Birdwatching

I noticed during the time we had snow, the birds looked hungry. So I decided to feed them.  And then I thought it might be fun to take photos of the birds that came. With the new camera that my parents gave me for my birthday, I can zoom in on birds without scaring them away. Or well… that was the idea. I forgot at first that I could zoom in that much so I tried to stay nearby. That’s how these two photos happened:

Oops. Sorry birds. 😂 Anyway, then I grabbed a chair and went to the other end of the porch to sit down so that they would not get so frightened. The photos got much better after that.

I think that cute grayish little guy is called a Tufted Titmouse.

And I thought that this was a black-capped chickadee, but it turned out to be a Carolina Chickadee. Maybe.


A few weeks later, I was at it again. I believe this is a White-Throated Sparrow. It was dawn, and the bird was too far away for the flash to help, except to make the bird’s eyes light up. XD

There was a bird that I couldn’t identify that steals my cat’s food on a regular basis, and I was determined to get a photo of it.

After getting the photo, I finally found out what it is: a Red-Bellied Woodpecker!

Here it is eating my cat’s food. Silly thing. That can’t be good for it…


Knowing that Cee’s Fun Photo Challenge – Birds was coming up, I went outside yesterday to see if I could grab any more photos of birds. Here’s what showed up for food yesterday:

This is a juvenile male Northern Cardinal. I was so happy to see him! I didn’t get a shot of his parents, but they attacked any other bird that got too close to their baby. 🙂

This is one of the birds who dared to get to close to the Cardinal – a Blue Jay! This was the best shot I took of him. He was shy and stayed in the trees. Couldn’t blame him – the Cardinal’s parents were really protective of their baby and took a lot of it out on him. 😂

I think this is a Carolina Wren.

I’m not sure about this one; it looks a lot like a Hermit Thrush, but there is a splash of yellow under the wings that it doesn’t look like a thrush has.

This one took a while for me to identify. I think that this is a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker.

This is my first time seeing one; it was exciting!

And my favorite shot of him – here he is actually drinking sap out of a vine!

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What Doesn’t Blow You Down Makes You Stronger

Special thanks to Daily Thankful, Adrianna, and Angela (click to read their fantastic posts) for unknowingly helping to inspire the words in this image and in the post below – seems that we are on the same wavelength. ❤

For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. (Jeremiah 17:8 KJV)

“He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” Psalm 1:3 (NASB)


Grab a cup of tea or hot chocolate or coconut water or whatever beverage you enjoy sipping on while reading long articles because this is going to end up being a long one. 😅

Last fall, I put some apple seeds that I saved out of an apple into some dirt to allow it to naturally go through the winter. I also put some in the refrigerator last November and again in January. I took them out briefly for the photo below. The seeds are wrapped in a damp paper towel which I placed in a Ziploc bag so that they wouldn’t dry out.

This process is known as stratification.  “In horticulture, stratification is the process of pretreating seeds to simulate natural conditions that a seed must endure before germination. Many seed species have an embryonic dormancy phase, and generally will not sprout until this dormancy is broken.” — Wikipedia

When it comes to apple seeds, it usually takes, according to the linked article, 70 to 80 days. However, it looks like they can sprout too soon. I say that because one of the little apple trees  I planted to be stratified this winter sprung up too early instead of waiting for spring like it was supposed to. The silly thing. Anyway.

Johnny Appleseed the Second, in his pig pot under the plant light

I brought that one inside and left the rest to be good little seeds and go through the rest of stratification. The little tree (whose name is Johnny Appleseed the Second, by the way – because I name everything – and this was my dad’s suggestion for a name) is now about three inches tall; I didn’t expect it to survive because it sprouted at the wrong time. But it did. So I put it under my plant light with my citronella plant, garlic, rubber plant, daffodil, Aloe Vera, Venus flytrap, pitcher plant, tomatoes, peppers, lemon trees, Mandarin orange saplings, and one other citrus tree that I am unsure of what it is. I think I’ve turned our “Arts and Crafts room” into a nursery at this point. 😅 Oh, I’m digressing. Getting back on topic…

So far, Johnny Appleseed the Second looks healthy. However, since Johnny Appleseed the Second will be indoors until spring, I wanted to make sure I was taking proper care of him. The ones I had last year (that came up in the spring like good little seeds) nature took care of, except for the occasional watering, so that they would be used to being outdoors. I thought I remembered this, and so researched it:

“Wind greatly affects plants throughout their growth. When plants are seedlings, slight breezes help them grow more sturdy. ” — Gardening FAQ

Turns out I remembered correctly. Thus, if the little guy is constantly protected from the wind and then planted outside this spring, his trunk will be weak and the wind could break him.

Therefore, staking a plant or blocking the wind from reaching a plant can actually do more harm than good in the long run, as long as the wind is not storm-strength. Every other day or so, I blow on Johnny Appleseed the Second, trying to mimic wind to make him stronger.

Tree trunk silhouette at sunset

And then I realized… just like I am doing for little Johnny Appleseed the Second, God allows us to go through trials that make us bend and knocks us around so that we get stronger in Him. He allows the wind to blow, and with it, strengthens us so we don’t break when the stronger storms come later.

In conclusion to this long-winded (sorry bad pun) post: We’re like apple trees! 🍎 🍏 Okay, okay: Our Father in Heaven allows turbulence to strengthen His children because He loves them.


This poem by Lillian E. Barr was in Streams In The Desert in the January 16th devotional; it seems relevant here. I hope you enjoy her poem as much as I did:

THE TREE GOD PLANTS

The wind that blows can never kill
The tree God plants;
It bloweth east, it bloweth west,
The tender leaves have little rest,
But any wind that blows is best;
The tree God plants
Strikes deeper root, grows higher still,
Spreads wider boughs, for God’s good will
Meets all its wants.

There is no frost hath power to blight
The tree God shields;
The roots are warm beneath soft snows,
And when Spring comes it surely knows,
And every bud to blossom grows.
The tree God shields
Grows on apace by day and night,
Till sweet to taste and fair to sight
Its fruit it yields.

There is no storm hath power to blast
The tree God knows;
No thunderbolt, nor beating rain,
Nor lightning flash, nor hurricane
When they are spent it doth remain.
The tree God knows
Through every tempest standeth fast,
And from its first day to its last
Still, fairer grows.

If in the soul’s still garden-place
A seed God sows
A little seed it soon will grow,
And far and near all men will know
For heavenly lands, he bids it blow.
A seed God sows,
And up it springs by day and night;
Through life, through death, it groweth right;
Forever grows.

Mama Kitty – Life Updates

Missing you with
A broken heart
My sweet girl
Always remember that I love you

Knowing you has been a pleasure
I still remember
The day we met eleven years ago
Today and forever you will be in my thoughts
You will not be forgotten.

Mama Kitty

(Today’s scheduled post has been moved to Monday.) I’ve known that this day was coming since last summer, but I didn’t expect it to be so soon. The vet told me after removing six tumors that it was most likely cancer and that it had spread. For the past few weeks, I could tell that my darling Mama Kitty wasn’t feeling as well and that she was weaker. Last night, she passed away peacefully in her sleep.

For those of you who have been keeping up with life updates, this is the third beloved cat that I’ve lost this year. (Rabbit and Radar died in January.) I realize that my little babies are getting older and I knew that I’d most likely outlive my precious pets, but I didn’t expect to lose three in such a short time.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)

God is such a comforter during times like these! I don’t know what I’d do without Him.

I don’t know how active I’ll be on WordPress this weekend, but you’ll have a new post on Monday. Love you guys! ❤

The Origin Of Valentine’s Day

A lot of people celebrate Valentine’s Day. (Or if you are like me and you are single, this holiday is most likely S.A.D –  Singles Awareness Day.) But have you ever wondered why we celebrate it, and who this Valentine guy was? Well, wonder no more! (Click the links at the end of the quotes if you want to view the whole article where I found the information. 😉)

Image Credit: Pixabay

The history behind it is actually quite dark. Two people with the name of Valentine were martyred in different years in Ancient Rome on that day. The Catholic church recognized them as saints. And at this time, Lupercalia was already established by the ancient Romans to be celebrated from February 13th through the 15th. So, what is that celebrating?

Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons

Lupercalia was a very ancient, possibly pre-Roman pastoral annual festival, observed in the city of Rome on February 15, to avert evil spirits and purify the city, releasing health and fertility. Lupercalia was also called “dies Februatus”, purified (literally “februated day”) after the instruments of purification called “februa”, which give the month of February (Februarius) its name. – Wikipedia on Lupercalia

Killing two birds with one stone: Now we know where February got its name from too…

Image Credit: Pixabay

Anyway…

The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain.

The Roman romantics “were drunk. They were naked,” says Noel Lenski, a historian at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Young women would actually line up for the men to hit them, Lenski says. They believed this would make them fertile.

The brutal fete included a matchmaking lottery, in which young men drew the names of women from a jar. The couple would then be, um, coupled up for the duration of the festival — or longer, if the match was right. – NPR

So… that’s awful. Those poor women. I don’t even want to think about it.

Later, Pope Gelasius I muddled things in the 5th century by combining St. Valentine’s Day with Lupercalia to expel the pagan rituals. But the festival was more of a theatrical interpretation of what it had once been. Lenski adds, “It was a little more of a drunken revel, but the Christians put clothes back on it. That didn’t stop it from being a day of fertility and love.”

Around the same time, the Normans celebrated Galatin’s Day. Galatin meant “lover of women.” That was likely confused with St. Valentine’s Day at some point, in part because they sound alike. – NPR

This sort of sounds like what happened with Christmas. Take a pagan holiday and combine it with a Christian holiday in an attempt to convert people. Or in this case, try to twist the pagan holiday to make it “Christian”.

Then I was curious about how the Valentine Cards were started:

Another embellishment suggests that Saint Valentine performed clandestine Christian weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry. The Roman Emperor Claudius II supposedly forbade this in order to grow his army, believing that married men did not make for good soldiers.  However, George Monger writes that this marriage ban was never issued and that Claudius II told his soldiers to take two or three women for themselves after his victory over the Goths.

According to legend, in order “to remind these men of their vows and God’s love, Saint Valentine is said to have cut hearts from parchment”, giving them to these soldiers and persecuted Christians, a possible origin of the widespread use of hearts on St. Valentine’s Day. – Wikipedia on Valentine’s Day

So that’s how Valentine’s Day got its start
And how people started sending Valentine’s Day hearts.
I do hope that you enjoyed and learned something new
Happy Valentine’s Day (or Singles Awareness Day) to you!

💘

Review: When Dreams Come True

When Dreams Come TrueWhen Dreams Come True by Eric Ludy and Leslie Ludy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book so much! I’ve had this book for a while, but was saving it until close to Valentines’s Day. It didn’t disappoint! It was hard to put down. I loved their writing styles.

“And amazingly, through it all, there was a God watching me fall, watching me break His heart, and loving me still…” – Leslie

“The next hour passed like a hiccup attack in the middle of a wedding ceremony.” – Eric

(Those two sentences are from different parts of the book, by the way.) It pulled me right in.  I didn’t expect the book to have much conviction in it since it was a love story, but I was pleasantly surprised. Here are just a few:

“Eric, God doesn’t care about you accomplishing things, He cares about you obeying. When you obey, it’s truly amazing what you can accomplish!” – Eric’s mom

“I was in pre-med, and doing what I had always dreamed of,” he shared animately, “but I realized that, even though I’d been a Christian since I was five, I had never asked God what He wanted to do with my life.” – Eric

And there are also plenty of gems for the single Christian (like me):

“And as I had slowly learned to trust Him completely as the Lord of every area of my life, I had felt His gentle challenge to my heart, I have someone special for you, My precious child. Wait patiently for that man, set yourself aside for him in complete purity and faithfulness. I will bring him into your life in a way more beautiful than anything you can imagine. But wait for My perfect timing. Use this time of your life to focus on Me instead of chasing after foolish, short-term pleasure.” – Leslie

This book was such an enjoyable read, and I loved how Eric and Leslie respected their future spouses without even knowing them yet. It was beautiful.  It truly is a love story that only God could write. ❤

* Also, if you read the book, it advertises their music in the back. Leslie Ludy allows you to listen and download a few tracks for free on her website, Set Apart Girl, which are AMAZING.

View all my reviews

Monday Mantra: Fairytale Edition (a reblog)

I enjoyed this post by Dream Filled Daughter so much! ❤ Click the link below to read the post in full. 🙂

Dreamer's Outlet

“Every person’s life is a fairytale written by God’s fingers.”

Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875)

As I was scrolling through a few inspirational Bible verses on Pinterest to add to my new bullet journal, I encountered this lovely little quote I’d saved who-knows-how-long ago.

Many of you, like me, have an undying love for all things Disney, fairytale, or even just plain fiction/fantasy. Many of you, as fellow bloggers and writers, have a deep-rooted adoration for a really good story–me too! (I’m the kid who always asked for a Barnes N Noble gift card at Christmas, and would get more excited about a new book than all my new clothes put together lol.)

And what are a few key truths we know about a good story?

  1. There’s a relatable main character: This is you! You get your very own, hand-written and lovingly created story. That makes you pretty darn special…

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Jesus will be with me – Collaboration with Following Him beside still waters

Hayley from Red Letters asked if she could write a melody to Jesus Will Be With Me and of course, I said YES… and here it is in song form! She did an AMAZING job. Click the link below – or above – to visit her blog and listen to it. 😀

Red Letters

I’m so excited to share this very special song with you all. My lovely friend, Grace, from Following Him beside still waters wrote a beautiful poem and shared it on her blogpost ‘Jesus will be with me’ on Sunday. I asked if I could put a melody to these inspiring words and turn it into a song and Grace said yes! Here are the words from Grace’s poem.

Verse 1:

When I go through water’s deep,
Jesus will be with me

When billowing waves overtake,
With me, He will still be

Chorus:

For without Him I would drown
In brutal waters deep

If He were not with me, I know
Water would overtake

For without Him, when I lay me down
Fears would keep me from sleep

If He were not with me, from sleep’s hold I would never wake

Verse 2:

When at night I fall fast asleep,
Jesus…

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