Monday, April 26, 2010

Wee Beady Eyes...

I'm probably as surprised as anybody...

I've never been into snakes, but April has become 'snake month' for me and it's been something weirdly fascinating to find these guys all over the place.

There were five or more coiled up together. I tried to pick one up (with a 'grabber' we use for picking up trash from our mowers) and, surprisingly, he/she didn't like it. Live and learn, I guess. :)

Plainbelly Water Snake, I think.

The sky was also brilliantly blue today, with fluffy white, cotton candy clouds... beautiful. It almost looks like a screen-saver.

Which reminds me... we discussed a book in South Africa a couple years ago called What's Your God Language? by Myra Perrine. (It's a continuation and elaboration of a book from the mid-70's about spiritual temperaments). We were talking about why some people seem to struggle doing their quiet times, while others can sit and pray and meditate for hours; why people can worship the same God, but struggle to understand or connect with each other; why some people can devour books in one sitting, while others avoid them like the plague; why some people, like Mother Theresa, can be energized by serving the poorest of the poor while others are devastated and overwhelmed by the seemingly impossible need.

Without going to the book for a definition, my personal description of a spiritual temperament is the place or environment in your life where you best connect with God. It's different than a spiritual gift. It's not necessarily for the benefit of anyone but us. It's the personal and most natural conduit that God has wired us with to relate to Him at the core of our being. Mrs. Perrine identifies nine temperaments. (I've seen others identify as few as four or as many as twelve).

Some people connect best with God by wading through deep theological books and age-old arguments. (maybe, by using the term 'wading,' you can guess that this is not one of my primary places of connection with God... I could also use the words- plodding, trudging, suffocating). Some people feel closest to God when they are fighting for a cause, or for the welfare of a person or group of people. These people thrive in places and discussions of social justice. Some people feel closest or most in tune with God through the smell of incense and the sound of voices reverberating off domed cathedrals.

I am what the book would describe as a 'naturalist.' I connect best with Jesus when I'm exposed to the natural, created world.

So... if you wonder why I take pictures of snakes or deer, clouds or blue skies, daffodils and tulips- it's because those things renew my perspective on who God is, and who I am in relation to Him. It's why I think fishing on a cool spring evening is one of the most relaxing and calming things for my spirit. It's why my heart catches or jumps a bit when I see a shooting star. It's why spring has given me a jolt this year. 

I encourage you to read the book. To whet your appetite, here's a list of the nine temperaments:
The Activist
The Ascetic
The Caregiver
The Contemplative
The Enthusiast
The Intellectual
The Naturalist
The Sensate
The Traditionalist

Which one are you? Or... what combination of those temperaments make you come alive to the wonder and presence of God in your life and world?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Reading Between the Lines

So not all the snakes I encounter are big.

I happened to have a golf ball with me, so I wanted to give you the size perspective.

It's a lined snake. I've seen a few of them the last year or so. It's got some cool coloring. Here's a stock internet pick to give you more detail. (little blurry)

This post now sponsored by Mutual of Omaha.

And here's my young friend, Etta. You can't tell, but she's showing her new clapping skills. And she loves the cell phone.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Be Careful Little Hands What You Grab...

It was in the back of my mind, but not close enough to the front to prepare me.

I was trimming some bushes and vines near one of the lakes at work wondering if I'd see any snakes. I figured I was making enough noise to scare them away before I saw them. I had been working for about 30 minutes when I picked up a clump of greenery and saw what I think was one of these coiled there.

Much to the amusement of my high school co-worker, I let out a four-letter expletive (not 'fart,' mom. sorry) and jumped back. It was a pretty big snake, and I'm glad that I didn't grab any more than I did.

To add some humor to the deal, the grey snake crawled under a boulder and another small garter snake crawled into the water, making it look like I was running from a snake the size of a long straw.

Believe me, little straws don't make me jump... or swear.

Anyway... I ended the day catching enough fish to rub the paint off my hook.

And then I saw the inspiration for Led Zeppelin's 'Stairway to Heaven.'

Yep... crazy and good day.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

"I Woke Up"

I woke up today.

That's either a really profound statement or I'm lowering the bar on the expectations for my life and day. 

24 hours ago, I wasn't sure what my level of expectation was. I was puking like a dog over the course of about 9 hours and was pretty sure that I had not been as sick in recent history, if ever. I had forgotten that my stomach could hold (or expel) that much. I also forgot what it felt like to exercise my ab muscles.

What I will never forget is the reintroduction of Sonic tater-tots to the visible world. And with that, I will spare you any more details. (you're welcome)

But I woke up today, feeling better... weak but better. And thankful.

I shared a couple of posts ago about some of the things that I'm thankful for. And while I'm thankful for those things and people, I am guilty of taking them for granted.

And having come through 'puke day' yesterday, I realize that I take my health for granted. I take life for granted. While I have been cognizant of staying healthy through flu and cold season, I rarely think to articulate that to God. And even as I go through each day, living and breathing, I find that it is a rare occasion where I give God credit.

I did not come up with the "I Woke Up" epiphany. I read it in a book that I've been reading over the last few days, Same Kind of Different As Me. That phrase was spoken by a cheerful homeless man who was asked why he was so happy, and that was his response- he woke up that day.

If you're like me, you have a very small connection, if any, to a statement like that, or to the context into which it was spoken. I have never had anything seriously threaten my ability and opportunity to get up in the morning and go about my day. I haven't had anything seriously impede anything I've wanted to do or accomplish. I've been blessed, and, yes, I've taken that for granted. Rarely have I marveled at waking up enough to thank God for the miracle that it is.

Anyway... I could tell you a lot about the book, but I don't want to spoil the effect. I'll tell you that it's one of the best, challenging, and inspiring reads that I've had in a long time. And yes, while I kept my composure, my eyes did well up with tears a couple times.

I will tell you this much: it's a story of privilege meeting poverty, of haves and have nots, and the amazing common ground that can be found when people allow themselves to cross over and relate to people who are...different.

Read the book. It's worth it. 

...speaking of 'different,' one of my neighbors is mowing lawn in the pouring rain, as I write.


Maybe one of the greatest life lessons that I'm learning in this transition season is to be thankful. I am not entitled to and have not earned anything that I have. Everything is a gift.

And speaking of thankful... I'm thankful, especially now, that my neighbor took a break from mowing for a bit, since it's hailing.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Going Green

It is amazing the transformation that has come in the last week. And even in just this one day, storms gave way to one of the freshest, clearest spring days I can remember.

Take one of these...

and then add some of this...
and you get this...
and this...

and these...


And I don't know how much my mood and outlook are tied to weather and seasons, but it's nice to feel  some 'spring' in my heart and mind too. It's been a long winter in more ways than one. Maybe you don't appreciate a brilliant spring day as much without trudging through the cold and dreariness of winter. And maybe the day isn't as beautiful or clear or fresh without the storm coming through and 'cleaning house.'  I know that it was true in the natural world today. And it's clear that God speaks of heart and soul realities in and through His created world.

Maybe that's another reason for 'storms' in our own lives.

And Easter... it was a good day, Good Friday, to listen to this album and be reminded of the Reason for life and spring and the 'punishment that brought us peace.' The 'storm' of Good Friday was necessary for the victory and Life of Resurrection Morning.

oh... and I've begun the transformation process into the 'season of farmer tans'...
Thank God for new seasons

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