Stuck or moving forward?

14 08 2013

This unique house

carhouse6417

on Western Highway in Belize has been made to resemble a colorful car – complete with wheels, but it will never move forward.  It remains “paralyzed”.  Sometimes we get stuck or maybe paralyzed with fear, not knowing exactly what the Lord want us to do or in which direction He wants us to go (although we always have His revealed will for our lives available to us in our own language in the Bible “Your word is a lamp that gives light wherever I walk.” Psalm 119:105).  We might be tripped up by things in our past, feeling unable to move on.  If this is the case in your life, I’d like to encourage you to get moving again. Take the next step.  Do the next right thing.  It is easier to steer a moving car, than one that is at rest. “Drive and go forward” 2 Kings 4:24b (OK…I admit that one is taken out of context, but I’m cramming it into this illustration) This one works, though:  “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” Hebrews 12:1. I believe that as we move forward, God will direct our steps. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5 & 6 How does He do it? One very obvious and reliable way is by His Word!(Psalm 119:136). “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” Psalm 37:23-24.  Paul says in Philippians 3:13-14 “ ….. but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”The Proverbs 31 woman “smiles at the future” (v25).  We can gain strength to move on and “smile at the future” from promises like this one in Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”

Jesus says “Get up and come forward!” Luke 6:8





27 09 2014

Back in the seventies there was a popular slogan: “Hang in There, Baby!” When we stepped out of our door, this gecko was doing just that, right at face level.

HanginThere

Quite a greeting!  Do you ever feel like this gecko?  Like you’re hanging on by your “toenails” and getting tired and weary and about to give up? Have you been relying on your own strength to get you through? Getting exhausted? Feel like quitting? Psalm 55:22 says: “Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” In the amplified version it reads like this: “Cast your burden on the Lord [releasing the weight of it] and He will sustain you; He will never allow the [consistently] righteous to be moved (made to slip, fall, or fail).” I looked up some of the key words in this verse in Brown-Driver-Brigg’s/Strong’s: the Hebrew word for “cast” is shâlak and it means to throw, cast, hurl, fling, throw away, cast off, or shed. The Hebrew for “burden” is yehâb; it is your lot, that which is given to you. With what have you been entrusted? A difficult situation? Some trial? Pain? What has been weighing you down? The name for God used here is Yehôvâh – the one true God, the existing One. You are not alone!  The One true God promises His strength and presence for those who trust in Jesus Christ alone to save them. You don’t have to lean on yourself, instead, lean on God, let Him provide the strength you need. 1 Peter 5:6-7 says “Be humbled, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you at the right time. And cast all your cares on God, for He takes care of you.” Back in Psalm 55:22, the original word for “sustain” is kûl (pronounced kool – Cool!  I like that!) which means to sustain, support, nourish, hold, or contain, hold in, restrain. Have you ever played the piano and pressed the sustain pedal? It moves all the dampers away from the piano strings allowing them to vibrate freely.  A note you play which would normally be finished on it’s own will continue to sound or resonate (hold) for as long as the sustain pedal is being depressed, even after the piano keys are no longer striking/doing their work. This pedal lets a pianist sustain notes that would otherwise be out of reach and enriches the piano’s tone. In the same way, God can sustain and uphold you when you have exhausted your store of endurance. He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that is at work within us (Ephesians 3:20). He will enable you to continue on as you lean hard on Him. In Psalm 55:22, tsaddîyq is translated “righteous” and can mean our positional righteous imputed to us by Christ so we are justified and vindicated by God; additionally it can mean being righteous in our practices, conduct and character. The word for “shaken” is môt which means totter, shake , slip, be moved, be overthrown, let fall, drop, or be greatly shaken. So, for those who are considered righteous because they believe in Jesus Christ (His substitution death and resurrection – His finished work on the cross, paying the penalty you and I deserve for our sins) and their belief is evidenced by their works (you know a tree by its fruit Matthew 7:15-20 & Luke 6:44), God will hold them (Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”) and won’t let them fall (Jude 24 says that God “is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy”)

Psalm 119:116  says “Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed.” This verse in the Psalms uses a different word for sustain (sâmak) which means to lean, lay rest, support, put, uphold, lean upon, to lean or lay upon, lean against, support, uphold, sustain, refresh, revive (still cool!). Word (imrâh) refers to utterance, speech, promise, the Word of God, the Torah. Live (châyâh) is to live, have life, remain alive, sustain life, live prosperously, live forever, be quickened, be alive, be restored to life or health, be revived from discouragement or faintness.  Notice that the God who sustains, upholds, refreshes and revives is “my” God. He’s a personal God. Psalm 3:5 “The Lord sustains me”. Wow! And how does He sustain you? According to His promises in His Word, the Bible. 2 Peter 1:4 says “He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises”. No matter what you are facing today, one of God’s myriad promises will be a perfect fit for you.  To be encouraged by the promises of God, you need to know them. God’s primary means of revealing Himself to us are in the person of His Son, Jesus, and in His Word, the Bible. So dig in (yes, that does involve reading – but you can do it! You’re reading this, aren’t you?) Be encouraged by His deep love for you and let His love sweep you off your feet! If you would like a little direction in regards to finding promises relative to the Christian, you might try reading that section of Herbert Lockyer’s book “All the Promises of the Bible”. So claim a promise for you today, and be revived from discouragement or faintness; God will restore your hope as He sustains you. Hebrews 1:3a explains that “He sustains all things by His powerful Word”. He will uphold you and you will live. If you are tired, it may be because you are relying on yourself too much. God doesn’t get tired (Isaiah 40:28b” The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary”) and His promises are true (John 17:17 & Psalm 119:160)! Cling to His promises, cling to Him, and let Him sustain you.

Annie Johnson Flint  did just that.  She wrote the hymn “He Giveth More Grace” in the midst of difficulties. By the age of 6, Annie had lost both her parents. By her teens she had developed arthritis and soon after lost the use of her legs. Bedridden, she was covered with sores and lost control of her hands and many of her bodily functions. She suffered incapacitating pain for over 40 years. This hymn was published in the 1940’s during a time of war, suffering, pain and loss, so it most likely struck a note with many who were suffering.  It is my guess, that everyone suffers in some way, so I hope this resonates with you today as well.

  1. He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
    He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
    To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
    To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.
  2. When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
    When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
    When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
    Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
  3. Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
    Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
    Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
    The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.
  4. His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
    His power no boundary known unto men;
    For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
    He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

 





Mexican Tree Frog, Smilisca baudinii

26 04 2014

We stepped out of our front door the other evening to see this cute Mexican Tree frog (ID thanks to Michael G. Starkey of www.savethefrogs.com):

Mextreefrog6764

mextreefrog6761

These frogs may actually change colors depending on their location.  I think this one looks yellow due of hanging out on our yellow wall (I trust he or she was helping out by lowering the insect population at our front door – making me even more fond of him/her).

For more on the Creator of this little cutie and other animals go here.





Top Blog for Belize

23 12 2013

Thanks to all who commented on this blog to help it win first place: top expats blog for Belize in 2013!!

I hope that readers will enjoy thinking about God’s Creation specifically in Belize, but also all around you right where you are (including you yourself!)

Make sure to watch this great video on Creation!





Top Ten Considerations for Bringing a Dog into Belize – It’s NOT Easy

23 12 2013

Dogs are members of our family, so where we go, they go, and they share in the adventure!

1.  If you are importing a dog from the US into Belize, you will need to have all the proper paperwork both for the airline and for BAHA (Belize Agricultural Health Authority).  (Refer to point #3 for BAHA requirements). To avoid a 30 day quarantine, you will need to have the USDA APHIS Form 7001 filled out within 7 days of departure by a USDA certified veterinarian who is licensed in your state (find one near you). FED EX overnight the Form 7001  with a check (the fee for stamping/endorsement varies by the number of animals traveling and by the number of tests required for the health certificate. You should contact the APHIS VS Area Office in your state for more information- I think I paid $37 for each dog in 2012) to your states’ USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) AVIC (there is probably only one office in the state for the Area Veterinarian in Charge) with a prepaid return FED EX overnight envelope for them to return the endorsed form back to you. Then pray that the endorsement gets back to you before your flight! Refer to this site to answer more questions you may have.

2. While you are at the vet in the US before your flight, have them fill out the required paperwork for your airline, the IATA Veterinary Certificate For Domestic & International Airline Travel.  Be sure to carry valid proof of your pet’s current rabies vaccination (not less than one month or more than one year prior to the date of importation into Belize) with you to the vet, the airline, and BAHA.  Information for shipping a dog via United/Continental may be found here. For information about shipping dogs with American Airlines go here.  Note the ridiculously large kennel size required for international travel (the flights from Houston or Dallas are less than 3 hours).  The kennel needs to be ventilated on all four sides (we had to drill holes in our fourth side because we couldn’t find the proper brand and size of kennel at regular pet stores in the US that were ventilated on all four walls) for international travel and airlines will not accept certain brands of kennel, so be sure to check before purchasing one.  It is possible that the airline will sell one to you that meets their requirements.  You may want to check with them if they do this and it may save you a lot of trouble beforehand. Kennels need to be properly labeled, contain secured food and water dishes, with a large ziploc bag of dry kibble and a leash taped to the top of the kennel. Certain sizes of kennels may not fit in the cargo holds or through the cargo door in an upright position for certain types of aircraft, so you need to check what make of plane you have booked for your pet’s flight.  Note that airlines will refuse to ship certain short nosed dog breeds. I would recommend finding a direct flight with no connections.  You would hate for your dog to be lost on some tarmac somewhere unattended!  We drove a long way through the US to make sure we could get our dog on a direct flight from Texas.  I would also recommend that you be on the same flight with your pet, so you are there to pick it up quickly. Most importantly, the airlines WILL NOT ship a dog in the cargo hold if the temperature at either airport is over 85F (and it is very tough to find days less than this temperature in Belize).  This pretty much means that you will not be able to ship pets that are too large to travel in-cabin in the summer.   Realize that you will need to drop off your dog in the cargo area for your airline 3 hours before your flight. You will need to be ready to pay fees (probably around $US50) in addition to what you already paid for their travel fare when you drop them off.

3. To import a dog into Belize, you should visit the BAHA website . Download and fill out the application to import animal(s) into Belize. Either send your application by Fax to 011-501-822-0271 or E-mail to baha@btl.net.  It should processed in about 7 days, but NOTHING in Belize is efficient or quick, so you may need to keep on them and continue asking for the approved import permit to be faxed back to you. It is probably best to deal with the BAHA in the capitol city of Belmopan (their phone numbers are 011-501-822-0818/1378/0197 or you may try the e-mail mentioned previously). BAHA claims they will file the import permit at the airport, but when you arrive, BAHA officials there will refuse to even look for it and will say it is not there in attempt to line their pockets (holding your dog for ransom).  To avoid this, you will need to have a copy of the BAHA approved import permit in your hot little hands! You can whip it out and not have to pay a fee or bribes to get your pet into the country.  If your import paperwork is not at the airport, you will at least be charged a $B50 fine. The BAHA website says, “The Director of Animal Health is to be notified two (2) days in advance of date and time of arrival of live animals at point of entry. Veterinary inspection at point of entry will be done only during daylight hours (9 am – 4 pm). For your information, the telephone numbers of veterinarians that can be contacted are:

Dr. Victor Gongora – Central Farm- Ph: 011-501-824 – 4872/99 (Director of Animal Health)
Dr. Joe Myers – O/Walk – Ph: 011-501-322-3257 (Quarantine, Northern Districts)
Dr. Miguel Depaz – Central Farm – Ph: 011-501-824-4872/99 (Quarantine, Cayo District)
Dr. Miguel Figueroa – Belize City – Ph: 011-501-224-5230/4794 (Quarantine, Belize District)”.  I did call prior to shipping our dog and they said a vet is always there anyways (so no need to call), but we have never seen nor needed one, so I’m not really sure about this.

4. Belizean customs sets an arbitrary figure to charge you based on the value they determine of the freight (they determine how much your dog breed is worth and then charge you a percentage that customs agent determines that day). If you negotiate with them in a good natured manner, they will usually lower the fee for you. We had to pay an unexpected $277 for them to release our dog.  You will need to be ready with some cash for expenses like this.

5. You will need to consider how to transport your dog and kennel in your vehicle.  We booked an SUV with Hertz, but the extra large kennel we were required to use for international travel did not fit inside, and the SUV lacked a rack on top.  We had to go to another rental car agency that had an SUV with a rack on top.  We had to borrow some rope to tie the disassembled kennel to the roof (we didn’t want to try to drive with one hand on the steering wheel and hold onto the kennel on the roof with the other hand like you see some people doing with mattresses – yeah, THAT works!)  You may want to bring some rope or bungee cords with you (good bungee cords are nowhere to be purchased in Belize that we could find)

6. Our American dogs were used to hiking off leash in the US forests, socializing with other friendly dogs, and running up to people to make friends.  Socializing with Belizean dogs is not possible in Belize.  In Belize, most dogs are used for home protection/attack or else they are stray/feral dogs, most likely carrying disease, who commonly fight each other in the streets, especially at night. Bitches in heat who are free to roam are usually the ones over whom they are fighting.  Most people in Belize have been bitten by a dog and many are very afraid of them.  We were hiking (our dogs knew to always stay on the trail because stepping off trail into leaf litter could result in a snake bite) in what we thought was a “people free” area of the jungle and a large man came out onto the path where we were, so our dog happily trotted up to greet him.  The man picked up rocks and chucked them at our dog, claiming he was being charged and that the dog would attack him.  We kept yelling for him to stop, that our dog was friendly, but he kept right on throwing rocks.  From that point on, we kept our dogs on leash at all times.  We had several friends get bitten by protection dogs other people were walking, even when they were on leash, so it is best not to even approach dogs that look like they are under the control of their owner.

7. It is a good idea to take a “cone of shame” (aka Elizabethan collar, E-Collar, pet lamp-shade, or pet cone) that fits your dog with you into Belize, because we could not find one anywhere (they were all too small….Chihuahua sized only) to use on our dog when he was neutered.  If your dog incurs any kind of injury that you would want to keep him or her from licking and reopening, you will need to bring a cone with you from the US.

8. If you need vaccinations or grooming in Belmopan, try Sylvestre and Maylin Trejo. They may be contacted at 501-602-1033, or 501-625-7511.  Their “office” is a picnic table in their front yard (a surprise to us) but it works.  Their vaccination cards are in Spanish and we found upon returning to the US, that our city would not license our dogs with a Spanish rabies certificate.  They needed to be revaccinated in the US before they could be licensed (silly). I said, “It’s really not that hard to read even though you don’t speak Spanish.  Use your deciphering skills!  Vacunación means vaccination, contra means against, and la Rabia means rabies!” How hard is that? (As an aside, Maylin also works at the Venezuelan Institute at the intersection of Floriana Ave. and Orchid Garden where you can take free Spanish lessons – even though English is the official language of Belize, 63% of the population there speaks Spanish)

9. If you need a vet, try Dr. Isabelle Paquet-Durand at Belize Wildlife Clinic (her office is difficult to find with a very small sign just beyond the University of Belize Central Farm and a little airport across the street from Flying W Meats in Cayo on the Western Highway going towards San Ignacio from Belmopan).  She works with exotics, but treats domestic animals to pay the bills.  She has done a great deal of research about parasites.  Don’t even bother to bring Heartgard with you into the country.  Your pet will need something much stronger to take care of all the parasites in the area – Ivermectin. We used Advantix (which we brought in with us – I think you can purchase only Frontline in Belize) and did not have any trouble with ticks or fleas.  Fleas especially can be an unpleasant problem in Belize, so it is worth it to protect your dog. Thankfully our dogs stayed healthy in Belize.

10. For pet supplies in Belmopan, Reimer’s feed on Constitution Drive (501-822-2088) is probably your best bet (for food, Frontline, collars, treats, but not really for toys or good long lasting things to chew).  Reimer’s is Mennonite owned out of Spanish Lookout. You can buy American made dog food (even in the Chinese/Taiwanese owned grocery stores), or the Mennonites make their own dog food, which is cheaper than the imported stuff because of the high duty Belize charges on EVERYTHING brought into the country. (Don’t buy into the idea that it is cheaper to live in Belize than in the US – it’s not!) “Owning a dog is slightly less expensive than being addicted to crack.” ― Jen Lancaster, Bitter is the New Black.  There’s no such thing as a free dog!

However, they are invaluable companions…..

“A person can learn a lot from a dog, even a loopy one like ours. Marley taught me about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart. He taught me to appreciate the simple things-a walk in the woods, a fresh snowfall, a nap in a shaft of winter sunlight. And as he grew old and achy, he taught me about optimism in the face of adversity. Mostly, he taught me about friendship and selflessness and, above all else, unwavering loyalty.”― John Grogan, Marley and Me: Life and Love With the World’s Worst Dog

- See more at: http://www.expatsblog.com/contests/724/top-ten-considerations-for-bringing-a-dog-into-belize#sthash.grOOmizy.dpuf





Feral Puppies

8 12 2013

One of the dogs that hangs around Blue Thumb Ministries had a litter of puppies. 

BTMdogs     momnpup     2pups     puupyflower

They have been begging at my husband’s door and eaten such “delicacies” as pizza and SpaghettiOs!  They also are wild/hungry enough to eat animals (possibly cats or possums) that their parents kill. Most of the puppies have been given away but one remains.  My husband calls him “Shadow”, since he follows him everywhere.  He has the unique ability to touch the tips of his brown pointy ears together on the top of his head when he looks at you. dogeartouch

These dogs have changed my husband’s morning routine so as not to run them over with the car.  He has to put his backpack in the car first, open the gate, then run around his building with them chasing….get back into his car quickly before they reach him and take off, then close the gate. Whew!  It puts a smile on his face and gets his heart going for a great start to the day.

This video called “God Made a Dog” is cute (It got the day wrong when dogs were created, but you get the gist…)





Danger Signs

19 09 2013

My husband killed a millipede in the room the other night and scraped it into the trash can.  Once the lights were off in the room, a bright light flashing every few seconds could be seen even through closed eyelids.  The remainder of the millipede was still on the floor bioluminescing – probably to warn off predators that it was oozing cyanide.

We have like warnings flashing in God’s Word to stay away from things that are dangerous to us.  The fruit that Adam and Eve ate was off limits, they had been explicitly instructed by God not to eat it, and their decision to disobey brought spiritual and physical death to them and all people. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. “ Proverbs 14:12 & 16:25 The Bible is God’s love letter to you.  When He does say “Thou shalt not”(putting up a fence), it is not that He’s a killjoy trying to ruin all your fun, He really has your best interest at heart. His limits keep us from exposing ourselves to the destructive cyanide of sin.  JFK paraphrased GK Chesterton, saying, “Don’t ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.”  Sin will always take you farther than you wanted to go, keep you longer than you wanted to stay, and cost you more than you intended to pay. When we sin, it is like cutting ourselves.  When God forgives, it heals that wound.  But sin has consequences – the gash hurt us and most likely upset others, and there may be lasting effects such as a scar.

Warnings from Israel’s History as recorded in the Old Testament: “These things have become examples for us so that we won’t desire what is evil, as they did.  So don’t worship false gods as some of them did, as Scripture says, “The people sat down to a feast which turned into an orgy.”  We shouldn’t sin sexually as some of them did. Twenty-three thousand of them died on one day.  We shouldn’t put the Lord to the test as some of them did. They were killed by snakes.  Don’t complain as some of them did. The angel of death destroyed them. These things happened to make them an example for others. These things were written down as a warning for us who are living in the closing days of history. So, people who think they are standing firmly should be careful that they don’t fall.  There isn’t any temptation that you have experienced which is unusual for humans. God, who faithfully keeps his promises, will not allow you to be tempted beyond your power to resist. But when you are tempted, he will also give you the ability to endure the temptation as your way of escape. 1 Corinthians 10:6-13 God’s Word Translation





War with WeeWees

1 09 2013

One interesting ant we’ve seen a lot of in Belize is the leaf cutter (or as the locals here call them WeeWee ants). They can truly decimate a plant. We “foiled” them at our apartment by surrounding tempting plants with these pellets we obtained from The Garden Center in Cayo which the leaf cutter ants take back to their underground, fungus growing “baby nurseries”.  Once there, the pellets “explode” and supposedly take out the colony. We noticed that when we sprinkled them around our potted plants, the pellets disappeared overnight, but the leaves remained on the plants and we never saw any ants.

Before our Summer vacation, the leaf cutters  were already hard at work carrying away leaves and the beautiful flowers

flamboyant tree4

from one of the gorgeous flamboyant trees in front of my husband’s classroom.

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When back from Summer vacation, they had eaten half the tree and had marched back and forth between the jungle and the tree so often that they had worn this path into the grass almost foot wide (I guess the Pledge can is there for scale). There can be up to 8 million ants in one colony.

Antpath

My husband sprayed that Fish bug killer around the tree and along the path (probably didn’t stay too long because it is rainy season), but it seemed to deter the ants.  My husband continues his saga….Well, I was so proud of myself for saving the one tree, all they did was move to the other big flamboyant tree next to it. There were many more on this one. It is like they redoubled their efforts. There were two trails now going to it and they did not merge until just on the other side of the fence in the jungle. They are smart…. they saw that one line was destroyed so they built two lines. But they are not that smart.  They were also attacking a hibiscus bush on the back side of my building. Their line for this one joined with the other two lines but instead of just going 20 yards and connecting, they went all the way around the building then connected. I sprayed again both the new big tree and the old and the hibiscus. I cannot be outdone by an ant brain. But I was thinking, if you added up all of their brains, it would probably be the size of a basketball.

War with an army of ants. Who will win?

Stay Tuned…








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