Sunny Pathway

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Enjoying God's Creation

We live in an urban setting. A few days ago a young robin visited our deck. We were thrilled because we haven’t co-habited with robins on a regular basis for awhile. When we lived at the lake, our habitat was too wild for them.

Birds were one of the big draws of the lake. Red-winged blackbirds were our harbinger of spring. Their beauty can’t be denied in the wild—even if they do swagger.

By the time summer arrived in earnest, there were almost too many birds to list. Yellow warblers lived in a thicket on our lot and we enjoyed their unusual flight patterns, flitting back and forth somewhat like a butterfly—or a yellow leaf floating in the breeze.

Goldfinches flew in straight lines, whizzing by like an arrow or bullet. They lived in Mud Lake, on the other side of the road, but we still heard them sing.

Nuthatches walked down a tree-trunk upside down.

Chickadees stayed all year.

Neighbors didn’t want woodpeckers because they might destroy property by pecking on it. All the same, we reveled in the bird’s cunning. Of the several varieties, the pileated woodpecker was most spectacular. We spotted a male through our windows—he hid on the other side of the trees when we were outdoors.

Loons were Ken’s favorite. Their haunting call brings magic to a summer’s eve. A mother loon carries her babies on her back—barely above the water level.

We had large birds, too. Pelicans circles above the center of the lake, looking for dinner.

A Great Horned Own visited just once.

Bald eagles nested nearby. Solitary adults floated by looking for sustenance, but once a group of three nestlings surveyed the area as a group before embarking on their independent life.

A great blue heron occasionally rested on our dock, usually leaving large droppings. We discouraged Canadian Geese because their droppings weren’t an easy clean on the dock but a messy pile in the grass.

Seagulls were a constant.

But the small birds our elicited our smiles. One summer a pair of bluebirds nested nearby. The male sat on our deck railing for almost five minutes one sunny afternoon. A pair of Orioles graced us with their presence our last summer at the lake. We didn’t see them often, but a brilliant orange blur streaking across the yard was good for an adrenalin rush. I’ve wondered if they came back again.

Moving to town—into a condo in an area of new construction—meant bird-withdrawal. Our only birds the first summer were some sort of swallow, unwelcome although still attractive. I understood the rationale, but I briefly mourned when our fellow condo-dwellers sprayed water to remove the nests from our building.

The next summer we noticed partridges. Well, we initially called them quails and then prairie chickens, both of which do not fit the pictures in the bird book. They're a prairie bird, hard to spot unless moving, but they know how to run—like a toddler with a new-found skill. They fly only at low elevations.

Last year a rather large bird swooped toward my husband on the deck and bumped into the wall. When it fell stunned to the floor, Ken identified it as some sort of falcon. We decided to call an authority in the morning. At 7:15 a.m. the bird was huddling in the corner. By 8:00 a.m . it was gone.

We’ve been here five years now. Trees are getting larger and grass is established. Last summer, a few robins discovered us. This summer I hear them singing much of the day. The enjoyment they bring is immense.

They sing their song:

Don’t despair. It’s going to be okay. God is in control.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Adding Pictures

There will no doubt be many things to learn about blogging that I didn’t think of before I started. After posting last week I decided entries should be shorter, that each entry needed more white space (space not filled with text, whatever the background color), and that graphics or pictures would add interest. None of these things come naturally for me. I’ve never been the picture-taker—I dislike technical details and machines while Ken was a photographer in the navy. He's always taken the pictures, but now I’m motivated to learn.

I plan to expand my efforts later to focus on people (with expressions!) and the great outdoors, but I started by focusing on our living area where nothing moves. I’m inserted them in last week’s post—to make it visually interesting.

Nothing is simple. First pictures are loaded from the camera into the computer—Ken said he would help me with that for a season. Then they're moved from computer files into the blog, a complicated procedure I'm learning. I'm trying to accept this as a challenge to keep my mind active, supple, and young. I think it's working because my brain hurts as I forge new connections between my brain cells. By the time I've learned how to handle it, my IQ will be 5 points higher.

Because I thought this week's blog also needed visual interest, I looked through pictures still in the camera to find one I didn’t think I'd use later. The camels below qualified and I think they’re amazing. I asked Ken to take the picture in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, a little over a year ago when we visited our oldest son and his family who live there. Can you relate to painted animals? In North Dakota we have painted bison in Fargo and painted horses in Minot. Someone told me a city on the West Coast features painted pigs. Do you also think the possibilities of an epidemic are a little bit frightening? But the Arabs know what Americans think is cool—so why shouldn’t Abu Dhabi have painted camels? Then again, maybe they started it and we copied the idea from them.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Discovering My Passions

After our youngest daughter helped with my blog designs, I thought the major hurdle in creating blogs was over. I didn’t take my limited computer skills into account. Would you believe my husband figured out that our system wasn’t communicating with another system? And he not only figured it out, but he took steps to fix it!

Yesterday he checked both blogs and discovered each had a comment—one from someone I couldn’t identify. That posed a problem. The initial postings were like tests, and I didn’t want to write more until everything was in order. Now I shall have to begin in earnest.

Would it shock you to hear that the hardest aspect of growing older for me has been learning to live with myself. That includes both positive and negative aspects of myself.

First, a word about the negative. When I was younger—not in the early motherhood stages but later, when the children were gone or almost gone—I didn’t take the time to deal with life’s issues—I stuffed them. My advice to those in their 40s and 50s? Deal with issues because, if you don’t, they will eventually cave in on you. Maybe I’ll write about them later—occasionally—one at a time.

Dealing with positive truth can prove challenging, too. When I began dealing with the hurts and failures of my past, I experienced a positive truth I didn’t know I needed. I learned my personality was perfect.

During a difficult season, when we were in the process of building a lake home and when I had serious health problems, I dragged myself into the unfinished great room to make dinner. As I rounded a corner, God spoke to my heart. I didn’t hear audible words. I’d been struggling with many things and God’s voice quietly addressed them. Deep within, I knew God made me the way He wanted me and that He loved my personality.

Even now, almost ten years later, when I key those words into the computer, I feel overwhelmed--in part because I think people will be offended, but also because I believe He actually feels that way. After gradually experiencing the differences this truth has made in my life, I accept the revelation as a cornerstone of my identity. He made me, and He made me perfect. My problems didn’t—don’t—stem from a faulty personality. Real problems stem from lack of character. As for personality, every person is a unique reflection of Him and He wants to enjoy us. Wow.

I've included this picture of different shapes. I'm so glad God gives us variety throughout every aspect of life.

The initial effects of the revelation were subtle. The first noticeable change was the way I argued with Ken. Building a house is stressful and we had to make daily decisions. I learned to compromise.

It affected my relationships with others, too. I no longer felt a need to assert myself as I had. Because I experienced God’s approval, I didn’t actively seek it from outside sources—at least not as diligently.

But who was I? Who was this personality God loved?

I’ll just focus on a few passions because I believe they define a person. The first, of course, is God Himself. I could focus on finding my identity in Him. But I don’t believe that was His point when He spoke to me.

The second is my family. Ken and our children plus their children are my major earthly passion. But I felt impressed to focus on passions which motivate and move me regardless of family or any other influence. Passions intrinsic to my nature.

I am passionate about color. Especially red—but also yellow. Then you can add the brights—bright green, bright blue, bright purple. I don’t believe preferring bright colors is virtuous. I purchased a red wool sweater for Ken a few years ago at a ridiculous close-out price. But like so many married couples, Ken and I have different personalities. When he tried it on he said, It’s so red. He stuck to his grays and blues. The secret is that Ken’s personality is perfect, too. God loves variety and we all reflect, in part, His infinite nature.

I've included a picture of our red and yellow walls in the corner where they meet. The yellow is brighter in real color.

On a negative note, pun not intended but acknowledged, I am not passionate about music. I have a good ear and a nice voice, so I’ve felt guilty about not developing this gift. I suspect something happened early in life that caused me to withdraw from musical expression. I enjoy it and the people who love it greatly, but unless God heals, or motivates, or gives it to me as a passion—I’ll let it go. The Bible tells me, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. (Rom. 1:8 NKV)

I am passionate about writing. These days I feel compelled to express myself with words. But writing isn’t a virtue, either. I suspect I didn’t follow my inclinations to write when I was young because I was afraid I wouldn’t be good enough. Today I feel no pressure to write brilliantly. I think about writing creatively and I focus on stating ideas clearly; it brings great joy. The pleasure is in the doing—because God made me that way.

Other passions? Reading and road trips. And at a reduced level, fashion and decorating (even on a limited budget), swimming, enjoying the outdoors, relaxing in the sun. I loved camping when we were younger, but now Ken and I worry about getting up from our air mattresses so I feel somewhat deprived at times.

Pursuing passions is challenging because it generates change—doing things like creating blogs. Change can be stressful but it’s exciting. For reasons I can’t explain, I’ve concluded God enjoys these things more than I—even fashion when properly done and emphasized. He created people with the capacity to create and to enjoy their creations—because He is creative and He enjoys His creation. He enjoys our creative process because it’s an extension of His creative process. That’s the nature of our God.