Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Follow the Leader Moths
Follow the Leader People

IO Moth (Automeris io) adult.
IO Moth Automeris io caterpillars sting. Adult IO moths are soft and fuzzy, unable to hurt anything.

IO Moth (Automeris io) caterpillars follow each other to find fresh food.
(Click on the photo to see a larger version.)

As caterpillars (watch out, they sting!) they followed each other to fresh food when their host plant (Hackberry Tree Celtis sp.) had been stripped of all leaves. Nose to tail, they go up and down, over and under, until a new plant has been found or they eventually starve. If the front caterpillar finds food, the followers are able to eat.

IO Moth (Automeris io) caterpillars follow each other blindly, going in circles around a center caterpillar.
BUT when they lose their trail, they are some confused cats! Four caterpillars here have lost their trail and are circling one caterpillar sitting still on a Hackberry Tree Celtis sp. stem.

Common sense is not the most noticable attribute of these caterpillars.

I'm often like that. I blindly follow someone or some idea without thinking things through. Whether it's something I want to purchase, a place I want to go, or an attitude, I tend to follow the person I'm with at the time. Good or bad, I tend to follow.

That's what happened with the caterpillars in the last photo ... they simply blindly followed each other. Of course, that's what is happening in the middle photo too. But in the middle photo, they found food. The bottom photo shows them as they went in circles around, around, around, around ... apparantly not noticing that they weren't going anywhere.

Watching IO moths (Automeris io) remind me that I need to be careful who I follow. Even the best people in the world make mistakes! But we can follow each other's examples to a certain extent.

Luke 6: 39-40 “Then Jesus gave the following illustration: “Can one blind person lead another? Won’t they both fall into a ditch? Students are not greater than their teacher. But the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher.”

There is one logical choice about who we can follow completely; the person who never made a mistake, of course, Jesus Christ.

Matthew 16:24 “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.”

1 Peter 2 “1 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered[k] for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.
22 He never sinned,
nor ever deceived anyone.[l]
23 He did not retaliate when he was insulted,
nor threaten revenge when he suffered.
He left his case in the hands of God,
who always judges fairly.
24 He personally carried our sins
in his body on the cross
so that we can be dead to sin
and live for what is right.
By his wounds
you are healed.
25 Once you were like sheep
who wandered away.
But now you have turned to your Shepherd,
the Guardian of your souls.”

Early Morning Butterflies
The Early Morning Woman

Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) butterfly roosting in the morning, covered with dewdrops.

Dewdrops glisten on roosting butterflies at daybreak. As the early morning’s rays of sun touch the sleeping butterfly, these dewdrops start to evaporate and its body warms in the sunlight. When it is dry and its body is warm, it starts to move, opens and closes its wings a few times, then opens its wings to absorb the full benefit of warm sunshine on a warm summer morning. After a while longer, it flies off to eat breakfast and enjoy another summer day.

A Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) butterfly egg sits in a droplet of water.

An egg drips with dew as the caterpillar inside is forming and preparing to hatch.

A Monarch (Danaus plexxipus) butterfly caterpillar, dripping with dew, eats milkweed for breakfast.

A caterpillar wears dewdrops as its early morning garment, while already munching away at its breakfast.

A Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) butterfly caterpillar, dripping with dewdrops, eats passioinvine for breakfast.

Dewdrops on a chrysalis shimmer and sparkle, like diamonds in a new engagement ring.

A Monarch (Danaus plexippus) butterfly chrysalis pupa is covered with early morning dew.

I enjoy wandering in the garden at daybreak with my camera on warm summer mornings. But that is the ONLY time I enjoy being up at daybreak. Until I discovered the beauty of dewdrops on butterflies, not even M&M’s could get me up early in the morning.

I am not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination. Only butterflies, dewdrops, and my camera can coax me (with a smiling face) from my slumbers before daybreak. Any other type of ‘coaxing’ will bring me up from my slumbers, but not with a smile!

As I wander through my photograph files, looking at photographs I took early on summer mornings, I think of Proverbs 31; the ‘virtuous woman’. 'Early morning' has started to equal 'virtuous woman' in my mind.

I have never liked this lady. She sets an example that makes my skin crawl. Proverbs 31; 15 “She gets up while it is still dark”. This is the one verse I’d like to strike from the bible if I could do so.

(The full description of the virtuous woman is quoted below.)

I don’t mind all the other good things she does; but this one just hits my tender spot. I enjoy sleeping in.

Then I seriously look at this woman;
1. Good character
2. Works hard
3. Wise with finances
4. Provides food for her family and servant girls
5. She evidently works late into the night
6. She thinks of those not as fortunate as her
7. Her family and servants are adequately protected from the cold
8. She dresses very nicely
9. She is wise
10. She gives good advice
11. She is multi-talented
12. She provides income by performing several jobs
13. Her husband and children appreciate her
14. She is a hard act to follow

It’s good to have good examples. This woman is an imaginary woman who CAN be perfect. Whew. What a relief. If I imagined myself, I’d be perfect too!

I’m thankful for the living good examples in my life. My Mother stayed a woman of God, through easy times and through hard times. My sister Sandra, who in spite of the challenges of life, keeps a smile on her face and a bounce in her step. (And she rises at 4:30 in the morning.) My husband’s family’s maid, Janie, was another virtuous woman. Janie had hard times like few of us face. Her story would make a best-selling novel. No matter what, we could see Christ in her.

These women have their down times. They have their times of tears. They have my admiration and gratitude.

These show me that I can also be Christ-like. Their good qualities are encouragement to me; in spite of our human tendency to be selfish, we can be overcomers and live for others. Their mistakes remind me to keep my eyes on Christ, the only perfect example.

Proverbs 31
Sayings of King Lemuel
10 A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still dark;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her servant girls.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 "Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all."
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31 Give her the reward she has earned,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Butterfly Predators
Soul Predators

Butterflies have a fairly easy life; it is their death that is hard.

Sleepy Orange (Abaeis nicippe) butterfly being eaten by a green spider, butterfly enemy.
The natural death of butterflies is to be eaten alive.

A spider eats a Monarch (Danaus plexippus) caterpillar, caterpillar enemy.
From a spider to a katydid ...

A katydid eats Julia butterfly (Dryas julia) eggs and caterpillars larvae, caterpillar enemy.

A praying mantis eats a Gulf  Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) adult butterfly, butterfly enemy.
... from a praying mantis to a robber fly ...

A robber fly eats a Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae) butterfly.
... there are hundreds of different kinds of predators just looking for lunch. Day and night they're all around, searching.

Don't we see this everywhere we go? Uh, I mean, for us as Christians!

The devil is out there at work, in the car, in stores, in movies, in magazines, in newspapers, out there EVERYWHERE searching for anyone he can devour also. He even enters our home when he can.

Butterflies don't have protection; we do. God is watching out for us. Our bodies will be lost, like the butterflies, but our souls are eternally protected.

We can see in ways butterflies cannot see. We can determine from where our spiritual attacks come. We have each other to help watch and protect us. Most of all, we have God that protects our souls. The only reason we need fear is if we do not watch out and let the devil take us.

I Peter 5:8-9 "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings."

Mark 14:38 "Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

Friday, November 23, 2007

Butterfly Metamorphosis;
People Metamorphosis

One of the first lessons we teach at our butterfly farm is the miracle of metamorphosis. A caterpillar, commonly called a worm, is the same animal as the adult butterfly. A chrysalis is the same animal as the caterpillar and the adult butterfly.

As we do presentations, we show photos of an egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, and adult butterfly. We ask, “Which is a butterfly?” Of course, the answer is, "The one with wings is the butterfly".

“Hmmm,” we respond, “so a child is not a person and a teenager is not a person?” At that point we become the object of many a perplexed gaze. We explain that a caterpillar is a ‘child’ butterfly. A chrysalis is a ‘teenager’ butterfly (although it doesn’t make noise, eat us out of house and home, hog the phone or computer, or be bossy to younger siblings like many a teenager human).

Butterflies undergo a complete metamorphosis. Each stage of life appears as if it were a totally different animal. It is a complete transformation.

Metamorphosis is a good representation of our transformation from our old person to a new person in Christ. We’re quite comfortable as a caterpillar. We know who we are even when things are not quite the way we’d like them to be.

The caterpillar must cease from being a caterpillar. It has to become something totally different, in many ways, from what it is. This process is called ‘pupation’.

First, a caterpillar literally loses its skin, legs, and ‘head’ to become a chrysalis.

We do the same thing to become a Christian; our old legs/arms took us places and did things that our new person in Christ should not go/do.

A caterpillar can ‘see’ light and darkness with its eyes. (These three dark spots on the side of its head are some of its eyes.)

Our old eyes were un-Christ-like; looking at things with envy, staring with hatred, and other things eyes should not do.

A caterpillar loses its mouth to become a chrysalis.

A caterpillar eats and is known to cannibalize other caterpillars and even chrysalises.

We were known to say things we shouldn’t before we became Christians.

A chrysalis seems to be doing nothing. But inside, it is changing completely. New legs, head, mouth, and wings are being formed.

The process is quick for a caterpillar. It takes three minutes for a caterpillar to become a chrysalis. A chrysalis may take from five days to nine months to become an adult butterfly.

Paul wrote to the Christians at Corinth, “are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory”. Ever-increasing; our change isn’t so quick.

We take a long time to change and in the changing, we still say and do things we shouldn’t. How we wish it could be a quick change like it is for a butterfly, we’d drop all the carnal parts of us that are so painful to God, our loved ones, other people in general, and ourselves.

Then the adult butterfly finally emerges; able to do things very different from a caterpillar.

A Christian emerges and is very different than the earlier version of him/herself.

A butterfly is able to soar far above the ground. It is a totally new being - yet is the same being that hatched from an egg.

A Christian is a mix of a chrysalis and an adult butterfly. We’re still forming. God isn’t finished with us yet.

Our final version will be quite different than even the ‘best’ Christian on earth. The final version of a Christian is one with a new body, spending eternity with Christ. No longer will we do and say things we shouldn’t; things that bring tears to God’s eyes. We won’t say and do things that bring tears to the eyes of our loved ones.

Romans 12:2
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

2 Corinthians 3:18
“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect [Or contemplate] the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

Philippians 3:21
“Who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Caterpillars; Socialize or Fight?
Christians; Fellowship or Fight?

IO Moth caterpillars Automeris io socialize; they tend to stay in a group the first week or two of life. Gold Rim (Polydamas) Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars Battus polydamas behave the same way. Several species of butterflies and moths stay together.

Then there are the Spicebush Swallowtail Papilio troilus and Palamedes Swallowtail Papilio palamedes butterfly caterpillars. Wow! While working at our butterfly farm a couple of years ago, I watched these caterpillars behaving in a very different manner. When more than one caterpillar climbed onto the same leaf, they were not happy to be together. Quite often one caterpillar would force its head underneath the side of another caterpillar, lift sharply, and simply flip the other caterpillar off the leaf onto the ground! After watching this happen dozens of times, I started naturally calling them my 'little bulldozers'. The rascals.

These two species of swallowtail caterpillars remind me of how we, as Christians, often 'work together’. We tend to fight each other rather than fight our true enemy. We become sidetracked and focus on little things that we differ upon rather than focus on Jesus, the big 'thing' we agree upon.

For example:

Christians find themselves gossiping, sometimes excusing their gossip as ‘prayer requests’. “We need to add so-and- so to our prayer list because he/she is blah blah blah.” Instead, we should simply pray for them and, when possible, to help them.

Christians tell other Christians that they vote for the wrong party rather than spending time encouraging each other to pray for wisdom and for our government officials and to vote after praying to God for this wisdom.

Christians criticize fellow Christians … we aren’t as near as faithful about praying for them as we are about sharing ‘prayer requests’ (gossip) and (with the wrong attitude) ‘teaching or instructing’ them.

We should be praying for them and reaching out to help instead! Some things are better not added to prayer lists in detail.

Praying brings a double benefit; first, we’re talking with God AND bringing to our attention the one who needs help. It brings the person we’re paying for to our attention and as a result we often think of ways we can help them.

So how do I recognize these and other ways Christians fight each other instead of our enemies? I’ve heard myself say and do the very things that I would expect from an enemy; rather than from one who is supposed to be standing firmly by the side of a fellow Christian.

We don't do these things intentionally or to cause problems for our brothers and sisters. We do them without realizing the damage we can cause. We don't realize that we are allowing Satan to use us as his tool when we speak against our brothers and sisters. We can pray for them and help them, we can disagree in a positive method; we only need to stop and think before speaking.

I, as a Christian, should spend my energy fighting our true enemy rather than causing problems (unintentionally or intentionally) for others. I should be fighting the ‘powers of this dark world and spiritual forces of evil’instead!

Too many battles and too much persecution are caused by fellow Christians rather than by the enemy, Satan.

Ephesians 6:12
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Butterflies, rattlesnakes, and Jesus

Gulf Fritillary caterpillar molt (Agraulis vanillae)
I was out taking photos of Gulf Fritillary caterpillars. This area in the pine woods was sunny without much shade. The trees weren’t full at the top, letting in a great deal of sunlight. Gulf Fritillary butterflies lay eggs on passionvine in the sun and the area was full of passionvine and blackberry briers.

Now I see several poisonous snakes every year as I wander through the fields and woods taking photos of butterflies, caterpillars, plants, and more …
Rattlesnake near Shady Oak Butterfly Farm
… but this one, it was a rattlesnake. It was BIG! Well, at least it sure seemed big. Now that I’m not toe to fang with it, I can say that although it was a chunky one, it was only about three feet long.

I wondered as I backed slowly away from this particular rattlesnake; what would happen if I died while photographing butterflies in the woods and fields? Some places where I wander are a mile from a gate; dirt roads without houses in the area. I sometimes wander in and out of brush and briars for hours on end (and I will never admit to being lost but it does take me an hour every now and then to find my bearings). Suppose something did happen to me and I wasn’t able to get out in time?

Immediately the thought came to me, I know what people would say; 1) “I knew she shouldn’t be out there alone” and 2) “She died doing what she loved to do”.

I was thinking about Jesus and how he died. He died doing what he loved to do, so to speak. He wasn't enthuastic about dying on the cross, that isn't what I mean. He prayed that if the Father was willing, that the Father would "take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done". No, dying on a cross was not his ideal way to spend the last day of his last week.

The Pharisees were very judgmental, looking down upon him because he spent time with ‘sinners’. He spent time with his closest friends, of course, but that wasn’t his primary purpose here on earth. Spending time with ‘sinners’? Yes, this was what Jesus did – spend his time with those who needed him. Sadly, not all ‘sinners’ accepted his words. He was not able to save them all but he did save many.

He spent much of his time doing the same thing he was doing when he died.

I thought of how Jesus died. He died as he lived, among ‘sinners’. Literally, he died between ‘sinners’; two criminals. And just as earlier, when his feet were on the ground for 33 1/2 years, he wasn’t able to save both; but he did save one of the criminals in his last hours.

Too many people blame themselves for not reaching the hearts (for God) of every person they love or care about. Their family, friends, children, parents, siblings, spouse, co-workers; they cannot turn their friends and family to accept the gift of salvation. They become depressed and hold themselves personally responsible.

But Jesus himself didn’t reach everyone’s heart. If Jesus couldn’t, how can we expect ourselves to do so?

We need to simply do the best we can, be joyful, and let go of self-blame. Unjustified self-blame is a tool of Satan. How he loves to weigh us down with this burden so that we can’t do near as much for God as we’d like. If we’re bogged down in unjustified self-blame, how can we shine and reach out with joy and love?

Now I’m not ready to die from a rattlesnake bite out a mile from anywhere and if it's God will, I'd rather not die that way at all.

But I am ready to learn from Jesus; don’t blame myself for not helping everyone. But I don't need to use that as an excuse not to try to help others either!

I need only to do my best and let God take care of all the rest.

Luke 22:42
"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."

Mark 2
15While Jesus was having dinner at Levi's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the "sinners" and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: "Why does he eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"
17On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

Luke 23
32Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."[e] And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
35The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One."
36The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37and said, "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself."
38There was a written notice above him, which read:|sc THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
39One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!"
40But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? 41We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong."
42Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.[f]"
43Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."

Butterflies accidentally poison themselves and die! Do we do the same thing?

Long-tailed Skipper butterfly eggs (Urbanus proteus)

Butterfly caterpillars can only eat specific plants and each species of butterfly has it own specific plant or family of plants they can eat. For example; Monarch caterpillars can eat only milkweed. Cloudless Sulphur caterpillars eat Cassia (Senna) plants. A female butterfly instinctively knows upon which host plants to lay their eggs.

But sometimes “Mom” butterflies get a bit confused!

Long-tailed Skipper butterfly caterpillars are a favorite of our grandchildren. The caterpillars cut leaves and fold these leaves over themselves to make a home. Like Hansel and Gretel, they often eventually eat the walls of their ‘home’.

Blue Pea Vine (Clitoria ternatea) blue purple flower, host plant for Long-tailed skipper butterfly caterpillars

Blue Pea Vine is a favorite of Long-tailed Skippers. It isn’t unusual to see stacks, clumps, or towers of eggs on the tender growth of this vine. The caterpillars hatch, start cutting and folding leaves, grow, a few weeks later pupate into a chrysalis, and a week or two later emerge as an adult butterfly.

Wooly pipevine (Asclepias tomentosa) is a host plant for Pipevine Swallowtails. Long-tailed Skipper females will often lay eggs upon Wooly Pipevine although it is deadly to their caterpillars. The caterpillars hatch, start eating this pipevine, and die.

I was surprised and asked Dr. Thomas Emmel, of the University of Florida, about Long-tailed Skippers eating pipevine. He said it has been noted that in some instances, Long-tailed Skippers will lay their eggs on Wooly Pipevine.

Once small caterpillars have eaten the proper host plant, they will not eat host plants that poison them. Sadly, because the eggs were laid on their the wrong plant, they started eating the wrong food and it killed them.

Watching these caterpillars reminds me of the things we wish we had taught our children when they were growing up, such as financial responsibility! If we had taught them young, most likely they would have held to their early teaching and avoided other 'food' (bad spending habits) that could be detrimental to them. But we didn't show as much financial responsibility as we should have and more is learned by example than by words. Hey, when things were looking bad financially, we always consoled ourselves by eating out (with five children) which only added to the problem.

So many bad habits (and even habits that are deadly to children) are taught by parents. I'm thankful for the good habits my parents taught me and for a Christian upbringing. I learned from my parents to feed on the right 'food' and avoid 'poisons'. Not that I didn't mess up from time to time. But their teaching saved me many heartaches.

What we feed upon is what we grow on! Or what we don't grow on ... when a female butterfly lays eggs on or near the right plant, the caterpillars will eat the right food. As parents, we humans have a great responsibility, just as 'Mom' butterfly has a great responsibility.

Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."

Proverbs 22:6 "Train [a] a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."

Ephesians 6:4 "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Long-tailed Skipper 'Cleanliness is Next to Godliness'

Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus) butterfly caterpillar in its nest While watching a Long-tailed Skipper Urbanus proteus butterfly caterpillar wander along a green bean stem, I watched it go into its folded leaf ‘home’, pick up a piece of frass, go to the edge of the leaf and drop it off onto the ground. (Frass is the scientific word for caterpillar poop.)

Nature quite often has a way of cleaning up after itself.

I am reminded of how often we hear, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”. I am 52, grew up reading the bible, yet never read such a verse. This relieves me as I am not known as the world’s best housekeeper. I’m not the worst but I might give some of them a run for their money!

But as much as I’d like to pretend that it’s OK for me to not do housekeeping, mow the lawn, hang up the clothes, wash dishes, and other household chores, I can’t ignore the fact that I am to be a steward of what God has given me! I am getting better ...

A study of the word 'clean' in the bible indicates how important cleanliness of our hearts and minds is to God. The pharasiees were concerned about outward cleanliness while Jesus taught that if the inside was clean, the outside would become clean.

Matthew 23;26 "Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Tattered Butterflies and Tattered People

Butterflies with tattered wings are a normal everyday part of life. I used to look at them and dismiss them as 'not beautiful'.  Now when I see them, I appreciate tattered broken butterflies more than freshly emerged perfect butterflies.

Viceroy Butterfly (Limenitis archippus) with damaged wings
The Viceroy butterfly above is missing matching bits of its hind wings. Obviously it had been sitting with wings folded over its back, resting. But something intended for it to be lunch.  When the predator grabbed it, its wings broke and it flew away. If its wings had not broken it would no longer exist.  It would have been lunch.

Gulf Fritillary butterfly (Agraulis vanillae) with damaged broken wings
This Gulf Fritillary butterfly is simply tattered from living life. I noticed it flying in the garden and snapped a few photos to record its triumphs in life. With a great deal of its wings missing, it was still flying about and living a good life. It drank nectar from several species of flowers before flying away to another area of the garden.

Sharon Maiden is a wonderful woman that I'm honored to be able to call my friend. She always brightens my days with her letters. No matter how hard my day has been, her letters leave me laughing. In one recent letter she wrote, "I am on my knees, and that ain't so easy anymore, the floor is way to far down for me these days." Laughing, I knew that she has victory over life's challenges. Although life and age has its toll, it also has its triumphs. I hope I can develop the outlook I see in her letters. No matter what happens, she is upbeat and funny, leaving her friends laughing and thankful for her like Paul was thankful for the Philippians.

I enjoy listening to people who share their life's ups and downs. Oh, they are missing wing parts too! Scales are missing; sometimes their 'color' is a bit drab. Sometimes large 'wing bits' are missing. But they are 'flying' in spirit if not in body. The more they are tattered, the more true beauty shines through them.

From health problems to relationship challenges, job cuts to loss of loved ones, we all change as we live from day to day. For some of us, these changes start at birth. Others have protected lives and the changes come later in life.

The 'tatter' we see in each other are often badges of triumph. Perhaps some of the tatters were our own fault. We made bad choices, but when we come out of them 'flying', we are triumphant.

I have a friend who lost his leg at the age of eight. Using crutches for over 40 years, he has done everything a man with two legs could do, except wear two shoes. And unlike many of us with two legs, he always has a smile and positive outlook on life. Bumping into him always leaves one with a smile and a bit more energy in one's step.

I hope and pray that even with my tatters, that I will live my life from now on so that those who think of me will give thanks to God as I thank God for people in my life like Sharon.

Philippians 1:3 "Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God."

Ants, Hell, and the Lake of Fire

ants carry Painted Lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui) eggs to eat for their lunch

I see enough of those critters every day. In this photo, ants are carrying away Painted Lady butterfly Vanessa cardui eggs for lunch.

I watch them carry away butterfly eggs, eat living caterpillars, chrysalises, and adult butterflies, and have pulled my screaming young grandsons out of antbeds and wiped off hundreds of these stinging insects from their feet and legs as well as my children's legs when they were young.

I've felt the burning pain of their stings.

Burning pain. We think of burning with thoughts of torture. We think of hell with thoughts of burning pain.

This turns my mind to paintings, stories, movies, tv shows, comic books, books, and sermons which include hell. In many of these, Satan is presented and/or shown as the king of hell, torturing people who are under his whip and the whips of his henchmen.

Let's rethink this; God didn't prepare hell and the lake of fire for Satan as Satan's kingdom. He will not reign there, continuing to torment humans. That would be heaven for Satan. That's his passion, his joy, his love; tormenting humans.

God prepared the eternal fire, into which death and hades are thrown, for Satan. It is his punishment, not a reward.

What a blessing, with such depth that we cannot appreciate it, is the fact that Jesus took the punishment for our sins so that we can spend eternity with him and God. For those who accept Jesus as thier saviour and Lord, there will be an eternity with no death, no mouring, no crying, and no pain. God himself will wipe away our tears. God himself will live with us.

Revelation 21;3-4 "And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
Matthew 25;41 "... 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels'."

Revelation 20;10 "And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. "
~ Edith

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Butterfly Parasitoids and Human Parasitiods

Parasitioids devour butterfly and moth eggs, caterpillars, and/or chrysalises from the inside out.

This chalcid wasp is interested in a soft White Peacock butterfly Anartia jatrophae chrysalis.

The parasitoid lays eggs in or on an egg, caterpillar, or chrysalis. These eggs hatch and the resulting parasitoid larvae eat the guts of the butterfly (or moth) egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, or adult. The parasitoid (depending upon which one) changes into a pupa and emerges as a maggot or adult from the butterfly egg, caterpillar, or chrysalis. The butterfly inside no longer exists.

There are many parasitoids. For example; trichogramma wasps eat the guts of eggs (these are emerging from a Giant Swallowtail egg Papilio cresphontes,

tachinid flies

and chalcid wasps eat the guts of chrysalises.

This yellow chalcid wasp emerged from a Cloudless Sulphur chrysalis Phoebis sennae. It looks like a Conura amoena. As soon as they emerge as adults, these parasitiods seek other butterflies and moths to infect to continue their lifecycle.

My mind meandered while I was photographing some of these little critters, making webpages for them, and creating presentations for churches.

I realized there are parasitoids for humans. There are things that eat us up from the inside out.

I couldn't help but think of a couple of bible verses as my mind started identifying human parasitoids.

A partial list of human parasitoids: envy, pride, slanderous tongue, deceit, greed, strife, backbiting, malice, boastful, sewing discord, fits of rage, and selfish ambition. (Verses are listed below with a more complete list of human parasitoids.)

I had to look inside myself to identify which of these are working to kill the Spirit within me. Some of these parasitoids have never entered me at all. Others work full time as I learn to identify them and to remove them from inside me.

When I see parasitiods they remind me to examine myself and pray for God's help. God can show me which parasitoids are doing their work inside me.
They don't stop in me; as these things radiate from me, they try to infect other humans.

I need to remove the parasitoids that infect me for the sake of others and for myself.

~ Edith

NIV Bible Verses about 'Human Parasitoids'

Mark 7: 2-23 "He went on: "What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean.' For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.' "

Romans 1: 29-31 "They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them."

Galations 5; 19-21 "The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God."

Meandering Thoughts

Raising God's butterflies is my hobby and my job; I own and operate a butterfly farm with my husband, Stephen.

I marvel at this creation of God's; butterflies. From egg through adult, these creatures are fantastic. The miracle of metamorphosis is just one of the fantastic wonders of butterflies and of moths.

A Phaon Crescent (Phyciodes phaon) drinking nectar from Lemon Mairgold is pictured above.

As I go throughout my life, day after day, week after week, I often see things with butterflies that I relate to my life as a Christian. Sometimes my mind wanders as I do my work; into topics that do not relate to butterflies.

This blog will be a means for me to write my thoughts easily, in a place where I cannot lose them. If anyone happens upon this blog, I hope you enjoy reading my meandering thoughts.

~ Edith