Reflecting on Tatters….

Growth by Stella
Resolutions and radical changes rarely arrive with the New Year. I am more likely to troll through old memories, looking for an arc or easy narrative that makes sense out of the jumble of my experiences. Perhaps our lives only make sense backwards. So I was drawn to this wonderful art by Stella. Her use of color, or lack of color, says it all. Our colorful dreams are born in a black and white world. Notice the pieces of her dream drifting away. Those tatters have lost their color. Like most folks, my life includes high points and low points. There are joyous times when life seems full of vibrant color, new beginnings overflowing with hope and joy. There are days, even weeks and months, when life seems drained of all color. It is everything I can do to hang on despite the despair. These bleak times can be brought on by radical change, or by allowing the drudgery of life to slowly drain my soul. Yet if we believe there is no waste in God’s economy, then every experience has a purpose. Every twist and turn bears fruit later on. Granted, at the time, it sure does not feel that way. Was my life in tatters, whirling apart, out of control? Or were the remnants of the past building a dream for the future? Of course I now realize both were often happening at the same time. My hope or despair was born out of what I turned toward. Yet I seem unable to turn toward hope on my own. Without prayer it is all too easy to embrace despair. Make time today to lay your life before the Alpha and Omega, to find a greater perspective, a longer view. See life less in the current condition and more in the journey. Resist the temptation to shunt aside prayer for a pressing emergency or dated routine. Judge less and accept more, opening up to new possibilities rather than focusing solely on what is passing away. Dare to dream a new dream in living color, reaching ahead rather than turning back. And always remember, the tatters of our black and white lives are pieced together into stained glass dreams, in God’s time rather than our own.

Text by Connie Chintall ©2014
Art entitled ‘Growth’ by Stella Pereira ©2013, to see more of her work, go to her blog



Reflecting on Sleep….

It’s a damp, grey morning and we are taking it slow after enjoying an evening out for dinner and the movies. Rain may fall later in the day, but until then, the moist air is obscuring the view. So I was drawn to this poignant photo by Lee Daniels. A similar bird house hangs in our tree, painted by my daughter as a young child. I am always taken aback by its bright color on days like today. While the earth is brown and the sky is grey, that tiny bird house reminds us this season will give way to new life in the spring. I don’t know about you, but I find myself sleeping more this time of year. If I honor that desire for more sleep, I don’t seem to catch all the colds and viruses everyone is passing around, and I tend to be gentler and more patient with others. Sleep is a greatly undervalued commodity in our society. Everyone rushes around, convinced that doing more and more is the way to get ahead. Yet sometimes we must pause to reconsider our actions, to learn what is best done and left undone. Like a river, we must ebb and flow. Without that rhythm, the river becomes a relentless, destructive force, something we call a flood. Take time today to step back and consider how best to spend your day. Allow time for rest and relaxation, closing your eyes or putting up your feet for even a few minutes. And remember, when you take care of yourself, every day can be a good day, no matter what life brings your way. Photo entitled ‘Winter Sleeps and Dreams of Spring’ by Lee Daniels © 2011, used with his permission. For more of Lee’s photos, visit

Reflecting on Flight….

It’s a cold, clear morning, with frost on the ground. The trees are bathed in soft sunlight, giving the whole scene a dreamlike appearance. So I was drawn to this amazing photo by my new friend Steve. I did not think a still photo was capable of capturing the intricate motion of flight. High speed video may reveal each specific movement, yet it cannot portray the fluid nature of seemingly effortless motion. Ii don’t know about you, but the notion of flight simply eludes me. As an engineer, I studied control theory extensively, taking many courses through the aerospace department. What I learned is how much we do not know or understand. Our universe is governed by two numbers we cannot fathom; even our most complex math is simply an approximation of reality. We must build complicated structures with even more complicated electronics to achieve what a bird accomplishes day in, day out. Our engineering triumph requires the same lens as this photo. We must step back, taking in the entire picture, accepting our perception is full of flaws and imperfections, always slightly out of focus. To succeed, we must remain mindful of our limited glimpse of reality, all the while resisting the temptation to be overly precise. Take time today to ponder the vastness and simplicity of God’s creation. Stop to soak in the graceful arch of a bird taking flight, or the limb of a tree stretching toward the sun. And remember, when words fail you, reciting the never ending digits of π may be the purest form of prayer. Photo entitled ‘Dreaming of Flight’ by Steve Ullenius

Reflecting on the Impossible….

Clouds are threatening rain again this morning, after a weekend full of rain. We live far enough inland to have avoided most of the hurricane’s effects. Friends and family in New Jersey and the Northeast saw the most damage, with flooding and power outages in many areas. So I have been wondering about what is and isn’t possible, about how our minds wrap around the unexpected and deal with the unanticipated. So I was drawn to this photo of a sea turtle, taken by John Searles of the Eco Mar organization. The white bump on the turtle’s back will monitor the movements of the turtle, using satellite tracking. The GPS system was one of the programs I worked with as a young lieutenant in the Air Force. Most of us consider outer space to be an empty vacuum, yet space is full of debris and dangerous radiation we are shielded from by our atmosphere. I worked with satellite engineers to ensure their systems would operate in all sorts of adverse conditions. We would brainstorm about all the possible threats to the system, then develop ways to deal with those threats. My job was to focus on the improbable possibilities, to ensure others could focus on the probable impossibilities. What good is an amazing satellite if the system is confounded by a micrometeor or sun spot? Yet today we take GPS for granted as a technology integrated into our handheld smart phones, or into a bump on the back of a turtle, to learn how to protect this beautiful creature and our oceans. Because someone conceived of what others considered impossible, and persevered to make that vision into a reality, our lives are full of possibilities. What the engineers started the environmentalists continue. We must not lose sight of the need to plan for adverse possibilities, yet must be sure to focus on what lies beyond the immediate crisis. Take time today to consider more than the possibilities of your current situation. Dare to dream the impossible, then seek to make that dream into a reality. Consider the threats and roadblocks to that dream, and develop ways to work around those threats. Persevere until that dream becomes a reality. If all things are possible through God, then who are we to say anything is impossible? Photo by John Searles © 2011

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