He Picked Up a Lizard & Taught Me a Lesson

Morning Dog Walk Day Bazillionteen

Dave stopped abruptly and bent over. What initially appeared to be a thick twig in the road at second glance became an alligator lizard, badly injured with two violent red gashes in its tail. Maybe it had escaped the claws of a neighborhood cat. More likely a hawk had snatched it and Lizard wriggled out of its talons, dropping to the road.

Nudging its side with his finger, Dave asked if it was still alive. Lizard arched defensively, understandably angry. I offered to take the dog leashes but Dave said he could manage. The dogs, surprisingly unfazed by our pause, didn’t even notice Lizard.

As Dave gently scooped it up in one hand, Lizard whipped its long neck around and bit Dave’s finger. Quietly he responded, “Yah, that’s okay. You can bite me. You’re hurt, I get it.” Like he would comfort a squalling infant. He took a few steps off the road and placed Lizard in some ivy, sufficient plant cover to hide it while it (hopefully) recovers in what must look to a small being like a jungle with a thick canopy of foliage.

Most people would have stepped around Lizard and continued on their way. On my own, I would have. That’s not how my guys roll, though. While this was an unusual encounter, it was not out of our ordinary.

What stands out to me, however, is that Dave didn’t even flinch when Lizard bit him. He allowed his own momentary pain for the sake of moving Lizard to safety. If only it were so easy with people.

Lizard’s injuries were obvious. The wounds most people carry are not.

If more of us could learn to respond with gentleness to the bites of others, understanding that they are acting out their pain, what a different world we’d live in. I’m not advocating that we allow abuse or become martyrs, but that we try to learn (for most of us it’s not a natural response) to take a deep breath. To handle others carefully. To move everyone a few steps toward safety.

Just a thought.

What’s Your Color Palette?

On my daily dog walks, I’ve been keeping an eye on a budding and blooming bush in a neighbor’s front yard. It first caught my attention when I stepped past it to get a closer look at a small garden angel. Perched on a low rock wall on a grey winter day, this lonely sentinel appeared to watch for small eruptions of God’s beauty. Its blank statue-stare aimed directly at the bush.

As days and weeks have passed, I wondered if a white capsule enclosed the flower buds before they exploded red. Now in full bloom, this bush has branches of red flowers and more branches of white. The red flowers opened first. The white flowers face the street. Captivating.

This bush makes me think of my two sons. Born of the same root stalk, if you will, they displayed different colors from birth. One exudes vibrant energy while the other whispers witticisms. One moves incessantly; the other sits still. One makes his presence known in every space; the other quietly observes. One follows his fascination into the natural world while the other explores the world within.

This bush reminds me that each son embodies different characteristics inherited, or learned, from his mama. One has my drama and my wonder in the presence of beauty. The other has my cozy-comfortable content-at-home-ness and my compassionate desire to serve others well. Of course they are each uniquely their own person, created in God’s good image, shining forth facets of God’s beauty flashing off their directional mirrors.

This bush causes me to consider that we all contain colors we bloom naturally, colors that explain and express who we are, colors we most easily manifest to the world. We likely also hold other colors, hues that for one reason or another we stifle. I am drawn to shades of blue and green, a calming ocean palette, and occasionally I want to sashay forth in wildly hot pink – not just in my wardrobe but in my laughter. In the things I do that cause me to bubble with laughter.

We are not all one thing or another. We grow. We graft in new experiences, people, thoughts and feelings. We change, in time, with love. As humans, we have freedom – in love, God gives us freedom – to bloom in a full spectrum of colors. Honor the color palette with which you began, but don’t let it define you – or confine you – for all time. If you feel like waving a branch of flowers in a different color, wave wildly. I can’t wait to see. I promise to wave back.

Image by garageband from Pixabay

Bloom Your Beauty

Between the seasonally-grassy yard and the narrow porch walkway facing our NorCal single-story ranch-style home we have a border of three white floribunda rose bushes, Valentine’s Day gifts from my Guy many years ago, that bloom May through November, spring through fall.

Every summer, as blooms explode among the greenery, I commit to bi-weekly dead-heading; every summer I fail and trim them back only once a week, often less. I believe if I had more discipline I could keep them from getting leggy and they might fill out and produce more.

However, by the time I remember that my sweet roses require attention, often they have grown taller than my head, some of them top the roof line, and many sky-high branches hold handfuls of buds. I’m a sucker for rose buds; no matter how tall and spindly the bush becomes, I will not cannot trim back rose buds. I have to wait for them to bloom, then wither, before I reach for my pruning shears.

The other day I glanced out the kitchen window and gasped: a watermelon pink rose had bloomed on one of the reaching-for-the-(finally blue again)-sky canes, with an equally pink bud next to it. Pinker than pink roses on my white rose bush, standing up tall as if to demand my admiration. Did the Queen of Hearts arrive in the night with a step stool to carefully apply nail polish?

I know it happens sometimes, probably something to do with pollination. And these white roses have had a rebellious pink streak for a while, some of them pinkish-white in bud still bloom snow white while others bloom mostly white with a single pink streak, like a blonde teenager who dyes a neon stripe into her shoulder-length hair. Prettier than that, though, as natural variations outshine our mimicry.

As much as I adore our white roses, I am grateful for these pink surprises. They stand out. They delight me and make me laugh. They remind me to take care of the plants my husband purchased and dug into the ground.

They also remind me to bloom my own beauty, my own Siv-style of watermelon pink on a white rose bush. I don’t have to be like anyone but myself.

Bloom your beauty, friend. Be you, your one-and-only glorious self. The world needs what you have to offer. You don’t have to fit in. Cast off whatever holds you back, including your fear. The spotlight is yours and we’re waiting to cheer you on.

Love Strength

Sleep used to be my superpower. I could fall asleep within minutes of my head hitting the pillow. Even if the pillow itself were on a couch. Or in a car. Even if the pillow was a wadded up sweatshirt.

These days, sleep toys with me. Either I can’t fall asleep, or I fall asleep without trouble and wake up too early, too hot or cold or a little of both, mind flooded with a litany of adulting concerns.

Our bedroom clock broke and we haven’t replaced it, because we haven’t gotten around to it and because checking the clock in the wee hours isn’t helpful. So I have no idea what time I awoke, but I know it was darker than it should have been. I tossed. I turned. I put my arms over my head and pulled them back under covers. I kicked a foot out, then rolled over to kick the other foot out, then pulled them back in as well.

I am not a morning person but, since this morning began in pitch black, I decided I might as well get up when the alarm sounded even though at that point I could have tumbled back into slumber. Instead I tugged on multiple layers of workout clothes, slurped down a quick mug of coffee, grabbed keys and leashes, and off we went, the kiddo to school and us to walk dogs in the park.

On the way, I read Biblegateway’s verse of the day: But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. Psalm 59:16

Emerging from our warm car, my skin tingled with cold. My cheeks felt like they might shatter. My ears ached. My fingers numbed when I couldn’t hold them in my down pockets (and I live in California…). And yet I felt alive.

I felt grateful for God’s love and protection. Grateful for dogs that need a walk as much as I do. Grateful for my husband. Grateful for our town and neighbors and a beautiful morning. Grateful for the hawk perched on a branch; silly, scampering squirrels; a canary, yellow as a canary should be; dew shimmering on the long winter-green grass like confections; the blue sky.

Hours later and this day hasn’t gone as expected, which makes me even more grateful for the good, if early, start. God’s love encourages me to rely on His strength.

Oh, and the dogs pulled me over to a plaque I’d never noticed before. It read: Nature stretches out her arms to embrace man. Only let his thoughts be of equal greatness. Ralph Waldo Emerson

This gal can’t think of much greater than focusing her thoughts on the evidence of God’s love revealed in nature.

Getting Lost

It helps to remember that getting outside can put me in a better mood.

A walk around the block is obviously good for the dogs. It’s good for the body. And it’s good for my soul.

I had been in a funk when Guy and I leashed up the dogs for an hour-long walk. As we strolled we laughed when one or the other would attempt to pounce on a lizard who had already skittered away. We laughed some more when they stuck their noses into Mexican feather grass—something smelled good—and the grass looked like a lion’s mane on a three-bodied monster. We saw a hawk soaring overhead. We admired roses of every hue growing in our neighbor’s gardens. The gray clouds of my mood parted as I noticed the world outside myself.

I felt more rested (rest-full) for having moved my body outside than I did when I sat still in my comfortable chair.

This weekend we had the honor of witnessing the baptism of our friends’ daughter at a beautiful Catholic retreat center. When the service ended and we had congratulated the happy family, we strolled the grounds.

In one lushly planted brick-walled garden, I spotted a little statue of St. Francis holding two birds. I would have missed him entirely if the birds had been painted with more subtlety—the fire engine red glossy paint positively popped against the green foliage.

He delighted me, so I snapped a picture.

He seemed to be hiding, lost among the leaves and yet exactly where he should be. The birds seemed to glow even brighter for being held by Francis.

I want to be “lost” like St. Francis, perfectly content in my natural hiding spot. I like being a little bit lost in my own pursuits, in flow, attentive to the beauty in front of me rather than caught up by distractions. I want to be surrounded by nature, beauty, peace. And I suppose it would be nice if, on occasion, I brought delight to those who happen to notice me hiding in plain sight.

Comfort in Creation

Today’s post comes from a beautiful person who creates beautiful art. English is not her first language, but the way she uses the language strikes me as poetic. Here she writes about the healing power of nature, and I feel as if we are meandering together along a path through the woods.

re:create recess #20: Michelle Prinz

re:create recess
A refreshment for the soul by means of relaxation with a sizable dose of enjoyment.
Reenacting memories of a pleasant nature, unwinding to a state of bliss.
Performing an act to comfort the surrounding world.

Again and again in times of weariness and exhaustion, the natural world that created me leads me back to it.

It is a time to rejuvenate and feel acceptance by restoring one’s self-worth in the creation enveloping us.
Ideally this essential endeavor will show us an awareness of his purpose,

namely, to put our universal body into a state of bliss by finding comfort in His creation.

Recreation spruces up mind and soul.
This has always meant to me being in a scape wide open, be it rugged or smooth, where I can joyfully climb or meander and feel the universal self, down to the bone.
In this landscape I always find a smaller or larger oasis offering shelter and protection.

This environment is without limit, filled with opportunities to find caressing solitude and to reflect on life’s gift.
It certainly will lead to a less worrisome load we choose to carry as our yolk.

This feeling of our body and soul against the bare elements—in all their freshness and decay—keeps me growing fonder of the life given to me.
Wouldn’t this force show us how much we are part of his works and feeling the balance of his waves…?

Nature’s gift, no matter how barren it seems, gives us the cup to replenish and recreate ourselves. Our time for recess in comforting solitude seems of the essence.

I can only imagine that everyone under the sun, at least once, gets to grasp the everlasting “lifeline” that beats our hearts and calms our souls.


Michelle Prinz is a native of Munich and has lived in the SF Bay Area since the early 80s. After her education in Art & Design, she also gained experience in Western Bookbinding and the Restoration of Paintings before earning a BFA in Illustration.

She has worked on logos, posters, spot illustrations and was honored to create images for a documentary about The Untold Story of Black New Orleans.


“I am so grateful to my sister in Christ for giving me the chance to recreate time out. I began retracing times spent with family outside of home. I realized how my father had a big role in offering us time to appreciate new environments, to discover our sense of rest and play outdoors. No road was too tiny or too winding for him to eventually find us a new path that gave us a chance to also find ourselves.

This post is dedicated to and in memory of my Papa Kurt. You see him here in his mid-80’s, joyfully stomping on the local redwood trails.”

Where do we place our hope?

I had a surprising and completely lovely conversation with Tween after Sunday school this morning. I asked him about the lesson, and he told me the story commonly called The Rich Young Ruler (found in Matthew 19:16-22 and Mark 10:17-27): a man who has kept all the commandments asks Jesus what else he must do, and Jesus tells him to sell all his possessions and follow Him.

So I asked Tween what that meant practically, did he need to go home and clean out his room? (Horror! This kid thrives in a creative chaos that boggles his mama’s brain).

No, he responded, but this month’s Sunday school theme is “Don’t Get Wrapped Up in Your Stuff, Get Wrapped Up in Christmas.”

Okay, so what does that mean? Are you more wrapped up in your stuff or in Christ?

Christ, he immediately gushed. (A Christmas blessing for my heart!)

So how could your stuff distract you from Jesus? Isn’t that what the story is about?

He explained: it means don’t get so excited about your toys that you sit in your room playing when you could be out on a beautiful nature walk with friends. Or at church.

Because on a nature walk with friends you experience God?

Yes! You get outside, with other people, and you see what God has created and how good God is and how amazing this world is. That’s what we did all summer in Costa Rica. That’s why we went to Costa Rica. Because Teen had been there and he told us how beautiful it is and that God is at work there, and so we went to see what God was doing.

Joy, unspeakable joy! The kid gets it. He understands that getting wrapped up in Jesus is the only place to be, and he understands the point of our sabbatical trip: to eliminate distractions and seek Jesus.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things (Colossians 3:2).

And yet we insist on self-focus which leads to stress and distress, worry and fear. Why, when instead we could have hope, joy, peace, and love? It’s not because self-focus is easier, though it is perhaps more natural.

Ann Voskamp writes: “Worry is always belief gone wrong. Because you don’t believe that God will get it right. Peace is belief that exhales. Because you believe that God’s love is everywhere – like air” (Unwrapping the Greatest Gift, p44 – have I sold you on this book yet? I’m loving it!).

Believing it to be so sacred as to be unpronounceable, Jews don’t speak aloud God’s name, YHWH or Yahweh, and instead call Him by other names, Elohim or Adonai, Strong One, Lord, Father. Some argue that the name itself is the sound of breathing, that our every breath acknowledges God the Giver of Life. And don’t we all really need a deep breath, especially in this busy season? We need a change of focus, a change in our very being.

I am making a commitment this week: first, to breathe deeper, and secondly, to pray each time I change my clothes, reminding myself to take off myself and put on Christ.

Advent Week 2 – Where Do We Place Our Hope?
December 7-13

Read Scripture: Colossians 3:1-17

Candle lighting: Light the first and second candles.

Read: Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” The first candle represents the hope of Israel. The second candle represents the hope of heaven.

How many times today did you think about yourself: your fears or worries, your wants and needs? We so easily forget the hope God gives us in His Son. Like torn and dirty clothes, take off your troubles and doubts that lead to sin. Put on the hope of your new life in Jesus: the cozy Christmas sweater adorned with compassion, peace and gratitude. Live in hope as you set your heart and mind on Jesus.

Pray: Dear God, help us to let go of everything that distracts us from you. Thank you for the gift of new life. In the name of Jesus we hope and pray, Amen.


Throughout the Week// light the candle, read and discuss the daily Scripture and pray together.

Light two candles as you say: Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Read & Discuss:

Monday// Psalm 31:24// What does it mean to you to hope in the Lord?
Tuesday// Psalm 62:5// How can you rest in God today?
Wednesday// Psalm 147:11// When have you felt the Lord’s delight in you?
Thursday// Matthew 6:33-34// How can you seek God first and worry less today?
Friday// Romans 5:1-5// God grows our hope when we wait for Him. When have you felt stronger after experiencing something hard?
Saturday// Hebrews 10:22-23// How will you draw near to God today?

Pray: Dear God, help us to let go of everything that distracts us from you. Thank you for the gift of new life. In the name of Jesus we hope and pray, Amen.