Lamentations 3:22-23



Picture 204, originally uploaded by lyndaspix2004.

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

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Mariposa Monarch

Picture 110, originally uploaded by lyndaspix2004.

Mariposa means butterfly in Spanish.

My friend, Jamie, and I went to the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix to see the Monarch exhibit. We each took hundreds of photos and had a great time.

Unlike the butterflies that are in the exhibit in the spring, the Mariposa Monarch is not a “friendly” butterfly. They get nervous when you get too close and they don’t seem to like the click or flash of the camera. Monarchs also tend to land on the ground a lot, so you have to be careful of each step that you take.

Jamie and I spent a good hour in the butterfly house observing these fascinating creatures and trying to capture a moment where they actually were still. They love the colorful flowers in the exhibit and flit from one to another until they think they’re going to be left alone!

Every fall, by instinct alone, the Monarch butterflies go to the same mountains that their ancestors left the previous spring. Somehow, they find a place in Mexico that they’ve never seen before. Monarchs only fly during the day and at night you might see a handful, or even hundreds of them roosting in trees or on a bridge!

Each winter, the entire eastern population of monarch butterflies in Mexico clusters together on only 10-12 volcanic mountains, in large colonies estimated to contain millions of individuals. Significantly, an estimated 80% of the butterflies concentrate each year in only four core colonies.

All of the colonies are in Mexico’s Transvolcanic Belt, and most of these colonies are spread along an arc from the western face of the volcano “Nevado de Toluca” to the northeastern extreme of the state of Michoacan. The four core sites–El Rosario, Sierra Chincua, Chivati-Huacal and Cerro Pelon–are located in the center of the arc, near Angangueo.

You can read more about the Monarchs’ amazing journey here:

http://www.learner.org/jnorth/monarch/

Ahhhh…

picnikfile_kXln8_, originally uploaded by lyndaspix2004.

I love fall; it is my favorite season. I love the cooler evenings and mornings. I love the much nicer daytime temperatures (75-mid 90’s in October). But most of all I love the changing of the leaves. It’s something that I don’t see much of in Phoenix and I miss it a lot. Occasionally I get somewhere that I get to see some of the beautiful autumn colors. This was taken in Flagstaff, AZ the first weekend in October the morning we went to the Grand Canyon.

Back Yard Fauna

Hummingbird6, originally uploaded by lyndaspix2004.

We’ve had some interesting creatures in our back yard lately. My husband’s especially fond of “his” humming birds. I took my camera out yesterday afternoon while the boys were playing video games and shot a few photos. Of all the ones I took of the humming birds this was my favorite!

My First Bloggy Award

My first ever bloggie award comes from a wonderful young blogger (and close personal friend) at Sassybug’s Weblog. Sassybug is a high school math teacher now, but I remember being there with her momma in the delivery room the day she was born and watching her grow into the lovely and intelligent young woman that she is today. Her posts are insightful, funny and quite creative! Thank you, Sassybug, for this honor! It means so much to me!

The steps of this award are to list 6 things we love, then pass it on to 6 lovely bloggers.

Six Things I love:

  1. I love being a Christian. My faith is the most important aspect of my life. It defines who I am at the very core of my being. Finding a church family in Phoenix was so awesome! Now I finally feel totally at home here in the desert.
  2. I love my family. Each person in my family holds a very special place in my heart. I’d be lost without them. My relationships with my husband, kids, parents, grandparents, siblings (including in-laws), nieces and nephews,  aunts and uncles, and cousins…well they are timeless.  I am blessed to have a good relationship with most all of my family members. Their unconditional love for me has been my most cherished gift in my life.
  3. I love my friends. My old friends are my treasure (you know who you are) here on Earth. No matter where I am or what I’ve done they’ve loved me and encouraged me. I’d be lost without you, too. I’ve also been blessed to meet some new friends since moving to Phoenix and since I started blogging. My new friends are  growing in my heart as I get to know them and I’m so thankful for the new relationships in my life. It is wonderful having friends that live close to me that I can be with or interact with daily if I want to (or if they do).
  4. I love my pets. My three kitties and my dog enrich my life in a way that no person could. Their unconditional love makes me want to be a better human. Our fish are cool, too, and I love watching them, but my hubby takes care of them.
  5. I love books. Books have always been my favorite “thing” in the whole world. They were my first best friends.
  6. I love photography. Taking pictures is something I’ve always liked to do. I love seeing something beatuiful and capturing it for all time in film or in a digital format. I love recording the events and seasons of my life in a format that enables me to look back and remember how wonderful life was and is.

It is my honor to bless others with this award. There are so many truly creative bloggers out there, but since I can only choose 6 I will tag:

Blue Bamboo – Blue is a busy lady who is raising her “heart daughters” in such a positive and lovely way that I think anyone who reads her blog would admire all that she does for them. Blue’s blog makes me laugh and cry and always gives me something to think about.

Good Intentions – Kiki’s blog has given me so many belly laughs as she tells about her wonderfully imaginative daughter. I have also enjoyed getting to know a bit more about her as a wife, employee with many supervisory responsibilities, sister, daughter and friend.

In This House, I’m the Mama – Stephanie has had  incredible challenges as a stepparent and I appreciate the creative way she has shared her story with her blog readers. Steph has an amazing talent for writing her stories and making you feel like you’re right there experiencing the insanity along with her. She is also my cousin, so I’m incredibly privileged to know her personally and to count her as one of my closest friends.

Walking in the Valley of the Shadows  Shadowlands has used her talent for writing to get her though the most impossibly difficult time that anyone could go through…caring for her husband through his battle with cancer and losing him to this wretched disease. Her wonderful storytelling skills have allowed us to get to know her precious husband. She has also demonstrated a closeness with the Lord that can only be experienced in times of great trail. It has been a blessing to me to read her blog and to get to know her better. She has blessed me with a couple of emails where she sent me something that she thought could bless my heart. I think it speaks volumes that she was able to think of encouraging a friend that she’s met only through blog posts and emails while going through the darkest valley in her life.

A Journey Toward Healing and Heaven My friend Stacie, whom I met on a forum for Christians with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) has a beautiful blog full of her thoughts on her family, her illness and her relationship with the Lord. Her devotion to the Lord and her family inspires me each time I read her blog. She has a talent for poetry and writing as well as photography. Check out her blog if you want a real blessing.  (P.S. I don’t have CLL, but my dearest friend, Barb, has it and I joined the CLL CHRISTIAN FRIENDS forum in support of her. I’ve met many wonderful people there.)

Four Chances My friend Frank has a blog where he writes stories about his childhood, young adulthood, his family and even his cat! Frank has been very encouraging to me in my efforts to become a blogger; for this I am grateful! He is also an artist and shows some of his work at Within Crepsculum where he says: “This body of work explores how the irreversible transformation of fabric parallels our own aging process. In particular I am concerned about the moment when my ability to live independently begins a transition towards total dependence for life care.” Check it out! His work is quite intriguing.

I hope you all have fun choosing 6 things you love and then passing this award on to 6 lovely bloggers! I know I did!

Silver Boxes with Bows on Top

I’ve been reading a book by one of my favorite authors, Florence Littauer called Silver Boxes: The Gift of Encouragement. In “Silver Boxes” she talks about a verse from the Bible in Ephesians that says:

Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Florence talks about how our words should be edifying to the people we’re speaking to. What we say to our spouses, children, family, friends and even strangers can be like a gift that comes wrapped in a silver box with a bow on top. Every time we speak to someone we have the opportunity to build them up, or to tear them down.

In one illustration a child explained our conversation is sometimes like playing with blocks. Someone works and builds an intricate building witht their blocks. Then, someone walks by and either praises all the vision, engineering and talent it took to build this wonderful structure or takes their arm and knocks every block down to the ground, destroying the builder’s hard work, hopes and dreams with one fell swoop.  I’ve experienced both the joy and the destruction of other people’s words during my life. Many instances stick out in my memories as being either wonderful or horrible because of something another person said to me.

William Arthur Ward, a dedicated scholar, author, editor, pastor and teacher said:

“Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you. Love me and I may be forced to love you.”

and

“A true friend knows your weaknesses but shows you your strengths; feels your fears but fortifies your faith; sees your anxieties but frees your spirit; recognizes your disabilities but emphasizes your possibilities.”

Since starting this book I’ve begun to reflect on the way I speak to people and to ask my self, “Am I benefitting this person with my words? Am I building this person up, or am I tearing him/her down?”

I know what I want my answer to be…but I’m certain that my words do not always build others up. In fact, I know that there have been many times when what I’ve said has been hurtful and judgemental. I wonder how many opportunities to encourage my children I’ve let pass by, or worse. I wonder how many times I’ve had the chance to thank my husband for something he’s done for me and have been too preoccupied to acknowledge the act.

I want my words to be gifts, silver boxes with bow on top..to be encouraging, uplifting and building.