Thursday, May 25


On this day (May 26th) in 1700, little Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf was born to Erdmuthe Dorothea of Reuss-Ebersdorf and her noble husband, Christian Ernst von Zinzendorf. So, baby Nik entered into the world at Dresden, Saxony as a person of great privilege.

However, his father soon died and after her remarriage, his mother moved to Berlin. Young Nik was then raised by his grandmother, Baroness Gersdorf, a devout Pietist with many connections in the burgeoning renewal movement. It's said that the Pietist pioneer and theologian Philipp Jakob Spener was his godfather and mentor (even though Spener died when Zinzendorf was only five years old).

Zinzendorf developed a devout and robust faith as a child. He was educated in a school run by the Pietist leader August Hermann Francke (with whom he did not see eye to eye on a number of issues — causing significant tension at times). During that period Zinzendorf and three other young students organized a club called "The Order of the Grain of Mustard Seed." They focused on responding to the love of God through commitment to Christ, right living, love of others, and mission work among the heathen. These values shaped his life's work.

In 1722 Zinzendorf purchased the Berthelsdorf estate from his grandmother and soon after invited groups of religious refugees, including some from the Unitas Fratrum (the followers of the martyred proto-reformer Jan Hus), to settle on his Herrnhut land. He quickly emerged as the spiritual leader of this rag tag collection which thrived under his patronage and protection. In 1737 Zinzendorf was consecrated as a bishop of the group.

This renewed Unitas Fratrum eventually became known as the Moravian Church. They, following the lead of Zinzendorf, have been a quiet driving force behind both the modern missionary and ecumenical movements. They are Christ-centered joyful people with an irenic spirit. My own tribe, the Evangelical Covenant Church, owes much to these Moravian pioneers and their emphasis on a personal faith in Christ that manifests itself in evangelism, global mission, social justice, religious freedom, ongoing renewal, and a Christian unity that transcends ecclesiastical tribalism.

The Moravians have embraced a saying from the German Lutheran theologian Rupertus Meldenius (a proto-Pietist of the 16th and 17th centuries) as their informal motto — “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.” It is an appropriate maxim for all who follow Christ in the foot-steps of Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf.

Happy birthday, Nik!

Thursday, March 2


"Why, as early-stage retirees, did you move into Covenant Living of Florida, where most residents seem to be older retirees?"

The short answer is that it's a great place to live and kick off retirement. But there is more to the story.

When I took the call to serve as one of the chaplains here in 2018 we were not thinking of it as a transition into retirement. I originally intended to continue working full-time for perhaps 8-10 more years. But the stroke I had in 2019 coupled with the chronic fatigue from the autoimmune condition with which I've been struggling started to drag me down. And we decided I'd retire in October 2022.

That forced us to ask, where to next? Earlier we thought about returning to Guam full time but given my health issues and the distance from family, that didn't seem wise. Perhaps retirement in San Diego or on the Big Island in Hawai'i could work. But once we got to South Florida and discovered that the sub-tropical climate and consistently warm weather made my joints happy we decided to stay. We also found the cultural diversity in this part of Florida to be appealing, along with the many international connections at the area airports.

However, the townhouse we owned in Plantation (a mile west of our new apartment) had stairs and my legs were screaming at me with each up or down trip. We started looking at other options in the area and in the middle of that process had an epiphany. In all likelihood, we'd probably want our second stop in retirement to be at Covenant Living, the continuing care retirement community where I'd worked and which is owned and operated by our denominational family, the Evangelical Covenant Church. We'd grown quite fond of the people and enjoyed time spent in the community. But did it make sense to plan on another move in five or eight years? Why not move to Covenant Living as early retirees? After all, we'd been hearing our Covenant Living friends bemoan the fact that they didn't move in sooner when they could take better advantage of the amenities. (And there are lots! A fantastic gym with fitness staff, two swimming pools, planned activities for almost every interest, libraries, prepared food, on-campus nurse and health care…)

We began crunching the numbers and figured out that it was doable if we moved into a one-bedroom apartment. So we started going through all our stuff a little at a time in the spring of 2022 after we signed a contract with Covenant Living for apartment C114. The Breast Cancer Foundation collection truck was a weekly visitor to our townhouse as we downsized from three bedrooms to one bedroom. (Better to do it now than in 10 or 15 years when we have less energy or to leave it all for our kids to deal with after we've died.)

So, it was a bit of a challenge but definitely worth it. We're now living in a beautifully remodeled apartment, renovated for openness, with all-new kitchen appliances, and a stackable washer/dryer in the bathroom. The layout is even more efficient than our old place and we got to choose the flooring, paint, and lighting. When we don't want to cook we walk down the hallway to either fine dining in the Orchid Cove or for casual meals in the Common Grounds Cafe (You can't go wrong with any of the soups or with Del's omelets). I have room for lots of plants outside the backdoor and in the enclosed Florida patio room. My bike Mintee lives on the patio, too.

The staff handles all the regular maintenance as well as storm preparation during hurricane season. There are backup generators for when the power goes down. Housekeeping comes in to clean every other week. Reliable internet and cable television are included in the monthly maintenance fee. 

When we need to see our primary care physician we can either make an appointment to see her in the health center or drop in on the days she's on campus. This morning I rode my bike 1.5 miles to our dentist. Someday I'll quit driving and we'll take the campus bus to go shopping – although there are lots of stores including Publix, Aldi, and Target within easy walking distance. Trader Joe's is 3.5 miles down the road and the Ft Lauderdale Airport is 13 miles away. Las Olas Beach is 13 miles to the east down Broward Blvd. IKEA is 4.5 miles from Covenant Living in the other direction. Oh, and did I mention that Plantation Central Park, where I've gone to ride my bike each morning for the past four years, abuts the Covenant Living campus? We even have our own gate into the park. So we can keep up with all the community people we've met there.

There is A LOT more to be said for landing here as early retirees. Probably the richest aspect of Covenant Living of Florida is the diverse community of residents and staff. We really enjoy our neighbors. Even though this is a faith-based community and many people talk freely about their faith, perhaps only half the residents would describe themselves as "devout." But on a whole, even the least religious residents are good-natured and tolerate the faith that makes this kind of place possible. 

We really love the vibe of the community. It's a great place to work; and now we're discovering that it's also a fun place to live – meeting and exceeding our expectations. Let me know if you're at all interested in joining us. (Yes, I'd love to have some old friends as neighbors, too.) I'd be happy to put you in touch with the right people.

Saturday, September 3

Plant gravel

I put a layer of cheap aquarium gravel around my house plants. That's one way of controlling the fungus gnats which like to dig into the soil to lay their eggs. I completely cover the exposed soil with less than a quarter inch of gravel. That's enough to prevent them from penetrating the soil.

Fungus gnats (aka soil gnats) don't hurt the plants but an infestation can be really annoying to humans. They are the most active in the fall and winter months.

Saturday, August 27

ZZ plants

When people ask me which plants they should get for their apartment I usually suggest that they start with a ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia). They are very forgiving and can grow in lots of different kinds of light. The one pictured is in our guest bedroom and gets lots of indirect light. But they can also grow in windowless offices with fluorescent lighting. Here in South Florida they do well outdoors on patios, too. However, they don't want to live in full sun. 

ZZ plants are originally from Central Africa.

Sunday, June 12

Affirmation of Faith

This is an affirmation of faith that I wrote for use today, Trinity Sunday 2022, in our Sunday morning chapel service at Covenant Living of Florida.

We believe in the One God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He created us in his image so that we might participate in his eternal fellowship and share in the care of his creation.

This unique relationship unraveled as we pursued lives independent from him. As a result, sin, chaos, and death entered the world. God then graciously implemented his plan of restoration and reconciliation. This plan reached its apex
in the incarnation,
in the teaching,
in the sacrificial death,
and the victorious resurrection of his only Son, Christ Jesus.

Jesus now summons his redeemed people to act in faith and fulfill their purpose by participating with him in his mission of reconciliation.

The Spirit accompanies all Christians -- believers with diverse gifts and from diverse cultures. He empowers us to live in radical harmony with each other while we invite the entire world to embrace Jesus,
his approach to life,
his kingdom agenda,
and the hope which accompanies his good news.

This we affirm as our faith and our mission.

Tuesday, November 24


 Most of the growing we do occurs through our stewardship of the mundane.

Tuesday, October 13

Growing houseplants in water

Last spring I noticed some nice arrowhead plants (Syngonium Podophyllum) growing wild in the neighborhood (one of the benefits of living in Florida). I snipped a few cuttings, perhaps 8 in/20 cm each, and brought them home.

I then took 

  • a 30.5 oz left-over plastic Folgers ground coffee can, 
  • cut a round hole (1 in/2.5 cm) in the center of the lid, 
  • filled the can with tap water, 
  • added 1/4 tsp/1.25 ml of the liquid 2-1-6 hydroponic fertilizer that I use weekly with all my houseplants,
  • inserted the bottom of the cuttings through the hole,
  • snapped the lid onto the can,
  • and placed the plastic can in a decorative pot near a window with lots of indirect light.
This is what it looks like now. 

I haven't changed out the water but I do add water containing the fertilizer mix each week. Because the lid is snapped onto the can evaporation is low. 

This is an inexpensive way to acquire and grow houseplants. And I never have to worry about soil gnats. I have four plant containers at home and six in the office all supporting a mixture of low light tropical houseplants in water.

Wednesday, April 15

Growing citrus from seeds

I am happy to see the Eureka lemon seeds I planted last week are sprouting. The plant in the pot is a Kalamansi (Calamondin) that I planted from seed last November. The great thing about citrus seeds is that most of the off spring will be genetically true to the parent. There are but a few varieties in which this is not the case. Frankly, though I grow these plants from seeds because I enjoy having them in the house or on the patio. It's an inexpensive way to start plants. And if I get fruit in 8-10 years that's all bonus to me.

BTW, the lemon seeds came from a lemon we bought at the grocery store. I cut it up to go in the water at supper then planted the seeds after supper. The Kalamansi seeds were from a small bush I have growing on the patio. The point is, you can use seeds from sources already in your life. They don't require soaking or much preparation.

I mix my own potting soil but you can use a standard mix. If you can find a citrus/cactus mix, all the better. Citrus likes to dry out between waterings.

It would be fun for kids to each have their own lemon tree.

Tuesday, May 28

The restorative power of silence

Studies have also concluded that children exposed to households or classrooms near airplane flight paths, railways or highways have lower reading scores and are slower in their development of cognitive and language skills.

But it is not all bad news. It is possible for the brain to restore its finite cognitive resources. According to the attention restoration theory when you are in an environment with lower levels of sensory input the brain can ‘recover’ some of its cognitive abilities. In silence the brain is able to let down its sensory guard and restore some of what has been ‘lost’ through excess noise.  ("Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think," Rebecca Beris)

Monday, May 6

Beach walk in Ft Lauderdale

Selfie from our beach walk a couple of weeks ago. Cheryl and I have been able to get to the beach about twice a month -- usually on Mondays -- which I take off from work. We live about 12 miles from the closest beach on the Atlantic side of Florida.