Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


The City by hte Bay #2

February 17, 2009

The City by hte Bay #2, originally uploaded by mmlips.

This is the 3rd image in my series of images I shot while driving in San Francisco last week. I know it says number two but number one is actually the bridge shot.


City by the Bay

February 16, 2009

City by the Bay, originally uploaded by mmlips.

This is the second shot from my recent trip to San Francisco. My disability makes walking very difficult so every shot I will post was shot from a moving car while driving. Post is NX2 & Silver FX pro


Over the Golden Gate

February 13, 2009

Over the Golden Gate, originally uploaded by mmlips.

Crossing Bridges has always been a thrill for me, but not in a good way. Heights over water? Comon’! As if it’s not scary enough for me, I decided to see what I could shoot while driving. I like it.


The Hand of God

February 6, 2009

The Hand of God, originally uploaded by mmlips.

This shot has been in my head since I saw these clouds on the way home for Divine Liturgy several weeks ago. It’s actually a 3 shot panoramic for the clouds and then the hand was obviously added later. You know, I asked God to show me His hand while I was shooting, but he wouldn’t do it. What a shocker.

Imaging is such a blast and can communicate some powerful stuff as well.


Grant us Tears

December 27, 2008

alice_smeetsWith Christmas just ending and the hangover of consumeritis just beginning to fade, I was struck by this photo which won the UNICEF Photo of the Year award for 2008. This is the way much of our world lives while we live in our mansions and cry over dirty carpets and toilets that need to be replaced. This little girl doesn’t live on the other side of the world in some country ravaged by genocide, she lives just a few hundred miles off our own coast in the worst slum in Hatti (an appropriate name I think) yet in the midst of all that filth manages to wear a spotless white dress with beautiful white ribbons in her hair. Hmm.

I’m not trying to be a Christmas crasher, I would just ask God that this year, he give me tears for the world. That I would be able to see outside my own little kingdom and see into the heart of Christ for all mankind. “…And for all Mankind”: we sing it at every Divine Liturgy.

This is more the type of world Christ was born into then the sterile, friendly, hay filled “barn” we have imagined. This is the world the Father loved so much that he gave his only Son.

God grant me tears this coming year to cry to you for the sake of the world. Christ is Born! Glorify Him! May we all do so this year in every thing and in every way.


Creativity Maxed

November 27, 2008

You have GOT to watch this. This is one of the single most creative things I have seen in a very long time. This artist created this animation using thousand of single digital stills of his chalk and paint drawings. It’s a bit long, but outstanding. I am fascinated by the thought process that mad this up. I wonder how much was planned and how much was just making up as he went along.

MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.

Very Cool.


Another Must Listen

November 5, 2008

hopkoWhether you went to bed last night rejoicing or went to bed weeping, you should really listen to Fr Hopkos last podcast on Church and State. It is so well balanced and such a wonderful perspective. It was recorded pre-election, but is equally – if not more so – as pertinent post-election.

The deeper we delve into Orthodoxy the more I wonder how I could have lived as long as I have lived in the Church, and not have known it was even here. Thank you Lord.

You can find Fr Hopko’s podcast here: <click me>

Go now and listen!


Where in the world is Markie San Dimas?

July 22, 2008

Just had to give the new iPhone WordPress app a spin.



Photoblog Update

June 13, 2008

Nothing earth shattering tonight. Just wanted to let everyone know that I just posted several new images to my photoblog. If you’re interested you’ll find it HERE. If you have the time please leave a comment or two. I’d love to hear your thoughts, no matter what they might be.

Peace be to all.


I Need to Pray

June 3, 2008

When I’m not feeling well, and by that I mean any manifestation additional to my M.D., my unfortunate normality is to become cranky and irritable. Typically in the past during these times, I have found that the last thing I desire to do is the very thing I need to do the most: Pray. Tonight I was forced to miss Vespers and a class on Salvation being taught by Father that I really wanted to attend, so… that’s right, I’m cranky. But strangely I feel drawn to prayer, and trust me this is no small thing, Maybe I’m beginning to experience what up till now has been mere theory in my Church life. Maybe how I am practicing my faith with other believers is actually having an impact on my normality.  Maybe attending services that are so prayer-centric has begun to create a new normality for me, a new conditional response if you will. Could it be that the life of the Church  is somehow getting into me?  Wow, what a concept, a Church life that is actually forming and maturing me! Thanks be to God and none too soon.

So tonight I offer up a prayer I say with my morning prayers that just seems somehow appropriate to the moment.

Whether in my humiliation or in my exaltation,
In my sickness or in my health,
In my creativity or my mundane activity,
In my great possession or my deepest poverty,
In my highest joy or my lowest sorrow,
Glorify yourself in me O Lord,
In this life, Your life!
And may I live this day in a manner that is worthy of the price you paid.


Forgive me family for allowing my physical well being to affect my demeanor. You are all my joy and you deserve so much better. With Christ and His Church along side us, we will see better days.


And Speaking of Music…

May 21, 2008

Going along with my post “Be Forewarned” regarding Eastern Orthodox music and how I feel so lost trying to learn it, by coincidence The Illumined Heart podcast has the following this week:

What is Authentic Orthodox Music?

Posted Friday, May 16, 2008

“You may be surprised by the answer from musicologist, composer, arranger, author and Sacred Music Department Committee member (Antiochian) Fr. John Finley!”

It’s a really interesting discussion and I highly recommend listening if you are interested in some facts behind the traditions. Just click on the title to go to the podcast page, or click HERE.


Be Forewarned

May 18, 2008

This is a warning from the emergency musicians alert system: this is not a drill

If you are a musician and plan to visit and/or join the Antiochian Orthodox Church in America, be forewarned. Prepare to throw out everything you thought you knew about music; be it meter, scale and/or rhythm. We repeat this is not a drill!

I’m only kidding…sort of. When you first learn that the Orthodox Liturgy is almost entirely comprised of hymns and prayers, and that even many of the prayers are sung you might have in mind a very particular type of music. If you’ve come from a conservative tradition you might think of Hymns like “The Old Rugged Cross”. If you are of a more contemporary vein, Maranatha or Vineyard worship might spring to mind. You say you’re Catholic; well now-a-days that’s a crap shoot, depending on your priest you could be singing anything from Maranatha worship choruses to John Denver folk tunes-I kid not. All of these musical styles are based on a musical meter and scale which has “rules” that apply to 90% of the music we listen to. (I exclude jazz because I don’t believe that I’ve ever heard of a single church using free form jazz to facilitate worship, though that might be cool to hear. And because there are those who refuse to admit that traditional jazz is music at all.) No, when you step into Orthodoxy you step into a world where meter, and scale seemly do not exist. O’ I know they do, but as a western musician/song writer sometimes I can’t find them! Just when you think a song is going to go left, POW-it goes right then does a 360 and a back flip and ends up on a chord you’ve never heard of. For instance there is a unwritten “rule” in western music that a song almost always ends on the chord that matches the key of the song. So, if you’re in the key of C, you can almost bet your bottom dollar that the last chord of the song will be a C. Ok, it’s not always true and often depends on the arrangement of said song, but trust me for 80% of the worship chorus genre it is true. But in Orthodoxy, you might start in C and end up and the chord of K minor. (BTW, there is no such thing)

Seriously, I LOVE the music. It’s just that I almost wish I were musically illiterate. I keep wanting to put the songs in my meter or my scale. ME! ME! ME! Don’t they hear me stomping my cane in the back then crying out when the counting goes crazy. 1 2 3 – 1 2 3 – 1 5 7? What the?

I am amazed at our Chanters Lisa, Doug, & Jackson. They make it seem so effortless. And I know that it is not. They lead us with wonderful harmonies that bring so much beauty into the liturgy. I just hope that they can’t hear me in back vocally bouncing from note to note as I desperately try to make my mind conform to the seemingly alien scales. Or when a song ends and I keep singing because songs always go back to the chorus after the bridge darn it!!

These guys blow me away with their gifting, musical abilities and obvious passion for Christ. No matter the “Tone” of the week, I am always led to Christ by what they do and THAT should be what our music, no matter what the style, should be doing. Not entertaining us or even “moving” us to some particular emotional response; “let’s give God a clap offering!” Just point me to Christ and that is what they do. God be praised!


“What have you done with my Wife?”

May 5, 2008

Today is my beautiful wife Barbara’s birthday. I’d tell which one but I’ve become very fond of the use my fingers, so I’d better not reveal any more. I have said often in my blog, that she is God’s perfect gift to me. What I mean by that is that God knew exactly what I needed to pull me out of the mess I had made of my life and Barb is that perfect gift. I love her more then she knows and only wish I was stronger and more able to take some of the pressure of her having to work so hard from off her shoulders. But she NEVER complains. Even on those days when she comes home from work tried and i’ve been too worn down to cook or the house is a mess. She just loves and me and gives more of herself to me. It’s one of the reasons that I hesitated to begin attending Orthodox services on a regular basis until that last 3 months or so. Yes I had been going to St. Luke’s for Great Vespers and an occasional Sunday morning Matins service, but without Barb by my side, it just wasn’t whole. When I began to attend St. Peter’s a few months back, several times I sat in the service loving what was happening around me, but at the same time deeply dejected inside, missing her presence with me.

However a transformation began to take place several months ago when she decided to go to a few services. I knew from things we had spoken about that she had many misgivings, and that many of those where issues I had shared early on but had since resolved for myself. I knew also that she was afraid of being hurt again. There was a great deal of wounding from some who had been very close to us when we left the Vineyard and though she had dealt with all that, she feared allowing herself to become close to new friends, lest the wounds be opened again. But to her praise she pressed forward and I began to see an excitement and love re-kindle in Barb, a sparkle in her, if you will. It started when she decided to read “facing East” By Frederica Green. Then shortly after beginning to read Frederica’s account of being “dragged kicking and screaming” into the Orthodox Church, we had occasion to sit and talk with Fr. Patrick who told us the story of his own wife’s reluctance as he journeyed towards the Church. As we talked, it was clear Fr. Patrick knew just what Barb needed to hear and as he spoke, she cried an so did I.

Soon she was doing mad things like ordering an Orthodox Bible! What the??? Then I came home one afternoon and found out she had ordered an Icon of Christ and a few informational pamphlets from Conciliar Press. Suddenly she was talking about an Icon corner in our home! Then one Sunday morning out of the corner of my eye, I saw: No I must have been mistaken-did she just cross herself? Weeks later I discovered she had found out how to download Orthodox podcasts from Ancient Faith Radio and put them on her iphone. She was listening to them on the way home from work! But even in the face of all this evidence, I think i was living in a state of denial. I kept waiting for the proverbial “other shoe” to drop. You know, a “yeah I like it but…”; But the “but” never came. Then just yesterday we were driving down the 5 freeway to attend a conference for Barb’s work when about 6 PM she asked, “Do you want to listen to the hours for today? What? My head was reeling. And in a flash there we were driving down the 5 freeway, listening to the recorded Vespers readings and prayers from AFR.

Will she? Okay here it comes… “Oh come let us worship and bow down before Christ our king…” Yep, she’s doing it. She’s crossing herself right here in the car and now so am I. Our arms are flailing and our hearts are full. Barb is even reaching down to touch the floor of the car. All I can say is if anyone saw us they must have thought we’d gone nuts.

Well, maybe we have, and I love it, and I love her, and I love our new Church and I love our Father in heaven who knew all along where and when we needed to to what we are doing. Wow, I’m just so blown away by it all. Happy Birthday Baby, Why is it that I got the present this year?


Collecting My Thoughts

April 30, 2008

I wanted to collect my overall impressions of the Paschal season we are just now coming out of while the memories are still fresh. They seem to fade much more quickly these last few years. I wrote in my blog at the very beginning of Lent, just after Forgiveness Sunday, that I thought this was going to be a time of change in my spiritual life. I now believe it has been a profound one. These past 50 or so days have impacted me on such a deep level that I can’t even find the correct words to express what I want to say.

I have meet the Lord in the quiet of my heart and seen Him in the shouts of His people. “Truly He is risen!” I have looked upon Him in the prostrations of a 5 year old girl before the cross and felt Him in the kisses of total strangers. I have tasted the sustenance of His mercy in the Friendship Bread. I have felt the warmth of His light on my face from the Pascha candle and known His friendship in the hand shake of new and welcome family. I have kissed His feet, cried tears of repentance, looked deep into His eyes staring back at me from behind the glasses of a kind Father and believed His Gospel message in song and prayer.

Christ is Risen and Jesus is Lord! His Kingdom is come and I will never be the same again. Thank you all who took part and thank you my Father God for being so merciful to me a sinner. Holy is His name!



Baptism Service

April 26, 2008

Today we were present for a Baptismal litrugy where several friends we’re Chrismated into the Church. All I could think about the whole time is “this is way it should be” and “man I wish my baptism had been done with this kind of intention and meaning.”

These were taken with my iphone, the coolest!

BaptismalFather pours the Holy Oil



October 16, 2007

Yes that’s me in the mirror with my iPhone and my macbook pro taking
this strange view. We pretty much relaxed all day. I managed to sleep
in despite Jen beatting me with a pillow. Check back and I’ll try to
keep you updated.



October 13, 2007

I’m composing this blog using my new iPhone using a special Type Pad portal. I really just wanted to see how easy it is to do. Compared to the speed I used to text my Razor, this is really fast. Compared to typing on my lap top… Zzzzzzzz



July 8, 2007

I recently finished reading Facing East – A Pilgrim’s Journey Into The Mysteries of Orthodoxy, by Frederica Mathewes Green. I really love reading Frederica (and she does pronounce that middle ‘e’ by the way.) She has such a wonderful way of bringing very "deep" subjects into what feels like safer calmer waters, where they can be pondered without fear of drowning in the depths of some very difficult theology. And, for me at least, if there is a subject that is difficult to bring to those more still quiet waters, it is the theology of Eastern Orthodoxy. I don’t mean that in a negative sense at all, there is much in the theology of the Church I embrace with my whole heart and I very much enjoy a good swim. In fact I would say it is the theology of Orthodoxy that has answered many of the ambiguities that have pestered my Quaker/Evangelical/Calvary Chaple/Vineyard mindset for many years. (Wow, no wonder I’m so messed up.) Even still, I found myself more than once saying, "Yeah, what about that one?" as she would describe some question or objection that had risen from her personal journey into Orthodoxy; perhaps something that seemed so "out of whack" with her evangelical protestant roots. But it was her description of one of their churches parishioners that touched a very deep secret place in me and raised some difficult questions in regard to my own, often times, pathetic attempts at following Christ.

Writing about an artist friend named Sheila, a widow who suffers from some severe physical problems, she writes the typical things one would write trying to paint a picture of someone never met: Slim. Sharp brown eye. Slightly greying hair "that flies out with abandon". Then in an almost casual way; "Adversities hone her like a flint".

I must have read that line 20 times. "Adversities hone her like a flint." Why is it that some people face their physical troubles and they seem to become stronger, better people while my own struggles with Muscular Dystrophy most often times have me on the brink of frustrated explosion? Why is it that when I have tripped over the nap of the carpet for the hundredth time my faith seems so weak and distant and I am reduced to seething frustration and a tongue that seems like it should belong to a dock worker from New York City, not a "follower" of the King of Light? (My apologies to all dock workers everywhere.)

One Sunday morning while I was still on church staff, a young women whom I knew suffered from her own sever ailment came to me with a question. She wanted to know how I was able to handle my obvious physical handicap with such apparent peace, joy and dignity. I asked her if she really thought that the way she saw me for those thirty minute on the stage each Sunday was really the way I was all time. In point of fact, it was not. You need to see me when I’m picking myself off the street because I’ve fallen, I told her. Or when I’ve dropped some object 5 times in a row and am trying to pick it up off the floor. Or just look into my heart as I climb the stairs into our home. There is little peace there; little joy; very little honing.

"Adversities hone her like a flint."
It’s not that I can’t find areas of growth or fruit in me, in some ways I am an entirely different person then I was a few short years ago. It is just that in this I see so little peace, so little joy, so little strengthening, so little honing.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth: "Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are renewed daily." That verse appears at the bottom of many of my emails. I have attempted to make it my own, O that it were more and more true in me.

O God come to my assistance, O Lord make haste to help me. May your mercy pursue me for the rest of my life and may the honing stone of Christ’s glory, grind away all that is in me that belongs to this world. Amen.



On-line Portfolio

May 16, 2007

A few people have asked me to post some of my new photographs. So I do so here with great trepidation. (I bruise so easily.) It’s been many, many, many years since I was a photography student so in many ways I feel as if I’m learning all over again. And so many things have changed camera-wise that I’m happy to be happy with as many photos as I have. So here goes.

View my portfolio


Making a Difference

April 22, 2007

Many, many, many years ago, while I was still in my early teens, Popular Photography magazine featured the work of the legendary Ansel Adams. I still vividly remember how deeply moved I was by the simple black and white images that were represented in that issue. As a young man with a developing (sorry) interest in photography. I was truly astonished and inspired by the work I saw. So much so, that I wrote a letter to Mr. Adams to thank him for his art and to ask a few practical questions about photography as a financially viable living. To my joy and surprise he was nice enough to answer my letter, encouraging me to follow the excitement that was growing in my heart, assuring me that with hard work and discipline I could indeed make a living with my camera. In part, as a result of that letter, I went on to major in photography for a short time. But a different love also came into my life, and as a young Husband and Father in the late 70’s trying to make a real living took precedent over my still evolving talent and I eventually laid my camera aside, unable to keep up with the growing cost of equipment and chemicals. But ever since, it has been a dream of mine to rekindle that excitement that was never really lost. Well this year, thanks in large part to the generous heart of my wife Barb, I have been able pick up photography again and I am having a wonderful time reconnecting with the camera. Maybe someday I’ll even be brave enough to post a few of my new work.

But the real reason I blog today is because of the power photography has to raise our awareness to the many important issues facing our world; issues that need our attention. And when i say “our” attention I particularly mean those of us who claim to follow the king of justice and mercy. The God who calls those who have, to impact the lives of those who have less. In that vain I wanted to call attention to a series of articles in the latest issue of American Photo magazine about ten modern photography “heros” who are trying to make a difference with their cameras.