Desert Oasis – The Church

“He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water.” ​​Psalm 107:35

Gambel's Quail, Sweetwater Wetlands, Tucson Arizona

Gambel’s Quail; Sweetwater Wetlands Park; Tucson, Arizona USA. June 10, 2018. ©

In the midst of dry, heat-baked Tucson, Arizona there is a lush, green, water-filled oasis. This birding and wildlife hotspot is called Sweetwater Wetlands. Over 300 species of birds have been listed in this riparian paradise. Having visited three times, I was amazed at the number of birds and other critters that can be spotted in under an hour. It is a place of refuge and provision, even as the Arizona heat soars above 100 degrees.

Sweetwater Wetlands is a man-made wetland created from reclaimed waste water that is pumped into a series of pools and streams. Willows and Cottonwoods provide shade and perches; a thick green, organic covering lies over the water’s surface; gravel paths circumnavigate the cattail, bulrush and willow lined ponds. Based upon the number of bird species, and the number of birders that visit the park, it is a welcoming habitat for all.

American Coot Sweetwater Wetlands Park, Tucson Arizona

American Coot; Sweetwater Wetlands birding; Tucson, Arizona USA. © June 10, 2018.

Even we humans need a welcoming refuge! History has always had its ups and downs; from times of prosperity to periods of drought and devastation. The United States alone, in its relatively brief history of existence, has fought in over 120 wars! And on the personal level, our lives can be filled with the vacillations of economic hardships, medical issues, and relationship dramas. It is for this reason that Jesus spoke the words, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

But just like the man-made desert oasis provided by Sweetwater Wetlands, there is a God-made oasis in the parched desert of this world: that oasis is the church! Through all the riot and uproar of the centuries, the church has always stood as a beacon and refuge for ailing humanity. Like the reclaimed wastewater of Sweetwater, the church is filled with men and women whose once wasted lives have been redeemed, repurposed, and renewed by the blood of the Lamb!

Neotropic Cormorant; Sweetwater Wetlands Park; Tucson, Arizona, USA. June 14, 2018. ©

As the nations rage and people plot in vain (Psalms 2), the church cannot be silent. We must stand together, as the church as has always stood, and welcome the weary into the refuge of the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Only Jesus can quench the thirst of hurting man in this world, and in the world to come.

Isaiah 35:5-7 “Blind eyes will be opened, deaf ears unstopped, Lame men and women will leap like deer, the voiceless break into song. Springs of water will burst out in the wilderness, streams flow in the desert. Hot sands will become a cool oasis, thirsty ground a splashing fountain. Even lowly jackals will have water to drink, and barren grasslands flourish richly.”

Hi, I’m wildlife photographer and nature writer William Wise. I was saved under a campus ministry while studying wildlife biology at the University of Georgia. My love of the outdoors quickly turned into a love for the Creator and His works. I’m currently an animal shelter director and live in Athens, Georgia with my wife and two teenage daughters, who are all also actively involved in ministry. Creation Speaks is my teaching ministry that glorifies our Creator and teaches the truth of creation.  — “What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at Your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.” Psalms 104, The Message.

Arizona Hummers – Vacation

Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) Desert Mus-Tuscon

By them (springs) the birds of the heavens have their home; They sing among the branches. He waters the hills from His upper chambers; The earth is satisfied with the fruit of Your works. (Psalms 104:12-13 NKJV)

While visiting the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, we visited their Hummingbird Aviary. They have four species of hummingbirds flying around in their spacious surroundings. Well, actually, a couple of them were sitting on their nest.

Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) Desert Mus-Tuscon

I was excited again to be able to see some of the Lord’s fantastic Hummingbirds. Especially two of the species. I had never seen the Broad-billed or Broad-tailed Hummingbirds before. Thankfully, we saw them again outside the aviary, which enabled me to add those 2 to my Life List of Birds. (264 and counting)

Anna's Hummingbird by Dan

Anna’s Hummingbird by Dan

My camera acted up just as we entered the aviary. What disappointment. Thankful, there was a man there with the exact camera as mine and we were able to get it re-adjusted. Apparently I had hit some wrong button and in my frustration, continued to mess it up more. (None of you have ever been frustrated?) In the mean time, the hummers were doing their thing, totally unaware of my problems.

All the birds of the heavens made their nests in its boughs; Under its branches all the beasts of the field brought forth their young; And in its shadow all great nations made their home. (Ezekiel 31:6 NKJV)

I said that to say, I don’t have as many photos to show, because many were tossed. Here are some of the better ones. Unfortunately, I’m not positive of who was who.





The Chase Begins…

Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus) by Lee

Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus) by Lee

While we were at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum we wanted to see as many birds as possible. Birds from this part of the country were to be prize catches. We spotted a wren and we both turned our cameras on it. We had just arrived and it was the first native bird we saw.

Well, let the chase begin because that bird would not stay put, nor would it come out in the open. Here is a series of photos we took trying to get a “whole bird” photo:

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13 KJV)

The Wren was not trying to avoid us, he was only searching for something to eat and we were searching for it.

As you can see, it finally came out in the clear. Those of you who like to photograph critters will understand the joy and agony of attempts like this. After all these attempts, I later found out that we had seen Cactus Wrens before, so it wasn’t a new “Life Bird.”

Later, we saw Cactus Wrens several more times and they showed off and didn’t give us such a hassle as the first one. Oh, the joys of birdwatching!

Here are some more Cactus Wren photos with the more cooperative birds:

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: (Psalms 139:23 KJV)

Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD. (Lamentations 3:40 KJV)

I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. (Jeremiah 17:10 KJV)

Trust you enjoyed this adventure of our search for the Cactus Wren. They are members of the Wrens – Troglodytidae Family that has 84 species.


Wrens – Troglodytidae Family

Wren – Wikipedia

Sea To Sea in 2015

Wordless Birds



Arizona-Senora Desert Museum – Vacation

Desert Mus-Tucson by Lee

“He found him in a desert land And in the wasteland, a howling wilderness; He encircled him, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye. (Deuteronomy 32:10 NKJV)

The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, And the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, Even with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, The excellence of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, The excellency of our God.
(Isaiah 35:1-2a NKJV)

We spent three days in Tucson, Arizona and were able to see the Arizona-Senora Desert Museum. The plants are so different from what we see normally, though we see a few cactus now and then. There were plenty of neat plants to see and of course birds to watch.

Cactus Flower - Arizona Living Desert Museum by Lee

Cactus Flower – Arizona Living Desert Museum by Lee

Today you will get to see some of the plants and scenery at the desert museum. As mentioned before, the Lord has made so much variety in this world, it is amazing. Just enjoy some photos of this very interesting place.

Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘HE GAVE THEM BREAD FROM HEAVEN TO EAT.'” Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.
(John 6:31-33 NKJV)

What a delightful place! We really enjoyed seeing  the beautiful flowers and weird plants that are beautiful in their own right. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.



Tombstone Shootout – Vacation

Tombstone AZ 2015 by Lee

After quickly passing through New Mexico, (NM Going West), Interstate 10 brings you to Arizona. While stopped at the Welcome Center, again to get maps and brochures, we were told to not miss stopping in Tombstone. We dove the about 25 miles south of I-10 to get there, but well worth the detour.

Have you not asked those who travel the road? … (Job 21:29a NKJV)

We both grew up watching “westerns” and even remember riding one of these as a kid. So, going to Tombstone brought back lots of memories.

Tombstone AZ 5-9-2015 (86)

They have a reenactment of the Shootout at OK Corral, so we watched it. I have a clip of the beginning of it, just to whet your taste. If you want to see it, go to Tombstone. At the end of the video is a Jester, or whatever you want to call him, entertaining some kids.

Many people were dressed up and after talking to several of them, not all were workers in the different businesses. Some where just townspeople who dress and come to town to just be part of the “happenings” like this man and his dog.

Local residents

Local residents

Thinking back, we never took a single photo of a bird in Tombstone. Either they were not around or we were just too busy seeing all the sites. Not to worry, there are plenty more bird photos to come. Stay turned! :)

“The very mention of Tombstone brings to mind images of the lawless Old West, gunfights at the O.K. Corral, epic feuds between the Earps and the Mclaurys and Clantons, Gold Rush fever and the promise of silver and gold. The heritage of the American West is still alive here today, where historic saloons, post offices and the famous Boot Hill cemetery stand restored and painstakingly preserved alongside more modern, tourist-focused recreations of period architecture.” From TripAdvisor

As Christians, we have a different type of “Fight” to get involved in:

The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” (Exodus 14:14 NKJV)

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:12 NKJV)

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8 NKJV)


Tombstone, Arizona – Wikipedia

Tombstone Web

In case you missed the last few Vacation articles:

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