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Peaceful Music

I can imagine laying on the grass, watching dusk fall. The first stars come to peek past wispy clouds. The breath of the breeze catching the hickory leaves. An ant crawling over clover. Rabbit coming out to survey for safety. Groundhog making his evening rounds. Skunks rustling from their sleep. And my eyes close and the day fades into a dream.

Least Weasel Crossing the Road



I think I saw a Least Weasel this morning!

As I was driving to work, a small critter bolted across the road in front of me. It was about the size of a chipmunk, but slender and without stripes. It had a furry, stubby tail. It looked just like the one that this YouTuber captured in his video. I don't think it was a mouse, because the tail was short and furry. It wasn't a squirrel, because its body was smaller and chestnut brown colored. I think it was a weasel :) He made it safely to the other side of the road - he ran at full speed, not stopping or pausing. I wonder what scent he had caught and what he was chasing?

Praise the Lord, for giving me the chance to see one of His small, mysterious creatures :)

you are no longer a slave

"But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!" Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ." -Galatians 4:4-7

This passage came to mind this morning as I was getting ready for the day and watching the full moon set over the frosty grass.

Last week, I'd been contemplating some of my deep thoughts and feelings. I'm realizing that unconsciously, I feel that I'm not allowed to have desires of my own. I feel that I'm not allowed to have my own will or take action of my own volition. Part of this is a fear of doing things that will hurt others. Part of it is that I feel like having my own will is selfish. If I just didn't have wants and didn't take action, I wouldn't hurt anyone and I'll be selfless - right? That's how it has felt deep inside. I think this is why Buddhist teachings on non-attachment captured my attention in college. And I think this is why I've been so afraid of growing up. If I grow up, then I *have* to take responsibility for myself. I have to take action. I'll have to make decisions. What do I even want? I can't seem to figure it out. That's all too scary, too hard. I'll just reject that possibility and be a harmless child. But is this how God wants me to feel?

According to the Bible, God created men and women in His image ("So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." Genesis 1:27). He created us with the capacity for thought, feelings, and directed action. He wants me to develop these by training my mind, my emotions, and my actions. But what happens if I only take responsibility for some of these? What happens if I reject the fact that I have a will and instead live as though I were a slave? I think that's how my soul has been living in some ways.

Over the years, I've had recurring dreams of being taken prisoner. I felt a lot of fear (even adrenaline-rich panic) but I also had this twisted sense of safety. Because as a prisoner, the captors made the choices and I just did as I was told. I'm very comfortable following orders. There was always a sense in which these dreams were comfortable but alarming - somehow not how it was supposed to be. I've had dreams of injury in a similar fashion. If I'm injured, I can't exert my will - problem solved! I'll just follow along as circumstances dictate. But as I've been journaling and feeling the feelings associated with these things, I'm beginning to see it differently. It really doesn't feel very good :( It feels like cowering, squeezing my eyes shut as tight as possible, covering my ears, waiting for the punishment to come. But I'm starting to peek open my eyes, uncover my ears, and I feel like the woman in John 8 - "Woman, where are those accusers of yours?" *blinks* I always thought my enemies were circumstances, mean people - all these things on the outside. But really, I think my hardest enemies have been on the inside. Those internal judges and executioners. I was the one holding myself in a state of imprisonment in accusation and fear and lies. But Jesus is opening the way to step out of that and to stand as a free, redeemed adult.

(And instantly I feel like judging myself for being so foolish for so long, but I have to remind myself that God's timing is perfect. I'm growing - slow or fast isn't important. I am facing the fear and stepping through it by God's grace and that's what's important.)

(And then I feel intimidated by others, who have lived in full acceptance of their wills since childhood and seem to be so much stronger and wiser than me. Yes, maybe this is why I fear children so much - because they are happily will-full while I've been repressive. But I don't have to feel guilty about that either. We all make mistakes and we all have our lessons. And sometimes we learn when making mistakes and seemingly making a fool of ourselves. I mean, look at Coyote - of all the animal stories, he probably makes the most mistakes, but he also has one of the most beautiful songs of laughter of the animals. And he really is a very intelligent creature. So I'll move through this and even write about it so others can see. God shows His strength in the weak things and His wisdom in the foolish. He is greater than all and He loves His creation and is working to restore it <3 I Corinthians 1:25-27)

So what is a healthy Christian perspective toward the will? From what I can understand, God does want me to embrace my will - not to do evil, but to submit it to Him to do good (Galatians 5:13). Rather than live in denial of my volition, I think it would be better for me to acknowledge this self and to take responsibility for it. I think this is the self-control that the Holy Spirit is working to help me develop (Galatians 5:23). Not control in the sense of holding myself hostage in fear, but self-control in acknowledging that God gave me the capacity for thought, feeling, and action, and to bring all of these before Him. That originally, these were all created good, but since Adam and Eve sinned, these are all tainted by sin. And God sent His Son Jesus to redeem me as a whole person. To purify me and make me stand in His righteousness. To restore my thoughts, feelings, and my will. (What a thought that is.) May God help me to trust Him, to have courage to stand in my own body and mind and spirit, and to live by the power of His Spirit in righteousness all the days of my life. This is my prayer. <3

"Blessed is the Lord God of Israel,
For He has visited and redeemed His people,
...To grant us that we,
Being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
Might serve Him without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life." -Luke 1:68-75

Lake Tobias Day

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A few weekends ago, Dad and I took a trip to Lake Tobias in Halifax, PA. They have a zoo area as well as a safari park where you can take a tour by bus and feed the animals. We dodged raindrops and had a wonderful time! :)

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Bible Study Notes: Genesis 10-25

Today we finished studying the account of Abraham in Genesis. I spent some time this afternoon drawing out some notes to help me understand the relationships between Abraham and his brother's family. I thought I'd post them, in case anyone else might find them interesting. The map is not to scale and the shapes of the lands/waters are not accurate, but hopefully it at least gives you an idea of the region :)

Labels in colors - Blue: families of Japheth, Red: families of Ham, Purple: families of Shem

Various observations:

It's interesting that Noah's family is described as coming from the east in Genesis 11:2 and there are the three sons of Noah (Shem, Ham, and Japheth). Later, Abraham's family travels farther westward, toward the Promised Land, and there are three men named in the beginning of the journey in Genesis 11:31 (Abram, Terah, and Lot) and later there are the three Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob).

In Genesis 10, where the descendants of Noah and their associated regions are described, each son's listing seems to follow a general clock-wise pattern. For example, Japheth's first son is associated with Europe, then moving north-east, west, and again north. Maybe I'm oversimplifying it, but it was something that I noticed as I went through the lists and marked them on the map.

Using Blue Letter Bible's Chronological Map, it appears that when Abram was born, there were 10 generations of his ancestors living at the time! (Noah - Shem - Arphaxad - Salah - Eber - Peleg - Reu - Serug - Nahor - Terah - Abram) The interesting thing is that the first of these to die was Peleg ("in his days the earth was divided").

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After dabbling with essential oils for a few years and attending several workshops and an online courses, I've committed to enrolling in a certified program to become a professional aromatherapist. I'm really excited to be taking this step!

The program I've enrolled in is offered by Essence of Thyme College of Holistic Studies in British Columbia, Canada. It's approved by the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy and the Alliance of International Aromatherapists. It's a 400+ hour online course of study that includes a comprehensive curriculum, exams, and case studies.

I'm interested in developing my own blends and sharing essential oils with others, but I want to be well-educated so I can do so safely and professionally. That's what encouraged me to take this step and pursue certification. I did some back-to-school shopping for notebooks and folders and just submitted my application. It's going to be challenging, but I am very excited about taking this step toward more professional work with essential oils. :)

Some of the books and supplies that I've been studying with the past few years. I've come quite far already since my first experimentation with oils back in 2016.

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Reptiland Zoo

I took a quick trip to Reptiland yesterday to visit the lizards and geckos. The critters were quite interactive yesterday! It was a hot, sunny day, but it was cool in the amphibian building. My favorites to watch were the Soft Shelled Turtles, Snake-necked Turtles, Emerald Tree Monitors, and Iguanas. I also got to attend talks about the Komodo Dragon and Alligators. Did you know that lizards like komodo dragons and snakes can "smell" with their tongue? :)

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Wildlife Rehabilitators

According to the Pennsylvania Association of Wildlife Rehabilitators, "Wildlife rehabilitation is a network of individuals and organizations caring for injured, sick and orphaned wild animals with the goal of releasing these animals back into their natural habitat." You can read more at their site: About Wildlife Rehabilitation

In Pennsylvania, wildlife rehabilitators must apply for and be granted a permit by the PA Game Commission. If they work with birds that fly across state lines, they also need to obtain a permit from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. In order to capture and transport animals in need of care to a rehabilitation center, one must hold a Capture & Transport permit. Copies of the official regulations for PA are posted at Red Creek Wildlife Center's intro page for wildlife rehabilitation.

This pamphlet from Red Creek Wildlife Center describes what Wildlife Rehabilitation is like - Wildlife Rehabilitation - Is it for you?


Capture and Transport Specialists

Like Wildlife Rehabilitators, Capture and Transport specialists apply and are granted permits by the PA Game Commission. According to the regulations, "A capture and transportation permittee may capture or receive injured or displaced wildlife for transportation to a wildlife rehabilitator." This blog post from Wildlife Rehabilitation Support of Pennsylvania describes what it's like to be a Capture & Transport Specialist in PA - The Weird World of Capture and Transport


Wildlife Couriers

This summer, I was interested in helping our wildlife rehabilitators. I contacted the nearest rehabilitation centers, but these are pretty far from where I live. It seemed impractical for me to volunteer at one of these locations and still maintain my full-time job. One of our local rehabilitators told me about another way that a way that I could help - as a Wildlife Courier.

In Pennsylvania, we have an organization called Wildlife In Need (WIN) Emergency Response Of Pennsylvania, Inc. They coordinate communication and transportation efforts for our state's wildlife rehabilitators. Their mission is to "have volunteers that are permitted in Capture and Transport (C&T) and trained transporters (wildlife couriers) in each county of the state to respond to wildlife that are in need of rescue and transported to a Pennsylvania wildlife rehabilitation center or veterinary service." https://winemergencyresponse.com/about-w-i-n

As a trained Wildlife Courier, I have the opportunity to transport animals in need of care to a Wildlife Rehabilitator. I don't handle the animals directly - caring for them is the job of the Wildlife Rehabilitator and determining their need and containing them is the job of the C&T Specialist. My job is to receive the contained animals and drive them safely to a rehabilitator or veterinarian for care.

I applied as a Wildlife Courier for WIN in May and was trained and accepted in June. So far, I've run two transports for five animals to two different rehabilitation centers. I love being able to help our local wildlife and community :) It's also fun to explore new parts of the state and meet other people who have a passion for nature. If you're interested in becoming a Wildlife Courier in PA, please see the Wildlife in Need webpage https://winemergencyresponse.com for more information. Upcoming training dates will also be posted on their website.

Wildlife and What To Do

What should I do if I see a wild animal that looks like it needs help?

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