Sanity Break: Old-Fashioned Natural History

The Golden Treasury of Natural History by Bertha Morris Parker: Very Good  Hardcover w/ Jacket (1952) | JDBFamily

One of the glories of my childhood was The Golden Treasury of National History by Bertha Morris Parker, copyright 1952. That painting of the plesiosaur (above) is one of my all-time favorite pictures. Hours and hours and hours I spent in that book! And it left me with a lifelong fascination for animals past and present.

Patty got me a used copy for my birthday last year, and I resort to it sometimes when I’m feeling stressed, tired, or just hung out to dry. I did that today.

Okay, a lot of the science in the book–especially with regard to life in the distant prehistoric past–is hooey. Even as our science today will be tomorrow’s hooey. I don’t blame Bertha Morris Parker, whose work I admire very much. She had to go with the science that she had. But really, I doubt the giant ground sloths went extinct because they never found a comfortable place to rest their claws. Or that dinosaurs vanished because they just didn’t have enough sense to adapt to changing conditions. It was 1952 settled science.

What I love here is the vastness and the intricacy of God’s creation, the enduring mysteries of life on earth, and the overwhelming “Wow!” factor I find in giant prehistoric animals. And happy childhood memories are a plus–my Uncle Bernie reading to me from the book and having the devil’s own time trying to pronounce the dinosaurs’ name: and me not correcting him because I loved him and knew that he was reading to me because he loved his brother’s children.

And now I’m getting a little teary-eyed, so I guess I’d better stop.

Make Sure to Smell the Flowers!

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This is my stepdaughter’s dog, Chance, taking time to smell the flowers (look, Georgia, you’re famous!)–thus personifying a wise old saying: Make time to smell the flowers.

“Be still, and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10). There’s a lot we miss if we don’t find time for stillness. That goes for me, too. Ask anyone who knows me.

Memory Lane: A Sunday in the Summer

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Back when I was 12 years old and could stand the heat, Sunday was a big day for our family in the summer. Uncle Ferdie usually dropped in with a platoon of cousins, and that was the signal for two of my favorite family events–a backyard cookout, and horseshoes in the school playground next door.

I loved the clang! the horseshoes made when they struck the metal stake. It went so well with the crack of the bat. Ferdie, by then an inventor with RCA, had been a U.S. Marine. I always thought of him as a Marine recruiting poster come to life. So did the Marines, who shipped him off to Puerto Rico to be an admiral’s chauffeur. It wasn’t quite what he’d signed up for, but he had no complaints.

Hamburgers and hot dogs, with harmonica music, generally followed the horseshoe games. We had a large family, very close. My aunts would join us later on and show us slides of their latest journeys to almost everywhere in the world. For us a summer Sunday was like Christmas, but without the tree.

Oh, I wish we had our horseshoes back, and all those travel tales!

Thank you, Lord, for all those golden memories.

‘Are Americans Ignorant of the Bible?’ (2015)

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One of many vain substitutes

(Hint: Yes.)

When I was a little boy, there were at least three Bibles in the house–not counting my own, given to me in 1958 at Sunday school–and I don’t know how many books of Bible stories. My Uncle Bernie was a Methodist Sunday school teacher, and my Aunt Betty was a teaching nun. Yes, the kids in our family knew who their Savior was. The family saw to that.

Now look at us.

Are Americans Ignorant of the Bible?

Throughout the Bible we are exhorted to teach our children God’s word, God’s ways. Today we send them off to public schools to learn about 40 different “genders” and being guilty ’cause you’re white.

Bible illiteracy has consequences.

Just look at our culture.

Memory Lane: Travels With My Aunts

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Throughout my childhood, one of the sure signs of summer was my aunts taking off for faraway places–Gertie, Millie, and Joan. Grandpa and Grandma always went to Florida; and even that was an exotic destination, back then. But my aunts went just about everywhere.

This was the late 50s, early 60s. You weren’t allowed to go to communist countries, and the Iron Curtain cut off half of Europe. So they went everywhere else.

Listen, people didn’t do that, back then! Just get on a plane and light out for the ends of the earth. My aunts could have easily become celebrated travel writers, had they wanted to.

Adventures? Yeah, they had adventures. Their tour came unraveled once, somewhere in the middle of Uganda. They had to eat at a place called The Black Cat Cafe. And you had to be very careful about that!

Another time, Aunt Millie had a panic attack deep in the bowels of the Great Pyramid–heckuva way to find out you’re claustrophobic.

These were single women with ordinary jobs. They weren’t rich. This was how they liked to spend their money; they worked hard for it and saved up for their travels. Travels (at least, as far as I can remember) to Norway, Iceland, England, Germany, Peru, the Caribbean, Australia, Venice, the Alps, Spain, Egypt, East Africa, West Africa, Greece, Labrador, Alaska (hardly anybody went there, back then), Ireland… And I’ll bet I’ve forgotten a few more. They always brought back really cool souvenirs and lots and lots of slides, show the family first and then the church. Every summer, another adventure.

It was a lot bigger world, back then. And my aunts knew it better than most.

Peep Update

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After many of you prayed for her yesterday, our cat Peep was more herself. That shouldn’t surprise us overmuch. She was fine the rest of the afternoon and all night. I wonder if it was the heat getting to her. It was miserably hot here yesterday, and our cats are getting old.

We thank you for your prayers. We’ll have to keep a watch on Peep, but as of this morning she seems OK.

Prayer Request: Peep

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Please send up some prayers for our cat, Peep. She doesn’t seem to be quite herself today. We can’t see what’s wrong, if anything, but something appears to be making her uncomfortable. I’d rather pray now than wait till there’s a crisis.

In Jesus’ name, Lord, please protect and spare our little girl cat, Peep: whatever’s wrong, please heal her. Protect our little household: in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Parrot Sings What My Daddy Sang

I couldn’t resist this–a parrot singing You Are My Sunshine. My father used to sing this to me when I was a toddler having a bad night: pick me up, rock me, and sing this song. Never mind that he had to punch in at the Ford plant at 6:00 in the morning. His children always came first.

Better even than Gene Autry, Dad. And certainly better than this parrot, who is not to be blamed for his musical difficulties.

Prayer Request: Peep

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Our cat Peep seems a bit under the weather today, and she’s been having trouble getting up the stairs to the bedroom. She and Robbie are getting elderly.

Peep is Patty’s little shadow, and I don’t mind carrying her up the stairs if that’s where she wants to be. Not everybody understands this, but some of you do: our cats are our loved ones. Not much left of our family, and those who still live, all live far away. I can’t manage a four-hour drive on the highway anymore.

So please mention Peep in your prayers. We need the love our cats give us. Pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

‘Sanity Break: Your Pet Mouse Loves You’ (2017)

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How can something as big as a human have a loving relationship with something as tiny as a mouse? But ask anyone who’s ever had pet mice: it happens.

Sanity Break: Your Pet Mouse Loves You

But good heavens! What must this be like, from the mouse’s point of view? Just imagine–or rather try to imagine, because I don’t think we can do it–what we must look like to a mouse. How can they even process a look at a human face? And yet they do! And they do it very well. Any mouse can read your facial expression.

Of course I’m not talking about wild mice that might be carrying disease. My nicest mice were born right here, children and grandchildren of pet mice.