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.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The 2015 Adventure Begins: #North Dakota

From Saturday, August 8

After all the last minute tasks were completed . . . house sitter arranged, Gambler care arranged, to do lists mostly done, I got off on Friday to join Henry in Minneapolis to head west.  Our first target was to explore parts of North Dakota. We made it to Fargo last night. This morning we headed to explore some of their official "scenic byways." Here is a link to their official information Scenic Byways and Backways Information Guide. The first one we chose was the Rendevous Region Scenic Backway.

First stop was Icelandic State Park. The Pioneer Heritage Center has a lovely visitor center and several restored buildings from the homesteading era.

This church was beautiful. I wish it had been open to see the inside.

I've been paying more attention to native grasses the last couple of years. I loved this exhibit in the Pioneer Heritage Center showing how deep the roots are in prairie grasses.

One of my goals for this trip has been to get more exercise and lose more weight. There were several hiking trails. I took the one through the forest.  I saw a strange woodpecker. I wish that I had gotten a photo because I thought it was an American Three-toed woodpecker.  I use BirdLog to enter my bird lists to keep records of what I see and my life list.  Whenever you get a "square" next to your bird, you know you may be in trouble with your identification.  The kindly ebird reviewer told me there were NO records for that species in North Dakota.  I still think the bird I saw matches the description, but I will be content with hoping to see that species another place.
The next part of the Rendevous Region Scenic byway was a little more challenging.  It started off on a dirt road that said "Dead End."  After looping the highway a couple of times we took the road and it WAS the correct turn. The route us through the countryside through wooded areas and sunflower fields. 

The road also led us past several areas that were filled with antique cars. I wonder what the story is behind the cars. Do they let photographers visit?

For future travelers, I would suggest getting a good route written down before trying this section of the back way. It was beautiful, but it was easy to miss the signs for the turns. This North Dakota Map will show the names of the roads when you zoom in. Cellphone signal comes in and out, so I would recommend writing down the road names while you have strong cell signal. The dirt roads were easily passable even with my low ground clearance car. Here is more information about other things to see and do on the Rendevous Region Scenic Byway.  

The section between Walhalla and Vang was beautiful. The Tetrault Woods State Forest overlook was well worth the stop.

This overlook over the Pembina Gorge had lovely metal sculpture decorations and a lovely place to sit and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. 

Henry propped his iPhone on one of the rails to get a shot of the two of us using an app on his iPhone.

Friday, August 21, 2015

#Sasquan Day 2

We've been traveling and on the go for almost 2 weeks now. I checked the morning schedule and allowed myself to catch some more zzzz's before heading over to the con.

The next 5 hours were back to back interesting panels.  I started with Stories of the Spokane Tribe told by James "Jimbo" Seyler.  Stories of from the Spokane tribe about how the land forms in the area were formed, stories of "coyote."  An interesting look at one tribe's stories.

Going in an entirely different direction I went to "What is New in Astronomy?" Dr. David Clements from the physics department of the Imperical College in London was the moderator.  Other panelists were interesting and well informed as well.  I learned about the latest research on asteroids - how most are not solid rock but rather rubble held together with ice. When two of these bump into each other, they often merge in strange shapes.  It was interesting that there has been a probe studying Comet P-67. For more info look at the pictures from the probe.  Another topic was dark energy and dark matter.  Fascinating stuff.

Next panel was Medieval Science and Technology with a different set of interesting, knowledgeable panelists.  Guy Consolmagno is a Jesuit brother who is living in Italy as an astronomer and planetary scientist at the Vatican Observatory.  Jo Walton is an amazing writer who uses medieval themes in her writing.  Bradford Lyau is a trained historian and science fiction writer. Lots of interesting concepts were bounced around.  Sometimes we look at a story or movie and think the technology is wrong for the time period when actually it is correct.  Mentioning the poverty and poor living conditions during the Middle Ages, it was noted that many of these people were living amid the ruins of Rome's technology knowing they could not recreate it. How frustrating and defeating that would be.  It made me think of all the technology we rely on in our day to day lives.  What would happen if all of that disappeared for some reason?  Another interesting piece of information was that many of the beautiful cathedrals in Florence were built in a time of desperation.  The churches and the women who became nuns were acts of faith for God to deliver them from the perils around them at the time.

Next came a reading from author Connie Willis.  I've read some of her books and I've heard her at other science fiction conventions.  An enjoyable time listening to her read an excerpt from her book that will come out next year.

Another change of pace came next with the panel, The Art and Science of Spaceships.  Shape, art, artificial gravity, and possible sizes were part of the discussion. But also intriguing thoughts about what it would be like to put together a mission to another star that might involve people living on the spaceship for 1000 years. Would they want to leave when they reached the new planet?  How would their culture change?

After this panel I went outside by the river, partly to have a snack, but partly because being outside is peaceful and feeds part of my soul.  I needed a break after 5 hours of sitting in rooms with no windows.

One of the things I like about going to Science Fiction Conventions are the ways my mind is challenged while I am there.  Today's panels were very different from one another and I learned things and felt like my mind was being expanded and challenged with new information.

Later, I joined Henry and we went to eat at Anthony's Home Port, which overlooks the beautiful waterfalls in Spokane.  A good day!