March 28, 2011

Color Purple for today

Count your blessings!

Here’s just one for today—Christian musicians who glorify God by being the best at what they do. Phil Keaggy:

March 27, 2011

And on top of it all - an award


esterday, this blog received the Stylish Blogger Award from Heather P. of the delightful Soundoff blog. I am particularly delighted to receive this award from Heather because the theme of her blog is Looking for the Positive in ALL things! The few folks who have followed my blog for a long time may recognize the fact that this is a goal of mine. I don’t always achieve that goal, but I do think I’m making progress and I’m working toward it step by step and day by day.

Heather P., however, is an amazing woman with an incredibly positive outlook on life. I’ll tell you a little bit of her story and then you need to go check out her blog.

Heather’s husband was in an accident quite a few years ago. This accident left him a paraplegic. Heather is now wife and full-time care giver for her husband. Not many marriages can survive such a stressor, but not only has Heather continued to love and care for her husband in spite of the odds, she does so with a calm grace and positive attitude that boggles the mind. Now, go see for yourself—then come back here to hear about the award.

As a recipient I am supposed to tell you 7 things about myself and then choose 7 recipients to pass the award on to.

7 things about myself

  1. I am a graphic designer working for the largest tax and audit firm in the world
  2. I am deeply in love with photography and have the great fortune of being able to photograph events and people as part of my job.
  3. I am a recovering Fundamentalist Christian who holds firmly to the fundamentals of the Christian faith and adamantly rejects the additional baggage added to the Christian faith by well-meaning Fundamentalist forerunners
  4. I live in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, surrounded by mountains on every side, with the Shenandoah River running along the edge of my neighborhood
  5. My wife and I adopted a crack baby almost 16 years ago. He has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, fetal alcohol syndrome, sensory dysfunction disorder, severe ADHD, “and a grab-bag of other psychological and behavioral disorders.” And yet he is a delightful boy with an intense love for life who is growing to manhood before our eyes. It has been a difficult and expensive path, but our family has been blessed through him.
  6. I am a Libertarian politically and a libertarian with regard to philosophy and religion. I believe in personal soul liberty and freedom of conscience. Therefor, I will share what God is teaching me in order to be edifying to my brothers and sisters, but I will not attempt to be the Holy Spirit to others.
  7. I have been blessed beyond all belief—to the point that it is truly indescribable:
    • I have absolutely the best wife in history (Kim Gelina)—still gorgeous after 25 years of marriage, and amazingly strong to have put up with me for a quarter of a century.
    • I have the best friend in history (Melody Oestreich), my next-door neighbor 30+ years ago, my best friend in high school and still my friend all these years later. Melody is forever an inspiration to me.
    • I have the best parents in the world (Dick & Ruth Gelina), who have also been incredibly strong to put up with me for all these years.
    • I have the best sister in the world (Shawne Ebersole), a missionary to Bangladesh, who has had a lasting impact on the way I see the world.
    • I could continue this list so long that no one would continue reading to the end, so I’ll stop there. (That’s another way of saying, “Not to mention, a great job, the best church, a wonderful house, etc., etc., etc.)”

Recipients of the Stylish Blogger Award

I now pass along the Stylish Blogger Award to these blogs that I read frequently. They bring me inspiration, food for thought, and encouragement. I trust they will do the same for you:

  1. Your Relationships
    My first nominee has had a strong impact on my interactions with friends, relatives, and business associates. Leil Lowndes is a perceptive observer of human communication and interaction. She offers advice on how you may communicate with others in a way that causes you to leave a positive impact on them every time you interact. If you really want to jump start your relationships, buy or download her books. You won’t regret it.
  2. The Gifted Way
    “For and by gifted, talented and creative adults,” this blog is a continual source of encouragement and inspiration.
  3. Worship Matters
    Bob Kauflin is a name that may ring a bell for those who were fans of the early 80s Contemporary Christian Music group, Glad. Bob Kauflin’s Worship Matters blog deals with issues pertaining to worship music, performance, theory, and theology. It’s an outstanding resource for those involved in music ministry.
  4. Under Much Grace
    Written by my friend Cindy Kunsman, Under Much Grace is a safe harbor for those multitudes of people who have been targeted and abused by churches and church leaders. This is a highly controversial topic and my mere acquaintance with Cindy greatly upsets many of my friends, proving (in my estimation) the need for these very resources that Cindy provides. Although Cindy and I do not agree on everything, she is a thoughtful and caring Christian woman who seeks scripture as her basis for how things should be and how to recover from things that are not as they should be. I highly recommend her blog for those who have been abused in church and for those who want to avoid abusing others.
  5. Run With Patience
    Another personal friend and inspiration, Sandra Harrison is the author of Run With Patience—a highly positive and motivational blog. Every time Sandy posts something new on her blog I am moved by her clarity of thought and charity of spirit. This one belongs on your daily RSS Reader list.
  6. Sinking Up and Afternoon Eyes
    I went to college with someone who many years later came to be a dear friend, Mary Fuller. For a time, Mary was my co-author on this blog. She is a talented musician, deep intellectual, and dear friend. And she’s a home school mom who taught the authors of these two blogs. Her daughters are unique, thoughtful, well-spoken and fun. And, although this does not contribute to the quality of their blogs, they’re both gorgeous young women. Both teenagers, both dedicated Christians; both will cause you to see things from a new angle.
  7. Stuck In Customs
    I love this photography blog that specializes in my newest favorite genre of photography, High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography. Trey Ratcliff is an amazing photographer and loves to help other photographers achieve their best.

March 26, 2011

Pressed down, shaken together, running over


lurpees! One of life’s simple, but wonderful, pleasures. I remember walking to the 7-11 from our house in New York on hot summer days and relishing the cold pleasure that only a Slurpee can be.

There’s an interesting tradition with Slurpees. If you stand back in a 7-11 on a hot summer day and just watch the people, you’ll be sure to notice it. When people fill their Slurpee cup, they tap the cup on the counter a few times to remove any excess air in the Slurpee. Then they fill it a bit more and tap it on the counter again. Sometimes they’ll shake the cup from side to side in between taps. When they have compressed as much as they possibly can into the cup, they get one of those domed caps, put it onto the Slurpee cup and fill the entire dome with the delightful icy treat. It’s a great tradition.

Wouldn’t it be great when things are going well in life if you could do that? If you could shake life a bit, tap it on the counter, put a dome on it and let that good stuff just keep filling up until it’s running over the top of the dome and you have to lick it off the side of the cup and the back of your hand before you go to the counter?

Today, as I walked to get some exercise I noticed my thoughts heading toward some of the unpleasant things in my life. I immediately attacked those thoughts. I have noticed that my mental attitude is like a screw. If I dwell on thoughts about myself and how other people aren’t treating me the way I want, my mental attitude spirals down. If I think about others and how I should be treating them, my attitude spirals up. It’s a sort of rightie-tightie, lefty-loosey equation. It happens every time.

So by the end of my walk I was focusing on those things God has blessed me with. And God gave me a spiritual Slurpee.

Luke 6:37 –38
Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, it will be put into your lap. That sounds like the Slurpee tradition to me. So if I focus on how others are treating me—if I judge them—I will get a measly little tall mug of blessing (in Starbucks speak). If I focus on how I can benefit those around me—how I can be a good husband, how I can be a good father, how I can be a good friend—I don’t just get a venti mug, I get a Big Gulp Slurpee cup, filled well, pressed down, shaken together, tapped on the counter, domed lid attached, running over the sides and down over my hand so much that I can’t lick it off. It actually ends up in my lap.

And then with a huge grin I head to the counter to pay for it, but Jesus has already covered it and is out in the truck yelling, “Come on, Richard! It’s time to head to the beach!

Wow!! It’s overwhelming. I gotta get me some more of that!

March 23, 2011

Ah... choir music!

Could there be anything better than a phenomenal choir doing what they do best? As much as I love other forms of music, this gets my heart pumping and makes me want to shout with joy!


Bonus song

March 17, 2011

Blog Header - March 17, 2011

Yankee re-enactors at Front Royal’s National Zoo Wildlife Refuge and Research Center

his is the day that the Lord has made –
let us rejoice, and be glad in it!

Dr. Daniel Amen [web site] treats patients with severe behavioral issues stemming from a variety of brain malfunctions. Those issues range from severe depression to ADHD to belligerence and violent, anti-social behaviors. Dr. Amen’s primary targets in helping people with these issues are diet (feeding the brain the proper nutrients it needs to function) and exercise (making sure the brain gets the oxygen and other chemicals it needs to function). His success rate is astounding. Alas, he does not accept insurance and it is very expensive to seek care from him.

But... I have been eating right and exercising for three weeks now and cannot believe what it has done to my mental attitude and my ability to handle stressful situations. I can’t wait to see where this path leads.

March 14, 2011

Laser focused


od provided an incredibly gorgeous weekend for us. Saturday felt like a spring day, and Sunday continued the theme. And I continued my efforts to improve my health.

This beautiful husky lives down the street from us

So Saturday morning I pulled out my bicycle and rode to the hospital to weigh in on their über accurate scale. The bike ride was great, although riding a bike shows me what seriously bad shape I’m in. The ride to the hospital is a very short one, but there are a few hills along the way—so I was huffing and puffing by the time I got there.

I couldn’t resist the red

I went up to the floor where the scale is located and weighed in. Praise God! I have lost another 8.5 pounds since my last weigh-in. So I happily rode my bike back home and told my wife, “I've lost 8 pounds in one week!” She said, “No, you haven’t, you’ve lost eight pounds in four days. The last time you checked your weight was not last Saturday, but last Tuesday.”

She was right!

So... since February 20, when I decided to get serious about my exercise and diet, I have lost 28.5 pounds. And now I have set up some goals for the rest of the year. My goals are pretty high and will require serious focus and commitment to reach—but I plan on meeting them.

My son, during our walk

Saturday afternoon, my son and I went for a walk around the neighborhood—a color purple walk. (I took my camera along with me to capture the evidence of God’s love for us in the beauty he has surrounded us with.) After having pushed myself so much on the bike ride that morning, the walk was a bit more difficult than normal. But it was enjoyable and my son and I had a good time together.

If I meet my goals, I will weigh less this coming August than I have at any point in my life since college. If I continue to meet my goals for the rest of the year, I will make my high school weight by Christmas.

Did I say, “if”? If that implied that I will be trying, but will hang onto an excuse just in case. That inference was not intended.

As the ever-wise Yoda said, “Try? Try not! Only do... or do not. There is no ‘try!’”

March 10, 2011

Blog Header - March 10, 2011

I took this early morning picture of my office building in Washington, DC, (technically in Rosslyn, Virginia) while I was out getting some exercise as the sun rose over the city’s horizon. I love the warm colors in this photo—taken during sub-freezing temperatures. I believe the temperature when I left the building that morning was 27 degrees Fahrenheit. The walk was invigorating; the sights were sublime.

March 09, 2011

Color Purple Walk - March 8, 2011 (continued)

These are the remaining four photos from yesterday’s Color Purple walk. Today’s walk will be in the area around my office. I did not bring my camera with me to work today, so there will not be any photos from today’s exercise and color purple expedition. But still I will be looking.

Awesome bark falling off of a neighborhood tree
A great house in our neighborhood
Another angle – my son calls this the “haunted house”
The view from Richardson Hill into the town of Front Royal
Our house is far up the hill to the left of the restaurant Jalisco

March 08, 2011

Color Purple Walk - March 8, 2011

In an effort to keep working toward being a better person, I have decided to focus my daily exercise walks on finding the color purple. Those of you who have followed this blog for a while most likely know how I’m using the term the color purple. I am using it in the sense that it was used in the movie by that name. Essentially, it means noticing the wonderful blessings God has placed all around us instead of walking ignorantly past.

Here they are—photos from my first Color Purple Walk. I took all of these photos while walking a single loop around my neighborhood. I will post the remaining photos from today’s walk tomorrow. It’s not difficult to find the color purple in our neighborhood—living here is a bit of a color purple moment in itself.

Broken urn decoration in the front yard of a neighbor’s house
Mount Massanutten in the distance
Railroad trestle bridge over the east fork of the Shenandoah River
Old Volkswagon Microbus parked on the side of the street
Closeup of the rust and peeling paint on the VW Microbus

The remainder of the day’s Color Purple pictures will be posted tomorrow.

Back on track?


ccountability is a very important thing! And I need to make sure I’m at least holding myself accountable. But maybe you can hold me accountable too. Today is Step 1.

Two weeks ago I began to turn my focus toward improving health and improving myself. I wrote about it on March 3rd [The old fat guy in the mirror]. Along the way I have buckled down, gotten back to the basics.

I’ve called my parents once and chatted with them on instant message twice since March 3. I’ve looked for ways to pay attention to my family and we are planning some special times together. I’ve reached out to tell true friends how much I love and appreciate them. And I have quit using elevators in my office building. I walk the stairs now. I’m eating appropriate foods in appropriate amounts (I think). And I am taking long walks around the neighborhood every day—with the family when they want to go and by myself at other times. I even pulled out my bike and rode for about 45 minutes this past Saturday.

Results: Today I weighed in at the doctor’s office and I have lost 20 pounds in the past two weeks! Praise God!

My next goal is another 20 pounds in the next month. By April... another 20 pounds of weight loss. Pray with me—and I’ll keep working at it.


March 06, 2011

For want of music

Of late, eternal Condor years
So shake the very Heaven on high
With tumult as they thunder by,
I have no time for idle cares
Through gazing on the unquiet sky.

And when an hour with calmer wings
Its down upon my spirit flings—
That little time with lyre and rhyme
To while away—forbidden things!
My heart would feel to be a crime
Unless it trembled with the strings.

—Edgar Allan Poe



March 04, 2011

Blog Header - March 5, 2011

The picture in this blog header is a portrait of a wonderful young lady I work with. Sophia was born and raised in Ethiopia. At 17 years of age she moved to Greece for 3 years and then moved to the United States 20 years ago. She’s a fascinating person to talk to.

March 03, 2011

The old fat guy in the mirror


’m not quite sure how it happened, but I suddenly realized this year that I am old. Or, perhaps, I’m about to become old.

It’s now March. Back in January I began grappling with a thought that I have not been able to put into words. Not because this thought is so difficult to express. Not because it’s a particularly profound thought. But simply because I hated hearing it. I hated admitting it. I hated realizing that half a century has passed me by and I have done far too little flower smelling.

Well... it’s far past time to wake up and smell the coffee. (I may be old, but I can still stick a coffee metaphor in just about anything I write!)

This year I will turn 50 years old. By the age of 30, Jesus had turned the world upside down. Well, perhaps comparing myself to Jesus isn’t wise in this current context. But Justin Beiber is around 12 years old and he has more fans and more enemies than I can imagine.

So... it’s time to buckle down. It’s time to stop hoping for what may happen in the future. As a long-forgotten Redskins coach used to say, “The future is now!”

I am beginning a new thing this year. I’m getting more exercise, eating better, focusing more consistently on tasks at hand, loving more friends, rejecting false friends, calling my parents more, paying attention to my family more, stopping to notice the color purple more, regretting my shortcomings less. And I’m laughing more, crying more, and speaking up when it is needed more. And I’m holding my tongue more when that is needed.

Not a New Year’s resolution. A return to basics. A tune-up. A swift kick in the pants. A poke in the eye with a sharp stick. Whatever it takes.

My office building –
taken this morning as I was out looking for the color purple