Tuesday, October 26, 2021

The Mystery of this One Butterfly

One day last week in the late afternoon, October 19, to be exact, a monarch butterfly fluttered into the backyard to pay a visit to a giant lantana. I edged up on it trying to get a photograph, but he was a little too wary of me, so I had to back off. It was the only monarch I’d seen this year. As I studied his movements, it occurred to me that it was about this time last year when I saw a monarch. I scrolled through my pictures and found where I’d captured a shot—on the exact day, October 19.

Could it be the same butterfly?

No, it couldn’t.

There have been four generations of butterflies between the one I saw last year and the one this year. They only live about six weeks.

I looked back further in my phone and also found a photo of one on October 14 in 2018.

The last generation of monarchs in the year lives longer and do not reach maturity until the next spring. That generation makes a 2000-mile migration from here to Mexico weighing less than a gram. Sometimes, they will take up residence in the exact same tree every year. No one knows how or why because none of the butterflies have ever been there before.

The butterflies I see are likely migrating from points north. Maybe it’s the earth’s gravitational pull, the huge lantanas and butterfly bushes in my yard, or a factor we don’t even know about, but one butterfly shows up here the exact same week every year.

Seeing a monarch is a very special thing to me and a privilege I do not take lightly. Their populations have diminished more than eighty percent since the 1990’s due in large part to the spraying of herbicides. We don’t use herbicides in our yard, and we will never win a yard of the month award because of it, but we are rewarded in other ways like the opportunity to be visited by this rare butterfly.

The mystery of the one butterfly that shows up every year in my yard could remain unsolved. But this yearly visitation is highly valued reminding me of the greatness of God and His loving care. God knows I love these creatures and somehow, I happen to be in the right place at the right time to see them and pray for their survival when they make their calls.

It brings home what Jesus said about the sparrows, “Not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care” (Matthew 10:29). He’s not talking about a million sparrows or a hundred sparrows but one sparrow. One solitary, run of the mill, sparrow. That brings me great comfort when my internal worry machine starts cranking about seemingly irresolvable problems. I see the one butterfly and I’m reminded of a God so great he can guide them back again and again to a place where they have never been to bring amazement and wonder.

So, take comfort from my one butterfly and through him, let God bring you encouragement, too, in whatever difficulty you may find yourself. God cares about the tiniest things—even those that weigh less than a gram. Nothing and no one escapes his tender care.

 Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is available wherever books are sold.  Also consider her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2021

 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Looking for the Sparkle

Standing in the church parking lot I glanced across the road to the tree line along a pasture. The setting sun illuminated a fringe of branch tips in a remarkable way. I tried to capture the moment with my cell phone, but it was one of those situations where a photo doesn’t do it justice. I wondered how I could depict the sparkling scene on a canvas.

Since I’ve had a brush in my hand more often, I spend time watching the way light moves across the grass in the early morning and how it glints off the side of the pine trees. I get lost in the clouds studying how lights and darks interact with each other. It doesn’t have to be a dramatic scene. Just one cloud in the sky will distract me with its own unique signature of puffy white and billowing dark.

As I’ve followed more landscape artists on social media, what I’ve noticed is most don’t select well known scenes to depict. They make a career out of really seeing and painting the commonplace.

It almost always has to do with the light. So, in the past few months, I’ve been often searching for the brilliance of it and how it’s moving—hoping, hoping to somehow capture it in a bottle.

I still have a lot to learn and a long way to go.

Spiritually speaking, I’m also trying to keep the mindset of looking for light—to hunt for it in the everyday happenings we all encounter. Despite annoying and sometimes tedious situations, if we have the mindset to seek the light, we’ll often see the flash and shimmer of our mighty God at work right where we are.

Of all the verses about light I could choose, one strongly comes to mind. “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1). There have been times I clung to this verse with everything in me— like when I had cancer twenty-one years ago. In times of crisis, we are intent on consistently seeking God’s light, but as a crisis abates, our will to do so may ebb.

Let’s renew our determination to be on the lookout for a glimmer of God no matter where we find ourselves. We may not capture it with a brush and paint, but we can for sure be encouraged as we hold the glow in our hearts.

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is available wherever books are sold.  Also consider her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2021

 

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

When It Doesn't Make Sense

I studied an area of a painting from an artist I greatly admire. Up close, the brush marks appeared random and indistinct. But I took a few steps back, and what at first seemed only a haphazard application of paint now emerged as part of an exquisite landscape.

It took distance to make sense of the work.

John Singer Sargent, one of the greatest artists of the nineteenth century, was a master at this. Though I cannot find the exact quote right now, David McCullough once wrote about Sargent’s ability to capture a subject in just a few strokes. Up close, the strokes were most likely not readable, but take a step back and oh, wow.

In this life, we may face problems that are going to take distance to understand. The things God allows can often confound us, but in the elapsing of time, we may gain understanding. And of course, God’s healing power may place us in a better position to see more clearly. But, sometimes, it’s going to be in the expanse of eternity, we grasp the why and how.

Someone shared with us a quote by track and field star Sydney McLaughlin, two-time gold medalist in the Tokyo Olympics. She said, “I pray my journey may be a clear depiction of submission and obedience to God. Even when it doesn’t make sense, even when it doesn’t seem possible. He will make a way out of no way. Not for my own gratification, but for His glory. I have never seen God fail in my life. In anyone’s life for that matter. Just because I may not win every race or receive every one of my heart’s desires does not mean God has failed.”

As we're running our race, we may lack comprehension to haunting questions and conclude that God has failed us. But no, He has not. We need to take a few steps back and wait for the light He may reveal—if not in this life, then we have the expectation He will unfold His purposes in eternity.

It comes down to trust. The apostle Paul said it succinctly, “We live by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Dear friend, if you are stricken by lack of understanding in what seems a muddle of brush strokes right now, take heart and fling yourself into the arms of Jesus. Keep trusting his love and good intentions toward you.

One day, the master artist will remove the veil from the painting, and we will behold a work of beauty that exceeds anything we have ever imagined.

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is available wherever books are sold.  Also consider her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2021

 

 

 

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

The Hope Door

Sometimes, I just can't get a verse off my mind, and though I've previously written another post almost like this one, I still decided to go with it. It's what's on my heart today. Blessings, friends. 

A grim story unfolds in Joshua 7. It begins, “But the Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things . . . “. Every time I read that verse, I hold my breath. I know what’s coming.

After the Israelites’ famed march around Jericho and their shouts caused its walls to fall, God gave strict instructions through Joshua that only Rahab and those with her should be saved. Precious metals were to be put in the treasury of the Lord and everything else destroyed.

But Achan couldn’t let the bounty go, disobeyed, and took some of these things and hid them in his tent. For this transgression, Israel suffered a devastating defeat in their next battle.

God revealed to Joshua the cause of the loss, and eventually Achan confessed to what he had done. Then, Achan, his possessions, and family were all destroyed.

The place where this horrific scene takes place was called the Valley of Achor.

Three centuries later, the prophet, Hosea, would reference this valley and write in speaking for God, “I will . . . make the Valley of Achor a door of hope” (Hosea 2:15).

Really, that place? At the intersection of worst nightmare and lost cause? That’s where God says he will make a door of hope? If I’d been on God’s consulting staff, I would not have done it that way.

It seems impossible.

But God doesn’t say he might make a door of hope, or he could make a door of hope. He says, I will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. In situations that seem as bad as they can be, they are still not too much for God to transform by his wonder working power.

After the death of Jesus on the cross, when His friends had gone, His disciples had scattered, and all seemed lost, God raised Jesus from the dead to become our door of hope for all eternity.

When the horror of world events shakes, or tragedy strikes close and hard, or failure and sin overwhelm, what God says about the Valley of Achor helps us cling to the hope God offers in Jesus.

In the darkest times, when hearts are breaking and questions go unanswered, let’s hold on to this. Eugene Peterson translated Hosea 2:15 in this lovely way, “I’ll turn Heartbreak Valley into Acres of Hope.”

This very day, God’s hand is still on the latch of the hope door. Let’s keep our eyes fixed on Him and see what happens when He opens it.

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is available wherever books are sold.  Also consider her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2021

 

 

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