Sunday, February 28, 2010

For My Dear Followers

Deer for you, my dears. Because my dear Phil and I have had a deer filled weekend. There are lots of white tailed deer in our area. So many that there are deer crossing signs on the interstate as a warning. In the mating season, they run out of the woods and across the highway, sometimes smashing into passing cars. But it is not mating season now, and they have been EVERYWHERE. This weekend, we have passed many of them on the interstate. They were so close, I did not need to use very much zoom. And so hungry that they did not scare easily. You see, due to all the heavy snow for so many weeks, they have been in the woods starving. Many have died. So they travel , even close to the road, to find food. We also passed many dead deer on the side of the road. The larger the dead animal is, the more it upsets me. Why is this? Small or large, I think there's no difference to God. Whenever I see deer, I think of the wonderful hymn "As The Deer". Here are a few words from that song:

"As the deer pants for the water
so my soul longs after thee.
you alone are my heart's desire
and I long to worship thee."

Now here is the passage from Psalm 42 that this song is based on:

"As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?"

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Flitting Around

Today I give you the black capped chickadee, just a wee bit out of focus. Why is that, you may ask. Gentle reader, have you any idea how extremly hard it is to take a picture of this tiny bird? If the sparrows group together and gossip, and the robins are solitary, then this bird has the acrobatics and extreme jitters of one who has drunk ten cups of coffee. They are not still for a second. They do not spread their wings and take flight. They FLIT. One second they are here, the next disappeared. You do not even see them flying away. They hang upside down, sideways, every which way doing acrobatics, then FLIT they're gone. I still hope to get much better pictures this year. It will be a challenge. It seems the chickadees have never heard of the Psalms, especially Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God." I imagine they would chitter and chatter and get a big kick out of that. "BE STILL? What is that? We have no time for such a thing when there's waking up and singing to do, then nest building and finding new tree buds to eat, plus trying to stay warm. How ever do you stay warm if you are still? Silly humans! God has created every kind of creature on the earth to be different, wonderful, and amazing. We are FLITTERS, and like it just fine." For us humans, though, I find it's far better to slow down, take a breath, and be focused and patient. It can be harder than it seems. Just ask the chickadees.

"Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and He will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when men succeed in their ways... Psalm 37:5,7

Friday, February 26, 2010

Tears In A Bottle

Lately, we have been visiting a friend in the hospital who cries when we pray for him. Some people do, and it's very touching. Tears can be a good thing. They are cleansing and renewing. I have read that studies were done on tears. Tears of sadness and tears of joy had different chemicals in them. Do you know that some people used to catch their tears in bottles? These bottles have been excavated in Israel, and found in other places, as well. Mourners filled the bottles with their tears and placed them in burial tombs as symbols of love. During the Victorian era, mourners cried into elaboratly decorated bottles. There are stories of widows sprinkling their tears on their husbands graves on the first anniversary of death. This marked the end of the mourning period. During the civil War, soldiers would leave their wives with a tear bottle. When they returned from the war, they could actually see how much their wives had cried for them. Many of these antique bottles are still around. My pictures are from the web, found on Google. These bottles are called a Tear Catcher or Lachrymatory. Lachrymation means to produce tears. They are usually two to four inches high and have a rubber seal to prevent evaporation. Who would buy such an artifact? What a truly sorrowful possession to own. A visible reminder of someones deep sorrow. Where did this whole idea come from? King David. We have it right here in Psalm 56:8 "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book." God keeps track of all our sorrows. If He knows how many hairs are on our heads, He surely knows each and every tear we cry much more than a bottle can show. Truly, we don't need tear bottles when we have the love of God.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Trees At Night

The night has a thousand eyes,
And the day but one;
Yet the light of the bright world dies
With the dying sun.

The mind has a thousand eyes,
And the heart but one;
Yet the light of a whole life dies
When love is done.
Francis William Bourdillon

As we were driving home late on Tuesday, I spotted these trees in the black darkness. When we pulled off the road and stopped, the night was quiet as a church. I thought that my camera would not be able to get usable pictures, but tried anyway. I was pleasantly surprised by the strange effect.

"On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
My soul clings to you;
Your right hand upholds me." Psalm 63:6,8

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

First Sign Of Spring

Today as we drove around doing errands it was snowing again, and you can see the snowflakes in some of these pictures. But wait, what was that way up high in the tree? Out came my Nikon zoom lens. A robin, all puffed up from the cold! This is the second one I've seen this year. Three day ago, I saw the first robin of the year, which is my last two pictures. When I saw that robin, I couldn't have been happier if you gave me chocolate cake! The first sign of spring!! For some reason, the robins return much earlier than any other migrating bird. They don't really wait for spring, but usually return a full month ahead of time. Brrr! Did you know the robin is an imposter? Just between you and me, he's not really a robin at all! He's a member of the thrush family! Not even related to the real European Robin. Our North American Robin is called a robin because he looks like the real thing in England. Both robins do indeed have the same markings, but the real English one is much smaller and rather cute. As soon as spring comes, at least six robins will vie for possession of our front yard. Many violent territorial fights take place, with much chest bumping and feather flying. The wounded survivors finally limp off, leaving the lone victors to their spoils. One pair per yard, that's the rule, and they will fight to the death for it. During the spring and summer, the pair keep strictly to themselves and will not hang out or gossip with any other robins, unlike the chatty, friendly sparrows . The tiny sparrows like to throw parties and gossip about how stuck-up the robins are. Meanwhile, I like standing at my window and watching the birdworld of Maple Avenue.

Said the robin to the sparrow:
"I should really like to know
why these anxious human beings
rush about and worry so."

Said the sparrow to the robin:
"Friend, I think that it must be,
that they have no heavenly Father
such as cares for you and me". Elizabeth Cheney

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Taxing Trip

Today Phil & I went to the city of Harrisonburg, about 30 minutes away, for our yearly taxes. Until about three years ago, Phil used to do our taxes himself. How very much can change in three years. Phil retired, and is only working part time now. I started being a caregiver part time. Both of our mothers died in one year. One had a will that was out of state and outdated, the other had no will at all. Because of all of this, our taxes became a nightmare. We are still dealing with the financial effects of one mom. Our tax man is a human computer, math wiz, and good Christian. And amazingly, he only charges about $35.00. But he's saved us hundreds. This year, we were expecting several thousand dollars back. The appointment was not good. Due to unforseen confusing financial occurances, we are now not getting that money back. It is so complicated that it took Phil hours to think of a way to dumb it down enough to explain it to me. It even confused the tax man momentarily. Leaving the office, it was dusk, and we were deflated and hungry. Phil said he could use some comfort food. Then we drove past this sign. It sounded like a good deal, so we went into O'Charley's and got the fish and chicken tenders. On my plate are homemade potato chips called "Twisted Chips". There are rules for things like this, and upon getting such a disappointment, here are the rules. For the next couple days, one must only eat foods that are deep fried, gooey, or very sweet. Upon awakening from the sugar coma, things look so much better. It's good to follow the rules.

"Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?...then he said to them "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's". When they heard this, they were amazed, so they left him and went away." Matthew 22:17,22

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Cheezy Story

These pictures were taken by our kids when shopping in China, so today I thought we'd all go along. Of course the second picture is a 7-11, looking amazingly like the stores here. The first picture is our son shopping in Wal-Mart. In the front of the store are big crates of live turtles. Not for pets, but to buy, cook, and eat. Of course all the merchandise is written only in Chinese, so with a lot of things, you have no idea what you're buying. On this night, daughter-in-law was wanting some good American snack food in their hotel room. They spot bags of what look like Cheetos, her favorite! They grab two bags, an orange one and a blue one, and head back to the hotel. Opening the first bag, they tasted awful! The next bag were even worse. In fact, they were about the most horrible tasting snack food they'd ever had. Turning the bags over and looking very closely, they saw that one bag had a picture of a pork chop on it, and the other had a turkey. Yes, pork chop and turkey flavored Cheetos. There was no snack food in Bible times, and they had to walk everywhere, so I imagine them as being pretty healthy. No McDonalds, potato chips, cookies or candy. No food coloring, additives, or flavorings. Plus there were very strict food rules. They did have dried fruits and pastries, so that would have been desert, with some honey. Honey was their sugar, and they put in in all kinds of things, even wine. Here's something that King David had to say about honey.

"The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is a great reward." Psalm 19:9,11

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Blood Is The Life

Yesterday my post was about the Chinese New Years party we went to. Today, these are pictures taken in China by my son and daughter-in-law. They were leaving China just as the celebration was beginning. Again, everything is red. Red is happiness, prosperity, and everything good. And why not? The very stuff that courses through our veins and gives us life is red. The blood is the life. I read a fairly long devotional today on this subject, and I will relate some of the high points to you. It says that our actual LIFE is in our blood. Of course the heart and brain are important, but life stops when there is no blood to the brain, no blood to the heart. Our life is carried in our blood. Pagans used to drink the blood of their strongest enemies to recieve their strength. Remember what God said when Cain killed Abel? "The voice of your brother's BLOOD cries out to me from the ground." If you want to know a person's phycsical substance, look at his blood, not his head or limbs. Our blood carries oxygen, nutrients, and viruses. A prsons blood does, indeed, tell on him. You are your blood, and this is what Jesus gave us; himself, his blood. 1 John 1:7 says "The blood of Jesus, His son, purifies us from all sin." His blood, perfect in every way. This is the second of three posts about China. Come back tomorrow and go shopping with me in a Chinese Wal-Mart! You never know what you might find!

"To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve His God and Father-to him be glory and power forever and ever! Amen! Rev. 1:5,6

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Eye Of The Tiger

Me with two little lovlies on my lap

Chocolate covered fortune cookies I bring every year-always a big hit

Our granddaughter making sure grandpa eats enough

A spicy bite!

New uses for chopsticks
Our granddaughter is from China, so every year her parents have a Chinese New Years party. This year's party was last night, and here are some of my pictures from it. Lots of fun! Chinese New Year is a very big deal in China, looked forward to and celebrated as much as our Christmas. It's their biggest holiday. And it lasts for two weeks. Every year has an animal that represents it, and this is the year of the tiger. The color red is used everywhere! Red lanterns, candles, and other decorations. The children are given red packets like the one in my first picture. They contain gold coins for prosperity and other little toys. People write on red paper and paste it to their doors. Our wedding gowns are white, but in China they're red. Red means prosperity, good luck, and above all, happiness! Now for two questions. How can we be happy? Well, maybe we really want joy instead. Happiness depends on external things and is fleeting, joy is from within and is a state of mind and a gift from God. Next question is how can we make God happy? I asked Phil the other day if it was alright to pray about something very trivial, and he said that God wants us to pray about everything. Nothing is too small, because God just wants to hear from us all the time. It makes Him happy!
"But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful. Psalm 68:3

Friday, February 19, 2010

Pantyhose, Gutters, And Sick Fish

Good homeowners around here are putting pantyhose on their gutters! You see, with all the freezing and icicles we have had, huge tubes of ice are frozen in all the gutters, and they are being destroyed. These pictures show gutters coming down in our neighborhood. The local Lowe's is recommending that you put rock salt in pantyhose and lay them on the gutter ice. That way, when the ice has melted, you can remove the salt, which stays contained in the hose, and won't be leaving loose salt in the gutter to corrode and rust it. For many people's homes, it's too late. Gutter repair businesses are looking to hire. The enormous piles of snow are a problem as well. Our mailman has not been able to get to our mailbox at the front door for weeks, and the newspaper tubes are blocked, so papers have to be thrown in our snowy, muddy driveway. The city has started hauling the snow away in trucks. They are SUPPOSED to dump it in empty fields, but ran out of room, so are now dumping it in streams and the river. The snow is loaded with road chemicals, so now the fish have a huge belly ache, perhaps some will die. It's not a good fix, and I wonder if they couldn't think of a better solution. I can't. Then there's all the giant potholes, which cannot be fixed yet. Why? Well, that's for another post sometime in the future.

"Then God said "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." Genesis 1:26

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Meltdown 2010

"The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory." Psalm 97:5


 On the outskirts of town, we happened to pass this building. It used to be a gas station. But what a difference now! What was going on? One...