Saturday, July 26, 2014

Beautiful Soul

I wrote this, not to one of my children, but in response to what one of my kids is going through.  After seeing the movie Les Miserables, the 2012 version, the character Fantine (Anne Hathaway) sings the song, I Dreamed A Dream, which is I think, the saddest song I've ever heard in my life.  No kidding.  After reading the lyrics privately, I realized that even though I've had struggles, its nothing to compare with what challenges some people face.

I've had some dark days in my life but, by the grace of God made it through them.  Each day gets better, but we have to try, if not for ourselves for our loved ones.  We are so blessed if we only realize it. Here it is.

Beautiful Soul

There’s a light within my eyes, a day of hope a day of giving.
The feeling of despair is gone, and suddenly feel life’s worth living.
Let us praise the God on high. Let us thank Him for the beauty.
Of our soul that needs Him most, to share the grace that's our duty.

So if you’re lost and torn with fear, know there’s one who holds you dear.
Just close your eyes and ask for help, and He will hear your prayer sincere.
Let us praise the God on high. Let us thank Him for our beauty.
Our souls are crafted after His, He shares His grace by love not by duty.

For my children, nieces and nephews, and anyone who seeks healing.
Inspired by the song from Les Miserables, “I Dreamed A Dream.

By G. Koerner, July 26, 2014, 10:35 PM

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Navigate The Storm

Click to enlarge.
Oh Lord, the waters are so great and my boat is so small. -1

Sometimes life gets turbulent, uncontrollable, yet there's one who's there all the time; invisible, but present none the less.

He holds out his hand to rescue us, to keep us from drowning in our own ocean of anxiety and despair.

Our gasps of desperation will call Him forth.  But why do we wait so long?  Let us call Him now, before the gales come, to help us navigate the storm until the waters calm.

Gus Koerner
July 22, 2014
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-1 This line is based upon the quote by an unknown author, Breton Fisherman's Prayer.  Accompanying image, The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, Rembrandt, year 1633. Photo credit Wikipedia.  Scripture Reference Luke 8:22-25.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Meditation on Forgiveness

Father in heaven, thou art great.
Creation beacons us to see
Wonders of your glory.

Father in heaven, thou art kind,
Mercy endless to abound,
Free to those who seek it.

Father in heaven, I have sinned.
Lord Jesus cleanse me with your blood,
Let me be your vessel.

Loving is my Father dear,
Forgiving all who stray away,
From your most wise precepts.

Father in heaven, I am blessed,
Beyond what man can comprehend
Help me bless my brother.

By G. Koerner
July 21, 2014

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Using GPS in Genealogy, A Marvelous Tool, Part 1

As a young man I began my love of the outdoors and everything about it. I was always kind of concerned about getting lost, so I took it upon myself to become an expert in navigation of all forms, including map and compass, celestial bodies, and yes, which side of the tree the moss grew on (environmental clues). Later in life, but not much though, only about ten or twelve years, I was introduced to the Global Positioning System (GPS).
Photo by USGS
About the same time I remember my mother talking to me about her Mom and Dad, and my Dad’s parents and how they emigrated from Europe to the United States. I was immediately interested in their stories of what it was like in the “old country”.

In 1995 I bought my first Magellan GPS receiver, and I was amazed that it had the capabilities to direct me to a point (or pinpoint one) to plus or minus a hundred yards! 2000 was an important year for navigators, professional and amateur. That was when selective availability was removed by the U.S. government, which improved GPS accuracy tenfold! Then about 2005 came the W.A.A.S. system, which improved accuracy again. So in a relatively short period, less than ten years, GPS went from football field to about car size accuracy. The cost of having this navigation capability for a person has always been about $100. The GPS satellite service is free.

In 2001 the game of geocaching started to grow. What some people call high tech treasure hunting, geocaching combines the internet with a handheld GPS receiver which lead the player to local and global “treasures”. I often told my 4-H kids that if they could master geocaching, which isn't hard because I've seen ten year old kids become experts in a week; then they would have navigation skills sufficient to guide them to any spot on the globe, like the early explorers did.

Simply stated, GPS allows us to pinpoint places on the globe, and find for that matter, locations that are foreign to us, near or far away, the size of a mountain to as small as a dime. For example, my grandfather, G.A. Johnson originally from Sweden got into an argument with his dad and left his countryside farmstead when he was eighteen (as the story goes). Today as far as I know, my third cousins still live there.  But where did he live EXACTLY before coming to America, and if I have distant cousins out there, where are they now?  You know if I could only find their house, in person or on Google Earth, I could pinpoint where my Grandpa, Papa Gus grew up.  If I only knew.  GPS and genealogy can help me here.

In a few days, in my next story I'm getting into the specifics about finding, marking and recording these locations so they can be found by current family members and future generations.  Until then, please follow some of the hyper-linked words above and consider how and why you would like to know where certain things are.  As always, please feel free to leave your comments and follow me on Twitter @guskoerner.

-gus

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Journal Entry - I Am. (Who are you?)

This entry was originally written June 14, 2014. Warning - Journal entries are less consistent and are more just thoughts on a page, but I want to include them, pointing out an overall theme.  

The theme below answers the question, "Who am I?"  

They aren't  just random words, or descriptive words with their opposites.  I own each and every one of them in some way, or have at some point in the past.  Some of the words are dark, some encouraging.  As you read them, ask yourself, Is that me?  I encourage my readers to make their own list.  Who are you?  Really?  (Family and friends, don't freak out when the words get dark.  I'm really okay.)

Journal, June 14, 2014, 1:45 AM - I have been deeply considering who I actually am. First, I would like to start with my Creation Statement I developed back in 1992 while on a self-knowledge retreat.  I may phrase it differently today, but it is what it is...  I am a warm, inspiring, beautiful man.  But I am, or have been depressed, encouraged, hopeful, anxious, worried, sad, shameful, 24601, brave, nervous, suicidal, obligated, a father, a husband, a brother, a son, addict, recovering, giving up, carrying on, strong, faithful, consistent, determined, selfish, aware, present, grateful, jealous, forgiving, begrudging, willing, hoping, doubtful, dedicated, loyal, trustworthy, untrustworthy, reverent, trusting, weak, conscientious, tired, cynical, impatient, annoyed, grateful, blessed.

Random thought -  I want to write a book, Sacred Earth.

Back to I Am...  I am woodsman, outdoorsman, navigator, mapper, sleep deprived, friend, lethargic, swimmer, dog daddy, teacher, instructor, shooter, archer, napper, facilitator, counselor, friend, lawn mower, tree trimmer, confidant, manipulator, honest, liar, unworthy, worthy, Mormon, Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, contemplative, helpful, courteous, kind, unclean, officer, writer, reader, thirsty for knowledge, web surfer, caring, cooperative, learner, leader, follower, homesick, moody, sad, faker.  I am Jean Valjean.  Comedian, silly, kidder, over analyzer, lonely, law abiding, distressed, Javert, Younger brother, Older brother (Luke 15), mortal, repentant, forthright, bigot, accepting, forgiving, deceiving, nature lover, non-enduring, fatalistic, deaf, winner, loser, nerd, old, sneaky, sexist, gay friendly, homophobic, racist, slothful, hardworking, sacrificing, complaining, pessimist, optimist, sailor, knot tyer, dipper, stargazer, humble, arrogant, demanding, self serving, bald, overweight, can-doer, drop out, forgetful, pro-choice, republican.

Human.

Obsessive, compulsive, limitless, limited, shortsighted, visionary, spiritual, religious, anti-authoritarian, superficial, deep rooted, moderate, conservative, moderately conservative, risk taker, health aware, over-indulgent, sinner, redeemed, forgiven.

Who are you?  Who do I want to be?  With this knowledge we can change the outcome.

End Note: My wife shared with me this week what they teach the kids in vacation Bible school.  They have the kids look in the mirror and say to themselves, "You are God's Masterpiece because of Jesus."  I like that.  We need to remember we're all God's children, and he don't make no junk!

Feel free to add your comments, share with your friends and follow me on Twitter @guskoerner or @VOTMinistry.  I'm not too good with Facebook.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

What Code Do You Live By?

Almost from birth we're instilled with words of wisdom to live by, and eventually they become the foundation and building blocks for our lives.  Some children are raised with parents who teach them to be kind and respectful, as in "Be nice to others, be honest, tell the truth, work hard." To others that is less of a priority.  Some parents teach this with loving kindness, others teach it with brute force, as in "Do what I say!"  What ever the situation, our foundation of behavior, either learned by word or example by our caregivers is established in the early, formative years of our lives.

In elementary through high school we said the Unites States Pledge of Allegiance every day as part of our routine.  This became a code for me, and perhaps a lot of kids from my generation.  When I was a scout, about age 14, I had a respected youth leader once say, "Fake it til you make it." this stuck with me and I so I often put on an air of cheerfulness even when I am not feeling it.  When I was nearing the end of my Corrections Academy I held up my right hand, and pledged to uphold, support and protect my fellow citizens and do my duty as an officer.  These are some of my codes.

The code or codes that we live by establish the people we become and are the formative grounds for our overall character.  We either do our best or we don't.  We're honest, or we're not.  We follow the teachings and philosophies of some people or others. We're the only ones who truly know what our own codes of conduct are, and if they are in alignment with the betterment of society and our fellow man or not.

I say I follow Jesus.  But do I?  Martin Luther King, Jr. inspires me, but do I treat others, especially those of different races with the same respect Dr. King preached about?  This is an area of self examination and reflection for me on a regular basis, as it should be for all of us.  The code that I hold most dear and reflect upon often is from the New Testament, the words of Jesus, the foundation of my faith.  Let me include it here, from the book of Mark, Chapter 12: 28-34. (NRSV)

One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘...you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Source: BibleGateway.com

I challenge all my readers, especially family members and my kids to look inward and think about the codes of life you were raised with, taught and adopted.  Are those codes in alignment with your core beliefs?  If not, make new choices to live a life that reflects your core beliefs and that uplifts others.

So what codes do you live by?

Coming next Thursday in a related story, I will write who I am, and will ask you the same question.  Please feel free to leave your comments, and share this with a friend. - Mr. Gus