Saturday, June 11, 2022

Fly Like a Butterfly


Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Romans 12: 12-13 NIV

Twenty-eight days to make a difference with only fourteen days as an adult. That is the life of a monarch butterfly.

            During their season in my area, each day I look for teeny eggs and tiny caterpillars. Within my three butterfly cages, they have plenty of milkweed and are protected from predators. 

I enjoy watching them develop and finally release them into the world. Their orange and black wings glisten in the sunlight as they fly around the yard. Females land on one milkweed plant after another to lay eggs.  

            They zoom to trees and then land on red and purple flowers in my garden. Their fragile wings allow them to dance with the breezes. I love watching them enjoy their brief lives.  

            Although they have no idea their lives will be short, the lovely creatures make the most of each day. What joy I get in helping them survive and then observe them flying around my yard. 

            Likewise, we have no idea how long our lifespans will be. As my birthdays accumulate, I want to make the most of each day and not lament that I am getting older. I desire to live joyfully like my butterfly friends. 

            At some point, the little creatures will die, but their offspring will continue the cycle as part of God’s creation.

            The same is true for us. Enjoy life while we can. Don’t get bogged down in fears. Have fun and leave a joyful legacy for our family and friends. 

Heavenly Father, thank you for teaching us through your creation. Help us be joyful and make the most of each day.

Amen

       

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Away from the World


 

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Psalm 91: 1-2 NIV

 

Dragonfly wings sparkled in the sunlight as they zoomed above the lake and among plants along the shoreline. 

            After freezing winter temperatures, masses of dead foliage marred the beauty of my view. Armed with a rake, trimmers and my two hands, I toiled for hours getting rid of the ugly mess. My cousin, who was visiting from Indiana, cleaned out a section too. 

            Our efforts paid off. Lush plants with white flower spires rose along the shore and help clean the lake. 

            An expanded flower garden enticed butterflies with yellow, pink, purple and orange blooms. The insects fluttered from one bloom to another and landed on milkweed leaves to lay eggs. 

            Three deer ambled from the woods and then disappeared into another forest. 

            When distressing news captures my attention and tries to hold me hostage, my lakeside retreat calms me. 

            Time with God each morning anchors me for the day. At first, I add items to my gratitude journal. The list grows and grows. Then comes notations in my prayer journal with people close to me and also, needs around the world. 

            Praying and reading the Bible brings me back to God’s world. Immersing myself in His awesome creation, reminds me that He is in control and I am not. 

            When I see the way He made flowers, deer, insects, trees … and cares for them, I am in awe. If God can take a dot sized egg and make a magnificent Monarch butterfly, I realize He can do much more than I can even imagine. 

            My weary, burdened mind is changed every day when I take time with Jesus. 

Creator, help us lean on You and not the world. As we appreciate what You have made, bring us closer to You. 

Amen

Thursday, May 19, 2022

A Protective Cage


 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Green, white and black caterpillars crawled up bare, milkweed stems. With three butterfly cages, I kept busy cleaning them out to prevent diseases and also supplied fresh milkweed to the voracious eaters. 

            Each time I collected bunches of the foliage, I searched for teeny, white eggs and little caterpillars too. With lots of predators such as wasps, bees, and lizards, the population of butterflies in the area had dwindled. 

            When my town became a Monarch city, I decided to help the gorgeous insects. The time consuming, but rewarding, endeavor brings joy when butterflies are released and soar with the wind. 

            In my cages, they are sheltered and nourished. Within a few weeks, they move from teeny eggs to magnificent adults as they progress through metamorphoses. Although it is a perfect arrangement for a while, they can’t live permanently in the confined space. They need to spread their wings and enter the outside world. 

            In our uncertain, often scary, world, it might be tempting to stay secluded, sustained and away from the afflictions and disasters of the world. 

            Although God protects and nourishes us when we become Christians, we are not promised an easy life. The Bible instructs and leads us in the way we should go. Biblical teaching and fellowship with other Christians give us peace, hope and strength for our journey into society. 

            Jesus never promised us a trial free life but did promise He would be with us in our difficulties. 

            With Him as our protector, we can soar and make a difference in the world around us.

Loving Father, we don’t know your plan but trust you to teach  and lead us. Amen

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Distressed Butterflies


You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. Ezekiel 2:7 (NIV)

Four chrysalises opened. From the top of my butterfly cage, two hung and then flapped wings. They were eager to take off. 

            Unfortunately, the other two fell upside-down to the bottom of the enclosure. Thread-sized legs grasped frantically at the air. They couldn’t fly or turn themselves over. 

            When I unzipped the cage, the active ones clasped my finger and crawled on my hand before flying away. 

            The others needed help. Each one tried to clutch my finger but dropped. Over and over they attempted to hold on.

            Finally, I pulled my hand out twice as each of them gripped my finger. With limited strength, they fell to the ground. 

            Time after time I put a tiny twig near the teeny legs and laid them on milkweed plants. They squeezed valiantly but plummeted. Finally, both hung from the leaves while fluid filled their wings.  

            I checked on them every few minutes. Thankfully after a couple hours, one flapped its wings and zoomed off. 

            However, the second butterfly’s wings refused to open completely. No matter how many times I tried to rescue it, the wee creature couldn’t fly. 

            For an unseen reason, it never followed God’s plan. I felt sadness at losing the little one. But I rejoiced that twenty-eight butterflies flew away. 

            God doesn’t want any to perish. Butterflies or people. 

            Often we nurture and guide those who falter. We might try over and over to help them know Jesus. Many  believe but some don’t. 

            I won’t give up on my butterflies even though some don’t survive. Likewise, we shouldn’t give up on sharing the love of Jesus even though some reject Him. 

            In all cases, let the Holy Spirit lead us and leave the results to God. 

Creator, the beauty of your creation captures us. But even in the midst of the beauty, there is sadness and rejection.  Lead us to help those who falter. Amen   

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Day of Waiting


 

Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. 54 It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it.  Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.

Luke 23:50-56 (NIV)

Waiting for a check to arrive. Waiting for the traffic light to change. Waiting for a phone call. Waiting to see a doctor. 

 

            Every day we wait for something. Significant and insignificant. Sometimes with anticipation and other times with dread. 

 

            After His crucifixion, Jesus’ disciples, women who stood at the foot of the cross, Roman soldiers, Pilate and religious leaders waited. 

 

            The women waited to finish adding spices to His lifeless body after the Sabbath. His disciples waited in a locked room wondering if they would die for being with Him. Roman soldiers guarded the tomb and waited for followers to try to steal His body to “prove” He rose. Jewish leaders waited for normalcy to return to their lives. Pilate waited for peace to return to his jurisdiction. 

 

            During the silence of Saturday, the world waited with impatience, confusion, and sadness. 

 

            Although thousands experienced Jesus’ miracles and teachings, His death squashed hope. Brought despair and uncertainty. 

 

            For Christians, the silence of Saturday brings a time of contemplation and reflection. Time to examine beliefs,  prioritize lives and remember the agony of the cross. 

 

            Embrace the solemn silence of Saturday before the joy and excitement of Easter. 

 

Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us so much that You sent Your Son to die for us. Amen.

Friday, April 1, 2022

Cloudy Eyes


 

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here! 

2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (NIV)

A wall of fog concealed the lake. Bit by bit, grayness dispersed to reveal the near-by shoreline.  However, a veil of haze produced a fuzzy view of the lake.

            Before eye surgery, cloudy lenses distorted my eyesight. Because cataracts developed over time, I had no idea my contorted vision wasn’t trustworthy. 

            When I had to constantly wear reading glasses and distance views were blurry, I knew I had a problem. An eye exam confirmed cataracts needed to be removed. 

            After my first surgery, the bathroom light glowed like a beacon.  Kitchen lights blazed with a new intensity. 

            With my corrected eye, white shirts glistened. The same shirt with my other eye appeared as a dull beige. I opened and closed one eye at a time to experience the contrast in colors and brilliance. 

            For a few years, cloudiness affected my vision without me realizing it. Only after the removal of the imperfections did I truly understand defects I had lived with. 

            Each person sees the world through a different lens which may be distorted because of life situations. We may not realize our perspective is clouded until the imperfections are removed. 

            But in Jesus, we are new creations with the veil removed. 

Father, thank you for giving us new life and helping us see life through Your eyes. Amen.  

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Healing Tears


Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God. Psalm 42:5 (The Message)

Shadowy figures blended together into an immense blur. With one cataract removed, I expected clear vision in my left eye like I had with LASIK surgery several years ago. But I couldn’t read or even work on my computer with a fuzzy reading eye.  

            Watching TV wasn’t easy with one foggy eye. When I tried to close it, my eyelid kept popping open.

            Finally, I positioned myself on the couch with a pillow holding my eye shut. That worked so I could watch a detective program with my distance eye. The cozy pose lulled me to sleep and I missed the end of the show. Thankfully, I could replay the DVD. 

            When the fuzziness didn’t improve, I looked up the side effect on the Internet. The information said it could last for days or weeks. I texted friends who had the surgery to see how they fared. Most didn’t remember much about bleary sight. 

            I wanted the problem solved immediately but knew that wasn’t going to happen so I trudged off to bed. 

            With tape across half of my face to hold the shield in place and my sleep apnea device in my mouth, I laughed at my indistinct image in the mirror. 

            Way before the sun shone into my room, I awoke and wondered if my sight had improved. But my left eye refused to open. Scenarios swirled. Had the eye drops acted like glue? Perhaps infection afflicted me. 

            Reluctantly, I shuffled to the bathroom to assess the problem. My eye opened in slow motion when I removed the tape and eye shield. Instructions from the doctor said to not get the eye wet nor touch it for a week. With clean fingers, I carefully took tiny swipes to wipe off the gooey discharge. 

            Minutes later, I began my morning devotions wearing reading glasses and still not seeing clearly. Instantly, a multitude of tears began washing over my eyes. Grief for Alan not being with me for support. Hope of better vision. Thankfulness for prayers. Sadness for being lonely. Gratitude for friends who bolstered me. Anxiety for not knowing if haziness would remain. Peace from God for all I faced. 

            The tears continued to flow with emotions spilling out. As they slowed, I looked down at the Bible. I felt like shouting and praising God. Without glasses, words were clear for the first time in years. 

            God used tears to cleanse my eyes and heart.  

Loving Father, thank you for being close to us when we are sad, lonely, thankful, anxious, or peaceful. You can take what seems difficult and make it into something priceless. Amen.