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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How To Find The Right Dog For You And Your Dog

How much is that doggie in the window?
The one with the waggly tail
How much is that doggie in the window?
I do hope that doggie’s for sale. (Patti Page)

When I was a child I didn’t have a dog, but now that I have a dog, Freddy, a mini-labradoodle I am filled with child-like joy.

It was my wife’s idea to get a dog. Susan grew up with dogs. And had a dog of her own. When my daughter and son-in-law got a Goldendoodle puppy, Bella, the desire for a dog reared its puppy head again, so to speak. Danielle and Mike had visited with Bella a couple of days after Christmas 2012 and Susan was smitten. She wanted a dog, NOW. That’s me, Susan, and Freddy above.

This is Bella (above), Danielle and Mike’s Goldendoodle.

Susan went online and searched, mistakenly, for Labradoodles. Well, lo and behold, she found a breeder of Labradoodles in East Otis, MA. and she called. She spoke with the breeder and learned that a litter had just been born but all the puppies were called for already, except one. It was Freddy! Because of a recessive gene from his grandfather he turned out to be a mini Labradoodle. Well, that suited Susan even better as she preferred a smaller dog.

Freddy says, “They are totally focused on me.  The important thing is that they love me unconditionally.  Susan tells me that God loves me, too. I don’t know who that is. But, I do know that GOD is DOG spelled backwards. Wherever they are, I am. If they are at their desks, I am under their feet. When they are sitting on the sofa, I sit on their laps or beside them. They put a rug under the kitchen table, so that I can be comfortable when they are eating. We go out in the back yard several times a day. There is agility equipment, toys, balls, and Frisbees for me to play with and I have my own pool. They usually always take me with them wherever they go in their car.

“I have so much fun and Susan does, too! They say I am fast and smart and that I have the potential to be a champion.  We’ll decide whether to compete once I am more experienced. In the meantime, I am enjoying the classes and practicing at home. Susan and Bruce tell me they are proud of me and they want me to be the happy little dog, God, whoever that is, wants me to be. I sometimes think it would be fun to have a playmate, another dog in the house. I don’t know if Susan and Bruce are thinking of getting another dog, but I know this handy chart from PuppySpot would come in handy.”

Many thanks to my wife, Susan, who wrote much of the history of Freddy on her Blog, Stories About Susan.

And thanks to PuppySpot for contacting me about writing a Blog post for them. They write: “We are a community of dog lovers, committed to connecting the nation’s top breeders to caring, responsible individuals and families. We hold ourselves and our clients to the highest standards and aim to improve the life of each puppy, breeder and owner who joins our family.”

~~~

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.

 

 

Wild Geese

Beautiful gray day here in Western Massachusetts.

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.

Do You Love Sunflowers?

I do. I have a garden of them planted along with zinnias. The first one bloomed this morning!

sunflower

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.

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.

My Wife, The Blogger

My wife, Susan, is a great story-teller. And she has recently started writing a Blog, STORIES ABOUT SUSAN.

Susan and Freddy

Stories about her family. Her faith. Her career. Her craft—soap-making.

Soap by Susan

She is, I believe, a spiritual force. The tagline for her Blog, Stories About Susan, is “stories that will touch your soul.”

I remember once driving home from MassMoCA. “May I read aloud to you?” she asked. Susan read to me a chapter, “Your Heart’s Desire,” from a book entitled “Power Through Constructive Thinking,” by Emmet Fox. The chapter begins: “An old adage says: ‘God has a plan for every (person), and He has one for you,’ and this is absolutely true.”

I can’t stop smiling. Who is this Susan? Not yet my wife, but madly in love with her. I knew the night we met we would spend the rest of our lives together. I loved her. Love her. Her gift of words. Of story-telling. Of love. Of faith. Her stories make me laugh. Her stories make me think. Her stories inspire me. Her stories make me love.

Her memory astounds me. How can you explain memory?

The legendary surrealist Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel on the existential importance of memory: “Life without memory is no life at all, just as an intelligence without the possibility of expression is not really an intelligence. Our memory is our coherence, our reason, our feeling, even our action. Without it, we are nothing.”

Susan once said to me:

Put your trust in God.
My mother was a saint.
To this day.
I hear the birds soaring.
Our purpose in life.
God has a master plan.
The leaves are ablaze.

Are you looking for inspiration?

If so, please visit my wife’s Blog, STORIES ABOUT SUSAN.

Susan

Susan inspired this:

She who taught me
To count gift and after gift. Today
Seven tomato plants growing
In the garden. Two jalapeno plants
And two rows of beets.
Three rows of lettuce.
Two eggplants. Twenty-five
Bright yellow marigold plants.
One large butterfly bush. Zinnias
Bordering on the garden
On three side. There is
Much to see. A pink clematis
Growing up the garden arbor.
A garden gate opening into
The slate path leading
To the ripening red tomatoes
And green jalapenos.
I keep looking.
I keep counting.
Three basil plants.
Cilantro. Tarragon. Oregano.
In the middle of the garden
The garden fountain spray and
Birdbath. Three purple
Finches drinking at it and
A monarch butterfly circling 
The garden. I keep looking.
What am I missing?
The six decorative croquet balls.
The cucumber vine I am 
Training to grow up the arbor.
A gargoyle on the fence.
The cosmos.
Fern-leaf dill. Parsley.
A bright red fuchsia plant
Potted in a painted yellow colander
Hangs from a garden hook in the corner
Of the garden. This is our garden.
The garden of Susan and Bruce.

Be inspired and visit STORIES ABOUT SUSAN.