Category Archives: Nature

the heavens declare the glory of God

A Nature Day

I knew before I even opened my eyes this morning that Spring was going to make a showing this morning.

I was not disappointed. The fog dissipated, crocuses on the front yard are opening, birds arrived on my porch, looking for black sunflowers in the bird feeder. It’s empty. Another errand to do this morning.

And I’m not going to apologize for getting exercise. Yes, I need to get writing done.

But first….. a long walk.

I drove down Fairhaven Parkway and found a place to park. Took the Interurban trail down to Marine Park. When I got there, a bunch of older guys had suited up and put their kayaks in the calm waters. I got a good photo of them as they paddled off into the sound.

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On my way back from the park, a freight train neared. I love to stand up close to trains as they pass and be bowled over by their size and the blaring horns at the crossings. I guess I’m still a kid inside.

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A little farther up, I encountered these sleeping ducks. They didn’t mind me at all. Even the train didn’t rouse them. I wish I knew what that big whitish fellow is on the top right. Oh, and a flock of white geese flew overhead, going north. Perfect V-formation. Does anyone know what they are? Not Canada Geese.

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And on my walking route back to my car, I passed this old building. It’s name makes me chuckle. In case you can’t read it, it says, “Bailey Brothers Building and Loan.” A reference to the building and loan business of the same name in the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. One of my all-time favorite classic movies.

 

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I went to Lowe’s and purchased an enormous bag of black sunflower seeds for my birds. When I went out to my porch to refill the squirrel-proof feeder, I found ample evidence of the squirrels’ displeasure. They’d been foiling me in my attempt to save some seeds for the birds. So I bought  a hanging feeder that uses the squirrel’s own weight to press down on a lever that prevents the squirrels from extracting seeds.

They’re awfully mad at me, as you can clearly see by what they’ve left behind.

 

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Oh well, it’s a beautiful day. The sun is shining. I’ve had a five mile walk, and finished it with a delicious cup of coffee from Tony’s Coffee House.

Not to mention, I got lots of time to pray during those five miles. Thank you, Lord, for this unusual chunk of time for refreshment.

 

 

 

Cactus Underwear or Cascade Mountain Lake?

 

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A very wise man, Dennis Prager, has said that the most grateful people are the happiest people.

And even though Dennis Prager is not a Christian (he is Jewish), he adheres to the biblical theology that people are made in God’s image, made for His purposes, to reflect Him in all we say and do.

The Bible is filled with accounts of God’s people singing, dancing, playing on lovely and loud instruments, verbalizing their praises in both speech and song to God.

Praise Him, all ye little Children

Because gratitude, rightly understood, involves thanking someone outside of ourselves, it lifts our minds and hearts away from our poor, poor selves, and focuses it on someone else, on the giver of the gift, even if temporarily.

Gratitude is an outpouring of faith. Without faith, it is almost impossible to thank God for hard times. Because faith says: “God, I don’t understand, but whatever comes my way I will trust you, because I know you are in control and you are working out a greater plan for my life than I can imagine. Thank You.”

I’m a pretty thankful person, most of the time. Probably because, growing up, I didn’t have too much, I very much appreciated what I received. My parents weren’t wealthy, and I was well aware of their struggle to provide for us kids.

In my church and in my community I know both grateful and ungrateful people, and let me tell you, there is a huge difference between them. People who only focus on the negative things that happened to them in their day aren’t too pleasant to be around. These are often the same people who complain whenever something isn’t exactly what they want. Their attitude is ruled each day by what they did not get, what other people aren’t doing to please them, or how the weather or traffic conspired to cause them grief.

Do you know people like that? I do. Sometimes that person is me, temporarily.

But I try to get out of that attitude quickly, because it’s not a pleasant place to stay. It’s like living in cactus underwear. Prickly, scratchy, get-me-out-of-this! And who wants to be too near a cactus?

And, being an old woman now, I’ve come to know that my best days are the days when I’ve taken the time to get my eyes off myself, to look around and list the wonderful things I’ve been blessed with. I call days like this, “Cascade Mountain lake days.” Could anything be more lovely and inviting?

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I recently purchased a sweet little journal called, “A Life of Gratitude.” The book, by Lori Roberts, takes you through daily written exercises where you list blessings, or positive thoughts, or beautiful things, etc. It’s not necessarily a Christian book, but since I am a Christian I prefer to do these exercises while lifting to God in gratitude each thought that I write down. After all:

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James1:7, NIB Bible)

 

Here’s what I’m thankful for today: Jazz music woofs from the speakers down on the lowest level of the house. Because my loving husband is actually home this week, working in his office. He usually travels, but today he’s around. I’m thankful for him.

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It was cold this morning. I slipped warm socks on my feet and marveled at how God constructed my size 6, double E width feet. How they take a daily pounding under my 125 pound frame, but they’re still ready to carry me on the next 10-mile hike.

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It only takes seconds to notice something God has provided you, then utter an awed prayer of thanks to Him.

It’s a great habit to cultivate. And I mean to keep cultivating it each day.

“And whatever you do, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Col 3:17 NIV Bible)

Which Path?

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Since moving to Bellingham, I’ve become intrigued and delighted by all the paths and trails through and around the city. We’ve recently moved to another neighborhood, and I had no idea there would be just as many trails (part of the Inter-Urban Trail System) on the north part of town.

One minute I’m walking through a neighborhood, the next, lush cedars, alder, pines and firs, and blackberry thickets obscure houses and streets. Here, the Steller jays, crows, nuthatches, woodpeckers, squirrels, deer, and—no doubt—coyotes and bobcats, reign, and the interference of a small woman is but their momentary annoyance.

Sometimes I come to a junction of trails and wonder which one I should take. Each path will lead me to a beautiful ending. I may conclude my hike when the path deposits me onto a neighborhood street. Or, the trail may wind its way to Whatcom Falls, and on eventually to glimpses of Lake Whatcom—if I have the time and energy.

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I used to think of my life as a path, of sorts. And if I didn’t take the ‘right’ path, somehow God would be disappointed with me and I would miss some wonderful blessing.

But as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to the recognition that life presents each of us choices. It isn’t always a decision between a bad choice and a good choice Sometimes we are presented with several good options. What to do?

Which college major should I choose? Should I marry this person? Which job should I interview for? Which church should we attend? Where should we live?

There are paths that all of us, if we are Believers, should take without question. But beyond that, God has given us sound reason, consideration for those around us who would be effected by our choice, the counsel of others, and a praying, trusting heart.

If I choose to take the fork that leads to Whatcom Falls I will be blessed by seeing some lovely scenery. But if I choose another well-worn path, I will be equally delighted by views of the Sound and the city. Neither choice is bad.

 

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Sometimes God makes it very clear that he wants me to go a certain way. He will close doors of opportunity and then open another door which didn’t seem to be an option earlier.

Sometimes, I feel all alone in a decision.

But, I am not alone. The Psalm 139 says, “If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” (NIV Bible)

For many people, the beginning of the new year is a time for reflection and for choosing a different path. That’s sometimes good, as long as we realize that though we can make plans, God has the ultimate plan. His plan for his children is always good, even though it may wind through desert paths, or dip into dark forest where it is hard to see the trail.

He knows the plans He has for you.

Jeremiah 20:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord.” (NIV Bible)

Seeking the Lord is the best plan you can make for 2018.

 

 

Where’d That Come From?

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“Where’d you ever come up with the idea for your book?”

I get asked that question at least once a week.

Why would a sweet little old lady write about an evil, delusional man who thinks he has met the re-incarnation of the girl he loved, but murdered?

My answer: I came up with my story idea years and years ago after I read a news article about a teenaged girl who had been abducted by a crazy guy, and taken into the wilderness.

At the time, I was about the same age as this girl, and I kept thinking, “What would I do if this happened to me? How would I survive? Would I be able to keep my wits about me even if I were terrified?

Gradually, over the years, a suspenseful but adventurous story began to percolate through my mind. Bits of my own experiences, scary imaginings, dark dreams, things I have read, suspenseful movies I’ve seen: these all contributed to the formulation of Haven’s Flight.

Can you imagine being lost in the densely forested Cascade Mountains, being injured, running from a man with murder on his mind? He’s got all the odds in his favor. He knows the woods, he’s an expert hunter and tracker, he’s big and strong, and he never seems to tire.

But Haven has more in her favor than she thinks.

She’s got a big, strong God who has promised never to leave her or forsake her.

Find out more about Haven here:

Have you ever doubted God’s ability, or willingness to come to your rescue?

Remember this: “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me and I will answer him.” (Psalm 91:14, 15)

 

 

 

 

 

Slugs and Motivation

I don’t know about you, but what frequently motivates me is…

Dis-satisfaction.

It could come from looking in the mirror

or reading my latest medical lab reports

or catching myself doing one of my pet sins.

Lots of Christians say it’s not good to be dis-satisfied. It leads to focusing on negative things. For the most part I agree.

But not when it comes to things that can or should be changed. My dis-satisfaction does not take my joy away. It’s merely an impetus.IMG_0682

I took a long walk the other day. It’s my time to talk to the Lord, to reflect, to enjoy God’s creation, and to let my mind get creative.

I crossed this critter:

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and wondered what made this slug decide to brave the wide, wide, gravelly expanse that separates one lovely, wet, arboreal area, from the other lovely, wet arboreal area across the path. The path is only about six feet wide. But to the slug, who neither comprehends human measures of distance, nor circumscribes his movements according to my perception of boundaries, his journey across the rocky wasteland is “what you do.”

To me, the woods on either side of the trail look identical.

There’s a stream on one side.

But there’s a pond on the other.

On each side, there are plenty of plants and other delectable things for a slug.

So why expend so much energy crossing over?

Because the slug wants something more.

And I do, too.

This is what motivates me:

Professionally, I’m not satisfied that I’ve published three books this year. What good is that if no one knows my books are out there? So I’m currently seeking friends who will review my book, and researching on-line promotional sites that will help me get the word out about Haven’s Flight, and the sweet love story, coming out in June: High Country Dilemma.

Physically, I’m not satisfied with the numbers mocking me on my glucometer each morning. They’re a mite too high. Which motivates me to get on my hiking boots and head for the trails. And eschew donuts and pasta and grains and soy and potatoes and ice cream, and anything else that tastes good.

Spiritually, I’m not satisfied about the sin that hangs on, making me want to self-flagellate. Oh, how I long for the day when I will be freed from my flesh. It’s almost painful to read Paul’s words in Romans: “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do…What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”

In the meantime, I recognize that “it is God who works within both to will and to work for his good purposes.” (Philippians) And I keep slogging (slugging?) toward the goal of conquering the “sin that entangles.”

Like the slug, my progress is slow, on all three aspects.

The slug is driven by his God-given instincts, whatever they are.

And I am driven by my God-given need to push on, not content to stay in an imperfect place.