God's Creation

Everything Has a Name, Part III of A Hike With Holliday

As my hike with Holliday led me farther down this delightful path, my eyes were enriched with the beauty of God’s creation. In reviewing photos of the hike, I became interested in discovering the names of the many interesting plants I saw. Here is my first discovery (more to come!!). The names are listed in the following order: family name, genus and then species name. This will be my protocol if at all possible.  Thanks to https://plants.usda.gov.

Asclepiadaceae – Milkweed family

Asclepias L. – Milkweed

Asclepias speciosa -Showy Milkweed

(Note the two little friends enjoying this exotic looking flower.)


Everything Has a Name, Part III of A Hike With Holliday

God's Creation

If You Take a Hike With Your Dog, Part II of A Hike With Holliday

If you take a hike with your dog at:

You might see this:

And the pond you stroll past might have a mysterious water creature like this:

Or you might see this serious-minded sentinel nearby:

Farther down the path, your eyes might find pleasing the contrast of burnt orange with various hues of tan and green:

Then you might stop and admire God’s creative handiwork in your faithful dog:

You might exclaim over the bright colors of forest flowers that beckon you to do a flower photo shoot:

And you might fondly think of Eeyore when you see thistles, and wonder how he could really enjoy eating sharp thistles, and be glad that they are not your diet, and that you are only called to admire their beauty:

Then you might be pleased to see another kind of creature enjoying these light purple flowers:

Stayed tuned for more visual thoughts on: If You Take a Hike With Your Dog

If You Take a Hike With Your Dog, Part II of A Hike With Holliday


Ho-day, The High Plains Home School Dog, Shares His Thoughts

Every morning it’s the same thing. “Time to get up!” and “Get up and do your morning things!” No, these commands are not for me, but for three two-legged creatures who are snuggly in their beds. No one tells me to get up. I just wait till all my people are up and moving, and then I lazily get up and watch the morning action, hoping that no one will notice me for a while, because I would rather stay inside with my people than be put outside to take care of business. As beds are reluctantly left empty, and pajama clad kids walk around in general morning stupor, I hear the “Do your morning things!” directive given again by their mom. There is just no mercy for these home schooled kids! Doesn’t she understand, that even for humans, it is best to leave sleeping dogs lie? Nope. No empathy from the woman who barks out these commands time out of mind. Well, not that I am much for routine myself, but things do seem to go better for this flock when they “do their morning things”. She keeps using the words “a disciplined life” as a reason for routine. I have heard her repeat what their morning things are so many times, that I could say them in my sleep: “Get up, get dressed, make your bed, tidy up your room – and, by the way, (she tells them) tidying up your room won’t take you long if you have been faithful to put your things away on a daily basis -, eat breakfast, take care of your animals (the cows, chickens, bird, and ME), have your personal devotions, work on memorizing your catechism question and verses, AND THEN you may start your school day.” Whew!! I thought MY responsibility of watching out for rattlesnakes was rough!! Well, as these kids hop to it, the noise level in the house sure goes up. The order-giving mom is everywhere, all at the same time, making sure that there is compliance. Finally, after some false starts, everyone has a book or a computer on their lap, and the house becomes very quiet as analysis, critical thinking, studying, learning, and calculating begins. Sometimes I’ll hear question like, “What did Mrs. Smart give you to write?” This question always puzzles me, and I wonder if her name is “Mrs. Smart” because she is or because writing for her will make you smart? Then I’ll hear this: “I have a drawing to do for Mrs. Moralez.” And I wonder if this Mrs. Moralez hires people to do her drawings for her. Then, “How much reading do you need to do for Mrs. Kautz?” And I’m thinking that maybe this Mrs. Kautz is like ME and doesn’t know how to read, so she has someone read for her? I don’t know. Anyway, when the sergeant mom completes her morning things, including a well-guarded personal devotional time, then the whole gang sits together for family devotional time. If I make successful puppy eyes or nudge them enough with my wet nose, I might get a petting or two while they have their Bibles open. Soon, with my keen ears, I can hear stomachs growling, and I know that for the next half hour or so, tantalizing smells will waft through the house as leftovers are warmed up and everyone sits down for lunch. Well, not everyone. If the sergeant mom has not already put together dinner for the evening, she will quick do this while the others eat lunch, and then she’ll “flip some laundry”, as she calls it, and then perhaps also tackle some bills. (I think somewhere in all this, some food makes it into her mouth.) Well, then it is back to the books for a few hours, then dinner, then some letting-off-steam time for the poor scholars (Which sometimes includes using pent-up energy to wash dishes, and then I get to be the sergeant as I try to keep the towel-slapping down to a minimum.), then evening devotions with the whole family – led by the Top Dog (as I call him). Finally, some of them get to put those comfy PJs back on and crawl back into bed (with permission to read awhile), but for others, it is back to the school books!!!! Boy, compared to my life, which are days full of naps (unless I am needed to keep order in the house, or bark at rattlesnakes and other unwanted trespassers), this high plains home school family is B U S Y!!

Ho Day, The High Plains Home School Dog Shares His Thoughts

God's Creation

A Hike With Holliday, Part I

Just in case, I packed my hiking boots. I wasn’t sure which shoes would be best, my tennis shoes, or my hiking boots. One thing I did know for sure, I was in need of a hike. The desire to be on the trail again, and see, feel, and hear God’s creation was overwhelming. And I knew my dog, Holliday, would be thrilled to join me, and I was just as pleased to have his company.

The first trail we targeted, unfortunately, did not allow dogs. A Google search led me to a dog-friendly trail about 5 miles north, in upper Fort Collins. We jumped back in the van, and headed north. My excitement mounted as we came closer to this trail that boasted of a plethora of birds, other wildlife, streams, and foliage. We pulled off the road into the parking lot. As I parked the van on the crunchy gravel, I could see the dirt trail that led into the green trees, and it looked inviting. With fanny pack, containing a water bottle and the rest of a chocolate Power Bar, strapped to my waist and a camera slung over my shoulder, the hike began – with one very excited human (who decided to wear her tennis shoes) and one very excited dog, who made no attempt at leash manners as he pulled to sniff here and sniff there.

I began to breath in the spicy forest aromas and the pungent river smells. I heard the crunch of the dirt and rock path under my feet. The orchestra of bird music was without ceasing. There was no mistaking that this path, with its tall trees and many wild bushes was a natural bird sanctuary. As Holliday continued to be enthralled and enticed by every bush, patch of flowering grass, or collection of rotting limbs, zig-zagging me from one side of the path to the other, I began to see arrangements of trees and plants that begged to be photographed. “Ok, Holliday, you are going to have to learn to be still while I take pictures.” I was very impressed with how quickly Holliday learned to sit while I captured frame after frame of the foresty marvels of the trail.

Before we had walked very far, we saw another lover of nature, down the path a bit, who was very intently taking photographs of a cottonwood tree. When she finished her photo session, she walked toward us and greeted us with, “Isn’t this a beautiful day?” I agreed as I squatted down and held Holliday firmly by his collar. I explained that this was his first trail hike, and that I wasn’t sure how he was going to respond to people. She thanked me for that consideration. She was an elderly woman dressed like she was an experienced trail hiker. We both exclaimed over the trail, and she said in a calm, sweet voice, “I love how the farther you walk west on the trail, the more the traffic sounds fade away to nothing.” I agreed again. She noted that I had been taking photographs as well and encouraged me to take a look at the cotton on the cottonwood tree that she had been photographing. I thanked her, and we wished each other a good day.

The tip about the cotton wood was a gem!!! Yes, they were beautiful!!! I eagerly snapped many a picture!!! My desires to capture more of the beauty of the trail increased. I was in my glory.

Stay tuned for part two of My Hike With Holliday!

A Hike With Holliday, Part I

By Still Waters I

I forgive you.
I forgive every sin,
Every sinful action,
Every sinful word.
Every sinful omission,
Past sins,
Present sins,
Future sins.
I know you don’t deserve my forgiveness.
You have truly sinned against me.
And there’s the point – you don’t deserve it!
Forgiveness is not something deserved.
It is something given.
If it was deserved,
It would not be forgiveness.
How plain.
And yet,
We are blind
Until we understand in our hearts,
And obey,
Remembering we have been forgiven
By an offended God,
Who looked past the offense
And saw
Because He was heart-generous,
He forgave.
Because He loved us.
He forgave.
Therefore, we die to self
And forgive.
And it is beautiful.
And freeing
You shall know the truth,
And the truth shall set you

Forgiveness and Freedom

By Still Waters I

Murder: What It Is and Why We Do It

The gun is raised, the trigger is pulled. The knife flashes and is plunged into the flesh. The fist is clenched and the blow fatally applied. Death by murder. What is murder? And why do we do it? Should we ban the instruments of murder? Remove from our society all things used in murder? The gun, the knife, the fist? Careful. Just as Adam and Eve in the garden pointed the finger at others for what they themselves did, so we can point to others and to things, for blame.

A man lies dead in a field. Murdered. Another man walks away, thinking no one saw him kill his brother. Yes, his brother. The first murder occurred, tragically, between brothers. What did Cain use to kill his brother? The Bible does not tell us, but we can be sure that it was not any modern device. Perhaps it was a stone, a large stick, a knife, or his bare hands. But can we be sure that the only instrument Cain used was a tangible one? Listen to what the Bible says about this first murder, “And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper? And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.”

It is perhaps significant that the Bible does not relay to us what physical instrument Cain used to murder his brother, but it rather stresses the condition of Cain’s heart toward God. Cain was wrathful toward God. He was angry. And he took his anger toward God out on his brother.

The Word of God tells us that the instrument used in murder is not of great significance. What is significant is the heart. Jesus tells us: “ For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:” Matthew 15:19. I think that we can all assent to that. We may say it in different ways, but if we are honest with ourselves, we are going to come up with the conclusion that physical murder starts in the heart. It doesn’t start with a gun, knife, a fist, etc. Banning items used in murder is not practical or logical. If we are going to ban all items that folks use to murder others, we are going to have to ban not just fire arms, but knives, cars, alcohol, ropes, etc. That still leaves fists, hands, feet, and yes, the heart. Even if we could ban the heart, if the heart wants to murder, it finds a way.

But have we addressed fully what murder is? Murders are brought to our attention in the news. Some murders do not receive this media attention. Regardless, murders happen every day. Though this is true, we usually do not dwell on them unless the media does, or unless, tragically, someone we love has been murdered. I would be remiss if I did not bring up the murders of babies through abortion. Just like Abel’s blood, their blood cries out from the ground. To further complete the picture, we also need to mention the murders committed through genocide that happen throughout the world.

But still, is that all there is? Is the picture truly complete? Have we completely fleshed out what murder is? No. We came close to it when we said that murder starts in the heart. But is murder always physical? Again, the answer is no. The Word of God says that when we have hatred in our hearts toward others, we are murderers. “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” 1 John 3:15. So just because we have not broken the sixth commandment – Thou shalt not kill (Greek, apokteino, meaning “murder”) in a physical way, Jesus says that when we are unjustly angry toward someone, we are in danger of being judged by this commandment as a murderer, “Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment:” Matthew 5:21, 22.

Sometimes this anger toward others plays out in physical murder, as in the case of Cain and in the case of many others throughout all time, and sometimes it produces the hidden murder of the heart. We are all guilty of at least the second scenario.

Physical murders in society should be addressed. Some are addressed properly in this world, and some are not. Some are not addressed at all. In any case, the blood of the victims cry out from the ground, and God hears it and will address physical murders in His own time and way.

God also hears the murder in our hearts. If we listen very carefully, we can hear it, too. We should tremble when we realize that simply the thoughts of our hearts condemn us. God, the judge, looks not on the outside, but on the inside, “for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Yes, we can point the finger at the young man who sinfully pulls the trigger, at the drunk who abuses his wife, at the bully who beats up the small kid, and at those who murder their babies through abortion, but we must stop pointing to the instruments of death (guns, alcohol, knives) as the culprit, but rather point to the heart of those who wield these instruments. Furthermore, we must point to our own hearts, as we are guilty as well. Who or what can change our hearts? Can regulations and laws? As Paul, the apostle, cries out: “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? Romans 7:24

A man hangs dying on the cross, the victim of hearts of hatred. The instrument was the cross, but the source of hatred was the heart – the hearts of those who cried out for him to be crucified and the hearts of all of us, “Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:” Acts 7:15

Ever since the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden, our nature is to hate God and His ways. Just as Cain took out his wrath toward God on his brother, so, too, we took out our hatred toward God on His Son. Is there deliverance for this heart of hatred toward God and His Son? Yes. It is in the death of His Son, foreordained by God, that we find life and forgiveness. We meant His death for evil, and God meant it for Good. God does indeed work all things together for good for those who love God and who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28. The sin that dwells within us was crucified with Jesus on the cross. Jesus took these sins upon Himself, paying the penalty that we owed to God for our sins. We are no longer guilty for our sins, and are re-born into a new life through His resurrection. We are washed and made clean and given a new heart, one that desires to love God and walk in His ways.

Murder. It is heavy business. It weighs on the heart and controls our actions, and puts us in hell. Jesus says: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

May you flee to Jesus for relief of your heavy sin burden. He is faithful and just to forgive those who come to them seeking His mercy. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

Murder: What It Is and Why We Do It

By Still Waters I

Let Nothing You Dismay

When I was a very young girl, my family at Christmas time would gather ‘round our piano under the big mirror in the living room and sing Christmas carols. One carol in particular made an impression on me. It was not a good impression. The carol was “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.” I didn’t know what the words meant, but they seemed to me to be dark words, and the tune seemed just as dark. Perhaps this was because hearing it invoked a depressing visual image of carolers sadly (it seemed to me) singing this carol on a dark and dreary wintery street in the old version of the Charles Dickens’ movie, “A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost-Story of Christmas” (Yes, that is the full name.) But God, after saving me, gave me eyes to see and a heart to love the words (and the fitting tune) of this old Christmas carol. Ponder these powerful and beautiful words: “God rest ye merry, gentlemen, let nothing you dismay. Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day. To save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray. Oh, tidings of comfort and joy. Comfort and joy. Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.” Here is good news for those who know their burden of sin. Here is safety for those who have been in the grip of Satan. Here, the answer to the greatest need of men is presented in beautiful words. And, indeed, for those who have this comfort and joy, there truly is nothing to dismay. Praise God, the Savior!


Image by Dean Morrissey

Let Nothing You Dismay