A Lot

Do you ever catch yourself saying something to the effect, “It was a ………. year.” ? Obviously, a fill-in-the-blank answer is needed.

Almost halfway into January of this new year, I can honestly state that I wouldn’t answer that question in the most positive of terms. Perhaps some of you can relate. At the same time, I know it is critical to answer because if I don’t acknowledge where I have been then I am doomed to have a pretty crummy start to this new year. I also risk spiraling downward into a funk of sorts which I don’t desire to do. Been there, done that.

Below is my grandson working hard to push the wagon forward with his little sister in the front. What I like about this image is the determination. And, Elliot has no concept as to what my question is about. He just does things because he feels like it or he sees a need and wants to fulfill it. Either way, I love his gumption. He is a matter-of-fact sort of person, even at age three when this photo was taken. He is now four years of age.

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So, if I were to ask Elliot what type of year he had in terms he could understand, he would probably answer like this. ” It was fun.”

May all of our days in this 2018 be fun. Smile a lot. Laugh a lot. Rejoice in other’s success a lot. Choose to have no self-pity a lot. Be thankful a lot. Share a lot. Receive graciously a lot. Risk a lot…at least some. Look outside of ourselves a lot. Thank God a lot. Give a lot. You get the idea…do something positive, daily, and do it a lot.

Wishing you the best this year…a lot  !!!

Just Hangin’ Around

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These are some of our song birds wintering here in the frigid cold (temps have been near zero degrees Fahrenheit for a couple of weeks). We have finches, sparrows, nuthatch, grosbeak, woodpecker, chickadees, titmice, an occasional cardinal couple and even a few grown blue jays.

Obviously, they like the feeder, especially because they get to eat all they want, when they want. We previously had an open feeder which allowed not only birds, but other creatures to climb the deck and eat much of the bird seeds. This feeder is critter proof.

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This gray squirrel is the main culprit. He can climb just about anywhere and eats just about any nut, seed or berry he comes across. However, when he steps on any of the feeder’s perches the feeder drops down due to his weight which then covers the openings to the seeds. Pretty clever device. Too bad for the squirrel, as he has to settle for crumbs. Don’t feel too sorry for these guys which outnumber the human population in our geographic area. They must have thousands of nuts buried throughout our yard and neighborhood so they won’t go hungry.

Happy New Year !

 

White Christmas

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“I’m dreaming of a White Christmas, just like the one’s I used to know…” . At least that is what Bing Crosby sang about in 1942 as he pined Irving Berlin’s classic song about a nostalgic Christmas in the United States. BTW, did you know this is the world’s No. 1 single of all time! And to think, over half the world (geographically) has never seen or touched snow!

Actually, Cheryl and I are living with a White Christmas of sorts every day of each year with our Westie, Carson. This is a recent photo of him. He is about twelve years old. He has an interesting story which is not all that unusual for rescue dogs, and I acknowledge that many dog lover’s know similar stories. However, I will present Carson’s story in brevity with the hope it will brighten your holiday spirits.

Cheryl and I adopted Carson from a rescue organization called Little White Rescue. He was a breeder male penned in a puppy mill for an undetermined amount of time. We were also told he was found in a farm field, either escaping the mill or simply let go. We drove a couple hours to Omaha, Nebraska in November of 2012 to pickup our new addition to the family. We met with his foster mom and her daughter along with a representative of the organization. We paid the adoption fee, had our photo taken with Carson while holding his adoption certificate, and then took him home.

 

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Cheryl and I have had several dogs as pets and owning a canine was not new to us. We also had several felines along the way. But, we never had a terrier breed. West Highland Terriers are not high strung as some of their cousins are, but they do possess a certain aloofness about them. Interestingly, Carson has to acknowledge every visitor by a sniff and waits for a tap on the head, and upon completing this routine retreats to what he was previously doing or comes to us. Timid-no way. Annoying-sometimes. Barks-only at squirrels and cats and skunks. Lap dog-not until recently. Most of the time he simply has to be near us.

 

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We believe the above photo (taken in December of 2013) to be the first time Carson experienced snow outside of a pen. He was about four years old, but acted like a puppy-full of joy! He has a thicker coat of hair for the winter cold, and cold temps don’t seem to bother him. The reason we think this was his first winter of freedom is due to the fact that after we brought him home to roam our acre yard, he would only walk a 35 foot line back and forth for several weeks (creating a mud walkway) until he gradually ventured beyond this imaginary line. Yes, it was sad, but also rewarding to see him venture out.

 

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Whether it is white on green, white on brown or white on white, we can always find Carson. When he digs in the dirt he looks like an Oreo cookie with face, belly and paws all black and the rest of him white! The above photo is a mild example of his mud coloring. Westies were bred in Scotland to hunt fox and badgers. They are ‘bullet’ shaped with wide, powerful rear legs and a stout tale. When they trap their prey in a den they would dive into the hole as far as possible to grab onto the fleeing, fighting animal. Often they could not back out so the hunter would simply grab the tale and yank the dog out along with the vermin he just captured. We purposefully had his hair cut in a sporting sort of way rather than the cute style most Westies have. Because Carson is at the top size for his breed at 23 pounds, and is an alpha male, we felt he needed to look the part.

 

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Carson is a tough canine. Besides enduring the mill, he has ruptured both knees, has had one ACL surgery, almost died as he was bitten on the throat by a neighbor’s pit bull and was later bitten in the leg by another dog. He is about ninety percent blind, is deaf, and has a collapsing trachea which causes constant hacking for air. He still has a sense of smell and a hearty appetite. Our vet says he and most pets adapt with their disabilities.  We know this to be true. I couldn’t resist the above image as Carson stood on my chest while I was siting in a lounge chair a few years ago…I snapped a cell phone photo and this is the result. I like it. He cracks me up!

 

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We didn’t know how much he would change our lives when we picked him up seven years ago. We are often inconvenienced and have less in our bank account, but that is the price of choosing to have another family member to take care of.  In return we get to experience his coolness as well as his love. Most dog owners can relate. We are grateful to have him around for another Christmas.

 

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And we hope you have a very Merry Christmas…with or without snow or Carsons !

 

Dedicated to all who rescue, medically care for, foster care and adopt helpless animals. Bless all of you as you continue to fulfill Christ’s mandate to care for others which includes people, of course.

 

 

 

 

Embryo

 

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“And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and to let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light to the earth”. And it was so. God made two great lights-the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night.”

Genesis 1:14-16 NIV

Reflective

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I’m a sucker for colorful sunrises and sunsets. The splendor of the Sun’s rays illuminating heaven and earth is quite inspirational…almost a spiritual experience for me.

Watching an Appalachian mountainside come to life or a golden ball drop from view into the ocean is enchanting. Living in the middle of America this geographic area has no mountains or oceans, but we still have magnificent sun rises and sun sets. We are located in an area where warm air bumps into cooler air regularly and clouds often develop. I enjoy clouds as much as the morning and evening light shows.

I recall as a child lying on my back and staring at clouds as they passed by. Usually with a friend or my sisters we would call out to one another the variety of shapes that resembled objects we were familiar with. Often, we would see animals and people’s profiles. Clouds could appear happy or sinister and would change quickly as they moved through the sky. Pure joy.

I recall a time where I was with a group of people and we hiked up to the top of an eleven thousand foot mountain. It was a bright day, but a storm was fast approaching. As the initial wave of clouds began passing over us I recall feeling so small and helpless. We were in an area of the Rockies where there are many Fourteeners. These huge mountain peaks and valleys which surrounded us became even more menacing as the large clouds passed by. Their shadows rolled over the rocky terrain effortlessly. As the wind increased and became much cooler I easily imagined how one could perish atop one of these peaks without proper clothing and shelter. It was intimidating.

The image above captures one of our colorful sun sets. I like taking reflective photographs occasionally and thought it fun to shoot the sky reflecting off my Jeep’s window along with my silhouette. It appears I am shooting myself with the camera. However, I can assure you that my Canon has no bullets, only buttons and dials.

Water Bowl

 

This guy performs the kind act of pouring water from a bowl which gives life to this bird and other wildlife. He stops watering in the winter due to freezing, but he’s back at it when warmer weather returns.

Brawn, bowl and bird would have also been an appropriate title for this sculpture, except the word “water” would not have been included. Water is such a critical element to all that has life so I chose to include it.

Granite muscles and chiseled features delicately embrace the watering bowl that the creator had in mind when he or she sculpted this piece of art. I like the fact that it is not only an art piece placed in a flower garden, but has purpose beyond visual enjoyment. Water flowing from within this rock brings relief to soft creatures on the outside. There is no fear-only satisfaction.

I can easily see the correlation between God and this granite man, and people as the bird. We are welcomed into the garden. We are offered the satisfaction that our greatest needs will be met. And, we are told not to be fearful. It appears the bird understands this dynamic very well. I hope we all do, too.

 

Today I Will Make A Difference

Today I will make a difference. I will begin by controlling my thoughts. A person is the product of his thoughts. I want to be happy and hopeful. Therefore, I will have thoughts that are happy and hopeful. I refuse to be victimized by my circumstances. I will not let petty inconveniences such as stop lights, long lines, and traffic jams be my masters. I will avoid negativism and gossip. Optimism will be my companion, and victory will be my hallmark. Today I will make a difference.

I will be grateful for the twenty-four hours that are before me. Time is a precious commodity. I refuse to allow what little time I have to be contaminated by self-pity, anxiety, or boredom.

I will face this day with the joy of a child and the courage of a giant. I will drink each minute as though it is my last. When tomorrow comes, today will be gone forever. While it is here, I will use it for loving and giving. Today I will make a difference.

I will not let past failures haunt me. Even though life is scarred with mistakes, I refuse to rummage through my trash heap of failures. I will admit them. I will correct them. I will press on. Victoriously. No failure is fatal. It’s okay to stumble…I will get up. It’s okay to fail…I will rise again. Today I will make a difference.

I will spend time with those I love. My spouse, my children, my family. A man can own the world but be poor for the lack of love. A man can own nothing and yet be wealthy in relationships. Today I will spend at least five minutes with the significant people in my world. Five quality minutes of talking or hugging or thanking or listening. Five undiluted minutes with my mate, children and friends.

Today I will make a difference.

Max Lucado