Easter Weekend – Saturday

Matthew 27:62-64 – The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”

Waiting for Sunday.

 

This is Post #20 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

Easter Weekend – Good Friday

Easter Weekend begins with the most somber of days, Good Friday. This is the day that Jesus gave his life for us on a cruel cross.

Luke 23:44-46 – It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

Michelangelo’s Pieta in St. Peter’s Basilica

But this was just Friday. Sunday was coming.

 

This is Post #19 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Assumption

Last week was my friend, Kathy’s, birthday and I gave her a special gift. To say it was special doesn’t quite cover it. It was extra special because it was adorned with the face of Bob Ross. You may know him as the happy-little-trees painter, but we knew him as the friendly guy in our neighborhood who received injured squirrels from our kids.

Kathy was so excited to receive a mug with Bob Ross’ face on it. Building on that, as if that wasn’t enough, when you poured hot liquid into the mug, one of his paintings magically appeared. She couldn’t wait to show it off to her husband John and said this would become her morning coffee mug. We left our luncheon full of hope.

Bob Ross mug before

Kathy with her happy little mug

Bob Ross left us some great quotes:

  • “There’s nothing wrong with having a tree as a friend.”
  • “I believe talent is just a pursued interest.”
  • “We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.”

Alas, a week passed and I received a text from Kathy. “Darn that John! He made Bob have a happy little accident!”

A happy accident or something more?

The irony of this was not lost on us. This never should have happened! The mug came with instructions. For instance, clearly printed on the underside of the mug were the words: USE OTHER SIDE. John assumed he knew how to use a mug. We so often get ourselves in trouble when we assume. If only he had taken the time to read the supplied instructions. They directed the new mug user: “Are you unfamiliar with mugs or their proper use? For a free refresher course, watch our inspiring and instruction video.”

 

 

Video courtesy of Unemployed Philosophers Guild.

As a woman who drives her husband crazy with her instruction reading, I can now point to this incident in defense of every useless instruction I have ever read. Now, you can, too.

 

This is Post #18 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

 

The Perfect Ten

My daughter, her four kids, and their dog arrived late last night. I didn’t expect to get any blog ideas from them this soon, but that was silly of me.

I have become accustomed to a rather quiet start to my day, but I happily throw that out the window when grandchildren are around. Ten-year-old Jett was the earliest riser and we enjoyed a chat before I had even downed my first cup of coffee. Of course, I’m not sure how coherent I was, but Jett picked up the slack and kept the conversation moving.

We discussed everything from villains and heroes to the states of matter. Jett likes science and excels at math. Personally, I think he will become an engineer. I recognize that gifting and love to see his creative mind in action, but we’ll see. He likes to write, too, so the world is his oyster.

Soon the rest of the family gathered. One of his sisters said, “Oh, my gosh,” in response to something. The end of the statement kind of dropped off, so her mom (Dena) reminded her how much that sounds like, “Oh, my God.”

“You don’t want to take the name of the Lord in vain,” Dena said.

 

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain…” – Exodus 20:7

 

The breakfast conversation turned to the Ten Commandments – not the movie, the actual Ten from Exodus.

Image result for free pictures of the ten commandments

We talked about what it means to take the Lord’s name in vain. It means say it in jest or take his name lightly. It was a great conversation.

And then Dena broke out in song. She and her brother sang The Perfect Ten as part of a program that our church children’s choir performed quite a few years ago. She breezed through nine out of ten commandments before she got stumped. We had to look up #10 and remind ourselves not to covet.

Here’s the video of the song for your enjoyment. It’s still as helpful as ever.

 

By the end of the conversation, I think Jett was catching on. He doesn’t want to take God’s name in vain or use it lightly. “Well,” he said, “I guess from now on, I’ll just say – Oh my Gollum.”

There you have it. You never really know if you’re getting through to kids, but it sure is interesting trying.

 

 

This is Post #17 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Brings You to your Knees?

There are moments when there’s nothing to do but be silent, watch, and pray. As Notre Dame was burning and firefighters were valiantly fighting the flames, the world watched in sadness.

 

Prayers and tears from Parisians and visitors alike from the banks of the Seine as flames pour from Notre Dame (Photo Credit: Yoan Valat/EPA)

 

I visited Paris in 2013 and we toured Notre Dame. She was more magnificent than I could have imagined. Yes, she – Notre Dame is referred to as Our Lady of Paris. She reminded me of an anchor for the city. She sat in silent beauty beckoning us to come. Her outer beauty was astonishing – her inner beauty even more so. The history of the church was everywhere inside of her. She begged us to worship God.

I’ve been in cathedrals all over Europe. Some felt more like a museum. Some felt empty. Some brought me to my knees.

During this Holy Week, I will be reflecting on what brings me to my knees. On what makes me stop and worship God or stop to pray. On what makes me thankful for all He has done. On the church and how it is not simply a building. And I’ll remember the people in Paris who call Notre Dame their church. I’ll remember that to them she is more than an amazing cathedral – she is their home church.

The word today is that Notre Dame will be rebuilt. Many artifacts and relics have been saved. Nobody was hurt. There is much to be thankful for. Jesus has been in the process of building his church since he went to the cross. I’ll reflect on that, too. Won’t you join me?

 

Notre Dame – photo taken in 2013

 

This is Post #16 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

Why Counting Sheep Doesn’t Work

Happy Monday! I’m having a little trouble kicking into gear this morning. Maybe it’s because I’ve been counting sheep to go to sleep – the wrong sheep. I need to find a group that is less entertaining. Enjoy!

 

 

These are more sleep-inducing speed, though it would help if they were single file.

 

This is Post #15 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

 

Wildlife Weekend

I’m a bit of a birder – not quite a “Big Year” type, but I have the Peterson Field Guide to Birds app on my phone and I try to keep my life list up. Binoculars are always on the ready by my back door.

My mother bequeathed me with this passion and we love to bird watch together. Twenty minutes from our home is the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive. It usually takes us three hours to do the 11-mile drive at a maximum of 10 mph. We stop a lot. You just can’t help yourself. There’s so much to see.

The drive is part of the successful effort to restore beautiful Lake Apopka, which is northwest of Orlando, and home to 369 species of birds, though some are quite literally snow birds. It’s a big winter migration area.

Today, the wildlife drive really lived up to its name. Mom and I spent the morning there, and we agreed it was the best day we’ve ever had on the drive. We identified 24 different species of birds, witnessed an alligator turtle laying eggs, and observed more American alligators than you can shake a stick at. Note: Don’t shake sticks at alligators or feed them. It’s against the law.

 

These beautiful flowers grow in the water.

 

Baby Gallinule

 

You can tell it’s springtime. There were baby gallinules everywhere. Here’s a family portrait.

 

I always find a gator in this particular spot. Today as we pulled up there was a woman taking pictures of the babies. Do you see them? There were five altogether but only four are in this pic. At first we didn’t even notice that mama had her eye on us.

We had never been to the drive during alligator mating season. It began a couple of weeks ago. Their gestation period is 65 days, so I guess this mama got an early start. Since we’re talking about alligators here, it brings more meaning to the fact that they are fiercely protective of their babies. When we saw the babies, we knew she must be close by so we were happy to spot her from a safe distance.

 

Great Blue Heron

 

Gator grabbing lunch

You know how you can be out in the wild and hear something and turn to discover you’ve just missed a spectacular moment? Well, we saw the spectacular moment. We were standing along the shore when this alligator leaped out of the water and caught a bird. I think he leaped from below and snatched it on his way up. We saw most of his white underbelly. It was quite violent and really cool. I snapped this picture right after the jump. You can see the poor bird in his jaws.

 

Anhinga drying its wings.

Anhingas swim through the water with their head and neck poking out of the water. They look like a snake, hence the nickname Snake Bird. They’re also called water turkeys. They’re beautiful in flight.

Cutest Bird Award goes to the Black-Necked Stilt

 

The green is so vivid that you almost don’t notice what’s lurking just under the surface.

Is the north side of the gator where the moss always grows?

 

Here’s a close-up of our camo-gator.

We heard a lot of gators bellowing. At first I thought it was a bullfrog, then I remembered it was mating season. We were on alert because these big guys can be submerged right in front of you and you not know it. On the drive, food is aplenty, and I’ve never seen anyone harass or feed a gator, which I have witnessed in other areas of Florida. Don’t feed the gators! It is a felony and makes them lose their fear of people and start to look at them as a food source. It’s funny to think they fear us. If a gator offered me food, I’m pretty sure I’d think it was up to something and fear it more!

Pretty sure this is a White Ibis. The bill being dark on the end makes me doubt a little.

 

Alligator Turtle laying eggs by the side of the road. I think she’s pretty ugly and maybe not too smart. People were right next to her. But I guess when it’s time, it’s just time.

 

Another Great Blue Heron. He just took a bath and was cute and fluffy.

I hope you enjoyed going on the drive with me. Any birders out there? I’d love to hear from you.

 

This is Post #14 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

 

There are Nine Sides to Every Story

Image result for free pictures of enneagram

Enneagram – Photo Credit: 1001freedownloads.com

I was on Facebook the other day and my friend, Chris, asked for comments about the Disney Parks based on enneagram. There were 56 comments, including mine which was: “What is an enneagram?”

There were quite a few responses to that, too, making me feel a little like a dinosaur, but then I remembered that I was older than everyone who answered and decided I didn’t care. I did want to know what everyone was so excited about though, so I looked it up.

You probably already know, but in case you don’t, it’s a personality test that uses a nine-sided figure in a particular system of analysis to represent the spectrum of possible personality types. In other words, “Mwa, mwa, mwa, mwa, mwa.” That cleared it up.

Then I thought to myself, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

That thought was quickly followed by my remembering that I am doing a 30-day blog challenge, so I looked for a free test and hoped for a blog post.

The answers to so many of the questions sounded like both would equally apply to me or neither would apply. I felt like I was getting my eyes examined – does this look clearer? – how about this? I thought I’d go out of my mind. I found myself wanting to get off that crazy train, but I played along for your sake, dear reader.

I would like to tell you exactly what the results of the test were. I’d like to tell you that it opened up my mind to the kind of person that I am. I’d also like to tell you that I should have gone with my first instinct.

I haven’t really cared what classification I am personality-wise for a few decades. It’s one of the benefits of getting older. These kinds of tests have been around since before the internet, but now it’s so easy to take one and account for your actions by your type. For me, taking it was annoying. I’ll tell you why. In my answer there may be a hint for you enneagrammers as to what motivates, or inspires, or drives me to be the way that I am.

The perfectionist in me couldn’t handle it when both answers equally applied and I was still forced to choose only one. We’re talking about degrees of difference that were so small even my eye doctor would struggle.

So, I‘ve decided that I’ll be content with myself and my unconscious patterns. I’ll also try to enjoy the fact that we can be friends even if I don’t know what number I am with all its wind and wings. My results revealed three numbers that were identical. At that revelation, I yelled at my computer, turned it off, and took a nap.

It’s great that we don’t look at life through the same lens. That way we can tease each other, I mean learn from each other.

 

This is Post #13 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

Another Public Service Announcement for Fans of Florida

It’s a little bit safer to traipse around in the swamps in South Florida today. A 17-foot python was hunted and killed down in Big Cypress National Preserve in the Everglades a few days ago. I try to keep abreast of things that can squeeze the life out of you, like The I-4 Ultimate Project, phone solicitors, and big snakes. I know how you depend on me for just such information!

The problem with this invasive species is huge, like the snakes themselves. Interestingly, the increase in this snake’s population in South Florida is linked to Hurricane Andrew, which struck in 1992. Along its path were several exotic pet stores. When they were leveled, the pets found a suitable home in the swampy jungles of South Florida and have continued to devastate our native species while increasing their presence in the way that birds and bees and snakes do.

Florida is aggressively fighting this problem. There are even Python Elimination Programs, but in case you’re wondering SFWMD (South Florida Water Management Department) is not currently accepting applications for new participants.

They are getting very scientific in their battle against the Burmese Pythons. Tracking devices are implanted in male pythons (another job I wouldn’t want) to lead the trackers to breeding females. This 17-foot mama had 73 developing eggs inside of her.

 

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Photo credit: Big Cypress National Preserve/FaceBook

Despite the possibility of being strangled by a python, attacked by an alligator, injured by venomous toads, swarmed by mosquitoes, or literally driven crazy on I-4, I still find Florida a pleasant place to live. As they say though, I live in Florida under one condition. Air condition. If you come to visit, please leave your exotic reptiles at home and enjoy your stay.

 

This is Post #10 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

Let’s talk about Spam – This Post is not Spam

Target in Honolulu, all the SPAM your heart could desire and then some

We live in an age where spam is everywhere. I’m not talking about the unappetizing-looking canned meat that is SPAM (SPiced hAM) and sold like crazy in Hawaii. I’m talking about the unsolicited messages that pop up on your phone, email, and for bloggers, the comment section of our blogs.

The word spam defined as above was first used in 1994. Since that time, it has exploded more than TV political ads, car sales people with dogs sitting on trucks, and junk mail combined.

I’ve been blogging for eight years, and it occurred to me that some of my spammers don’t even try to act like they are real commenters. That is very disappointing. Where is the quest for excellence? So, I’m sharing some of my recent gems with you, complete with grammar and structure problems. Remember, mine is a humor or lighter side of life blog. I don’t solve anybody’s problems. Sometimes I even make fun of them. Here goes:

  1. “Helped me a lot, just what I was looking for.” – This was in response to a post about horseback riding with my grandkids.
  2. “I have to voice my love for your generosity for those people that really want guidance on this question. Your very own commitment to getting the solution up and down became especially advantageous and has continuously permitted most people like me to achieve their targets. Your entire invaluable guidelines denotes this much a person like me and especially to my office workers. Thanks from everyone.”  – That’s quite a mouthful of nothing.
  3. “I conceive you have observed some very interesting details.”
  4. “As a website owner I conceive the written content here is real wonderful, thanks for your efforts.”  – Often I seem to be responsible for mental conceptions. I’m not sure how I feel about that.
  5. “You are my inspiration. I own few blogs and rarely run out from to brand.” – It’s hard to argue with this one, but still I know it was spam.

After going over these, I thought about how I respond to people, especially people I know and love. I need to be a good listener and a genuine encourager.  Romans 12:9 starts with, “Let love be genuine.” Let’s not throw spam at each other – either kind. Nobody needs that.

 

 

This is Post #9 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.