Monday, May 18, 2020

Bird Watching

Our family put up some bird feeders just outside of our bay window a couple of weeks so we could begin enjoying watching birds this Spring. Here's a sampling of some of the birds we've seen thus far.  The pictures do not capture the beauty of these tiny creatures (all of them were shot with my phone from inside the house through the window):

This first picture captures a male Cardinal (red circle) and a Blue-jay (blue circle).  I'm not sure whether or not the Blue-jay here is male or female--I'm told they can only be distinguished by their behavior.  These two were on the ground picking up some of the scraps that had fallen from the feeders.  We've also seen female cardinals but I don't have a picture of those (they are lighter red with bright orange beaks).

The picture below is of one of the more rare birds to come by our home (only a couple of times have we seen this variety).  It's called a Rose-breasted Grosbeak.  The kids liked this one and thought it looked "chunky."

This next bird looks (to me) like something you might see in the tropics with it's bright yellow feathers.  It's called an American Goldfinch.  It looks very similar to the Yellow Warbler but the black above the eyes give the Goldfinch away.  This variety is pretty common in our area and we see these almost daily at our feeders.

Below are two more American Goldfinches.  The bright yellow one on the right is the male, and the one on the lower bar with light brown tones is the female.  I'm told that the males turn bright yellow in Spring and Summer but are on the paler/duller side in Fall and Winter.

This last picture is of two Chipping Sparrows.  These are also very common at our feeders. 

We've seen other birds too like the House Finch and the American Robin but I don't have pictures of those.  We will be posting more pictures of birds soon! 

Sunday, April 12, 2020

COVID-19 in South Royalton

Our Governor, Phil Scott, just extended his "Stay at Home" order through May 15th.  His previous order went through April 15th.

Our church has made the decision to not meet face-to-face until the Governor gives the green light.  Although I was deeply saddened that Governor Scott did not classify churches and religious groups as essential, while other states, like my home state of NC did, we want to honor our leader's direction as Romans 13 instructs.  Here's Vermont's C19 Gov Resource page which outlines everything our leaders are doing to combat the spread of the virus.

Until the order lifts and medical experts say its safe to return to work and business as usual, life in South Royalton like many other places, looks a bit different.  I've been wearing this mask made by one of my parishioners.

Our local post office has put up a large barrier to limit the clerk's exposure to others.

Local grocery stores are putting up signs like this one below.  Other stores have closed altogether or are limiting the number of customers in the store at a given time.

Our local food shelf which our church runs, has not been allowing anyone in the building.  Instead we've been bringing boxes to our patron's cars or delivering them to their homes.  Below is a picture of some of the scheduled deliveries for last week.

Our local bank put up this sign a couple of weeks ago.  Now they've completely closed the bank and locals must drive to the next town over which has a bank with a drive thru teller.

When the virus first began to threaten our area, our local food co-op put up this sign.  Now, in compliance with Governor Scott's order, they only take drive-up orders.

As far as how our church has responded to this crisis, we've done several things.  The first I mentioned above--closing our building until the Governor lifts his stay at home order.  We've also put verses like the one below on our sign to remind our community to run to God when they are afraid. Psalm 46 is one of my favorites and is the psalm that Martin Luther used as the basis for his great hymn "A Mighty Fortress is Our God."

Our church has also moved to doing services on Facebook Live.  At the time of this blog entry our services and devotionals have been viewed over 5,000 times since the start of the stay at home order.

I've been experimenting with some new tech to try and improve the quality of our broadcasts.  A trusty friend in NC has been helping and we've made some real progress!  Here's a pic of some of the items I've been playing with:

Another neat thing we've been doing at Red Door is working on worship outlines for our people.  We mailed out dozens of these for our people before the start of Holy Week on the 5th of April.  They are best used in conjunction with our Facebook Live broadcasts but can be used independently if a person does not have access to the internet.  Our hope was to give people a more engaging and interactive experience.  If you would like to look at them, we have made them available on our church website here.

We've also been taking advantage of the extra space and time to work on some projects that have been on hold like having our church floor waxed (a team of two came in last week and did the work) and installing a big walk-in cooler over at the local food shelf (pic below).

The work is not complete but we've made a big step in the right direction this past week.  Here's a view of the cooler from the inside.

I hope all of you are staying safe and taking the necessary precautions to avoid getting sick with the C19 virus.

Our family is doing well! Today Megan and I hid Easter eggs in the in the yard and the kids had an Easter egg hunt.  Here's a pic as they were getting started:

Blessings to all of you!  Happy Easter!

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Vermont: The Most Drug Infested State in USA

Photo Credit: © rabbit75_fot / Adobe Stock

After moving to Vermont six years ago I quickly learned that the state had a big drug problem.  But I never would have dreamed that it was as big as a recent report has just revealed.  Vermont is now the #1 most drug infested state in all of the USA.

Kal Penn did a short video titled Drug Infested Vermont that gives you a picture of just how bad it is.  You can watch it here.

Some of the reasons for this startling fact mentioned in the video are demographics, location, and a limited police force--all of which are true and make total sense.  Maybe one that I would add to the list is that Vermont is a very secular place where religion is not popular.  What this means is that when people need help dealing with life they rarely look to God, but to earthly solutions, like drugs.

Please pray for Vermont.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

2019 Christmas Celebrations at Red Door

This year's Christmas celebrations here in South Royalton were excellent.

I was especially excited to see that our annual Pageant made the front page of our local newspaper!  Two of the angels pictured below in the old gazebo are our oldest daughter, Ahavah (far left), and our son, Emmaus (far right).  They thought it was really neat that they were in the newspaper!

Here's another picture from this year's Pageant that made the paper. 

We had an abundance of volunteers this year, which was a welcome change.  Below is a pic of some of them getting ready before the Pageant started.

The Pageant starts in front of the church with a carol (usually, "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear") and the announcement by the Roman Centurion (standing on a chair) that everyone must go to their town to be registered for the tax.  Mary and Joseph then appear walking with a donkey and we follow them around the park.

Another one of the stops we make as we follow Joseph and Mary is by the old gazebo on the park.  The shepherds stand by the fire next to the gazebo when suddenly the angelic host appear announcing the birth of the Christ child.  (The picture above on the front page of the Herald is from behind the angels in the gazebo.)

Next we make our way to the bank where the three wise men are stationed.  Below is a picture of the crowds as they make their way over to observe.

A friend captured the aerial picture below of the park during the Pageant with a drone. 

Our Christmas Eve Service also was a wonderful experience this year.  Pictured below is a rare shot of the church nearly filled to the brim (except for the front pews, which are never filled) with people as they sing Silent Night with the lights held high in worship.

Thank you Jesus for traditions that shine your light upon our lives and communities.  May you continue to use these for your glory and honor here in South Royalton.