Monday, May 30, 2011

A half-pound Phoebe takes over—again

Okay, so we’re not talking a multimillion dollar standoff between a rare worm and an oil pipeline, or a fly and a building complex, cases in which I landed on the side of progress, but the takeover of my poolside gazebo by an eight-ounce bird that screams “phee-bee” has me in a conundrum.

At first I was delighted the Phoebes had chosen to build their nest in the rafters of our gazebo. They flitted around the spacious enclosure as though it were their very own castle. But when they started pooping on the patio chairs, I began to think less favorably about our up-close-and-personal National Geographic happening.

Still, in deference to motherhood, we let them enjoy their takeover while their babies were nesting.  We avoided sitting in the gazebo for any length of time because I worried about the eggs going cold, or babies missing a meal. Finally, they took flight (a departure hastened when I tried to get a picture of them hovering on the rim of their nest).

Happy to hear them calling in the nearby trees, we moved back into the gazebo with our pool paraphernalia. The phoebes, however, knew a good thing when they had it, and they weren’t giving it up so easily.  Lo and behold, a few weeks later, there they were, staking their claim once again. Annoyed with our presence, they’d fly in close or perch nearby scolding and threatening.

I admit; I am amused at the gutsy stance of these tiny keepers of the castle. And I am humored by their apparent enjoyment of their find—a spacious, roofed, open-sided dwelling on the edge of insect -rich woods. 

They dwell securely, unaware that it is by my grace. And that is a reminder I would do well to contemplate. I too, dwell securely by the grace of God.

My phoebes are a living picture of the message the psalmist proclaims when he likens the birds that build nests in the Lord’s house and seek protection at His altars to the person who trusts in the lord.
Psalm 84—“Yes the sparrow has found a house and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even Your altars, O lord…happy is the man who trusts in you.’

As I, once again, move my chaise lounge out onto the deck and await the next flight.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

When hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes don’t get attention, try Zombies

That’s what a recent blog for the Center for Disease Control did to get the attention of those of us preparedness slackers who think either, “Something like that would never happen to me,” or, “If something happens there’s nothing I can do about it anyway.”

We may have a sense of apathy about natural disasters, but we sure want to know what to do in the case of a Zombie outbreak. According to a Reuters report, so many people responded to the blog that the site crashed. Apparently the popularity of Vampires and Werewolves hasn’t warmed us to the horror of ambulatory beings bent on eating our brains or possessing our beings.

The Zombie lure may have been successful in drawing people to the site but I don’t know how successful it was in directing the attention to the real focus. How many people went out and bought batteries, water and extra first aid supplies?

We are a stubborn species. Ever confident in ourselves and our present reality.

But we all have been warned of two certainties: one day we each will face death, and one day the Lord will return. And no man knows the hour of either event.

Each day I read the news, especially as it pertains to Israel, I get a knot in my stomach like I’m sensing the approach of the Zombies, the encroaching of evil within my borders. I look at my pitiful emergency supplies stored in what I refer to as my “terrorist” cupboard, and although I get a bit of comfort knowing I have something on hand, I realize how feeble my attempts to save myself really are.

The only place I take any comfort is in knowing my real preparedness comes in drawing close to the Lord, in practicing the awareness of His presence in the good times so that I will be able to stand in times of danger and evil. I pray for my loved ones, and I pray for Israel.

And I cling to the certainty that one day when the Zombies threaten to take over, when darkness covers the earth and deep darkness the peoples; . . . the glory of the Lord will appear, the Holy One of Israel, and He will redeem all that are His.

Meanwhile, I do think I’ll take another look at the CDC’s site, this time bypassing the Zombies for the duct tape and other supplies info.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A day at the beach in burkas and Speedos

As a child, I delighted in playing with my grandmother’s stereoscope (a vintage Viewmaster of sorts). I’d place the sepia-colored, double-image cards on the holder, adjust the viewer and stare transfixed as the two photos morphed into a three-dimensional image that floated before my eyes.

Lately, I feel as though I’m seeing things through that old viewer again. Only instead of double-imaged paper pictures, I’m seeing opposing views of life. Simultaneously, I see good and evil, beauty and ugliness, the One who gives life and the one who destroys it.

One scene in particular has lodged itself in my mind this week. A woman told me about the time she watched a family emerge from their car for a day at the beach. The mother and young daughters, fully covered, gathered their billowing garbs as they made their way through the sand to the shore. A little boy and his father followed, each sporting a skimpy Speedo.

The males, unencumbered and undaunted by the revelation a wet Speedo delivers, frolicked in the water. The girls splashed about, enjoying, as best they could, the water that weighed down their garments like soggy diapers.

This image, however innocuous, reminds me of the oppressive evil that plays out all over the world today. A simple news search reveals story after story of women who are killed each year in “honor killings, who live with faces seared by acid-throwing men, who are lashed and beaten after having been raped. Young girls daily suffer atrocities under groups like the Taliban that we wouldn’t want our children to know even exist.

Meanwhile, we, in our tolerant, free thinking, liberal disillusionment, open our doors to the very ones who want to destroy us. Why not allow them to establish their Sharia law in our land? We are generous in our tolerance. The tragic irony is that what we call freedom is actually enslavement.

And as we stumble over ourselves to permit their Prophet, we forbid our God to be mentioned in public places. We welcome the one whose ways allow beating, maiming, and killing females, yet ban the One who came to set the captives free. We let the deceitfulness of self-righteousness blind us to the One came to give life.

The images through my viewmaster are becoming clearer, more three-dimensional. The time is drawing near. There are two sides. There is one battle.

And there is one Victor.

“ . . .  today I have set before you life and death. . . So choose life that you may live, you and your descendants after you.”—Deuteronomy 30:19

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I'd rather be like the swan besotted with the tractor than be nibbled to death by a duck

“Being nibbled to death by a duck.” I don’t remember where I read this, but it is an image from some Bible study that has stuck in my mind over the years.

Have you ever been in a relationship or a situation where someone has picked at you—quietly, persistently undermining everything you did? I have and I’m sorry to say, I haven’t behaved well. Constant taunting erodes even the toughest wall of defense when it is primarily focused on resisting, in this case, the temptation to fire off a verbal volley.

Achieving victory over anything, whether unfair treatment or addiction, requires more than a defensive grit-your-teeth-and-hold on battle plan. Victory comes with a new mindset, a new vision imprinted in the very core of your being.

 A great example of this comes from the book of Nehemiah. The Jews who were rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem were being “nibbled to death by a duck.” The enemies in their midst taunted, mocked, threatened, jabbed, and stabbed until the people of Judah were worn down, fearful and disheartened.

Nehemiah admonished them to not be afraid. Easy to say, but how to do? Nehemiah tells them to remember the Lord, great and mighty, to imprint Him on their minds.

Recently I saw a news clip about a swan who “loves” a blue tractor. The swan walks alongside the tractor, stands by it when it stops, and runs after it when it goes too fast. This has been going on for years. No one knows just what the fascination is, but they speculate something about the tractor was imprinted on the swan early in life.

Ah, besotted.That’s what I want.To have the Lord imprinted in fiber of my being so that I will rest in the security of knowing the One who is great and mighty.