Daily Work

Getting Ready for the Memorial

Yes, I’m still around. I’ve been busy with all the things I need to do to get ready for my mom’s memorial service so I haven’t taken any pictures, but I sure have looked at a lot of them! I found the hard drive that had all the pictures I really wanted – or so I thought. Very few pictures were on that hard drive and not many of my mother. Does anybody else have one of those boxes where you keep all your old pictures? You took them while things were happening. You looked at them when you got them back from the drug store after they developed them, (How do you explain THAT to people of today’s generation?) and then you threw them in a box until the next time you decided to look at them – which probably hasn’t happened yet.

There were a few pictures of my mom that I remember distinctly. I’ve seen them in the area of my box. I thought they would be cute for our memorial service. I started pulling out all the pictures from THAT box. I pulled out a couple hundred old pictures before I found any pictures of my mom. It was a lot of work going through those old pictures. Even though I didn’t find the one picture I was looking for, I found a few other fun pictures of my mom that will look nice at the memorial service. Her obituary showed up today in her local paper. My sister did a great job on the writeup and they found a picture that captures her personality better than I found so far! This picture is of my mom, my dad (on the left but you can’t see his face). my wife, and another couple who I think I know what friends they are, but I’m not sure.

My mom didn’t seek the limelight, and she wasn’t in a lot of the pictures I have of my family. I should also point out that someone has said that you need to take a lot of bad pictures before you start taking good ones. When I look at most of the pictures I have, I believe it. I have a lot of bad pictures! But this one is cute. We had a garage sale when we moved from seminary to my first pastorate. Our first child was outside with us in his playpen. People came up, trying to buy the playpen. This sign was my wife’s solution.

Still, it was a lot of fun going through those old pictures. I’m not going to say whose pictures I found, but I’m guessing that my kids will be a lot nicer to me in the days to come. Just sayin’. I also started ripping the old CDs I have. I have a wide variety of classical, Christian, and comedy CDs, and I enjoyed listening to them while I was ripping them. Then, I made my mistake. I closed down my computer when I left for church. Once I got home, it took forever to start back up and then I had technical difficulties. Eventually, I had to do a hard shutdown so I could reboot and hope that this computer will work as it’s intended, not as if it’s auditioning for Frisbee status.

 

Daily Work

It’s Time to Take on the White Whale

With all the preparations I’m doing at home for my mother’s memorial service, I’ve needed to put my bird photography on hold. Never fear, I will resume the Bird Brain Chronicles soon. In the meanwhile, I’m taking on my white whale. (Please note the clever Moby Dick allusion there.) My White Whale is the story of how my wife and I battled her breast cancer. We got the official notice on the last Saturday of January in 2016. I kept notes throughout the journey, knowing that while we couldn’t be sure of the outcome, we were confident that God had things under control.

About a year ago, I finished the first draft of the story, and then began editing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone back to working on the story because I wanted to get it just right. And yet, it was always my next project and then something else came along. Last year, my writing time was consumed with work on my devotional series. I wanted to make sure that I had the whole series edited and ready for publication. And, that happened. mind you, I still need to work on marketing, but I’ve been blessed in some great ways because of this process.

This church, Troy First Assembly of God, is using my devotionals to support the spiritual growth of their church. The pastor asked permission and offered to compensate me. He showed a lot of integrity in the way he asked and set things up. A couple of times he’s passed along comments that gave me an emotional lift when I was a bit down.

See how easy it is to get distracted from my white whale? I’m not sure what makes this so had to edit, aside from the fact that I hate editing in general, but I think it’s because this is a story that I think will have such importance and be such a blessing to others that I want to be sure that I do things right. When people get a cancer diagnosis, it’s frightening – at least to us it was both times. Cancer isn’t the death sentence that it used to be, but it’s still a killer if not dealt with properly. The purpose of the book is to give hope, but show the practical steps we took. It’s meant to prepare people for the depths of chemotherapy and the drudgery of the process of waiting for the next treatment.

No one has the same experiences with cancer or with the treatment, but, people can live with hope and they can conquer cancer. And I’m trying to convey that in one short little book. And it scares me because I want this book to help others. Pray with me, will you?

Daily Work

January 18 – Searching and Sorting

Today I didn’t take any new pictures. I knew that the timing would be difficult with my wife’s follow-up eye appointment today, so I decided to make today a day of searching and sorting through pictures. Only, it wasn’t bird pictures, it was pictures of my mom to get ready for the memorial service we’ll be having soon. I still have a lot of pics to sort through. I have three external hard drives to find. I’m grateful for them, though, because having had cameras and computers stolen in robberies in the past, I have lots of pictures to choose from.

Since I lived so far away from my mom, I don’t have as many as I’d like. Most have been from the last few times I’ve gone up when she’s been bedridden. I debated posting some of them here, but decided not to. Well, I may post a couple that I’ve made public elsewhere. These were pics taken at my mom’s 90th birthday party this last June.

 

My mom has been a Cubs fan as long as I can remember. At her party, the Cubs game was playing in the background. The Cubs jersey I’m wearing was a gift from my children. We gave my mom her Cubs jersey customized with her name (James) and her age (90). I can’t tell you how grateful I am that the Cubs won the World Series before she died. She got to enjoy that year as she celebrated the season and then the ultimate victory in the series. We had lots of fun discussing the games on the phone during and after the series. I should note that Cubs regalia was the dress code of the day…at the least people were asked to wear blue.

 

 

This next picture is of everyone in the family who showed up. We had a LOT of these pictures, because we kept messing up. We were enjoying each other’s company too much. Anyway, my mom’s caretaker patiently took as many pictures as needed. She had a couple of great caretakers these last three years and our family is grateful for them. They started watching over mom after the second time the family was called in because she “wasn’t going to make it.” That’s right, we had been told twice before that she wasn’t expected to live. They just didn’t tell her so she decided to keep on living. While her recent death is a cause to grieve, I knew that every minute we had with her was bonus time. She was the kind of person who exuded warmth and kindness, and while I know this isn’t theologically correct, I can imagine everybody in heaven right now sitting down and eating the egg salad sandwiches that she was known for. Going through these pictures has brought great joy as I remembered the times they represent and the strength and love she showed in all areas of life. I am stronger, my family is stronger because of her love and her example.

Blog Administration, Daily Work

January 13 – Where Does Sunday Go?

So today, there won’t be any bird pictures. If you came here looking for them, I apologize, but Sunday is a busy day. Last week I tried to get some pictures in, but right now, there aren’t enough birds flying around to make it worthwhile. What takes so much time on Sunday? We leave the house around 7:45 to go to church. I usually have duties at church that require me to be there from 8:00 AM (or earlier) until our second service lets out around noon. Of course, we talk to our church family until about 12:30 before we head out. Today, my duties included photography for a special commitment service. I used the church’s camera, so I don’t have any of those pictures to share.

When we got home, I fixed a quick lunch and did a few things before leaving again about 1:40 to go to a retirement center where I lead a Bible Study. I do that for half an hour, and then head back home where I have to do family things and write my devotional, except today, I had a rough time putting my thoughts together. Then, it’s time to prepare supper and at this time of year, it gets dark early enough that I can’t go out and take pictures.

My devotional, by the way, is called Daily Enduring Truth, and is available every day at the link in the text. I share one of the things that I learn from my personal Bible reading. This year, I’m doing something different by making the devotional an evening devotional with the idea of having people reflect on their day and see how they can learn and grow from the issues of their day. It’s a new concept for me, but I began thinking about this late last year when I thought about how the Bible describes a day. Each time, it begins in the evening. “It was evening and it was morning, the first day.” or “Evening, morning, and at noon will I pray.” My first set of devotional books is based on the same Bible readings, but meant for the morning. The possibility exists that thee will be a second set, but I have other writings to work on.

Now, one last bit of news. A short story I wrote has been accepted for a charity anthology. We will be supporting Alex’s lemonade stand. So, in addition to Bird Brain Chronicle posts showing up here, I’ll even be including some other bits and pieces of my writing and promoting the books that I have short stories in. I may even have some excerpts from the story of the journey my wife and I took as she battled breast cancer. Thanks for reading here and following here.

Bird Brain Chronicles, Bird pics and story, Daily Work

January 8 – Yes I Missed Yesterday But Today Was Good

I had a weird schedule yesterday and didn’t have any good period of time to go out looking for birds. I won’t get into it but after Sunday’s “Oh, those are birds,” day and yesterday not getting out, I wanted to get some good pics today. I headed out to the Suter Wildlife Refuge which has given me great opportunities for pictures in the past. (Well except for the most recent Christmas day but let’s not get into that. I was pleased with the chances today. I did try to take some pics of birds as they flew, but those didn’t come out well. It does keep me learning, though.

The Suter Wildlife Refuge is set up with a boardwalk out to a viewing area along the water. The first bit of water you see is an inlet that the electric company uses for cooling (I think.) The first bird I saw was a Great Blue Heron. I do enjoy the big birds. They are so much easier to get a good picture of. The little birds flit around all the time and won’t sit still for me. But the big birds, the royalty of the bird family, if they acknowledge you, it’s with a glare that lets you know that your presence may be tolerated. (If they fly away, it wasn’t.) Later I saw a second Great Blue Heron grooming himself and showing, by example, how all distinguished gentlemen should groom. (I did have problems getting my head upside down…)

 

 

 

 

 

 

A common sight in that inlet are the coots. I wouldn’t normally include this picture but, if I read it correctly when shooting, it was eating, and I always like to get pics of the birds eating. This one was eating his salad with algae dressing, I believe.

 

 

 

 

Then, I saw the bird that made the whole trip worthwhile to me. A black crowned night heron was sitting on the branches on the other side of the inlet. A few years ago, I had gotten pictures of a yellow crowned night heron, but hadn’t seen a black crowned one. They’re a little smaller than most of the other herons based on my unscientific observations, but they’re beautiful birds. I joined another man who was enjoying his view of the bird. We talked after it flew away. The pictures I got of it flying were blurry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Downstream about ten yards from the heron was a Great Egret. Egrets fit in well as members of the royalty. Slow, deliberate, and stately they go about their hunting without acknowledging our human presence.

 

 

 

 

When you get to the observation area, you’ll generally see two groupings of birds. I’m guessing it’s because of sand bars, but I don’t know. Today, northern shovelers were up close and gulls, with a few terns possibly, were a little farther out. Then, past these two groups you’ll see pelicans, herons, and egrets. Straight ahead and to the right the birds tend to be individuals instead of in flocks, at least smaller groups. I didn’t get a good picture, but I was able to tell from the blurs that some black necked stilts were enjoying the day. The picture, based on my research on google images is of a greater sand plover who was running through the shallow surf looking for food. 

 

 

 

 

 

There are a few trails on the other side of the parking area that I usually take, but I was on a short time period today, so I headed home. I stopped at our local grocery store (HEB) and while there in the parking lot, I saw this female grackle wandering around the cars. All I can say is that you gotta love the eyes!

I enjoyed the day so much today that it made up for two off days. I love seeing the beauty and variety in nature. I can’t help but see God’s hand and design in all of these amazing creatures,