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.)

Trust in God: Be Not Disappointed

My mother has an amazing green thumb, though she’s bound not to agree.  She always points out all the plants that she cannot grow, but to tell the truth, she makes our backyard a paradise for wildlife. With cardinals and mourning doves and house wrens and mockingbirds and hummingbirds and blue jays, butterflies and bugs of all kinds, Texas spiny lizards and small geckos and squirrels, time spent sitting in our back yard truly ministers to the spirit and soul.

Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honorable, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think about these things.  Philippians 4:8 (WEB)

“Our Iris is blooming Kathryn.  You thought you could get out of it,  but you’ve got to go out and take a picture of it,” Mom teased after our worship was over. It’s all right, I thought to myself. Maybe I can get a picture of another sphinx moth to go along with my blog entry.  We had gone out yesterday to see a pretty yellow butterfly flitting around the yard, calling with a wave of its delicate wings for us to join it in the sun.  While we were out, we witnessed a big green caterpillar crawling along our swing bench that we were sitting on.  At first we thought it was a tomato hornworm, but upon further investigation we discovered that it was the waved sphinx caterpillar.  With that (and a prayer) on my mind, I was ready to go outside again today.

WavedSphinxCaterpillar

The sun was bright, the breeze was nice.  The shade of the ash tree cooled us from the spring heat of the sun.  Trigger (our Australian Kelpie) was chasing lizards under our lawn chairs, and today he actually caught one.  It was a Texas lizard, the type that we try to protect because Mom loves them so much. Luckily, Mom saw it immediately and she made Trigger drop the lizard.  It was unharmed.  I helped Mom hold Trig back and, after the shock wore off, the lizard quickly climbed up my pants leg and clutched on, knowing that I was a safe haven for it to hide while the angry dog tried to attack it. (Trig wasn’t really angry, he was just trying to protect his people from the lizard that he had found hiding under our chair.) After the lizard escaped, I calmed Trig down and Mom took him back inside.

Like what Mom and I were doing for the lizard in protecting it from Trig, God wants to protect us from the vicious dangers in our life.  He wants us to trust in Him and to cling onto Him, so that He can hold us in His arms and protect us from harm.

But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives. In the end, he will stand upon the earth. Job 19:25 (WEB)

While we were outside, I was looking for something amazing to take a picture of. The day was still and quiet, aside from the children playing next door.  As my gaze skimmed the yard, I drew my attention to the roof of our house, to a spot where the shingles are missing.  We’re getting our roof replaced this week, so I was using my telescopic lens on my camera to get a good look at the damage to the roof.  I gave Lacy the camera so that she could see the spots on the roof too, and when she looked into the lens, I suddenly caught a glimpse of something  big buzzing around the roses.  “Oh quick! Give it to me!” Lacy immediately handed me the camera, but it was too late. The small creature had finished its business at the roses and flown on past the house.  From the distance that I was at, it looked like a hummingbird, but bigger and bulkier; it must have been a sphinx moth making a quick stop at the flowers in our yard before moving on.  It was the very moment I came outside for, but I had missed it.

Roof-worries

The message God gave me at that moment was loud and clear. When we decide to focus on the worries of life, we miss the beautiful moments that God tries to bless us with. Lacy and I were focused on the roof of the house- something that is completely out of our hands.  We could do nothing about the missing shingles or the rains that we’ve been getting lately.  All we could do was trust that God will protect us from harm and wait for the roofers to do their job, scheduled later this week.  But because I had decided to think about my worries and God’s concerns, I missed a moment that God had given for me to enjoy.

Who knows if I could have gotten a picture of the sphinx moth before it flew away. I was disappointed that I had missed the chance to try, but Lacy reassured me later that we’ll have more chances in the future.  The sphinx moth is usually seen in May to July, so no worries.  Maybe next time.

God heard my prayer of repentance, and although he didn’t send the moth back around, he answered another prayer of mine instead; I had wished for a chance to take a picture of the dragonflies and damselflies that we have in our back yard. That taught me another lesson: With a missed opportunity, God will always open a new door.

damselfly

Hear my cry, God. Listen to my prayer. From the end of the earth, I will call to you when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been a refuge for me, a strong tower from the enemy. I will dwell in your tent forever. I will take refuge in the shelter of your wings. Selah. Psalm 61:1-4 (WEB)

2017 New Years Resolutions according to Romans 15 (CEB)

#1 Read the Bible Daily

Romans 15:4 “Whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction so that we could have hope through endurance and through encouragement of the scriptures.”

I’ve read the Bible daily in past years, but lately I’ve been so busy with work that I haven’t really had the chance to read a yearly Bible reading plan. I received a “The One Year Chronological Bible (NLT)” for Christmas, so I’m looking forward to reading the Bible again in the new year.

The Bible is written for our encouragement. It’s words were inspired by God (2 Peter 1:19), His truth, and we are told to crave it like a newborn baby craves her mother’s milk (1 Peter 2:2). As 2 Timothy 3:15-17 says, “Since childhood you have known the holy scriptures that help you to be wise in a way that leads to salvation through faith that is in Christ Jesus. Every scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for showing mistakes, for correcting, and for training character, so that the person who belongs to God can be equipped to do everything that is good.”

#2 Make Somebody’s Day – Every Day

Romans 15:2-3 Each of us should please our neighbors for their good in order to build them up. Christ didn’t please himself, but, as it is written, ‘the insults of those who insulted you fell on me’.

Nothing gives me as much happiness as seeing someone encouraged by something I’ve said or done for them. But it’s so easy to become busy, to live in your own moment, and to forget the needs of others. I strive in the new year to focus on helping other people more.

Cook a meal for a friend. Give your parents a call. Compliment your boss. 1 John 1:7 tells us that if we live in the light, then “we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleans us from every sin.” We are told to encourage each other every day because once we stop encouraging each other, that’s when sin’s lies can take root and begin to grow in our lives (and theirs!), making us insensitive to God and His ways. We are only one with Christ if we have confidence in Him. (Hebrews 3:13-14)

#3 Be Kinder Than Last Year’s Me

Romans 15:7 So welcome each other, in the same way that Christ also welcomed you, for God’s glory.

I typically try to be a pleasant person, but if caught in the wrong moment I can be a true grouch. If I’m tired late at night or if I sleep late in the morning, or sometimes if I’m just having a very bad day, it feels like my bark resembles a fiercely snarling guard dog. I never mean what my mood entails when I’m a grump, but what’s said is said and I can’t take it back.  That’s why this year I hope to improve my mood and be kinder than before.

We are called to be kind to one another, and to welcome others who are weak in their faith – not to correct them or call them down or brag about your own knowledge, but to encourage them (Romans 14:1).  We are called to take care of God’s people, and to give to them when they are in need, and to invite strangers into our homes (Romans 12:13). Galatians 6:10 says “So then, let’s work for the good of all whenever we have an opportunity, and especially for those in the household of faith.”

#4 Find Joy and Peace In All Circumstances

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in faith so that you overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I was never a melancholy person as a kid, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve started feeling the sense of sadness in my soul; one that reminds me that I’m in the midst of hard times, and the hard times will never reach an end.  It’s all very dramatized in my mind, and I know that finding peace and joy in “hard times” is a talent that can be achieved if I can sustain my confidence and my faith in God. So I pray God will help me gain His peace through everything.

If we cling to God and His truth, then we will find joy and peace in all circumstances, both good and bad, because we are assured that we are given encouragement, and we are addressed as sons and daughters of God; even if we are disciplined by God, we are disciplined because He loves us, and wants to correct us so that we may live righteously and be redeemed in Christ. For Paul writes in Philippians 1:11, that “I pray that you will then be filled with the fruit of righteousness, which comes from Jesus Christ, in order to give glory and praise to God.”

#5 Worry Less, Pray More

Romans 15:33 May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

This Christmas, my family had to deal with a spot of mold. 2 days before Christmas I was pulling a boardgame out of my closet only to find it completely ruined by hints of fuzz and green.  I had to completely clean out my closet so we could spray the spot left on the ceiling by the contaminated game and then spray the closet with a prevention spray.  Of course, reading about all the side effects and symptoms of mold leaves me unsettled with a strong concern despite the fact that the spot has been taken care of, but God has always proven to protect us from harm, and so this year, I’m planning on thinking about my worries as little as possible, and will focus on the promises we have been given: the assurance in Christ Jesus.

Jesus promises in Matthew 11:28-30 that if we come to him with all of our worries, then He will take our burdens and give us rest. Yes, our troubles and worries do try to return, but we can rest assured of the fact that we have a place with God. As long as we have faith (2 Corinthians 5:1-10) and remain confident in God’s promise to us, then as Paul says in Philippians 4:13, “I can endure all things through the power of the one who gives me strength.”

#6 Be Content, Not Selfish

Romans 15:1 We who are powerful need to be patient with the weakness of those who don’t have power, and not please ourselves.

Sometimes I catch myself complaining about things, or wishing for things to go my way for a change. Sometimes it feels like I’m being completely ignored in life, like the world around me couldn’t care less about my happiness or my comfort.  But… again it’s my overactive imagination trying to trick me; and it’s selfish of me to say “God, you need to do things my way. Your way is too hard.” So I’d like to learn some stronger contentment this year.

We are told that our heart is where our treasures are. (Matthew 6:21), and that’s why we are to lay up our treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-20). In this case, I strive to be like Paul, for he says that “I have learned how to be content in any circumstance. I know the experience of being in need and of having more than enough; I have learned the secret to being content in any and every circumstance, whether full or hungry or whether having plenty or being poor.” (Philippians 4:11-12)

 

 

Prayer Power!

I have an exciting new story to tell this week about prayer and its power. If you ever doubted that praying matters, I can encourage you.

Last month, I decided I wasn’t doing enough to help children living in poverty. Providentially, an ad flashed onto the computer screen, displaying compassion.com, a website that gives donors the chance to sponsor a child in need – now I see this ad a lot, going to Christian sites and such, but this time, seeing it was an answer to my prayer of charity.

So I decided, with Kat’s support, we could work as a team, and we began praying for one child a day. By searching the children on compassion.com (they let you pick from a variety of details), we take the picture and bio of a child, and we print out the info to tape it into our prayer journals. Every night, we pray for God to provide the child a sponsor or help in other ways, like with education, health, and a good life.

21 days later, here’s our testimony to the power of prayer: Kat decided to search for these children again and could not find but 1 child! Some of them, like a 4 year old girl from Ghana, had been waiting over 300 days for a sponsor, so unless there’s another reason they might be gone, I imagine life is better in the lives of these 20 children. Is that not an amazing thought? For those of us tight on money, until God provides us with more fortune in our pocket, there is a way we can help!

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?

Foxxie Compares Problems to Dirty Laundry

Foxxie is a life-long character (and beanie baby friend) of ours. He’s motivational, no matter what, although his ideas are a bit far-fetched. His creative personality encourages those he befriends, which is anybody who crosses his path. His favorite interjection is the word “Dah!” meant as affirmation and praise. He wanted to write on our blog this week to give workaholics some friendly advice.

What’s up? I’m the fox, Foxxie, and I have a question for you!

Do you work, work, work, all day and all night, just to SLAM brick into a wall? Not literally but. Do you ever topple into a dumpy slump? Like, when you’re doing your job, if you’re a writer, and you’re writing a book, you get writer’s block. I compare problems to a pile of dirty laundry! A big, STINKY mess of clothes! Yuck!

If you do get in a mess, don’t let it get to you! Those somedays of dirty laundry aren’t your fault. Dah! If it was up to you? You’d keep it clean, but it’s LIFE that makes it dirty.

Don’t nag yourself for the spiral going outta control. Like, when the big washer sloshes around – buh-roo, broo, broo,– making some sound: that’s your life forcing you into a swishy wad. You’re the victim to unfortunate events. Yeah? It’s not your fault.

Let me tell you what I mean! There’s five things I can think of, where the dirty laundry hatches its mean plans, and you’re just kinda holding your head… “Aww, what happened!” … cuz you were doing your job so well, then boom! Life gives you a stinky, soggy disaster.

foxxielaundry2

1. Overloaded Routine: Mixing Whites with Colors

Nobody mixes whites with colors in hot water or else stuff changes. It all ruins! Well, the same goes for routine: one task gets a little dicey, before you know it, boom, boom, boom! Everything white’s now pink! The whole schedule’s hours, days, even weeks behind.

But Foxxie’s got advice for you – dah, I can help. If your routine’s in a rut, sliiiide it off your back. Chill! On purpose. Wear the now-pink-white as if it was always the plan. Don’t fret it! You can do it!!! Keep reminding yourself you can do it and don’t count lost time, just move on! Start anew.

2. Sad Things: Splattering the Bleach

Isn’t it harrowing when bleach splashes your best shirt? You get it outta the dryer, and there’s an ugly spot sitting there, staring at you. SAD! Like, “Once upon a time I was your favorite shirt… now I’m history.” Wah! I compare that moment to when it all becomes too much. When you work so hard on the job, then that feeling creeps up, making you think: I’m a failure. My work isn’t good. I should do something else. WELL DON’T LISTEN! IT’S NOT TRUE! You’re a winner!! Never surrender to spotty thoughts blemishing you. Instead, put on some music and keep trying! Keep it up!! Get it done!!!

3. Uninvited Company: Grass and Ink Stains

It happens! Like, when you’re about to start typing a new chapter in your story, then a person comes to your house and starts babbling nonstop: it’s like the nasty grass stains on dirty clothes that no stain remover can remove. You’re sitting there, staring at your screen, crying in your mind, because your precious story won’t write itself… you wanna put the blame on the uninvited company… creativity whooshes to the far reaches of your mind, perhaps never to be inspired again, it seems… the stain of interruption forever changing everything…

If it’s a salesman, that’s abominable rudeness, but if it’s a friend who interrupts, they’re ok. They need love!

So I’ve heard – you think it’s true? – smart folk say socialness helps your mind get more creative, not less! Maybe they’re right. Hard to say. Take a break from work, then, and you’ll do even better than if you’d been left alone! You’ll return saying, “Hey! I know how to make my story even better!” So I guess it’s ok to sacrifice a little of your time, when people are involved.

…If you’re not convinced, hey, think of it this way! Unless you wanna be Emily Dickinson and wait post-mortem for fame, you gotta get fans somehow!

4. Machines Stop Working: Washer Stops Washing

You know it! Air conditioners go out. The coffee pot stops brewing. Or your computer’s the problem. It stops working right in the middle of your best work. It freezes, turns blue, becomes a zombie! That’s when your life is like the washer that stops washing. You either can’t work at all – waiting for the maintenance man to come fix it – or you have to work in an inconvenient way. Kinda like scrubbing clothes by hand, scrub’o dub dub.

Broken machines make your life impossible! But it’s really not your fault. Hey, give yourself a pat on the back. Say “It’s ok! I got this.”

5. Yucky Health: Running Out of Soap

My personal worst is when the soap runs out! Dirty laundry can’t be washed and just keeps getting dirtier: hours get too long, body runs out of energy, and you just have to sleep in order not to die. Seriously! If you feel this happening, take care of yourself! Get some sun, or shade if your work’s outside. Drink some water! Watch TV! Take a nap. Care about yourself. You gotta stay well to see your dreams through ’til the end. It kinda sounded like I was teasing Emily Dickinson before, but hey, maybe she had to stay in her room, to stay well enough to write all those poems. It’s ok to rest. Foxxie wishes you well.

foxxielaundry3

When bad stuff happens, if there’s no way out of the dirty mess, and the only thing you can do is wait, no need to sit and mope. Have a pizza party! That’s what I do! It’s fun not to work all the time. Dah?