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Wildlife Blogs and Videos

I found a lovely nature and wildlife blog today - http://woodswalksandwildlife.blogspot.com/

The author is a talented photographer and her writing makes it feel like I'm on the path there with her. Many entries are written from northeastern North America, so the animals are ones that live in Pennsylvania, too. She's tagged the entries by species, which makes it easy to explore a certain animal. Her video snippets are really nice, too. My thanks to her for sharing her view of the world and giving us a closer view of these animals :)



Something else that I've been enjoying is the live night camera set up near Akron, OH. I've gotten a chance to see backyard visitors who only come after dark, when it's hard to see them - raccoons, possums, skunks, mice, and others. Every night, I'm excited to see which critters will be visiting :) The camera runs through the daytime, too, and I see a few chipmunks there at the moment!



"God gives food to the animals - even to the baby ravens when they cry out." Psalm 147:9

"Let everything that has breath praise the Lord" Psalm 150:6

Mammals around West Milton, PA

I wanted to post pictures of some of the mammals that we've seen around the house here in West Milton. Here's Wikipedia's page Mammals in Pennsylvania that I used as a checklist.

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Eastern Gray Squirrel - The squirrels come to eat from our bird feeders and drink from the bird bath. They hide in the pine tree, so I'm guessing they live there. This one was eating during a snowfall and was getting covered in snow! What a rascal :P


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Raccoon - This photo was taken at Richmond Zoo, but I have seen raccoons around. I got to see a family walking into the cornfield last summer one night when I drove home. Their little eyes lit up as they stood and watched me from the side of the road. I saw a family walking over to the canal once, too.


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Eastern Cottontail - We have a bunch of bunnies in our neighborhood. We've watched them jump and play, eat the clover, and lay out in the shade in the summer. They're really cute and beautiful animals.


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Groundhog - This groundhog lived under our neighbor's shed and was in the act of digging out his burrow when I took this picture. He was funny to watch - digging, then stopping and pointing his nose and listening for danger. I wonder where all the burrows go underground...


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Eastern Chipmunk - It's hard to see these little guys, but we hear them on the roof sometimes! They are adorable, but their chewing can cause some damage :O


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American Black Bear - This fellow visited our yard last June. WOW! We only saw him once, but that was enough for me :P He busted up our bird feeders to eat the seed, but Dad later retrieved and repaired them.


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Striped Skunk - We've had skunks in the neighborhood for years, but we rarely see them. Last summer, we saw this white skunk visitor. Dad got his photo for me :) The skunk came to eat bird seeds off the ground. In the past, skunks have dug up our yard to eat grubs. They're nocturnal, so it's really rare to see them.


Other animals

We've seen Opossums around, but I didn't have a picture of one. I once saw one out the window and thought it was a cat - until I saw its tail! :O I kind of think they're neat animals. They're actually a marsupial, like kangaroos! I think they're the only marsupial in North America.

We have a lot of White-Tailed Deer here, too, but we've only seen one in our yard once in all the years we've lived here. They're beautiful, but it scares me when I see them near the road when I'm driving... The township just north of here is called White Deer, named after these animals.

Once, quite a few years ago, our neighbors reported seeing a Bobcat on the hill. I never saw it, but they said it was near the woods. Wild cats scare me, so I'm glad I didn't run into it.

I saw a Grey Fox once, foraging along the side of the road. Grandma told us that she's heard baby fox pups barking at night time. They must be so cute <3

I saw a Mink once at Penn's Creek while at a picnic with our church. We were looking at the crayfish in the water and saw this small, dark, long, furry creature slip up the grassy bank. I didn't even know what a mink was at the time. :O I was pretty young, but I still remember that.

We have Muskrats and Beavers at the local ponds, too. Mom says that they used to have them at the pond when she was a kid. It's really neat to see how they build their forts in the water.

One of our elders at church has Flying Squirrels in his yard. He gives them peanuts and peanut butter and has taken photos of them.

Of course, there are mice around, too. I don't usually see them (which is probably a good thing). I remember one time when I was in Gettysburg at the Pennsylvania Memorial. One of my classmates and I went to Little Round Top to visit. When it was starting to get dark, a little field mouse ran down the stone steps near us. I wasn't scared, but my friend jumped! We hurried back quickly after that, hehe. I don't like it when the mouse makes his home in the basement, though...

Wow, there are a lot of mammals that live around us :) What a blessing to be able to see these creatures that God has made <3

Bandicoot and the Vole

My animal interests of the day yesterday were two little mammals - the bandicoot and the vole.

Bandicoots are small marsupials that lives in Australia. They're the size of a rabbit and kind of look like a mouse. They eat bugs and plants. They have a long nose that they use to sniff out the food and they dig it up to eat it. They're rather solitary and nocturnal.

Northern Red-backed voles are relatives of the mouse. This species lives in wooded areas in Alaska and eats berries, grasses, lichens, etc. In Pennsylvania, we have a related species, the Southern Red-backed vole, along with 5 other types of animals from the vole family. Not many animals are able to eat lichen, so it was fun to read about this little creature :)

I was interested in exploring them yesterday because I was feeling kind of small, but not sad about it. I was feeling content and stable in my little role within the big picture. I'm one employee with my own load of responsibilities working at a university with a lot of different staff in various roles. I am one member of my church and of my family, hoping to encourage and support those around me. Every member is important, whether they're small or large.

The berries and things that these critters find to eat remind me to be grateful for all the little blessings that God provides along the way <3 It was an encouragement to pray and be content with the blessings that the Lord has filled my life with. Even though I'm moving through a big world, I'm still in the sight of God. He sees even the smallest ones and gives them delightful things to enjoy. He is also the Creator of all, the Creator of this world, the One who designed the tiniest mouse and designed me. I want to continue to grow more aware of Him, just as He is aware of me, and live my life in His sight to honor Him and bring Him glory.

Lord, help me to do this. I am so timid and fear-filled and weak and distracted. But you are great, powerful, truthful, and gracious. You provided a Way for us in Jesus <3 Help us to honor You and to live in the light of Your truth by the power of Your Spirit living in us. Amen :)

January Oils

1/31/19 - Helichrysum, Jasmine, Clove
1/30/19 - Helichrysum, Jasmine, Spikenard
1/26/19 - Helichrysum, Bergamot, Camphor, Clove, Spikenard
1/25/19 - Bergamot, Clove, Helichrysum
1/24/19 - Cedarwood and Juniper Berry
1/22/19 - Purify, Lemongrass; made Fox theme blend
1/21/19 - Spikenard
1/19/19 - Cassia, Eucalyptus, Clove
1/18/19 - Bergamot
1/16/19 - Bergamot, Grapefruit, Orange
1/14/19 - Bergamot, Grapefruit, Orange
1/13/19 - Bergamot, Grapefruit, Orange, Eucalyptus
1/12/19 - Camphor, Grapefruit, Orange, Helichrysum
1/10/19 - Grapefruit, Bergamot, Camphor
1/9/19 - Camphor (3), Bergamot (3), Grapefruit (7)
1/7/19 - Bergamot, Grapefruit, Camphor
1/5/19 - Frankincense
1/4/19 - Bergamot
1/3/19 - Coriander
1/2/19 - Coriander

February and March Oils

3/29/19 - Cedarwood (2), Grapefruit (4), Orange (4), Jasmine (1)
3/28/19 - Green Mandarin (4), Helichrysum (1), Frankincense (1)
3/26/19 - Rosemary, Lime, Citrus Bliss
3/20/19 - Helichrysum (4), Siberian fir (2), frankincense (2), Cedarwood (2), sandalwood (3), black and pink pepper (1 each)
3/17/19 - Rosemary (3-4), lemongrass (1-2), juniper berry (3), lime (2), black pepper (2)
...

2/10/19 - Petitgrain and Grapefruit
2/9/19 - Pink Pepper and Blue Tansy
2/8/19 - Pink Pepper, Blue Tansy, Helichrysum, Clove
2/7/19 - Pink Pepper, Blue Tansy, Helichrysum, Clove
2/6/19 - Pink Pepper, Helichrysum
2/5/19 - Pink Pepper, Blue Tansy, Helichrysum
2/4/19 - Cassia, Pink Pepper, Blue Tansy
2/2/19 - Helichrysum, Oregano, Coriander, Petitgrain
2/1/19 - Cypress (4), Lemongrass (1), Lime (2), Orange (3)

April Oils

4/28/19 - Citrus Bliss
4/27/19 - Spikenard
4/24/19 - Coriander
4/23/19 - Patchouli, Coriander, Douglass Fir
4/22/19 - fresh air
4/21/19 - Patchouli and Rosemary
4/18/19 - Siberian Fir, Rosemary, Douglass Fir
4/17/19 - Arborvitae
4/16/19 - Coriander
4/12/19 - Douglass Fir
4/11/19 - Siberian Fir, Chamomile, Green Mandarin
4/10/19 - InTune
4/9/19 - Black Pepper, Eucalyptus, Siberian Fir, Green Mandarin
4/8/19 - InTune; Arborvitae, Cedarwood, Eucalyptus, Black Pepper
4/6/19 - Roman Chamomile and Citrus Bliss
4/5/19 - Roman Chamomile
4/4/19 - Jasmine, Frankincense, Arborvitae, Orange
4/3/19 - Frankincense (4), Helichrysum (3), Jasmine (3), Orange (5)
4/2/19 - Bergamot, Orange, Grapefruit, Jasmine

Growing into my Skin

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One of my fears in life has been the fear of growing up. As a child, I was agile and light, sweet and naive. I saw myself as innocent and wanted above all to preserve this. It was my purity that was my pride. I would not give that up! I did not want to grow up! I saw adulthood as unpleasant, anyway. What could it offer me? Work, duties, burdens? I didn't want any of those. No, I would preserve myself from the world. If time and external influences didn't touch me, then I'd never be tainted. I'd always stay pure. It was very tempting to imagine myself as a martyr because then I could be cut off at a young age and would always be "pure." That was how I saw it as a 15-year old.

I felt like a seal pup - a pristine, cute, little white seal pup. And I knew that someday I was going to grow big and awkward and shed my white fur for brown and grey. No! I didn't want to lose my innocence. I didn't want to grow ugly. So I fought as hard as I could to reject my own skin. The problem is, even if you reject it, it's a fact.

And the truth is, that growing up doesn't taint me. Age doesn't make me impure or bad. I'm a sin-tainted being whether I'm young or old. And I'm living in a sin-corrupted world no matter what age I am. There isn't some perfection in me that dies when I grow up. In fact, the more I grow, the more the Lord can refine me. This is what purity really is.

"Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth." John 17:17

The longer I live, the more the Lord can work in me to mold me in the image of Christ. And it's because of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection that this is possible. Thanks be to God!

Yeah, the baby seal sure is cute; but the adult seal is lovely in its own way, too. It may be awkward on land, but in the sea it's beautiful. It has a fluid grace and strength as it swims and dives deep into the dark water. It makes sense that as a child, I could only see from a narrow perspective; but now that I'm an adult, I need to embrace the broader picture. I am not going to change my skin. But I can swim.

Sketching Practice

I have a memory from second grade. I was sitting in the classroom, which was a mobile home (because they were doing construction on the school building at the time). I was the only one in the room and I was drawing something. I drew with strong pencil marks - I pressed so hard that I kept breaking off the tip of the pencil. And when I drew the line wrong and tried to erase it, it was pressed so deep into the paper that it left an impression even after the line was erased. Someone saw me and asked why I didn't try sketching. If I sketched it first and then needed to erase a line, it wouldn't leave a mark. Huh? The concept of sketching was a new to me. I did try it, but I still have a tendency to go for the final lines right from the start. Plus, all those steps of sketching, drawing, erasing, inking, erasing take so long...

Another elementary school memory - music lessons. I took piano and viola lessons. I never wanted to practice, though. I didn't like practice. I though I could just play it perfectly the first time because that's how it worked. Practice never sounded right and it was uncomfortable. I tried to avoid practicing - and so I struggled in music. Like sketching, I didn't get it. I thought I'd just be perfect the first time. And when I wasn't, I wanted to drop it and quit.

This past year, I've been trying to acknowledge the value of "practice." I'm trying to see it as a help rather than a hinderance. Sure, it's awkward when I try something and mess it up. And it's annoying when it takes time before I can do something accurately. But it's called practice and it takes time. Some things I can do well the first time I pick them up; but most things do take time and practice before I get good at them.

It takes a lot of courage to be with myself in the midst of the discomfort, in the midst of the awkward, bad-sounding practice sessions of life. But that's ok. It's the learning process. As long as I'm taking steps and trying, then I'm experiencing new things and growing. Eventually, maybe, some things won't feel as uncomfortable. I'm sure some things will always feel awkward. But I'm trying to lighten my grip and allow myself to make mistakes. To be able to laugh at myself when it's awkward and still respect myself. I just get back up on my feet, shake off the discomfort, and am grateful for the learning experience that allows me to grow. We aren't born knowing everything. And we learn in different ways - we learn from God's word, we learn from our parents, we learn from teachers, from each other, from study, from observation - and some things we learn by just getting out there and getting messy.

My physical self

I am a human.

I mean, of course I am. But for a long time, I didn't treat myself like one. I felt like the physical was "bad" just because it was physical. Yeah, I know that's silly. God never says such a thing and my parents didn't teach me that, either. Where'd I get the idea? I'm not sure.

When I was a kid, I embraced the physical - I climbed everything in sight, jumped in leaf piles, dug into sandboxes, hung from swingsets, ran and flipped, tumbled and swam underwater. I loved to be in motion!

Skip ahead to first grade. All of a sudden we have to sit in classrooms all day. And when it came to gym class or recess, I found myself in the midst of many other competitive children. Through elementary school, I ran to claim the parallel bars that were off in the far part of the field. I had more space there. More space to swing and turn and flip. More space for my body to be.

Skip ahead to middle school. No more parallel bars. Group sports. More classrooms. And not only that, but my own body was changing. Suddenly I felt crowded out, even by my own body! I tried to ignore it. I tried to repress it, deny it. I didn't care what I wore or how I looked. The physical world seemed to have no more room for climbing and spinning and skipping; but in my mind, there was plenty of space. I could daydream, think, write, draw, consider, research. I could run as far as I wanted. I felt free there. But really, I think I had trapped myself there. I began to experience a split in my self-concept - I didn't want to admit that I had a physical form or strong emotions. I only acknowledged my intelligence and pursued that in place of the others. My mind ended up becoming the only part of me that I still honored.

Skip ahead to my 20's. I'm pursuing more and more school. Languages, information technology, information structures. I was ignoring my body as much as possible. I ate sandwiches every day because it was easy to pick up a sandwich. Minimal effort and time to distract me from transcription and research. I didn't really care what clothes I wore, so long as they were appropriate and didn't attract much attention. But I had become so walled off from myself. I didn't realize the pains that my body felt until they were overwhelming. I didn't "get" the emotions that I felt until I was experiencing a panic attack or depression. I didn't know how to regulate my own emotions, let alone acknowledge or appreciate them. The physical realm was such a pain and a distraction. Why couldn't I just be an intellectual, body-less being? I had disassociated myself from my own body, I think. I was miserable. and confused.

In 2016, I was feeling fragmented and lost. But there was a word of God that sparked hope in me. It was a passage about Messiah's kingdom - "Along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all kinds of trees used for food; their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine." Ezekiel 47:12

"Their leaves for medicine." I wanted to learn about the medicine of God - his plants and herbs. I wanted to learn how to apply them for healing. I knew that in His Kingdom, this would be done. Could I begin to learn this now, even? I thought it couldn't hurt to try studying to see...

These past two years, I've been studying. I love reading about the properties of an oil, about the structure of the plant and the region where it grows natively. I'm curious to learn how different oils are applied for the treatment of various conditions. Can they bring comfort for this emotion or restoration from this physical issue? It's fun to research and then experiment. How does the oil smell? What does it smell like? How do I feel when I smell it?

I thought that this was an isolated study, just another interest. But I think God is bringing about broader healing for me through this. Finally, I'm beginning to acknowledge my physical self. I'm recognizing that I experience emotions and physical sensations. I have a physical and emotional self - how are they feeling? How do my body and emotions communicate with me? Perhaps it's not as direct as the way that my mind communicates with me. My emotions may communicate through a tightness in my stomach - am I feeling fearful? Or atighness in my neck - am I feeling frustrated? What about the pains I get in other parts of my body - might my body be expressing things that my minds needs to address? And through this, I am seeing myself as more of a whole - body, emotions, mind, soul, spirit - all of which are one body, made in the image of God. I am a physical being. I don't have to beat myself up or consign myself to pain. I can reach out toward myself with open eyes to see these deeper parts of myself and care for them as I care for my thoughts. I can reach out toward God and share this being with Him - feelings, physicality, thoughts, and all.

"Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good." Genesis 1:31

Through these simple moments, I'm building an emotional awareness of myself. I'm acknowledging my feelings and my physical being. How do I feel? What does my body need? What does my emotional self need? Slowly, I'm growing more aware of my own emotions and physical sensations. Studying and using oils gives me daily exercise in connecting with the whole me. And by doing that, I'm integrating more and more. At a spiritual level, I'm acknowledging the physical and emotional forms as much as my intellectual form. And I offer these more to God in prayer. Before, I had ignored my feelings, repressed them because they hurt. Why would I want to feel this emotion when it hurts so much? But it's by being in the emotion that we know it - know ourselves - and overcome. In the same way, I had ignored my physical body, wishing I didn't have to deal with it. I think I felt so vulnerable, sensitive, and afraid and I didn't know what to do but hide and reject it all together. But I'm beginning to take responsibility for the whole of me - to bring it all under God in gratitude and sometimes confusion but in hope and joy.

I'm paying more attention now when I'm interested in a certain natural thing - a plant, animal, stone, color, or oil. I'll research it and give myself time to wonder about it. Why am I interested in it? Does it resonate with a certain feeling or experience that I'm facing? Does it give voice to my own emotional and physical experiences? I want to bring these to God for healing. I want to grow into a whole being, a person who honors the physical-emotional-intellectual-spiritual body that God has given me. And I want to help to support others, if possible, so they can also experience wholeness and relief, both on this side of the kingdom and later within it. I want to work with the leaves of the trees to apply medicine for healing. I want to watch the animals of His kingdom and teach others about them - the beautiful and powerful and creative work of our God. This is the growing that I want to do in this life. It's one day at a time, one oil at a time, one fact, one feeling, one curiosity, one hope, and one prayer at a time. Offered by a physical-spiritual creature in a physical-spiritual world.

May God bless us with continued growth and healing as we wait for Him to return and take us home. <3

Hope



Proserpina is learning to handle her armor. :)

In other words, even though I feel at the mercy of the world - a timid and passive victim - by God's grace, I am growing. I'm slowly, gradually confronting my fears and restrictions. Growing to stand in the midst of them and watch them pass by while I remain. Learning to take responsibility for myself, my feelings, and decisions. Leaning into them and watching them gradually, gradually become clearer. Those invisible, elusive, hard to see things. Stepping forward. Walking with God. Moving from victim to warrior. Wow, it's been a long journey to get to this point where I can just stand on my feet. "He will make me walk on my high hills."

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