, but which can never be really mastered, the art of inhabiting the earth.

I love music. And I love God. And playing music for the glory of God is one of the most wonderful color-purple moments I have found. And this past weekend was absolutely filled with that great pleasure. I played with Remembrance in a fund raising event on Saturday and then on Sunday I played for the first time with the worship team that I will be playing with monthly. It was a great pleasure to be involved in both of these events. God’s gracious hand was pointing out to me the reminders of his steadfast love and faithfulness.

So when I read the quote from Luigi Barzini on The Italians, it reminded me that quite often the thing that gets in the way of our recognition of God’s grace is to be found in our lifestyle—or at least in mine. I need to kick back and stop being quite so concerned with the nitty gritty. I need to appreciate the beauty that by God’s gracious design presents itself. I need to adopt “the great art of being happy” and of making other people happy... the art of inhabiting the earth.


January 27, 2011

Snow... again


hen we moved to Front Royal, Virginia, we immediately fell in love with the local beauty. And we have continued to enjoy it—season after season. But the snow here has proven to be particularly gorgeous.

The view along one side of our house

Last night we had our first significant snow accumulation of the season—about 7 inches—and it was beautiful. We had light snow throughout the day yesterday and then in the early evening it began to come fast and heavy. David went out and enjoyed the falling snow as long as he could handle the accompanying cold. When we went to bed, there were two or three inches on the ground and our neighborhood had taken on the look of a Currier & Ives print.

The view from our front porch

But this morning we woke up to more than half a foot of accumulation. And because the temperature was hovering around freezing for most of the snowfall, it had come down in the heavier form of snow that sticks to everything. So the tree limbs and even the telephone wires are laden with beautiful fluffy whiteness that looks almost like icing.

I headed out with my camera at 6:30 this morning to capture a few pictures of the beauty. I hope you enjoy them, while we enjoy the real thing.


January 24, 2011

January 18, 2011

Cloning a woolly mammoth?

CNN Blogs is reporting that scientists [are] trying to clone, resurrect extinct mammoth. As a dyed-in-the-wool science fiction fan, I love this sort of thing. And I really hope it works—and works out better than the cloning of extinct animals did in Jurassic Park.

As a so-called “young earther,” I don’t believe the animal they’re trying to clone truly went extinct 12,000 years ago. I believe the earth is a few thousands years less old than that. But I still wish them the best on this endeavor. No matter how many years ago they died off, have a real woolly mammoth at the zoo would be really cool.

Blog Header - January 18, 2010

This header photo is of my friend, Casper, taking a picture with her camera, but using my telephoto lens. We were on a photo expedition and she was experimenting with some cool depth-of-field techniques.

January 10, 2011

Curing apathy

Psalms 119:69-70

The insolent smear me with lies, but with my whole heart I keep your precepts; their heart is unfeeling like fat, but I delight in your law.


ecently, I was talking to an acquaintance who said she would rather have not been born, but since she was born she is going to make the best of it. She wasn’t depressed or suicidal; she simply is apathetic toward life—unfeeling. I find this very sad.

I tried to figure out what would make a seemingly healthy person consider life in such a way and had trouble coming up with any answers. But then this morning I read the passage in Psalm 119: their heart is unfeeling like fat, but I delight in your law, and I got a glimpse of what might be wrong in this person’s heart.

This acquaintance is not a believer in Jesus Christ. In fact, when I talked to her about Jesus she prefaced one statement with, “if Jesus did exist...”. I, of course, did not allow that statement to pass by unchecked. But after I disabused her of the notion that Jesus was a myth she began regularly using the phrase, “I don’t care what he said.” Again, I find this very sad. But I think it gives a clue into why she views life in the way she does.

The passage from the Psalms presents a contrast. On one side the image is fat, which has no feeling. We are all aware of how that works. The areas of our body that are composed primarily of fat have very little sensation while the areas with little fat are quite sensitive. So this image makes sense to us.

On the other side of the contrast, the psalmist presents God’s law. Perhaps we would not have immediately understood the impact of God’s law in this case. But the psalmist lays out a contrast that forces us to see that God’s law is the opposite of unfeeling—like fat.

Perhaps the reason so many people in our society—especially young people—have given up on caring about life is that they do not understand God. It brings a whole new layer of importance to evangelism.

Thank you, God. I delight in your law.


January 06, 2011

Blog Header - January 6, 2010

Stephanie plays keyboards and sings in Remembrance, the band I play bass for. I took this photo of her prior to a recent concert as she texted friends while she was waiting for the concert to begin.

January 05, 2011

You are what you ... see

Our family has a favorite saying: take the spoon out. This may seem silly to most people, but it suits our family well.

As the joke goes, there was a man who loved hot chocolate, but every time he drank hot chocolate his eye would develop terrible pains. This happened for many years and finally he went to the doctor.

“Doctor,” he said, “every time I drink hot chocolate my eye hurts. But I love hot chocolate and don’t want to give it up. What can I do?”

“Tell me about this hot chocolate,” responded the doctor. “How do you make it?”

“Well, I put cocoa and sugar into the mug, then I pour hot milk into it, stir it with a spoon, and then drink it.”

“Maybe you should take the spoon out.”

Yeah - I know. It’s silly. But it makes a good point that our family tries to remember regularly. Sometimes the fix is pretty obvious—and not really all that difficult.

So... I often get bogged down with the woes and cares of life. I let the daily trials bother me and I worry about the potential future trials. But this is not a difficult problem to diagnose. If I’m focused on the world, I will notice those trials, and those woes, and those cares. If I am focused on Christ, I will notice the solution to those problems.

All I have to do is take the spoon out.


January 01, 2011

I Want to Go

Stuck In Customs


logs have lost their luster in the cyber world. Just a few years ago everyone who wanted to have an online presence did it by blogging. Now Facebook has become the online forum of choice and blogs have dropped off of many people’s radar screens.

This is a good thing.

When a forum is as popular as Facebook is currently, or as popular as blogging was two or three years ago, the general quality drops to an unacceptably low level. So many people are using the medium that the overall quality suffers greatly.

So with fewer people now blogging, I believe the blogosphere has matured and should now be a good source for information and communication. I know—that concept runs completely counter to the prevailing view. That’s okay. I’ve always been strongly counter-cultural. Why stop now?

And so... this year I am going to try to recommend the good blogs and web sites I find to help those of you who want to find the gems out there.

And, on this first day of the new year, I will make my first blog recommendation:

Stuck In Customs


This consistently mind-blowing photography blog is one of my mainstays. I visit this blog almost daily. Author Trey Ratcliff [Facebook Fan Page] is an expert at HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography. His blog was the launching point for my foray into HDR photography and his reviews of HDR software helped me determine which software I eventually chose (Photomatix Pro).

I have found that simply viewing the work of other photographers can greatly improve my own photography. So I highly recommend to all my photographer friends out there: Stuck In Customs. I think you’ll love it.

Here are a couple of Trey’s amazing photos:


Blog Header - January 1, 2011

Today is January 1, 2011. This begins the fourth year that I have posted a new photo as the blog header at least once per week. I enjoy the challenge of making photos work in the wide, panoramic-style cropping. It keeps me on my toes and it motivates me to continue taking pictures for this use.

The header above was a picture I took during the heavy snows in the early months of 2010. This particular shot is the view from our bedroom window. This was on a sunny morning after we had gotten quite a few feet of snow. I thought it would serve as a good blog header for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

It will be interesting to see what God has in store for us during this new year. I know there will be many growth opportunities. I hope that this time I will just learn the lessons and get on with life. I tend to be a slow learner who must be taught the same painful life lessons over and over again. Perhaps my New Year’s resolution should be to learn it right the first time.

Happy New Year!