Saturday, September 20, 2014

Faith Like a Monarch Butterfly


Yesterday was a classically beautiful autumn day in Michigan. I went to Lake Michigan, and at one point, was looking out from a deck next to a small sand dune above the water. Soon, from off to the side of the dune, as if by magic, a series of Monarch butterflies began to fly by. One right after another, sometimes 3-4 or more at a time. Amazed, I started to count them and when it reached past 20, I began to laugh at the wonder of it.
After a few minutes an older couple who had been biking came up on the deck and sat down to eat lunch on a bench behind me. I turned around to look at them, but they had no idea what was happening. They weren’t paying attention to the lake or the butterflies. So for them, the butterflies didn’t exist. The beauty, the fun, the wonder were lost on them. Their reality wasn’t big enough to include more than 50 monarch butterflies gracefully gliding along the lake, on their way south.
If had the ability to run into that same couple today, if I could find them, knock on their door and tell them about the butterflies, they would have a choice. First of all, they could choose to simply not listen. Then they could choose to not believe. In order for them to accept what I saw, they would have to have faith. Without it, the experience and the wonder of what had happened would be lost to them.
That’s how faith works.

Friday, September 19, 2014

A Bit of Business... and a Lot of Fun!

You can get in the running to win a copy of 20 Short Ones (my book), by going to goodreads and registering. 10 copies will be given away on September 28. The giveaway ends on that date.

If you live in Kalamazoo, I'll be at a book-signing with two other authors (Roxanne Fawley and Joseph Padgal two fine writers and even finer human beings), at Family Christian Stores on South Westnedge, on Oct. 18, from 1 to 3 p.m.  It's going to be fun, so please come and say hello!

To all of the folks who registered to win a copy of the book through two previous goodreads' giveaways, thanks, so very much, for taking an interest! Outside of book giveaways, 20 Short Ones is available through: Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Family Christian Stores and WestBow Press websites.

It's been a lot of fun learning about the publishing industry. Mostly by trial and error, with a lot of help from WestBow Press. One of the main things I've learned is: If you have a dream, go for it! When I was very young (maybe first grade) I began to write. As a teen I wrote for the local newspaper for their Youth Today Page. As an adult I worked as a freelance journalist writing human interest stories. But writing an actual book is unlike any of these experiences. It truly is a dream come true!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Spaghetti with Olive Oil

I came home from work today tired and uninspired to cook. But looking in the refrigerator I found some leftover (plain) pasta. So, I took out a fourth of a zucchini, diced it, stir fried it in olive oil and sprinkled on curry powder, basil, ground black pepper and sliced up three small, juicy ripe tomatoes.

Once the zucchini was almost cooked, I added the pasta to heat it up while tossing all the ingredients together.

Sounds very simple, doesn't it? But it was spontaneous and healthy and delicious!

Being conscious of what I eat, of what I do, most of the time, isn't a big deal. It requires a few seconds of forethought. The strength of will to slow down enough to let your spirit guide you.

The meal turned out fine. I was refreshed.



Friday, August 1, 2014

It's Hailing

Just a few minutes ago we had a hailstorm. And it was coming down in sheets. About the size of a penny. Within a few minutes the temperature dipped by about 20 degrees as the sidewalk and street became full of bouncing bits of frozen rain.

As it turned out, I'd been outside mowing the lawn about a half-hour before the storm and heard thunder (it's actually thundering still).

While I'm sure there would be some folks who would view a hail storm as a threat, or inconvenience, this particular time I'm seeing it differently. I see it as an adventure, even as something to refresh my spirit on a late Friday afternoon as we head into the weekend.

Yesterday my workplace held a staff retreat. That too was a time of refreshing, a time of reflection and a time to recharge. The occurrence of a hail storm the day after our staff retreat only serves to underscore the importance of taking the time to step aside from daily activities. Isn't it ironic that it's part of human nature to gravitate to the familiar and the known; but at the same time, our spirits long to be lifted above the daily routine.

I encourage you to deliberately take time to step out of your routine. You decide the activity or the place. But take the time to be refreshed!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Last Day of School - Chinatown Kindergarten

A long time ago, I used to live in New York City. Although it's been about 3 decades since I left (excluding a stint as a missionary doing kids' outreach from Brooklyn), folks still ask me, "do you miss it?"

Here's a link as a partial answer. It's from the New York Times, a video of a bunch of kindergartners in a Chinatown school singing, "Start spreading the news... I want to be a part of it... first grade, first grade!" as they look forward summer break.

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/06/26/new-york-today-last-day-of-school/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_php=true&_type=blogs&hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&version=HpHeadline&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=1&

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Simple Supper

Earlier this week I had the good fortune of having supper with a good friend (since first grade!) his wife and two of their kids.

The younger of the two kids had finished up her first semester at college and her parents were in town with one of their sons, to pick her up.

I helped the family clear out her dorm room. All of the things had been neatly stacked in the hallway, and truth be told, there wasn't much stuff there. She's a very practical, no-frills sort of person.

So, after loading up the family Suburban, we headed over to supper in the school's cafeteria.

We spent about an hour seated together, eating and talking. I was struck at how easy the give-and-take among their family was, and how they genuinely enjoyed each other's company. There was real conversation happening around the dining room table.

Sometimes I wonder to what extent the art of listening and sharing - talking - has been tarnished by our reliance on technology. I was very pleased to realize that in this case, it hadn't.