Christianity/Religion Crestline Flowers/Gardening God Photography Religion Weather/Nature

Pieces of Wonder

Part of the amazement is of me–my body, mind, memory, emotions. That I came fully formed from the simple love of my mother and father, and that now I too am a mother–of four magnificent beings who have beautiful bodies, minds, and spirits truly amazes me.

Outside my windows tonight the wind blows, and though even on sunny days I cannot see the wind, I know it is there, for it lifts tree branches and puts them down again as easily as I flag a silky scarf through the air, and it tears around the corners of our tall house and howls. I hear the wind. It’s raining too, soft rain. They had said there was only a 20 percent chance of rain, but we are of the 20 of the hundred tonight, the lucky ones. untitled (6 of 15)I imagined I heard rain against a bedroom window a while ago, so I peered out and saw that the driveway was wet and that the bushes that are illuminated by the yard light were shiny and drippy. “It’s raining, Jerry,” I said. It has been clear though. Just a few nights ago, the moon was so bright through our high uncurtained windows, I believe I could have read a book page at midnight. This early morning as we drank coffee I looked through the ascending branches of a wide oak tree just beyond our front deck, and there in the branch tops I saw the moon. It was not fat as before, but a fragment of itself.

It takes faith to believe in God and I have that faith. If I did not, logic would nevertheless pull me into the believer’s corner, for it is much more sane to believe that a Creator is responsible for the glory and wonder of the earth and for the beauty of our bodies and minds, than to think all this came from nothing and from no one.

Near our front entrance stairs is a large stone planter which in summer is a riot of flowers–annuals which I change out each year. In the late fall, I pulled out the remaining dried-up fragments and planted bulbs in there. I don’t remember what kind of bulbs I planted, for within a short span, Jerry and I planted 200 bulbs. But in a loose-leaf binder in the potting shed, I have a list of everything we planted, so I will find out what is to grow there. The potting shed is really not a shed at all, but is actually a basement room with an exterior untitled (13 of 15)wall of glass and door. I call it a potting shed because it has pots in it, rakes, planting mix, the wheelbarrow, shovels, and such. But, back to the stone planter. 🙂 We’ve had record-breaking cold here in the San Bernardino Mountains this winter, but mixed up with days of very warm weather . . . so we have flowers blooming, even though it is projected that in a couple of days we can expect a storm to dump several inches of snow on us.

. . . the stone planter. Around Thanksgiving I piled on top of the dirt in the planter a mound of huge untitled (1 of 15)pine cones, and during the days of Christmas, I tied one of them up with a wide red bow. A few days ago when I noticed a sweep of blooming yellow daffodils, I got to thinking about the bulbs in the planter. I moved aside the heavy cones, and there poking up from the earth were determined, green shoots. untitled (2 of 15)

If there is anything that reinforces my belief in God, it is a flower bulb. They’re brown, wrinkled up, and papery when you dig a hole in the fall and stick them into the ground. Down inside those little morsels, though, is magic. Surprise. Determination. Plan. They know to push up when it’s time, They know to be a yellow daffodil or a pink tulip, or a lily, and though I’ll have to check my notebook to know, they already know who they are, and what they are to do. God made them that way.

It takes faith to believe in God. I have that faith and lots of evidence. Pieces of wonder.

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A Dark and Stormy Night

We walked down the stairs. I pushed the button, watched the garage door open and stared into thick white fog. Ken and Nancy’s house across the street was invisible. “Jerry, we can’t drive in this.”

We were dressed for church and would attend a special prophecy meeting down in Rialto. We knew cold weather and snow were predicted for tonight, but neither of us had noted that we were already socked in with fog. Back upstairs, I checked the internet to see if anyone had posted about road conditions lately, and noticed then that a winter storm warning had been upgraded by the National Weather Service and that we are predicted to receive 6 to 8 inches of snow beginning around midnight tonight. Jerry called Rebecca and told her we wouldn’t make it to the meeting.

An ominous atmosphere already surrounded us here in the San Bernardino Mountains, and we had left extra lights on in the house as we had headed down to the car. There is a gunman loose here in our mountains, and he has already killed three people. You may have heard about it already. He was seen a few hours ago in Big Bear, after setting his truck on fire, and then escaping through the snowy grounds.

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AP Photo

Policemen are combing our mountains, and crews are stationed at the foot of all highways leading into our areas. Christopher Dorner wrote and posted a 14 page manifesto in which he laid out his grievances against law enforcement agencies, and in which he listed many of them as targets. Because this is a mountain resort area, there are many unoccupied homes and cabins in which he could hide. Officers are making house to house checks trying to find him, while at the same time knowing he may have escaped this area and may have headed somewhere else.

As I worked about the house today, before I completely followed this story, I heard an announcer quote Mr. Dorner as saying, “I do not fear death, as I died long ago.”

I stopped what I was doing and called these words to Jerry’s attention. They have haunted me all day, and do so now.

Our world is so sick, so filled with sadness. Healthy looking, happy looking men and women walk among us–but they are dead. The walking dead. (Follow that link to see a good picture of him.)

What can we do? Are we doing all we can? What is causing this? I truly would like to hear your thoughts on this tonight, here on my blog. Spend a minute and leave a comment.

In the meantime, the wind is howling around our house, the temperature is dropping, the fog is thick outside our windows, and soon the snow will begin to fall.

And somewhere is Christopher Dorner . . . dead.  May God have mercy on us.

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Enough light has slanted our way–I can see its pink edge over the eastern ridge– so that the dark night has been pushed aside, and from my dining room window I can see the form of wind-whipped trees as they bend from the power of the approaching storm. We will have rain today, perhaps thunderstorms. Tonight the arctic storm that is moving down from Alaska will drop four to six inches of snow at this level in our mountains, with much more predicted for the higher elevations.

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I’ve been anticipating this storm from the time many days ago when its trajectory was unclear and the weather prognosticators were saying maybe. I gather storms, especially those whose clouds embrace snow, and I urge them my way. As I think I have written before, I’m not sure why stormy weather appeals to me, but that fact is settled: it does. Once, years ago, when Nathaniel was up here, and at midnight would be his birthday, we stayed up to celebrate, and we watched a storm pound about our house here in Crestline. A three-stanchioned yard light was beaming, as was a porch light, and that made it easy to see the slanting, blowing snow, but occasionally, we would open the deck slider, and push out our heads to see better and to feel the wind and to stick out our tongues so that snowflakes would settle there.

Anticipation. Yesterday, Jerry carried up more wood and stacked it on the deck wood rack, then covered it with a tarp and tied it. A few days ago we stored the remaining yard pieces, including all the chair and swing cushions.

It is the season of anticipation, for did not the holiday begin with anticipation.Think about it. An angel visited Mary with an astonishing message that would forever change the world, and when Mary went to visit her cousin Elisabeth, Elizabeth’s unborn John the Baptist leaped for joy in her womb. What an astounding conversation those two women had, and Mary said, “For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.”

And then she waited, and pondered, and anticipated, until that star-struck night in the stable when shepherds knelt at the manger and the sky over Bethlehem was alive with the rhythm of angels.

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Of course, there is no one whose life is perfect. There are no people whom with ease reach all their goals without bumping against obstacles and without kicking over barriers that try to snag them and to hinder them from the success that should be theirs. It may appear that some persons stroll about with glitter raining down on them and with golden rings easily within their grasp. But such is not the case. Anyone who is a success has worked at attaining that place, and although we may not see their struggle, rather see only the accomplishments, the smiles, and the accolades, be assured that difficulties have been a part of that life.

There are others, though, whose conflicts and wars are of such a nature that we see the negative results that pound about their heads. We see their violent storms–be they physical or spiritual–be they in some ways spawned by the very person upon whom the whirlwind blows, or not. We observe, and if we are close, and if we care enough to untitled (3 of 6)suffer, we nudge beside them and the hail pelts about our shoulders, and we feel the cold rain, and in our ears we take the crack of their black thunder. And we whisper or shout, “You can do it, You can make it, Keep going,” and sometimes they hear us and turn their drenched head our way and a fraction of a smile may be there, but sometimes the gale is of such violence they cannot even hear us, but heads bent into the wind, they keep trudging.

I’ve seen such people emerge from hurricanes that nearly took them out, and although I rejoice with my friends and family members who are successful–a new song recorded, growing business, another book published, a church that thrives, invitations to speak all over the world . . .it is with those who barely escaped that I take most joy. I know one or two. You know who you are. I salute you.

And there are others. I don’t know you, but you’ve had a storm . . . and you escaped. Congratulations!

Christianity/Religion Crestline God Photography Weather/Nature

Of The Glory

Some say that in nature we experience God. To some degree that may be so; only the poet and a few scribes mark sounds that clutch the scene, for expression is elusive. God comprehension. Who can know it? Enduring beauty from His creative words.

A few days ago in a heavily forested Crestline canyon I watched late afternoon sun strike at gaps between limbs, then beam onto the apple-strewn floor of the ancient orchard. Wine brewed down there on the ground; its yeasty scent invaded our noses and the youngsters asked, “What’s that I smell?”

No doubt the beauty of the scene was of God, but how will it be when we stand in His presence? God. The Almighty. The Creator. Ezekiel knew, for on one ordinary day, he stood in the glory of God. No longer was it an ordinary day. No longer could he even stand on his feet.

Then I arose, and went forth into the plain: and, behold, the glory of the LORD stood there, as the glory which I saw by the river of Chebar: and I fell on my face. . . chapter 3

Hasten the day. Come Lord Jesus.

Christianity/Religion Crestline God Photography Weather/Nature


A sense of proportion is essential if we are to maintain our wits in this Ferris Wheel, Alice in Wonderland, upside-down world where “topsy-tervyness” is such a standard that it wants to take on the color of normal, and wants to claim itself as the touchstone by which every action is measured. Those of us who are still hanging on to good sense must keep these dire developments in perspective, else we become so agitated that we serve no positive purpose.

A good way to do so is to step outside and notice that God does not appear to be in any kind of trouble! And since we have cast our lot with Him, that is a good thing–a very good thing. The sky that clears after a brutal storm is still that rare, clear blue; ducks still design their cool formation and soar about in the far reaches over our heads; the scent of cedar in the wet woods is as pungent as ever. Steep hills are still steep and the downslopes as welcome as ever. Fishers still think there are fish in the deep frigid water and that if they have the right sized hook and their bait is smelly enough, they might take home supper.

Last week our temperatures dropped so that the red line across our thermometer that hangs outside the kitchen window dipped into the 20s, then came rain and Jerry turned off the sprinklers, and we put away the cushions that pad the outdoor swings and chairs and we gathered in magazines off the tables. On Saturday, Jerry and I walked by the lake, and as I often do, so that people are probably sick of hearing me say it, I said again, “This is the most magnificent place. Can’t believe I live here.”

“Turn here, Jerry,” I said on our way home, and he did, and after a few twists and turns into a steep canyon, we found these.

Perspective? Sense of proportion? Easy to maintain as we gape at aged carriages and awkward repairs, and frayed tires and old boards that serve to show off a row of apples. Wasted apples lay on the ground, their red color a flare among the brown grass and leaves of autumn gold and brown and yellow. Some had rotted, for no one came to the harvest, but there was a kind of beauty there, for the decay is honest and the eternal promise of spring and more little apples and apple trees and limbs and a nest for the robins.

Robert Browning got it right long ago:

The year’s at the spring,
And day’s at the morn;
Morning’s at seven;
The hill-side’s dew-pearl’d;
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn;
God’s in His heaven—
All’s right with the world!

“Is that rain again?” Jerry looked up from the newspaper.

It was evening now, the drapes were closed “Sounds like it,” I said and then pulled open the drapes and stepped to the front deck. “Snow! It’s snowing.” The snow sizzled. The wind blew. Normal. Right.

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The Rescue

“What’s that?”

Our eyes met across the living room where Jerry and I sat reading yesterday, aroused by a distinct, unusual noise. A sound that should not be in our house.

“I think it’s coming from here somewhere.” I indicated the fireplace area recalling the time that a raccoon had traipsed around on our roof during the night, scaring the liver out of us, and finally, as I watched through a window, had jumped down and landed on the chimney. Fat, wide beautiful critter, he stared back at me as I looked at him that night.

For awhile yesterday as we continued to read, we heard nothing else, then again, a racket arose, and this time I was sure of its source. “There’s something in our fireplace, Jerry.”

Now, you must understand that here in the neighborhood we are in quite a skirmish with ground squirrels and with chipmunks, not to mention the ubiquitous mice for whom Jerry keeps attractive wooden rectangles set in the basement and onto which he plops peanut butter or cheese, depending on what he thinks might be the preference for dinner . . . or breakfast . . . or midnight snack of the mice gentlemen and the mice ladies. I pushed the button to open our rear garage door a few days ago, and in a flash I saw a skinny grey tail disappear between the garage floor and the wall. “Mouse, Jerry. Just saw a mouse here.”

We’re kind of used to the mice, and I have a bit of a love affair (misplaced, I am told) with the squirrels, especially the one who ran about here a few weeks ago and who seemed tame, but who has now disappeared. Tell the truth, I’m thinking he might have been the “Romeo” type who has romanced around here quite a bit and has now moved on to a different part of the country, leaving behind a frazzled wife (or wives) and a bunch of needy youngins. (I told you he was cute when I first wrote of him, but you know how that kind can be. . . sadly, it is so.)

They’ve invaded us. They are skittering across the yards and the flower beds; they’re chomping on vegetables and yellow flowers, dashing through the garage, and foraging in the birdseed bag. So, many days ago, Ken and Jerry, who are afraid the creatures might destroy wiring and such, went down to Ace and bought a $40.00 squirrel trap. Each kicked in $20.00. Their success has been less than remarkable on either one of our properties. “Wonder if they’d give us our money back down at Ace?” Ken said to Jerry one day.

So, yesterday when we heard the racket in the fireplace, I thought: squirrel or chipmunk–has to be. Now it is important that you know our fireplace has an insert with doors that close. So as Jerry and I considered the situation yesterday, we both agreed that we should not open the door to see if anything was in there, for if a squirrel or a chipmunk got loose in the house, it could be disastrous. I shined a flashlight into the fireplace cavern, but I could see nothing through the thick, dark glass.

As we stood before the fireplace, considering, something moved quickly and dashed against the glass door. “It’s a bird, Jerry. I saw it against the glass.”

“I’ll smoke it out,” Jerry said, thinking (I guess) it could fly up the chimney if motivated enough. In our garage was a worn American flag that needed to be burned, so, slightly opening the fireplace door, he pushed the flag in, then quickly set it afire with a long lighter. Loud scratching and other noises ensued, and after the fire went out and Jerry lighted it again and it went out again, we gave up on that idea. “Maybe the smoke will be enough to give the bird a pleasant quiet death,” Jerry suggested.

All was quiet for a long time as I sat on the couch very near the fireplace and we were hoping for a sweet end to the little bird’s life, when suddenly there was a desperate, loud scratching sound. I shined the flashlight again, and was aghast as I saw a beautiful bird with orange markings and brown spots, head erect, looking straight at me.

“I can’t stand this,” I told Jerry. I picked up my reading material and my computer and moved to the dining room. “If he is still alive in the morning, I’m going to try to rescue him.”

He was alive. It broke my heart when he stared at me through the glass as we devised a rescue plan. Jerry thought an old fishing net would work, so still in my robe, the net in my leather-gloved hands, I crouched before the fireplace as Jerry carefully opened the door and I slid the net in. The bird moved back and I placed the net over him. He fought and immediately became terribly tangled in its threads. “I need a towel. I’ve got to grab him.”

(Photograph by Gerald Buxton)

“It’s okay, Baby,” I crooned as I carried him, tangled in net, and wrapped in a burgundy-colored towel that Jerry had taken from the rag box. I grasped him firmly in my hand and walked to our front deck. He was so tangled that Jerry had to take scissors and cut him out. Sometimes he struggled; other times he relaxed in my grip. It had been at least 18 hours since he had food or drink. He was weak.

Finally Jerry had clipped away all the net and we were ready to release him. He was a beautiful bird, maybe a variety of woodpecker. When I first loosed my hand, he did not move, and I feared he might be dying. I walked toward the steps so I could set him near water. But at that moment, he gathered strength, and flew off to a nearby tree.

(Photograph by Gerald Buxton)

I wish him well–wish him a long and happy life.

Crestline Devotionals God Photography Weather/Nature


Some person has said “The only constant is change.” How true that is, and how much happier we are to embrace that understanding rather than to go kicking around an unexpected curve or resisting the stretching and challenge of maturing. How clever and knowing of us, for indeed change is inevitable, and we might as well know that some of these developments are pleasant, while other restyling of our schedules and even of our relationships may present itself as being a distinct and undesirable task.

After breakfast this morning Jerry and I took a walk into our near woods–about a mile there and back–and on the way, camera on my shoulder, I saw two examples of such change. Inescapable is that summer gives into fall, and that our trees, a few months back having pulled on the green of their spring finery, now have changed their minds. The heat of summer has sucked away the emerald tones and now those once tender, green leaves have gone to red and in short days will crinkle into brown and will fall to the earth.

Just before our path stopped at the road leading into Thousand Pines Camp, I saw this plant and while Jerry turned and headed back, I paused to look and to snap a couple of pictures. Those tan pods used to be purple flowers and that purple one–hanging on to its color now–in a few days will fade as has its comrades.

Only One does not change. James spoke of it in his book in the Bible. Chapter 1, verse 17.

. . . and cometh down from the Father of all lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

The rest of us? Change. Count on it. It’s coming.

Animals Crestline Humor Life Photography Weather/Nature Writing

Last Day of Summer Adventure

A couple of weeks ago a section of my novel-in-progress disturbed me so much I was weeping profusely. Those shed tears are long gone, for the chapter I’m working on now makes me want to snatch out papers, wad them into big balls and do a slam-dunk into the nearest trash can! Pitiful. Boring. Flat. Uninteresting. Won’t work. Doesn’t make sense.

So . . . I told Jerry I was leaving. Grabbed my camera, a short grocery list, letters for the post office, and a stuffed bear I had rooted around and found in the upstairs bedroom where the grandkids sleep when they visit. He might be a model for my shoot . . . at the very least he would comfort me, sitting obediently by my side as I tore out of our driveway.

Camp Seeley is two or three miles from our house. Just outside the entrance to the camp runs Seeley Creek. When I arrived there I found this.

. . . and these

And as we were leaving, Bear said he wanted to play in the grass, and so for a few minutes we played hide-and-go-seek in the bushes by Seeley Creek–Bear and I did that.

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Knowing God Through Nature

An authentic way of knowing God is to look deep into nature. Consider the pushing into earth a tiny seed or a gnarled bulb with the promise that fruit of a particular form, color, and taste will burst from the emerging plant form. Amazing. Hundreds of times, without even considering the need for faith, with trowel in hand, I have torn open packages with brilliant images on the labels, and into the dirt I have buried seeds and bulbs, or from cube-sized containers have slid into cold earth a plant the size of my finger. And always–without exception–from an allium bulb has come a tall, onion-like plant, at the top of which is an allium globe; from a tomato plant come yellow blossoms, then tiny, green tomatoes which grow bigger and then turn red (and then I salt them and eat them!); from petunia seeds come glorious delicate petunia flowers . . Genesis 1 says it will be so. Verse 11.

And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth, and it was so.

Great photographers (and amateur ones) of the world lift camera to eye and embed images on their sensors or on their film; images of grand mountains, immense and mysterious; images of crashing rivers and leaping salmon who somehow know to rush upstream to their own spot for their own spawning; images of lavender fields and great seas and birds who fly south and lady bugs and tulips on the bud. Therein we see God.

Great photographers (and amateur ones, too) lift camera to eye and on their sensors or on their film record the curl of a baby’s finger, the soul of a man as it glows in his eyes, the battered boot of a worker, the gnarled hand of a farmer . . . Therein, we see God.

Yesterday, I heard a loud thump just outside our home. “What was that?” I said to Jerry.

“Just an acorn falling onto the deck.”

So, here in the early days of fall, when green colors fade and begin to glow red and gold and brown, when textures change and a crunching sound is heard beneath our feet because leaves have begun their downward drifting, I will continue my quest of knowing God–because of nature, its repetition, its certainty.

Genesis 8:23

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”