Lessons From The Beaver

BEAVER – “A large semi-aquatic broad-tailed rodent that is native to North America and Northern Eurasia. It is noted for its habit of gnawing through tree trunks to fell the trees in order to feed on the bark and build dams.” “Beaver” can also be used to refer to “hard work.” For example: “Bridget beavered away to keep things running smoothly.”
What do they do for ‘us humans?’ “They store water and improve hydro-logic conditions. They increase water storage on the surface as ponds are created and increased in size. This water filters down into the water table and recharges the ground water too.” (https://kingcounty.gov/environment).

Well, last year was my first encounter of this ‘third kind,’ and at first my wife and I were thinking “how cute!” When the lake froze of course we couldn’t see the beavers that much, but then came the springtime and the thaw along with the flooding of streams… and it flooded. The water came under the road and through the conduit so fast that it washed out the beaver’s efforts, which damage the neighbor’s dock.

Fast forward… the neighbor replaced his dock, and now preparing for the wintertime, the beaver started up again building its dam. This time it is a little further down towards the neighbor’s new dock. He is not pleased. Well, we had a sunny day, and I dawned my fishing rubber waders and into the lake I went, and with my four pronged digger proceeded to do some damage to the dam. I quickly learned respect for the beaver’s building abilities. Pulling away some unbelievably big branches , sticks, a 2X4X8, mud-packed roots and vegetation, stones, twigs, and all this on top of a base I have yet to figure out.

I was and am amazed at this beaver’s instinctive abilities at providing a home and a dam to provide an area for swimming and feeding for its family. Now I forgot to mention the huge home this beaver provided for its female of the species, and for the children. (Just a passing thought, I also learned that this thing seems to be a “one female for life beaver.” He is also the beaver of the ‘house.’ She seems to just be content with raising and feeding and caring for the little ones.)

Back to the dam! Ok, so I pulled, tugged, slipped, tossed and threw all kinds of stuff which Mr. B., had used to build this thing and got 6 feet of the pretty clear. WATER WAS POURING THROUGH. I was proud of myself. Took pictures. Bragged a bit on Facebook. (Big mistake!) Then someone wrote back saying, “It will be built back by tomorrow.” (“Never a discouraging word!)

I looked the next day and THE BEAVER HAD NOT WASTED TIME. (Another lesson learned!) “See something that needs done… get to it.” Another lesson, “If you don’t know where to begin… just start where you are, and some order will come.” The dam was completely repaired and the dam complete! ONE NIGHT!

Anyway… I “put up the white flag,” and I left the dam, determined to learn more lessons from this animal! For example, just because you run up against opposition and hardships caused by others… don’t give up! Yes, I am amazed at “Mr. B.”

I am more amazed at God’s creation. “In the beginning God created… and He saw it was good.” Genesis 1.
Let me know of lessons you learned form animals which you want to share.

Grow in grace friends.

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Can I Have This Dance?

   Being a PK (preacher’s kid) was difficult at times. One of the difficult times was, we just couldn’t do some of the things other kids were doing. There were school activities we wanted to attend, like the school dance. It wasn’t much… it wasn’t the end of the world, but as kids, we thought it was. We just couldn’t understand why? We didn’t like
being ‘different’.  
    Truth be told, preacher’s kids, and families
are put on a pedestal. They are expected to be better than the other kids,
since they are an extension of the Minister, and thus the church. This means
being open for all kinds of criticism from members. It wasn’t all bad of course,
but WE had to be especially careful, because we didn’t want dad to lose his job
on account of us… so dancing was out. We missed the school socials, the proms,
and when we started to date, we didn’t know how to dance.   
   Now, some 50 years later, thanks to my wife’s encouragement, we’ve started to dance. At first it was ‘Swing’ dance, which is nice, but we had to do some travelling each week for lessons. Then we happened to find ‘Round Dancing’ here in Lake City! I never thought I would ‘get it’, but since January, we have both been learning, and having fun. Sure I have a long way to go, but ‘better late than never’.   
   Whoever said, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, just gave up too soon. I’m here to tell you…. this ‘old dog’ can and is! Actually everyone can learn, if you want to bad enough. I’m just happy to have a wife who encouraged me to lay aside the excuses, (and television) and try. Besides, it means being together, making friends, having some good fun.   
   Try it! David did! No he wasn’t doing
the Round Dance… he was just overjoyed at bringing the Ark of the Lord back. “So
David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of Jehovah with shouting,
and with the sound of the trumpet. And it was so, as the ark of Jehovah came
into the city of David, that Michal the daughter of Saul looked out at the
window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before Jehovah; and she despised
him in her heart” (2 Samuel 6:15-16). (Maybe Michal “despised him in her heart”
because he had ‘two left feet’ like me.)

   Sure some dances are not good because
they are not intended just for fun. Think about it, there’s a reason why they
call it dirty dancing. However, being together and just enjoying good clean
fun… well, nothing wrong with that.

   “Can I have this dance, for the rest
of my life…?” I’m so proud, my wife said, “Yes!”


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Run Hide Or Fight

   The Ostrich has big eyes.  He stands nine feet tall and can weigh up to 350 pounds.  The Ostrich top speed is 40-45 MPH, and can run at this speed for up to 10 miles while keeping its head absolutely level. It has small weak wings, massive bare thighs and hoof like feet.  Long elastic tendons in its legs act like springs allowing the bird to run very efficiently.  An ostrich kick can be fatal.
   A hen can lay one large cantaloupe-size egg a day until there are six eggs in the nest.  Other hens will add eggs to the nest until it is full.  The hen and her mate will then incubate all the eggs for the six weeks it takes for them to hatch.  When the babies hatch, they are about a foot tall and begin walking and pecking immediately.  The mother never feeds them so they are not a burden to the parents.  The babies will hang around the parents for protection, but they grow rapidly increasing their weight 100 times during their first six months of life. After a year, the babies are close to eight feet tall and the mother will run them off where she can mate again. 
    Since this big bird cannot fly, when trouble comes it will lay down on the ground
and stick its head in the sand. No complaints from the big bird, this is the way God made it. ‘Built in’ response mechanisms to things feared for mankind and for the Ostrich and with all other creatures, are for safety. There are times when this pays off, while other times it does not. 
   Jesus taught, “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you…..
   Love your enemies, do good to them,  and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High,  because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked” “Be merciful,  just as your Father  is merciful.
   “Do not judge, and you will not be judged.  Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:27-31, 35-37). 
   Truly the way the world fights back and the way Jesus teaches Christians to ‘fight back’ is different. Difficult? YES! But this is just one thing which makes Christians different. They ‘march to a different Drummer’. Jesus said, “And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27).  
   Christians are not Ostriches, they just ‘fight’ different. Peter said, “But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God” (I Peter 2:20b). The world may ‘win’, for now, but in the end they lose. Good guys don’t always end last.

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What On Earth Am I Here For?

   I am now 63 years old. I have been a minister, a ‘burger flipper’, a janitor, ‘Q-Tip’ maker, an air craft repairman, an insurance salesman, and now a writer.  These and other things people do are good, but don’t go far enough. There is more to life than ‘doing’. 
   I am a husband, a father, a grandfather, a son, a friend. These are more important than things I do, for they speak of relationships and love. Still, there is more to life than relationships with friends and loved ones. Even these don’t go far enough. 
   I am a Christian, an (imperfect but grateful) possession of Jesus. This gets to the heart of our question, “What on earth am I here for?” Because it deals with my purpose.
   As a Christian, I believe that God is Creator, and that “in the beginning GOD actually did what the Bible says He did. Mankind was made in His image, far different from monkeys.  I believe there was a ‘big bang’ but this was when God ‘spoke’ and things ‘happened’ (Genesis 1 and 2). Faith and trust in God gives me reason and purpose for living. To take away God, is the same as taking away the stars from the sky, which are used by ships to find their way.  
   As a Christian, my life is not based on ‘doing’ or ‘having’ or ‘relating to others’, it is based on my relating to God through Jesus Christ, and in Him, all these other things find their meaning and proper place. In Him I find my genuine reason for being here.   
   The older I get, the more clearly I see that without Jesus, all I have is unanswered questions. Solomon, ‘did it all’ and ‘had it all’. He went after  ”pleasure”, but this proved to be meaningless.  “Laughter,” he said, “is madness.” He tried cheering himself with wine, (sound familiar?) He wanted to see what was good for people to do … during the few days of their lives. He undertook great projects: built great houses, planted vineyards, gardens and parks, with all kinds of fruit trees… He made reservoirs to water groves of trees. He had male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born into his house. He owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem. He amassed silver and gold and treasures of kings and provinces. He had male and female singers, and a harem as well—all the delights of a man’s heart. He became greater than anyone in Jerusalem who had ever live. He denied himself nothing … He refused his heart no pleasure. His heart took delight in all his labor, and this was the reward for all his work. Yet when he surveyed all that his hands had done and what he had worked to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.  (Ecclesiastes 2:1-11).
   The question, “What on earth am I here for?” is not answered in how many things one has, nor by friends or family, as vital as they are. The real meaning of life, and the beginning of wisdom is found in these simple words, “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

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Blessed Are The flexible For They Shall Not Get Bent Out Of Shape

   Listening to “The Horse Whisperer” last night was really interesting. ‘Buck’, had gone through a really tough childhood along with his brother. His dad had pushed them into stardom in TV commercials, since they had learned at a very early age about twirling a rope, doing fancy tricks that drew many crowds.
   Their dad was a drunk, and often they would receive beatings because of his anger over the least bit of imperfection he noticed in them. Eventually the football coach noticed the whelps left on ‘Buck’s’ back when he showered after PE, and called the local Sheriff, who had the boys taken away from their dad (their mom had passed away).
   It was hard but they had to learn to trust and love people again. As ‘Buck’ told his story, he spoke of how he had always been interested in horses, and one day, met Ray Hunt a horse whisperer’. He followed him for years, watching how his method of gently handling the roughest horse, could accomplish more in a few days, than most could in a month. Now, ‘Buck’ is a ‘horse whisperer’, and he speaks of how training a horse is similar to training children, and dealing with people. He spoke of how his past helped him understand how horses and children are sensitive to body language, moods, sudden movements, anger, love, touching, etc.. They know when they are loved, and when they are hated and unwanted. You can hurt both to the point that any movement you make, will cause them to react in fear and self-defense.
   ‘Bending’ is a life principle, and deals with handling burdens. Sometimes the burden and stress gets too much, and sometimes you need a ‘flexible attitude’ in dealing with both a child and a horse. Being a rigid, over-demanding, perfectionist… is not the way to train either one. Trainers/parents have to have the love and patience to be flexible… and not get all bent out of shape over everything. The important thing to remember is, it takes love and time to train. If you don’t CARE, it will show.
   ‘Buck’ and his family now travel to appointments at ranches, where horse owners from all around come to learn how to handle their horses. Many are confronted by him for their bad methods, and they have to learn how to un-do the damage they have done. Sometimes, it is too late and the horse has to be put down… Sometimes it is too late for a child, and some end up in prison for life. Bottom line, it is time for people to wake up and seek help if they need help in raising their children.
   “And ye fathers, PROVOKE NOT YOUR CHILDREN TO WRATH (don’t push them to the point of hating you and others); but bring them up in the nurture (care) and admonition (teaching and encouragement) of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4). Jesus never beat a child… and I doubt He would beat a horse. People young and old, wanted to be with Jesus because they knew He cared.
   If you want to change things… begin with the one in the mirror… try being flexible.

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Pullin’ Weeds

   Never fancied myself as a gardener, yet growing up somehow prepared me for the job. Dad was the boss, and the one with the plan. For some reason there was never a shortage of weeds. When in Ireland, dad purchased a house on Gilnahirk Road. It was a typical two story bungalow. It was white with black window sills. It surrounded as most houses there, with thick hedges about five feet tall. Of course dad wanted to re-do the yard, so it began.
   His built in ‘work crew’ was drafted to help and the first thing to go was the front hedge row. We had a Volkswagon Bus, and we used it plus a heavy rope to pull out all hedges along the road. We had raised gardens… two circular, two diamond shaped, and a big square one in the middle with long rectangular gardens running down each side. All kinds of flowers with special designs were planted.  All had weeds needing pulled regularly. We absolutely hated weeds… but it had to be done. The paths between these raised gardens were all re-done and flag-stone was carefully re-laid. The driveway was re-done, by leveling the ground and again, flag-stone laid. We all did our share of pulling weeds. Even Bob got out there in his wheel chair and pulled weeds. In the end, we had what we thought was the most beautiful front yard on the road. Eventually, our neighbors complimented these ‘strange Americans’ who dared to be different.
   WEEDS…. I still hate weeds, in my yard! Every year, there are about a zillion weeds to pull or spray, hoping they will not return. Hours and hours during the growing season, I pull and spray, and every year, I say something like, “Adam, it’s your fault… thanks a lot!” “If you had not given in and eaten what Eve gave you, we wouldn’t be in this mess and have all these weeds!” Yet weeds have many uses for the environment, and they have their beauty.
   We learned lessons. We learned it does no good to leave the roots… they only grow back. We learned that before you can build a garden, you first have to clean the area and prepare the soil. We learned the value of working together. Most importantly, we learned to use our hands.
   Jesus once told a story of a man who went out to plant seeds. Some seed landed on stony ground, some on weedy, thorny ground, some on hard ground and some on good ground. Of course the young plants grew, (except on the hard ground), on stony ground, got choked by weeds and thorns. Amazing how concerns and worries of the world can choke out any growth that God’s word might have in someone’s life.
   Jesus later spoke about the uselessness of worrying. He used the lilies of the field as an example of how God cares. Aren’t you more valuable than the lilies? Surely God cares more for people. How much does He care? Well, enough to send His Son to be a sacrifice for sin.
   Weeds, I hate them in my yard, but they teach many lessons.

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   Oakley, England (UPI) Sarah Steed, 3years old, fell in a septic (waste) pool and lay submerged for ten minutes before she was pulled to safety from the nine foot pit. The police said, she must have been in an air pocket somewhere beneath the surface or else she could not have survived. Obviously the parents were very grateful to receive their child back alive.
   We have many priorities in life. Many things call for our attention all the time to the point where we have to read books and take courses on how to organize and prioritize and get things done. Yet when we think about it, we know what is really important even though we don’t act like it.
   I was taught to “keep it simple”, and it really is… but it’s hard to keep it that way. God first, family second, business and friends third. As busy as we become, all our busy-ness gets laid aside when life is threatened, especially when it is one of our own. We will ‘move heaven and earth’ to save our child. Other things all of a sudden don’t matter. “My child is in danger!” Priorities have changed.
   When Jesus taught His sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), he taught priorities. It is hard for us to see spiritual things as more important than physical things. Yet Jesus shows us how putting God and spiritual matters first can have a dynamic affect on our physical lives.
   Blessed (happy) are the poor in spirit; Blessed (happy) are they that mourn; Blessed (happy) are the meek; Blessed (happy) are those that hunger and thirst for righteousness; Blessed (happy) are the merciful; Blessed (happy) are the pure in heart; Blessed (happy) are the peace makers; Blessed (happy) are the persecuted for righteousness sake.
   The world looks at these things and laughs. “That is ridiculous! How can these attitudes bring happiness?” The world looks on and thinks of these things as signs of weakness. “Turn the other cheek?!” “Go the second mile?!””Love your enemies?!”
   Jesus didn’t come to make us comfortable and rich in this world. He came to help us find real priorities. He will not take second place, yet he will not force us to give him first place.
   Life is important, and saving life is important… yet even more important than that, is our spiritual life. For after this life is over, there is more to come. “Seek first His kingdom and righteousness” and see what will happen in life. Get priorities right and keep them right. Jesus definitely is the answer to many of our troubles… He can put life together, and make it meaningful, when others just shake their heads. His promises are true, and his blessing are real, and when all other things in life fail… Jesus won’t.

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The Snake And The Electric Fence

   I don’t like snakes, and I don’t like electric fences. Put them both together and you have a bad day… at least for me. It was 1978 and I was working as an apprentice at building custom cabinets. However, one day I decided to go fishing. I knew someone who said he had a small farm, with some private ponds with cat fish. So, I gathered the necessary equipment, and dug some nice worms, and drove out to the farm. I parked along the fence on the dirt road and got everything out and ready to go fishing. I raised one of the barbed wires, held the lower with my foot and went through, stood up and wham! The fence had an electric wire I had not noticed. It was enough electricity to discourage cows and careless people for sure. Anyway, I recovered and trudged on, murmuring (not so) under my breath about the man who put the fence there. I arrived at the ‘pond of dreams’ examined all the fishing spots, trying to locate the right spot. Then I found it, and set my tackle box on the ground, and started to put my fishing pole on the ground. I was about to put my pole on what I thought was a rock, when I saw that the ‘rock’ was a snake coiled up. It was black is all I know, and my face flushed, hot sweats broke out. That was it… my fishing day was done, and I got out of there as fast as I could.
   Life is really about learning from the mistakes of others as well as our own mistakes. William Penn Adair “Will” Rogers is known for his wisdom and quick witted ‘one-liners’… here are a few. “Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin’ it back in.” “Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.” “There’s two theories to arguing with a woman. Neither one works.” “If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.” “The quickest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back in your pocket.” “It doesn’t take a genius to spot a goat in a flock of sheep.” “Don’t squat with your spurs still on.” “Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.”
   Solomon is also known for his wisdom which he recorded in the book of Proverbs. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline” (Proverbs 1:7). “My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them” Proverbs 1:10. “Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. (Dealing with temptation he says) Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you” Proverbs 4:24-25. “When pride comes, then comes disgrace but with humility comes wisdom” Proverbs 11:2. “A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay to the bones” Proverbs 12:4. “An evil man is trapped by his sinful talk, but a righteous man escapes trouble” Proverbs 12:13. “A prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself, but the heart of the fool blurts out folly” Proverbs 12:23 “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” Proverbs 14:12.
   Why make the same mistakes and reap the same results as others? Seek wisdom, and when you find it…. use it.  James says, “If anyone lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

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