Monday, May 28, 2012

Whales and Butterflies!

by My Anonymous Friend

Seems like the past month or so has been one huge adventure after another for us. This past week my sister, brother, and sister-in-law joined us for several days in Victoria, BC's capital city on Vancouver Island. While there we enjoyed the incredible beauty of mountains, ocean, flowers, and forests. In addition, we toured a butterfly garden and enjoyed a whale watching expedition. Hence the title and the pictures above.

I could not help but marvel at the beauty of God's creation. So today my wish is to share just a few details of what I firmly believe is the work of God. I simply do not have the faith to believe that somehow a big bang at some point in history, followed by years and years of evolution, could produce the intricacies and fascinating composition of what we observed. Let me start with butterflies.

In our visit to the butterfly place we were bombarded with facts and details about these amazing creatures. I will share just a few.

1. Butterfly eggs are laid on leaves attached by a glue so powerful that science has yet to understand it all together. The egg stage may last only a few weeks but in some cases eggs are dormant over winter and hatch in spring. In other instances eggs can remain dormant for several years without hatching until weather or moisture conditions are favorable. What man-made creation can lie around for several years without at least some deterioration?

2. Butterfly wings fascinate me. In the larva stage the little wing discs are very small and a trachea forms a sort of wing vein. Initially the wings are very flexible but within just minutes they harden dramatically and are powerfully attached to the body of what will momentarily become a fully developed butterfly. The garden we visited provided microscopes so visitors could examine the intricate wings more closely.

3. Life span. Butterflies may live only a few days although some species live as long as a year. Thus the cycle of life and death is endlessly repeated.

I could go on and on, but I am not a lepidopterist (person who studies butterflies) and few who read this are either. My intent is simply to give a sampler of how intricately and fascinatingly nature has been created.

Now let me quickly move to whales. What a contrast!

There are various types of whales of course, and the ones we viewed are known as Orcas or killer whales. I was impressed that our guide seemed to know the names of the several families or pods of whales that inhabit the area between the state of Washington and Vancouver Island. He even seemed to recognize specific whales by their antics and swimming patterns. Apparently there are resident whales as well as transient pods of whales. Our first sighting of a whale was when a dorsal fin (over 6 feet in length) broke the surface of the water. Sometimes that is all we saw while at other times the whales rose up out of the water revealing their giant black and white bodies. The whales we saw were about 20 feet in length and our guide compared them in weight to a school bus. Imagine such a vehicle rising from the water and then crashing back into the ocean again. What a picture! These whales are among the fastest marine mammals, reaching speeds up to 55 kph (30-35 mph). The pods we followed cruised along at a more leisurely pace. Baby whales weigh up to 400 lbs at birth, and adult whales eat about 300 poinds of food (mostly salmon) per day.

I came away from these wonderful experineces basking in the pleasure that I am personally related to the God Who designed all these marvellous creations. What a great God! My intent in sharing all this today is to encourage you also to look about you and realize how amazingly beautiful and intricate the world around us is.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

An Encouragement for Mothers

by My Anonymous Friend

Hello to you this week, and Happy Mother's Day to all mothers!

I spent the entire day yesterday at a pregnancy center board of director's retreat. The mission of this center is to encourage life affirming choices through education and pregnancy resources. One of the workers at the center talked about her work with those who in the past have opted for an abortion and are finding difficulty now dealing with that decision. It was a very touching account. For women like this, today is a miserable day. It is also a difficult day for women who are not mothers for whatever reason. Our culture is often very insensitive and when mothers are honored, as they should be, especially those who desperately would want to be mothers but are unable to, feel great pain and sorrow. This point is similar to what I wrote last week about widows. When tables are set for 4 or 6, a single person feels very much left out of the picture. Similarly, on Mother's Day, please be sensitive to wonderful women around you who are not yet mothers or who perhaps never will bear a child.

We would not think of Gideon as a role model or as one who might teach us a lesson pertaining to Mother's Day! I would suggest that mothers can learn a helpful lesson from him however. Please hear me out.

Gideon appeared on the scene (Judges 6) at a terrible time in Israel's history. While today Israel fears a nuclear threat from a determined and hostile neighbor, in Gideon's day the threat to Israel was perhaps even worse. A nomadic roving mass of humanity called the Midianites made life miserable for Israelites. They destroyed their crops, killed their livestock, and ravaged the landscape in every way possible. It was so awful that Israelites abandoned their homes and fled to caves and clefts in mountains to live.

After about 7 years of this misery, the Lord appeared to Gideon and informed him that he would be the deliverer of Israel. Gideon was mystified and skeptical. He asked how in the world he could possibly accomplish this considering he really had no credentials as such to lead his fellow Israelites to victory over the Midianites. God's answer was interesting. In one sense we can say that God actually did not answer Gideon. He simply assured him that He would be with him.

To me this is the critical point. Mothers frequently are at their wits end. Their children do not always make wise choices. Mothers feel very deeply the financial pressures that come into a household when there is not enough income. Mothers deal with health issues--- their own, or those of their own parents or children. Mothers worry about many things. They often suffer quietly and, as the mother of Jesus, they "ponder" things.

To mothers we can say confidently,........The Lord is with you!

If you are a skeptic or a cynic you might say, "What good will that do? How will that pay bills? How will that help children to stay away from harmful influences?" My reply would be that it is one thing to face problems alone but quite another to know that there are others who are there to help you face the problems.

Perhaps a simple illustration will help. Many years ago the ministry which I led, was facing a potential law suit. This was totally new territory for me. I was scared. The grieved party was very angry with us, for no valid reason in our opinion. However, after speaking with a lawyer, my spirit was greatly relieved. He spoke with wisdom and experience and great understanding. He suggested an approach which we followed to the letter. There never was a lawsuit and the the grievances were satisfied. Even better, relationships were restored. I can clearly recall the feeling of comfort and hope that I experienced simply by being in the presence of the lawyer who advised us. I was no longer alone in this battle.

I have never been a mother and obviously never will be one. Somehow, I hope that my attempt to write about the comforting presence of the Lord in our lives will serve to encourage and lighten the burden of mothers as well as others who read this. Happy Mother's Day! Do not ever forget---- the Lord is with you!