About Chuck Spindler

I'm married with three adult daughters, two son-in-laws and three granddaughters. I pastor a Southern Baptist church in a small town in Southwest Iowa.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds


Jen Hooks gives this week’s challenge: The Rule of Thirds is a photography concept that puts the subject of the photograph off-center, which usually results in blank space in the rest of the image.

This was little sparrow was chirping up a storm on this chilly morning.

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29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. – Matthew 10:29-31 (NIV)

Click HERE for more examples of this week’s challenge.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Symmetry

In a recent photo challenge of “yellow,” I featured some migrating Monarch butterflies. One of my Facebook friends commented, “Don’t you have some pictures of tiger swallowtails?” Why, yes I do. These were taken in April of 2013 at my sister’s home in Virginia at the peak of the azalea blooms. Butterfly wings are wonderful examples of symmetry as they are perfect mirror images in size and design.

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For more examples of “symmetry” click HERE.

The beautiful and symmetrical butterfly begins as an ugly but symmetrical caterpillar. However, its metamorphosis into something so incredibly different in appearance and mobility might cause one to not believe they are the same creature.

Likewise, the believer in Christ is said to go through a similar metamorphosis.

Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1-2, HCSB)*

The same word “transformed” is the word from which metamorphosis is derived. In the text it is a present imperative tense verb, thus a command that involves continuous action. As the Christian experiences transformation, it is not always an immediate, dramatic change, but a process that will find its completion in a thoroughly new creation, redeemed and reformed from the vestiges of a self-centered life to a God-directed life.

*Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville Tennessee. All rights reserved.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Scale

I have had a fascination with miniature replicas for as long as I can remember. From playing with the original Lesney Matchbox cars to building 1/25 scale models vehicles during my adolescence, the more realistic the detail the better. While I have never been a huge HO (1/87) train enthusiast, I did pick up a few pieces in my early adulthood. This Santa Fe locomotive was the largest (and most expensive) of my small collection.

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Tyco’s Santa Fe ALCO Century 630

 

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Front: Tyco’s Santa Fe ALCO Century 630; Back: BNSF Electro-Motive Diesel SD70ACe

Coincidentally, I now live in a town in which the BNSF has a switching yard. The merger of Burlington Northern and Santa Fe in 1995 created the largest rail network in North America at that time.Creston’s Restored Depot no longer handles passenger/freight rail service, but it is the home of city offices and the site of the Creston Model Railroader’s impressive HO train layout. While the Depot was closed today, I did manage to get a picture through the window. They have done a great job of replicating our community and signature events.

You can find more examples of this week’s challenge HERE

Weekly Photo Challenge: Depth

An evolving forecast proved accurate with 8-10 inch snow accumulations, canceling the church I pastor and many others in southern Iowa. With blowing snow, I had drifts of three feet to clear from my drive. A late afternoon glimpse of the sun was a welcome sight.

imageYou may be able to see a disc golf basket in front of the small tree on the left. The bottom of the basket should be 22″ from the ground. It appears that about 10″ is exposed, giving some idea of the depth of snow in this open field.

See more examples of depth HERE.

Shot with Moto X and edited with Photoshop Express. 

To Our Beloved Bunny

Kids at Mom's bedWhile my four sisters, my wife and I have been physically present with my mother in hospice care for the last week and a half, other family members have sought by other means to be present to express their love and appreciation of their beloved grandmother and great-grandmother (aka Bunny). Spanning the distance of the country by phone and Facetime, they have expressed that love through words of remembrance, singing, piano playing and the words “I love you, Bunny!” Below, I reblog my daughter’s post from yesterday, one of those fitting tributes, that I was able to share with my mother today.

To Our Beloved Bunny

My grandmother is in hospice care…and while she is still with us, though I’m certain she is certain of my love for her…I won’t wait to write it down. I need to do it now.

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I can’t stop thinking of my last hospital stay, exactly one month ago, for the birth our of twins. With that stay, came the promise of finality: of pregnancy and of delivering babies. The end was in site: the end of tests and dr’s visits and apprehension. And that hospital stay culminated in life. For months, I was so giddy when I thought about coming home with life. Leaving with LIFE, 2 lives. The thought of it made me cry.

In so many ways, her stay in the hospital now is the same, final and culminating in LIFE. The end of this life on Earth, means life in Heaven for her. And at 35, I can barely wrap my mind around the idea of being excited about that. But for her…for my Bunny, our Grace, it means seeing her mom and dad, and brothers and sisters, and her beloved, our Pop. It means holding my sister’s baby boy, Silas, before any of us do. It means greeting our cousin Amy again with a kiss and tears. It means seeing the face of God. And sitting here thinking about THAT, about seeing Jesus…that makes me giddy for her, even in my heartbreak over my impending separation from her.

So how do I honor this woman, who for my entire life has meant the world to me; who has prayed unceasingly for all of us, remaining lucid for her 94 years, sharing griefs and triumphs, stealing giggles on porch swings over slightly inappropriate stories, fingers still gliding effortlessly across piano keys? For this woman who is a picture of godliness and purpose, I will honor her with my words…and I think that’s how she’d want me to honor her.

Bunny and me

Two things about my grandmother have shaped me and helped me to become who I am.

The first is music. 

When I was five, I remember telling Bunny a story using the keys of her piano to differentiate my characters. Then she taught me about the symphony, sitting on the floor listening to Peter and the Wolf…hearing story through music for the first time. And years later, it was Bunny who encouraged my first piano lessons. And finally in high school, when I was still practicing piano at my dad’s church, Bunny bought me my own piano, perhaps the most amazing gift I’ve ever been given. The gift of song. And because of her blood that courses through me and her influence, I feel God’s glory no more acutely than when I am wrapped up in the beauty of making music.

The second is faith.

When I was little my mother taught us how to study God’s word. I will always look back and praise God for a mom who was disciplined in her teaching of us. Without her, I would have no idea that the Bible is indeed living and active and sharper than any two edged sword. But it was Bunny, who also helped shaped the love of Bible study into my mom. I love legacies. I love tracing my faith back to faithful men and women. I am so grateful.

I loved watching my mom and dad wake up every morning and pray together…I saw that in my grandparents, too. I hope our children will remember our prayer times, too.

Bunny and Georgie

It’s impossible to wrap up my grandmother in a silly blog post, just as it’s impossible to catch the memory of a dream the night before with our words. It all falls short. To list all of my memories seems trite. But they are a part of me. She is a part of me.

Not everyone gets the pleasure of having a family that they are wild about. I do. And at the helm is Bunny.

Bunny, you mean the world to me. I love you more than words could ever say. Your purpose in my life…has been inexplicable.

Originally posted on http://www.itsallbananas.wordpress.com: To Our Beloved Bunny

Some additional pictures of Mom, me, Anna and my granddaughter, Charlie.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Express Yourself

I was taking pictures of our annual Balloon Day’s Parade but had my back to the street for a moment. I heard my name called and turned to find myself face to face with a clown. In my surprise I immediately took this off-centered picture.

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A second later I recognized him as a young man who attends my church and a former classmate of one of my daughters. As he walked away, I took another (better) picture of Josh (I’m not sure what his clown persona name is). I’m honored that he uses it as his Facebook profile picture. He gave me a tootsie roll, too!

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In this year’s parade, I captured him, again (I knew Elvis was still alive!)

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I’m glad I don’t suffer from coulrophobia (fear of clowns). I have always enjoyed clowns, remembering trips to the circus as a child and laughing at their outlandish outfits and outrageous stunts.

I also like etymology and was curious about the origin of coulrophobia. “Coulro” is perhaps taken from the Greek word “kolobatheron” which means “stilt” with sense of “stilt walker” and thus “clown.” While Josh’s clown cohort with the Creston Elks Clowns isn’t a stilt walker, he is quite accomplished on the unicycle, dispensing candy from above. Click HERE for an article on his exploits.

Clowning is certainly one great way to “express yourself.” You can see more examples of this week’s theme HERE.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Serenity

I have found myself at my 94 year old mother’s hospital bed for the past week and have been through the gamut of emotions as we have had differing opinions on her prognosis. While not yet out of the woods, I’m glad to report she has improved.

Hospitals are not generally spots of serenity. With the constant flow of health care professionals in and out of the room and the monitors with their incessant beepings, it seems to be at best organized chaos. But this hospital, being of the Methodist tradition, has a chapel that offers some moments of solitude and serenity.

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Jeanne Hoff Goodwin Chapel, Iowa Methodist Hospital (Des Moines, IA)

I had been in the chapel once before, exactly eight years ago, as I offered up prayers for a young woman from our church. A wife and mother of two young boys, she lost her courageous battle against leukemia that day. As I entered the chapel today, I was reminded of the roller coaster of emotions of that day and the difficulty the family had in making the inevitable decision to end lifesaving measures and saying goodbye. I know, especially after this week, that it is never an easy decision to make, no matter what the age of the loved one.

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Today, a painting on the west wall of the chapel caught my eye. I immediately knew it was a depiction of Jesus’ healing of the paralytic, whose friends lowered him through the roof due to the crowds preventing access to “The Great Physician.” The painting, by that same name, is the work of Warner Sallman. His paintings, Head of Christ and Christ at Heart’s Door are modern, iconic images of the Savior.

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While the painting is especially appropriate in a hospital setting as it acknowledges the role of God’s power over disease, the biblical account reminds one of Christ’s power over our most deadly spiritual malady: SIN. As the man was laid in front of him, Jesus forgave his sins. Receiving criticism from the religious leaders about his audacious and divinely presumptuous statement, he discerned their thoughts. Responding to their challenge, Jesus said that while saying one’s sins are forgiven might not be discernable from their perspective, making a lame man walk would give proof of his divine power to pardon sin.

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Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, pick up your mat, and walk’? 10 But so you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,” He told the paralytic, 11 “I tell you: get up, pick up your mat, and go home.”

12 Immediately he got up, picked up the mat, and went out in front of everyone. As a result, they were all astounded and gave glory to God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” Mark 2:9-12*

The knowledge of Christ’s ultimate authority over the power of sin gives the follower of Jesus a serenity to face life with a peace in turmoil and the afterlife without fear.

Serenity Prayer
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.  Amen
(Reinhold Niebuhr – 1892-1971)

wpid-img_20150117_114104.jpgSee more examples of serenity HERE.

My good friend and neighboring pastor, William Richardson, wrote about Warner Sallman’s life and art. You can find his blog HERE.

*Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville Tennessee. All rights reserved.

Weekly Photo Challenge: New

Michelle W. issued this week’s challenge with multiple options. I chose to “highlight a new person in your life, and all the possibility that relationship contains.” More accurately, it is new “persons.” My oldest daughter gave birth to twins (her third daughter and first son) last week and we were able to see the New Year in with them.

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Baby Girl

Whit's grasp

Baby Boy

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Not to happy about leaving the hospital

We feel so blessed that my daughter had a wonderful pregnancy and was able to carry the twins to 37 weeks, allowing the babies to be fully developed and needing no time in the NICU. If fact, they were able to go home 36 hours after delivery.

As to the hopes and possibilities that these new relationships hold, I can hardly do better than what my daughter wrote in a post on the Fort Worth Moms Blog of which she is a regular contributor.

For you, I don’t desire that you be the most popular, the most athletic, the most beautiful and talented. Because those things, little boy and little girl, are fleeting. My last borns, there are better things if you want them.

For you, my third girl…I pray that your sisters and your brother will be your best friends on Earth, as your dad and I are best friends with our brothers and sisters. I hope that you will dance to the beat of your own drum and remember that YOU have been uniquely created to grace this world the way you are.  When people compare you to your big sisters, don’t listen. You are YOU. You are not them. When your friends are chasing after boys, I hope you remember that if a boy is worth it, he’ll chase after you. You don’t ever need to play dumb or pretend to like sports or worse, give your body away when you don’t want to. Wait for a guy who is like your dad: valiant, good, smart, and funny. Don’t settle for anything less. It’s worth it. I promise. When you choose a career someday, follow your heart-even if it lacks prestige or money. It’s ok to be adventurous and do the things no one thought you could do. You come from a long long line of determined women. You are able, baby girl.

For you, my only boy. I never knew I wanted a boy, until I saw you dancing around on my first sonogram. You looked like nothing more than a little pea, but I knew in my spirit, you were my boy, and that made me happier than you will ever know. I pray you are strong and confident; you’ll need to be with those three crazy big sisters. I pray that you’ll look after them, even though they are older. You will learn young that we women, can be sort of crazy…sort of emotional, and so you will foster the art of compassion. It will serve you well all of your days. I pray you will pursue truth and justice and respect and that you will be a strong force of goodness in this family and in our world. And that you and sweet baby sister will be the best of friends for all of your days. I cried one day thinking about the woman you will someday marry. Choose wisely. Choose a woman who is strong and smart and not afraid to speak her mind. It will be hard, but it will be worth it. Work in a job that makes your spirit fulfilled…no matter the paycheck. Do what you love.

It has become my tradition to take a picture of each of my newborn grandchildren with them grasping my thumb. With the exception of our grandson, who died at birth last summer, the tradition has continued with the twins. The grid below represents each of our six grandchildren, beginning almost five years ago. The pewter hand represents our grandson, who was about the size of the 1 lbs, 6 oz child, whose hand was the model for the key chain that promotes the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
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Click HERE for more examples of “new.”

Weekly Photo Challenge: Yellow

My primary interest in these pictures were the monarch butterflies as their fall migration took them across the Florida panhandle. The area serves as a refueling spot for the butterflies, the last stop before they make their way across the Gulf to winter in Mexico. However, their feeding stations fit this challenge as they feasted on the flowery nectar of goldenrods and golden asters (I think my plant identification is right…at least I know they are “yellow”).

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Check HERE for some great examples of “yellow.”

Weekly Photo Challenge: Twinkle

IMGP1083As we celebrate Advent, our church’s 12-foot Christmas tree stands on the platform beside the Cross. The tree that celebrates the birth of the Christ-child, its twinkling lights representing the Light of the World, is in stark contrast to the representation of the instrument of death upon which the Savior surrendered His life in the work of salvation.

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IMGP1084While not going into the explicit details of the Gospel writers, Matthew and Luke, the Apostle Paul, nevertheless, speaks of the humble birth of Jesus Christ, His selfless life, His sacrificial death and His ascension on high:

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  Philippians 2:5-11 (NASB)

Speaking of the glory of eternity, the Apostle John recorded his revelation from God – a preview of the Second Advent and beyond. The glory of eternity will be such that there will be no night and the light of God’s presence will be the only illumination that will be needed for believers.

There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever. Revelation 22:3-5 (NASB)

Thus, every twinkle of a Christmas light serves as a reminder of not only the first Advent but of the one yet to come.

Check out more examples of “twinkle” HERE.