Fun Froggie Facts

When we were younger, a great gang of us kids would spend long summer days catching frogs in the lake near our summer home. We’d create a make-shift home in our buckets with a landing rock and some seaweed and hope they would stay forever. They didn’t. Our moms would send us back to shore with our bucket o’ frogs and make us release them to the wilderness once again at the end of the day. There aren’t too many frogs left now, pollution has stolen up most of them. They say an unspoiled wetland is teeming with frogs. And they are not just in wetlands, either. Apparently, there are approximately 5 000 species of frogs covering every habitat from wetland to desert tundra! Plus, new types of frogs are being discovered every day!

Here are some fun Froggie facts:

  • a group of frogs is called an army
  • one species of frogs does not have lungs… they breathe through their skin
  • the name Kermit has all but disappeared from the new baby list due to our muppet frog friend
  • frogs blink when they eat in order to push their food down… by using their eyeball muscles
  • the largest frog is the goliath frog weighing in at about 3 kilograms, the smallest is merely a centimeter

Obviously, this week I have been learning some fun frog facts — for some reason, I stumbled upon a fabulous frog fact and haven’t looked back since. Wanna see?

The Glass Frog. Carl C. Hansen, Smithsonian Institution

This is a Glass Frog (Centrolenella colymbiphyllum). Its skin is so translucent that you can watch its heart beating, its blood flowing and its food digesting! They used to be a bit of a mystery to the scientific community because they are only translucent on the bottom half. The top of the frog is lime green, which makes sense, as this is the same colour as the tropical leaves they hang out on. As it turns out the hue of their legs blends in even better when the sun shines down on their leafy home — the brightness shifts — adding to an increase in camouflage for these little buddies. How cool. Not to mention a see-through belly where one can watch digestion happen in live-action? Even cooler. I muse again at the handiwork of our Creator!

Javan gliding tree frog

Wanna hear another fun frog fact? I’m just a bundle of frog information this week, aren’t I? Here goes: frogs have a 3 chambered heart. One part for bringing in oxygen from the skin and two chambers for oxygenation of blood from the rest of the body. A good system as designed by a good God.

So why all this froggie fraternizing this week? Diversity. Frogs are a phenomenal example of how vast and diverse a species can be. Each is adapted to their own special gift; perfectly designed for their specific habitat or lifestyle. Should the giant Goliath frog be jealous of the glass frog’s translucency? Nope. Should the tiny tree frog crave the Hollywood lifestyle of Miss Piggy’s Kermit? Even though it’s “Not easy bein’ green?” I say again, no.

Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians that we are all individuals, yet still a part of the bigger picture of the body of Christ. We come with our own unique talents, gifts, abilities and yes, faults. Not all of us are perfect, and many of us struggle to change the bad for the better. Our churches are collections of people with differing opinions and ever-changing views. Some we like, and others we argue over. None has been more evident to me than during these last two years of vaccines, lockdowns and Covid restrictions. Still, I believe God has equipped us with a specific set of skills to be His advocate and further His kingdom to the best of our abilities. I mean, if he can make teeny see-thru frogs, why not the complex brain of a human?

We have the unique ability to rationalize. To think and reason and weigh the consequences of our behaviour. Should we really be so petty to focus on being hearts when we should be being hands or feet, or eyeballs that help swallow our food? God designed us to all be parts of the body! Fully Relying On God, Graciously, In Everything. In case you didn’t get it… that’s being a happy little: “F.R.O.G.G.I.E”

Happy Musing, my friends.

What’s in a Name?

Have you ever had to name something? Perhaps you’ve created a beautiful piece of art and it’s being prepared for gallery presentation; it needs a “name” to go on that little card. A title to say what it is about and why. Great artists and photographers always name their work. I once read a book about a girl who names all of the homes she moves into… both big and small. It gives the place significance. I guess it is more fun to live in “The Corner Cottage” than apartment #2 on Route One next to the old oak tree. Anyone name their car? “Lemons” in my case. Of course, if you are a parent, you’ve had to name your offspring. Were you like us and had a book with baby names, meanings and origins? You made a list of boy and girl names and tried out the short forms and how a first and middle name flowed together off the tip of the tongue. Did you look at initials? That kid is going to be stuck with his or her name forever… it better be good. Worthy of a monogramed towel hanging in the bathroom. Or maybe you chose a family name, passed down for generations, honoring a loved one. Oh, and never the name of that third grade kid who was a “weirdo”… I know a “blank” and can’t call my baby that!

Photo: Days with Grey

Our youngest acquired a new batch of pet rats this week. Yes, rats. That is a topic for another time and place. We are talking about naming things, here. Anyhow… Our rats have always been named after plants and flowers, so picking names can be quite fun. God’s garden gives us plenty of choices… and we’ve had fun attaching traits and characteristics to their names. I’m sure we will be posting on social media this week… so check them out later, if you are interested!

So, what’s in a name? In grade school I did a whole project on that quote from Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliette”. I got a pretty good mark, too. I guess I have been musing about such things for a while. As you know, words and their meanings are captivating to me, so names naturally fall into that category. Special “words” if you may. I tried searching “How many names does God have?” and didn’t get very accurate results. The short answer? “Lots”. God has lots of names. Each significant based on certain traits and characteristics. I guess that’s what makes it so special. Our Heavenly Father could be so many things for so many people: Father, Comforter, Protector, Creator, King… the list goes on and on. Listen to people pray… it’s a good hint about how they view God. How do they address Him when they speak to Him? There is a good list (here), although I don’t think even 950 names are exhaustive. But it is a significant start, if you may be interested in further study. Certainly fascinating.

Our little brains can’t begin to comprehend all the attributes of God, let alone name them. Names are really only a snapshot of something. And God is much much bigger than our tiny understanding of the person we call “God”. Would you agree? Or do you find it easy to label Him? Perhaps based on your needs, you know that God is definitely your “Abba” or your “protector”. Either way, Holy and awesome truly are His name. (Psalm 111). And no matter what your name is, He cares for you and loves you. And that’s the bottom line. Be blessed, my friends!

10 000 Fireflies

Have you ever seen a firefly? Unfortunately, the light pollution in our city makes the nostalgic experience rare and far between most summer nights. Recently, however, I was out walking the dog in a back field out in the country, where the city lights were significantly dimmed enough for me to catch a glimpse of a few lightening bugs calling to each other. I wouldn’t have paid too much attention, normally, but the quiet of the evening and the fact that our chocolate lab is almost invisible in the dark, made me consciously scan the bush edge for unsuspecting creatures or beady eyes staring back at me from the shadows. I smiled to myself as I watched for awhile and then proceeded to ask the dog if he noticed them too? Yes, out loud. Don’t judge me as I talk to the dog, okay?

Photo by: Cathy Kiefer

Being the good scientist that I am, I thought the little beetles might be interesting to learn about… not everyday you see glowing butts as a way to catch the love of your life’s attention, is it? There are about 2 000 species of fireflies — and not all can use bioluminescence. The “glow” is produced to lure a mate and can be green, orange or yellow coloured. It is created by the combination of oxygen, calcium, ATP and an enzyme called luciferase. Luciferase is derived from the (get this!) Latin word for lucifer…meaning “light bearer” and has been a very important chemical in science for detecting all sorts of things in cells and living creatures. It is apparently very efficient — nearly 100% of the energy produced in the chemical reaction produces light.

Yet not all fireflies can boast such (pardon the pun) glowing reviews…some are deceivers. Some use their light to attract prey. The unsuspecting love seeker gets all caught up in the show and gets eaten for its efforts. Some fireflies will actually “steal” other flies from spider’s webs! Packaged lunch to go! Wanna hear the cool word for that behaviour? “Kleptoparasitism.” Researchers still don’t know how the burglars get on and off the webs without getting caught themselves….

Isn’t science fascinating?! But more than that, I think God uses these real life examples to teach us more than cool vocabulary words. So many life lessons are observed by watching the world around us. Is it co-incidence that the most efficient light is named after Lucifer? How attractive he is … and how easily he ensnares us into following him! The little blips of temptation can easily go unnoticed until they catch our eye and distract us into mesmerizing patterns, drawing us deeper and deeper into the darkness — only to devour us later. You need a lot of “darkness” to see the tiny blips of fireflies … surrounding yourself with light will drown them out. In fact, our light pollution is creating a decline in the numbers of fireflies … they can’t reproduce if they can’t find mates. Do you see the lesson here?

The band Owl City has a bubbly little tune called 10 000 Fireflies. (Find it here). It draws us to the nostalgic side of watching fireflies and believing in the “magic” of our childhood dreams. Obviously, life isn’t as easy as our childhood wishes… and frequently we spend sleepless nights worrying about things that are often out of our control. May you be encouraged this week that there is someone who does care about you and your dreams. He’s not “magical” or flashy… He’s simply the God who loves you. And me. The One who created 10 000 fireflies… and the God who made me notice one, so I can tell you the story of how it made me smile on a summer’s evening (and talk to the dog out loud.)