Friday, August 18, 2017

Caterpillar Decisions

We've raised loads of Monarch butterflies the past three years. We carefully scan our milkweed plants for tiny eggs, and have seen many special stages. Tiny just-hatched babies, shedding skin to allow more caterpillar growth, caterpillar into chrysalis, and emerging as a butterfly. So many quick moments, so many miracles in just a few weeks' time.

A couple weeks ago I realized there was one part of the process that I hadn't seen - when a caterpillar goes into a J formation, the very beginning point from "I am a caterpillar" to "I am changing into a butterfly."

The very beginning of that process involves the caterpillar deciding its eventual hanging spot, then spreading silk strands lightly in seemingly random patterns. It goes on another eating binge, something it also does leading up to that point, packing away almost an entire large milkweed leaf (the only food they eat) in just a few hours. It heads back to its spot, creates a little ball of silk to hang from, maybe eats a little more, rests for a bit again, then attaches to the ball of silk, finally stating, yes, I'm doing this.

The caterpillar I was watching had already attached its back feet, so I knew I would soon see what happens. Soon is a relative term, though - I watched intently for about an hour and a half to see the full process. That's coming from a girl that can't hardly sit through a TV show.

This particular caterpillar had chosen to attach to a milkweed leaf that was leaning at the side of a jar. It was upside down along the leaf, all pairs of feet attached. Later in the process it seemed each set of feet was holding to some of the randomly placed silk. Maybe not so random to the caterpillar?

As I watched, its body started to pulse, and suddenly its front three pointy pairs of feet weren't holding on anymore, the front section of the caterpillar hanging maybe a centimeter from the leaf, but unattached.  The caterpillar "rested" (I guess?) about 10 or 15 minutes, then again the body pulsed for a minute, and the furthest back pair not attached to the silk weren't attached to the leaf. Another long period of rest, pulsing, and another front section of feet detached. Rest, pulsing, and another back set away, leaving only the final center set holding it to the leaf. More rest, pulsing, and they were off, the caterpillar officially hanging, visually declaring, I'm becoming a butterfly. Amazing!

It took a little time for it to straighten then curl into the J, but the *decision had been made, and the J is the final show of that decision, before all the big changes start happening.  It's still another day before its skin splits for the last time, revealing the chrysalis.

It surprised me how powerful the whole experience was. So normal in a Monarch's life, so brief, so seemingly unimportant verses into a chrysalis and out as a butterfly, but really, for all of us, isn't the decision the most important point? The, I'm not going to be the same anymore. It's time to be different. It's time to be more than just a caterpillar. I want to fly!

I have to wonder if any of the process is painful - shedding skin, chrysalis, all the changes inside. It seemed changes were possibly already happening in the pulsing as each section of feet let go.

An interesting thing to note - when the caterpillar sheds that last layer of black, white, and yellow skin revealing the bright green chrysalis, before it hardens you can see various butterfly elements, especially wings and body, that just need to develop, take form, beautify, and emerge.

The butterfly was always inside.

Think about that again. The butterfly was always inside.

The caterpillar just needed to grow enough and make the decision it was time to change.

Before and after. Caterpillar to butterfly. Am I still crawling, on the ground in some aspect of my life? What change do I need to make so I can fly?

Alma 30:44 - "The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator."

Moses 6:63 - "And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me."

Since that day, I've watched two others through the same step. One from the top of a jar lid, the other on the side of a jar. Both were very similar processes. I think it's my new favorite part.

* When I was talking to Sam about all I'd seen, he matter-of-factly stated, "I'm sure it doesn't actually decide. It probably just does it." Well ... so?  :)

Some other interesting links:

My favorite video about Monarchs.

Chrysalis Damage - This also leads to another page with loads of detail on chrysalis to butterfly issues.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Topical Guide Study of Jesus Christ

President Nelson challenged first the young adults then the church world-wide to study the Savior by using the topical guide, and wrote about it in this blog post (with pictures of apostle study pages - bonus!).

I decided to take that challenge, however long it takes me.

One early experience - I opened up to study about Jesus as the Creator, read one verse and thought, "Okay, not much earth shattering there..." Before I could go on to the next verse, a family member came in to talk, and by the time they left I was ready to get to sleep. I sent a little prayer up, "Okay Heavenly Father, I only read one verse then this family member needed to talk for a while. What do I need to learn from that?" I immediately felt the powerful answer - not only did Jesus create the world, He created you, and He can help you create whatever you need to.


With so many scriptures (President Nelson says it's over 2,200 citings on those 18 topical guide pages), I'm still at the very very beginning, but I know this will be a meaningful study. I was already getting frustrated with the flipping back and forth between topical guide and scriptures, so I was going to photocopy those pages, then thought I could create a document with them all (it's an addiction), then thought maybe someone else already did it. After searching I found that some had, but I didn't love any of them so I adjusted theirs to make by own.

And so, for your own Topical Guide study of Jesus purposes . . . here you go.

P.S. A couple months ago I read the book The Robe by Lloyd Douglas, which added so much to my love and understanding of the Savior as well. It turned my black and white reading of the New Testament to full and beautiful color. Highly, highly recommended. I loved it so much I had to read more of Douglas' work, so I got a copy of The Big Fisherman and loved that almost as much. Several more of his on my to-read list.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

2017 April General Conference Files

I started putting these together for myself, but my missionary's birthday made me get them done really fast.  Sharing the wealth - enjoy these printable PDF files of the April 2017 general conference.

General Women's Meeting

Saturday Morning Session

Saturday Afternoon Session

Priesthood Session

Sunday Morning Session

Sunday Afternoon Session