A Sunday Sermon: A Recipe for Self-Improvement

I read the following a few days ago and I found it inspiring. Food for thought, if you will. Susan gave me the magazine last week. She had been talking about reading spiritual books with an older man in the parking lot of a nearby shopping center. He had said to her that was what he was doing. And he gave her a few copies of Turning Points Magazine & Devotional.

For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful.
2 Peter 1:8

Recommended Reading: 2 Peter 1:3-8

Aldous Huxley, the twentieth-century British author, said, “There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”

What area of your life do you want to improve? Just take a moment and think about that. In what area would you most like to grow? With God’s help, you can improve your one corner of the universe. What it really takes is the power of God in our lives, and there is a passage of Scripture on this very subject.

The apostle Peter wrote, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness…. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness… knowledge… self-control… perseverance… godliness… mutual affection… love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive” (2 Peter 1:3-8, NIV).

God will do His part (“His divine power has given us”), but we must also do our part and “make every effort.” Find an area of your life to improve, and start right now.

~From Turning Points Magazine & Devotional

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Earth Day 2018

Reading from today’s Daily Word:

Earth Blessing
I live in harmony with the earth.

In 2004 Wangari Maathai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work in Kenya through the Green Belt Movement. In her acceptance lecture she said, “We are called to assist the earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own—indeed, to embrace the whole creation in all its diversity, beauty, and wonder.”

I am part of a beautiful web of life; intricately woven so that my actions impact the entire web. I am a good steward of the earth’s resources as I am a good steward of my own body. Centered in divine wisdom, I use what I need in ways that support the renewal of the earth. I experience a sense of peace living in harmony with the earth.

And there is this:

“I’m very conscious of the fact that you can’t do it alone. It’s teamwork. When you do it alone you run the risk that when you are no longer there nobody else will do it.”
― Wangari Maathai, The Green Belt Movement: Sharing the Approach and the Experience.

The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good.—Genesis 1:12

If you are looking for beautiful portrait, wedding, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.  Photography and Prints meant to last a lifetime! For more details about having an amazing and fun photo experience, please contact me.

Easter Sunday

From todays’ Daily Word:

“The eternal light of Easter morning lifts my spirit to new heights.
 

“I am a spiritual being engaged in a human experience. As such, my individual spirit is resurrected when I use faith and forgiveness to dissolve negative energies and attitudes that have been slowing me on my spiritual path.

“I am the light, and the kingdom of God is within. Recognizing this, I dissolve thoughts in consciousness that would deny my worthiness for personal resurrection. I AM a whole and perfect expression of infinite spirit, here in human form to create—choice by choice—the new dimension of consciousness that Jesus demonstrates through his Easter manifestation.

“As it is for me, so it is for the world. I affirm that the energy of resurrection is lifting all people to new “dimensions of love, appreciating deeply the true unity of all life.”

I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.—John 20:17

Easter flowers I bought for my wife:

 

If you are looking for beautiful portrait, wedding, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.  Photography and Prints meant to last a lifetime! For more details about having an amazing and fun photo experience, please contact me.

Easter Sunday flowers I bought for my wife.

 

“Here am I, the servant of the Lord”

In church today we read and prayed:

Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress;
    my eyes grow weak with sorrow,
    my soul and body with grief.
10 My life is consumed by anguish
    and my years by groaning;
my strength fails because of my affliction,
    and my bones grow weak.
11 Because of all my enemies,
    I am the utter contempt of my neighbors
and an object of dread to my closest friends—
    those who see me on the street flee from me.
12 I am forgotten as though I were dead;
    I have become like broken pottery.

~Psalm 31: 9-12

Susan turned to me as if to say, “This sounds like you.”

My body is tired. I suffer with stenosis and sciatica. I am in physical therapy. And my spirit is strong.

But I have my moments.

Will I have the strength to hike with my son in Colorado?

Will I have the strength to work in my garden?

Will I have the strength to stand in the kitchen and cook for Susan (Pictured here: salmon, her favorite)?

 

Will I have the strength to walk and stand for new portrait sessions?

When we returned home from church I read Psalm 39:

I said, “I will watch my ways
    and keep my tongue from sin;
I will put a muzzle on my mouth
    while in the presence of the wicked.”
So I remained utterly silent,
    not even saying anything good.
But my anguish increased;
    my heart grew hot within me.
While I meditated, the fire burned;
    then I spoke with my tongue:

“Show me, Lord, my life’s end
    and the number of my days;
    let me know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
    the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
    even those who seem secure.[b]

“Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom;
    in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth
    without knowing whose it will finally be.

“But now, Lord, what do I look for?
    My hope is in you.
Save me from all my transgressions;
    do not make me the scorn of fools.
I was silent; I would not open my mouth,
    for you are the one who has done this.
10 Remove your scourge from me;
    I am overcome by the blow of your hand.
11 When you rebuke and discipline anyone for their sin,
    you consume their wealth like a moth—
    surely everyone is but a breath.

12 “Hear my prayer, Lord,
    listen to my cry for help;
    do not be deaf to my weeping.
I dwell with you as a foreigner,
    a stranger, as all my ancestors were.
13 Look away from me, that I may enjoy life again
    before I depart and am no more.”

Okay. Not so dire as this. But I am at the age where I ask “What are you going to do with your time?”

I am going to get stronger. I am going to hike. I am going to garden. I am going to continue to cook. I am going to continue photographing people—-and birds and butterflies and streams and landscapes. In all that I do I am going to give praise to the Lord!

And the title verse in complete: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Luke 1:38

If you are looking for beautiful portrait, wedding, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.  Photography and Prints meant to last a lifetime! For more details about having an amazing and fun photo experience, please contact me.

Resolutions vs Rules

When I woke this morning, I read from The Daily Word:

New Year
The life of God within reassures me that new adventures await.

With a new year comes new beginnings. As I bid last year goodbye, I greet today with an air of anticipation. This new year holds the promise of a new dawn, an adventure waiting to be fulfilled.

Prayer is a powerful resource on my journey, and every thought of God is a prayer. So I keep myself centered on divine life within. There, faith encourages me to believe that all things are possible. This new year holds within it the promise of love, joy, health, prosperity, harmony, and so much more.

With gratitude, I recognize and give thanks for the many blessings in my life—those received and those coming my way. I live in confidence because the life of God within reassures me that new adventures await.

Be renewed in the spirit of your minds.—Ephesians 4:23
In the book, Balancing Life By The Rule, Debra Farrington shows us the difference between self-help and spiritual growth in her article on creating a “rule” to guide everyday life, based on Christian monastic rules. Contrasting a rule with a New Year’s resolution, she says that the latter is based on what we think is wrong with us (too fat, too poor, too tired, etc), while a spiritual rule grows from a desire to become more fully what we were created to be.
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom.” – James 3:13

I went down to the river to pray. “I will pray with the spirit, but I will pray with the mind also; I will sing praise with the spirit, but I will sing praise with the mind also.” – 1 Corinthians 14:15

Some “rules” for this year include: 

More Spiritual Study. Read the Bible every day and other spiritual texts. Pray.

More Charity. Help those in need. Continue to volunteer with the 3rd grade class here in town. Look for other opportunities to volunteer.

More Meditation. Rise early and pray/meditate. Practice yoga.

One Pointed Attention. Listen empathically (getting inside the other person’s frame of reference so you listen with one purpose: understanding) until you truly understand the other person’s position. Then work on ensuring that you clearly communicate your thoughts and ideas.

Think Outside The Box.

Remember Who I Am. Know Thy Self. Namaste.

Humor. Find the humorous in the everyday.

Read more books.

Write more poetry.

The park, for me, is a place of grace. A church. A temple of nature. A sanctuary. Birds singing songs of praise and joy. Doves, finches, woodpeckers, crows and robins. On one walk I saw a fox on the path in front of me. Another time hawks circling overhead. A Green Heron in the water. I walk my dog, Freddy, a mini-labradoodle, there a few times every week. One time, without incident, we walked, and every few minutes I talked, “Good dog. Good dog.” On we walked past Meadow Trail and Beaver Brook. All the time my dog acutely aware and when I wanted to stop and photograph, I said “Freddy, sit.” And he sat. And he waited. And when I said “okay” on we went.

More story-telling.

In church the book calls How did you find me And do you believe Her neighbor says I Bet he found you through Me, I believe in Beauty, do you, too Yes, take me, take me Home says this book with The light of sunshine I know I am this A young simple gift See the butterfly And in the second Chapter we read, no Not yet, please, let me Did I ever tell You I was raised Not from the dead but From the living word Wrapped in ancient Stories when all I Want is to go home Angels I hear Come to protect me I am being held Lifted off the shelf Where I have waited Patiently for you Or you or you to Take me with you home Read my sad story Once upon a time No it does not start Quite like this, listen I hear them singing Do you hear singing See under this book A Garden for Rose

More Portraits.

Continue to count daily gifts.

Self-publish books, including a cook book.

Bruce, they say. When is the cook book coming out? And I saw, now, this year. Tonight I made this–Cheese Tortellini Soup with Kale and Kielbasa.

Market my photography better.

Nymph Lake at Rocky Mountain National Park.

Be more like Jesus.

“Imitate me, as I also Imitate Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1

I think the more I grow to be like Jesus, the more I develop into the person I was meant to be all along.

“Come. Follow me.” Jesus said.

If you are looking for beautiful portrait, wedding, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.  Photography and Prints meant to last a lifetime! For more details about having an amazing and fun photo experience, please contact me.

Matthew 7:7–8

ASK. SEEK. FIND.

Matthew 7:7--8

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

 

If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.  Photography and Prints meant to last a lifetime! For more details about having an amazing and fun photo experience, please contact me.

Gaining Clarity

Reading from today’s Daily Word:

“In prayer, I create a clear vision for my future.

“When I set goals, I pray for my way to be made clear. I center myself and turn to the quiet place within. In the stillness, I listen for divine guidance. What is mine to do? How am I to do it? Gaining clarity is the first step toward achieving my vision. I call to mind the image of a crystal clear glass of water and ask Spirit for the same crystal clear clarity of my future direction.

“I trust that my path is unfolding in the perfect way at the perfect time. All is in divine order. Divinely guided, I follow the clear path to my vision. Aligned with Spirit, I advance toward my goal with clarity and confidence. What was once beyond my reach is now within my grasp.”

What is mine to do? How am I to do it?

I continue to believe my ministry is about helping to make the world a more beautiful place with my photography. Building community. Being of service.

I continue to count my gifts. Daily. The counting an inventory of my life. Last year on day I wrote:

 

The Table Of Grace 
For Ann Voskamp  
 
This is
A Place
A Table
Round, of grace
A flowered tablecloth
A bowl of lemons and limes
Apples and oranges
We hold hands
Thank You God
For these gifts
We are about to receive
From your bounty
Through Christ our Lord
Amen.
A table of grace.
A world
Round, of grace.
This morning I saw a hummingbird.
Thank You God.
Yesterday
A cardinal in the garden.
Thank You God.
A day in April:
Playing Frisbee with Freddy
Early in the morning.
Thank You God.
Sitting outside in sunshine.
Thank You God.
Re-reading the book
Thank You God.
I have decided to look back at 2014 and choose a photo or two from each month and also note what I wrote that day. This being an exercise for me to strengthen my resolve to make 2016 a year of focused creation: new photos, new projects, new books, new poems, new recipes, new visions.
 
January 7
Up at 2:15 to feed Nadine and back to bed
Up at 6:15 to feed Nadine and back to be
Up at 7:00
Reading a passage from the book of Samuel
A short walk with Freddy
Coffee with Susan
Selling merchandise to young woman at Susan’s mom’s house
Giving things away to poor/homeless with Susan
Prayer book from Debbie Williams arrived
Working on new website
Beef stew for dinner
Watching Mass on Catholic TV with Susan
Watching Jeopardy with Susan
Reading The Economist
Globe
February 2
Up at 6:00
Snow
Acts 17: Paul Preaches in Thessalonica
Matthew 7:7 Effective Prayer
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”
A short walk with Freddy
Coffee with Susan
No contractors
A short walk with Freddy in the snow
Birds at the feeder
Susan making oatmeal for us
Chicken on rye toast for lunch
An oatmeal cookie
A chocolate chip cookie
Mandarin Orange tea
Male and female cardinals at the feeder
Making chicken stock
A nap on couch, Freddy sleeping on my chest
Clearing driveway of snow
A walk with Freddy in snowstorm
Chili for dinner
Learning about The Double Victory
A call from my son
Early to bed
snow15020246b
March 28
Up at 1:00, 3:15, 5:30
Up at 6:30, Freddy barking
Crows on lawn
Light snow
A short walk with Freddy
Bacon and egg sandwich with Susan
Playing in backyard with Freddy
Luke 8:1-3 Woman Who Followed Jesus
Leftover pizza for lunch
Susan making us tea
Watching Restaurant Impossible, Ft. Bragg
Taking Freddy into package store to meet Rick
CoralBells15032862
April 26
Up at 5:30
Acts 9:32-43
Peter Heals Aeneas and Dorcas
“The news spread throughout the whole town, and many believed in the Lord.”
Roast chicken for dinner
ANgel1504263
May 5
Up at 6:30
A short walk with Freddy
Coffee with Susan
A long walk with Freddy
Leftover quiche for breakfast
Acts 13:1-3
“Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
Taking Freddy to get a haircut
Depositing inheritance check
Lunch with Susan at Kaptain Jimmy’s
A short nap
Wine in backyard with Susan
Cheese and crackers for dinner
Watching Jeopardy with Susan
Freddy15050508
June 22 (In Denver)
Up at 5:30
Talking with Susan on phone
Quiche for breakfast
Hiking Rocky Mountain National park with Daryl and Julia
Great dinner at Acorn
EmeraldLake15062212
July 17
Up at 5:30
1 Corinthians 6:1-20
A short walk with Freddy
Coffee with Susan
A pasta frittata
Changing the litter box
Vacuuming
Food shopping
Susan switching the silverware
Susan pulling up daisies
Susan cutting Blue Thistle for me for vase
Mulching and seeing Swallowtail in garden
A trip with bags of grass to dump
Enjoying beer in backyard with Susan
A hug from Chef Monica
Good service from our bartender, Holly
butterfly15071781
August 2
Up at 6:15
2 Corinthians 6:1-18
Paul’s Hardships and The Temple of The Living God
“Today is the day of salvation…..for we are the temple of the living God.”
A short walk with Freddy
Breakfast with Susan
English Muffins, bacon, scrambled eggs, fruit
A long walk with Freddy
Vacuuming house
Making Hummus
Susan making grilled cheese with tomatoes
Mowing lawn
Making blueberry tart
Beer in backyard with Susan
Reading in backyard
Grilled buffalo burgers and potato salad for dinner
clouds15080287quote
September 6
Up at 5:15
Philippians 3:1-21
“I becomes righteous through faith in Christ……I press on to possess that perfections for which Christ first possessed for me.”
A short walk with Freddy
Salmon and scrambled eggs
Making tomato sauce
A long walk with Freddy
A nap
Sitting outside with Susan and Freddy reading
Pasta and shrimp for dinner with fresh tomato sauce
PastaShrimp15090682
October 10
Up at 6:45
A short walk with Freddy
Coffee with Susan
A long walk with Freddy
Photographing at Mittineague Park
Receiving British Baking Show Cookbook
Changing litter box
Vacuuming house
Food shopping
Mesquite chicken sandwich for lunch
Playing with Freddy in backyard
A beer with Susan
Grilled steak for dinner
Watching Inspector Morse with Susan
mp15101413b
November 22 (In Denver)
Up at 5:30
Yoga and coffee
Jazz Brunch at Dazzle
Great music
Visit to Denver Museum of Art
Seeing Andrew and Jamie Wyeth Show
Seeing two photography shows
Great dinner at Sushi Den
(I took a lot of photos in Denver and at The Garden of The Gods; here are a few):
AlleyDenver
denver05
DenverMuseumBW
WyethPig800
SarahTriXGlow39bw
Gods15112553
GodsDramatic
And a favorite photo from December.  My grand niece. Christmas Eve. Photographed in my mobile photo studio.
LaurenSilverScreen
And so Peace be with you.