Bob, Lucky and the Singing Squirrel

For years there has been a joke circulating about Bob and the squirrels. When we lived on Danny Drive he would get upset at the squirrels for eating the bird food. Occasionally he would get out his BB gun and have at one.

He told the grandchildren that in our yard there was a one eyed squirrel, a tailless squirrel and a three-legged squirrel because the sight on the BB gun was so lousy, (never that he was not a very good shot). If he did kill a squirrel he never told them. I said if he killed one he would have to skin it and nail the pelt to the shed as a warning for other squirrels to stay away.

At our house on Siesta Drive he would occasionally get one. We installed a spring on the bird feeder that was hanging over the edge of the deck (with a twenty foot drop to the ground). That squirrel was so confused and frustrated that he could not feed upside down and gorge himself on bird seed.

What have you done?!?!?!

He would climb out on the pole and touch the bird feeder. It would bounce and he would retreat. First day I think he did it 8 times before he gave up!

Some years ago our daughter and Grandgirl Ellie gave him a mechanical singing, dancing squirrel.

We stored the squirrel with Christmas things. This year when we brought him out Bob sometimes tormented Lucky with the squirrel. He would turn on the music and watch her retreat in fear. He would turn on the music and set it next to her. She would run a safe distance away and watch. Remember that Lucky is a rescue. She has been with us for over 1-1/2 years. Our daughter, Emily, had told us we might need to live with her for more than 2 years for her to show her true self to us.

I have never gotten Lucky to play with toys unless I put a treat in them. I have sewn elastic to the legs of some toys so I can attach treats for her. Once the treat is eaten she ignores the toy. Realize she was caged the first 4 years of her life and never had toys, so yes, she is clueless. Throw a ball and she looks at you asking “Now what?”

Imagine my surprise when I was crocheting Levi’s Christmas gift, watching TV one late afternoon and Lucky went to the table to sniff the mechanical Squirrel.

Next she put her claws on its foot and dragged it to the loveseat with her. Before I knew it she knocked it the floor and began chewing. Bob was working at his computer in the office. I texted him to come see.

Bob went back to work. You can see Lucky’s face when he walks in again at end of clip.

Before we knew it she carried the squirrel off to where he was working in the office. I told him we had to be careful she doesn’t try to eat it, wires, batteries, fringe on scarf, fake fur, etc.

I went into office a few minutes later and she had chewed out one eye. Thank goodness the pieces were all there!

Yes, then we removed it from her reach. Bob wants me to make an eye patch as he finally owns his one eyed squirrel.

What baffles me is she had been alone all morning while we went to the 25 year church reunion. So glad she did not tear it up then. We could not have protected her. Perhaps she was waiting to see what our reaction would be? How do dogs think?

Remember the new Christmas tree?

She has now dragged out Snoopy, who fortunately has sewn patches for eyes. No danger there! Wonder how Charlie Brown will taste to her?

How We Found Dr. Fauci

Remember how I posted that Dr. Fauci was missing? (https://wordpress.com/post/treasures-in-plain-sight.org/6922) Recently we retrieved all the Christmas storage boxes from our storage rental. We were anticipating whether or not Dr. Fauci would be in there. If not, he was lost and gone forever, (Clementine).

As soon as we placed the box in the car after we retrieved it from storage cube, I flipped this box open and there he was! Inside the candy cane turtle neck, cushioned in a towel! Yes, my instinct was correct. I had placed him in a Christmas box when moving. It had space and padding to keep him safe.

So once again, Dr. Fauci is here to encourage us to wash our hands, get our booster shot ( which we did weeks ago) and keep a safe distance from others. Doesn’t he look amazing, tidy and well-kept after months in a storage cube?

Even with variant, we believe in the science in contrast to the science fiction. We will get through this pandemic and eventually receive injections similar to the flu vaccine (which we have also gotten already this year) to keep us from deadly Covid-19 infection. Please love your fellow citizens enough to get your vaccine. Those who have suffered Covid-19 know this is nothing to fool around with. May you stay healthy and out of the hospital, never have to wear a ventilator, live long and prosper!

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:30-31

Grooks

In 1966 Piet Hein published a little book of poetry entitled Grooks. It brought me cheer and challenge. The cover says he began” writing Grooks during Nazi occupation of Denmark. They were, quite literally, underground literature – Piet Hein was in hiding as as resistance leader. …they enabled Danes to talk to one another about what really mattered in a range just beyond German understanding and several octaves beyond Nazi sensitivities. “

A Maxim for Vikings

Here is a fact that should help you fight a bit longer.

Things that don’t actually kill you outright make you stronger.

Yes, that has challenged and comforted me through many, many years. Now I have passed my 71st birthday. We have a tiny (by comparison to past houses) front garden. Each spring at other locations I would participate in what I called “Death by Gardening,” cleaning up the flower beds and putting in a new perennial or two. Suffering the consequences for days and at times weeks afterward.

Bob had planted over 200 of my favorite daffodil bulbs at the last house. When we were packing last spring, I was lamenting leaving that glorious daffodil display. One friend bought me two pots of large daffodils to plant at our new house. I nurtured those bulbs through the spring and into the summer awaiting a flower bed. Another friend attended our open house and gifted us with a sack of daffodil bulbs and a sack of tulip bulbs.

Our weather went from summer hot (think 80s) to chilly (think 40s). For the last few days we have entertained 60 degrees. Twice I have gone out to plant a few bulbs. Whereas I used to spend 3 or 4 hours in the garden I am no longer able to do that due to fibromyalgia and arthritis. Now I might spend 45 minutes or so.

Here is the deal. When Ryan built this house, they delivered tons of huge gravel for the eventual driveway. First, the crane parked there to lift the walls and roof trusses into place and then the construction dumpster sat on it.

The rocks spread. Then the driveway and sidewalk were concreted and the rocks spread.

Rocks throughout the rain sitting on top of the clay

Then the grading machine came to shape the yard and the rocks spread. Our son advised adding inches of good topsoil to the garden area before they came to put in our plants and single tree. We did that with his help.

So now this old lady is out trying to plant flower bulbs. The soil and top layer of mulch have settled. The bulb digger is a handy gadget we have used for years.

Here is the current struggle. To plant the daffodil bulb at the suggested depth (about 6 inches), I twist the bulb digger to make a hole. Before I reach 6 inches deep the digger hits either clay or rock or BOTH. The clay is wet and will not drop out of the digger, so each attempt the clay must be removed with the dandelion remover. This is no longer a simple matter of place a few bulbs in the ground!

“Things that don’t actually kill you outright…” Make me ache and moan and groan the next day. Actually I was gasping for air and having trouble getting upright after planting, too.

What was I thinking? I have this gardening bug that makes me believe I am 27 instead of living into my 72nd year. I want to plant and grow things. I delight to see flowers blooming and bobbing in the breeze.

I must try to content myself with a few lovely daffodils and let go of the glories Bob planted for me in the past. I placed the clods of clay into a flexible tub. It was so heavy when I finished placing about 15 bulbs I could barely drag it to the sidewalk, much less dump it in the garbage can.

Weighty Clay Clods

Ryan homes has done nothing yet regarding the drainage problems in our backyard. I had hope for a perennial bed out there by now. The mums and aster from this fall will need to be thrown out as there is no place to put them in the ground for the winter.

“Make you stronger …” Maybe this yard will make me strong enough to embrace gracefully that I am no longer a strong young woman? The crocus bulbs are in. All the plants we brought with us are in the ground (thanks mostly to Bob and son Jeff). I will see if I have grown wiser when the new plants are available in the spring?

Wiser to embrace the blessings I have and release the ones that have passed as my younger years fade away. Oh Lord, You know how much help I need with this!

The grass withers, the flower fades;

    but the word of our God will stand forever.

Isaiah 40:8

Church Anniversary Celebration

Sunday, November 7 we were invited to attend the 25th celebration of the Milford Vineyard church. We were glad to do that and looking forward to seeing old acquaintances. The church had moved to a newer location since we attended there.

There were many familiar faces and a few names I could not remember to go with those faces. Ugh. Perhaps the best was a greeting as I first walked in the door!

The conversation went like this. “Oh hello! I was just thinking about you this morning. I am so glad to see you. Look! She was my FIRST prayer partner!!” Jay H. was in joyous fine form and I was delighted to see him, too.

Once upon a time at Milford Vineyard I was in charge of scheduling the prayer teams for after service prayer and for prophetic communion. We had teams of two available after every service for intercession. Prophetic communion was a time when those teams would come together to pray over people. Some would come with specific requests but most were just seeking what the Lord would say to them. We did not believe we had a fast track to God, just were willing to listen and have the courage to speak into the lives of those who came forward. We tried to separate anything we knew about the person and just listened for what the Lord wanted to say. We always cautioned people to go to the Lord themselves with the things we said and seek His face and His voice. None of us were infallible. He is the best source for healing and guidance.

A friend told me she had a funny memory of me. Once when the pastor was going off on another of his endless rabbit trails I spoke up and said, “Come on! Finish up! We have other important things to do like communion and prayer.” She was impressed that I said it and thought it needed to be said.

Another woman pulled me aside at the end of the service. I did not recognize her with her mask on. When I asked her to pull it down for a moment I faintly recognized her. She wanted me to know she had recognized me and always remembers me as a strong prayer warrior. I thought, “Hmm, after all these years!”

I guess I made a stronger impact than I knew. After the service, one man said his daughter still has the baby blanket I made her. Once she even drew her bunny wrapped in the blanket. He wanted to show me the drawing but had difficulty finding it on his phone. I gave him my email and told him he could send it when he found it. I would delight to see it!

It was a good reunion. It was wonderful to worship in the Vineyard tradition. I miss that sort of worship where I can enter into His presence and find mercy, grace and rest. We sang the following song, Another one of my favorites!

Sweetly Broken Jeremy Riddle

New House, New Tree

We set up our old Christmas tree in the new house. It was too wide for the setting. Bob heard there could be an artificial Christmas tree shortage this year. So when he saw them at the hardware store he took me with him to choose one. I chose a pencil tree, known on the box as Sonoma Pine, seven foot.

It sat in the box in the garage for several weeks. Finally we decided we should set it up and be certain we liked it and it fit in the space. Mind you, my husband would be content with the photo of a Christmas tree instead of a real or artificial one. The idea of setting one up before November 15, before Thanksgiving even, has never occurred in our 51 years of marriage!

We unboxed it. The dog watched in the corner in fear. As we set it up the dog had left the room completely. We plugged it in. Looked pretty good! Well, if you have a tree set up and the ornaments are close at hand, why not decorate it? And so, we did! Just the two of us. The last few years Grand-kids had helped us decorate the tree. This year the two oldest ones are both holding down jobs and school. The youngest is 40 minutes away, one way. So we just did it.

The dog had returned to the room and was watching warily. It stumped me why she was so timid. Then I remembered the tree at the other house had been in the basement (more room for gifts and celebration space). She spent very little time near it.

We actually had fun together decorating it. After a while Bob took the job of putting hooks on ornaments while I placed them around the branches.

Yes, Charlie Brown and Snoopy on the floor for now.

I was remembering the angel Myrtle made me, the bell I crocheted like the ones Aunt Audrey made, ornaments the children and grandchildren made. Little treasures that make me smile. One ornament from Bob’s kindergarten class and the replica we made first year we were married. The yarn “snow queen”, Christmas mouse, stars to remember how His birth was announced in the heavens. The ornaments are just good for my soul. I am still debating whether to leave the angel on the top of the tree or replace her with a sparkly Gold crown I found to honor the King of Kings? There are quite a few angels on the tree.

We are accustomed to lights with many colors and this one is all white. We are unlikely to keep it lit every night until January first. Bob said he meant to get one with LED lights and this one is not. It is a joy to have it up as the time change brings sunset so much earlier.

New home, new tree and likely new traditions will be formed in however many year we have left. Bob says he is not paying for any 5 year magazine subscriptions as who knows if he will get them all read! Other age related comments have been bouncing around since our birthdays 3 weeks apart.

Father, You knew when to send Jesus.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:6-8

And Father, You also know how long we have left on this earth. Let us use that time to Your Glory, I pray.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:15-17

Our times are in Your hands. (Psalm 31:15a) Celebrate the gift of His life to you!

Overflow Perhaps Unseen?

My husband thought that since only a few read this perhaps it did not post correctly? So here is a re-posting. Hope it helps you overflow.

As if in a canoe, I hit a hidden boulder. And just like that I could not write. Capsized. Nothing. No ideas, no inspiration, just tears of frustration over an ongoing situation. Eventually I just got in the car and went out. Thought it was better than stewing and stumping over what to do next. I still felt guilty about not writing.

This morning I remembered Streams in the Desert, September 3. And he saw them toiling in rowing (Mark 6:48).

Straining, driving effort does not accomplish the work God gives man to do. Only God Himself, who always works without strain, and who never overworks, can do the work that He assigns to His children. When they restfully trust Him to do it, it will be well done and completely done. The way to let Him do His work through us is to partake of Christ so fully, by faith, that He more than fills our life.

“A man who had learned this secret once said: “I came to Jesus and I drank, and I do not think that I shall ever be thirsty again. I have taken for my motto, ‘Not overwork, but overflow‘; and already it has made all the difference in my life.”

“There is no effort in overflow. It is quietly irresistible. It is the normal life of omnipotent and ceaseless accomplishment into which Christ invites us today and always.
–Sunday School Times

Not overwork, overflow. So I return this morning to the keyboard and screen praying for overflow. My straining effort does not produce anything worth reading. Help me, Lord to flow around that boulder and create something live giving. The Spirit brings me an idea, but it is up to me to develop the idea and work to make it clear. No, things are not just dropped into my head fully written. But this work is different than striving, straining and driving effort.

Equip me as you did Rainer Marie Rilke to say unsayable experiences clearly that others might love You, too.

Most Christ-like Way

Found an article by Stephen Mattson contrasting being ‘biblical’ with ‘the most Christlike way.” Bob and I have been sensing this for years. Yes, to be more Christlike is my goal in life. Here is one paragraph.

In a complex society increasingly skeptical about claims related to absolute truth and indisputable facts, it’s increasingly hard to use the Bible to support anything without coming across as biased and prejudiced. But there is a simple solution: start replacing the term ‘biblical’ with the term ‘Christlike,’ because while the Bible can be manipulated to say and mean almost anything, the words, actions, and life of Jesus aren’t as pliable.

Stephen Mattson

Yes, Stephen, I agree I want my life and my church to be more Christlike.

Jesus — not the Bible — heals, forgives, saves, and loves. This doesn’t mean we should avoid studying scripture or disregard it as a useless religious icon, but the Bible should never get in the way of following Jesus. Our passion for scripture should never come at the expense of our passion for Christ, and the purpose of the Bible should always be to help us become more Christlike, to love Jesus more – not as a way to circumvent Christ.

Stephen Mattson

Here is the link if you want to read the entire article. https://sojo.net/articles/not-everything-biblical-christlike

Truly made me sit back and think. I do not have to agree with everything anyone writes or says. I do need to think about the ideas of others and if they ring true in my heart, see what I can do to amend where I am falling short. I like this photo he uses.

The semantics are important because the different terms present two completely contrasting paradigms. One is base don textual interpretations and opinions, while the other is founded upon the words and actions of the living savior of the world. If you’re a Christian, you should always err on the side of Jesus. But if we’re not careful, it’s easy to idolize the Bible while simultaneously ignoring the very message of Christ.

Stephen Mattson

1990 Retreat

Here is another way the Lord communicates with me.

April 27, 1990 Friday, Milford Jesuit Center Walking along Little Miami river bank. During a retreat I took a prayerful walk. Quieting myself I was walking slowly and trying to just see what the Lord wanted me to see.

The first stone I was led to pick up looked like a bone. I  seemed to hear this Transient life is passing away and in time will cease to exist. Transient: passing through or by a place with only a brief stay or sojourn.

Porous stone that represents words – air vibrating through vocal chords Transubstantiates words to stone. Change in another substance. Cannot be recalled once spoken.

A caramel stone that lets light in translucent – light shines or glows through it … admitting and diffusing light. Help me to be translucent with Your light.

Gold glitter in pink stone. The serendipities of life. Life as a serendipitist – one who finds valuable or agreeable things not sought for. Show me Your joys Lord.

Hard brown stone of unforgiveness. Impervious to light, not permitting penetration by light or passage. Incapable of being influenced or affected. Impenetrable – inaccessible to knowledge, reason, sympathy. NOT to be moved by logic or persuasion.

And then I saw one more. A stone that had angles on it. I bent to pick it up and it was actually buried in the soil. As I dug around the stone to unearth it discovered it was very large, like the stone the angel rolled away. Indeed, it represented to me the resurrected Christ who makes all the other stones pure and good and holy. This transient life will be transformed into eternal life with Him. The words transubstantiated into rock  that cannot be taken back can be forgiven. The translucent light He shines through my life will one day become the light of heaven, where we do not need sun or moon or stars for light, (REV 21:23-24) The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. The serendipities of life will become everlasting joy (ISA 35:10, 55:11, 60:15 and 61:7). Unforgiveness is changed by forgiveness in Christ. As He has forgiven so should we. (EPH 4:32)

Yes, the large stone, the resurrection of Jesus and His triumph over the grave, death and sin are ours. We must remember and celebrate that! I eventually found a plastic statue of Jesus with His arms raised in victory to put with the large stone.

Several times over the years I have misplaced the small stones. April 19, 2011 I searched the house for the plastic resurrected Jesus and placed it on the mantel with the stone. “I put Him on the mantel once again with the stone the angel rolled away. I need to find the journal where I wrote about the discovery of that stone – at Milford, near the river, and the impact on me as the Lord sent me picking stones one by one, as He used them to teach me. Yes, Lord, I am Yours.”

I keep that large stone as a reminder to me of His amazing work on our behalf. And yes, I keep the plastic statue to remind me His work is ongoing, even in me.

David had 5 stones in his bag as he faced Goliath.

In 1 Samuel 17:40 it says, “Then he {David} took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine.”

I believe with these six stones {David did not have the benefit of the resurrected Christ} I can conquer challenges in my life, and so can you!