Category Archives: Nature

the heavens declare the glory of God

Sweet Poison

Back in the old days, when my dad wanted to get rid of annoying ants, he’d paint this kind of sweet poison around the perimeters of kitchen counters and floors. Then he’d warn us that the stuff, although sweet, was very deadly, and not to try to taste it. He’d point to a dead ant or two and say,

“See how it killed them? You don’t want to be a dead kid, so hands off!”

Every year, my dad trotted out the same sweet, deadly stuff when the ants reappeared.

As I grew older, I learned that lots of “sweet” things weren’t necessarily good for me.

I ate too much chocolate candy one vacation and got pretty sick.

In college I dated a guy who seemed really sweet, but turned out to be, well, not sweet. He broke my heart and turned me cynical.

I read too many sweet, falsely romantic books and grew dissatisfied with my own life.

As a child, we think sweet is good. We judge everything by how pleasing an item is to our sensitive taste buds.

So I guess it’s natural to continue thinking, even as adults, that sweet is always good:

A sweet dessert, a sweet guy, a sweet movie, a sweet deal, etc.

We need to stop and think sometimes: Does this book, movie, music, concept, idea, opportunity, relationship line up with what God says is good? Our judgment is many times off the mark because we want to please ourselves.

But God is a wise parent and sees beyond our instant gratification. I’m sure that ant poison would have tasted sweet to my five-year-old tongue. But the consequence? I hate to think of it!

I hope we consider our “sweet” choices with the same gravity as a child being warned away from ant poison.

The sweetness of God and of being close to Him is far greater and better than seeking after “sweet” things that only bring pleasure for a fleeting time, but result in devastation.

“The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.

They are are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” Psalm 19: 7, 10 and 11 NIV Bible)

The Perfect Day

A couple of years ago, my husband and I drove up to 2011 August Vacation from Bruce's IPHONE 014Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada.

I had three things on my bucket list:

  1. See a grizzly
  2. Canoe Lake Louise
  3. Have a meal inside Chateau Lake Louise

The day that we arrived, a huge rainstorm passed over us. The rain’s driving force was so powerful that it completely cleaned our vehicle. The sky turned crystal blue.

On our way to Lake Louise I saw many cars pulled over and people standing with their cameras. “Pull over, pull over!” I said to my husband. I jumped out and leveled my camera just in time to catch the hindquarters of a grizzly disappearing into the vegetation. Check that off my list. Yay!

We found a parking spot after much driving around and around the parking area. Hiking down to Lake Louise, we saw the canoe rental and I squealed with eagerness. Bruce and I are old hands with canoes. (We had a great canoe—a Grumman, seventeen footer, a veteran of explorer of Boundary waters, and multiple Colorado lakes— until my husband gave it away. GAVE IT AWAY! But that’s another story.)

Anyway, we buckled our life vests, climbed into our canoe and rowed way out onto the lake. The water was an amazing opaque turquoise. Locals explained that the milkiness was the result of glacial silt, washing down from the glacier above the lake. Check two!

Afterward, we wandered over to the Chateau to have a look see. Very British inside. Expensive stores. A harpist played next to the entrance to a restaurant. We found out that we had just missed tea time. But the restaurant that looks out on Lake Louise was still taking reservations. We signed up, waited a good hour, then were finally seated at a table next to a magnificent window overlooking the lake and the distant glacier. The meal was great but very expensive. The service was amazing and the waitress made us feel as if we were the most important people on earth. Well worth the hundred and fifty dollars for lunch. Check three. Thank You, God!

We don’t always have such perfect days. When they come along, as that day in Banff, we know it’s a gift from God. As if the Lord had said, “Today, I want you to have a day so perfect that you’ll recall it for years to come. And each time you do, you’ll remember that it was a special gift from Me to you. Just because you’re my child and I love you.”

And sure enough, we came home and resumed our usual mixed-blessing days of work, errands, repairs, cooking, cleaning, etc. But each time we remember that 2012 August trip, Bruce and I go “Ahh.”

I’m glad that not every day is so perfect. It’d be easy to get spoiled!

 

Deadly Snake

About ten years ago my fifteen year old daughter and I went for a hike in the hills above Boulder. It was mid-April and we couldn’t wait to get out and stretch our legs and breathe deeply after a long winter of being cooped up inside.

We parked just off Hwy 36, at the trailhead. We’d brought our two medium-sized dogs, Dudley and Sprite, so we felt pretty safe.

The trail was a there-and-back kind of hike.

At the mid-point—about two miles into our hike—we passed through a wooded section, and paid particular attention because of the possibility of a lurking mountain lion. We made lots of noise, laughing and talking and swinging and hitting our walking sticks against tree trunks.

Then we heard it. The unmistakable and bone-chilling sound of an intimidated rattle snake.

We looked up to the rocks above us. A big rattler was sitting on a flat rock, about eight feet above us, flicking his tongue and rattling his warning.

We hurried to get away from the area. And we thanked God that the snake had not been closer to the trail. We made it to the turn around.

On our way back, Kiri and I kept reminding each other about the wooded section and to keep looking for the snake on the rock. Kiri was ahead of me, walking Sprite. Dudley was pulling me along as if he, too, was anxious to get past this spooky section of the trail.

I kept my eyes peeled to the right, scanning the rocks for the snake.

Just then out of the corner of my left eye, I saw the lightning-like movement. A snake on the trail…let me repeat….on the trail, had struck at Kiri, missing her calf by just inches. She hadn’t even seen it until I screamed a warning and she jumped clear.

Kiri picked up pebbles from the trail and began to pelt the snake. I yelled at her to stop it because the rocks were only making the snake bunch up into a tighter coil. We’d never get past him if he didn’t slither away from the trail. Even the dogs refused to budge.

The rattler wouldn’t move, so we had to climb up through some rocks and high grasses to get past that part of the trail, all the time fearing that we might encounter another snake.

After we got clear, we ran the two miles back to our car. And all the time, we kept thanking God for protecting us. Especially since we hadn’t brought a cell phone.

I’ve thought about that experience many times. Here are the lessons we’ve learned:

  1. Recognize that danger exists.
  2. Be alert…always. Predators strike when you think you’re safe.
  3. Be prepared. Know how you will meet a threat.
  4. Have a plan of defense or escape.
  5. Stay close to others.

Recognize danger, be alert, be prepared, have a plan, stay close.

Physical attacks can be terrible and traumatic. But, in the spiritual realm, attacks are no less devastating.

In the book of Ephesians, we are told to put on the full armor of God to defend against evil and evil forces. The author, Paul, was fully aware of spiritual danger and of the attacks of the devil.

  1. We need faith in God and His work on the cross,
  2. we need to practice doing right, so that we recognize wrong-doing,
  3. we need to know God’s Word well and be able to rightly handle it against worldly “wisdom,”
  4. we need to pray in alignment with the Holy Spirit.
  5. Stay close to others.

Faith in God, Do right, Know the Word, Pray, Fellowship.

This is the best way to avoidIMG_2467 a deadly snake.

“…take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” ( Eph. 6:16 NIV Bible)

 

This Bug’s For You

Bruce came home with a nasty cold. At least I think it was a cold.

He rarely gets sick so I figured he’d be right as rain in a couple of days. But then the dreaded cough started. Bruce has the loudest cough in the animal kingdom. The walls of the house shake when he coughs. And when he gets a cough, it goes on and on and on for days.

I said, “Look, neither of us is going to get any sleep, so you’re banished to the guest room.” The next morning, I set about to wash the entire inside of the house with lysol. I was NOT going to get this cold (or whatever it was).

I usually open all the windows and try to shoo the nasty little buggers out, but since it was ten below that whole week, arctic breezes weren’t an option.

By Thursday morning, in spite of my best efforts, the bug had invaded and set up shop in my respiratory tract. I didn’t feel at all well.

Stupid me, I tried to carry on. There was so much to do.

Have you ever felt so bad that just moving your eyes makes you feel sick?

Yeah? You too?

I couldn’t write, or blog, or read, or anything. And because I’d not heeded my own advice about stopping activity and resting, I finally wound up in the ER. The good doc gave me antibiotics.

 

Yesterday was my first day out. Everything looked different. Bright. Almost dazzling. Like spelunking and getting lost in a dark cave for a week and then finally finding your way out into the noon day sun.

Ah, it’s good to feel good.

Just a reminder for all you sick people out there: go home before you make other people sick, get into bed, drinks lots of tea, and don’t try to carry on as if you’re a machine.

Those microscopic bugs are mightier that you. Your only defense against them is rest and time. And maybe antibiotics.

I think God lets us get sick every so often so we’ll realize how very fragile we are. And that He is our healer.

 

 

 

 

The Sound of Music

 

In my college days, a talented cellist lived next door. He used to practice excerpts from a Rachmaninoff symphony, over and over. Beautiful.

Years ago Bruce and I lived in a subdivision in Crystal Lake, Illinois. The friendly neighbors next to us had hung wind chimes in their back porch. During breezy days, the chimes made their mysterious music. To this day, whenever I hear wind chimes I think of those early days when my kids were babies, and smile.

In Longmont, when the children were in grade school, a large cottonwood shed shade and leaves in our backyard. In the fall, while its leaves still clung to the branches, the sound of the foliage in the wind resembled a kind of rhythmic applause.

In Paradise, California, a pair of owls hoo-hooed to each other across our backyard in a nightly love song.

Living in Estes Park,the community chorus of coyotes serenaded us almost every midnight.

Now we live close to interstates and major traffic arteries. The other night a truck zoomed down a nearby highway. Its speed seemed to send shockwaves of undulating pitches. My husband said, “Do I hear music?”

“No, it’s just a truck.”

But it did indeed sound like music. My brain and my husband’s brain both recognized the alternating sounds as an unwavering drone pitch surrounded by two higher pitches which seemed to hide, then emerge, then hide again within the drone.

I marveled that God has so ingrained music into the human brain that even random pitches or rhythms are collected, comprehended and arranged into some kind of musical order. Wind chimes, coyotes, applauding leaves, musical trucks.

The other day a friend on Facebook sent me a link to listen to the sounds of crickets. Whoever had recorded the crickets had slowed down the the speed of the sound waves. The result sounded like a heavenly choir. Now, granted, the “choir” was a bit repetitious, but my mind immediately comprehended the sounds in an orderly, rhythmic sense.

Why do we humans do that? I can only speculate that our ability for making and enjoying music is somehow connected with our brains’ hardwiring for language.

Both require a capacity to hear sounds while placing beats in categorized and anticipated sequence, translating sounds into meaning, responding physically to the rhythm, and responding emotionally to the meanings we construct from the sounds.

It’s amazing that we can do that.

Thank You, Lord, for the sounds of music!

“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;

let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.

Let us come before Him with thanksgiving

and extol Him with music and song. ” (Psalm 95: 1,2 NIV Bible)