Saturday, November 29, 2008

Musing about Blogs

I have a second blog... I decided to start one which I can update more often. This one tends to wait until I have mused over something for a while, but my new one can be updated quickly and daily... It's called Boing's Phodiary and can be found at 

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Musing about Motto's

In the last month or so, two of my friends have lost a parent. One flew over to England, knowing it was to say goodbye to his mom and she died 30 minutes after he arrived. The other had no chance like that as his father died of a heart attack. In support of him and his family, I went to the funeral. They gave everyone a bookmark on which was written, in his own handwritting, the motto he wanted to live by. He had written it in the last week of his life but his family and friends all knew that he had been living it for years. It was:

Live simply, Love generously,
Care deeply, Speak kindly...
Leave the rest to God

It made me think lots about what motto I am living by. I know years ago I wrote one, but am I living it? Is it what I want to live by? It was:

Without purpose, Life is just existance,
Without passion, Purpose is wasted energy,

BOING is my word, but it is very hard to describe. It comes from the sound that Tigger makes as he bounces around all over the place and it is related to 2 Corinthians 5:13 (If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit.[NLT]) It was meant to encapsulate the fact that we should be using our life, all of our life, to be making a difference for God, even if that difference is not understood by anyone else. We should have a reason for why we do things (a purpose) and we should care deeply about that reason (a passion) if we are going to make the kind of difference God is calling us to. OK, all those we's should be me's, because this is MY life motto and what I feel (or at least felt) God is (or was) calling me to.

What is the purpose that changes my life from an existance? The obvious answer would be to live for God, but I am looking for something more specific. That is true for everyone (or should be), but what does God want as the purpose for MY life? For that answer I find myself going back to the beginning, yes, the start of it all:

God created human beings; 
he created them godlike,
Reflecting God's nature. 
He created male and female.
God blessed them:
"Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!
Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air,
for every living thing that moves on the face of the Earth."
Genesis 1:27-28 (The Message)

The last phrase includes those animals which are not exactly on everyone's favourite list, but which I have a passion (key word) for: Reptiles and Amphibians. Amphibians in particular are in danger of going extinct, vanishing from the world completely, because of what we, as a human race, have done! God created these fascinating creatures and gave them to us to look after, but we haven't been doing so well at that job. Can I make a difference? Can I save some of them? Not single handedly, but with a team of people, a team already in place at the place I work... Could this be the reason why I work here, even though it is not always the easiest thing to do? 

Yes, there is ALOT that I would love to change about the place I work, and even more that just drives me absolutely insane, but if I just focus on the Snake Park (which is divorced from the rest of the complex, but the physicality and the fact that a large portion of the staff never come in due to phobias and such like...) it does paint a better picture. There have been some vast improvements in the public image last few months and with the proposed budget for next year, these improvements should continue. Our collection is changing to fit the plan mcuh quicker than anticipated with us hopefully getting our Southern African Rock Pythons by the end of the year!! I can hardly wait for these beautiful creatures to join our family. For the first time in years, we will be doing weekly snake shows for the public and various other activities during the summer season, which I am very excited about. 

And then there is the frogs, well, froglets! We have a collection of tadpoles, some were caught, while others were collected as eggs. Some of the tadpoles have already morphed into froglets and are just too adorable for words. All of the species we are working with are common ones found in 
and around PE, but this is training for our Endangered Frogs of the Eastern Cape Breeding 
Program. We intend to run captive breeding programs for three of our most endangered species and then re-introduce the offspring to suplement the wild population and help them survive. My colleague is working hard on the field work research which will help me to know exactly what each species requires to breed successfully. We are also looking for funding for this project, which will save a group of animals that God created and man is destroying. I am also using the project for my Honours project in Zoology in the next two years, which is another exciting exercise!

I guess I have a purpose, and I definetely have a passion for that purpose, so I better be off now so I can go BOING!!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Musing about my Game Drive with God

I had the day off on Friday and decided to head off to Kragga Kamma Game Reserve with my camera. I needed some me time and have been wanting to take photos of some of the big game, as a difference to the photos I normally take of reptiles. As I was sitting watching all the animals and taking photos, God pointed out a whole lot of lessons I could learn from the animals... Here they are:

Don't look so hard in one direction that you miss something better in the opposite dierction.
I was watching a giraffe and as I started driving off I noticed something in the bush on the other side - a rhino lying about 5 meters away!! WOW, it was stunning. The question is, am I so focused on one area of my life that I am ignoring something amazing God has in store for me in another area?

It's OK to relax and rest with others who are different to you, if they are safe (Don't do it with lions.)
Even if people have different interests and passions too you, if they are Christians, it's OK to let your guard down and just chill.

When it gets hot, take a break.
When things get hard, take a step back to get a better understanding of the situation.

Getting together as a crowd of like minded people is a good thing.
Just a reminder that it is good to go to church and hang out with other Christians.

Don't get left behind.
Don't get so distracted by what you are doing that everyone else moves on without you. (This like bokkie was so busy eating he didn't realise that all his friends had started to move away and he had to run to catch up.)

Soak up the sun.
Or the SON!!

Stay near the water.
Especially the living water, Jesus!

If you stand still enough, in the right place, you can disappear.
This seems important, but I have not yet figured out why...

We all produce waste at times, but often what appears useless to us is very beneficial to others.
I was specifically thinking of the dung beetles in Addo at this time. I haven't found a good example in my life yet...

You don't always get what you expect.
I had not seen any Warthog for the first half of my time there, which surprised me as I normally see loads. What am I expecting in my life? What will I do if I don't get it?

Sometimes you have to dig through the mud to find what you need.
Sometimes you have to look deep into the stuff you don't like about yourself to find the way to stop it.

Get down on your knees when there is serious business to do.
a.k.a. Pray when life gets serious (but also when it isn't.)

Just because soemthing has thorns, doesn't mean it is not beautiful.
My job might have plenty of parts that I don't like and I feel are hurting me, but it is where God has placed me and there are some amazing aspects too it. Like seeing Rocky out of my office window.

Keep a close eye on the danger, but get on with business.
This guy was chewing the cud, but watching me too make sure I wasn't causing truoble. Even though there seems to be people I work with who would love to see the Snake Park close, I must still work hard to make it the best I can. (Although it is important to keep an eye on what they are up to.)

Ignore distractions.
That says it all...

Knowledge is never wasted.
This is a plant called Carpobrotus deliciosus. I learnt about it when I studied Botany and have not forgotten. All those things I read in the Bible and learn about God, are also sitting there in my mind's storage area, ready to pop up when needed.

There are times when the best thing to do is stare into the distance.
Another way to look at it would be Dreaming of the Future...

Silence is very peaceful.
There is always so much noise in my life, so I noticed the lack of it. I want that more as it really did bring peace to my heart...

Spend all day in your pajamas when you get the chance.
If you are in your pj's, you have to relax cos that is what they are for!!

Hang out with friends, and bring the kids.
A reminder how important it is to spend time with friends, and also how much joy I get from having their children around!

Appreciate your freedom.
This cheetah was pacing up and down the fence, making a crying noise. It nearly broke my heart. Animals in captivity is another issue which I will muse over another day, when I have worked out a bit better what I feel...

A light shining in the dark.
Sometime the light (Jesus) shines onto things which are a mess and need sorting out... I know, he is busy doing that to me.

Yellow makes me smile.
What colour makes you smile?

Sing, regardless who is listening.
Duma was makinga humming noise while I was standing watching him...

Don't be afraid to look someone in the eyes.
After all, they are the windows of our souls apparently.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Musing about Lenses

We all see life differently, as if we were looking through a camera. What we see, what is in focus, how wide a view we have, etc. is all dependant on the setting we have on our 'camera,' our life. These settings are our beliefs and attitudes. The image we see is also influenced by filters on the lens, such as Christianity, morality, etc. 

What filters do I have on my life? 

What settings are my life currently on?

I recently read Job 38-39 with the settings of my mind changed, due to the book I had just read (The Bible Jesus Read by Philip Yancey.) As I read the words God spoke I was not thinking of them as God's response to Job's (and mine, and my friends') suffering, I read them seeing someone who is passionately enthusiastic for what HE made (which just so happens to be the natural world that I also love.) The words of Job 38:19-20 in particular created a beautiful 'photo' is my head:

Where does light come from, and where does darkness go?
Can you take each to its home?

Can you also see the little houses for the light and the dark, they look like little Toadstools. There are also ones for the rain and the moon and all the other elements of nature which we can't always see. When they are not 'on duty' they all come out of their little houses and play fun games together. Jesus often joins them and they laugh together and remember the day he first made them...

This photo was taken the other day when I was playing with the settings on my new camera and discovering how much it changed the picture when I did that!


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Musing about rocks

On Woman's Day afternoon the PE Herp Club (that is a bunch of people who like the idea of going into the bush to look for snakes and other reptiles) met to spend a few hours looking for reptiles! I have been wanting to do this for ages, but they are good at planning these outings when I am working... Finally, I was joining the fun!! Armed with hook sticks, pillow cases, zip lock bags, small plastic jars, my camera and water we spread out over the area we intended to cover. Basically, all you do is walk around looking at the ground and any rock you find is picked up, hoping there will be something interesting awaiting you under it. Most of the time there is just sand, so you put the rock back (although there is nothing there at present, something might live there and we don't want to go around destroying all their homes, cos then next time we come there may be no animals left!) then you walk until you find the next rock and pick it up only to find sand... This can go on for a long time, with nothing to show for it. But, then, when you have almost decided to give up, you pick up a rock, and there is some creature. Quickly you grab it or a plastic container or your hook stick, depending on what the creature is. Hook sticks work well to keep the animal in a ceratin vacinity while you get the correct container to put it in. Once it is safely enclosed in whatever container suits it best, you can look at it properly and show it to those around you. Then you turn around to pick up more rocks with renewed enthusiasm, hoping to find some other fascinating creature!! Finally, everyone got back together and we showed off all our relative finds and I took loads of photos of the various reptiles and things we found. Apparently most of the time I was taking photos I had one of the spiders crawling around on my pants, cos I lay down to get a better angle on one of the lizards or something, and someone behind me had been looking at the spider, which promptly fell on my leg. They didn't want to disturb the photos!! I didn't mind though I am glad I did not hurt the little guy!! Finally, we released all the animals again! We are there to find out what is around, not take them away. There is development planned for the land so any venomous snakes would have been relocated to ensure the safety of the construction workers, but nothing we found was deadly, so they could all go back home!!
My finds for the day were:
Some random spider
A Spotted Sand Lizard (Pedioplanis lineoocellata pulchella)
And a Cross-marked Sand Snake (Psammophis crucifer)
That evening we had a meeting with a visiting church from Cape Town and during worship I was thinking about how a bunch of people had spent the afternoon searching under rocks for life, rocks which most people would not even notice as they walk past. We were so excited about the possibility of finding life, and stoked whenever we found even the smallest little gecko or scorpion (despite the fact that 6 other people had already found 3 scorpions each, or some such notion). It made me think of how, as Christians we also get so excited about the life hidden by a rock! On that first Easter Sunday Jesus was behind the rock, but he was very much alive. So many people in the world today know about that rock, but never stop to think about it, or even realise what awesome life was behind it. Just like the reptiles we found were no longer hidden under the rocks, Jesus is no longer behind the rock either. I was so stoked to show others the reptiles I had found, but definetly don't have the same enthusiasm to share about the exciting life which was behind the rock on Easter. Something, to muse over...
My favourite photo of the day (which I sent into the Weekend Post) was a complete accident. How many times do amazing things happen to us, almost by accident? Are they really accidents, or is someone trying to get our attention?
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Monday, July 7, 2008

Musing about PESP

The Port Elizabeth Snake Park aka PESP, last of the three old greats! Transvaal Snake Park is now a rave club and Fitsimons in Durbs is busy transforming into a parking lot (My heart is breaking for the loss of these once amazing places!!) Here at Bayworld the PESP is, quoting from Saturday's Weekend Post "a shadow of what was once the complex's other big animal attraction but now has less than 25 per cent of its former snake population, while the once popular Tropical House is being converted into a special events venue." While there is no denying that the article was very bad publicity for us, I cannot deny that we are down to 25% of what was once here. However, that does not mean that the PESP is a lost cause. In the last two years or so, since Mariƫtte and I took over (from no one) things have improved steadily. As I have just been writing for a report, our focus has been on improving our skills and techniques. The main aspect is that all the animals are healthy!! Yay, yay!! We have even bred some of the species, even though we are not consciously trying to breed any of our animals. Celebration was definitely called for with 3 clutches of Tiger snake (Telescopus semiannulatus) eggs and a baby Armadillo Girdled Lizard (Cordylus cataphractus). Yes, there are financial limitations at times, but never does this mean the animals lack in food, cleanliness, veterinary care or any of the other essential needs. Sometimes it means we can't rebuild an enclosure to the beautiful new design we feel would be perfect, but instead must get the other departments to adapt what we have, in between all the other work they are doing, or some such idea like that. Ultimately, the improvements do happen, just slower than we would hope. Good things do happen as well, out of 5 staff, 4 of us have level 3 first aid with the 5th hopefully going soon. All of the Snake Park staff as well as a couple of other staff in the complex, have recieved the best (and most expensive) training on Snake bite and Venomous Snake Handling available in this country. {If you are looking for training of this kind, Mike Perry of African Reptiles and Venom is the man to contact!!} I have been to visit numerous reptile facilities around the country and staff get the opportunity to attend conferences regularly.
The environment I work in is not perfect (and I am not talking about the fact that I face animals which can kill me on a daily basis...), but then I do live in a fallen world. I don't always see eye to eye with some of the people I work with, even sometimes with those who I must obey, and others also disagree at times, which can does not result in a positive atmosphere around the complex all the time. BUT, it is still my choice whether I will choose to react in a negative manner or look for the silver lining and how I can make the best of the situation. The truth - I often choose the negativity, cos it is easier (at least in the short term!) I know I would find less stress and probably less insane headaches if I chose to be positive, even in the face of mass negativity.
The other question would be: Why does God want me here? Watch for another musing about that...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Musing about Names

So, I have joined the world of the Blog, where anyone in the cyber world can get a glimpse inside my mind - however scary that might turn out to be. To start with I have been thinking lots about the meaning of my names, probably cos its nearly party time and the theme for my birthday is the meaning of my names, as is the title of my Blog. For those who don't know, my full name is Varla Fiona King. I have been known as Fiona for most of my life (and still am in some circles) as my mom and gran both have the same first name as me. My parents put Fiona as my second name cos my initials would have been F.V.K. and sometimes a V looks like a U... Anyway, last year at Easter Camp God told me it was time to start using my first name. I have often hated that name cos I used to get teased about it, and for years I would not even tell anyone what it was. A good friend (and my youth pastor at the time) Craig helped me understand that by hating my name, I was hating myself, and I eventually got to the point where I could tell people what it was, but would not let people use it. God continued his healing work and in an intense prayer session with Craig, Tandy, Rudi and Vince at Easter Camp 2007 it became clear to me that God wanted me to start using that name more, as a sign that he was doing this healing work in my heart. It took a while, but now everyone at church calls me Varla (although some of my older friends and people at work still call me Fiona or Fee).

I love both of my names, actually all three of them!
Varla is Scandinavian and means Warrior Princess and the verse which God gave me for that is Joshua 1:5: No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.
Fiona is Gaelic and means fair and pure and the verse for that is Matthew 5:8: God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.
King is just another reminder that I am of royal blood cos I am God's daughter!!
The colours which remind me of these meanings are purple, white and silver - including my beautiful new silver car, JT (for James Too)!!

So, that is why I chose the title I did...