Monday, December 31, 2018

Pic of the Day



Out with the Old


Tomorrow starts a new year filled with hope and great expectations. The past year has been one of ups and downs. Throughout most of the year, I was searching for a job. Every time one looked promising, it didn’t work out. There was a great deal of hope and disappointment. Finally, as the tenure of my old job was coming to an end, my new boss created a new job for me. It came with a significant raise in pay and benefits. It also means that I will travel the country next year with our museum’s traveling exhibition: Naples, Florida, Boston, New York City, Washington, DC, and San Francisco. I hope in all of this travel, I will also get to fit in some more time in Montreal. I do love visiting Montreal. Also, with the help of a lesbian friend of mine, I am getting more involved with the gay community, such as it is, in Vermont. I’m hoping things there will progress. Maybe I will even meet a nice man. So as I look ahead I see great things. I know there will be ups and downs. There always are, but my hope for the coming year is that there are more ups than down. I hope the same thing for each of you.

My New Year’s Eve will probably be a quiet one. My preacher yesterday talked about taking inventory of our lives and getting our priorities in the correct order in the new year. Maybe I will reflect on the inventory of my life. 

What are you doing New Year’s Eve? 

What are your hopes for the coming year?

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Pic of the Day



Second Chances


Bless the LORD, O my soul, 

     and all that is within me, 

     bless his holy name! 

Bless the LORD, O my soul, 

     and forget not all his benefits, 

who forgives all your iniquity, 

     who heals all your diseases, 

who redeems your life from the pit, 

     who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, 

who satisfies you with good 

     so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. 

The LORD works righteousness 

     and justice for all who are oppressed. 

He made known his ways to Moses, 

     his acts to the people of Israel. 

The LORD is merciful and gracious, 

     slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 

He will not always chide, 

     nor will he keep his anger forever. 

He does not deal with us according to our sins, 

     nor repay us according to our iniquities. 

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, 

     so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 

as far as the east is from the west, 

     so far does he remove our transgressions from us. 

As a father shows compassion to his children, 

     so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. 

For he knows our frame; 

     he remembers that we are dust. 

As for man, his days are like grass; 

     he flourishes like a flower of the field; 

for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, 

     and its place knows it no more. 

But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, 

     and his righteousness to children's children, 

to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments. 

The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, 

     and his kingdom rules over all. 

Bless the LORD, O you his angels, 

     you mighty ones who do his word, 

     obeying the voice of his word! 

Bless the LORD, all his hosts, 

     his ministers, who do his will! 

Bless the LORD, all his works, 

     in all places of his dominion.

Bless the LORD, O my soul! 

Psalms 103

With the new year, we often think back on the old.  We attempt to think of resolutions to help us correct our flaws, and hopefully, give ourselves a second chance in the new year. We are blessed to have a God who grants second chances.  In fact, He grants an infinite number of chances.  This is good news because most of us mess up the second chance fairly quickly. One of the amazing facets of God's character is His incredible patience with us. Psalm 86:15 says it well: "But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness." 

How many times have any of us done something really stupid, and realize it right after, or right in the middle of it?  Do you ever feel like you can't do anything right, wondering why you bother trying as you're going to fail anyway?  I've had instances when I really didn't mean to hurt someone, yet I did, and I didn't know how to set it right.  I must admit, I've experienced this on more days than I want to admit. It just seems like no matter how hard I try, things just don't seem to work out, or not that often anyway.  Yet, in each instance I look to God for guidance, and he shows me the way.

Just as God is patient and forgiving, He wants His children to be patient with and forgiving of others. "Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience" (Colossians 3:12). He gives us second chances, and we must give the same to others. Jesus gives a stern warning to those who refuse to forgive, saying that if we will not forgive others, God will not forgive us. If someone is truly repentant, then we are obligated to forgive.  Matthew 18:21-22 says  "Then Peter came up and said to him, "Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times."

Forgiveness, however, is not the same thing as reconciliation. Many people struggle to find the balance between showing mercy and enabling a harmful person to continue harming. We should forgive everyone who wrongs us, just as Jesus forgives us. Forgiveness is between our heart and God's, removing any barriers that non-forgiveness brings. When someone continues to unrepentantly violate another person's boundaries, a wise person learns to set firmer boundaries.

Giving someone a second chance means we give him another chance to earn our trust. But that does not mean we instantly forget what experience has taught us. Trust must be earned over time, and we are foolish if we give trust prematurely. We can have a loving and forgiving heart that also practices wise guardianship over our lives.

When we have wronged someone, we have no right to demand another chance. But we should work to earn another chance by continued demonstration of repentance and change.

God does everything possible to draw us to repentance, offering forgiveness and second chances (2 Peter 3:9). But if we continue to reject Him, the offer is withdrawn and, at death, there are no more chances (Hebrews 9:27). God's grace is our model. We can offer second chances to others until a healthy relationship is no longer possible.

In this new year, we should try to emulate God more.  Just as he gives us second chances, give others a second chance as well.  Maybe that someone deserves even more than a single second chance, then offer them more chances as long as they are attempting to do what is right.  However, if that person is continuously hurting you, then forgive them and walk away.  Just because someone has hurt you, it does not mean that it was intentional.  Give them that second chance, just as God would give you a second chance.  Yet, when it is intentional hurting, sometimes it is best to just cut ties.  It is often difficult to do so, but it is occasionally what is best for both.  Sometimes, it's easy to just cut ties, but evaluate the situation.  Could you help that person more by giving them a second chance?  If so, then that is what god asks us to do.

Let God give you a second chance in the new year, and resolve to be a better person. Also, try to give someone in your life a second chance, maybe they truly deserve it.  I hope each of you has a blessed and happy 2019!


Friday, December 28, 2018

Pic of the Day



The Gospel of Luke



Tonight, my mother and I are going back to the Alabama Shakespeare Festival to see The Gospel of Luke. When my mother first told me about The Gospel of Luke it sounded really good. I thought it would be a play about the Gospel of Luke, but the description actually says, “Actor Bruce Kuhn performs the Gospel of Luke with the passion and surprise of an eyewitness account. In a compelling ninety minutes, the tale comes alive with the urgency, fervor, and humor of someone who was there.” I had not originally realized it was a one man show. I knew it was in the Octagon Theater which is the experimental theater. Octagon shows are always hit or miss unlike those on the main stage. So with a little bit of trepidation, I’m going to the play; however, everyone I know that has been says it’s wonderful but unlike anything they ever expected.

What I’m most looking forward to is before the play, we are going to my favorite restaurant in Montgomery: Charles Anthony’s Restaurant at the Pub. It used to be this little greasy spoon tucked away in an out of the way corner of the Montgomery Mall. Even then, the food was delicious. When the mall closed, the restaurant moved out to east Montgomery and changed from a little greasy spoon pub to a beautiful upscale restaurant. I already know what I will be having: seafood gumbo, house salad, grilled rainbow trout, and creme brûlée. It’s the meal I always have and it never disappoints. Their creme brûlée is purely orgasmic. It’s the best I’ve ever had. I get to eat here about once every 5-10 years, so it’s always a special occasion.

So that’s my night for tonight. Of course my afternoon will be spent watching the Auburn v. Perdue game at the Music City Bowl. I’m hoping the Auburn wins. War Eagle! Tomorrow night will be the Alabama v. Oklahoma game for the NCAAF playoffs. Roll Tide!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Pic of the Day



It Was Good


As a general rule, when I go to a theater or something like it, I usually have some big, tall, bald man sit in front of me in block my view. I was surprised last night when a very cute guy (with a nice butt) came and sat in front of me. I was actually surrounded by good looking men. However, I did get to watch the play and only focused on them before the play, at intermission, and after the play. The play itself was excellent. I thought Maria was a little stiff at first but she warmed up as the play went on. The others did very well. The Mother Superior kind of stole the show, she was quite good and an excellent singer. I will say Maria sang well from the beginning, even if her movements were stiff. Overall, I give the Alabama Shakespeare Festival a solid A for their rendition of The Sound of Music.



Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Pic of the Day



The Hills Are Alive...


Christmas was good to me this year. It was a nice time with family and good food. I ate in moderation though. My stomach still isn’t back from a week of hardly any food when I was sick. I’m feeling a lot better but I’m still feeling short of breath and coughing quite a bit. Otherwise, I am doing quite well. I’m excited for tonight. We will be going to the world class Alabama Shakespeare Festival to see The Sound of Music. I’ve always loved The Sound of Music. It’s long been one of my favorite musicals. I’ve been looking forward to this for months. My mother, niece, and I will be going, and it should be a good time.

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Pic of the Day


I sure was hoping for this under my Christmas tree.

A Visit from St. Nicholas


A Visit from St. Nicholas

by Clement Clarke Moore, 1779 - 1863


 ‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house  

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;  

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,  

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;  

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;  

And mamma in her ’kerchief, and I in my cap,  

Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,  

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,  

I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,  

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.  

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow  

Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,  

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,  

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,  

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.  

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,  

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!  

On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!  

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!  

Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”  

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;  

So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,  

With the sleigh full of Toys, and St. Nicholas too.  

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof  

The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,  

Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.  

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,  

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;  

A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,

And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.  

His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!  

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!  

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow  

And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,  

And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;  

He had a broad face and a little round belly,  

That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.  

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;  

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,  

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;  

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,  

And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose,  

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;  

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,  

And away they all flew like the down of a thistle,  

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”


My mother used to read us this every year at Christmastime.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Pics of the Day





Christmas Eve


In our Christmas tradition, my whole family gathers on the night of Christmas Eve, then my immediate family gathers on the night of Christmas. Christmas Eve is just presents for the little ones and we have an assortment of finger foods. On Christmas morning, we go to my sister’s house to have breakfast and see what Santa Claus brought my niece and nephew. Then there will be a light lunch followed by the major dinner of the holidays. On Christmas night, we start out with shrimp cocktails.  Then we’ll have ham and turkey, chicken and dumplings, cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and green beans. We’ll finish off the meal with chocolate pie and sweet potato pie. My mother generally begins cooking days in advance so that she will have everything ready for Christmas night. Besides Thanksgiving, which I don’t get to come home for, this is my mother’s meal to show off her incredible cooking skills. My cooking skills are shown off next week at New Year’s Day, but more on that next week.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

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Seasons Greetings


The Birth of Jesus

(Isaiah 7:10-16Micah 5:1-6Matthew 1:18-25)

1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and Angels

8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 20And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.



Friday, December 21, 2018

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Home




I got home yesterday a little after lunch time. There was only a slight delay in Charlotte, but otherwise it wasn’t too bad. I slept most of the way. I was so exhausted though by the time I got to my parents house, I went straight to bed. I’m definitely needing lots of rest. I’m short of breath with almost everything I do. It’s good to be home though.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Pic of the Day



Ill Be Home For Christmas






I'll be home for Christmas
You can plan on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents on the tree
Christmas Eve will find me
Where the lovelight gleams
I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams
I'll be home for Christmas
You can plan on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents on the tree
Christmas Eve will find me
Where the lovelight gleams
I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams



I’m heading home today. At 5:58 am my plane is supposed to take off for Charlotte then from Charlotte to Montgomery. I hope there is no snow, though I’m fine with some mistletoe. After the last nearly two weeks of being sick, I’m ready to be home so that I can relax.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

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Work


I went back to work yesterday, but only stayed half a day. I sweated the whole time I was there. It was so hot in the office, I almost wish I could have worked outside where it was 15 degrees. At least I could have bundled up for that, but I’d purposely worn something cool so that I wouldn’t be hot. I was still sweating. I guess it comes with being sick. I’ve sweated a lot with this virus, but it had been better for the last day or so. Not so yesterday. I will go into work again today, but I don’t know how long I’ll make it. I’m just ready to get on that plane and fly home tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Pic of the Day



Back to Work


I’ve been out of work sick for over a week. It’s time to go back. I’m already out on Thursday and Friday because I’m heading home. So I will only be at work Tuesday and Wednesday before I am out for two and a half weeks. I am feeling much better, thankfully. I am still coughing some, but that’s kind of to be expected. I knew I wouldn’t be miraculously well over the weekend, but I do feel remarkably better. I wish I didn’t have to go back to work, but I don’t really have much of a choice. I’ve got several meeting to attend and dozens of emails to answer. It’s going to be a busy two days.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Pic of the Day



Decisions


As I wrote this post last night, there was a 50/50 chance that I was going to work today. I’d been leaning toward not going, but I’ve been out of work for a week and I feel guilty about being gone so long. I do feel better but I’m short of breath, I barely have a voice, and when I do cough I can barely stop. I’m pretty sure it will be one more day at home.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Pic of the Day



In Spite of Sickness


"And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." Revelation 21:4


God can work in spite of sickness. He still answers prayer and heals people today, and He still does miracles. In sickness and in hardships, He can work in a person's life. Even if a person still has the sickness or problem, God can work in spite of it and give them a special strength. God says He will wipe away all tears from their eyes. There will be no more death, nor sorrows, nor crying, and no more pain (see Revelation 21:4). They can have the promise that they will be in Heaven one day.


That promise is the great hope for the Christian: that there is more than just this life on earth. Whatever our limitations are, whatever our problems are, God promises us that beyond this life we will receive a new body that will not have the shortcomings that we have today.


And God can also use sickness to bring a person to Himself, can't He? I know a lot of people who have come to the Lord in the hospital. A lot of people who have come to the Lord when they are facing death. Suddenly they reevaluate their lives. They wonder, What am I living for? What is really important in my life? What is going to happen to me when I die? And they begin to think about eternity.


As the psalmist says, "Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I have kept your word" (Psalm 119:67). God can work in spite of sickness, and He can work through sickness. Nothing is impossible for Him.


Friday, December 14, 2018

Pics of the Day





Forget Yesterday’s Title


I’m still sick. I don’t feel any better than I did on Monday when I saw the doctor. I’m still have a fever, headache, sore throat, and a persistent cough. I thought the codeine cough syrup would help, but it did not phase the coughing. It did however allow me some sleep. I want some relief. I called the doctor’s office yesterday to ask to come back in for further evaluation, and I was told a nurse would call me back. No one called me back. Rest assured, I’ll be calling them first thing this morning.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Pic of the Day



Getting Better, I Think


Hopefully, the worst is over with. I still have no energy. My doctor said this was viral and would take a while to get over it. When I talked to the nurse yesterday, she said if I get worse over the weekend to call the on call number. If I was not better by Monday, I’d have to come back to the office. I’m hoping I’ll be better by then. The main thing is the persistent coughing. At least he took mercy on me and prescribed a stronger cough medicine with codeine.



Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Pic of the Day



Still Sick


I did go to the doctor on Monday. I have an upper respiratory infection and severe post nasal drip. Yuck. I can’t stop coughing, and I haven’t slept in three days. Add fever and vomiting to that and you might know how I feel. To say I’m miserable would be an understatement.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Pic of the Day



Silver Filigree


Silver Filigree

by Elinor Wylie


The icicles wreathing

   On trees in festoon

Swing, swayed to our breathing:

   They’re made of the moon.

 

She’s a pale, waxen taper;

   And these seem to drip

Transparent as paper

   From the flame of her tip.

 

Molten, smoking a little,

   Into crystal they pass;

Falling, freezing, to brittle

   And delicate glass.

 

Each a sharp-pointed flower,

   Each a brief stalactite

Which hangs for an hour

   In the blue cave of night.


Monday, December 10, 2018

Pic of the Day



Sick


I’ve been in bed sick all weekend. I either have a very bad head cold, or I have the flu. I feel like shit, and I can’t stop coughing. No work for me today, I’m just going to the doctor.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Pic of the Day



The Names of Jesus



For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (KJV) ( Isaiah 9:6 ) 

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace! What do the names for the Messiah mean to you? Write them down and prayerfully meditate on them.  Let God reveal more of His nature through the glorious names of Jesus!