Chocolates and Pelicans

The first week of December is in the books, and I can hardly wait for each new day to hurry up and get here. I got myself an “Oh, Nuts!” chocolate advent calendar to enjoy. Mmm, Mmm! Here are a few of my favorites so far!

I know many people put their trees up early this year, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. My Mom always had us girls decorate the tree the day after Thanksgiving. Somehow, now that she is gone, it makes her feel closer to follow familiar traditions. She gave me many of the ornaments, and I love the memories each of them brings back.

Hubby and I drove by the river near our house as we came home from grocery shopping this past Saturday and saw several American Pelicans floating around. I got home, grabbed my camera, and drove back as fast as I could hoping not to miss them. I needn’t have worried, they weren’t in any hurry. The fishing was apparently good because they snacked all afternoon. Wow, it was fun to watch them throw their heads down, bring up a fish, and watch it wiggle down their necks!

I sat and watched the pelicans for about an hour and started back along the walkway to my car when I heard a rustle in the bushes and trees. There were several bluebirds eating berries not five feet from me! I got as many shots as I could of them before the sound of my camera scared the group off, these were the best two images. It was just as exciting for me to see them as the pelicans.

I got in the car and drove just a bit further down the road to another access spot by the river and took a few more snaps before heading home. I was running out of energy and only stayed 10 minutes or so, but every second by a river is bliss to me and I’m not going to waste it.

I think these shots are proof positive that there is beauty in every season. As a matter of fact, there’s beauty in everything and in everyone, if you look for it. I am going to try to remember to look for the beautiful in the world around me. I’m especially reminded during the holiday season to be grateful God saw beauty and worth in His creation, enough so that He sent Christ to redeem us. God be with you! ❤️Amy

If Only

The whole world is mad enough to chew nails and spit rivets at each other.  The wildfire of anxiety already fueled by a viral pandemic and financial hardships has roared into an inferno fanned by outrage over racial injustice.  Add all of this to an overly politicized, deeply divided, radically idealized, and seemingly diabolicaly opposed Left and Right presidential election year and, voila, here we are.  McCarthyism (“The practice of making unfair allegations or using unfair investigate techniques, especially in order to restrict dissent or political criticism.” – Dictionary.com) turned into Cancel Culture (“The popular practice of withdrawing support for public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive.” Dictionary.com).  Unsurprisingly, we (collectively as humans) have learned absolutely nothing from God or history on how to get along with each other.  Like sheep, we’ve all gone astray.  The only difference between us and sheep is that we like to point and call out the wrong courses everyone else has taken, but never look back at our own errors.

As a result, I’ve been rationing my news intake and limiting my time on social media platforms.  I can’t take all the lava-hot words and vitriol spewing out of the mouths on all sides of the world’s current, self-inflicted problems.  I don’t know how to heal or even understand the differences of opinion and the vast chasms that seem to lie between the logic and thinking of some of us.  So, with that admission, what can I do?  I have been and will continue to lay them down at my Father’s feet.  He is the answer to everything, always. God excels in doing what everyone says is impossible. 

I’m doing the same on a personal level.  While the huge fires of the world keep burning, so too do the little flames within my life.  I’m sure you understand because we’re all the same.  My personal fire is called MS but yours might be named such things as Furloughed, Job, Money, Stress, Anger, Divorce, Death, Parent, Child, Spouse, Cancer, Diabetes, Aging… just about anything, really.  For me, MS is constantly melting away tiny pieces of my own sovereignty.  It’s very difficult to let go of the things in life that make you feel like you have some control, such as driving, shopping, cooking, and walking. 

In much the same way that I realize I can’t put out the MS fire in my own life and deal with the destruction it leaves in it’s wake on my own, we, as a nation and even world, must understand we will have to work collectively to bring the flames of our society back under control.  The solution will not be conceived in fear of an unseen germ, worry over the next great depression, or riots that break our neighbors’ windows and loot their livelihoods because of injustice.  No, if it could then we would already have the answer.   The fix is to be found in love.  The kind of love the apostle Paul described in I Corinthians 13:4-7, the sort God has for us.  His love is patient, kind, happy for others instead of envious, lifts others up instead of boasting about self, is well mannered instead of rude, seeks the good of others instead of self, is slow to anger, keeps no records of wrongs, delights in holiness instead of evil, rejoices in the truth instead of sensationalism, always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. 

I realize what I am about to say is very Pollyannish of me, but…  If every person would recognize the truthfulness and wisdom of this type of love and make it their own personal goal to practice it, without policing others and how they are doing as they attempt to do the same, all the infernos of the world would simply burn themselves out.  If only.

Goodbye May 2020, Don’t Forget to Take Your Germy Germs With You!

Goodbye May 2020, Don’t Forget to Take Your Germy Germs With You!

Below you will find a few more pictures from the scrapbook of our May under CV-19.  We have completely settled into our new home and are grateful to be here, virus or not.

Tis a pleasure to live in the Ozarks!
We went for a drive in the country on Memorial Day.
Slowly, restaurants in our neck of the woods are opening back up.
Napping buddies.
We’ve had a lot of rain and storms the last few weeks. I see a lily in the clouds, can you?
This little house finch found a good spot to shelter during a heavy downpour.
One of my favorite backyard views.
A friend from church gave me this beautifully fragrant peony…
…and this old world rose.
After some research, I got a couple of new, weighted feeders and a different suet feeder. The seed feeders are on a spring that closes the seed ports when triggered by anything greater than the weight of a couple of finches. I also changed the kind of seed I put out and stopped spreading it on the ground. It has worked to cut off the riffraff grackles, crows, and brown headed cow birds.
Robin
Eastern Bluebird deep in thought.
Mourning Dove
Cardinal
Purple finches, female and male
House finch
Carolina Chickadee, I think. It’s hard for me to tell the difference between a Black-capped and a Carolina.
Chipping sparrow and blue bunting
Red-bellied woodpecker
Downy woodpecker
One of our neighborhood squirrels hanging out on the fence.
Our newest critter, an eastern chipmunk
My very favorite animals, Laudy…
…and Pip!

We’re ready to ease into June with fewer restrictions and, hopefully, greater normalcy. May God be with us one and all! ❤️

Life During the Time of Corona through My Camera Lens

A quiet lane a block or so from our house.
Along the quiet lane.
Dogwoods in all their glory.
Spring comes alive in our backyard.
Our neighbor’s tulips
Blooms in our backyard.
Our neighborhood has a small lake with a walking trail around it.
A bit of sunbathing.
Breathing new life into our old iron rocking bench.
😂
My stepmom gave me a cutting from a plant my sister Glenda gave her 20ish years ago. Glenda died in a car wreck 14 years ago next month. It’s a happy coincidence the pot she put the cutting in matches the lawn ornament behind it 💙.
I added a few bird feeders last week and they sure have been busy!
To the left…
…to the right.
Momma Tree Sparrow and…
…baby in one of our nesting boxes.
White-throated Sparrow
Downy Woodpecker
This Nuthatch is a new visitor, I get so excited every time it visits.
Goldfinches are a favorite of mine.
Such a cute baby Goldfinch!
We have a pair of stunning Bluebirds nesting in one of our boxes!
Momma Cardinal sporting a beautiful crest.
This little fella thought “crest” meant a mohawk!!
We’ve had a lot of House Finches at the feeders, they sing and chirp until you can’t help but smile that God created such marvelous creatures!
(Female House Finch)
Elegant and gorgeous Mourning Dove.
I think this dove may have a birth defect. He comes around a lot and I’m always happy to see him. I’m rooting for him out in the great-wide world.
Hubby has kept himself busy with chores…
…fun…
…making labs for students…
…and teaching from home.
Meanwhile, my life under the shutdown looks exactly like it did before Coronavirus. I always have a cat nearby and I don’t leave the house very often. I guess MS has been good for something, it’s made surviving the shutdown easy-peasy for me.
I’m still sewing when I have the energy, but I have swapped my usual tasks to making masks. As ever, Laudy supervises my work.
Pip as my parrot 😉.
LOTS of napping!
Yes, I did cut my own hair 🤫🤭.
I’ve been using my foot pedal a lot these days. My MS has been a beast lately, but I’m determined to keep moving by hook or crook.
We celebrated Hubby’s birthday on the 20th of April…
…and mine on the 22nd. (I forgot to take a picture of the donuts we had for Hubby’s breakfast.)
Texas Roadhouse for dinner on my bday 😋.

We’re both ready for the current madness to end and return to whatever the new normal will be, I’m sure you and yours are too. Stay sane, safe, and healthy, we’re all in this together together ❤!

Part 2: It Takes Both Rain and Sunshine To Make a Rainbow

In part 1 of this two-part post I told you the essential story of my Multiple Sclerosis to date or, if you will, the daily “rain” in my life. Now, if I stopped there all I could ever expect would be perpetual, devastating floods that would eventually drown the whole of me into an ocean of hopelessness. But, to the praise of His glory, this is not where things end!

God has created each of us to be more than just simple, physical creatures satisfied by nothing more than the air we breath and the food and water we intake. He has created us in His image and in doing so we reflect, albeit to a much more limited and imperfect degree, His palette of emotions as well as a spirit which will live on once we leave this life. Therefore, all of us have emotions which, when properly trained, can transcend the physical realities of our circumstances. We also have a spirit within us that longs for something, someone greater than ourselves. Our spirits cry out to be restored to fellowship with our Creator; wanting and needing to rise above the physical needs of our bodies. My spirit found the one, true, living God when I was 13 years old and from that moment on faith in God and Christ, His Son, has filled and overflowed my life with joy.

I don’t have complete control over how my MS affects my body nor the vicissitudes from day to day of what it will or will not let me do. However, I do have control over how I allow my emotions and my faith to run my life. Psalms 19:9 says, “The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever”. Did you know that “the fear of the Lord” is an Old Testament expression meaning “reverential trust”? Yes, once we realize Who God is and His holiness, we will fear Him because we realize who we are. We are not holy and knowing Him reveals our sinfulness. That is why Proverbs 9:10 tells us that “the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding”, it reveals our need. But once we yield to Him and become His by putting on Christ His Son through baptism, our faith is based upon a reverential trust in God to keep His promises. Once we have trusted in who He says He is and the promises He has made, we go the next logical step by submitting to Him. The most beautiful and wonderful example of this submission is by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Of Him it is said, “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body You prepared for Me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, “Here I am – it is written about Me in the scroll – I have come to do Your will, O God” (He 10:5-6). Further, the Hebrew writer describes the moment when the time of Christ’s passion came. Hebrews 5:7-9, “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the One Who could save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverent submission. Although He was a son, He learned obedience from what He suffered and, once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.”

Of course Jesus trusted God, He had just been in heaven with Him and had left Him to come here. But look what that trust enabled Jesus to do! He reverently submitted. And so, that is what I will do. I will live each and every day trying my best to reverently trust and submit to God my Father.

Trusting and submitting to God has benefits that far outweigh my physical limitations. He offers the “fruit” or “gift” of His Spirit, which Galatians 5:22-23 lists as, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” The Holy Spirit has been given to us as our “Helper” or “Counselor” (John 14:16) and His “fruit” or “gift” has everything to do with how to manage my emotions when living with this disability. These are how I will stay emotionally strong through whatever MS or life throws my way. I will love the things MS has taught me. I will find joy in the things I can still do. I will find peace in the knowledge that God understands my limitations. I will practice kindness and goodness because others may be experiencing greater problems than I am. I will be thankful for God’s steadfast faithfulness to me and pledge to show mine to Him out of gratitude and because there may be others who would be encouraged by my example. I will let his gentleness toward me influence my thoughts, feelings, and actions toward others. I will allow all the other components of this great Spirit given gift to learn and practice self-control.

God is the sunshine mentioned in the title. The rain of our broken lives mingled with the sunshine (or Sonshine 😉) creates the most beautiful of rainbows. After all, what was a rainbow given as a reminder of in the first place (Genesis 9:16)? A promise!