He Refreshes My Soul

Last Friday I went with JJ to the hospital for his blood draw, which he needed in preparation for his visit to the oncologist this Friday. The hospital always gets him in really quickly. He was called back to the lab within a couple of minutes after we arrived and I think he was back out and ready to go home within 10 minutes.

JJ’s last couple of visits to the oncologist have shown that the cancer markers in his blood have been increasing. If the numbers hit 6, he will have to have treatment. We have been dreading this appointment for months. We have prayed for JJ every day, but we have tried not to worry too much about it. A person can’t live in constant anxiety. But now that the appointment is just days away, the anxiety is rising. I have been praying constantly. “Please don’t let JJ have cancer again. Please don’t let JJ have cancer again…” I tell myself that at least JJ isn’t rapidly losing weight like he did before, and the doctors will catch the cancer sooner if it does return…But EJ worked with a young guy about JJ’s age who had the same type of cancer. The young man’s cancer returned and he died from it. And, yes, I know “Trust God, He can do miracles.” But sometimes bad things happen to even people with great faith (read Hebrews 11 about the people who were NOT delivered), and JJ is our only child, and we love him, and I don’t want to have to walk through the greatest sorrow a parent can experience.

Sunday we had a thunderstorm with heavy rain which watered the thirsty plants. After a bit the storm moved off to the east and the sun came out. EJ worked in the garage most of the afternoon. It is a big job, but he is making progress.

Secret Meeting

Sunday morning I looked out the window and saw the ducks had all gathered at the back of the pen as if they were having a secret meeting. I pointed it out to EJ and told him that I hope they weren’t trying to form a union or plotting some other mischief. You can’t always tell with ducks. They are so silly.

The ducks’ pen has two sections–one near the coop and the large portion enclosing the garden. This morning I shut the younger ducks in the garden section and kept Esther in the coop section. Esther is an older duck who is lame. Her previous owner (my sister-in-law) told me that she was crippled because the males liked her so very much. She is our Cuddles’ favorite and he is always on her. I often suspect Esther hides so Cuddles will leave her alone. This might be “too much information” but I’ve learned that when ducks have sex, the male gets on top of the female, grabs hold of her head, and does his business. Sometimes they do it in the water–but they will do it anywhere. It’s sort of rough, and Esther’s head is bloody from Cuddle’s grabbing her neck. I thought she needs to have a rest so I plan to keep her separated, at least until she recovers a bit. Poor thing. Cuddles has four other females to satisfy him so he can leave Esther alone for a while.

Today I mowed the lawn. I didn’t sleep well last night so I wasn’t sure I had the energy to tackle the lawn today and I probably could have waited a couple more days. However, the weather was just right today–nicely cool–and tomorrow is supposed to be warmer, and Wednesday it is supposed to rain, so today seemed like the best day to do it. While I was mowing the front yard, JJ stepped out onto the deck and pantomimed that he would take a turn. So I finished the front part and let him do the back.

A meadow filled with Bee Balm

Later I walked down our long winding driveway to the mailbox for the mail. I love the walk there and back again. Right now, in addition to all the other wildflowers lining the driveway, there are so many bee balm flowers in bloom that there is a purple haze over the meadow. I drink in the beauty of the flowers and keep my eyes open for unexpected sights. I never know what I will see. I often think that people who have nicely manicured lawns miss out on so much beauty! Not only do they miss out on the wildflowers, but the flowers and grasses provide habitat for the wildlife. (We only mow up near the house. Most of our property is delightfully wild.)

July 24, 2017 (25)
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (female)

Today I saw a line of red and black ants crossing the driveway. They kept coming and coming. I stopped to watch them, wondering what kind of ant they were, and where they came from, and where they were going. I took a photo and video of them, and–as I so often do when I find unfamiliar plants, insects, or wildlife–I googled them when I got home. I think the ants I saw are field ants.

I also saw a beautiful blackish butterfly that had a bit of orange underneath its wings. It was difficult to take a photo of it because it wasn’t close to the driveway so I had to really zoom in–and more times than not, just as I found the butterfly in my lens and focused on it, it rose up and fluttered to another flower so I had to start over. I didn’t get a good photo of it. I looked it up later and the best I can tell is that it’s a female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. I was surprised because I thought Eastern Tiger Swallowtails were yellow and black, but I read that “The males are a bright yellow, while the females can exhibit two different color forms; yellow and black and black and blue.”

Monarch Butterfly

Later, when I was in the house, I looked out the window and saw a Monarch Butterfly. They are so beautiful! I ran outside to take photos. Again, it was difficult to photo it because it kept flittering around or closing its wings just as I snapped the shutter. but I did end up with a couple good photos. Monarchs are incredible butterflies. They take several generations to migrate up to 3,000 miles. They are the only butterflies that make such a massive journey. When the Monarch larvae hatch, they eat their eggshells and then the milkweed plants on which they were placed. Monarchs are dependent on milkweed plants, which larvae eat nearly exclusively. We have quite a few milkweed plants growing on our property. I’m hoping the milkweed will spread.

I also looked out my window and saw a couple hummingbirds zipping around, drinking from the flowers. They are even more difficult to photo than butterflies. However, one little hummingbird enjoyed sitting on the top of the birdfeeder pole. At one point, the hummingbird sat there for maybe 10 minutes. I kept my camera ready and whenever it sat there on the pole, I “click, click, clicked” my camera. I took quite a few photos, and also a video:

While I was taking the video of the hummingbird, I suddenly jerked because a cat had come up behind me and scratched my legs. He just wanted to be picked up. I held in my yelp of pain because I didn’t want to lose sight of the hummingbird.

I love our enchanted forest. Sometimes when I look at the beauty around me, I think of Psalms 23:

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

But I’m still praying, “Please don’t let JJ’s cancer return…Please don’t let JJ’s cancer return…”

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