Sunday, April 29, 2007

Fog of Childbirth

When I posted young David's name Friday, I had a feeling it would become his middle name. Something about my phone conversation with Stephanie told me the name would trade places. At the time she said they needed to choose between two names for his middle name.

When we arrived at the hospital yesterday afternoon, Steph and Ernesto informed us David would be his middle name. He is being named after his dad and paternal grandfather. To avoid confusion with three Ernesto's in the family, he's going by David.

Either way, he's a hansom boy. To me, he's the best looking in the bunch. Soon, we'll be singing be Father Abraham as he sits on my lap.

Oh, am I failing as a grandfather? I only took 39 pictures yesterday.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Deep in the Forest

This picture of a field of lupines easily gives you the impression that it was shot in clearing deep in the forest. Each year a colorful crop of the lupine flowers grows along a side street near our house. Soon long seed pods will grow from the cobalt-blue flower spikes and set season's crop in motion.

An Addition to the Karoly Clan

The wise preacher said many years ago: "Grandchildren are the crown of old men, And the glory of sons is their fathers" (Proverbs 17:6). So, it's with great joy that I announce that Debbie and I have moved into "old" man and womenhood for the second time in this life.

Let's celebrate with Stephanie and Ernesto as they build their house with the addition of David to their household. According to the words of King David, "Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one's youth" (Psalm 127:3-4). This latest blessing came this afternoon at 1:47 p.m. in the form of a 7-pound, 11-ounce baby boy at 21 inches long.

Stephanie and Ernesto now have the blessed task of raising young David to seek the Lord. As a young husband and wife with two young children, they understand, "Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it" (Psalm 127:1a). So for the next 18 years (and beyond) they will be training Marina and David in the "way he should go" (Proverbs 22:6).

I'm confident that they will build their house like the wise man who built his house on the rock (Matthew 7:24-29). As Marina often sings, "The rains came down and the floods came up, And the house on the rock stood firm." Stephanie and Ernesto are building their house on the firm rock of Jesus.

We look forward to the day when both Marina and David respond to the gospel call. Lord willing, we will be there to watch them come out of the waters to a new life.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Herb Garden

This is my first attempt to plant a herb garden is several years. Instead of using the vegetable garden in the back yard, which is overgrown with weeds, I planted four herbs in a planter on the front porch. Rosemary, cilantro, thyme and Italian parsley will soon be available for the kitchen.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Godly Reputation

A good reputation is something to be valued. The camp cook works hard at cooking comfort food for the campers. Often a camper's smile is sufficient reward for all the hard work and dedication to her culinary duties.

Few camp cooks expect riches from feeding children and adults in the camp setting. Even though many are paid for their labor, they understand that a kind thank you for a meal enjoyed is its own reward.

"Camp Cook Queen Irene Bakos will make sure we don't loose weight during the week," reported the March 2002 Kentucky Camp Chronicle. She fed a large group of volunteers who'd gathered at the remote historic site in Colorado National Forest in Southern Arizona in April 2002.

I'm sure the writer was saying Bakos would serve ample portions to the hard working crew who worked long hours at physical labor. I trust Bakos was able to satisfy those big appetites.

A good reputation is something you work toward. The camp cook chooses -- and desires -- a good reputation.

A GODLY REPUTATION IS TO BE DESIRED

Solomon understood that one's reputation carries more weight than worldly treasures. As a man with much God-given wisdom, Solomon was "wiser than all men" (1 Kings 4:29-31). Solomon wrote:
A good name is to be more desired than great wealth,
Favor is better than silver and gold (Proverbs 22:1).
You desire a good name because it's "better than precious ointment" (Ecclesiastes 7:1). To the the God-fearing person, "riches and honor and life" come from "humility and the fear of the Lord" (Proverbs 22:4).

The Christian desires a name (or reputation) that is based on God. "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe" (Proverbs 18:10).

Everyone wants people to say good things about them. The name we earn through our character and righteous actions are valued more than riches, which only bring momentary fame.

As a camp cook, I don't want to be know as the guy who scorches the country gravy and burns the biscuits. My reputation is built on my ability to prepare and serving delicious meals. I value time-honored culinary techniques over sloppy practices.

Like the camp cook who homes his culinary skills, the Christian works at developing Godly character and righteous behavior. As a Christian, I value a name that is based on God's righteousness.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Photography and the Diamond & Caldor No. 4 Shay

The sole surviving locomotive from the Diamond and Caldor Railway's 49-year existence is under restoration. The No. 4 Shay geared locomotive is located at the El Dorado County Historical Museum in Placerville, California. Bill Rodgers (in cab), Sam Thompson (on ladder) and Keith Berry discuss repairs to the number two cylinder.

I entered a new dimension of photography when I purchased a Canon Digital Rebel XT single lens reflex camera in 2006. I've used the past year to study its features and to elevate the camera beyond the realm of an $800 point-and-shoot camera.

Two lessons helped me compose today's photograph at the El Dorado Western Railway engine house. First, I used a tripod to steady the camera so I could shoot in the low-light inside the building. I knew the in-camera flash could never reach beyond the smokestack.

Sam made the point that you pay greater attention to composition when you use a tripod. He's right. Because the tripod often requires the use of a remote, I find you take greater care while setting up the shot. I find that want a perfectly composed picture as I remove my eye from the view finder.

The second lesson has greater value to me as the photographer for the railroad. You have to get dirty (while protecting the camera!). I climbed on top of the security cage and snapped the picture at eye level. Good photographs require the photographer to travel off the beaten track. You have to go to the picture. The best ones require effort.

This lesson became clear when the Mountain Democrat printed a feature story on the locomotive's 100th birthday. Photographer and writer Dan Burkhart stopped by the engine house three weeks ago to research the story.

Even though I missed his visit, Keith described Burkhart's climb to the top of the cage. After studying his feature picture in the paper, I knew I had to duplicate it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Looking for a Friendly Church?

This thought comes via Tol Burk's blog post, "People don't want a friendly church?," on Blogspot.com.

Burk preaches the gospel in the Eastern Caribbean. According to reports on the blog, he's moving to San Juan, Puerto Rico within the month and will be preaching for two churches there.

Burk stated: "People don’t want a friendly church. They want a friend."

When you first read his question, you're inclined to say, "What? I though churches are supposed to be friendly."

While true, Burk has a larger point to make. He agrees that people desire a friendly church. But the act of being kind to the visitor or new member should be the starting point for a God-inspired relationship.

To be effective, that friendship must be carried out the front door of the church building and into homes. We need churches where members spend time together. That, Burk emphasises, is time spent away from the assembly hall.

A wise preacher once made this point:
A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).
Solomon is right. We need friends who stick close to each other. These are friends who'll remain through thick and thin, in times of joy and in times of hurt.

I agree with Burk's assessment of friendship:

They may work together, they will certainly worship together and they will also do fun things together. They may go out to eat, have a picnic, put on a fish fry, play games or just sit and talk.
I personally treasure the time I spend with my brothers and sisters in Christ. You can't develop the deep personal relations in the four to five hours at the building each week. You must carry that friendship into the homes.

Although there are many aspects of friendship, I believe the key point is the assistance that we give each other in our lives.

Friends are constantly praying for each other. They share hurting moments. Friends support each other during times of tribulation. And they offer a hand in times of need.

"Are you willing to make the commitment to be a friend to a new Christian, or a new member or family in the congregation?" concluded Burk. "They will benefit, but so will you."

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Slow Down and Smell the Brisket

My sister clipped an August 2006 Guideposts article by Johnny Nix and sent it to me several weeks ago. As the host of the Campfire Cafe television show on RFD-TV, Johnny should know a thing or two about slowing down. He's found that campfire meals are a great way to attract and meet fellow campers.

The concluding paragraph to the article says it all:

Something about a campfire invites people in. Strangers start telling their stories. Pretty soon they're not strangers anymore. When you're outdoors, you get a real connection back to what God has created for us all to enjoy -- good food, good friends, the love of family and a sky with more starts in than their are worries in the world. Cooking over the campfire isn't quick, but that's the point. It slows life down enough to remind you of what's important. So come and join me on the range.
I've long felt that the campfire is an inseparable part of the camping experience. While I know modern campers don't need campfires -- we have camp stoves to on which to cook our Kraft macaroni and cheese, waterproof tents to keep to capture our body heat and the stars to gaze at for entertainment -- I believe they're as necessary a part of the camping experience today as they were when my grandparents were featured on the masthead the San Francisco Chronicle (Monday, July 10, 1922).

A campfire gives warmth. And that's more than heat. For me there's nothing more comforting than to sit around a crackling fire reading my favorite book and gazing at the stars. Camping without a campfire is like a day without food. It refreshes the soul after a strenuous day camping.

I can think of dozens of reasons for burning a campfire. To name a few: campfires give warmth (the heat kind), provide light for that book, burn garbage and food scraps, give a beacon when you walk into the forest to take a leak and hasten the decomposition process so necessary for a lively forest.

But Johnny gives the best reason of all: The campfire is the focal point. It's the beacon that draws fellow campers and gives comfort while enjoying the enlightening comfort of our neighbors.

Hope to see you 'round the campfire soon.