Garden Nymph

AztecGrasshopperNymph

We found a nymph in our backyard! #Shakespeare #Faeries

Look how small she is compared to the little tomato, and the three-leaf clover in the background.

She’s a baby, but I won’t tell you what for. You’ll have to guess…

The answer is below in white. (Select the space below to see the name.)

*Aztec Spur-throat Grasshopper (Aidemona azteca)*

 

Micro-Dimensional

I received an Omax MD8210 for my birthday last week: a digital compound binocular LED microscope.  I had a microscope on my wish list, but I expected for the good models to typically fall into the price range of $1,800 to $3,000, so I didn’t expect for such an expensive birthday gift.  This particular model is very cheap, but it’s very high powered and works wonderfully.  It took me a day or two to learn how to use it, because it’s got 5 different little knobs to focus with and it’s got a wet lens that needs immersion oil.  Considering I didn’t receive a user manual for it, it was a bit of a challenge to figure it out, but I looked online and found the manual on manuallib.com (a library of user manuals).

Viewing microbiology: it’s like entering another dimension.  Yesterday Lacy and I went outside, and we were looking for specimen to view under the microscope.  Fspidersor the first time, she was thinking very small.  She saw a spider on its web; it was just a little bigger than the tip of a ballpoint pen.  “What are you going to catch, little guy?”  She asked it.  “You’re tinier than anything else that would get stuck in your web. Are you going to eat something three times your size?”  Only later did we discover just how many tiny bugs that were smaller than the spider that set it’s trap on the cactus, waiting for its prey to fall into it’s web.  (Of course, that’s not taking away from the fact that the spider’s web really could ensnare something three times the spider’s size.)

Cloud Paradise

Some Things Never Change

Back when I was in high school, there was a guy from Mississippi who owned an online forum, cheshil.com. He was about 15 years old; with a mission to create a website for his high school, a place where everyone could come and feel accepted and loved no matter what.

I was the oddball homeschooler from Texas who got invited by my pen pal to join. Members chatted about topics ranging from books, religion, music, and video games. The atmosphere was kind of like Hogwarts… where everything was fun and imaginative and goofy.

I was a huge gamer: fan of Final Fantasy, Zelda, Kingdom Hearts, and anything JRPG. One day, owner Cheshil asked for people to write video game reviews, to make his forums not only a fun place, but a hub for research and recommendations. I agreed to write about my favorite video games, telling others what I did or didn’t like about the game, and what could have made it better.

My evaluations, as I called them, got positive feedback. The only problem some members had was they were too lengthy, being over 1000 words, but it felt great having others compliment me and tell me I helped them decide whether to buy a game or not.

Time passed… Everyone graduated and moved on, and the online forum was left behind, due to the grown-up world hitting us. We were all urged to come out of our shells and realize our potential, find out who we’d become and what career path we’d take. Amazingly, Cheshil is a doctor today with a Master’s, another one of the members live in Japan raising her family, yet another is an actor and production stage manager – the world is our stage!

I attest the wisdom: though success is in front of us and our lives are ready to conquer, we all still need to feel love and accepted, and that’s something that will never change.

Digital Can’t Replace Natural, You Just Have to See

Bernie Sanders, the well-known American politician, said yesterday on his Facebook post, “Let me be clear. Climate change is real. It is caused by human activity…” Whether you believe him and the well-respected science that says our world is changing and it is the fault of technology and humanity, truth is, a climate still exists outside today, in most areas of the world, which we can enjoy. And can we, in good conscience, go too long a period without enjoying the nature God has made?

For ever since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through His workmanship [all His creation, the wonderful things that He has made], so that they [who fail to believe and trust in Him] are without excuse and without defense.” Romans 1:20 (AMP)

I’ve felt stressed lately and decided to do, what I call, a social media fast. No internet. No Facebook. Not for entertainment, not for research, zilch! Constantly I search online about historical events, culture, written articles, science, religion and more, and I love to keep up with the latest even in media, actors, and politics, but on the social media fast I don’t even allow myself to do that. “I am blessed to have a home library, I have a cabinet full of old movies and games, I have a backyard, I have a life outside the digital,” I told myself. I even have “faith in the unseen” to pray and ponder on.

I have to remind myself – I remind you, too – Your hopes, your dreams, those you love are not bound to the digital. God exists in the natural. Love exists in the natural. You just have to experience nature to know.

A few weeks ago, I think someone’s prayer for me was answered when I was in my backyard garden. I have been sad a lot – an undertone of sadness glooms my life, if I let it – but when I went outside and enjoyed the fresh cool air, the sunlight, and the greenery, my spirits were lifted. It was not an accidental lifting of the spirits. It was purposeful.

First, I went outside to read my daily Bible reading. It was possibly the most tragic story in the entire Old Testament (Judges 19). I cried and grew angry at the injustice of a woman’s death, and read about how the whole nation of Israel went to war over her murderers’ heinous crime, as they tried to right the wrong. It reminded me of what is happening today in our world, with such a corrupt view on what is “natural” and “acceptable” and “free”. That made me very sad, but then my dog Trig dug a hole to serve as his recliner behind me, which got my mind on my surroundings. The sun was warm but the air cool, which in my opinion, is the most relaxing weather.

That’s when I started noticing the trees rustling, and the lush green garden.

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Patches of clover fill the grass, and who knew, bees pollinate even them?

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Common buckeyes like to light on the vibrant, orange lantana bush and feed there. Kat had a camera, so she captured everything we saw.

But two truly magical moments stood out to me as an “answered prayer” or else God strictly loving me.

The first “hug” was when a baby caterpillar was on my shoulder. I was standing underneath an ash tree that’s about three or four times my height, with its branches looming all around me, hanging around my shoulders, when suddenly a little green worm dropped onto my shoulder unexpectedly. Mom was using her shovel and pulling a plant out of the ground when I told her what happened. “Hey, there’s a caterpillar on me,” I said to her, and at the same time she showed me the baby bug on her own shirt. “It’s a baby lightning bug.” It made me feel good to see the new life all around.

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(Actually, I later found out it’s an ash sawfly larvae, before its head turns black. Looks like a caterpillar, doesn’t it? It is related to the birch sawfly larvae found in England.)

The second “hug” was more magical, more providential and less coincidental. Now I have a beautiful garden, but like I said, I hardly ever walk in it because I’m too digitally bound to my gadgets and computer, which is a habit I’m going to break after having found that enjoying nature is an anti-depressant, but that is beside the point. The reason why I know the Holy Spirit was with me during this incident is because a still peace inside showed me a cloud in the sky at just the right moment; I gazed heavenward and saw the only cloud in the sky move in front of the sun, shading it with an outline of pearl-white lining, and it sat still for at least 30 seconds, creating a grey atmosphere. Notice this moment, you’re being blessed. The peace lingered until I decided to go over to where Kat was taking pictures. We talked for a few moments as she captured more garden pictures. I almost forgot the feeling until the blessing came…

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“What’s that flittering around the lantana?” Mom asked after we came back over to the door, about to go back in. We debated whether it was a hummingbird, because it flitted and darted the way the little bird does, in a fast-wing-motion. Mom realized, “I think it’s a hummingbird moth!” I have never seen one of those before! After doing the research (so much for not online researching; I had to go online to find out the species) I found that it is a white-lined sphinx moth, found in Central Texas, known as a desert moth, which only comes out in cool moist air, usually dusk, although it was 3:00 PM. It doesn’t like direct heat because the wings overheat easily. It needs to drink a lot of fluid to stay hydrated. Wow… Amazing! I am convinced the only reason we witnessed the beautiful moth was because of the cloud that rested in front of the sun for 30 seconds, which created the perfect climate for the moth to make its rounds. Maybe some could say, especially the older generation, “You need to get out more…” because it could be a common occurrence, but really it was not. Mom was as amazed as I am, and she enjoys the garden much more than I do. It was God and love.

So if you find yourself doubting God, or feel sad from life’s letdowns, take a little time in the natural world. The unnatural shall not cloud the natural; digital desires cannot remove spiritual needs. We will continue to yearn for more in life no matter how distracted multi-tasking has us. And we will continue to need nature in order to create a better argument against the demons that so often plague our mind.

In conclusion, climate change does not have to scare us, neither does the injustices of the world have to cause us despair, because God is not only loving but He is just and will guide everything, even the drifting clouds and the rebirth of spring.

 

God’s Not Dead: A Movement or a Movie

I was skeptical. “Join the movement”, everyone was saying.  It was a nice thought, but its hard to find a dynamic Christian movie.  I’ve seen many inspirational titles, including The Christmas Candle, Amazing Love, and A Horse for Summer. I love inspirational movies, but many are lacking… something more, to give it that extra “umph”, the appeal that it needs to really hit home.

There have been a few movies that I think have that extra something -the dynamic appeal- that it needs, including Faith Like Potatoes, The Ultimate Gift, Unconditional, War Room, and Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story.

So when my family decided to watch God’s Not Dead, I was skeptical.  Would it have the extra quality to really start a movement, as it claimed?  From first glance it had a few of my favorite actors playing in it: Kevin Sorbo and Dean Cain, as well as a guest appearance and performance by News Boys; so my curiosity was sparked.

The story was great, the acting was superb.  I was impressed.  I was sold when I heard that they were making a sequel, God’s Not Dead 2, especially when I heard that Melissa Joan Hart would be playing a part in it.

I loved Sabrina the Teenage Witch when I was a kid. Since then, of course, I’ve realized that it was Melissa along with Beth Broderick and Caroline Rhea that I actually enjoyed more than the story itself.

Anyway, I was eager to see Melissa again, and was very happy to see the return of some of my favorite characters played by Paul Kwo, Benjamin Oyango and Trisha LaFache.

I personally enjoyed the second movie more than the first.  The courtroom theme appealed to me more than the college campus did, and the teacher being sued for “proselytizing in the classroom” seemed more believable to me than the teacher who resented God, although they’re both based on true stories.

I can’t wait until God’s Not Dead 3 is released, although I do realize it’ll be a long wait. IMDB doesn’t even show it in the pre-production stage yet.  But that’s ok.  I’ll eagerly wait to see how our favorite Reverend Dave gets out of the trouble that he’s in… I hope to see Paul Kwo and Benjamin Oyango playing alongside David A. R. White.  I’m also curious to see who else they choose. Could it be someone who I’d like to see again?  Alexa Vega perhaps?  Maybe David Gallagher or Katie McGrath or Aaron Yoo?  Abigail Breslin, or maybe even Jonathan Rhys-Davies?

…Probably not.  But maybe.  I’ll be looking forward to learning more about God’s Not Dead 3. I don’t know if it’s started a movement or not, but I’m hooked.

christiandemocracyshirt

Christianity is not a Democracy T-Shirt

As Psalms 24 asks, who is the King of glory? The answer is Jesus our Lord! As Christians, we are not free to live the way we decide is best; instead, we are to submit to God’s reign and serve Him, the Loving One who cleansed us and gave us the power to enter God’s holy place, His temple and His mountain.

My Favorite Shows

I have a literal love-hate relationship with the television.  As a kid I was a TV-junkie. After school, I’d watch anything, from Sesame Street to Mr. Rogers and especially Power Rangers (but NOT Goosebumps or Saved by the Bell). My older brother would record V.R. Troopers every morning before school and I’d watch it when I got home; in the evenings the family would watch Sliders, or Star Trek: Next Generation, or MacGuyver, or Earth 2. TGIF meant Full House and America’s Funniest Home Videos with Bob Saget.  Saturday mornings were for lounging on the couch and watching kid shows like Wishbone, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Little Mermaid, and my personal favorite, Reboot.

We moved to Germany at a time in my life when I was learning the true meaning of trusting God. When I heard that a mustard seed faith can move a mountain (my mom explained that it wasn’t literal, although it could be if God wanted it to be), I decided to try it out: I told the TV to “go jump in a lake!” It was a half-joke as I imagined the TV growing legs (like Mike the TV!) and running out to find the nearest lakeside to jump into, but I was serious, for a 13 year old. Needless to say, 2 years in Germany and only one American (news) channel to watch, I learned to do other things.

The family still loves TV, and a part of me wants to indulge in a good show; sometimes I do give in at suppertime. We’ve watched shows that I enjoy like Emily of New Moon, Chuck, The Dick Van Dyke Show, and Body of Proof, and shows that I don’t care for like The 100, Lost, and Arrow. There’s a few shows that are actually good enough to add to my collection of DVDs…

MY TOP 5 SHOW SERIES

#5 Dr. Quinn

starring Jane Seymour and Joe Lando

I’ve always been a fan of Dr. Quinn. After re-watching it with my family, I decided: I love Jane Seymour as she plays the brilliant Medicine Woman from Colorado Springs.  The show’s end was melancholy, as if some of the cast didn’t want the book to close on their story, so to speak, but it was a fitting end.

#4 Monk

starring Tony Shalhoub and Ted Levine

“Unless I’m wrong, which, you know, I’m not…” –Adrian Monk

There are some shows that are enjoyed because it’s bizarre and strange, and then there are others because of it’s relatability.  For some reason Mr. Monk’s story has an uncanny resemblance to my life, or at least how I perceive my life to be.  The series finale gave the show a perfect surprise ending which resolved all the issues that were introduced in earlier episodes.

“…I could be wrong now, but I don’t think so! ‘Cause there’s a jungle out there.” -(Monk’s theme song: It’s a Jungle Out There, Randy Newman)

#3 Primeval

starring Andrew Lee Potts, Hannah Spearritt and Ben Miller

Monk may be relatable, but Primeval is bizarre and strange. It started out quirky, hard to follow, and it didn’t compare to the other British dramas I had watched: Wild at Heart and Monarch of the Glen.  But my little brother, fiercely into dinosaurs, was so excited about the family’s interest in the new sci-fi show that we gave into him and took a chance.  I tried to decide whether I liked the show enough to keep watching, but as the characters grew and the story-line was revealed, I was intrigued; and when it ended, even though it ended with a definite cliff-hanger and lead in to another series (or season, as we Americans call it), it was the ending of the show that finally tipped me over the edge to make me realize just how much I liked it and was going to miss it.  The cast that the show ended with was amazing; they told their story very well.

#2 Three Kingdoms RPG

starring Kenneth Ma, Raymond Lam, and Tavia Yeung

Lacy and I have recently (the past few years) gotten into Chinese history after playing Koei-Tecmo’s video game series Dynasty Warriors; we got hooked.  Three Kingdoms RPG would probably be my #1 favorite TV show of all time, except the finale’s ending was unnecessarily bad.  Next time we watch it, we’ll stop 30 minutes before the end. It’ll be perfect.

#1 BBC’s Merlin

starring Colin Morgan, Bradley James, Katie McGrath, Angel Coulby, and Richard Wilson

This show has had a bad rep since the show’s end. Fans (and no doubt the cast) can feel the taboo that enshrouds the show’s legacy.  But the truth is Merlin takes its place as my favorite show. The cast, script, and directing were magic. The storytelling was superb. But the show’s finale left fans feeling betrayed and hurt from tragedy. Personally, we had to wait for the ending to show on Netflix, so after reading the viewer comments online, how Christmas was ruined for many, I was pleasantly surprised when I enjoyed the show’s conclusion; the cast played it spectacularly.

Lacy does remind me: as she and I read spoilers and prepared ourselves for the worst of the worst (what we saw other fans expressing), we created our own conclusion; one that continued beyond the ending and resolved the Dragon’s final prophecy: “Though no man, no matter how great, can know his destiny, some lives have been foretold, Merlin. Arthur is not just a king. He is the once and future king. Take heart, for when Albion’s need is greatest, Arthur will rise again.” Maybe I’m biased, but our creativity helped me realize just how great Merlin continues to be, despite the silence of fans everywhere.

Other shows that ended too soon: Eleventh Hour (with Rufus Sewell and Marley Shelton), Terra Nova, and Animorphs.

Childhood favorites that I want to watch again: Due South, Early Edition, Lois and Clark, and Reboot.

So. With that said… Three Kingdoms RPG, Eleventh Hour, Due South, Merlin… is anyone up for an encore?

What’s YOUR favorite TV show, and why?

My Original Song, Arpeggio Abduction

I must be a music geek somewhere in my core, because no one else in their right mind would be inspired by the music term “arpeggio” to compose a melody. Do you know what an arpeggio is? Quite a common music term, it is the fancy word for a broken chord, which usually is 3 or 4 notes long, but may be longer, ascending or descending tones. It makes a lovely sound. Beethoven used the technique, Bach used it, and video game music composers are fond of it, too, as is anyone. Final Fantasy fans may recognize the song title “Kuja’s Theme” from Final Fantasy 9, that has a series of arpeggios playing in the left hand of the piano, or at least, I think they are arpeggios, otherwise, they’re just a series of shattered chords, like broken glass… ascending it begins: D, A, D, F; then it descends: D, Ab, D…etc.

So lately, I’ve been neglecting my music. I haven’t played music in a long time, years maybe, which is bad for any budding musician. I simply have not the time for everything. It’s like when you are hungry, and you have to choose between meals, but you’re famished and want to eat everything on the menu; how can I make a choice when creativity can go whichever direction, but not all at the same time? I’m an octopus who can only move one tentacle at a time, ha ha.

However, I had to get back to music. I’ve been told that if I don’t play my Roland workstation, it’ll grow worn and the circuitry goes bad. So I went to it, pulled off the old, white sheet covering and dusted it, switching the ON switch, watching the green and red squares light up. My eyes grew a bit misty with regret from neglecting my talent. Music and I are old friends, yet we have been through a lot of arguments and debates, what with all the self-criticism and failed attempts.

One of my hardest troubles of composition is the technical side of audio recording. Lately though, I’ve decided to deem it a hobby rather than a profession, something I do for fun. I will be a bit easier on myself from now on (Lord willing lol).

I want to share one of my songs with you:

It’s titled “Arpeggio Abduction”. When I composed it, I pictured a great composer playing music in the night, when suddenly, he is beamed up into a UFO of dancing green aliens. At the end of the song, he is returned to his piano bench, and his playing continues, but he is forever changed…