Monday: A Challenge

The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,

“Therefore I hope in Him!”

Lamentations 3:24

I was challenged to read the book of Lamentations this week and I don’t remember reading it through at one time. I never thought it to be a “go-to-book” in the Bible like Genesis, Psalms, Proverbs or the New Testament are to me. I soon realized the wealth of this book.

It is a book of great lament and suffering, but the reason for the nation’s pain was because of their sins towards God. Chapter one starts with, “How lonely is the city which was once filled with people”. Destruction came to Jerusalem because they rejected God.

Lamentations comes after the book of Jeremiah. It’s almost a poetic continuation by Jeremiah of a people who rejected God. Although Jeremiah was a godly prophet, he too was caught up in the suffering and demise of Jerusalem. Many of the verses are unpleasant and are a reminder of a holy God who also judges and restores.

My greatest surprise was this passage, “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” (3:22-23)

Whatever you are facing this week God can be there for you. Don’t go your own way or reject Him, but accept His tender mercies.

Wren

Free photo image

The bird also has found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may put her young: Your alters, LORD of armies, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in Your house! They are ever praising You.

Psalm 84:3-4

Little One of spring’s rebirth,
friend of songwriter and poet,
fills still air with melodious song;
it’s mid-summer yet your nest 
is filled with opened mouths to
feed. Another late blush to fledge.

You’re silent as your daily duties
fill long minutes in nurturing young.
I thought you long departed on
heated morning, summer breeze.
My brown buddy now perched on
woody twig; stately sentinel scene.

What joy that fills this waiting
heart to know you linger long.
Churrs and rattles, a lively song,
my little wren so bold and strong.
The chatter in the nesting box
brings hope of springs to come.

Chicory

Dusty roads are paved with good intentions,
weary travelers seek a glimpse of freedom;
from day-in and day-out responsibilities.
Yet, in the midst of travel does one see
the common things which light our way?
Or is it the spectacular that is sought?

Periwinkle blue chicory line the roadside
as sleek crickets prepare their summer
encore using stringed instruments galore!
The air is filled with scents of weedy wonder enhance the upcoming performance early on.
Fall is around the corner, winking an eye.

Multiple petals build chicory’s flower head,
layered with a fine tooth-combed edge;
sturdy on woody stem as cars wiz by.
They watch busy travelers passing quickly
all the time wondering why their charm
is ignored as summer’s sunny day slips by.

I think the brilliant blue chicory is lovely
lining the country roadside, as summer
begins to blush, bringing a burst of color
to an otherwise dreary gravel shoulder.
Sometimes the simple things in our day
can bring the greatest elements of joy.

Monday: Little Things

… that you are to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

Ephesians 4:23-24

Sometimes it’s the little things in life which bring the most pleasure. I was watering the flower garden when I made a discovery. All summer I had been waiting to collect caterpillars off the wild milkweed growing in my flower bed. Week after week went by, with no caterpillar discovery. Then almost by accident, I saw them. Really, it was exciting. I can hardly wait to share them with my grandkids.

What’s so exciting about a monarch caterpillar?

Perhaps, it’s the memories of when my boys collected them in a ten gallon fish tank as children. One year, they raised several in their makeshift habitat. Or maybe it’s one of the miracles God has blessed us with from His creation. Perhaps, it’s the reminder that change can happen to anyone willing to allow the process. Or maybe it’s all the above.

Raising a monarch caterpillar is no easy task. Daily milkweed leaves need to be collected for their feeding needs. For weeks, the small caterpillars nibble and grow. Waiting is a constant element during the process. Then one day, their eating habits are over and it’s time for rest. More waiting. Another few weeks go by as they hang and I wait. Finally, the chrysalis begins to turn a smoky grey. Now, it’ll only be a few days before the birth of a monarch butterfly!

It wasn’t until a year ago I actually saw the transformation happen of the butterfly breaking through their confinement and slowly unfurling its wings to dry. I usually miss it by minutes. I guess I’m not good at waiting. The work isn’t finished yet. A few fresh flowers in the bug box and a small saucer of sugar water will help the butterfly grow in strength. Then it’s off with the lid and finally freedom.

I think spiritual change is so much more fulfilling to watch than even the monarch butterfly. Especially, in the life of a young believer who for the first time sees the truth regarding why Jesus surrendered His life for mankind. I know there are those who are unable to grasp the simplicity of Someone willing to take on the sin of the world, but it happened and is available for any to receive.

Change isn’t always easy. Just ask the monarch butterfly.

Monday: The Nature of Things

The life of every living thing is in His hand, as well as the breath of all mankind.

Job 12:10

I’m all for living at one with nature. I need to be, since I reside in the country. Most of the time it’s a place of solitude.

We had a den of foxes this spring. Three pups and a mom with a white tipped tail. A few years ago, they made my backyard their home right next to the play area. To say the least I was not happy. The following year the same thing happened. Watching their antics was delightful, but concern over the grandkids won out. We blocked the den opening, sprayed pest control and prayed they wouldn’t return the next year. They didn’t, but found a new home down the driveway.

My property is the tick magnet for miles around. Forest coverage and two marshes encourage deer to hangout. I should put up a sign, “No Cruising”. Yes, twin fawns were cute a few years back, but the ticks are overwhelming. I even pick them up in March while snow blankets the ground. The hunter comes in fall and by spring we are invaded again by a new generation of deer.

So what’s my problem?

I really don’t want to walk down the driveway staring at a bold fox who has dropped off carrion in eighty degree weather twenty feet from where I’m standing. The smell is gross. Plus, it’s annoying when fox decides to jump out of the front yard proceeding to drive my dog nuts. Or should I need to carry a hiking stick on my way to the mail box as a young buck hisses and grunts at me for walking on my property? But I know it could get worse. Bear sights have been made a mile away. I wonder what size ticks they care.

Living in the country, five miles from town, one would never think a habitat could be shared with so many mammals. Got to go. There’s that groundhog munching in my garden! What’s in your backyard?

Country Road

I meandered down a country road,
the sun perched through the evergreens.
My pup and I just on our morning walk,
but today we were stalked; wind whistled
in forest and mosquitoes buzzed about.

I stopped, not knowing what to do.
It’s not everyday one is face to face
with a young buck’s grace, just staring.
I pulled up all my courage, talked sweetly
then passed by the fellow bigger than I.

I pondered long as we continue our early
trek of why this young buck stood to glaze?
Maybe he was in a sullen haze or stood
for us to catch his sturdy, steady stance.
My dog just sniffed, we see deer most days.

Monday: Summer’s Slide

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Matthew 6:34

We are at the peak of summer. Camping, reunions, pool days and even the ice cream truck will soon be in the past here in the northern states. All the excitement, till this point, has been endlessly positive.

Sitting in the sun, before extreme heat and nasty mosquitoes, was a long awaited delight. The first robin’s nest or passing hummingbird gave the kids a thrill. Days at the lake swimming, fishing or tubing brought giggles and made lasting dreams. Then the 4th of July faded in a flurry of fireworks and now we’re past the middle of July.

How does one respond to sliding down the mountain of summer expectations? 

Some may stuff twice as many activities into a two gallon container being left worn-out and fatigued. Others may linger in the blessing of each day taking small steps of summer achievements. For some, they may mope and complain there just isn’t enough time to summer.

A flower blooms in all its glory for a short time then turns to seed. Those seeds will drift away and bring life again. Enjoy summer as it remains knowing the season will come again.

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Quiet, on the Midwestern Front

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” That’s awesome, Paul

Philippians 4:11

I didn’t fall off the edge of the earth. Although, that little wren has disappeared. The one that cheers me awake in the morning. The house is unusual quiet as I’ve spent July battling sickness.

Covid came first. Frankly, it wasn’t as bad as my first round a year and a half ago. I had a five day reprieve and was able to enjoy grandkids at the park. Then over the weekend I encounter a case of shingles. Yuck! This is worse than covid! I’m sleeping 18 hours a day.

Yesterday I was reminded of Paul’s attitude of contentment whether in prosperous times or times of suffering. 

Whatever you may be facing today, you don’t need to do it alone. Live a life for Christ and reach out for His help.

Hidden

As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God.

Psalm 42:1

Hidden deep, drenched in marsh grass,
under a dense tower of prickly pine;
against a summer sun-shade sky,
stuck in a sticky mallow of muck
saunters twin fawns out for a munch.

Hidden deep, enclosed by covered deck,
under waiting wonder of curiosity;
against a child’s inquisitive imagination,
stunned at the scene still unfolding 
stares four curious children of nature.