Thursday, January 04, 2018


I don't remember how long ago I started following a fun little blog that went by the name "Gooseberried" (I think). That blog no longer exists, but I have continued to follow the author on other social media venues.

She has been a busy woman over the past several years. She has started a photography business in the Flagstaff area, gotten married and has now two little kids. I always appreciate the pictures that she shares on her business page and can tell that she has a very creative mind and artistic sense. I am sure that she is a very successful business woman.

Her passion for photography has inspired her to start a Facebook group called Project 52.
Each week of the year, members will receive a different prompt to inspire their pictures. You don't have to be a photographer to join. You can use your cell phone or professional equipment.

Week 1 is Celebrate.

I took this picture this morning.
It was about 30 minutes before sunrise in the Ozarks and the temperature was 8f  (-13c).
In spite of the early hour and chilly temps, I felt like a new day is a good reason to celebrate.
I hope that you also feel life is worth celebrating.

By the way, if you are on Facebook and would like to join the group,let me know.

John <><

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

2018, Day 3

Since it's only the third day of the year, I would think it's safe to assume that most resolutions are still intact. I don't remember how many times you need to do something to make it a habit. I just know that it is a buttload of  times and usually not enough to overcome the bad habits that have been ingrained over a lifetime. It's difficult to imagine that a couple of weeks of walking could overcome years of sitting on my butt. However, I do know that daily walking was once a strong habit. Perhaps it will be so, again. It would be easier if it was a few degrees above freezing while I'm trying to set the habit!

I've also managed two whole days of not posting anything negative or offensive on social media!
I doubt that will last long since it seems impossible not to offend people these days. We seem to be offended by disagreement and have accepted the idea that if we disagree, we can't get along. In any case, I'm trying to be a little less offensive and a little more focused on being nice to people -- whether they like me or not.

Today, like most days, will be easy.
I probably won't need to interact with anyone other than a few members of my family.
I'll refrain from posting or commenting on Facebook.
Life will move quietly along and I will look forward to being on a warm beach with Chris and our Canadian friends in just over a month!

Be nice!

John <><

Monday, January 01, 2018

2018: chapter 1, page 1


Table of Contents


*****     *****     *****

January 1

This year's story begins cold and clear.
The sun is shining and it looks beautiful outside!
But it is cold! 0 degrees (-17.8c to the rest of the world)!

The rest of the crew is still sleeping as I sip my morning coffee. Soon we will be out for breakfast (or lunch) and then the kids (Aaron and Jenny) will be on the road to Chicago. Hannah and Daniel will be preparing for the house closing at the end of the week and Chris will be back to work tomorrow after her 6 weeks off from surgery.

And I'll be back to my simple routine of ...well, I guess I don't really have a routine.
A little routine would be a good thing. I want my 2018 to have a little consistency; at least in some areas. I'm okay with taking life as it comes at you, but being prepared by being healthy takes some steady planning.
The fitness plan for January is in place and the first goal is simple -- get healthy and in shape. I'll be over on Healthy Living a little more often as the year begins and keeping up with health and fitness over there. I'll try to get there later today with my early goals.

More reading and more writing are also in the plans for 2018. I just finished two fiction books which were enjoyable reads. I should read more fiction.
January will also include some Spanish refresher time in preparation for our February trip to the beaches of Cancun, Mexico.

We each have our own stories to write.
We each begin the year with blank pages.
As we begin to fill in those pages with the stories and what will be our memories of the days to come, I leave you with this thought...

In the latter part of 2017 a black and white photo challenge made its way through Facebook. I like the classic look of black and white photographs, but is no way to live life and a poor way to remember the past. For 2018, I will choose to live life in full color.

Here's a little bonus.
I'm no longer a big fan of country music, but this song speaks to living life in color:

John <><

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Wisdom for the New Year

I recently re-posted a picture on Facebook (from a year ago) of a motorcycle t-shirt. The re-post was affirmation to my daughter in-law that she made a great choice for my Christmas present.

She had taken the t-shirt and had the saying put on a coffee mug.

If you can't read it, it says:

Grant me the
to accept the things I cannot change
to change the things I can, and the
to know when to just go

I suppose I could also use some wisdom as to when I shouldn't go riding.
It's currently 10 degrees (-12.2c).
I went out yesterday at 20 (-6.7c)


Friday, December 29, 2017

Looking ahead -- 2018

I know that 2018 is still a few days away, but I figured I get started with the look ahead.
I'm not real big into New year's resolutions, but I do think that reflection and planning are both activities that need to be done from time to time. Is there a better time than when we turn the calendar?

* I'm going to make a great effort in 2018 to be more civil. I don't think that I am generally uncivil, but I do realize that I often make broad sweeping general statements that often include people  that shouldn't be included in varying categories. Although that seems to be the way of things, it is not necessary that I (or we) conform to those behaviors.
I also want to be more positive and less critical (unless the criticism is constructive). It has been said that I am hateful, mean spirited, and have made inappropriate public criticisms. Even though I might dispute those things, the fact that they have been said should be reason enough for some reflection. Spending less time on Facebook and unlinking it from my Twitter account has helped.  However, there is still more that can be done in the life of a kinder and more gentle John.
Maybe I'll end up just saying less.

When I started this blog more than 11 years ago, it was just a place to write, vent, organize thoughts, etc. I never imagined that people from around the world would read it, much less come back for more. This is my 1,567th post. Although I don't have many local readers that I am aware of, I have had readers from across the US and from more than a dozen different countries in the past week alone. Several of you have expressed that you have found encouragement, comfort, or even wisdom in some of my posts.

I write that to say this -- This is my place.
Sure, I share it and that does create some responsibility on my part, but I am still entitled to my thoughts and opinions. I may no longer share my posts via Facebook (where every follower has a license to be hateful). It's not that important to me that others actually read what I write. If you are a FB follower and want to continue reading my posts, I'd say you probably need to subscribe or follow me on Twitter. I suppose I could continue FB links if that's what's wanted. Let me know what you think.

Back to looking ahead.
* I've ended 2017 by getting back on a more healthy lifestyle and want to continue that through 2018. I'll post more of my health goals in a separate post -- maybe on my other (forgotten) blog.

* We will be looking for a new church in 2018 (we've already started). I don't know what that will mean for other aspects of ministry, but I suppose I will find out soon enough. I have a multitude of thoughts on this that will have to wait for another post -- or not.
That responsibility thing, you know. Apparently some people are more sensitive about my thoughts than they have a right to be.

I also plan to write more often about my beliefs and how they affect my thoughts, attitude and life.

* I plan on riding.
Since I bought my motorcycle on Feb 28th, 2016, I've kept track of annual mileage from that date. Last year (2016) I rode 15,700 miles. This year I'll end up with about the same, around 16,000 miles by the time March 1 rolls around. I may make a couple of simple modifications to the bike this year-- we'll see.
I plan on riding to a few baseball games and maybe a few long distance lunch runs. I don't know if 2018 will include another long ride, but I'm certainly open to it.

* being more civil
* finding a new church
* being more healthy
* riding my motorcycle
That's three things that will be a lot of work and one that will be a lot of fun.

I'll add one more that will be a little of both. I'd like to find a place to volunteer or maybe even work that will have some positive impact. I really don't know what that will look like but I have a couple of ideas.

But there are still a couple of days in 2017 to take care of.
Aaron and Jenny arrive from Chicago tonight. Everyone will be here tomorrow night for visiting and to watch the UFC fights and then again on Sunday for our Christmas exchange and for New Year's Eve.

I look forward to seeing you (virtually, that is) in 2018!

John <><

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Looking back -- 2017

I guess it's a normal thing to look back at the past and see what we've endured or accomplished in the preceding year. 2017 certainly had its share of challenges. I thought about waiting until Dec 31st to post this, but figured that I'm thankful that the year is nearly over and a Thursdays are for thanksgiving post would be appropriate.

The year began only ten days after Chris' surgery for breast cancer. After surgery was chemotherapy and all of its joys. Reconstruction completion was put off until late this fall, so we end the year with her recovering from that surgery and she'll be back to work again on Jan 2. Life is at its new normal and we are adapting.

In other health related stuff -- after nearly 3 years of not having a primary physician (mine retired at the same time I did), I (and by I, I mean Chris) finally got around to getting a new one. Of course she immediately ordered all of the tests that I had been putting off for no good reason. The good news is that every thing came back with favorable results.
I'm back to needing to lose some weight and getting into better health. It is an ongoing struggle. For whatever reason, my life habits tend toward less healthful choices and I really need to change my way of thinking about about food and physical activity.

In between Chris' surgery and chemo, we managed a much needed vacation to the Dominican Republic. It was a good time to relax. We didn't really do anything away from the resort except for one day of shopping for cigars.

I spent another year putting miles on the motorcycle and am looking forward to more of that in 2018. The long trip was a highlight of my year. I may have to plan another one for next year.
I rode my bike to a few camps and usually rode when preaching. I'm guessing that there may be less of that in the coming year. I'll just have to see where life takes me.

All-in-all, 2017 wasn't a bad year.
Yeah, I've made some mistakes along the way, but they seem to be fewer than in the past. Maybe I'm finally starting to grow up.
As I look back, the one thing that is missing from 2017 is I don't think that I really did anything that matters. I didn't really help or encourage anyone. I didn't accomplish any personal goals in health or education. I didn't write a book or anything really meaningful on my blog. I can't even say that I've improved any old relationships or made many news ones. If anything, my world of people seems to have become smaller. I don't know if that's a bad thing, but it is something to consider as I look forward to 2018.

I do have some friends -- not many, but they are good ones. There are a few that I only know through social media and I hope to get to meet at some point. I managed to meet a few of you on my late summer ride. Maybe I'll meet a few more next year.

I hope you had a good 2017.
But whether you did or did not, we can put it behind us. It would be a shame if we wasted it to the point of not learning anything, so I hope you at least managed that.
In just a few days, we will throw out the old calendar and begin with a new one!
The adventure continues...

John <><

Monday, December 25, 2017

Keeping it simple...

Last year we decided not to go crazy with the Christmas spending. We set a relatively low limit on spending and many of us made gifts for one another rather than buying something inexpensive. People were very creative and we managed a great holiday without the financial stress that often seems to accompany the holiday.

This year, we raised the limit a little bit but still wanted to keep things simple.
At this point in our lives, Chris and I generally buy what we want and can afford so our gifts are usually small and something that we'd like but may not have gotten around to buying yet. Chris got me a new face shield for my motorcycle helmet and a couple of other small items. I got her a couple of CDs and some socks.

Hannah and Daniel made me a really cool gift -- a notebook with coffee drink recipes and a gift bag full of spices and ingredients for some of those drinks. The notebook also has several quotations on coffee which I am sure to share with you on occasion.

I also got this appropriate coffee mug from Aaron's inlaws. Aaron and Jenny will be here next weekend for our gift exchange with them.

I also scored some coffee beans so I am set for a few mornings and some midday coffee drinks, as well!
Here are the drinks included in my gift book:

Banana Mocha Shake
Chocolate Tangerine Coffee Cooler
Chocolate Peanut Butter Iced Smoothie
Cold Brew
Eggnog Latte
Hot Coffee Masala
Iced Cappuccino
Iced Mocha Cola
Maple Coconut Coffee
Mexican Coffee
Orange Mocha
Tembleque Latte
Thai Coffee

I'll keep you posted.

John <><

Sunday, December 24, 2017

A Christmas Story

Did you know...

The year was 1818.
The place was the small village of Oberndorf near Salzburg in the Austrian Alps.
A priest named Father Joseph Mohr was preparing for the midnight worship service on Christmas Eve. When the plans were nearly completed, someone found out that the organ was broken. Father Joseph's plans for a wonderful evening of worship were ruined.

The priest was inspired to write a song that proved to be a fitting song for this solemn service.
The words began, "Silent night, holy night..."
He quickly penned the words and gave them to the organist, asking him to come up with a melody. That night, the song was sung as a duet and accompanied by a single guitar.

It was published in Germany in 1838 and wasn't published in English until 1863.

if it weren't for a broken organ and an inspired priest in a small Austrian village on Christmas Eve nearly two hundred years ago...

Here is an acapella version of the Christmas classic.

Merry Christmas,
John <><

Note: If you click on the title in the pic, it will open fully in You Tube.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Christmas re-run

Here is a Christmas post from eight years ago. 

Again, this year my Christian testimony has been called into question. I have to admit -- each time, it does cause me to reflect on my beliefs about the Jesus that I strive to follow. I know that I can do better, but I sincerely feel I am stumbling and struggling along the narrow and difficult path that Jesus talks about.
In the past few weeks I have given much more thought to my Un-organized Religion posts and will have more to say about that in the coming year.

Once again, I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas from a heathen and a pagan on the side of the rebel Jesus.

John <><