Pileated WoodpeckerS Delight!

It is a treat to see a Pileated in the back yard. It is unusual to see two at a time. Three Pileateds equal a huge event! We have lived here 15 years and never seen them courting and dancing tree to tree, wing displays, calls and all! Perhaps they were simply defending their territory? We may never know. It was exciting for us! There was no time to set up a video camera on a tripod. Besides, that would have sent them off to some other part of the woods. Robert Dutina shot the video while I just ooh-ed and aah-ed!

Facts from Wikipedia: “Adults are 16 to 19 in long, span 26 to 30 in across the wings, and weigh 8.8 to 14.1 oz, with an average weight of 11 oz. Each wing measures 8.4 to 10.0 in , the tail measures 5.5 to 6.9 in, the bill is 1.6 to 2.4 in.”

I swear, from the kitchen or bedroom window they look like small chickens compared to the black capped chickadee or sparrow! Here is a shot out our bedroom window one winter.

At times when I hear them call I think of the zoo or a jungle somewhere!

Ears and eyes alert! Never know when you will happen upon a treasure! Hoping there are some at our new address!!

 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

Matthew 6:26-27

Swinburne Who?

According to https://www.best-poems.net/algernon_charles_swinburne/index.html he was a popular English poet and writer. His life was 5 April 1837 – 10 April 1909 and evidently he wrote about many off color topics, but I like his phrase about spring. Wikipedia says: “Swinburne was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature every year from 1903 to 1907 and again in 1909.”

For winter’s rains and ruins are over,

And all the season of snows and sins;

The days dividing lover and lover,

The light that loses, the night that wins;

And time remembered is grief forgotten,

And frosts are slain and flowers begotten,

And in green underwood and cover

Blossom by blossom the spring begins.

Chorus
by Algernon Charles Swinburne

Here are some of the images of ‘blossom by blossom’ from our neighborhood!

Certainly a favorite of early pollinators!
I thought it was barberry, but it is not. Neighbor’s shrub. He is Nepal, so I do not know identification.

Old, untended crab apple.
Oh, so fragrant in the evening especially!

Thanks, Lucky, for continuing to get me outside and looking for those treasures in plain sight!

Just Like Heaven

If you are a regular reader you know that the Lord often stirs me with music. Various phrases of this song have been rolling around in my head. I finally tracked it down through lyrics and then YouTube. What a blessing! I played it for hours as I ran around doing grocery shopping and was blasting it all the way home down the road while surrounded by huge trucks and the windows open to the spring air.

I think this is more than fitting for Easter Monday or perhaps Pentecost Sunday? Maybe just any day that you are longing to be closer to Jesus. Seems to me this is some of the best new church music!

The Lord your God is with you,

    the Mighty Warrior who saves.

He will take great delight in you;

    in His love He will no longer rebuke you,

    but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Zephaniah 3:17

I put the lyrics below the song in case you want to follow along. Brandon Lake wrote the song and posted this comment on YouTube.

“Just Like Heaven” was written after I had a very simple but powerful revelation that when we’re in the presence of God we’re getting a taste of what heaven and eternity is going to be like. When you get a taste of heaven, you will want more. We were made for eternity. That’s where I want to live. We don’t have to wait until heaven to experience it — God wants to bring heaven to earth. This song is my personal journey of crying out for more of His presence.” Written by Brandon Lake, Jeff Schneeweis, and Jacob Soote

Isn’t it just like Heaven
When You walk into the room?
There’s not a thing that’s hidden
When every eye is on You
Can’t get enough of Your presence
It’s the perfect point of view
Isn’t it just like, just like
Just like Heaven?

Ooh
Come a little closer, stay a little longer
Ooh
I can’t get enough of You
Ooh
Come a little closer, stay a little longer
Ooh
I can’t get enough of You

Doesn’t it sound like Heaven
When You’re singing over me?
There’s not a voice more constant
Your melodies they never cease
Here I will stand in Your presence
In my true identity
Doesn’t it sound like? Yeah, it sounds like
Just like Heaven

Chorus repeats: Ooh
Come a little closer, stay a little longer

Holy, You are holy
You’re such a perfect Father
I’ll worship You forever
Holy, You are holy
I’ll lay down any treasure
For us to be together
Holy, You are holy
You’re such a perfect Father
I’ll worship You forever
Holy, You are holy
I’ll lay down any treasure
For us to be together

Chorus repeats

Oh, enough of You, oh-oh
A little more of You
I just want more of You, Lord
I just want more of You, Lord
I just want more of You
I can’t get enough

I can’t get enough of You

Easter Excitement

I am not talking about peanut butter eggs or jelly beans. I am talking about the Christian Easter morning excitement. Some church folk declare to one another, “He is risen!” Others recite, “The Lord is risen.” “The Lord is risen indeed, alleluia!”

I have one friend who before Covid could barely attend Easter services because the tremendous number of flowers set off his allergies so bad he practically cried through the service.

I am not talking about the flowers, the greetings, or the candy.

 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people,  and His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength He exerted when He raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,

Ephesians 1: 18-20

“THAT’S what I’m talkin’ about! ” Are we excited about the power God has placed in us because of the resurrection? Do you participate in that power under the Father’s direction? Are you yielded to His inspiration and leading? Are you willing to let Him use you in any way He sees fit to further His kingdom? Are you excited that this power is available to you 24/7-365? Have you asked for the baptism in the Holy Spirit? Would you trade your chocolate rabbit for it?

Celebrate the real reason for our joy as Christians. Jeremy Camp says it SO well!

Holy Saturday

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,  having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Col 2:13-15 NIV

Jesus did some nailing to the cross of His own! He took the list of everything we owe God, everything that stands against us and condemns us, He took it all and NAILED it to the Cross. He made a public spectacle, a laughing stock of the powers and authorities of darkness by His triumph over them on His cross.

Do you know this old song by Carmen? You might have to turn up the volume at first. Lyrics are below.

Here are the lyrics to The Champion:

In the vast expanse of a timeless place
Where silence ruled the outer space
Ominously, towering it stood
The symbol of a spirit war
Between the one name Lucifer
And the Morning Star, The ultimate of good

Enveloped by a trillion planets
Clean as lightning and hard as granite
A cosmic coliseum would host the end
Of the war between the lord of sin and death
And the Omnipotent Creator of man’s first breath
Who will decide who forever will be the Champion

The audience for the ‘Fight of the Ages’ was assembled and in place
The angels came in splendor from a star
The saints that had gone before were there: Jeremiah, Enoch, Job
They were singing the “Song of Zion” on David’s harp

The demons arrived, offensive and vile, cursing and blaspheming God
Followed by their ‘trophies’ dead and gone
Hitler, Napoleon, Pharaoh, Capone
Tormented and vexed and grieved
Waiting for their judgment From the Throne

Then a chill swept through the mammoth crowd and the demons squealed with glee
As a sordid, vulgar, repulsive essence was felt
Arrogantly prancing, hands held high, draped in a sparkling shroud
Trolled by demons, Satan ascended from Hell

Then Satan cringed, the sinners groaned!
The demons reeled in pain as a swell of power like silent thunder rolled
With a surge of light beyond intense, illuminating the universe
In resplendent glory appeared the Son of God

Then a Persona, yes, Extraordinaire appeared in center ring
God the Father will oversee the duel
Opening the Book of Life, each grandstand hushed in awe as
Majestically He said
“Now here’s the rules. He’ll be wounded for their transgressions
Bruised for iniquities”
When He said, “By His stripes they’re healed,” the devil shook!
He screamed, “Sickness is my specialty. I hate that healing junk!”
God said, “You shut your face, I wrote the book!”
Then the Father looked at His only Son and said
“You know the rules
Your blood will cleanse their sins and calm their fears.”
Then He pointed His finger at Satan and said
“And I know you know the rules
You’ve been twisting them to deceive My people for years.”
Satan screamed, “I’ll kill you Christ! You’ll never win this fight!”
The demons wheezed, “That’s right, there ain’t no way.”
Satan jeered, “You’re dead meat, Jesus, I’m gonna bust you UP tonight!”
Jesus said, “Go ahead, make my day!”
The bell rang, the crowd cheered, the fight was on
And the devil leaped in fury
With all his evil tricks he came undone
He threw his jabs of hate and lust
A stab of pride and envy but the hand that knew no sin blocked every one

Forty days and nights they fought, and Satan couldn’t touch Him
Now the final blow saved for the final round
Prophetically Christ’s hands came down
And Satan struck in vengeance!
The blow of death felled Jesus to the ground

The devils roared in victory!
The saints shocked and perplexed as wounds appeared upon His hands and feet
Then Satan kicked Him in His side, and blood and water flowed
And they waited for the 10 count of defeat

God the Father turned His head
His tears announcing Christ was dead!
The 10 count would proclaim the battle’s end
Then Satan trembled through his sweat in unexpected horror, yet…
As God started to count by saying
“…10…”
“Hey wait a minute, God…” “…9…” “Stop! You’re counting wrong…”
“…8…”
His eyes are moving…
“…7…”
His fingers are twitching…
“…6…”
“Where’s all this Light coming from?”
“…5…”
“He’s alive!”
“…4…”
“Oh – nooooo!”
“…3…”
“And yet,”
“…2…”
“Oh…Yessssss!
“…1…”
He has won!
He has won!
He’s alive forevermore!
He is risen, He is Lord
He has won!
He has won!
He’s alive forevermore
He is risen!
He is Lord!

Proclaim the news in every tongue
Through endless ages and beyond
Let it be voiced from mountains loud and strong
Captivity has been set free, salvation bought for you and me
‘Cause Satan is defeated
And Jesus is The Champion

Why is it Good Friday?

Jesus said in New Revised Standard version of John 15:12-15

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.

NRSV John 16:7, 22 Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.

So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

He went to the Cross for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which was to fulfill the promise of the Holy Spirit indwelling us. The same Spirit that inhabited Jesus.

Friday was brutal suffering. Unimaginable anguish. But He knew, Sunday was coming!

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV

Holy Week – What is A Christian To Do?

I have spent most of my life following Jesus. One of my greatest Christian teachers was Francis of Assisi. He chose to be stripped of possessions and riches and to follow Christ unhindered by things. For several years I was a Third Order Franciscan through the Episcopal church. Recently my friend, Bonnie, reminded me of a quote from Francis on his deathbed. He is purported to have said, “I have done what was mine to do. May Christ now teach you what you are to do.”

How might we go about doing that? The Book of Common Prayer Morning Prayer Rite 2 in the general thanksgiving says “…show forth Your praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up our selves to Your service ….”

On Monday and Tuesdays when I do not “feel” like writing I am reminded that I give up myself to His service by writing this blog. It is mine to do. I pray what I write will encourage others to follow Jesus. I pray the things I tell about will inspire others to pull down strongholds and walk on with the Savior of our souls. I pray I might amuse others and help lift them from the doldrums of the daily grind. I struggle to put into words my relationship with a Holy God through the power of the Holy Spirit given as a result of the life, sacrifice, resurrection and then ascension of Jesus Christ.

So what is Christ asking you to do?

I have found over the years that if I feel stuck spiritually I need to go back to the last thing the Lord asked me to do, and be certain I did that.

Francis also said, “Start by doing what is necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

So there were things like: volunteer at the homeless shelter. Try to help organize the shelter donations. Set up the construction of a new donation out building. The Church carried that out.

Bonnie also quoted these steps:

  1. Do what is necessary.

2. Do what is possible.

3. Let God take care of impossible details and do as He leads.

Carry on!

But Samuel replied:

“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
    as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
    and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” 1 Samuel 15:22

Hey, Mom?

The kids were sitting at the dining room table doing their homework. I was standing at the kitchen sink, doing dishes and singing aloud in my prayer language.

Suddenly Jeff asks, “Hey, Mom? Is that how you sing in cursive?” I answered, “Yes, I guess so!”

“So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding.” 1 Corinthians 14:15 NIV

In some respects I did okay raising our children. In many respects, I failed raising our children for Paul goes on to write in 1 Corinthians 14:16-17

Otherwise when you are praising God in the Spirit, how can someone else, who is now put in the position of an inquirer, say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since they do not know what you are saying? You are giving thanks well enough, but no one else is edified. 1 Corinthians 14:16-17 NIV

I did not realize at the time that I should have prayed for and then sang out the interpretation. I was simply at the sink worshiping.

May the Lord lead and guide our now adult children to a deep fulfilling walk with Him. Perhaps by my examples I did expose them to helpful cues for their journey.

Trout Lily Extravaganza

First there was one or two plants, known by their leaves. Then seemingly overnight, KABOOM, the hill was covered. This being the last spring we live at this address I have been on the lookout for my favorite flowers. When I saw white flowers on the hill I got out my binoculars to define what I was seeing, spring beauty or trout lilies? Oh my! what a surprise.

The upright white flowers are hyacinths. The white flowers that seem to droop are trout lilies. It was amazing to be able to see them from the kitchen window. When we first looked at this property 15 years ago I was enchanted by the trout lilies. The thought of having them in my own backyard, naturally was delightful!

Wikipedia says Erythronium albidum, the white fawnlily or white trout lily, is a small herbaceous flowering plant in the lily family. It is native to eastern North America, from southern Quebec and southern Manitoba south to Georgia and Texas.

Recently the local newspaper sent a magazine insert. Love this quote from Algernon Charles Swinburne, “Blossom by blossom the spring begins.” Enjoy these photos! Look for the trout leaves and drooping flowers.

Grape hyacinth towards top center of photo.

They are named trout lily because their leaves look like the speckled skin on the back of a trout.

Oops, I see some honeysuckle vine in there (lower center of photo)! One of Bob’s pastimes has been to try to remove it from this hillside.

And last but not least, my favorite after a March shower. The droplets are on the back of the petals.

Our month of March is departing with more winds and some colder temps. Six weeks until we close on the house. Next year we will begin again with flower beds.

Luke 12: 27 NIV Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.