Drink:Grace:Travel – 2012 Year in My Phone Camera Review

I just got a new phone.  It was time to clean out the old phone – messages, pictures, etc.

I thought it might be interesting to see the 2012 year-in-review according to a select group of my cell phone pictures.  I take a lot of pictures when I travel, so not every place ends up on the phone, but it’s a good random 2012 year in review.

It shows I am certainly blessed with wonderful a family, great friends and a good life.


Grace: Dogs

I have been a dog owner for many years.  Currently my wife and I have 2 soft coated wheaten terriers and like proud parents, we take a lot of pictures (and videos) of them.  We also have children we are quite proud of as well, but alas, this post is not about them.

Here is Fergus as a puppy – shortly after he first came home .  You can see all the fun energy he has.  While he is currently several years older now, he still has that same energy and puppy play in him.

Fergus as a puppy


When Fergus was about 2 years old, someone (my wife) decided that he could really use a companion, so we got Feena.  Well if he was lonely at all, he is not anymore – in fact nobody is.  Feena is almost 2 years younger to the day than Fergus, and they are related – same mother, however different father.  They have different hair coats Fergus is American coat, and Feena is Irish coat.  Neither of them sheds, as there is no undercoat.

Once again in the snow – here is Fergus and Feena shortly after she came to live with us.  It was a brutally cold week in February, and with a different type of hair coat than Fergus she needed a little sweater to help stay warm. 

Fergus and Feena in the snow.

Maybe you don’t want to think about the snow.  It is mid November here in the land of cheese and not a topic we want to focus on.  Here is a fun video of the dogs playing in their pool. This video started out with a hole Feena dug in the yard.  Fergus loves water, Feena not so much.

If you dig a hole, then you need a bath.

Maybe you’ve already seen enough, but if not you can see more pictures of our dogs and their other wheaten friends at blogspot.

All right, dogs are fun and friendly, but what does this have to do with grace?  Well my dogs seem to love me no matter what.  If I go on vacation for a couple of weeks, they welcome me back with no strings attached.  If I treat others badly during the day, the dogs don’t care that I’m an insensitive jerk, but still love me.  If I cannot feed them on time, they simply forgive me and just eat without complaining.

OK maybe you don’t have a dog and don’t agree or understand that a dog can love someone. Ask a dog owner however, and they know in their heart how true it is. Perhaps they cannot always put their finger on exactly how they can tell you it is not just affection, but really love. However, they absolutely, without question, know that their dog loves them. Not only that but their dogs make them happy and bring them great joy. It’s the same way that I know God loves me. Maybe I cannot always give you tangible proof that you’d agree with, but I know it is true.

I cannot fully understand God’s grace for me, but it’s certainly a lot like this.  What’s truly amazing is that too often I behave quite badly (like Feena can!), use foul language (especially when driving), insult people, act rudely and perhaps even look dirty and smell bad at times (like Fergus AND Feena). Despite this I hope it is also very true that my God is always happy with me and that I bring Him joy too. He loves me (and you) no matter what.  It does not matter where I go or what I’ve done, I cannot be separated from His love.  While I don’t know how to forgive people for everything, He still forgives me for everything (including any confusing and poorly written blogs).

Time to go feed the dogs!

Grace: Love all, Serve all & Joy

Hard Rock Cafe Cancun 5-5-2008 12-26-27 PM 2896x1944

If you’ve ever been to a Hard Rock Café, then you probably know about one their mottos – “Love All, Serve All”.  Personally, I’ve sought out Hard Rocks’ at many destinations:  Chicago, Orlando, San Francisco, Venice, Fiji, Mexico and Jamaica.  The restaurants are outfitted with tons of Rock memorabilia, which is different at every location.   The food seems to be pretty consistently good no matter what country you visit and the atmosphere is always fun.

Venice Italy 6-4-2010 11-38-06 AM 3872x2592

I honestly don’t know the origination of the Love all, Serve all theme, but it certainly is a worthy way to go.  Hard Rock also has other Mottos:  All Is One, Save The Planet and Take Time To Be Kind.  Simple words, all of them, but certainly quite inspirational. 

Now, the main reason I go to Hard Rock is not because of the food, the rock and roll music, memorabilia or the inspirational themes.  I go to get the hat. 

Maui Haleakala National Park paul3 Here is my Hard Rock Hawaii hat on top of the world in Maui.

DSC_0051  Here is another Hard Rock hat in Utah – (with apologies to all of my many Packer loving friends – nah!)

Garden of the Sleeping Giant Fiji 2-2-2011 3-09-38 PMHere is another Hard Rock hat in Fiji.

OK – several things are obvious from these pictures.  I like to go places, I like to wear hats and I need to lose a few (or more) pounds.  I must also add that the hats come in handy on very sunny days when you have thinning hair – which by the way is not my fault, it’s a genetic thing after all!

OK – but this is not strictly speaking a travel post, as I put it under the Grace heading.  Seriously, I enjoy travel, especially travel with my wife.  The biggest part of “enjoy” is “joy”.  For me, travel with Sue (and wearing Hard Rock hats) is definitely one of life’s many joys.  I don’t know that I ever thought much on how Joy and Grace actually go together until recently.  Author John Ortberg wrote “Joy is at the heart of God’s plan for human beings.  The reason for this is worth pondering awhile:  Joy is at the heart of God himself.  We will never understand the significance of joy in human life until we understand its importance to God.  I suspect that most of us seriously underestimate God’s capacity for joy.”  He goes on to add “We are invited to rejoice in every moment of life because every moment in life is a gift.”

I sincerely hope this blog finds you joyous.  Even trying to implement simple sayings such as Love All Serve All, can spur us on to a more joyous frame of mind.  Jesus told his friends that his aim was they should be filled with joy, not that they should be just a bit joyful, but filled with joy – filled to capacity.  It’s not always easy, but I can always try harder for it to be more of who I am, more often.

Grace: My Back Yard

Despite immense pressures in his life, Jesus took time out periodically to find quiet places to pray.  It’s a good example for us.  At a recent men’s church group meeting I attended we had lots of discussion about this.  The verse for the weeks’ lesson was from Psalm 46:10.  The first part of the verse is “Be still and know that I am God..”.  Perhaps the point is that during our often busy lives, the best way to seek God is to stop everything, close our minds to the outside world and open our hearts to God.

DSC_0167It is not an easy thing for me to do.  It’s very easy to think of praying and seeking God’s advice when things are going really really bad, but what about when I just need to hear his voice, for some guidance.  John Ortberg wrote in The Life You’ve Always Wanted ”Today, as best I can, I am going to be still.  I am not going to chatter thoughtlessly.  I will remember that I don’t have to defend myself or make people think of me the way I want them to.  Today I don’t have to get my way.  Today, before I make decisions, I will try to listen for God’s voice.  Today I am not going to be tossed around by anxiety or anger – I will take those feelings as prompts from the Spirit to listen first.  In each of these situations I will ask God, “How would you like me to respond?  I will live in stillness.” 

Today I don’t have to get my way?  I definitely want to get my way every day.  I want to think the world will meet my needs, listen to all my complaints, and fix everything I think needs fixing.  In fact I’m rather impatient about it too.

Occasionally however I can take time to stop and smell the roses, to bask in the glow of the creation.  One of the best places I find is my own back yard.  I have not seen any sand hill cranes this year, but they were constant visitors last year.  Maybe if I just spend some more time being still.


Music: Gungor

Who is Gungor?  They are a Christian Rock band led by Michael Gungor.  What used to be the Michael Gungor Band, became simply Gungor.  Michael relates on the band website, “With where I’d like to go as a band, ‘The Michael Gungor Band’ doesn’t make sense,” says Michael. “So we’re changing the name to Gungor, to be a little less concretely about one front person. I don’t want this band to simply be about me.”

There are only 2 albums that I know of, with the most recent being “Beautiful Things.”  For a quick studio sample, check out the title song.

Live from RELEVANT studios

Makes me think the xylophone is a critically underused instrument in most music.  It’s a straightforward, simply elegant song.  Here is the wording: 

Beautiful Things
All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us
All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You
You make me new, You are making me new

Of course, these guys can really rock out too, but let’s not spoil that surprise – you should get a copy of the album for your music player.

From their first album is an amazingly truthful and thought provoking song called “God is not a white man”.  (Ain’t that the truth?)

God is not a white man

A simple message:  God loves us all, doesn’t matter who you are, what you’ve done, or even if you chose to not acknowledge His love.  God is God, he is not an American, a republican, a democrat or even a white man.  And oh yeah, God does not make junk.


Well let’s get started.

What does it mean to have a passion for travel, drink, music, and grace?

Passion for Travel:  When it comes to travel, I believe there are only 2 options available to us.  You should either be on vacation, or planning your next vacation.  Currently I’m not on vacation, but am planning my next trip(s).

Passion for Drink:   I love great wine and craft beers.  Travel is a great addition to this passion.  Everywhere we travel, we seek out wineries and breweries at our destination.  Can you imagine a trip to Italy without sampling wines in Tuscany?  How about just a trip through Wisconsin without visiting a micro-brewery?  If you cannot imagine these things, then this is definitely the blog for you.

Passion for Music:  I love music.  I have eclectic musical taste ranging from folk to punk, classical to country.  Every now and then would I would like to share some of what I feel is the best in my collection.  Maybe you’ll like it – or maybe you won’t.

Passion for Grace:  The world can be a messy place.  We can frequently be challenged and confused as to what is the best thing to do in a given situation.  The only thing I know for sure is that God loves us.  Grace is a gift freely given, no strings attached.  Occasionally, (although, I’m not quite sure how yet!) I’ll try to explore my take on what it looks like to me.  I’m not what you might call a bible thumper.  Just a fairly normal person, maintaining hope.