Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Further Adventures Of Jack And Sam

Did I tell you about Jack and Sam's recent trip to Georgia?  Oh dear!  Well here's the tale.

When Mr. Marvelous' boss asked him to make a trip to South Georgia in late January, I was quite happy to go with him.  He kept reminding me that it would be boring, that I would be stuck in a hotel room, that there would not be anything for me to do but hang out in the room.  I was hearing, "You won't have to cook.  You won't have to clean.  You won't have anything to do except read and work on your cross stitch."  Oh bliss!!

After making sure that my very good friend would be willing to handle the animal needs for the week, we got up early one Monday morning, packed the car, and took off.  When I woke up from a nap (!), we were back in middle Georgia driving on roads we had known as newly-weds.  I-16 from Macon to Statesboro is a long, lonely stretch, but the scenery was beautifully familiar (or familiarly beautiful?)

When we got to the hotel we discovered two things.  First, the office where Mr. Marvelous would be working was within walking distance (so I could perhaps have the car for a day).  Second, we had a couple of stowaways!  Jack and Sam had managed to tumble into a bag and were smugly grinning at their success. 

Mr. Marvelous worked and I rested for the first couple of days.  Then one morning Mr. Marvelous offered to let me have the car for the day.  Oh joy!  Then he asked that I not travel as far as Savannah (an hour away).  Oh well.  An explorer can always find something to discover.  I decided to go spend the day wandering around the campus of Georgia Southern University.

Here is a tip.  If you want to wander around a college campus, do not go first to the Administration or even the Visitors' Welcome Center.  No, go first to the campus traffic and parking office.  Those are the ladies who are really in charge of things.  Introduce yourself and ask the question, "Where would you like for me to park on your campus?"  Before I knew it, those ladies had given me a free 2 day parking pass and told me I could park anywhere except a spot that said, "Reserved for the President".  When I asked them what things I should not miss seeing on their campus, they were a wealth of information.   They were happy to meet Jack and Sam, and sent us on our way with campus maps, brochures, and a few grins and giggles. 

Off we went through the melee of students (none of whom seemed particularly happy that day), and to the Science building.  Georgia Southern has a Planetarium and an observatory.  Sadly, we were not able to take advantage of these things while we were there.  However we did enjoy the benches in the garden after the hike.

The guys appreciated the view.
AND the rest!

After that we wandered toward the Sweetheart Circle and found the Museum.  

The boys were eager to go in and explore, never having been to a Museum before.
However they agreed to pose for you first.

It is a small Museum with a focus for both the geology and the archaeology students.  
The young ladies who were in charge that day were very friendly and helpful.  

Most importantly, they seemed to appreciate Jack and Sam.

They have an interesting set-up.  
They are geared for school-children to come through and do some hands-on learning.

Or gnomes.

The other room (there are three but one of them was closed that day) show-cased some things found at the little-known Civil War Prison Camp in near-by Millen, Georgia, Camp Lawton.
They use this site to train the archaeology students and let them get practice at a dig.  Then they bring what they find back to the University to display at the museum.  One of the graduate students walked me through the room and answered my many questions.  I did wish that Junior had been with me; with his love of history he would have been fascinated.

After that we went back outside to enjoy a ramble around the Sweethearts' Circle.  

From there we wandered down to the Raptor Center.  It is an amazing facility, staffed by very friendly and helpful students (the only students I saw that day who did not seem utterly miserable were the ones working at the Museum and the Raptor Center).

And their birds....!

Since their mascot is a Golden Eagle, this guy gets star billing
The Peregrine Falcon is quite the ham
I had trouble choosing which picture to show.
The Red-Tailed Hawk.
I love this little guy!
And this BIG guy.
Jack and Sam were a little disappointed that there were no shows that day.  
They wanted to see if that Great Horned Owl was really strong enough to pick them up.
Just before we left, we had one breath-taking moment.  We were walking around looking at the birds, when we happened to glance back and up.
I wish I had the words to express the emotion of that moment.
This lady is an amazing beauty.
It was certainly an "Oh, look what God did!!" kind of moment.

We had a nice, leisurely walk back to the car and saw a few more sights.

I like the wings sculpture

The guys made a new friend.  They now correspond regularly. 
 This was another, "Oh, Look what God did!" moment.
I do love live oaks.

It was a lot of walking that day.

The next day all three of us were quite happy to let Mr. Marvelous have the car 
while we "chilled" at the hotel.
Sorry.  I didn't have the capacitor to resist that pun.

So that was our latest trip.  We have now gone back to being a two-car family again, so there will be more trips in the not-too-distant future.  Jack has already made a few suggestions
You just never know!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Ripples of Influence

File:Constructive interference.jpg
Photo courtesy of Scott Robinson via Creative Commons
Do you ever stop to think about your influence on the people around you? 

This past weekend, Mr. Marvelous and I were out and I remembered a couple of things that we needed to pick up at Walmart.  He was not thrilled with the idea, but being marvelous, he agreed to stop.  Watching peoples' faces was interesting.  Sad, but also interesting.  There were so many unhappy people there that evening.  So many impatient people.  So many angry people.  A few who seemed a bit out of touch.  I was almost run over, glared at, huffed at, and bumped into more times than I would care to remember.  I found myself not wanting to make eye contact with anyone; that head-down-get-'er-done-and-get-OUT mode.  Then I rounded a corner (very cautiously) just as a gentleman was trying to enter the aisle I was trying to exit.  I apologized.  He smiled.  He said, "I'm sorry; that was my fault". 

Just that one smile and those six kind words changed my perspective.  It encouraged me to extend the grace of a smile.  It reminded me of the small cost of a smile and a few kind words.  It reminded me of what a difference those simple things can make to someone else.  I was able to smile through the rest of my trip that evening.  I was able to chat with the cashier, express interest in her and how her evening was going.  As we finished the transaction I was able to genuinely tell her that she would be in my prayers that evening.  All because that one gentleman offered a smile and six kind words.

Do you ever stop to think about your influence on the people who are watching you?  Not the people you know, but the people whom you will never meet who are watching you from across the room?

There was another trip I made to another store recently.  Again, people in the store did not seem happy to be there.  There was a high level of annoyance and irritability, and a low level of civility and kindness.  I witnessed a man stop to open the door for a lady and smile.  I saw it change her demeanor from fatigue and unhappiness to a heart-felt smile.  That man did not directly do anything for me; I did not know him or the lady he helped.  But his actions changed my evening, even though they were not directed toward me.

We have so many opportunities to influence people.  I believe that our greatest influence happens when we don't even realize we are being given the opportunity.   Christian, we are being watched.  There are people in our realm of influence to whom we will never have the privilege of speaking.  The occasion to tell them about Jesus with our words will never happen.  Yet we do have the opportunity ~ the responsibility ~ to show Jesus through our actions, the way we treat the people we casually happen upon at the store, the way we speak to telemarketers on the phone, or just through our demeanor. 

Our actions, our attitude, the way we carry ourselves, influences people.  The ripples of influence extend far, far beyond what we expect.  Christians are people who are like Jesus.  We are surrendered to Him.  His grace overwhelms our nature.  We become gracious people. 

Remember today that your character affects your family, your friends, your casual acquaintances, and the many people who are watching you from across the crowded room.  The affect of your grace then goes out to influence their families, their friends, their casual acquaintances, and the many people watching them from across the room. 

May our ripples extend around the world.  May we have the privilege of being that unseen influence that brings glory to God.  May He be pleased with our influence today!

His peace to your homes.

Friday, February 19, 2016


I have written in the past about how my mother would prepare for Sunday.  How when she went to bed on Saturday night, the house was clean, the Sunday clothes were ironed, the shoes were shined, the Sunday School lessons ready, and as much meal prep as possible for Sunday breakfast and lunch was completed. 

I believe that having the house and family ready for Sunday makes the day go more smoothly.  That's a good thing.  Think about the times you have gotten these things done on Saturday and think about your state of mind when you got to church on Sunday morning.  For a contrast, think about the times you did not get those things done and rushed in to the sanctuary at the last minute (or even 5-10 minutes late).  I don't know about you, but I have done the latter more than the former!  Yet I keep on trying, and some weeks are better than others.

But there is more to Sunday preparation than having the house and the kids and the clothes and the meals ready.  We might do all those things and roll into the parking lot with plenty of time to spare and still not have a good Sunday.  If our hearts are not prepared to worship God, if our minds are not focused on Him, then that hour or so of sitting in the sanctuary just might turn into nothing more than what Mr. Marvelous calls "Spectator-Sport Worship".  The music turns into a nice performance that we watch.  The liturgy is just some nice words that we say.  The sermon is a speech that we evaluate for its logic and clarity and use of $5 theological terms.  And we walk away feeling "nice" or perhaps a little smug about how much better we are than the late-comers (conveniently forgetting that last week we were even later than they were). 

I would urge you this weekend to take some time before you get too sleepy on Saturday night.  Stop.  Turn off the distractions.  Get quiet.  Be still.  Focus on God.  I find the verses from Galatians 5:22-23 to be very helpful for this.  Think about these attributes of God.  Ask Him to speak to you in the worship on Sunday.  Ask Him to prepare not only your heart, but the heart of all those He will bring into your sanctuary this week.  Ask Him to prepare the heart of your pastor.  Ask Him to give those who lead worship ~ music and otherwise ~ the hearts of true worshipers so that they may then lead us in worship.  Ask Him to keep distractions away from your church on Sunday.  Can you imagine the power of a room full of God's children worshiping Him without distraction?!  Make true worship your priority this weekend.  Not for your benefit, but for the glory and honor of our Creator and Redeemer.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law"                   Galatians 5:22-23 ESV

God is love and the source of all love.
God is joy and the basis of all joy.
God is peace and the only way to find true peace.
God is patient and enables us to be patient.
God is kind and the origin of kindness.
God is good and the Creator of all goodness.
God is faithful and the root of all faithfulness.
God is gentle and the only One who can make us be gentle.
God is in control.  It is only in Him that we are able to control ourselves. 

May His peace fill your hearts and homes.

May your Sunday be especially and particularly blessed.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

About Those Gnomes...

Jack and Sam are a little miffed.  They have been having adventures, and visits with friends, and have even welcomed a new friend into their Gnome Circle.  And I have not written one word about all their doin's, or posted one single picture.  Oh, the shame!

In order to get back into their good graces, here is the latest update.

Several months ago we "rescued" another gnome from the clearance shelf.  He was silent, but a rather agreeable sort, always nodding and smiling whenever we asked him a question.

A few days later a dear friend came for a visit and brought one of her treasures to play with Auntie 'Ginia.

Being a young man of much wisdom and sagacity, I asked him what he thought the new gnomes name should be.

After much thought and deliberation,

he chose the name Bob.
Bob is the one in the middle with the cool shades.

Works for me!

They became such good friends that at the end of the day it was decided that Bob needed to go be his friend and live at his house.  Sometimes when he comes over to play he brings Bob with him so that he can have a visit with Sam and Jack.

Meanwhile, Mr. Marvelous was walking through a store one day and saw another poor gnome trapped on the clearance shelf.  I have to tell you that clearance shelves are apparently NOT a nice place for a gnome to live (so if you see one there, please rescue him or her!).  Mr. Marvelous took pity on the poor gnome and brought him home.  He is such a cool gnome, and since Mr. Marvelous is such a cool man, they took an instant liking to each other.

Like Bob, he is a very quiet kind of gnome, but very agreeable.

Mr. Marvelous would like to name him after himself, but we already have a Junior.

The young man of wisdom and sagacity has become friends with the new guy too,
and the gnomes are quite fond of him.

You have to love anyone who will share his popcorn!

I have promised Jack to be a little more consistent with sharing their adventures with you.  

He has promised that he and Sam will try not to nag so much. 

Jack's approach is to be more laid back.

Sam is going to try to chill out.

Works for me!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Wednesday Prayers

Sometimes in our prayer life it is easy to become overwhelmed by the many urgent prayer needs around us.  There seem to be so many serious illnesses and injuries.  So many tragedies happening daily around us.  The world can get to be such a mess at times that we can be left with the impression that it is a knot that can not be untangled.

We have to make a choice at such times.  We have to recognize that there is a choice for us to make, and we must respond by choosing one or the other of two options.  We may choose to focus on the tragedies themselves and become so overwhelmed that we can only see the ugliness of sin and its effects.  Or we may choose to focus on God and trust in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.  I would caution you that my experience personally is that the choice must actively be made daily; if I fail to choose to focus on God, I wind up only able to see the ugliness and be overwhelmed by it.  Sadly this seems to be my default setting!

Recently I was crying with a friend who has been overwhelmed with trouble and sadness in her family and in her life.  We talked about the fact that perhaps Satan is trying to use these things to distract her from something that God wants her to see.  Obviously it is important, because the devil just keeps trying harder and harder to distract her from whatever it is.  I challenged her to stop and ask God what it is that He wants her to focus on, and to listen carefully for His answer.  She said that she went to bed praying and begging God to show her what it is that He wants her to see.  When she woke up in the morning the answer was crystal clear; God's goodness.  I would challenge you to make a similar heart-felt plea to God.  When you are overwhelmed, ask Him what He wants you to see.  Ask Him what is so important to Him that the devil will do anything he can to prevent you from seeing it.  It may be as simple as His goodness.  It may be more complex.  Whatever it may be, rest in His answer.

This week please keep the following in your prayers.  But before you spend time with these things, please spend time this week focusing in your prayers on God.  Acknowledge Him for Who He Is.  Praise Him for His goodness and mercy and kindness and justice and wisdom and all-sufficiency.  Honor Him.  He IS GOD.
  1. Young Gid suffers from debilitating lung disease.  He is not doing well.  Please pray for Gid, his brothers, their parents, and all their extended family who love him so well.
  2. Police Officer Derrick Couch in Clarksdale, Mississippi was shot on Sunday and is in critical condition.  Please pray for him, his family, and his department.
  3. After 52 days of life in the NICU, baby Ben died yesterday.  Please pray for his heart-broken family.
  4. Today Denise and her little son Caleb will have a funeral for their husband/father Alex.  Please pray for them today and in the dark days ahead.  Pray that their church will take this opportunity to minister to the many and very real physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
  5. Baby Ava has been very sick.  Please pray for her and for her young parents.
  6. Pray for the suffering marriages.
  7. Pray for the wayward children.
  8. Pray for the pastors who are serving these marriages and families with wayward children.  It is painful and exhausting work.  Pray for your pastor.  Pray for his family.  Pray that he would balance the work of caring for the people God has given him in the church, and the people that God has given him in his home.  
Thank you for your continued work of prayer.  It is important.  It does matter.

God's peace to your hearts and homes. 
Image courtesy of Church Prayer Leaders Network

Friday, February 05, 2016


Happy Friday!

Whatever the circumstances of life you meet this weekend,

                                                I pray that the light of God's love and grace will shine through.

 And that your focus will be on the One who created Light,

and is the Light of the world.

His peace to your homes!

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Homestead Update: February!!

Ah, February!  It's the month that teases and makes us think it is Spring one day and the middle of winter the next.  Or at least that is how it is in the South (I understand that in places like Buffalo that happens in the month of May.  Or maybe June).

Mr. Marvelous is in charge of gardening and he is happy with his over-winter preparations for this year's Spring garden.  MY job is animals!

Here's the count.  We currently have four rabbits.  Three females:

George, our seasoned Mama who is (hopefully) currently pregnant.

Woolly-Booger who has had one litter of one baby (it did not survive)
 Smoochie, who had one litter of six; two survived birth but did not survive the first week.

And one male:
Barrabas who will not keep his face washed.

I know.  It's lousy loosing baby bunnies like that.  Unfortunately, rabbits typically lose 100% of their first litters and sometimes even their second.  George has had one litter this winter but only had two babies in that litter.  When rabbits only have two babies, those babies get big fast!  We had promised a breeding pair out of her winter litter to a friend of ours, so they went to a good home.  We are hoping that George's next litter will have a few more babies.  We will also be rebreeding Woolly-Booger and Smoochie over the next couple of weeks.  Hopefully they will do better with their second litter.

In other news, we still have chickens.  We have three pens at the moment holding the following:

The three Princesses.
These girls are a cross between our White Leghorns and the Buff Orpingtons.
They have the sweet disposition of the Buffs, and like the Leghorns they lay an egg
every single day.
They are keepers! 

 The Eight White Leghorns.
These girls are NOT sweet-tempered.
However we are currently getting 4-6 eggs a day from them, so I put up with it.
They are currently having a visit from our lone Roo, Neo (because he is the one).

This is our pen of eight Buff Orpington hens.
We also call them the free-loaders.
Through November and December they were eating a LOT.
We got not one single egg.
In January we started getting 1-2 eggs a week.
As the days are growing longer, their production is picking back up again.

So why is Neo in with the White Leghorn hens?  The experiment of cross-breeding was kind of successful last year.  We had a White Leghorn rooster in with our Buff Orpington hens.  I put 17 eggs in the incubator and we hatched out four.  Not a very good percentage, but when I consider that the girls lay an egg every single day, it looks a little more successful.  We had a rooster, but he had the temperament or the White Leghorns and Mr. Marvelous and I both got a little tired of being attacked every time we went in.  This time we have Neo ~ a very sweet-tempered Buff Orpington rooster ~ in with our productive White Leghorn hens.  I am hoping for a better hatch rate this time.  After we hatch out these eggs I am hoping that the Buff girls will be producing a little better (more hours of daylight tends to make better egg production).  At that point we will put Neo back in with them and hopefully hatch out some straight Buff Orpingtons, as those roosters tend to be better meat birds (yes, we really do). 

As I sit here writing the incubator is heating up.

 Well doesn't everyone keep their incubator on the Living Room bookshelf
next to the baby grand piano??

In a few minutes I will go outside and see if there are any more last-minute eggs to add.  Each egg is numbered with the date it was laid.  I am hoping to get a better idea of how long eggs can sit on the shelf before being put into the incubator.

I have about 21 in the basket and would love to find 3 more for an even 2 dozen.
I will let you know how it goes!

And just in case you did not notice, my orange cat has volunteered to "guard" the eggs.

The babies too once they hatch.

Or so she thinks!

Happy Spring!