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Alcon Blue (Phengaris alcon) ~ Enjoying God in the Presence of Enemies

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The Alcon Blue butterfly has a fascinating life cycle.A mother butterfly carefully lays her eggs along the blue petals of the marsh gentian flower, high up where predators cannot eat them.Down below, all manner of creepy crawly things would just love to gobble up those eggs.Usually, if a caterpillar hatches and accidentally falls to the ground, it is quickly consumed by a wasp or an ant.Yet, biologists were surprised to discover that a couple of weeks after the Alcon Blue caterpillars hatched, they deliberately launched themselves off of their protective flowers and into the dangerous world below.The larvae were quickly overrun with ants and carried away.How were the butterflies coming back each spring, if in their larval state they seemed self-destructive?Eventually it was discovered that these butterflies are myrmecophylous, meaning they have a positive association with ants.  When the ants took them back to the nest, it was not to eat them, but to raise them as their own.  The cate…

Coronavirus (COVID-19) ~ Disinfecting Our Hearts

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I recently flew home from a business trip.  The day I’d embarked, a mere four days previously, everything had seemed normal.  Yet on this, the day of my return, a sense of nervous urgency electrified the air.  Passengers feverishly wiped down their seats, armrests, and tray tables.  Some wore face masks.  All wore knitted brows and anxious glances.  I knew full well the reason for this behavior change.  The day I left there were 4 people infected in my home state.  The day I returned there were 40.  COVID-19 is steadily marching on.             I remarked how some of these individuals went to great lengths to make their environment clean, while at the same time spouting foul language and unkind gestures.  Surely our surfaces have never been cleaner…yet, within, there is fear, greed, and anger.  What if we cleaned our hearts with the same fervor that we cleaned our hands?  What if, while we scrubbed our hands and sang ‘happy birthday’ twice, we also prayed and asked God to …

Cloud Cover ~ Overcoming Depression and Suicide

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It was an early autumn morning.  A vicious chill bit my knuckles through my gloves as I drove my trusty Toyota to our hiking troupe’s meeting place.  We gathered together in the parking lot, jostling poles and back-packs as we huddled together for warmth.  We all took turns peering up at the ominous black bellies of the low-hanging clouds.

“Should we still go?” my friend asked.“Looks like nasty weather.”
Our troupe leader has been hiking these mountains for five decades.  She knows their faces, their moods.She surveyed the sky with a knowing eye and said, “We’ll head up.Ten bucks says these clouds melt away at 7,000 feet."
So we piled into the four-wheelers and drove up into the misty mountains.The gray shroud left teary streaks on our windows.I watched them crawl along in trembling, horizontal lines down the glass.All at once, about 6,800 feet above sea level, the welcoming arms of golden sunbeams reached down from the heavens.
By the time we reached the trailhead, there was not…

The Sound of Water ~ Proclaiming the Gospel

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In the deep, sleepy greenery of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains, live two of my very favorite human specimens.  I visit them when I need a break from the hustle and bustle of life.  No matter what time of year it is, Mary and Lonnie are always free for a visit!  The house is nestled deep in the forest where a green glow settles in the underbrush and the air is wet and heavy.  On their property, down by the base of the house, a reflecting pool offers sanctuary to the wildlife.  During my last visit, I kept watching the pool with the hopes of seeing any of the various wild animals come for a drink.  No such luck.  But on the last day of my stay, my friends turned on the fountain attached to the pool.  Immediately all manner of creature came out of the forest to drink the water!  Black capped chickadees, chipmunks, dragonflies; it was a veritable menagerie!
I watched the scene, totally enchanted.  Then I began to wonder, why had all these animals burst from the forest only when the fountain …

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) ~ Pressing on Towards Jesus

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Last month the snows came in full force.  The Colorado sun, usually so obliging, was blocked for days behind a frosty shroud.  I am one of those people who goes batty pretty quickly unless she can get outside into the fresh air, even in poor weather.  So I geared up in my winter attire; a soldier heading into a battle against the elements, and set out for the mountains of Sedalia.  I spent a lovely afternoon snowshoeing through the sparse forests and open plains.  It was quiet out there in the wilderness.  Only the deliberate whispers of my snowshoes moving across the terrain and my heavy breathing broke the silence.  In the bitter cold, even the birds stop singing.  Sometimes you can see them, little sleeping puffballs, tucked deep in the trees.  The snow stopped falling, and at last the sun crept her way through the ether.  All at once the pillowy drifts of snow became heaps of minute diamonds.  I blinked against the dazzling whiteness.  And as I turned my gaze to the western horizo…

Guard Tree ~ Leadership

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Not long ago there was a terrible storm in England.Ancient living towers lay strewn about the ground.How can something light as air fell in a moment the mighty tree?! The roots of the trees in England are often small because water is always right at the surface (if you have lived in England you know what I am talking about… the water is never far away since it’s constantly falling out of the sky!)The roots of those stately oaks had never grown deep in search of nutrients; and thus the root system was quite limited.A tree that experiences drought or times of great stress will send its roots down further, and thus it will survive a storm. I have learned that you must not stake a young tree unless it is absolutely necessary.Otherwise it will grow up weak.A tree that is battered by the wind grows a strong trunk.Also, if there is a tree behind another tree, it tends to be weaker.The so-called ‘guard tree’ in front takes the full force of the wind to protect those behind it. In leadership w…