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Monday, July 27, 2015

Inspired by . . . ants, lions and doodlebugs, oh, my!

Imagine, if you would, the delightful scene of the two of us sitting down for tea. After stirring in a dot of cream and a lump of sugar, you might sit back and say, “So, what did you do last night?”

“Well,” I would say, eyes sparkling mischievously, “I was out hunting Antlions!”

“And I found one too,” I would continue, after helping you clean up your tea. “He spit some sand at me!”

Truth really is stranger than fiction! After all, Antlions are something you might expect to read about in a novel by C.S. Lewis or George MacDonald, not something you find on your front porch.

But there it was, in all it’s, slightly terrifying, glory.

 

Antlion1

 

Of course, I had to know more about this creature who was clinging so close to my front door. A quick check at insectidentification.org got me started. Thankfully, the adult antlions are harmless and consume mostly nectar and pollen. It’s their young that have earned them their ferocious name.

Antlion larva walk backwards, creating whimsical lines in the sand, earning them the name doodlebugs.

 

Doodlebug_trails

 

The catch? Once they find a suitable location, the antlion digs a burrow and then sits inside with it’s head slightly below the surface. When an unsuspecting ant falls in, the antlion grabs it with it’s huge jaws. I’ll spare you the rest of the gory details. Suffice it to say, the ant ends up with the same fate that you might if you walked into a lions den.

 

AntlionLarva

 

I was surprised at the wealth of information to be found online about antlions, they even have their own website: antlionpit.com, and I wonder if I might be one of only a few people that don’t know about these fascinating creatures?

 

Antlion2

 

Ever since I learned about the antlions, God has been whispering a warning to my heart, and I want to share it with you.

 

Be sober-minded; be watchful.

Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion,

seeking someone to devour. 1Pe 5:8

 

Much like the trail the doodlebug leaves, sin can entice and beguile us into following a different path. But just like the doodlebug’s trail, sin will always lead to a pit of death.

 

AntlionDen

 

As believers, God will shut the lions mouth and protect us from losing our lives, but we may still get a nasty bite, or at the very least, sand spit into our eyes.

 

Then the king was exceedingly glad,

and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den.

So Daniel was taken up out of the den,

and no kind of harm was found on him,

because he had trusted in his God.  Dan 6:23

 

Nature has any number of lessons to teach us, if we will but listen.

 

Shalom,

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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Inspired by . . . it’s a bird’s life

We have two large, north-facing windows in our cottage. Their gaze sweeps over a small side yard, down the hill into the low-hanging branches of a large oak tree, and up over the tree tops into the pale blue of the north sky.

The side yard, while still quite open, is graced by an encroaching canopy of oak limbs stretching, here to the east and there to the west. Much of it remains shaded throughout the day with the cottage blocking the sun to the south.

It is in this little side yard that I chose to place my bird feeders.

One can see out these windows from nearly every place in the cottage. The windows act as a bit of a bird-blind, as long as I stay far enough back, and I delight in watching the antics of the birds and other critters.

Last month, I shared some squirrel yoga - -

on Facebook and Instagram, but this post is all about the birds!

 

Northern_Cardinal_male

Northern Cardinal

 

Carolina_Chickadee

Carolina Chickadee

 

Immature_Carolina_Wren     Immature_Carolina_Wren1

Immature Carolina Wren - getting a leg up

 

Immature_Black-crested_Titmouse

Immature Black-crested Titmouse

 

Immature_Northern_Cardinal_Female

Immature Female Northern Cardinal

 

Immature_Northern_Cardinal_Male

Immature Male Northern Cardinal

 

White-winged_Dove

White-winged Dove

 

Every once in a while you see something new. I was delighted to catch this immature golden-fronted woodpecker {female} cooling off in the birdbath!

 

Immature_Goldenfronted_Woodpecker_Female2

 

Immature_Goldenfronted_Woodpecker_Female1

Immature_Goldenfronted_Woodpecker_Female

My! what a large beak you have!

 

It’s interesting, the more you observe, the more you will see distinct personalities and behaviors appear. I never tire of observing nature. Sometimes we can learn more about ourselves by looking outward.

 

A bird doesn't sing because he has an answer,

he sings because he has a song.

~Joan Walsh Anglund, A Cup of Sun, 1967

 

Have a wonder-filled day,

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Note: If you’re having a problem with BWC’s {Bird-Window Collisions},  I found this ad in my latest copy of Bird & Bloomsabirdseyeview.com

BWC’s are the largest human-caused factor in bird mortality.

{Links are FYI only, this blog is not monetized}

 

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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Inspired by . . . good gifts

A walk to the waterspout can become holy communion if one has eyes that see and ears that hear. Sometimes, when we get it right and open ourselves to the Father, time becomes suspended in that mysterious place between heaven and earth. We can step, as it were, into that fourth dimension. We can, even if it’s just for a moment, hear, see and sense everything that surrounds us.

The slow bake of the summer sun envelopes me like cocoon. I wonder, is this how it felt in the womb, when God was knitting me together? Warm, swaddled, safe.

These are the thoughts swirling in my mind when I see her.

Royalty, flitting around a mass of wildflowers.

 

QueenButterfly_Butterflyweed

 

My heart begins a slow dance as I pause to watch.

His voice comes low and soft, like a slow moving stream. “Isn’t she beautiful.” His words echo my own thoughts, but then . . .

“I made her for you. For this moment.”

Suddenly the veil is lifted, and all around me I see the glitter of diamonds and rubies, sapphire and emerald. The flash of gold and a milky rainbow of pearls.

The glint of sun on a dragonflies wing. The flash of the red bird flying through the trees. The sky above and the earth below. The golden butterflies and the rainbow upon which they drink.

 

Collage_Treasures

All created for me . . .

for you . . .

for us.

Do you see?

***

Would any of you who are fathers give your son a snake when he asks for fish?

Or would you give him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?

As bad as you are, you know how to give good things to your children.

How much more, then,

will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"
Luk 11:11-13

 

Blessings,

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Inspired by . . . Life thru My Lens 29:52

 

Summer has arrived in all her glory! After a pretty mild start, we’re starting to feel the heat here in south Texas. I do love to feel the sun baking into my skin. I know better than to stay out too long, though. The sun is only your friend up to a point.

It’s nice that our fields are still green, rather than the burnt brown that the Texas sun usually produces this time of year. The birds seem to enjoy the grasses too, especially when freshly mowed!

I thought the heat coming off the freshly mowed field created an interesting effect in this picture.

 

Scissor-tailed_Flycatcher_Summer

 

Another critter that has been enjoying the heat of summer is our Texas Spotted Whiptail.

 

Texas_Spotted_Whiptail2

 

Also known as the Common Spotted and the Eastern Spotted, I was delighted to find a pair playing in my flower bed this week. A cold-blooded animal, they like to stretch out on the rocks and absorb the heat.

 

Texas_Spotted_Whiptail

 

The exciting news this week was the mockingbird’s fledge day on Monday. I posted pictures here.  I haven’t seen the little guy since, but finding a baby bird in all these trees is like finding a needle in a haystack. I have seen the scissor-tailed flycatcher babies around the area. They are still easy to spot with their shorter tails. I’ve seen some other flegdlings around too, so it’s been a good year for the birds.

This immature male Cardinal has been at the feeders nearly every evening for the past week.

 

Immature_Male_Cardinal

 

The wren’s had a successful brood as well. Their young are appearing here and there, as they flitter about discovering their new world.  These are either Carolina Wrens or Bewick’s Wrens. I’m guessing Carolina Wrens because, although you can’t see it on this youngster, the adults have buff orange under-bellies. They are quite amusing to watch. Wren babies are about the cutest of all, I think.

 

Carolina_wren

 

And, finally, I have another first to share with you. I was sitting out on the porch last evening {getting eaten alive by mosquitoes} and suddenly a flock {six} birds flew into the top of our cottonwood tree. They were carrying on and making all kinds of noise. At first I thought cedar waxwings because of their behavior, but after zooming in with the camera they appear to be Western Kingbirds!

 

Western_Kingbird_juvenile

 

I saw one, lone, adult last year. This crew have the look of young birds to me. What do you think?

 

Western_Kingbird_juvenile_pair

 

The crepe myrtles will be blooming all summer. I’ve only just begun taking pictures . . .

 

Crepe_Myrtle_Romance

Textured with Mona’s Romance

 

What are you seeing through your lens this summer?

 

Blessings,

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Friday, July 10, 2015

Inspired by . . . the Joseph story

 

Magnolia_Quote

 

Do you know Joseph’s story?

How as a young man, Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. He then spent several years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Finally, after interpreting a dream for the Pharaoh, he was made second in command. In all the land, only Pharaoh ranked above Joseph.

It was during this time that a great famine came over the land. Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt looking for food, because their people were starving.

Joseph hadn’t seen his brothers in nearly thirty years. Not since the day they’d thrown him into a deep pit and then sold him to the next passing caravan of traders.

Joseph was now in charge of all of Pharaoh’s affairs. Including the distribution of food.

How do you think Joseph responded to his brother’s request?

How would you respond after being betrayed?

Here is Joseph’s response:

And Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?" But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence. So Joseph said to his brothers, "Come near to me, please." And they came near. And he said, "I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.
Gen 45:3-8

Joseph’s brothers were dismayed because they knew Joseph now had the power to even the score. “Off with their heads!” might have been the next words out of Joseph’s mouth.

When we see injustice in our world, or are faced with it in our own lives, we are often tempted to respond in one of three ways.

1. Impatience, vengeance and vindictiveness. We tire of waiting for God to act, or determine that He’s not going to act, and take matters in to our own hands.

2. Anxiety and worry. We’re fearful because we don’t know the outcome.

3. Grumbling, blaming. We feel powerless against the person that has wronged us so we blame God, or the people closest to us.

But Joseph’s story gives us another perspective. It introduces another element to the situation.

Commentator Carroll E. Simcox said, “Joseph had gone through human hell, and human sin had put him through it. But human sin wasn’t the whole story; divine Providence was in it too.”

It’s difficult to see the hand of God when we’re in the dark bit of despair, or when we’re grieving, but His hand is there. Acknowledging His presence and His providence doesn’t excuse human sin, but it does give us a starting place for forgiveness.

Some things are easy to forgive and some are not. The process of forgiveness is different for each on of us. Sometimes the key is simply acknowledging our inability to forgive, and asking God to help us do what we cannot do ourselves.

Maybe Joseph’s story is your story, too.

 

Magnolia

 

Give us the grace and wisdom, dear Lord, to know that Thy

gracious hand is ever over us in all our troubles,

and give us the patience to wait until Thou dost

make all things plain;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

~Carroll E. Simcox

 

 Blessings,

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