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You know you're getting older when the candles cost more than the cake.

– Bob Hope

Madeleine L'Engle once said: "The great thing about getting older is that you don't lose all the other ages you've been."

I love that. On Wednesday I will begin the last year of my 40s and take another step closer to 50. As much as I sometimes wish I had the stamina (and metabolism!) of my teens and 20s, I love being almost-49. I appreciate the freedom, confidence, focus, experience, knowledge, and lack of drama I didn't have in my teens and 20s. And, as L'Engle suggests, the person I was twenty or thirty years ago is still there. The things that shaped me, excited me, matured me, bewildered me, scared me, inspired me... those things will forever be part of my life, whether I remember them in detail or (more likely) not. 

So, happy upcoming birthday to me and also to YOU (whether your birthday was a few days ago, is coming up next week, or is in October)! Whatever age you happen to be today, why not take a moment to thank God for all the other ages you've been and for the life you've been given? 

P.S. I mixed up the timing for the Question of the Month because May has five Mondays, so today is the last Monday of the month and not the first. Nevertheless, since it's been four weeks and not too many people participated in this giveaway, I'm going to go ahead and announce the randomly selected winner today and give you a new question next week. 

Carolyn Adams, you're the winner of the May prize (a $10 Amazon gift card)! :) I'll contact you to make arrangements. And I'm including one of the websites you suggested in your response in this week's list of links. Thanks!

One of my many hobbies is taking photos of nature because God’s creation is both beautiful and educational. I find it tragic that so many of us spend so much time glued to television, computer, or phone screens when God has given us infinite sources of inspiration, entertainment, and delight right outside our doors. 

Anyway, that’s not my main point today (although it’s certainly something to think about). I want to share something I learned after I posted this photo on Facebook last week. (If you look closely, you'll see two ants crawling on the peony bud.)

One of my friends said that her father had warned her years earlier not to try to shake the ants off peony buds because the flowers needed them to open. Fascinated, I did a bit of research.

While the idea that ants licking the buds gets them to open up is a myth (peonies can open just fine on their own), there is a mutually beneficial relationship between the flowers and the insects.

Peonies provide nourishing nectar to the ants, and the ants in turn (in an admittedly selfish attempt to protect their food source) fight off harmful pests that would eat the buds. (The ants don’t eat the flowers, only the nectar.)

Still fascinating! What looks like pests or a threat to these buds, which will bloom as large, gorgeous peonies with lush petals, is actually an army of tiny protectors. It turns out the ants are the peonies’ friends!

I drew a couple of life lessons from this new gift of information:

  1. Things are not always as they appear. How often do we jump to conclusions when we first observe a situation but have little or no knowledge of what’s actually happening? We may march forth with an admonition, criticism, or unwanted advice, potentially hurting someone else or, at best, embarrassing ourselves.
  2. Just because something or someone irritates you, it doesn’t mean they don’t have a purpose in your life. There are many illustrations of this truth in nature and science, but consider the example of the Apostle Paul’s persistent thorn (2 Corinthians 12), which reminded him day after day how much he depended on God. You can surely find examples in your own life.
  3. It’s never a bad idea to be generous. Just as the peony benefits by providing nectar to the ants crawling on its buds, we always receiving blessings when we are kind, gracious, and unselfish (Proverbs 22:9).

This summer, let the earth and animals teach you (Job 12:7-10).

whimsy & wisdom from the world wide web

Here's another photo I took last week (yay for "real" cameras!) The detail bowled me over and got me wondering about how dandelions that were a bright yellow flower one day suddenly appear as sheer fluff ball a day or two later. I wished I could observe the transformation and, thanks to the Internet, I got my wish! Check out this short but awesome time-lapse video.

In response to May's Question of the Month, which asked about your favourite websites and apps, Carolyn Adams suggested helpguide.org and I came across this great list of tips for anyone (like me) who lives alone and doesn't have to cook for a family. It's thorough! 

Back to the Bible Canada is offering one free copy of a 15-page booklet called 5 Steps to Making Life Rich, by Canadian author Phil Callaway. The booklet is normally $6 if you want additional copies. (Sorry, I'm not sure whether they'll ship outside of Canada.)

CORRECTION: Last week, the link to the article about how movies are made during a pandemic was broken. Sorry about that! Here it is again.

MATUTOLYPEA

(n) the state of being in a bad mood and easily annoyed, especially in the morning
(in other words, getting up on the wrong side of the bed!)

If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.

– Laura Ingalls Wilder

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