Friday, March 27, 2020

Praying for COVID-19

Long ago I learned a concept of praying the scriptures.  In times of stress I find the Psalms to be meaningful.  I have also experienced when reading one of the One Year Bibles that has a Psalm and a Proverb reading every day, that many times the reading for the day has words of encouragement that are especially relevant for what I am experiencing.

My reading today was Psalm 69.

I also write my prayers during my morning time.  My prayer for today, using Psalm 69:

Dear God,

Save me for the virus seems to be approaching.

All around we seem to be sinking in the mire of infection.  As a nation we have not found a foothold.  We are approaching deep water with overwhelming floods of sick people.  Our medical personnel are crying for help.

It seems that we have people trying to destroy us with lies.

Father, you know how foolish we are.  We can not hide our sins from you.

Father I keep praying to you to have mercy on us.

Please answer our prayers with your sure salvation from this disease.

Rescue us from the mire of this infection.  Let the measures we are attempting keep us from seeking further.

Pull us from these deep waters.  As individuals, don’t let this viral flood overwhelm us or deep waters swallow us, or the pit of death devour us.

Answer these prayers, Lord, for I know your unfailing love is wonderful.

Take care of us, for I know your mercy is plentiful.

Come and redeem us, free us from this virus.

In Jesus name,

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Thinking about how to deal with this difficult time

It feels like things have changed in a heartbeat.  From an active life where I was always on the go, I am now choosing to stay at home for an indefinite period of time.  I am a realist, I think this time of social distancing will be measured in months, not weeks.  From regular contact with my grandson, I may not see him in person for months.

But I believe that God had done some preparation for me.  Back in January I got back into a morning time with God pattern.  This time of Bible study, reflection, journaling, coffee and breakfast help me start my day with the reminder that in the midst of the unknown, the chaos of an unfathomable disease, the drastic changes to every day living, the separation from vital social interaction and the monetary uncertainties, that God IS still in control. In so very many places, the Bible says "Do not be afraid."  "Do not be anxious."

So my game plan is to look outside every day for something joyful and blessed.  It is spring in Central Texas. The flowers are beginning their glorious bloom.  We had blessed rain yesterday.  The butterflies and birds are going about their daily activities.

I will also be working at home on projects that have been neglected such as going through my photographs and making submissions, writing articles and making submissions, go through the house and trying to get rid of 30 some odd years of accumulated belongings.

 Please join me in finding positive ways to spend your time during this unexpected change in our lives.  Be mindful of the beauty that surrounds you.  While you can't ignore the bad news, the number of  cases that will surely rise catastrophically, the difficulties in getting your needed supplies, you can make choices to direct your focus on what is GOOD around you.  You can be grateful for what you have rather than focusing on what you have not right now.

And please, don't forget to spend time meditating with the God of creation.  For me, it will be His peace that passeth understanding that will help me weather the trials that are coming our way.

Grace and peace to you!  May you find a special blessing every day to give you hope during this dark time.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

God’s Glory

In my Bible reading yesterday, I read about the glory of God filling the Tabernacle. I wondered what that would have been like to experience first hand.  I tried to imagine what that meant, because I don’t think that I see and experience the glory of God in the same way today.

So I went and looked up the word: glory.

From Merriam Webster’s online dictionary:  

Definition of glory 
 1a : praise, honor, or distinction extended by common consent : RENOWN
b : worshipful praise, honor, and thanksgiving giving glory to God
2a : something that secures praise or renown the glory of a brilliant career b : a distinguished quality or asset The glory of the city is its Gothic cathedral.
3a : a state of great gratification or exaltation When she's acting she's in her glory. b : a height of prosperity or achievement ancient Rome in its glory
4a(1) : great beauty and splendor : MAGNIFICENCE … the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome. — E. A. Poe
(2) : something marked by beauty or resplendence a perfect glory of a day b : the splendor and beatific happiness of heaven broadly : ETERNITY
5 : a ring or spot of light: such as a : AUREOLE
b : a halo appearing around the shadow of an object

I think the Israelites experienced God’s great beauty, splendor, and resplendence as well as his distinguishing qualities  in such a way that led them to worshipful praise, honor and thanksgiving.

I am not sure even after thinking about it that I can really grasp what it would be like to experience the glory of God the way the Israelites did.

I think in today’s world, believers know that God is always with them, but we don’t always see it as clearly as described in Exodus.  We don’t necessarily experience His glory in our daily lives as the Israelites did as they saw the cloud surrounding the Tabernacle during the day and the pillar of fire at night.  How would it change our lives if we mediated on God’s glory, his incredible power, and sought His glory on a daily basis.  Would it change how we treat the people around us?  Would it change how we viewed the divisions, the hatred, the animosity that surrounds us in the difficult times we are experiencing?  In the search for God’s glory and in the search for what God’s view would be, would it change our hearts, words, and actions?

As for me, I am hoping I can put thinking about God’s glory into my daily thoughts about God and my relationship with him.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The Difference a Year Makes

Last January I took an Amtrak train ride with my grandson from Austin to Taylor.  I could walk and get where I wanted, but walking and standing were endurance tests.  If I walked longer distances, I had to "pause" regularly.  If I really wanted to get somewhere, I got there, but sometimes it was just plain hard.This photo shows what I looked like then.

During the February Laredo Bird Festival, a common comment to me was: "Knee?  It will be so much better when you replace it."  So, I decided it was finally time.  Surgery was scheduled at the end of April.  At a visit to my sleep doctor, I commented that I usually followed doctor's instructions . . . but weight was the exception.  He said, "I have a solution for that."  With some skepticism I started his diet program about a month before the surgery. I felt like I would recover from the surgery much faster if I got some of the weight off.  I started losing immediately.

Surgery day came.  Recovery included using a walker to get where I wanted to go. But . . . I got out and started doing short walks on smooth pavement with the walker.  I still had to pause.  After graduating from the walker, I walked the road by my house. The first time, I just went down to one end and back, pausing a few times there and back.  A little while later, I managed to walk to the main road and back, still with those little strategic pauses.

As the months passed, my walks got longer and stronger.  By Thanksgiving, my grandson and I took the long loops at the Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary. It was a 4 mile day!

Yesterday I took one of the longer loops at Berry Springs Park Preserve with my grandson.  He says I walk faster now.  Today I walked the road in front of my house.  I started at my house, went up the driveway, up to the main road, down to the end of the road, back to my driveway. No pauses.  What a victory I felt!  Then I went down to the pond and retrieved my game camera card.  It is so nice to be able to get around the property easily again.

I lost weight in 2005, 2006. I am now 30 pounds lighter than I was then.

This photo was taken by my grandson at a nearby park in the fall.  I am still working on better fitness and more weight loss. I am so grateful to be where I am.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Sabal Palms Sanctuary . . . the feeder

At the bird feeder by the old visitor center, listening to the last rain drops hitting the leaves and palms. 

Watching the water drops hitting the leaves and causing them to flutter. Seeing the reflections of the green tree leaves in the reflections on the dark deck. Feeling the gentle cool breeze. Hearing the quiet voices of a group of birders who drop by but don't stay.   As I wonder if any birds will visit the feeders on this wet day, I hear a bird calling. Chachalacas pass by with their loud cackling call. 

The forest is thick and green around this old visitor center. It is quiet now - only the sound of the occasional rain drop. 

The Green Jay arrives. 

Buff bellied on feeder.
When I mention to a visitor one appeared - a female. 
Shortly a male arrived - giving me ample time to study him but not to photograph. 

Maybe he will come back.

2 white tipped doves silently arrive. 

Now 3 white tipped doves are at the feeder. 

Buff bellied hummingbird came back allowing photo opportunity 

Now there are 4 doves. 

Green jays come in disturbing the white tipped doves

Now 4 green jays but my cough scares the doves off but the green jays quickly return. 

It has been the quiet of nature but in the distance is the rumble of machinery - the bass of a car radio's beats in the distance. 

Hoping for an oriole to drop by . . .

The dove wings whir as they fly off. 

The rumble of thunder precedes the next group of people with their footsteps and quiet voices. 

They pass on by for the trails. 

I have a nice quiet place to weather the storm and a raincoat to keep my equipment dry. But I would prefer that it not rain on my hiking friends. 

I wonder, "Will a Cooper's hawk come fly over the feeder this time as it did the last scattering the birds?"(Sadly, it didn't.)

A loud group of chachalacas passes noisily by out of sight.

10 white tipped doves whir away as they are startled by my cough. 

White tipped doves melodically coo behind me. 

The buff bellied briefly returns. 

Jays come in but the white tipped soon reclaim the feeder. 

The water drops dripping from the leaves are a calming sound. 

As I see movement in the low vegetation and hope for olive sparrow but so far it is always white tipped dove.

The buff bellied comes in briefly.

A soft high call note signals the presence of another small bird. 

Only one chirp. Will it call again, will it reveal itself or will it be just the one note that told of its presence without revealing the identity?

After 4 days of birding, I am soaking in the quiet peace so far removed from the ugly election hoopla. 

A group of chachalaca come silently one by one to the feeder.  

The 5 chachalaca have control of the feeder. 

2 Black crested titmice arrive but can't compete with the chachalaca. 

Green jays and doves wait for the chachalaca to leave.

More human voices. They don't come close as they walk by on their trail. 

The chachalacas are finishing their meal and the green jays return. 

Human voices scatter the birds but a brave few remain at the feeder. 

People stop and we quietly visit sharing stories,

A couple of small birds possibly orange crowned warblers tease us but stay out of sight refusing to reveal their identity.

A cottontail rabbit comes through grazing on the vegetation. 

They tell me the trails are slippery confirming the wisdom of enjoying the feeder station 

Loving watching the green jay's yellow tail display in flight. 

Mourning dove arrives. 

I move over to sit on the wet wooden seats and I am rewarded by a better view and photograph of the buff bellied hummingbird. 

Time to go . . . I enjoyed this peaceful, restful interlude in one of my favorite places in the Rio Grande Valley.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

International Peace Gardens

The International Peace Gardens straddle the border between the United States and Canada between North Dakota and Manitoba.

 It was dedicated in 1932: TO GOD IN HIS GLORY, we two nations dedicate this garden and pledge ourselves that as long as men shall live, we will not take up arms against one another.

The Civilian Conservation Corps did most of the early construction.

There are 2300 acres to explore. We started our exploration on the Canadian side which is forested with water features and more natural in nature, taking the loop twice during our visit. In some ways I preferred the wild areas with the trees and birds.  However, the formal gardens are beautiful and I enjoyed walking around to see everything.

We saw an immature northern flicker as well as adult northern flickers.  We tried to stop for every bird and I enjoyed seeing birds near our picnic table at lunchtime.

Around the formal garden ponds there were many Northern Leopard Frogs.

The Interpretive Center and Conservatory had a good gift shop, restaurant as well as cactus and succulents from around the world.

The formal gardens were a delight to explore.   I talked to someone who visits every year. He told me the plantings are unique every year. He also told me that the Peace Towers in the background of the first photo have deteriorated and will be removed at some point.

I could not leave without stopping to photograph the floral clock. We spent half our day here and considered it well spent.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Coming in to Breckenridge . . .The Memories

We left the Salt Lake City area today on the last part of our adventure. As we drove through the desert sage areas and mountains around Steamboat Springs, my mind kept thinking about all the things we could do in the one day we have in Breckenridge.  I was thinking about things we have done on other trips.

Rent a bike and take the trails down to Frisco and ride the bus back.

Go over Boreas Pass.

Go to Mount Evans and photograph the mountain goats and mountain sheep.

Ride the train in Georgetown (we have never done that.)

Take one of the lifts to the top of the mountain and walk the trails back to town.

Visit the Breckenridge Recreation Center.

In addition I had been thinking about the things we could do in Colorado "on the way home."

Swing by Rocky Mountain National Park going over Trail Ridge.

Swing by Silverton.

Go to the Malt Shop in Pagosa Springs.

Visit Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs being there at sunrise or sunset.

I walked through a wonderful garden of memories as I thought about things we "could" do, but also realizing that we are due to arrive home on Sunday back in Hutto.  These memories of all these delightful things were done on trips where we were here a week or more.  But remembering things we've done in this area in the past made me grateful for all we have been able to do over the years.