Category Archives: Animals

State Fair Fun – Photo Montage

blog-state-fair-wtvrPhoto Credit: WTVR

Who doesn’t have vivid memories of going to the state or county fair? When I was still in school, we braved the crowds at night to take in the lights, rides, and eat our favorite fair foods. These days, it’s a daytime outing…still with lots of people to watch and memories to make with our people…grown-up and small ones.img_9315

These are our highlights of this year’s Virginia State Fair:

First fair of many to come for our little grands – p1280311

Fair Food – At a much younger age, it was all about candy apples and cotton candy.p1280369

Now…it’s the glorious fried foods that are only found most authentically at the fair. Even walking on the fairgrounds, the dominant smell isn’t the animals or the gas propelling some of the rides – it’s the smell of frying batter.img_9316img_9321Blooming Onionimg_9276Fried Oreosp1280309Funnel Cake – Once a year, this fried dough sprinkled with sugar, is my go-to fair food. Sharing it with the grownup kids with me that day was wise, but now I’m thinking I should have eaten more….next year.

Agriculture Exhibits – like with farmers’ markets, there’s something soul-refreshing about seeing produce brought straight from the earth where it grew. To have an opportunity to talk with the growers is very special. The pumpkins are as natural a part of a fall fair as cotton candy. The prize-winning monster pumpkins and melons, however, were a bit unnatural…doubtful that anyone eats those.img_9308img_9311img_9303

Artisans and Juried Crafts – Watching craftsmen make their art is fascinating (in its way, similar to what krue-tv provides in the music world). To be able to talk to them and watch them work is part of the draw for me to come to the fair.

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I also love the exhibit hall where the baked goods are displayed and judged. Alongside are the arts and crafts, and my favorite are the quilts. Incredibly beautiful!p1280380p1280388p1280390

Exotic and Domestic Animals – Mamas and Babies – The animals are so much fun, especially when you have little ones along. All the different species of animals – such a menagerie only seen at a fair! We loved the cows and their baby calves, and the hog with all her piglets. The baby ducklings and chicks…need no superlatives.p1280307p1280306p1280336p1280326p1280327

People and the Stuff They Buy – People-watching is so much fun at the fair. We, of course, figure we’re boring and blend in maybe….but who knows? I love seeing all the fabric of people in our culture. As often as I take pictures of strangers (much to my children’s chagrin sometimes), the only face-forward pic I took this time was of these young men. You kind of wonder what their stories are…and if they were skipping school. Hey…the fair only comes once a year, right?p1280360

Then there’s the stuff people buy – a huge exhibition hall was full of merchandise to suit various tastes of fair goers. My son, Daniel, said, it reminded him of the Ramadan Fairs of our times in North Africa. Aisles and aisles of stuff to buy, and people crowded in front of the displays. The Ramadan Fairs, like the state fairs here, are part of my “happy memory” bank.img_9329

Still thinking of the people at the fair: my favorite fair-goers were the kids and grandkids who took off that day to make memories together. Thankful for that.img_9319

Hope you are able to make it to the Fair this year…it was an extraordinary day…and, in the end, there was no room for cotton candy after all…and I didn’t miss it.p1280333p1280399

Worship Wednesday – In Tenderness He Sought Me – a Lost Lamb and a Good Shepherd

Blog - Shepherd and Lamb - Worship Wednesday - Nathan GreenePhoto Credit: Nathan Greene

He told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. Luke 15:3-7

Have you ever known the experience of being lost? I sure have. It can be at the least annoying and at the worst, terrifying. My dad was lost for hours on the eve of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. When we lived in Cairo, Egypt, I had to fight fear of losing one of our children in the press of crowds. As a child myself, there was a life-defining moment when I understood that I was lost from God – separated from a holy God by my sin and rebellion. This I came to understand even as a nine-year-old.

Years later, as an adult in my 20’s, and living large pursuing professional success and personal gratification, I had another lonely experience of lostness. One night, after partying with friends, I was laying on my bed, wide awake. Something was troubling me (don’t remember now what it was), and I thought how I could sure use God’s help on this one. As I began to pray, it was like my words went up toward Heaven and then crashed back down, shattering into pieces. Not because I was lost from Him forever…but because I had wandered so far from Him, I was reminded of that terrible sense of being alone in the world. Alone in my sin… God had not moved from me…I had walked away from Him.

Blog - Lost Sheep - searchofkings

Photo Credit: Nathan Greene

That night, the urge to seek God’s help woke me up to the reality that I didn’t just need His help. I needed Him. Desperately. The thing I took to God was forgotten in my urgent desire to get rid of all the filth that I had allowed in my life separating me from Him. That night, God, in His supreme mercy, reminded me of what it was to be lost from Him and what it also was to be restored to Him…borne up on His shoulders and brought back into the fold of God.Blog - Sheep & Shepherd - bpnews.netPhoto Credit: BPNews

W. Spencer Walton, a businessman turned evangelist, wrote the lyrics to the song In Tenderness He Sought Me (1894). You can find the traditional song in the links below. We sang an updated version of it at Movement Church on Sunday. I wish I had a video of our worship team leading us, but the band Citizens & Saints adapted the old hymn to bless a new generation…and the updated version is also linked below.

Praise God, He seeks us lost sheep. Although He has all the flock in the fold…save one…He will seek that one. There was a time that one was me. I pray you have been found by the Shepherd…He is near.

Worship with me:

In tenderness he sought me, weary and sick with sin
And on His shoulders brought me, back to His fold again
While angels in His presence sang, until the courts of heaven rang.

Chorus: Oh, the love that sought me!
Oh, the blood that bought me!
Oh, the grace that brought me to the fold of God
Grace that brought me to the fold of God.

He died for me while I was sinning, needy and poor and blind.            He whispered to assure me: “I’ve found thee; thou art Mine”
I’ve never heard a sweeter voice; it made my aching heart rejoice.

Upon His grace I’ll daily ponder, and sing anew His praise
With all adoring wonder, His blessings I retrace
It seems as if eternal days are far too short to sing His praise.

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. – John 3:16-17

In Tenderness He Sought Me – Hymn Story by Enid & Austin Bhebe – included are the original lyrics by W. Spencer Walton (published in 1894), music composed by Adoniram Gordon

YouTube Video – Citizens – In Tenderness He Sought Me – Spanish Subtitles

Citizens & Saints [formerly Citizens] – Facebook page

A Note on One Lost Lamb – [the Role of the Shepherd] – The Search of Kings Blog

Sermons from Biblehub related to the Shepherd and His Lost Sheep

YouTube Video – In Tenderness He Sought Me – Gaither Homecoming

Owls in the Neighborhood – Fascinating Facts & Children’s Books to Match

Blog - Owls - Jeanne BarneyBlow - Owls - Jeanne BarneyPhoto Credit: Jeanne Barney – Barred Owl parent above; Owlet below

Only once have I seen an owl in flight. We were visiting with neighbors on their porch one summer evening and this big bird swept across the back yard. I don’t recall the wing-span, but it was sizable and the wings powerfully swung through in flight. Then the bird disappeared in a nearby tree, and an authoritative hooting followed. Unmistakably, an owl. It was a magical moment for me.

We have other neighbors who are the happy hosts of a couple of adult barred owls and (most recently) a single owlet. I can hear them chatter at night sometimes but have never seen them except through pictures. I envy our neighbors their guests.

Here are some fascinating facts about barred owls:

  • The barred owl is also known as a hoot owl because of its distinct call.
  • This owl’s preferred habitat is old forests near a water source. It is territorial and usually non-migratory. Unless pushed out by its own predator (the great horned owl) or altered habitat, the barred owl may stay its whole life in the same area.
  • It is a raptor (a bird that preys on smaller animals for food) and a night hunter. Its daytime counterpart is the red-shouldered hawk. They share the same preferred habitat and foods. The owl will not tolerate intrusion by the hawk; fortunately for both, they rarely encounter each other.Blog - Owls - barred owls and red-shouldered hawks - daily mailPhoto Credit: Daily Mail
  • Although barred owls probably mate for life, they are only together during mating and nesting. Once the owlets are out of the nest, the owls return to a more solitary life.
  • The barred owls may be responsible for a decline in the population of spotted owls. There has been a gradual, decades-long increase in the range of habitat for the barred owls. They are most commonly found in the Eastern United States, but now are present in the Great Plains states and the Northwest. Their population has thrived in these regions, threatening the smaller, less aggressive native spotted owls. A federally funded owl removal program was initiated to bring down the barred owl population, giving spotted owls opportunity to repopulate.

Owls are intriguing creatures. They are first predators snatching up all sorts of little forest animals at night, and at the same time, they have these intelligent human-like faces that draw our attention and affection. Dirya Srinivasan is an author and illustrator who brings a tiny character to life in her books about Little Owl. Little Owl’s Night and Little Owl’s Day give us a bird’s eye view of the world as this little one might see it. Blog - Owls - Children's book primary

The night is opened up and made friendly to the reader. The day is full of wonder for Little Owl who rarely sees this bright woodland world (which is fortunate, given what I’ve learned about the red-shouldered hawk’s appetite for small creatures). We have these board books for our granddaughter, but I can see her enjoying them as she grows into a reader herself.

So that’s my introduction to you of our neighbors, the barred owl family in the woods beside our neighbors. What cohabitants teach you about the beautiful varied life we enjoy together?

Owls in Virginia

Barred Owl – All About Birds – The Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Laura’s Barred Owl

Shooting Owls to Save Other Owls – by Isabelle Groc – National Geographic