Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Christmas Thief!

my dad died.
Since he was in his nineties,
his death was not unexpected.

His death set in motion a chain of events
that shook our family to the core that Christmas,
and tested the realness of our faith in God.

The cataclysmic occurrence was an automobile accident
that took place on the way to the funeral home two days later,
taking the lives of three of my siblings,
and permanently affecting the health of a sister-in-law and a nephew.

For those of you that have heard our story or read it in
I won't re-tell the account.
(You can download it FREE to your Kindle or purchase a hard copy by clicking on the link above.)
Instead, I would like to share with you
where I am emotionally and spiritually now that it is

Honesty and being real have always been important to me,
so I'm not going to lie and say it has been easy!
For some strange reason, 
this Christmas, TWENTY YEARS LATER, has been the toughest one yet!
I feel like I've been fighting depression
 and been dwelling again too much on that horrific night.
I tried to analyze why this was so,
and came up with these conclusions.

One was the death of my brother-in-law about a month ago.
Like the timing of my father's death,  he also was in his nineties.
We knew that we couldn't have him here forever,
yet his death affected me greatly,
and I hurt deeply for his immediate family.

Two more funerals followed closely on the heels of my brother-in-law,
and I began learning something new about myself.
I knew that God had gifted me with the attribute of mercy,
but instead of just using it to bring comfort to others as described in 2 Corinthians 1:4,
I was allowing it to grow into an unhealthy empathy.
I began realizing that in this unhealthy emotional state,
such overwhelming grief seized me to the point that I often felt losses more deeply
than the persons who were directly affected!
I had become my own worst ENEMY!

that was confession number ONE about how I began losing my JOY this Christmas!

Now on to the SECOND confession!
I let anger creep in over the commercialization of Christmas!
What really got me upset
 was when I couldn't find an outdoor Nativity set for sale in our town.
Although I was able to purchase one on-line,
I continued to seethe inwardly that our country,
and our town in particular, had gotten to this place.
In protest, I refused to put up my usual Christmas lights and decorations,
and I placed a Nativity set in the corner where I usually put up my tree.

Then today it hit me.
I was allowing my over-zealous grief for others,
and my anger for our loss of Christ-consciousness at Christmas,
to steal the JOY, beauty and wonder of Christmas!
The thief that allowed this to happen was ME!

In nursing we learned that defining the problem was half of solving the problem.
I'm still working on the solution...
Today I did go buy a small Christmas tree to put beside the Nativity Scene.
Tomorrow I plan on going Christmas shopping with my recently widowed sister.
I plan on enjoying the day with her as I remind myself that part of the key to JOY
this Christmas Season is to be thankful for what we have left
instead of fretting and mourning over what we have lost.
As Joyce Meyers says, "The Battle is in our Minds"!

I choose to bring my thoughts into line 
with what the prophet Jeremiah says in the Scriptures:
"I still dare to hope..."

God is faithful.
His mercies are new every morning!
And this is going to be a good Christmas!

Thanks for your visit!
To see my Christmas Rock and the Nativity Set mentioned above,
click HERE!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Geococcyx - What on earth is that?!!!

Yesterday as I was sitting on my little perch by the window
overlooking my bird feeders and enjoying a morning cup of coffee,
I looked down and saw an unusual bird.
He blended in with all the sunflower seed hulls that were on top of the snow,
and at first I wasn't sure if I was seeing what I thought I was seeing!

He had all his feathers fluffed out,
and was much larger than any of the birds that come to my feeder.

From time to time he raised his neck straight up,
 and appeared to be looking up at my feeder.
I wondered what kind of bird he was,
and if he was wanting bird seed,
...or if he might actually be a bird of prey.

This was a lucky shot!
But it gave away his identity!

Awwwwh! A Roadrunner!
Look at the markings beside his eye!
And look at those claws!

(Click on photo to enlarge detail.  I think you'll find it worth the click!)

According to Wikipedia, Geococcyx is a genus that includes about 15 species of birds,  
among which is the Greater Roadrunner and the Lesser Roadrunner. 
 I think the one that I've captured photos of is a Greater Roadrunner.

Since I caught him under my birdfeeder, it made me wonder what he eats...
 Was he after my seeds, ...or after my birds?!!!  
I ran to my computer and "googled" him,
finding that they ate lizards, snakes, insects, mice,
and small birds!

He wasn't at all scared of me, although I opened the window
and yelled at him, banged on the window,
and then threw an old cold biscuit that was left over from breakfast at him.
With the recent snow and cold weather,
maybe he was too cold and hungry to care!

He flew up in my apple tree,
 almost blending in with the tree trunk as he stationed himself,
eyeing the birds as they began flying back to the feeders.
Can you find him in the bottom right corner?

Though it's not real clear,
here is that same picture cropped and enlarged.

So...  do I want him hanging around my bird feeders?  
Absolutely not!

Although I love using my Canon and taking photos,
my work does not compare with some of the expert
birder photographers on Wild Bird Wednesday.
Click on the highlighted link above to see some of their great shots! 

 Rock4Today has my Christmas post for
Names of God on Rocks.
Check it out!
It may ROCK your world!


"Twenty years on the Twentieth" - What's that all about?
Click on the highlighted link to find out!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Winter Storms - Birder's Delight!

A little snow in the Ozarks is to be expected in our winters,
and we often feel cheated if we don't get at least one good snow.

But when the snow and ice hang on for days,
and the roads are quite impassable,
it's good to have something to brighten your days.
For me,
that's birdwatching!
(Male Cardinal)

Seeing the many birds and their mates come to my feeder gives me joy!
(Female Cardinal)

Whether they carry off the seeds,
(Male Goldfinch in winter colors)

...or sit under the feeder snacking on sunflower tidbits,
I find their presence and their actions most interesting!
(Dark-eyed junco)

The blue jays are not particularly fond of sunflower seeds,
but when they get hungry enough, they come screeching in,
loudly making their presence known.

The black-capped chickadees are regulars,
regardless of the weather.

The house finches are regular visitors, also,
but the downy woodpecker seems to prefer insects,
and is a more infrequent visitor.

The nuthatch is not usually in this position....

More commonly he scoots down the tree with head down.
I guess with the cold weather (13 degrees F this morning),
bugs are a bit hard to find!

The mourning dove appeared to have a wing caught
on a small peach tree limb.

She struggled awhile before breaking free.

I don't usually do two Joy4Today posts in a week...
I guess you can tell that I'm snowed in!
It's a little too cold to dig out a frozen rock to paint, though,
so I'll probably wait till next week to do another Rock4Today

Thanks for your visit!
If you like these bird posts,
you'd enjoy hopping on over to

Sunday, December 8, 2013


It's so cold outside!

When it's this cold, God's little creatures come hungrily to my bird feeders.

They vie for the opportunity to feast on my sunflower seeds,
not caring who they run off!

This little guy got in a big hurry,

...and nearly had a tumble!

After catching himself,
he was run off by a bigger guy who had already
claimed this feeder for himself!

So he went looking for another feeder,
...But this one, too, was already occupied.

Oooops!  He definitely went for the wrong feeder this time.
This guy was a bully, and put him on the run!

As streets are being cleared,
we are being advised to stay home.
Most churches have cancelled their services for today.

The good thing is,
 Bad weather cannot stop us if we are desperate for time with God.  
We can find Him whether churches are meeting or not.
 He says in His word that He will let us find Him!

"If you look for Me wholeheartedly,
you will find Me.
I will be found by you," says the LORD.

One of the ways that I seek to know God is through His names.
You can find the results of some of my searching HERE where I paint His name on rocks!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Canada Geese chased by Swans again!

This past weekend while trying to walk off some of  the extra calories
consumed on our Thanksgiving meals,
I was privileged to come upon a unique sight.

Each year when the Canada Geese migrate south
and try to establish residence in our local duck pond,
this scenario seems to happen.

I often hear the commotion as the Canada Geese are being
chased off, then hear and see them as they fly low,
honking loudly as they sail over our house.

But I often don't have time to grab my camera,
and actually witness the scenes as I did this past weekend!

Having chased off the Canada Geese that were near
our side of the duck pond,

the trumpeter swan took off to the other side to finish the job,

routing all the Canada Geese off  "swan territory"...
That is...
until they come back tomorrow!

Last year my neighbor, who has a deck-side view of the pond,
had told me what an interesting sight this was to witness.
At her cuing, I was pleased to capture a few extraordinary shots.
If you missed them, click HERE!

Due to the busyness of Thanksgiving activities,
I didn't visit as many blogger friends posts as usual.
Some of these bloggers have a passion and eye for bird photography,
and can be found at Stewart's "Paying Ready Attention" Photo Gallery.

Are you keeping up with my "Names of God on Rocks"?
My most recent post can be found HERE!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Bird catch of the day!

This past weekend as my husband and I were headed back home
after spending a little time down on the farm,
we were privileged to capture a few photos of this owl.

Gary quickly pulled over on the side of the highway
so I could get a better shot of him.
It was early morning, the sun was trying to wake up,
but as you can tell it was still quite dusky!

I didn't have much time to grab a few shots,
but I was so pleased when the owl turned and looked straight at my camera.
Look at that face!
 And check out the thorn tree he is sitting in!

As if to say, "Okay, you got your pictures,"
he quickly took off in flight.

And that's my Joy4Today that I plan to share
with Stewart M's Wild Bird Gallery this Wednesday,
as well as Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday!.

is also featuring more feathered friends on this week's post.
I love hearing your comments on my posts,
but whether you comment or not,
THANK YOU for stopping by!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Apple Bobbing - Well Almost!

I only have a few apples left hanging on my tree,
but have found it quite intriguing to watch the cardinals
as they peck away at the swinging apples!

Click on over to Rock4Today to see my latest "Names of God on Rocks",


Click on Bird Gallery to enjoy birding photography from around the world
hosted by Stewart M.

Thanks for your visit!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Tribute to Earl William Hedlund, Scrabble Player Extraordinaire!

The Ozarks lost an extraordinarily great Scrabble player this past week...

My brother-in-law Earl was an exceptional Scrabble player.
At the age of 93, he was still at the top of his game!

Some of his favorite challengers were relatives,
Donna and Walter Klassen from Canada.
Ordinarily a quiet person,
a great challenger (like Walter, above)
seemed to bring out a more sanguine side of Earl's personality.

Earl and his wife Alice (my sister),
became marriage partners on New Year's Day, 1966.
Scrabble partnership followed!
Together they have faced many challenges.
Alice has addressed one of these challenges in her blog,
"Unexpected Journey in 2011".

I'm not sure how long this link will be up,
but a brief synopsis of Earl's life with a few of the ways
that he has been used of God,
is posted HERE!

My Rock4Today post featuring The Names of God on Rocks
is dedicated to my sister Alice.
Click on the highlighted letters to take you there!

Thanks for dropping by!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My Tribute

One of the definitions for "Tribute" from  Websters Dictionary says:
"Something given or contributed voluntarily as due or deserved; 
a gift or service showing respect, gratitude, or affection."

This past week I lost a special family member.
Time at the hospital,
family coming in,
funeral arrangements...
all these are so important,
and blogging had to be placed on the "back burner".

check back later 
for a special tribute post!

Thanks for stopping by!

( In case you wondered,
 featuring the Names of God on Rocks,
has also been put on hold for a few days.)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Railroad Crossing... and Crossroads Opportunity!

One foggy morning last week as were down on the farm,

...we headed to breakfast with some family friends.

After breakfast, as we stopped at the local store,
 looked across the street...

...and happened to see that the historic train depot was open.

Mayor Henley, who has spearheaded the restoration project,
just happened to be there,

...and was happy to give us a tour,

...and even demonstrated how some of the articles
 were used long ago when the railroad was the lifeline of the community.

Comparing some of the photos from its construction,
to its restoration,
it was evident that Mayor Henley has done a great job
in preserving this part of a small town's history.

The day passed swiftly,
and it was almost time for Saturday night church.

Across the road from the church,
a small sign on a metal gate caught my attention!

Besides the railroads,
community churches used to be the heartbeat of small town America.
Attendance has dwindled,
and now only a faithful few are found in the pews.

On November 7th, Billy Graham will celebrate his 95th birthday.
He is concerned for the future of America,
"Our country is turning away from what made it so great"
"Our country is in need of a great spiritual awakening."

To counteract this problem, 
he has developed a massive effort to reach people
across the United States and Canada
with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This endeavor is scheduled to begin on the night of his birthday,
and is called the "My Hope America" project.

Although he has been famous in the past for mass evangelism,
this time he focuses on the power of personal relationships.
He urges Christians to invite guests into their homes
to share the gospel and learn about Jesus.
My husband and I are making preparations to be a part of this effort.

If you, too, are interested in being a part of this crossroads opportunity,
 click HERE to find out how you can be involved!

Thanks for visiting!
I'll have another post up soon on Rock4Today,
featuring the Names of God painted on rocks.
(Click on the highlighted link to take you there.)