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Our Place in the Stars

We saw the blindingly bright light first as the shuttle began to lift.  Then we heard, no, felt the earth-shaking rumble and roar of the engines.  We weren’t allowed to be near the pad, but we were as close as civilians could get about a mile away (that’s just a guess).  A marsh lay in between us and the shuttle, giving us an unobstructed view of launchpad 39A.
It was July 8, 1994.  I was 15 years old when I saw one of the most incredible sights of my life.  The space shuttle Columbia embarked on a two-week mission to conduct numerous science experiments for teams of hundreds of scientists from several nations.  They carried plants, newts, jellyfish, and more in an effort to better understand space biology, especially the effects of microgravity and cosmic radiation on living things.  Its research was one of many missions that helped prepare humans to collaborate on the building and occupying of the International Space Station (ISS), a low orbit station that has now been occupied by a …
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He's the Light of the World

Need a little light?  I wrote this song a few years ago, but recently put the finishing touches on the track.  Hit the link on the bottom if you want to listen.  Rejoice that Jesus is your Light!

truth + love

He's the Light of the World

On those dwelling in darkness there shined a great light, And those searching in blindness rejoiced at the sight. To the lost and the broken, God appeared and has spoken, That those walking with Jesus will always be bright. 
He’s the Light of the world, He’s the bright star of morn, He's the daylight that dawns On the newly reborn.  His Word brightens our darkness,     illumines with grace, Till we look upon his radiant face. He’s the Light of the world.
So the blind man went seeing and knowing the way, And the lame man left dancing on that happy day, And the mute man was singing At salvation's beginning When the healing and mercy of God shined its ray. 
He’s the Light of the world, He’s the bright star of morn, He's the daylight that dawns On the newly reborn…

5 Mom Places

I've shared this on social media before, but I thought I'd toss it up on the blog.  Happy Mother's Day!

Five "Mom places" I wish I could visit again:
5. My wedding day. Not only is it one of the best days of my life for obvious reasons, but it's also a day when Nicole's parents received me into the family with love and dedication. Many people complain about a mother-in-law who is intrusive or demeaning. I don't. I am glad to call my mother-in-law "mom." She has a servant's heart and she gives freely of herself for others. She would do anything for me, anything for my family.
4. I wish I could play cards again with Grandma Gruen. Whether we were playing 500 or Kings in the Corner, she would smile and laugh and have a great time. I loved the way she fussed at Grandpa when he would slam his knuckles on the table when making a dramatic play (whether the card was good or worthless). She would scold him "Al, don't do that!" But she …


I’m supposed to be writing a sermon right now… but I’m really upset.  I’m tired, and frustrated by this whole pandemic/shutdown thing.  I miss everyone terribly.  I miss worship in God's house.  And I wonder the right way forward as a nation, as a church, as a family.  And many are wondering which is a bigger problem: the pandemic or the shutdown? People are lining up on both sides.  People always line up on both sides.
I don’t really want to argue about it.  I’m not a fighter by nature.  I’m a… hmmm… a lover?  Oh… I know.  I’m a peace-enjoyer, and a peacemaker when I have to be, when I have the energy to be.  There’s a time for fighting, and so we need fighters, and even peacemakers can and should be that when necessary.
But I’m tired.  And I don’t even want to debate it.  I'm not saying it shouldn't be debated.  I'm saying that I don't want to debate it.  That tendency of mine is sometimes a strength, but in this case probably a weakness.  I just don't want …

Mary Sue

There are many criticisms of the new Star Wars trilogy, and one of them is that Rey is a “Mary Sue.”And I suppose she is.But I like her that way. The world needs a good, widely popular Mary Sue.

What is a Mary Sue?  It’s a term for a fictional character (usually female, but there are male variations too) that is too perfect and too easily competent.  In film and in literature, critics use the term in a derogatory way when they believe a character to be uninteresting, underdeveloped, lacking realism and relatability, even within the fictional world where the character dwells.
The term “Mary Sue” apparently came about because of some Star Trek fan fiction, very poor fan fiction, I might add based on a sample I read.
If someone wants to call Rey from Star Wars a Mary Sue, I won’t object.  She is super powerful, even before any formal training.  She easily masters any task.  She intuitively knows what to do and how to do it.  She is tempted, but doesn’t ever fall.  Though her mission of se…

Higher Ways and Pruning

I learn quite a bit from my puppy, especially about my relationship with a much higher Master.  I can’t help but think about Lucy’s amazement about me, and correlate that to my wonder about God.  (I’ve written about my puppy before).
Lucy can’t open doors.  She waits for me.  She doesn’t understand why I must brush her (OK, Nicole usually does it), and, because she’s an energetic puppy and is still learning, she fights it.  My wife and I have to team up to give her a bath, and she’s anxious to get out again into the backyard and find the mud.  She has no idea what we’re doing when we’re cooking, but she actively hunts for scraps that fall from the counter, or crumbs that fall from the table.  Can you see yourself in her?  Even a little?
The other day I was pruning one of my beautiful redbud trees.  (I’ve written about them before too). Unfortunately, at the end of last season a large section of it died.  I find that the trees often will redistribute their energy and leave dead branch…


I have lists on my mind today.Lists, as you know, are very useful.We make one for shopping items, one for daily tasks, one for goals, even wishes, and of course we could go on and on because there are lists for everything (music, grievances, favorites, etc.)
My wife is a list person.She calls them “empowering.”She’s referring specifically to to-do lists when she says that.I like a lot of different kinds of lists, but I really don’t like to-do lists.I find them to be demanding, overwhelming, draining, the opposite of empowering.I once wrote what I thought was a clever and humorous “break up letter” to my to-do list, but never shared it with anyone because when it was finished it sounded like a really whiny complaint.And it was.
I use a to-do list, of course.In fact, I keep an electronic one that is also tied to my calendar.It’s an incredibly useful tool that is a wonderful blessing that lets me accomplish more.I hate it.
I’m a thinker and a dreamer.My wife is a doer.If it weren’t for …