Maturing is What Our Souls Do…

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Growing up is what our bodies do, maturing is what our souls do. When life comes at us rapidly and we don’t know how to handle what we are experiencing, it’s just life’s way of letting us know we aren’t as mature as we could be or need to be! We need to do more to prepare ourselves to deal and cope with the future challenges ahead.  

Don’t cheat yourself out of the necessary experiences which propel you to maturity by evading them or escaping from your share of responsibility for them! All of that in life which you might experience which is really difficult, painful, or frightening, cannot destroy you unless you let it. In the face of everything which feels uncomfortable and at times disturbing, you must hunker down, find your strength, persevere through, and eventually overcome! 

That is our challenge throughout life, to resolve our own dilemmas, to face our fears, to cope with our emotions, and to learn through experience the wisdom necessary to move onward even through the most difficult, life-altering, or perplexing matters. At the end of our road, with such purposeful focus, we’re sure to be as noticeably mature within as we are visibly grown on the outside!

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Discovering Your Joy Within!

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I mostly wrote this five years ago this very day, but it seems to ring even more true for the world we are living in this day! The greatest challenge and endeavor in life is to learn the vital lesson of discovering your joy within! With that comes the importance of holding onto that joy peacefully and consistently, no matter the circumstances you are currently experiencing, all while reflecting that contentment as a light back into the world. None of us is immune to hardships, traumas, and problems in life or the catastrophic events beyond our control, but we have shared enough similar woes and life experiences to know that our inner joy is truly not a reflection of what has or will happen to us as much as it is a reflection of our choice as to how and what we feel, think, and believe about these matters! We choose how to summarily view our lives based on how we feel about what has happened to us. If we always cede our joy to feelings of despair, worry, anxiety, sadness, constantly mourning what we’ve lost over time, we erode the sense of joy we are meant to experience just by living! It’s as if we forget that our lives were filled with both happy and sad, ups and downs, laughter and tears. Anchoring our joy within ensures us that we won’t look back upon our lives in misery and despair!

We’re so well-equipped to love, to empathize, to be the face of compassionate caring for others once we have assured all of that for and within ourselves, by recognizing our own ability to keep our peace, joy, and contentment alive within our own soul and spirit! It’s so easy to harden from within with each trauma and every downturn. Soon enough, we have lost our ability to enjoy our own life or to help others enjoy theirs! By instilling in ourselves an indefatigable and rebounding joy within, we make ourselves almost immune to that habit of dwelling in perpetual despair! We may for a time mourn, ache, or hurt, but it need not take our life’s joy for all time! Perhaps we need only shift our focus more to the bright moments, the great times, and the things which we consider blessings, rather than focusing more often on what has grieved us or made us sad. And in just a time, that becomes the new habit!  

Find and hold onto your joy from within by habitually deciding to do just that! And then be a purposeful light for others, assuring them as to what joy, peace, and contentment can be for many who possibly need your leadership in that regard! It takes faith to live as a light, but the Lord sets a great example for us as to why we should! Shine your light for all the world to see, especially during this season of Christmas! You never know who might be inspired and led by your example in turn. There is enough darkness and despair in this world, enough sadness and suffering, reflect for others the way which leads them to their joy and light! And have a joyous season celebrating Christmas!   

Speak the Truth…

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Sometimes we sugar coat things, thinking we’re sparing others upsets or upheavals. But, if we choose to deny anyone the truth by withholding from them the reality of a situation, we don’t really do them any service at all! Speak the truth, give the facts as you see them, relay honest appraisals whenever possible. Trust and deliver the difficult truths with kindness, compassion, and an earnest heart determined to help others.

Our challenge shouldn’t be how we can hide facts and the truth, for now, to protect someone we love from possibly being hurt, but rather our consideration should be how we can best deliver or present to others what they may need to know to make the most optimal choices for them, to face their dilemmas head-on as they are presented in life, while standing up to what they must! Some of the purposeful omitting or concealing we do may seem to soften a blow to others, but truthfully, it might also be that we don’t want to be responsible for having to give bad news or to burden another when they’re under significant duress! It might also be that in white-lying, omitting, or actually distorting reality, we are making assumptions about others which suggest that we believe them weak or incapable of facing reality. And that projection upon them might be a serious disservice to them!

The truth is truly what each of us deserves to know, process, and ruminate, even when that truth seems like a bitter pill to swallow or a hard left to our already-battered head! Some of the storms we face in this life actually provide great lessons and the impetus for significant and positive change, but if we’re always hiding in a shelter of our own making or in one provided too readily by others, we run the risk of missing those important life lessons! Not all storms can and should be evaded. They serve as necessary opportunities for individual growth and personal development! We have to give that chance to ourselves by facing each obstacle and trial in life head-on, but also others deserve that same opportunity! Honesty, reality, and truth are the power of knowing what to do, where to go, and how to proceed. The light of truth reflected in life is always preferable to the darkness of uncertainty and ill-preparedness. 

The Gentle Autumn Sun…

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Finally, I’ve gotten to my favorite time of year, time for the gentle Autumn sun! The scorching Summer heat has finally abated and I can do all my outdoor chores without concern as to the temperature, how sunburnt I might get, or if I’ll get heat stroke doing it all! This is the first week we’ve cooled down into the 80’s F, which is idyllic here in the desert Southwest! Nights have been cooler for a month or so now, but the days were still creeping into the mid to high-90’s, even hitting 100, which meant it still felt pretty hot by midday! But, now it’s the ideal time of year here, in my opinion. With cool nights and pleasant days, it’s possible to open the windows, to shut off the air conditioner, and to enjoy outdoor hours without concern!  

This morning, I spent a few hours raking up leaves and assorted messes around the yard. I filled three big tubs of debris and watered some plants without even working up a sweat! It was a sweet reward for all the days during Summer, when faced with night-time lows in the high 90’s and days well over 115! On those kinds of days, the sun races to beat everyone in getting up, heating up all the surfaces and even the water in the taps and garden hoses to scalding temperatures! And all those tremendously heated surfaces usually retain that heat even well after the sun finally sets at night. The air conditioner runs almost constantly, frantically trying to keep my home at a livable temperature of 79 degrees, while fans assist in keeping us content. The pool water can even become more like a warm, unrefreshing bath after many consecutive days of truly dangerous heat!

Each year when Autumn finally sets in, usually well beyond the calendar’s mid-September date earmarked for it, is a reason to have a celebration as a gardener and outdoorsy person! The unrelenting heat of Summer keeps me indoors or in the pool if I’m outside. But when temperatures finally become not only tolerable but enjoyable, it’s time to go out and catch up on all the chores long waiting for my attention! I can busy myself each new day with watering, clean-up, pruning, and my favorite pursuit, planting! I adore working in my garden, honing my landscape into something of beauty, which is truly hard to do when I am limited by the intense Summer weather. Unlike places which endure the dormancy of cold and snowy Winters, here in the desert, we endure a long, hot, dry Summer season. That is our period of doing less or just the bare minimum, while our plants, gardens, and landscapes struggle to survive until a softer, gentler season ahead. And finally, Autumn arrives on some random day like today!   

This morning, I opened the windows and left them open until noon! The only reason I closed them at all, I was heading out for the afternoon. I wouldn’t dare think of going for a swim now, the pool is far too cold for comfort. But that is a trade-off I am willing to make for weather which is finally comfortable! I hate to feel as though I’m wishing for days to pass quickly, but each Summer here in the desert stretches on for usually four or five months. By the end of that period, I look so eagerly towards the sweet return of Autumn’s gentleness, just what we’re finally now having! I don’t resent Summer, but I do consider it a necessary part of what must happen here so that we might finally be rewarded with this! I’m so thankful for what is ahead in the next weeks and months, days spent doing so many of my favorite things under the warmth of a gentle Autumn sun! I’ll surely take my time enjoying all the moments ahead outdoors and in, savoring the sweetness of a softer sun and an easier time of things!  

Insecurity is Visible…

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So many people these days are insecure, riddled with self-doubt, and unable to positively identify themselves by decisive means. They are lost, meandering through their lives looking for validation and for acceptance! It’s really sad to watch seemingly successful, established, attractive people flailing about looking for the approval or esteem from outside that should be naturally flourishing from within!

You probably have seen these people around you every day. They may have jobs, careers, families, friends, and present themselves as well-adjusted and successful at reaching their goals in life. But, in fact, they are struggling with insecurity. This insecurity stifles their creativity, befuddles their pursuit of goals, and hinders the real progress they could make in relationships as well as personal development. 

Insecurity is visible! It shows up as narcissism, jealousy, anger, envy, intolerance, excessive criticism, and in those who are always easily offended by others. Insecurity is when we don’t quite believe we’re worthy, or that we’re attractive, talented, capable, our opinions or beliefs are valid, or that we’re loveable. It is any sense of our lacking when we’re estimating the value of others in comparison! Are we as popular, pretty, slender, wealthy, successful, talented, smart, (or whatever measurement we’re using to compare and contrast our life with the lives of those around us)?!

We’re meant to get our value and worth from the knowledge and assurance that we’re beloved children of God! He’s our Creator, so He made us as we are with inherent human value and worth to achieve the purposes He has designed just for us! But many of us don’t believe in God’s dominion over our lives, and so we don’t know that our value is derived from knowing who we are through Him! We instead get our value from other places then, from other people, from the things we’ve collected and boasted of routinely, from the position we hold, from the level of our personal or professional achievements, from how attractive others think we are, from our ability to do certain things, or to hold particular positions. Without having that relationship with God, as Father, we are always going to live our life comparing and contrasting, competing and defeating, dwelling and then repelling all the subjectivity of flawed and irrational human thinking, our own and that of others! We spend a lot of energy and time dealing with insecurity as a result, which takes us from our life pursuits, the purposes God has in mind for us. And when we’re insecure, we spend a lot of time finding fault with others in an effort to raise our own self-perception! 

When we know that we matter, we’re loved, we’re loveable, and that we were created as we were meant to be by the Lord, we don’t need to feel insecure about our appearance, our thoughts, our beliefs, our talents, our bodies, or our level of achievement in any area of living! We can go into anything certain that He goes with us, He has prepared us or will for whatever we face, and that we needn’t doubt our ability or any other facet of our being. He leads us, He goes with us, He is our strength, and He is our guide. Now, it’s true that those who don’t believe won’t grasp this difference! That is obvious. But they also don’t see the nature of issues with insecurity rising in this nation as we push God further from our personal lives! Such rampant insecurity is a clear indication of lives lived without the sense of God’s value known for certainty within them! Even believers struggle at times with thoughts that can erode our confidence and our assurances! When you know you matter as you are though, then someone else’s wealth, acclaim, position, race, sexual identity, possessions, and beliefs won’t seem threatening at all! And our own struggles to achieve the success we think we should attain won’t become such an overwhelming weight upon our souls! Knowing God is our designer sets us free from the embattled sense of entitlement, jealousy, envy, narcissism, greed, self-doubt, self-obsession, constant self-promotion, and any other eroding measure! Struggling is part of life, but to wrangle with insecurity, lacking confidence in ourselves as God’s invaluable creation, is to struggle needlessly even more so!

With Aging, There Aren’t Any Rules…

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Have you ever told yourself that what you were considering was impossible before you even began? I’ve done it more in recent years than ever before because I’ve grown accustomed to thinking that with middle age, I am naturally more limited! But that, I would suggest, is a lie. And with aging, there aren’t any rules! I am no less able now than I was twenty or thirty years ago. The actual difference in my fitness or abilities is only evident in that I may have a few more aches or pains when I do something, I may have to warm up a few minutes longer, and I may have to go a bit easier at first when attempting things, but the only real limits to training and physical fitness is in my imagination! 

When I was younger, I had amazing endurance. It always took me a long time to get winded when working out, or when doing something physical. As an avid hiker, I was often chided by my friends as being part mountain goat, because the uphill effort wasn’t as taxing for me given my endurance. I’m not a fast runner or a speed demon in any pursuit, but I have that endurance consistently. Well, even with age, that hasn’t changed much. I’m still able to “go the distance” when it comes to physical activities and sporting endeavors. I can still hike and do hike, I can move up a flight of stairs without getting winded, and I can train for a considerable time before I start to get winded or fatigued. But the minute I try to sprint, run, or race through any sport, I can’t maintain the effort for very long. So really, not much has changed for me at this stage of life! With stretching, I’m just as flexible, with effort, I’m just as conditioned. The only thing I’ve really noticed with aging is a need to build and keep more muscle, as that seems to be less easy to do and more a challenge of our body’s aging process. 

So the lesson I’ve learned the last few years is to not limit myself by what I might perceive as the natural result of aging! Why start to tell myself that aging will impact me this way or that if in fact, it’s not true! Why limit myself and possibly become more sedentary? Why would I keep putting limitations upon my abilities, my possibilities, my efforts, and my goals just because a calendar flips another page? I shouldn’t! I’m realizing that all the changes I perceived about aging are more about giving into self-limitations and false expectations associated with certain periods of life. And that notion of the possible limitations of aging leads a lot of people into prematurely sedentary lives, actually accelerating the aging process, mentally and physically! Loads of people tell themselves that they can’t, so they never make it to can! I don’t want to be one of those people, as life ceases being as meaningful when we give it less space for growth and when we give ourselves less capacity for fullness and fulfillment! I enjoy being active and challenging myself.  

Last year, I set a goal during the Summer of swimming two miles without stopping. I have a pool in the backyard, so it was easy to imagine that such a goal would be possible in our long Summer swimming season here in the hot desert Southwest. I worked hard, built up my time each swim, and then swam with the purposeful fine-tuning of my stroke by paying attention to instructions I had once received in swim lessons. I bought equipment which made the effort easier, such as goggles, a cap, and a one-piece swimming suit. I swam several times a week, achieving my goal of two miles non-stop by early July of last year. Even though I had to quit swimming too early to have shoulder surgery (unrelated to my swimming), I felt great for pushing ahead with such a strong goal! This year in mid-May, I started on a new goal, swimming three miles non-stop! It’s a lot of laps in an in-ground residential pool, easily a couple hours of commitment per swim. But, I achieved that goal this year by early July and enjoyed a very productive and rewarding swimming season again! I’m not sure I will increase that goal for next Summer, as it requires a lot of time to swim even three miles at a time. I will keep that as a goal though, even though I’ll be another year older by then! 

Since it finally got too cold in the pool for me to swim, now that it is Autumn, I have taken my physical pursuits and can-do attitude in fitness and put them into a new effort – running! I do struggle more with it as a goal, as it takes a lot more physical control and conditioning for me, with such an impactful exercise routine. The benefit of swimming is the low impact the water provides my body. But I’m determined to not let myself be limited by my own mind’s perception of my possible limitations! My body is amazing in that it accepts my efforts by acclimating to my conditioning efforts, so I am left to ponder what more I might accomplish?! Why would I say “never” until I at least try?! And my efforts, though slow and steady so far, have proven that I am already able to do more than if I had just told myself that I was incapable from the onset! My challenge is to build up to some major achievement with this, just as I did with swimming! Remember, with aging, there aren’t any rules.

Persist!

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Day in and day out, the grind towards what we want to achieve and the end point until our goals are reached is often tiresome! It can drive us to the point of fatigue and even abandoning what it is we are pursuing! But in our makeup, our very biology, we have tenacity and persistence inherent within us. Life seems to persist through God’s design, for His purposes, and by His grace, in spite of what we do or attempt to do. Life and all living matter persist, beyond our own efforts to destroy things, beyond our knowledge, or in our careless abandonment, we can see it all around us. So, in our pursuit of life’s goals and our dreams, we shouldn’t let a few moments or periods of fatigue, brain fog, or disappointment take from us our inspiration, our intention, or our indefatigable drive! We’re made of tougher stuff than that!

We must persist in our efforts. We must learn by habit how to rely upon our muscles of patience, fortitude, and determination to see us through, rather than giving up somewhere along the way! At those key moments when all seems so overwhelming and the road ahead looms too long or taxing for any further effort, we need to hunker down into a stubborn gear on our inner gear shift, which takes us over the rough spots and the most challenging part of our goal ascent! Impossible you say?! I would argue that it’s harder to live with quitting, which forces upon us a lifetime of regret, wasted potential, and the repetitively spent energy of what if! One moment of fatigue can lead to a lifetime of why? Why did I quit? Why did I let my dream slip away? Why did I fail? Why didn’t I see it through? Why? Why? Why?!  

If you want something bad enough, you have to develop the habit of the “hunker down”, using the muscles of determination, patience, and fortitude when other fleeting emotions or feelings are telling you otherwise! I’m not suggesting you keep running into brick walls of impossibility, but if there is even a thought of finishing what you began in some pursuit of a goal or dream, then don’t let the efforts required in doing so dissuade you! The efforts are part of the big reward! The efforts are what make the end goal so much more enticing! Without the sweat, dogged pursuit, planning, and execution, there is little in which to be proud, to feel rewarded, or to claim your prize. There are no participation trophies for all. Only those who put in the time, effort, and endure for whatever amount of time is required to reach their goal will win!    

Reaching the goal is only a victory if you had to overcome some obstacle or find a way through some roadblocks. If it was easy, it wasn’t a very big goal! If it was something everyone could do or have, then it isn’t really much of a dream specific for you! I’m suggesting that you have within you limitless potential to overcome, to reach higher, to go further, and to attain some new level. But if you don’t persist in that disciplined challenge in a temporary moment when the pursuit seems too hard, difficult, pressing, taxing, overwhelming, or just too tiresome, then you will never know your full potential! Persist! If you want something, remember why when you hit the wall, and persist! 

Baby Steps or Giant Leaps . .

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Often times, the person we’re hardest on in this life is ourselves! We set high goals or we have lofty expectations, which can lead us to feel disappointed when we come in with lesser achievements and accomplishments. Perhaps we’re in the process of reaching for more, of going for grander distances, pursuits, and for more overall. We might have wanted to hit some higher mark or reach some bigger result, but we mustn’t forget what baby steps or giant leaps we did take in pursuit of those goals! 

Yesterday, I was wanting to swim a significant distance. I planned on doing a distance swim which would have kept me moving towards an end goal I have for this season’s accomplishments. Last Summer, I had worked up to slightly over two miles of non-stop lap swimming in my pool by the end of the swimming season. I was thrilled to have reached that significant measured distance without stopping! So, this Summer, when the swimming season began back in May, I set out to beat my distance of last year. As of July 4th, just a few days ago, I reached the two-mile mark for non-stop lap swimming in my backyard pool! Pleased as punch with hitting that measurement, I will now endeavor to exceed that goal in my swimming for the remainder of the Summer. In pursuit of that goal though, yesterday’s swim was not as rewarding! I had to stop at 60 lengths of non-stop swimming, as I just ran out of steam before even hitting half a mile! I surely hadn’t fueled my body with proper nutrition for a longer swim. 

With such a brief swim in comparison to my two-mile swim just days ago, I felt disappointed and discouraged afterward. How was it that I could only do so few lengths of the pool just two days later? Well, in hindsight, I realize I am being really hard on myself for disparaging the swim I did yesterday. After all, those lengths I did swim without stopping still are significant! Yes, I wanted to do more, but I just couldn’t. However, I did swim anyway, which was better than not swimming at all! And I pushed myself during those 60 lengths of the pool, so I did give myself a workout in the process, although an abbreviated one compared to the longer swim I had planned on doing! Each swim does contribute to my overall conditioning and my training goals, after all. I just need to accept each day’s efforts as being worthwhile! Going easier on myself is key.  

It’s so easy to be hard on ourselves for not doing more or for not reaching interim goals we’ve set for ourselves. We forget to look at those interim steps we’re taking as being meaningful to the overall end goal. Every single step, no matter the size, is still getting us closer to something bigger. Every single time we participate in our pursuits, we’re developing literal or figurative muscles, which do help us perform more the next time! In my example, I am developing those literal swimming muscles and building my endurance, even if the distances I want to do aren’t always exceeding the last swim I actually did. And, each swim I take keeps me fit and ready for more, as my muscles remember the efforts both greater and lesser. 

We must remember to look at all the steps we’re taking as being successful, in that we’re moving consistently towards a goal ahead, even if some steps are baby-size and others are giant leaps! Each is a contribution towards reaching a goal we deem important for our lives overall! Remember to assess your progress in a way which is more accepting of the baby steps as well as the giant leaps. In doing that, you will be better able to contain your disappointment, to manage your progress, and to preserve your sense of encouragement along the way! Goals are always something we’re working towards, and in my case, even though I hit the goal of swimming non-stop consistently for two miles, I will want to see how much further I can swim non-stop anyway! My goal is inevitably a sliding one, and so my progress should be measured in turn – via sliding steps and flexible efforts! As long as I don’t give up because I don’t always hit my mark, I’m still moving forward towards reaching some end! Baby steps or giant leaps, I’m still making progress!    

Hope Is the Beating Heart . .

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Something sorely lacking from our society today is hope. Hope, the promise of something more than this life, something better tomorrow than today, is the fulfillment of God’s Word as truth. Hope is the beating heart which refuses to quit when every single impulse screams otherwise! Hope is looking through, beyond, and with your heart filled with promise because there is actually more than this, more than this one moment of pain, discomfort, failure, loss, and brokenness. Hope leads us each new day with faith into all the unknowns, beyond all our negativity, past our own emotions, and through all that seems to weaken our will. Hope. Hope in something more than this! Never cease in hoping, regardless those “realists” who insist that being hopeful is a weak man’s game played with no prize or victory in the end! There is always a reason to hope, and in spite of those intellectuals who insist otherwise, hope compels us to live with more joy, peace of mind, and contentment within. Hope is a reward in and of itself! A hopeful attitude keeps us afloat when others around us are drowning in uncertainty, despair, worry, or other temporary states of being! Hope within keeps us from letting our current emotions color our life for all time!

 

Sure, someone reading this may speak to the triteness of these expressions and adages regarding hope. They may have their own personal experiences to prove me wrong! They may have tried consistently to be hopeful, yet things never reversed or turned out otherwise! Perhaps they just let the world and their temporary circumstances define their lives in total. Letting others in this world, or even the present state of the world as you perceive it, dictate your emotions is like giving the keys to your home and car to another for safe keeping! Your emotions are in your control, they’re not contingent upon the actions, words, beliefs, or even emotions of others. Sure we may empathize or sympathize with others, we may share in many emotions such as joy. But we are the only ones who decide whether or not we are joyful, peaceful, content and hopeful about our lives now and in whatever time we face ahead! Hope is our choice to believe that this life is purposeful, meaningful, and even with momentary hardships, failures, or despair, that this life is worth living!  

A lot of what our lives become is in our will and hands to decide! Our emotions surely are, even if circumstances, events, and the state of the world overall are not. We could just go with the flow, allowing our lives to become purely reactionary in response, rather than purposefully choosing to be hopeful in spite of whatever happens to us or around us! Hope is God’s promises for our lives realized in our faithful perseverance through everything, knowing that we are ultimately here for His purposes! Things are not promised to us, our lives will not always be pain-free, happy-go-lucky, or even seen constantly through rose-colored lenses! Life happens, our duty is to learn, develop, change, grow, choose, and to move forward with hope. That is our chosen role. Hope for our own lives is not something we should leave to others who have their own lives to live. Hope is not a far-fetched concept only the lucky can master! Hope is merely a choice we make every single day to not just exist in our current state of being, but rather to look forward, through, beyond, and into the future with joyful expectancy as well as contented faith in God’s plans for us! Hope promises us that this is not all there is. Hope assures us that today’s events and our present emotions are not the sole markers of our lives overall. Hope affirms to us that life is uncertain, but the choice is always ours to be content, to stay peaceful, to stay joyful within, to feel what emotions we must for a time but then to heal and move forward. We owe it to ourselves to keep hope ever-present within, as it provides the comfort, compass, and blanket of rest over everything we experience and feel! 

The Benefits Far Outweigh Anything Negative!

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I’m enjoying all the nature sightings of recent weeks and months, the benefits of these creature sightings far outweigh anything negative! There is nothing like experiencing wild animals among us when we’re in our own yards or visiting other locations! And although I have had a few inopportune moments with critters and bugs recently too, I focus on the positive impact the sightings of less pesky creatures have upon my life rather than the imperfections we can often face when human beings meet the wild! Just last month, I had a scare when I found a live scorpion in the upstairs guest room in which I was staying at my sister’s house! It was not pleasant whacking it with a shoe and praying there were no others for the few days I was visiting! But, it was a one-time sighting in a slew of visits, so I let it go and enjoyed my visit. And on that particular visit, I went whale watching on a trip in which I experienced seeing humpback and minke whales, as well as seeing a super pod of common dolphins! That and several other nature-oriented experiences made the scorpion sighting less memorable for sure!

Just yesterday, I saw a family with sixteen baby quail in my front yard! It was delightful to watch the brood scurry and scamper beside their parents. Quail are common visitors to my yard, but their families are not often that numerous! They’re so tiny when newborn, yet so proficient in their quail duties! This sighting came just hours after I had to remove the rather stinky rotting carcass of some poor dead creature laying in the backyard. Perhaps it had fallen prey to some other animal’s attack. Again, the benefit of the large quail family sighting far outweighed the nastiness of removing the stinky corpse! I’ve also recently had numerous rabbit sightings, with plentiful baby bunnies being born in the last few months. The sightings of the tinier babies more than make up for the nibbling older rabbits which insist upon gnawing my plants to stubs or to dust! Babies in my yard are always welcome, even when I realize how voracious they’ll be as adults one day soon!  

With Summer in the desert, we get an influx of several types of bugs which aren’t prevalent the rest of the year. Those include pesky mosquitoes which seem to thrive in the heat, big 2 – 3″ paloverde beetles and cicadas which buzz incessantly from their perches in trees throughout the landscape. The presence of these bugs is a nuisance often, as they creep around in places which are unexpected and the mosquitoes bite all the uncovered flesh which is more prevalent with the heat of Summer! I’ve even been bitten by mosquitoes while swimming in the pool! Short of swimming underwater only, I’m not sure I know how to evade those pests entirely! And everywhere I look in the yard, ants are busy doing whatever it is ants do! They’re usually not an issue, until I stop in their pathway in my sandals, often getting bitten for my error in judgment.

 

It’s always the case in Summer that I wish for a bit of relief when it comes to nature’s more pesky creatures. Bugs and creepy crawlers, snakes and lizards are not my favorite things. But this morning I was overjoyed to return a tiny gecko to the outdoors after finding it indoors on the carpeting by my front door! Those little things are cute, but they’re not meant to live indoors! I’ve already seen enough cuteness watching the common species of birds, the lovebirds which have naturalized, the lizards, squirrels and the bunnies running around while I watered this morning! Anything which seems negative at first with the creatures around me is always balanced out by something wondrous and fascinating to observe! Nature is a diverse, fantastical showcase of God’s miraculous handiwork and design! It’s both uplifting and at times, overwhelming and/or scary! It is just a part of living in this magical world which God has created!