"When a cardinal appears in your yard, it's a visitor from heaven."
~old folklore saying
After owls and other feathered friends this year ("Our Wild Kingdom" post on 5/14/18), we've noticed more cardinals than usual in our neighborhood. Who doesn't like those bright red birds? Seven states designated cardinals as their state bird - Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina.
Recently we've seen cardinals around the two Boston Ferns hanging on our front porch or perched on the chimes between them. We never thought much about it as I'd put pencils and sticks in to keep birds from building nests.
One evening late in July, a storm brewed. Before the wind got too wicked I took the flag down, unhooked the two chimes, and quickly plopped the ferns between the Adirondack chairs before running inside.
After the storm passed, but rain expected through the night, I set the ferns on the cement walk to get watered. "Oh my!" One had a small nest and two eggs. When did this happen? We carefully hung it back on the hook.
Cornell University's website says it takes 3-9 days for cardinals to build nests. We hadn't noticed nest building activity. Apparently when I watered lately, I'd simply stuck the spout of the watering can in the side of the basket hanging on the hook.
The next morning when "Mama Bird" was away, we carefully took the fern down to water it without interfering with the nest. Now there were three eggs!
Hatching has now occurred, and both Mama and Papa are busy feeding. I've seen little baby beaks raised high. I'm excited to see the little ones as they grow.
It's interesting that as I searched for cardinal quotes I found several that mentioned angels or visitors from heaven. It gave me pause. The two sets of chimes on our porch were gifts from friends after our mothers passed away. The first one for my mom has a wooden pendant with "When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure" engraved on it. Someone shared when the chimes sing that it's Mom. When my mother-in-law passed, other friends gave us the second chimes. When the wind blows, we do think of moms. Now the cardinals make us even more aware.
Hi everyone! I'm your guest blogger for this week! The first one actually! My name is Megan Bockelman and Lynda asked me to write on her blog this week about the mission trip I went on with our church last week (see previous blog post for details). The technical difficulties last week, not being able to post to Facebook, would usually have been delegated to me. But since I was on the mission trip Lynda didn't want to bother me about it. So here I am! First off, you should know that I'm the behind the scenes tech person for this website and blog! I think Lynda has mentioned me before in an earlier post. 😊 I handle all the back-end work, updating the site, and answering all of Lynda's questions! It's nice to finally talk to you all directly!
I have attended our church since I was a baby and I became a member when I was in about 7th or 8th grade through our confirmation class. (Lynda was my spiritual mentor!) I have been attending our youth group since about the same time, but I aged out last year when I graduated from high school. Since then, I've continued my work with the church and the youth group as a sound and technology person during worship times and gatherings. In addition, I now serve as an adult leader on field trips, mission trips, and also during regularly scheduled youth fellowship. This past trip was my 4th mission trip with our church and it was just as amazing as always. It was really interesting to view things from the perspective of an adult leader rather than a youth participant though. It's so amazing to see how God is working in these students' lives and in the lives of the Team Effort leaders.
Our youth worked on two different sites, just one mobile home apart. The first site added a smaller deck extension onto an existing deck while the second site (where I worked primarily) built a deck attached to the side of the owner's mobile home. There had been a group at our site during the previous week, so each of our groups built the floor, ceiling, railings, and stairs off of the foundations that were built the week before. It was fun and challenging work at times, especially considering the fact that we had to battle the rain almost every day we were there!
I was able to see the youth working together on building porches at our two sites, even during the rain most of the time! It was great watching how patient and loving they were with one another, even when things got difficult or time consuming. In addition, I got to see them at free time enjoying each other, playing together, talking, as well as pouring their heart out during worship at chapel. I love seeing the youth experience the same things that I did for many years, and how a trip like this can really provide a spiritual rejuvenation in their walks! I hope I am able to serve the youth group for many more years and continue to watch the youth of our church grow! 😊
Here is a link showing the youth of our church talking about the trip! Also included at the end of the video is the PowerPoint presentation that was made with pictures from the trip.
The original post this morning did not make it to FB... possibly "operator error," but in my experience there have also been glitches. That being said, I hope you'll take a look at the original posted earlier today.
"Take me where love is needed." ~Unknown
Sunday afternoon (yesterday) fifteen youth and seven adults from our church headed out for a week on the 2018 Youth Mission Trip. Each one sported this year's "official" shirt printed with the goal and inspiration. On the front it simply said, "Go. Serve. Love." The back quoted Galatians 5:13 - "Use your freedom to serve one another in love." (NLT) Their destination was near Altoona, Pennsylvania where they will be God's hands and feet. Next Sunday will be devoted to sharing their experiences and how God used them, along with a slide show of their week. The details will be specific to this trip and their experiences, but some things tend to be the same each year for the kids who go. I've seen Youth Mission trips:
~create a lasting and often strong sense of community among the youth, as well as with the adults who have come alongside them. Everything they do, they do together - traveling, working, eating, playing, staying up late, waking up tired, etc.
~help kids see beyond their own world. They may have never before experienced the real way others may live - below the poverty level, in a small town, in an inner-city, on a reservation, etc.
~take kids out of their comfort zones to learn new things. They may need to work on building projects, painting, playing with young children, conducting VBS, serving meals, handing out food to homeless people - to name just a few.
~reveal possibilities and passions. Kids find out they are capable of things they've never done before, and confidence grows.
~help kids to anchor their faith and move forward in their walk with God.
Yesterday as kids arrived with their luggage and "stuff," their enthusiasm was the evidence they were eager to "Go. Serve. Love."
"Ladies and Gentlemen, my mother thanks you, my father thanks you, my sister thanks you, and I thank you!" ~George M. Cohan
VBS is over, and it was a great time for all the kids and volunteers at Rolling River Rampage. The grandkids had a good time with Papa and Grandma Lynda playing games inside and outside, swimming at a neighbor's pool, going out for lunch, and let us not forget the ice cream stops. Yum! They went back home to get ready for their next big thing, and we've had some time to rest up and catch a few naps. I often say there's a reason parents are young.
And before we knew it, it was the 4th of July. I have a dear friend who often said summer was half over when we got to July 4th. I preferred savoring the rest of July and much of August before heading back to the classroom and a new group of students. Sure, there were years I spent part of the summer taking classes or workshops, preparing for curriculum changes, and developing materials for my students and classroom. Even so, summer meant slowing down, recharging, vacationing, and enjoying a more relaxed schedule.
But getting back to the 4th of July... This year was pretty quiet for us. We did grill hot dogs, our typical All-American 4th of July fare, but opted for an inside picnic because of the heat and high humidity. Later in the evening, we settled down to watch Yankee Doodle Dandy. For me it's comparable to watching It's a Wonderful Life at Christmas time. I love the story. I love the music. I love the feeling of patriotism. And I love James Cagney's portrayal of George M. Cohan in the 1942 film. We have "Yankee Doodle Dandy," "Over There," and "You're a Grand Old Flag" in our heads for days... sometimes even bursting into song. It reminds me of learning "You're a Grand Old Flag" in elementary school. Do children still learn those good old patriotic songs? And there are some modern songs, too. Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" stirs up much patriotic pride.
May your summer days linger with making many memories.
I'm taking the day off. It's VBS this week and grandkids are here for the week.
See you next time!
"What you believe about the future holds immense promise and adventure."
I'm still amazed how musings, ideas, or inspirations come to me for writing topics, whether it's this blog, a story, a devotional, or any writing project. Friday morning I still had nothing for today's post. But I hadn't panicked yet. And then... as I made breakfast, my sweetie was listening to something on the iPad in the living room. My ears heard bits and pieces that sounded interesting, but I wasn't really listening.
Then he showed up in the kitchen, tablet in hand. "This is great! You have to listen." So during breakfast we listened to Dr. Rick Rigsby give a 2006 commencement address at the California State University Maritime Academy. Dr. Rigsby spoke about Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout, and the wisdom his father instilled through his words and how he lived. Truly powerful inspiration shared for those heading out in the world.
"Sweetie" said one of our granddaughters, who will be a high school senior this fall and focused on being an RN, shared it on social media. Then my thinking went to the two "Class of 2018" granddaughters who will be heading off to college in August. One will be following a path to be a veterinarian; the other pursuing a film and media career. What an exciting time in all three of their lives, and so focused on their next steps in life's adventure.
It reminded me of back in my olden days when a girls' career choices were perceived as more limited than today's vast opportunities. It seems back then that many of my friends and I bought in to the idea that a girl could choose to be a teacher, a nurse, a secretary, or get married. (There were exceptions like Susan M. who headed to New York, Broadway, and eventually California.) Hindsight proves that thinking was wrong. Clearly it was just a sign of those times. However I know being an elementary teacher was the right career for me.
So for our granddaughters and all graduates out there, hearty congratulations as your future with promise and adventure opens up to you!
"As America celebrates Memorial Day, we pay tribute to those who have given their lives in our nation's wars." ~John M. McHugh
Memorial Day was called Decoration Day by Mom and Dad when my two sisters and I were young. After WWII Memorial Day became the preferred name. But since Decoration Day was what they grew up with, it's what they continued to call it for many years. And up until 1971, it was always on May 30th.
As kids we knew it was a day to decorate graves and honor those who died fighting for our freedom. Dad was a WWII Army veteran and very active in his American Legion Post. Memorial Day meant we'd get up early and head to the Legion for Dad to march in the annual parade. The parade concluded at a nearby cemetery where we'd solemnly stand for the remembrance service which included placing wreaths, prayer, music, and a 21 gun salute. I remember knowing this was serious and important.
When we finally got home, we decorated our bikes with crepe paper by weaving it through the wheel spokes, and hanging streamers to make our bikes patriotic. Then we'd parade around the block because decorating and parading were what Decoration Day was all about after all.
This year Memorial Day is today. On June 28, 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act which moved some holidays to a specified Monday to create "convenient" three day weekends. The law took effect on January 1, 1971. Memorial Day moved from May 30th, as it had been celebrated from 1868 - 1970, to the last Monday in May.
Our flag flies this Memorial Day. We'll watch for the annual Memorial Day 5K race that goes by our house. Often we attend a parade that ends at a cemetery for a remembrance service which includes placing wreaths, prayer, music, a 21 gun salute, and sometimes a fly over by the Air Force Reserve.
"We must never forget freedom isn't free." ~Unknown
"Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder."
Spring finally sprung in our neck of the woods! Baltimore Orioles and hummingbirds arrived. We've seen wild turkeys at our neighbor's, wood ducks flying into our woods, and a couple eagles low enough to catch great glimpses. One even had a fish in its talons.
We also noticed unusual activity in the tree behind our deck, a favorite spot for frolicking squirrels, but not so much this spring. For several days we did see and hear the cacophony of squawking crows and hawks - sometimes together - high in the tree. Clearly these were not friendly exchanges. What is so interesting? Then they stopped coming. I was glad.
One day I caught small movements up in that tree. Was it a wing? Was it a squirrel tail? Both were viable possibilities. Stay aware. Then one evening, we saw a Barred Owl in all its camouflaged glory. It sat so still, its big eyes riveted on us. We shared the news with neighbors. They were watching another owl perched in a pine tree. Two owls! We've heard owls from the woods, but never saw them. Every day became a "who can see the owls first" game. Binoculars stayed on the counter.
Exactly one week from that first sighting, something more exciting happened. I noticed movement on a branch. An owlet. Another poked its head out from the nest. Suddenly the owlet on the branch was hanging upside down by both feet, trying to get upright, then by one foot. I took pictures. Eventually it dropped to the ground, which I missed. Darn. It stood a while, and then headed toward the deck. Before long it was on the deck steps. It eventually got up, wandered to the edge, and leaped. Practicing take offs and landings? Again it climbed step to the deck and jumped into the container garden. It tried climbing and flying out, but it was too steep. It hunkered down and rested. Finally the owlet realized it could simply walk out, and rested on the other set of steps. Then it was gone! I went outside and looked around, but didn't see it anywhere. I hope you're safe.
Later that evening, we discovered that two owlets fledged, and made their way to a tree at the edge of the woods. A third remained in the nesting tree, but did venture out on a limb for a while. The parents stayed vigilant, their babies always in sight, and brought them food. That was day one.
Day 2 - All three stayed in their same places most of the day. In the late afternoon, the first two started stretching and flapping their wings, and making their way to higher limbs. The third remained in the nesting tree but located on a higher limb.
Day 3 - In the morning, we saw the three owlets and both adults. By mid-afternoon, two owlets huddled together on a limb. We didn't see the third owlet or the adults. When evening came, there was only one owlet.
Day 4 - One lone owlet sat in a tree all day long.
Day 5 - One lone owlet still sat in the tree early in the morning. By late morning, it was gone.
What a blessing and privilege it's been watching this wonder unfold!
"Staring blankly at a blank page."
~A Six Word Memoir - by me
Sometimes a writer knows exactly what they want, or need, to write. Sometimes a writer has so many ideas and thoughts about what to write they don't know which one to pick. Sometimes a writer's got nothing!
Lately I've been writing and submitting children's devotional pieces. In the publisher's guidelines they've expressed a need for difficult topics - such as terrorism, public shootings, and single parent/blended families - for children ages 6 - 12. Knowing these needs, I've mulled over the topics for age appropriate ways to address the issues. At first, I focused on the least terrifying topics. Although truly if a child is part of a new single parent family or a new blended family situation, that could be scary for them. But I had a nagging feeling that wasn't where I should go.
As a retired elementary teacher, I began thinking about school and public shootings, and how students are prepared for such events. After all, we've prepared with fire and tornado drills for as long as I know. I recalled my own childhood having drills in case of nuclear attack. We'd duck under our desks and cover our heads with our hands for protection. I've wondered if anyone ever really believed that would save us from nuclear fallout.
For several days I researched, pondered, and strived for an appropriate way to convey my thoughts in a short contemporary story. I stared at many blank pages and the blank computer screen. Perseverance and prayers prevailed. I said several times in the process, this topic was difficult to write. So, we'll see what happens when I submit it.
After I finished writing the devotional draft, I set it aside. I knew I was due for another blog post. Again, I found myself staring at blank pages. I thought of a myriad of ideas. But nothing really grabbed me. Then I thought since there had been so many blank stares at blank pages in the past couple weeks, that would be my topic, or confession. It may not be exciting, but it's the real story.
Now on to other things!