Saturday, January 31, 2009

thanks...for legs!

When we were children we were grateful
to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time.
Why are we not grateful to God
for filling our stockings with legs?
~G.K. Chesterton


...a great big THANK YOU, God, for giving us legs!


...and for feet upon which we can wear really cute frog boots!!

You are amazingly generous, and we are grateful!!

Friday, January 30, 2009

"snow day" hope...

The past several days I've been reading fellow bloggers' tales of ice and freezing and no electricity in far-off wintry states. Their stories and photos bring back such delightful winter memories of my childhood. Nostalgic feelings and thoughts wash over me, as I remember the hopes of a child with one thought on her mind -- "I want a snow day!!!"

I remember when I was a kid growing up in Michigan, and it would start snowing heavily in the evening with a forecast of more, much more, to come. And I would begin to hope. My parents would watch the weather on tv and would then turn on the radio. I'd listen avidly before going to bed, hoping against all hope I would hear our school listed in the school closings that were already being announced. And I would hope.

I so wanted to hear it before I went to bed, so I could sleep in in the morning. Other schools were closing... but, usually, ours didn't. Undaunted, however, I would go to bed, still hoping...

I would wake up in the morning with great anticipation, look outside at what I was sure would be even more snow, and turn on the radio to listen for the school closings. My school was still not on the long list of closings, but I would start getting ready for school and continue listening to the radio... and I would continue to hope.

Unfortunately for me, our county, for some reason, rarely closed our school. All the other schools around us would be closing, but I guess ours just wanted us to "git are edjucashin." Oh, there actually were the occasional 'snow day' closings--I knew they could happen, and even sometimes did! And so I would always hope!

That hope was special. It was something more than simply wishing. There was excitement. And anticipation. And expectation. And that combination was so much deeper and richer and more powerful than a mere wish. It was an expectant waiting...and my whole heart and being was involved.

Hebrews 11:1 says: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." I know what the author was talking about. After all, I had hoped for snow days! He wasn't talking about the "wishing" kind of hope that we seem to fall into. He was talking about "snow day" hope. And as I find my "hope in Christ," I want it to be that "snow day" hope... full of excitement, and anticipation, and a very deep, very real sense of expectation.
  • "...for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long." ~Psalm 25:5
  • "Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD." ~Psalm 31:24
  • "We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield." ~Psalm 33:20
  • "May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you." ~Psalm 33:22
  • "But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you." ~Psalm 39:7
  • "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God." ~Psalm 42:1
  • "I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good." ~Psalm 52:9
  • "Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him." ~Psalm 62:5
    Lord, teach us what it is to hope in You with Snow Day Hope.... cause our hearts to yearn with excitement, anticipation, and expectation as we wait on You...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

tagged again...

Well, one of the things that happens when you play games with your friends is that you eventually get tagged and get to be "it" again! (If you remember from my last 'tag' post, I've never been a very fast runner, and as a result, got to be 'it' quite often.)

My friend (and former neighbor : ( --I miss you!!),
Eva, played along when I tagged her, but then she did that most evil tag trick...and tagged me before I could run away! I didn't have time to yell "no tag backs!" And, so, I'm back in the game...

This one is an easy one for anyone who takes photos, and since we know I take a LOT of photos, it shall not be difficult to play along. The rules are simple:

  1. Choose the 4th folder where you store your pictures on the computer
  2. Select the 4th picture in the folder
  3. Explain the picture
  4. Tag 4 people to do the same

I'm going to cheat just a wee bit because I store my photos in two places--some on my laptop, and because it's old and has no more memory, the majority on an external hard drive. There is another reason I'm going to cheat a bit...and it's because the 4th picture in the 4th folder in my main photo storage is a wee bit embarassing.... because it's of me...and it's not all that flattering! (I don't have that many photos of myself, so I was quite dismayed that, out of all the thousands of photos I have on file, the 4th of the 4th was of me!)

Allow me to follow rule #3 right now and explain the photo... My niece lives with her family in the the nation of Georgia (missionaries with YWAM), and they only come home every two years for a couple of months to visit everyone. Two years ago when they were here she was 5, and we were spending time together. She wanted to take pictures with my camera, so I gave it over. And, she started snapping away--mostly of me! She kept telling me how she wanted me to pose (she definitely had in mind what she wanted to see!), and the following photo is the 4th photo in the 4th folder:

There you have it--me, in all my glory! (so sorry, folks! but let's all be glad it wasn't the 5th photo which was a very close up of my face while I was blowing up a bright pink swim ring!!) And, yes, the hands were by my niece's instruction!

So, now, to take away a little of my embarrasment and the spotlight off that photo of me-- this is the 4th photo in the 4th folder in my secondary photo storage:

This flower was one of a patch of wild sweet peas I discovered in Grass Valley, California when I was living there for a time. This was when I was first discovering the joys of digital photography--you know, taking a million photos and never having to pay to see them!!

Now, for the tagging part...

Tag! You're it! And, since you guys all post photos on your blogs, I know you've got to have a 4th folder with a 4th photo in it! (and, I do apologize that I've tagged a couple of you before... but this one's far less time-consuming!)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

the voyage of discovery...


The real voyage of discovery

lies not in seeking new landscapes

but in having new eyes.

~Proust


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

thinking differently...

"Discovery consists of looking
at the same thing as everyone else
and thinking something different."
~ Albert Szent-Gyorgyi


You might see the rock formation below and think as I did when I saw it-- "Hmmm. Cool rock!" It had some really neat coloration and patterns on it, and it contrasted so beautifully with the brilliant blue sky behind it.

And, then again, you might look at this rock and think something different, like.... "Hmmm. Cool iguana!"

Right there! On the top left slope of the rock... right between 10 and 11 o'clock! An iguana! (see its head with the pointy nose and smirking mouth, the plated-armor look of his back?)

Now, I took the photograph when I saw only the rock formation. I thought it was nice, and I liked the color contrasts. But, later, when I really looked at the formation--THAT was when the moment of "discovery" came--when I saw the iguana.

And for me, with the discovery came an even greater joy...an even deeper sense of satisfaction and fulfullment. A bit of a thrill at the discovery! It was when I saw it differently, when I thought about it differently. That was the moment of delight!

I find it is the same in regards to how I see my daily life, how I think about the events and people and circumstances. If I look at difficult circumstances or at the normal, mundane bits of daily life through the eyes of human nature, I feel discouraged or bored or weary. But, if I look at them in a different way, if I think something different--like how God sees and thinks about these things or what special something He may have in store for me--I discover that there is so much more than what I see at first glance.

I discover JOY in the heart shape of a strange beached jellyfish.

I discover DELIGHT in the sea creatures hiding in the crevices of the rocks.

I discover PEACE in the colors of a sunset painted on the evening sky.

I discover CONTENTMENT in a heart filled with GRATITUDE at God's goodness and amazing love displayed for me... if I will but look about me with my eyes and my heart open to see an iguana where others see only a rock.

Monday, January 26, 2009

wild (weird?) and wonderful...

On my recent trip to the Central coast of California, we stopped at one of my very favorite places--a little town called Cambria. Actually, my favorite part of Cambria is Moonstone Beach. It is a wonderful stretch of beach with continuous wave song and several miles of boardwalk as well as the beach itself to walk on. The sand is not really even sand but bazillions (I don't know a higher number!) of teeny tiny stones. The beach has been a rock collector's, treasure hunter's dream for me! Most of the stones are rounded and smooth, unlike any other place I've found, and there are quite wonderful colors --but with a predominance of glorious jade-green colored stones.

This time, however, was quite different. As with most beaches, the beach itself can change drastically from visit to visit --shape, height of tide, condition of the beach. This time the great areas of larger stones which usually keep me occupied for hours (as I sit in the middle of a pile and dig through the layers looking for special and unique stones) were not there. The beach was mostly just the teeny tiny "sand" stones.

We did, however, get to see something a bit wild and weird and, I thought, quite wonderful...

Hmmmmm... Check these out! There were many, many of these little objects strewn across the beach right at the water line where the waves had dropped them.
Animal? Vegetable? Mineral? The sun was striking them so that they appeared to be glowing from within. They were quite beautiful, and I liked to imagine that they were many glowing moonstones on the beach.

But, no... Mineral, they were not. And, upon closer look and a bit of curious poking, I determined that neither were they Vegetable...

I had seen these things before, but not in such abundance. They actually are Animal... a type of jellyfish. They do not have tentacles, and I believe they are a much less developed jelly (a lower life form) than what we're used to seeing.
If you poke them (which, I, of course, HAD to do!), they are very firm, like a piece of hard but pliable rubber. They're not gooey or slimey but smooth and cool. And, if you look closely at them, they've got lovely striations running through them... (the following two and the flower one you can double click on and look at them up really close! they're really quite amazing!!)

(you can also see what I was talking about in regards to the "sand" on this beach)

I think the one below looks sort of like a seashell in shape...

And this one was very cool! It was very 3dimensional and looked sort of like a big blobby bulbous flower of some sort! It even has a few streaks of a pinkish-purple color running through it. (unfortunately, Blogger is turning some of my photos; this one and the following one are sideways)

For all you Heart lovers and seekers, check this out... (imagine it turned 90degrees counter clockwise!)....


And the final one ... obviously a treasure just for ME!!.... (ok, I'll share it with you!)


God has such a great sense of humor, don't you think?! Not only does He create such wild and weird stuff, He dredges it up from the deep, tosses it onto the beach, and gives us a little art show with it! And wraps it all up with LOVE.... Ah, He does delight my heart...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

celebrate the Sabbath...delighting in answered prayer

He will call upon me, and I will answer him...
~Psalm 91:15

"I think we sometimes discourage ourselves by a misconception of the exact meaning of the expression, "answer," taking it to mean only grant. Now, an answer is not necessarily an acquiescence. It may be a refusal, an explanation, a promise, a conditional grant. It is, in fact, simply attention to our request expressed. In this sense, before we call He will answer, and while we are yet speaking He will hear. (Isaiah 65:24)" ~Mary B. M. Duncan, as quoted in Spurgeon's The Treasury of David

What prayer of yours has God 'answered' today... in the past week, or month, or year? Let's celebrate that God does hear and answer our cries.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

a whole lot of lying around...

...and so, with this last post about the seals, I share with you what they do a whole lot of while they're on the beach... in between fighting, birthing babies, taking care of pups, defending turf, flipping sand, and occasionally chasing away a male challenger, there is a whole lot of 'down time' to conserve energy... in other words--lying around.

This, actually, is pretty much what I looked like most of the day today...ahhhhh...Saturdays!

And, now and then, in between naps, there is a bit of this--very entertaining traveling across the beach. I like to call it "galumphing," and it never ceases to cause me to smile!

video

Then, there MUST be more of this...


...don't know about you, but this little pup's all ready for some more nappage...

* * YAWN!! * *

And, with that happy ending, I shall make tracks... er, take my leave...

(I couldn't resist this wonderful set of tracks made by one of the alpha males!)

Friday, January 23, 2009

all this talk about elephant seals..

I appreciate all of you who have hung in here with me while I rave on about the elephant seals. It was such a great time being there with them--watching, listening, laughing...it's hard NOT to share it!

This area where the seals 'hang out' is about 5 hours north of where I live--up in a little coastal town called San Simeon. There is a beach area with a little bit of a cliff type terrain, and that beach is where they migrate each year from Alaska to do their birthing, mating, and molting. There are always some seals there throughout the year long, but the age groups and purposes change depending upon the time of year.

In October and November the adolescent males (3-5yrs) are on the beach. They mock fight and practice their moves until December when the Big Boys arrive and haul themselves up onto the beach. The Big Boys (at 4-5,000 lbs each!) move in and stake their claim to an area of the beach (by fighting off other males) and await the arrival of the females. When the females arrive --many of them pregnant-- the Big Boys each assemble their own harem of about 30-40 females and then keep all other males at a safe distance away. Because they do not eat the entire time they are here (3 1/2-4 mos), they generally lose up to 40% of their body weight by the time they hit the sea again.



Usually the females have their babies from about the end of December through the beginning of February. They then spend their time feeding and caring for their pups until they are weaned at about 6 weeks old. Once the pups are weaned (and the females have mated with their bull), the moms leave the beach, and the pups stay to teach themselves how to swim.There is so much going on down on the beach during this time of year! I watched for three hours straight each day I was there, and the time just flew by! The moms feed and talk to the pups and yell at each other; the bulls bellow at and chase each other; the pups wriggle and crawl and yelp and squawk;the bulls mate with the females; and all of them (even the newborn pups!) are continually flipping sand onto their backs to cool themselves in the warm sun.



And then, there's a whole lot of puppy love going on...




How many are your works, O LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. ~ Psalm 104:24

Thursday, January 22, 2009

got milk?

Just because I can't help myself, I'll be doing a couple more days of seal posts... this one is to specially highlight a couple of delightful little pups!

GOT MILK??
(look at that adorable little milk mouth!)

...and, is he sucking his thumb...i mean, flipper??

Though I've tried to upload a couple of my wonderful video clips, this short pup one is the only one with which I've yet been successful. The sounds you'll hear are the ocean, the snorts of a bull (male), and the high-pitched monkey-like sounds of a pup calling out. I hope you enjoy this little bit of the experience...
video

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

scenes of the seals....

Well, I have finally made it (mostly) through my bazillion photos from my weekend in elephant seal heaven. Unfortunately, I'm having trouble uploading to my blog (and have spent the past three hours trying to do so!), so the seals post will stretch into a couple of days.

They were absolutely amazing... the beach was literally strewn with seals... moms, moms-to-be, babies galore, sprinkled with some of the "big boys", as well. We saw it all in the hours we spent there--nursing, flopping, fighting, squawking, mating, swimming, sleeping.

I know they resemble stuffed sausages (thanks to Eva for that comparison!!), or to me, great big slugs!, but the beach was full of activity and interaction.Today I shall show you a bit of the mom-and-baby activity... many of the babies are still quite young and, like human newborns, are a bit wrinkly and skinny. They are born at about 60 pounds and generally double their weight in the first 1-2 weeks.


There was a whole lot of eating going on--and all by the babies! (the adult males don't eat for about 3 months and the females for about 6 weeks, until they leave the beach for the season)



...and there was a whole lot of sleeping going on as well... though, what with all the noise, I don't know how they could do much sleeping at all. (barks, chirps, purrs, grunts, cries, feeding calls, challenges)





...how about that little face?!?!
Here and there were a few of the older seal pups--maybe three weeks or so. Look how plump, ok FAT, the older pups are!! I think they look like great big black grubs!! : ) And to finish off today's elephant seal sighting is a shot of all the different seal ages--
several moms, a couple of pups, and one of the older alpha males (check out that huge schnoz!!)

I love God's amazing creation!!