Saturday, June 24, 2017

Jewel # 289 (June 20, 2017)

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“And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day whenI
make up MY JEWELS.”
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grand children

The Melodious Frog

“He looks to the ends of the earth, and sees under the whole heaven.”
(Job 28:24)

Most people who live in the city have never had the pleasure of listening to frogs sing.  During warm spring and sumer nights, their chorus is delightful to hear.

Most frogs spend their lives in or near water, but some are land residents.  These must seek out damp places to live, because their skin requires constant moisture.  They have special glands which help keep their skin moist by supplying a coating which slows moisture evaporation.  This makes their skin seem cold and wet to the touch.

Frogs have no ears, and their protruding eyes are only attracted to moving objects.  However they have sensitive organs that transmit sound, and they also have a good sense of smell.  All frogs are excellent swimmers.

In parts of Africa, frogs disappear when their ponds dry up; they bury themselves in the bottom of the pond.  They can exist like this for months.  Then when torrential rains come and the ponds fill again, they come out of hiding.  Seeing frogs after a rainstorm, superstitious people mistakenly think they have come from the sky.

The females lay thousands of eggs in the spring, floating them in water in large jelly-like masses.  Warmed by the sun, the eggs soon hatch into tadpoles.  The fish-like tadpoles do not look like frogs.  Their fat, little bodies have long tails but no legs.  Nor do they have eyelids or lungs.  They remain this way for many weeks, breathing like fish through  their four pairs of gills.  Eventually hind legs grow—just little “buds” in front of the tail at first, but soon the front legs grow in the same way.

Then eyelids and jaws develop, and the tail gets shorter and shorter as it is absorbed into the body.  Finally, when the four legs have developed, the tail is absorbed completely.  The gills also disappear and lungs develop, changing it into an air-breathing frog.  It announces the change by croaking, a habit it continues for the rest of its life.

Now think about this:  Where frogs live in moist vegetation and cannot get to water, the eggs are laid in damp leaves or rotten wood.  These do not hatch out as tadpoles but as tiny frogs, with the frog parts fully formed!  It is easy to see that the Lord God, the Creator, made this special provision for these particular frogs.

As the opening verse says, the Lord God sees each part of His creation at all times and supplies even frogs and tadpoles with everything they need.  King Solomon knew that God is watching over people as well and wrote, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3).

Love you all - Grandpa  

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Jewel # 287 (June 14, 2017)

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“And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I
make up MY JEWELS.”
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren

The Water Strider

“Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, 
that bringeth out their host by number.”
(Isaiah 40:26)

Springtime has come: the snow and ice over the pond have melted and their are new signs of life. An amazing variety of creatures rise to the surface, having come from the muddy bottom or from stems of plants, as well as from under rocks, roots and water-soaked logs.  Along with frogs, snails and salamanders, there are a number of small insects such as sow bugs, beetles and nymphs stirring about on the bottom.

Included in this awakening in freshwater lakes and ponds of Canada and the United States are numbers of water striders, also known as water skippers or skaters, which live on the surface of the pond.  If placed on your open palm, a full-grown strider with its thin, wire-like legs extended would just about cover it.

These are interesting insects to watch as they “skate” on the surface of the pond.  And they are beneficial insects because they eat other insects, including mosquito larvae.  They also eat spiders.

They are usually found in large groups, quickly scattering in all directions when threatened and coming together again when the danger is past.  When one of these is seen skimming over the water, it appears to be mostly legs, since each leg is about twice as long as its body.

But it is these long, thin, spindly legs that enable it to “skate” over the quiet surface of a pond with its body lifted slightly above the water, never resting on it.  Both the front and back pairs of legs extend from the center of the strider’s body—the back legs do the steering, as well as some of the pushing, while the front legs provide most of the power that gives it such speedy movements.

Actually striders do not swim; they glide smoothly and quickly over the surface. Taking advantage of the surface tension on water, they can stay on the surface without breaking through and can skate along with remarkable speed.  No splashing takes place—the legs just touch the surface lightly and leave little dimples behind them.

Water striders feed on dead insects as well as tiny live ones they are able to capture as they skate and sometimes hop about in their search for food.  It is plain to see the Creator designed them only for swampy areas, for they cannot travel on dry ground.

You might think these little creatures, skimming about in such a lively manner, are hardly worth a person’s attention.  But they do serve a purpose in God’s creation and are one more example of His wisdom and pleasure in making them an important part of the area of the world where they live.

How often do you take time to “stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God” (Job 37:14)? 

Love you all - Grandpa

Monday, June 05, 2017

Jewel # 286 (June 4, 2017)

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“And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I 
make up MY JEWELS.”
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear Grandchildren

The Pretty Ocelot

“The Lord is good to all: and His tender mercies
are over all His works.”
(Psalm 145:9)

Ocelots, which are about twice the size of house cats, are considered by many to be the most beautiful of the four-footed animals.  They have pretty cat faces with long, white whiskers and small, upright ears pointing forward.  Most are whitish or a tawny yellow, but the fur may also be reddish or smoky gray.

Whatever their colour, they are always spotted with beautiful black dots, varying in size, on their legs and feet and larger shell-shaped spots on the rest of their bodies.  No two ocelots are ever marked the same way.  If caught when young, an ocelot can be tamed and makes an excellent pet.

These are tropical animals and are at home in the marshy areas or riverbeds of the humid jungles of Central America and south to Paraguay in South America.  They can also be found in the thick brush of southeastern Arizona and southern Texas.

Ocelots spend most of their lives on the ground but are excellent climbers.  Active at night, they prowl about the underbrush, hunting for food.  To avoid bright sun light, most ocelots curl up inside a hollow tree, in dark caves or in the shade of heavy thickets during daylight hours.  Wherever possible, they make their homes in trees and walk silently along the branches surrounding them.

In some jungle areas, their favourite food is monkey meat.  They will sometimes playa dead to attract a monkey, then suddenly pounce on it.  If monkeys are not available, they annoy farmers by going after lambs, young pigs or rabbits, but their diet also includes rats, mice, birds, snakes and lizards.  Rather than chase their victims, they will drop on them from a tree branch or silently stalk them through the woods or brush.

In past years, the beautiful furs of these animals have been their downfall, as hunters have trapped and killed them in great numbers.  This is now against the law, although there are poachers who disregard this fact and kill them anyway.

The spotted coats of ocelots are an indication of the Creator’s care over them, providing effective camouflage in the light and shadows of their home areas.  They, of course, know nothing of the Creator’s care, but as the Bible verse at the beginning of this article indicates, there is no creature, no matter how small or how large, how beautiful or how plain, that is not an object of His mercies and kindness.

But there is another Bible verse that every boy and girl, as well as every grown-up, may claim: “How precious also are Thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!” (Psalm 139:17).  Have you thanked Him for those precious thoughts?

Love you all - Grandpa     

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Jewel # 285 (May 29, 2017)

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“And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I
make up MY JEWELS.”
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren

The Beautiful Grebes

“I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember Thy 
wonders of old. . . .Thou art the God that doest wonders.”
(Psalm 77:11-14)

These very interesting birds with strange habits are found throughout the world.  Large numbers of grebes in many varieties live in Canada, the northwestern United States, Alaska and Iceland.  Most of the 20 species fly quite well, though they have difficulty getting off the ground.  

Once they are airborne they can fly long distances, and some of them migrate to the Pacific and Atlantic coasts for the winter months and then return north in the spring.  However, three species do not fly at all, and the others fly only when necessary, preferring to remain near their nests in the marshy areas of ponds and lakes.

These birds are excellent swimmers and divers.  The legs of these birds are placed far back on their bodies, and they have long feet. This makes them clumsy and almost helpless on land.  They can run for a short distance but are prone to falling over.

In water, however, they are extremely graceful and wonderful swimmers, both on the surface and underwater.  Although they are a rather large bird, they can dive from the surface without leaving even a ripple to show where they have been.  The baby grebes can swim as soon as they hatch.

The nest, which floats on the water is usually built by both parents in shallow water, using weeds, sticks and reeds.  It is tied to something solid or anchored underwater to keep it from drifting away.  Isn’t it remarkable that the Creator has taught them to do this?

Much time is spent “oiling” their feathers, much like ducks do.  This “waterproofing treatment” is done by rubbing their beaks against special glands on their bodies, then working the waxy deposit into all parts of their dense feathers.

Although they do not have webbed feet, the Creator has given them special flap-like membranes on their long toes to aid in swimming.  Their legs are not round like most birds but pointed in front and back, helping them to move swiftly through water and helping them to catch fish, which they spear with their long, sharp, pointed beaks.

An unusual habit of all grebes is that they eat great quantities of feathers, even feeding them to their young.  No one is quite sure why they do this, but some wonder if the feathers act as  strainers or cushions to keep fish bones from piercing the inside of their bodies.  Whatever the reason may be, it is part of God’s wonderful design.

The ways of these birds show again the care of God in giving them remarkable instincts.  But He gave more than this to mankind.  In the Bible the question is asked, “Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who hath given understanding to the heart?” (Job 38:36).  The answer is that the Lord God, the Creator, has done this.

Love you all - Grandpa