Tuesday, January 31, 2017

American Sycamore Bark

American Sycamore bark is unique. As these photos show, there are 3 layers with 3 colors. The whitish inner bark is the new growth of bark. the outer brown/gray bark is older and it peals off and will flake off the tree as the tree expands with growth.

Just as this bark sheds with growth, so Christians life will change with growth. The old will fall away and the new will take hold. Embrace the change of a new life in Christ. It says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come."


Lord, I thank you for the work You do in my life. I look to You for life and ability. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

Sycamore Bud and Seed pod

Here is another Sycamore bud that is completely enclosed by the leaf during the summer. The seed pod is left on the twig in the middle of winter.

 Below is a summer photo of a Sycamore fruit pod.

Sycamore trees have many of these pods, and a few of them remain on the tree during the winter. This tree makes a good den tree for the center of the tree wood rots and leaves a cavity that wildlife makes use of for their dens. The wood that survives is hard and the grain is swirled. This makes the tree hard to split for firewood. I know because I got some of this wood from a neighbor and worked hard to split it.

The tree grows taller than other hardwoods in the area making it a dominate tree where it is found. It does best in lowland areas, but will also grow on hillsides.

When I think of this tree I think of the rot the tree is experiencing within the bole of the tree. Yet it grows tall and the bark makes the tree to stand out against the other trees in a hardwood forest.

Christians can thrive even though they have problems in their life. It is not our ability but our availability that God is looking for. He will take our wounds and weaknesses and turn them for His glory.

Hebrews 11:32-34 "And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight."

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Robins Among the Sumac

Sumac usually grows as a shrub in Kansas and Missouri. We were walk along a trail that went through a field of Sumac. It was not hard to walk through but the stems were stiff. There was sort of a path as we made our way through.

This plant occurs in open areas, and along boarders. The leaves turn a nice red in the fall.

As there is an abundance of fruit for these Robins so God will provide for us.

Daniel 4:12 "Its foliage was beautiful and its fruit abundant, And in it was food for all The beasts of the field found shade under it, And the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches, And all living creatures fed themselves from it."

Friday, January 27, 2017

Ring-Billed Gull

When I first saw Gulls in Missouri and Kansas, I was surprised. But I read that these gulls frequent the interior of the country and nest at fresh water sites. Once they hatch they usually return to the same area year after year.

They will eat most anything, but fish and bugs are preferred. Garbage is another staple they have adapted to. They enjoy flying along with the wind currents, diving to the water when there is a food source.

The oldest known gull was 27 years old. They usually nest in large colonies numbering in the thousands. These birds take 3 years to attain their adult plumage. This bird has the adult plumage.

The soaring of these gulls brings to mind the ability of Christians to soar above the problems of life with the relationship with Jesus that we have.

Isaiah 40:31 "Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary."

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Branch Becomes Tree Leader

Here is a sapling that had a branch become the leader of the tree. The original leader had been broken off and the branch that was going sideways starting growing up because of the change in status.

People need to live ready for opportunities, because we don't know what the future will hold.

Luke 12:35 "Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit."

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Locating Birds Yellow-Rumped Warbler

A bird web site IDed the bird for us. A Yellow-Rumped Warbler. We hiked into some woods the other day and came to a stream with a bench. I sat down and waited. A number of these little birds were flying around but were hard to photograph. I had about 3 or 4 seconds to take a picture. The hard part was in the brush there was not a lot of good objects to point towards. So I pointed in the general direction and took a photo. I caught some of them to my surprise.

What I would do for a while was practice pointing my camera at an object seeing if I could locate it in a matter of seconds.

Not only did I have trouble finding these little birds to photograph, but I am also having trouble identifying what kind of birds they are. A bird web site IDed the bird for us. A Yellow-Rumped Warbler.

In the Christian life there are things that come our way that give us trouble. We don't know how to deal with the problem. but if we keep seeking the Lord and doing what we know the answer will come.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Great Blue Heron in Flight

Seeing large birds in flight is eye catching. Seeing song birds and ducks and geese is an every day thing. But bigger birds are not so common.

The heron is moving to a spot to fish. He will stand on his post and watch for a fish to swim by and catch their meal.

Just as this heron gains its sustenance by waiting, we can renew our strength by waiting on the Lord.

Isaiah 40:31, 41:1a
 "Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.
Coastlands, listen to Me in silence,
And let the peoples gain new strength;"

Monday, January 23, 2017

Red Shouldered Hawk

ID by thin white tail bands, Red shoulder, white and dark back feathers. I was walking through the woods looking for pictures of buds and this hawk flew into a tree out in front of us. A few birds were chasing it and the hawk gave its call that sounds similar to a Red tailed Hawk.

Great Horned owls attack the nests of these hawks. At times the tables are turned when a hawk will chase the owl and another hawk will raid the owls nest.

They can live up to 25 years old. They live mainly in forests and return to their nest year after year.

The resiliency of these hawks points to how Christianity has survived down through the years against much opposition.

Joshua 1:9 ESV "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Blue Jay with Acorn

Here is a photo of a Blue Jay with an acorn. I don't see this often.

There are many Oak trees around here, so the availability for birds is plentiful. I just get the sense this bird is basking in the bountiful meal he will be eating.

God is good to the birds and He is good to us as well.

Luke 12:6,7 "Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God.  Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows."

Saturday, January 21, 2017


There were 60,000,000 or more Buffalo in North America before the Europeans moved into the Midwest and the Plains. Their normal travel speed is about 4 miles an hour. They might travel for many miles before ranging in an area.

When people were looking for Buffalo in the 1800's there might be a lack of them for many miles. Then a herd would be found that would stretch for as far as the eye could see. They usually would gather in family groups with many families banding together. In the herd the bulls would stay on the outside, not necessarily for protection, but for more freedom in movement.

There would be strength in numbers. The babies would be inside with their mothers. Christians have strength when they are united with other Christians. We are not to rely on our strength, but on Jesus.

Psalm 28:7 "The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him."

Friday, January 20, 2017

Fog in the Woods

Was out early this morning to get some photos of fog.  These are E. Cottonwood trees.

Life at times seems like we are going through a fog and not sure where we are going. But like most things in life, if we stay with it we will find the answer.

1 Corinthians 13:12 Message Bible " We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!"

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Mallard Ducks

I like this photo because of the reflection on the water, the sunlight on the Mallard drake's head and the Mallard hen in the background.

These ducks breed in Northern Canada also in Eurasia. They are one of the most prolific ducks and the domestic ducks come from mallards. They pair long before the spring breeding season. Only the female incubates the eggs and takes care of the ducklings.

Mallards like all ducks shed their feathers they use for flight after breeding. Because they can't fly they hide and their feathers change to be more camouflaged.

There are times in our life when we are more vulnerable. Turn to the Lord and abide under the shadow of His wings.

Psalm 91:1-4 "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!”
3 For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper
And from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark."

Monday, January 16, 2017

Snow Gear

This is what I use in the ice or snow. It keeps me from sliding and falling. They work great. We have a steep drive and it is hard to stay upright when shoveling.

Falling is a common theme of mistakes or sin with the Christian life. Preparation will keep you from falling in this world the same as preparation in our walk with Christ will keep us from falling spiritually.

How do I prepare myself? By setting my heart to fear God. To serve Him instead of serving my self. Romans 8:2,5,6.  I don't look at myself as having arrived or have it together. I look to Jesus and live with my mind on Christ and serving Him.

Joshua 14:10
"Now behold, the LORD has let me live, just as He spoke, these forty-five years, from the time that the LORD spoke this word to Moses, when Israel walked in the wilderness; and now behold, I am eighty-five years old today." Caleb was ready for war at 85 years old.

Psalm 91:7 "A thousand may fall at your side And ten thousand at your right hand, But it shall not approach you."


These European starlings stopped by my house for about 15 minutes. We were in the midst of an ice storm. They eat most anything but I guess they were looking for seeds when they stopped by my place.

Psalm 121:7,8 "The Lord will protect you from all evil;
He will keep your soul.
8 The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and forever."

Father, thanks for watching over me as I travel.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Queen-Anne's Lace

The flowers are flat topped. This flower is a wild carrot. They grow tall about 3'

They grow in fields, meadows, roadsides and thrive in dry environments. The roots are like carrots and are pale and woody. They can be used in soups.

Queen-Anne's Lace
They grow in groups often and are taller then the grass. The white dominates the greenery around them. This flower definitely stands out when I come across it.

The name implies royalty. Christians have royalty because the Father adopted us to be a brother to Jesus, who is the King of all the kings.

We can should be able to get what we want because we brothers of the King. Yet we can't have what we want because we have a responsibility to live for the Lord. Therefore we need to use our right in Christ for the purpose of our adoption. Our purpose is to build the Kingdom with people that are committed to Jesus.

Father, bring me to the knowledge of Your riches. But not for squandering them on myself, but to use them for Your glory.

Ephesians 1:3 “ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Tufted Titmouse

The feathers are mouse colored. Orange along the belly sides and a crest on its head. A short black beak. The Tufted Titmouse is 6" long.

They like sunflower seeds at your feeder and will nest in boxes if you put one up in your yard. They need to have  1 1/2" holes. Some report that they don't use Blue yard houses. This may be because they are only 5' high for the monitors to manage.

Psalm 46:4 "There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, The holy dwelling places of the Most High."

God dwells in heaven and here on earth. The problem is that we are not often aware of Him here. Let your heart be quiet and listen for Him as you watch for birds and observe nature. Read the Bible and let it sink into your soul. Then be quiet and listen. Ideas will come to you from Him.

Thank you Father for your creation which speaks of You. And thank You Father for the Bible that teaches Your ways.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Cotton Tail

How does the Eastern Cottontail survive winter?

By living under ground.

Do cottontails burrow? They don't burrow themselves but utilize what they can find from other animals. They line their burrow with grass, leaves and sticks to insulate it against the cold.

Their food source is much less in the winter and and they eat bark, sticks and buds of small bushes.

They are hunted more in the winter as the need for food by their predators also increases. Hawks, owls and foxes are some of the main predators of rabbits.

Rabbits don't hibernate like opossums, skunks, ground hogs and bats.  Hibernating animals will stay in their den while their heart rate, breathing and body temp drops. They live off the stored fat they accumulated in the summer and fall.

How do we prepare for hard times ahead? Change our priorities of living for the now and parties. Instead, build a foundation of faith in Jesus that can't be shaken. This will serve you in good times and bad. You will have peace in your heart and confidence in your walk day by day.

Romans 4:19-21 “ Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; 20 yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.”

White & Pink Flower

I haven't been able to ID this flower but it is a break from the bleak landscape of Missouri in January. It is good to remember how life was in the summer.

There are many things we can be thankful for from our past. When we remember how God has helped us and been with us through the trials of life our faith and courage and hope grows.

Sit back and remember God's goodness. You will be better for it.

Psalm 105:5 "Remember His wonders which He has done, His marvels and the judgments uttered by His mouth,"

Friday, January 06, 2017

White Throated Sparrow

We had snow Wednesday night and this bird came by our feeder the next day.He seemed to be looking at me as I sat waiting for birds to come by for photos. A number of birds are taking advantage of our feeder during this last snow.

Matthew 6:26 "Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?"

God is concerned about the birds. He is also concerned for us. Turn to Him for help and guidance.

Father, I thank you for all You do for me.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Dark-Eyed Junco

Dark-Eyed Junco or more commonly called Snow Bird
They show up at feeders when it snows. I see them without snow also.

There are different color variations of this bird. This bird and the ones that visit my place are the slate

The bird is adaptive and occurs in a variety of habitats.
White outer tail feathers, also the bill and  belly are white also. It is a sparrow shaped bird.

These birds don't eat off the bird feeder. They only eat on the ground. That is what I have observed. It looks to me as if the birds throw some of the feed on the ground for other birds to eat.

This bird generosity is intriguing. Maybe they are just sloppy, but I like to think they have some unselfishness.

Let us not just look out for ourselves. But instead care for others.

Romans 15:1,2 “Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.”

Father, I yearn to follow the example of others and give to those in need.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

American Sycamore Bud

During the growing season the bud is fully encased by the leaf stem.

The circles where the leaf scar is, are bundle scars where  the vein from the leaf attaches to the twig. Young tress and branches have thin bark that peals off with white bark underneath. The bud and the bark make this tree easy to identify in the winter.

The way this tree is made reminds me of a life principle of growth. When we grow we are protecting the future. The bud inside the leaf stalk was being protected. When we grow in spiritual things we are setting the stage for the future.

Let us not neglect our future as we are living in the present. Instead, know that each thing we do is not only useful now but can be a building block for things later in life.

Matthew 2521 "His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master."

Father, I believe You and what You have said in Your word. I live in expectation of Your blessing to enable me to help others better. In Jesus name it will happen.

Monday, January 02, 2017


Water is life!

Ice fields, oceans, rivers and lakes occupy about 324 million cubic miles.
Ground water under the surface of the earth, occupies another 2 million cubic miles of water.
In the atmosphere there are another 3,100 more cubic miles of water.

Water has many unique qualities. It expands when it freezes instead of getting smaller. This expanding water allows life to live in lakes. If the ice sank to the bottom, the lake would more easily be frozen completely. The event of heavy ice would kill off all the fish and other life. When ice is at the top of the lake the water below is maintained.

The energy to freeze or thaw water is massive. Heat is given off as water is freezing. If you put some water outside in 0 degree F. The water temperature will drop till it gets to 32 degrees. Then as the water turns to ice the water will stop dropping in temperature until all the water has frozen. This pause happens as some of the energy in the water is given off. After all the water is frozen, the temperature of the water will continue to drop.

Water is attracted to itself. When it is in a thin straw or tube the capillary force will draw water  up. This action allows plants to bring water out of the ground and provide cooling and water for  growth.

If water was not attracted to itself trees would not be able to bring water up the tree bowl to the leaves that are collecting the sun and creating food in photosynthesis.

The human adult body has about 60% water in it. I know the need for water first hand. As I worked in the hot sun my thirst developed and I would sweat. To not have water brings the possible of heat stroke. We need water.

Just as life on earth can't exist without water. So our life with Christ can't exist without His word.
John 4:14  “but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”

Thank you Father, that I can drink freely from the water of life without cost.

Revelation 21:6 “Then He said to me, "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.”