The Trees Sing for Joy

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Whether we’re driving to town or just peering out the front door, the phrase I say and hear over and over lately is “Oh, wow! Look at THAT tree!”

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The sun splashes its light, and the leaves glow warm shades of golden yellow, fiery red and blazing orange. Take a short walk on a fall day and you can’t help but stumble into the endless gallery of God’s gorgeous handiwork.

All this color in the trees brings me joy because it is the work of His fingers. He is an amazing Artist. And so as I say my joyful “Oh, wow!” the vibrantly colored trees seem to sing out in response, “Yes, God is amazing!”

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Joy is the art of God, says author Ann Voskamp. Let us praise the Artist for His joy-giving work. Let us receive the gift with thanks and acknowledge the Giver. To Him be the glory forever.

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“All beauty is only a reflection. And whether I am conscious of it or not, any created thing of which I am amazed, it is the glimpse of His face to which I bow down. Do I have eyes to see that it’s Him and not the thing?” -Ann Voskamp

 

 

Poppin’ Pink Peonies

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Oh, I just wish you could smell my peonies. Their scent is sweeter than honey and a hundred times as alluring as popcorn!

They start so small and round.

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But then they grow and grow and grow.

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Praise God for making such a glorious flower! Did I mention how much I wish you could smell them?

What’s blooming in your yard?

“We should live every day of our life promoting the glory of God.” -John Calvin

 

Let Heaven and Nature Sing!

Joy to the world! The Lord has come

Let earth receive her King!

Let every heart prepare Him room

And heaven and nature sing!

Joy to you this Christmas!

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Nature sang in 2015 as God blessed us with many memorable outdoor adventures like snowshoeing,

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snow skiing,

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ice skating,

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boating,

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swimming,

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and hiking.

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We delighted in God’s amazing creation while watching Trumpeter swans on the Mississippi River,

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spotting dolphins in the wild in the Gulf of Mexico near Galveston,

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feeding wood ducks in the backyard,

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gazing at the gorgeous lilacs

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and the dazzling dahlias at the Arboretum,

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being wowed by a pair of red foxes up on the Gunflint Trail near the Boundary Waters,

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and admiring some of the 18 baby snapping turtles that hatched in our front yard flower bed.

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We tried to subdue some of God’s creatures during our too-close-for-comfort encounters with a snoozing nighthawk,

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bandit raccoons,

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a sleepy bat, an angry squirrel, a peeping goldfinch,

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a topsy-turvey mama snapping turtle, a strong-minded chipmunk and a brave back-to-school mouse that trapped itself inside our basement wall! Eeeek!

We also marveled at God’s wondrous creativity while gazing at the brilliant autumn colors,

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picking juicy apples,

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and plump pumpkins,

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and most recently, while picking a lovely-smelling balsam fir tree to decorate for Christmas.

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Romans 1:20 says,“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–His eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

Nature clearly points to its wise and powerful Creator. And that lighted Christmas tree in my living room, it points heavenward, toward the Light of the World.

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It points to Jesus, who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

May we all join heaven and nature in singing our praises to Him this Christmas and throughout 2016!

Merry Christmas!

 

Meet Peep

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Sometimes as birdwatchers, we find that the tables turn and we are actually being watched by the birds instead!

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Peep is a male American goldfinch who especially likes people watching.

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He shows up at our windows, sometimes knocking on the glass with his beak. Then he just stares at us, making me feel guilty about not keeping the windows cleaner.

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After a minute, he moves on to a different window and stares some more. If he weren’t so cute and yellow, he might come across as creepy!

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Eventually, Peep gets hungry and joins his darling little wife at the feeder. They make such a cute couple all dressed in bright yellow feathers.

Oh, and if you want to share the love of birdwatching with a small person or two in your life, check out this great list of 10 picture books about birds over at House Full of Bookworms. I found many of these are available at our library and will be perfect for summer reading.

Happy reading, happy summer and happy birdwatching!

 

 

 

Backyard Birdwatching

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” -Matthew 6:26

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female grosbeak

 

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downy woodpecker

One of our family’s favorite hobbies is birdwatching. And since we have a variety of birds that visit our backyard, we hang several feeders on our deck. These feeders are easy for us to see from the windows in our dining area, and it’s delightful to watch the birds eat while we sit together as a family. We usually keep our binoculars and a bird identification book right on the windowsill.

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pileated woodpecker

Whether they are woodpeckers, orioles, hummingbirds, grosbeaks, red-winged blackbirds, goldfinches, or something else, they all seem to appreciate the food. As we watch them eat, it is entertaining to imagine what each bird might be saying or thinking about his meal, his feathers or that day’s weather.

This rose breasted grosbeak looked rather dapper in his red tie. He ate first while his beautiful wife perched nearby.

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male rose breasted grosbeak

Isn’t she lovely?

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female rose breasted grosbeak

Certainly the way to any bird’s heart is through its stomach, and nearly all of our bird friends love this particular suet feeder.

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suet feeder – raccoons keep out!

 

We usually don’t see robins eat from our feeders — they find plenty to eat chasing worms in the grass. But one day I caught a brave robin trying to eat the suet. He kept flapping his wings madly — pretending to be a hummingbird, I think — as he attempted to hover near the feeder and stick his beak into the suet to steal a bite. He’d often watched the woodpeckers and red-winged blackbirds do it and was feeling left out, I suppose. It wasn’t easy, but he did manage to get a few bites and then afterward he perched on the deck long enough for me to capture his picture.

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American robin

 

Do you see the bit of food still on his beak? He really needed a napkin.

Coming up next is a story about people watching — and it might not be what you think!

Snowshoes for Christmas

A white Christmas is always lovely. But this year a white Christmas seemed ever more desirable because we were giving the girls snowshoes as a main gift.

It turned out that we had a white Thanksgiving and a brown Christmas. November and December traded places. We did have big snowflakes falling down on Christmas day, but somehow those didn’t stick. It’s Murphy’s Law — if Minnesotans give their children snowshoes for Christmas, there will be no snow.

Much to our delight, in the evening the day after Christmas, the backordered snow arrived. It fell thick through the windy night, and by morning we had 5 or 6 inches.

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Southern girl that I am, I had no idea if 5 or 6 inches is enough snow to snowshoe in. But a few friends I consulted thought it was, so the girls and I bundled up and headed to the backyard with our brand-new snowshoes. Yes, I received a pair, too!

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Snowshoes attach to your snow boots, and I think I got mine on right.

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As a test, the girls trekked around the backyard for a bit.

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Then we headed out onto the frozen lake, feeling very adventurous.

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I can’t decide if snowshoes make me feel more like a mountaineer or more like Big Foot. But I do like them.

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We left a few tracks on the frozen lake. We didn’t make it all the way across yet since it was 11 degrees and getting dark.

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We’re looking forward to another snowshoeing adventure soon!

Fall Didn’t Even Wave Good-bye…

snowday003xI mentioned earlier this week that winter has made a premature arrival here in Minnesota. Just as we finished hauling off bags of leaves and dilapidated jack-o-lanterns and were only beginning to crave a turkey dinner, our scarecrow turned into a snowman. Just. Like. That.

Today I looked out the window to see a strange stillness and an all-too-familiar whiteness settling upon the lake. I grabbed the binoculars and searched for the slightest wave.

Nothing. Autumn had up and left without a farewell or even the slightest wave good-bye.

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In disbelief, the girls and I hiked down to the dock. We gathered a few big sticks along the way to help us get an almost first-hand feel of this strangeness.

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It took some significant poking for the sticks to break through the layer of ice, which was lightly dusted with snow.

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These two are looking forward to ice skating soon — but not too soon.

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Stay warm, Minnesota, and happy Nov-winter?!