World Turtle Day | JOY for Today

After watching my turtle recover from his tumble down the stairs yesterday (he's alright), I realized this is what turtles do: they take risks. They don't know what's at the bottom of that fall, but they trust their shell to protect them. I wonder, what shell protects you? Does your shell of protection provide joy and confidence or fear and isolation? 

A turtle in the background with text overlay that reads: "And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart." - Ezekiel 36:26
Meet Our Turtle: Waldo

World Turtle Day Stops:

Did You Know:

  1. Turtles existed alongside dinosaurs? Turtles lived more than 220 million years ago, before snakes, crocodiles, and alligators. (World Atlas)
  2. The oldest turtle on record lived to 188? Named, Tu'i Malila, this female radiated tortoise lived on Tonga Island but was originally from Madagascar. (Tongan Tribes)
  3. More than 356 species exist? There are thirteen families of turtles: leatherback, soft-shelled, snapping, and tortoises to name a few. (World Atlas) See a complete listing at Turtle Owner.
  4. Every tortoise is a turtle, but not every turtle is a tortoise? Turtles are better suited for (and spend more time in) the water. If you're not sure, look at its legs: a turtle will have legs like flippers and a tortoise's legs are shaped like an elephant's. (Nashville Zoo)
  5. Turtles make a wide variety of noises?  Considered noisy creatures, the noise they make depends on the situation. Some known turtle sounds resemble electric motors, barking dogs, clucking chickens, or hissing cats. (World Atlas)
Read more about Turtles:

We'd Love to Know:

Which fact most interests you?

Wolfe Stew Connects

We love turtles. The proof of our turtle fondness resides alongside us and is currently voiced in the continual thudding that accompanies the clicks of my typing. 

His name is Waldo (though it wasn't always). He's an ornate wood turtle (links to informational article from All Turtle) and was purchased on false promises. His origin story coincides with one of the first times I realized the Mr. is not always honest (and again, in his defense, who is?).  

Travel back with me, if you will, to the early days of our marriage. While browsing the weekend swap meet, the Mr. happened upon a booth selling tiny turtles and transformed into a two-year-old before my eyes. Incessant begging and promises ensued: "Please can we get one? I've always wanted a turtle. They are so cute! I promise you won't have to do anything. I'll take care of it." 

I said no.... getting one from the swap meet. I wasn't sure where they had come from and how well they had been cared for. We would get one instead from a pet store. Why wouldn't I agree? It was a win-win situation for me: it would bring my husband joy and he'd care for it. 


Well, Waldo did (and does) bring the Mr. joy, but he does not care for Waldo (except in my absence). I am, and have always been, Waldo's primary caregiver. Acquiring Waldo has taught me two things: 
  1. Be cautious of the Mr.'s schemes when he transforms into a two-year-old. 
  2. Turtles are fun pets.
Fun? A turtle? I understand your skepticism but it's true. With Waldo, fun started during the naming process. See, we didn't name him right away. Every name we tried didn't stick. Waldo earned his name when one day we lost and couldn't find him again for several hours. This turtle is a hider. So, Waldo he became and "Where's Waldo?" (Wikipedia) remains a common phrase in the Wolfe Stew household.

I'm glad we didn't rush into choosing a name for Waldo. Names are important: they establish our identity, are the first piece of information we share about ourselves, and are the most meaningful word to us personally. When we hear our own name, we pay attention. When someone remembers our name, we feel honored. Proverbs 22:1 says: "A good name is better than great riches." We should live a life that honors our name. 

Yet no matter our name now, God has a new name for us at the end of the fight. A name that will be written on white stone that only you will know (Revelation 2:17). When I told our nephew about this, he was appalled. "But I like my name!" Me too. I like my name too. But it leaves me wondering: what name did My Creator, The Only One who truly knows me, choose for me? I have a feeling that when I gaze on that stone of white and see my name emblazoned thereon, I will fully accept and be humbled by the name He chose because He knows me.

And being known and still loved is exactly what we search for in this life. But though we desire it, the truth is, many (if not all) of us are turtles living comfortably inside shells of protection. Not just shells that hide us, but shells that distance others. Shells of pride, pretense, fear, insults, stubbornness, and violence. We try to keep others away. Why? Because it's easier than being vulnerable. Being vulnerable means sharing who you really are and opening the door to the possibility of rejection and ridicule. It means exposing your underbelly. Yet, if we are to truly connect, we need to learn to be vulnerable and trust God to be our shell of protection. A good step toward vulnerability is praying for God to exchange our heart of stone for a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26 and The Case for Christ). 

The choice toward vulnerability starts when you identify that you are sheltering yourself from others and continues when you accept the need to let others in. Identifying our battles is the focus of May's GROWTH for Today Calendar. If you can benefit from learning to accurately identify the battles you're facing, won't you consider joining us in our training regimen? Each day features a short, targeted activity built around learning to accurately identify our battles. Battles that are won when we lower our shields and let Jesus in. Welcome to the fight, Warrior! We need you.

We'd Love to Know:

How you feel about being renamed?

Turtle Inspired Bible Verses and Quotes 


  • "Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the Lord." Jeremiah 8:7 KJV
  • "And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart." Ezekiel 36:26 NLT
  • "Any coldness still between us is not because of any lack of love on my part but because your love is too small and does not reach out to me and draw me in. I am talking to you now as if you truly were my very own children. Open your hearts to us! Return our love!" 2 Corinthians 6:12-13 TLB
  • "Let everyone who can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches: Everyone who is victorious shall eat of the hidden manna, the secret nourishment from heaven; and I will give to each a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one else knows except the one receiving it." Revelation 2:17 TLB
  • "Again I looked throughout the earth and saw that the swiftest person does not always win the race, nor the strongest man the battle, and that wise men are often poor, and skillful men are not necessarily famous; but it is all by chance, by happening to be at the right place at the right time." Ecclesiastes 9:11 CEV


  • "Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out." - James Bryant Conant
  • "Slow and steady wins the race." - Aesop
  • "I would honestly say I'm in the turtle's race. My journey is a marathon." - Omari Hardwick
  • "God ultimately raises up leaders for one primary reason: His glory. He shows his power in our weakness. He demonstrates His wisdom in our folly. We are all like a turtle on a fence post. If you walk by a fence post and see a turtle on top of it, then you know someone came by and put it there. In the same way, God gives leadership according to His good pleasure." - Matt Chandler
  • "Turtles always strike me as devastatingly serious. If turtles could talk, I'd believe everything they said." - Erin O'Brien

We'd Love to Know:

Which verse or quote most closely matches the way you think of turtles?

World Turtle Day Activity Suggestions

Because turtles, like ants, exist on every continent except Antarctica (Turtle Owner), it's likely that your learners are familiar with these reptiles. Act on that. Use that turtle knowledge to engage learner interest. Cowabunga!

Our Nephew's Suggestion:

"Care for your turtle - if you have one. Or, dress like one." 

Head to PetMD to learn turtle caretaking tips.

Turtle Costume Ideas

Our Suggestions:

  • Read Memoirs of a Tortoise by Devin Scillian, illustrated by Tim Bowers (links to Celebrate Picture Book's review). Written from the tortoise's perspective, this beautifully illustrated book provides a unique opportunity to talk about life and death, compare and contrast animals, and notice details about tortoises.
  • Craft turtles from an egg carton (directions at the bottom of Celebrate Picture Book's post). 
  • Play games with your crafted turtles. Directions for a memory-recall game called "Follow the Turtles" is at the bottom of Celebrate Picture Book's post. Also suggested is "Turtle Tic-Tac-Toe."
  • Model turtle habitats with shoebox dioramas 
  • Map Natural Global Turtle Habitats
    • Start with a blank world map (from Blank World Map) or create your own.
    • Choose a turtle from each continent using Turtle Owner's list of turtle species.
    • Indicate and label the natural location of each turtle on the world map. (Consider including a small picture of the turtle, the turtle's name, and the name of its natural geographical habitat.)
    • Add more turtle species, if desired, to spruce up blank spaces.

We'd Love to Know: 

An activity you would add to our list.

We’re excited to share one more day with you and wish you JOY for Today and HOPE for Tomorrow. Check in next week for...Memorial Day!

Fighting the Good Fight with You,

Red stew bowl with steam rising from top. Wolfe Stew crawled on front.

Find even more JOY for Today in our monthly calendars, holiday, and seasonal posts.


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