It’s blackberry season in Texas and I have some bushes on my back fence. Ed planted them years ago. Unfortunately they’re well guarded by chiggers. If you have ever experienced chiggers, you know what a misery they are. So I sprayed my shoes with bug spray and after picking the berries, changed clothes and showered before going to bed. Guess what, they got me anyway! I woke up itching like crazy! I had sprinkled sulfur granules on the grass back there, which they avoid, but the chiggers must also be in the berry vines. As I scratch ‘til I bleed, it makes me want to take a blowtorch to the vines, chiggers and all! But, those large juicy berries are too good to waste. Even if I have to prepare as if I’m going up into outer space, I’m getting those berries!
After they finished mowing and trimming up the lawn, the guys decided to have lunch on my front porch. The cedar glider there has a place for their lunch sacks too. It’s a good place to take a break. Fine with me, but I can’t say the same for mother wren sitting on her eggs above them. She’s very skittish. She even leaves the nest if she happens to notice me looking out the window at her. But I love to check on her, so I’ve learned to be sneakier about taking a look. I know God designed his creatures to naturally protect and nurture their young, but I sometimes wonder what they think. Or do they think about it? The little wren may not have a choice in caring for her young. With our freedom of choice comes responsibility.
If someone asked you what your gifts were, what would you say? Are you one of those who don’t think you have any talents or gifts? If so, it could be because you don’t recognize what you have as gifts, because we all have gifts. Dr. Marie Curie, Nobel Prize winner (twice), said: “We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something.” Brilliant scientist that she was, though I agree we all have gifts, it’s not confidence in ourselves I’m talking about. Though we may not all be gifted scientists, distinguished theologians or famous in any other way, as followers of Jesus, we can be assured the Holy Spirit has given each one of us the gifts we need to join him in his ministry of love and service to others.
Tonight we’re celebrating one of my daughters’ birthdays. It’s a Mexican theme party because we all love Mexican food. My daughter was a preemie. One of my worst memories is not being able to take her home after her birth. She had to stay under hospital care until she reached her full nine months. Even then, it was touch and go if she would make it. As I visited the hospital daily during that time, I learned so many preemies didn’t. But, like a miracle, she finally began to gain weight and I was able to take her home. I named her Tina Marie because she was so tiny and so blessed. She is taller than I am now and she is still blessed and a blessing not only to me, but to so many others. Feliz Cumpleanos (Happy Birthday), God’s girl!
The ducks are back. The male and female mallard ducks that show up every spring are back. I saw them first in my neighbors’ yards, and then they waddled over into my backyard. Later I happened to see them in my front yard heading east. They seemed to know where they were going, although the lake is in the opposite direction. Maybe they are returning to their nesting area. Hmm, that’s a lot of slow waddling. Why aren’t they flying? Then it occurred to me, almost every time I see them they’re near a bird feeder. They are checking out bird feeders! They’ve learned they can find seeds scattered under the neighborhood bird feeders. Even though we have invaded their territory, they have found some good use for us!
The photos of an elderly queen sitting on an ancient throne opening parliament, for the first time without her husband, were sad. But, there she was, dedicated as always in her role as a strong symbol of British leadership. It’s a reminder that one day our whole world will be ruled by royalty. But, unlike Queen Elizabeth, our King Jesus will be more than a symbol; he will be a powerful ruler in his own right. And, unlike any of today’s world leaders, he will bring peace to this war-torn earth. “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new” (Rev. 21:4-5). Come, King Jesus!
It’s the perfect location, a small alcove under the corner of my front porch roof. A wren flies back and forth with bits and pieces of grass, twigs and other material to make a shelter for her young. It’s not the first time. Every fall I clear away an old nest from this popular spot for the next generation of wrens. Some of the birds choose my hanging baskets for a home causing me to be careful about watering. Cardinals seem to prefer my shrubs. The sparrows have taken over the two-storied martin house on a pole in the backyard. I’m not sure where all the woodpeckers, blue jays, mockingbirds, chickadees, titmouse and other birds that show up in my yard build their nests. Don’t you love birds! Only God can create living works of art!
Though it will be nice to be back in church, I’m also enjoying worshiping through Zoom. I think back to how David worshiped God before the ark. Talk about a joyful noise; it was indeed a noise! Clanging symbols and trumpets and drums surely drowned out any lyres or harps. It certainly wasn’t like our hymns of today. And, the leader of the country dancing around in his loincloth, shouting and clapping his hands, that’s not a scene you see every day. When our pastor plays worship songs on Zoom, I turn off my video photo. Then, however I feel, whether to dance, sing out loud, wave my arms around or whatever, I’m free to do so. While I’m way conservative in how I worship publicly in church, believe me, inside I’m dancing and waving my arms around!
Do you like being right? I do. One motivation for my research, study and widespread reading over the years is because I want to be right in what I believe. And, once I’m convinced I’m right, it’s difficult to persuade me otherwise. I so want to be right! But, I have to ask myself, do I value truth more than being right? Some of my past life decisions make me realize I’ve valued my will to be right over recognition of the truth. When that happens the truth is glossed over in a search for affirmation of what I want to believe or do. It never turns out well. God has had to rescue me more times than I like to admit. Dear Lord, you are truth! This day and every day may your truth be known and your will be done!