FOTD – April 21

I love Cee’s Flower of the Day Challenge. Now that things are blooming, I have an excused to stay outside.

I love the delicateness of the blooms on flowering trees. They help awaken you to beauty of spring. As you venture out into this beauty, remember it’s delicate nature and how it teaches you of the renewal of life. And remember this renewal is for all living things in their own delicate natures of life. And treat them all kindly.

Basic Needs

The advertisers across the globe will argue with you and confuse you as to the difference between want and need. That brand new sparkly shinny thing you just have to have is a want and it is their job to explain to you why you NEED it.

According to some reports I have read, there are five basic needs for all living creatures – air, water, food, shelter & safety. Every living thing including plants need these things. But I find it interesting that even with these things met, a basic need not mentioned, that if never met, will result in death. So what is the most valued basic need? Love.

Galatians reminds us of the fruits of the spirit and at the top of the list is Love, because without love, the rest won’t work. You can’t have Joy without love, you cant have peace without love, you cant have patience without love…and so on and so on…

I remember a horrible song we sang as kids that we laughed about but as an adult, I wonder how many kids felt like this song : Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, I’m gonna go eat worms. Gross. But it is true. All living creatures need love and affection. We see pictures on Facebook all the time about animals cuddling up to another animal of a different specie just to get some love. They get it.

Biblical scriptures remind us over and over about the importance of love…then Jesus demonstrated a love we could not fully comprehend but are so thankful for. The 15th chapter of John has so many wonderful ways of telling us about this profound love that is available to all living being.

And by abiding in him does not mean Him being over us but beside us…as friends. He wants the type of close relationship with us that you would have with a best friend. One where we feel comfortable to go to him when life is fun, when life is sad, or when life is scary.

And look again at all the attributes of that Love : Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faith, Gentleness and Self Control.

Kindness is an attribute. I push for in all I do and I add it to every post to remind us all of its value. Sharing a little kindness is sharing a little love.

So, Always be kind!

FOTD – April 20

Cee challenges us to find inspiring flowers each day. Now that things are starting to bloom, I can again play with this challenge.

They had the ranunculus flowers out this weekend but I knew this weeks weather would not be good for them to be put so they are currently adorning my coffee table. Possible snow tonight! Go away winter, you have had your turn. Oh, I see one of Mimi’s dog hairs across the petals. Fur gets everywhere!

Remember the power of being kind in all that you do. It’s a value that has not boundaries. All of creation understand it’s potential.

A Photo a Week Challenge: Open

Spring is finally showing it beauty in the midwest, although we may get a light snow tonight. BUT, I am open to the possibility to a marvelous spring. I took this photo on Sunday and they were just beginning to open to share their marvelous fragrance.

I have no idea what the name of this is but you could smell it long before you got to it. Maybe be some type of honeysuckle as it was sweet like honeysuckle. Nancy Merrill’s challenge this week is open. Come join in.

As you open up you heart for spring, remember to open up to kindness. We have all had a very hard year and need to feel the kindness from each other.

Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday is the Thursday before Easter. Maundy is derived from the Latin word for “command,” and refers to Jesus’ commandment to the disciples to “Love one another as I have loved you.” He showed his disciples his servant love by washing their feet and having one last meal together known as the last supper. This is the time that Jesus told the disciples of his death, and that one of them would betray him. They still at this point did not see the big picture or the purpose of Jesus’ mission. I have always wondered if the angels understood what was happening. They are messengers and do the tasks needed as directed by God. But do they see the big picture. We know they were joyous at his birth but did they understand the purpose of his death? I have written a fictional short story to give ideas of what I think may have gone on. Please do not be offended by my imagination, it is not meant to prove any point of truth but only to spark a question of wonder what they were going through.

A Celestial Perspective

Over in the corners you could hear all of their hushed and frantic whispers. “Did you hear what they said He was going to do?”

“Yes. This makes no sense. Why is He doing this? He knows that all He has to do is call us and we would be there in an instant,” one angel said. “Legions of us.”

“I am going to disrupt this nonsense right now,” said a large, impressive angel with brilliant white wings and flowing robes.

“No. Stay your thoughts,” said the Father quietly as he raised a loving hand.  “While your motives may be admirable, they do not serve my purpose.”

“How can His dying serve a purpose?” the angel tried to lovingly argue as some other angels crumbled weakly on the floor. “These creatures are killing Him because of their ridiculous lies.”

“And you and He are…well, Father and Son. Don’t they understand who He is?” said another angel as he wrestled with the unfathomable actions they were all witnessing.

“You…He…are Elohim,” a different angel pleaded, “majestic ruler of all creation.”

“He is their Lord and Master as well. He is Yahweh. Don’t they see that?” pleaded yet another angel as he ran back and forth between watching and pleading at the throne.

“He is Adonai, creator of everything, the heavens, the earth, us…even them. He is in charge of all of creation. Don’t they get that? How dare they do this horrendous deed!” anguished another angel in tears.

“Are you seeing what they are doing?” they asked the Father as they huddled together, fearfully watching the events unfold.

“I cannot,” said the Father as he slowly and sadly turned His back.

“Then why?” they pleaded in total disbelief of what they were witnessing trying desperately to understand how this could ever serve a good purpose.

“It’s all part of the plan. It’s how it has to be,” the Father said quietly. “It’s the only way…for I love them. I must save them from themselves.”

The panicked murmurs stopped as they stood helplessly staring first at each other, then turning their attention down at the horror below. They moaned quietly, for over three hours, as they paced back and forth. Mentally they were not able to watch the entire event. With each passing minute of agony on the cross, they watched with fear and trembling as their beloved suffered, with an unattainable ability to understanding why.

Finally, just before Jesus took His last breath, they watched in anguish as he looked up to heaven and spoke one last time. “It is finished.” As His last words left his mouth, the air with them flew to the heavens and rushed past them. They could feel His love and warmth as the air flew by them and then circle around the throne.

“What was that?” an angel asked quietly as he looked toward the throne.

“His spirit,” said the Father with a deep sense of loss.

Shocked gasps went through the crowd of angels that were standing watching the earth below. Then in amazement, they watched as total chaos broke out with the earth splitting apar. Some of the buildings were crumbling and falling. And deep in the temple, the curtain that separated the sanctuary from Holy of Holies was ripped in two. This was a place of ultimate honor only used for the presence of God, and now it was destroyed.

The angels were scared, shocked and lost in knowing what to do as they slowly gather near the throne. “Now what?” one angel dared to quietly mutter.

“We wait,” was all the Father said as he quietly stood and left the throne room.

The angels looked at each other as the Father left the room. “Wait for what?” they bewilderedly asked each other.

So, the vigil of watching and waiting began of a cold tomb sealed with a large boulder. Each hour a different set of angels came to watch and wonder what was to happen. As day 1 slipped by in time, the angels quietly looked down in wonder of what possibly could happen. His spirit had returned. They felt it as it flew by them on its way to the throne. What were they waiting for? Their hearts were broken and sad at this tragic loss. And what did this mean for the Father. They thought they understood the Trinity. But now a part of it was no more. What did all of this mean?

Day two was more of the same as that of day 1. Quiet groups of angels changed places as they were watching and waiting. The quietness of heaven could be felt, as a coldness seemed to engulf them. And nothing was being heard, no sound at all. Total quiet stretched all through the mass existence of the heaven. The beauty and brightness were now dull and lifeless.

Before the light of dawn broke for the third day, they were all quickly and quietly summoned to the throne. They stood with bated breath as the Father began to speak. There was light back in His eyes. There seemed to be joy back in His voice. He spoke of renewal, of new life, a new beginning. The Son was not gone but was very much still alive. He would come out from the tomb before the dawn broke. The warmth of heaven began to be felt again and joyous melodies were again being heard throughout all of heaven.  The Father spoke of important tasks for his angels, as key messengers would be needed. He would need two to three angels to roll away the stone for the Son to emerge out from the tomb. Then He would need one or two angels to remain behind to meet the women that at that moment were on their way to the tomb. The proper burial rights were not made per their customs and the women knew it was a must to perform this duty.  And they were chosen to be the first to know the great news. They were the first to witness and to inform the others that a new way of life had begun.

The brightness and love of heaven was again making its presence known as some of it reflected its way down to earth in the brightness of a new day. But earth itself had no clue what was about to happen. The people had no clue of the beauty that was about to be witnessed on earth. They had no clue of the tasks that were now ahead of these men and women, these followers of Jesus. They had no clue of how God’s love would now always be there for them. They had no clue of their importance of spreading the good news of a joyous way of life. They all had no clue of the love and joy that was about to surround the earth, and always be available to anyone just for the asking. They just had no clue.

Each angel had hoped that they would be one of those chosen for these magnificent tasks. Their joys and duties of heaven were now fully back in place. Light was flashing all through heaven and the sounds of rejoicing echoed everywhere. But the angels still wondered…who would be that extra special angel that would get to announce…     “He is not here. He has risen.”  Matthew 28:6

Today the earth is still unsure of the beauty and majesty that happened on that third day when the announcement was made, and the time of newness had begun.  All of mankind would now be able to feel the love of God when they allow Him to dwell within their hearts.  From that day onward they would also be able to share in the beauty and rejoicing of heaven.

People, even back then, did not understand that this new beginning is also the beginning of the end. The beginning of the end when Jesus again would, one day, come back to earth to start His reign. People today, still do not understand this phenomenon of love that one day will come. This day will be a time of separation of hearts, a time when astounding love will fill the earth as it does in heaven for all of those willing to accept it. This love was God’s initial plan.

Remember the importance of today as it starts a chain of heart breaking events that ends in a glory we could never fully comprehend. Have a safe and blessed Easter and remember as always to show the kindness as Christ did in giving us salvation when we did not deserve it.

Evening Encouragement, Focus

Good evening friends. This week is Holy Week and all of us are all looking forward to Easter.  Since we have been locked down since Easter last year, we are looking all the more readily at Easter this year as a renewal; a new start. But we must make sure our new start is safe. Carelessness got us as a world in a mess so we must remain focused on safety precautions. Today’s devotion in Quiet Times with God, asks the question – “Where is our focus?”  

I have been watching the series on The Chosen  on Up TV and every time someone portrays Peter, we see Peter’s impetuousness, not in a violent way but a passionate way. Peter flys by the seat of his heart. I think that is what Jesus knew about Peter. Jesus knew if He could ever get Peter to understand and follow through by focusing on His mission, there would be no stopping him.  And that pretty much was how it was, even though he lost his focus multiple times. The impetuous act that helps me the most with my focus is Peter trying to walk to Jesus on the water.  Matthew 14:28-30.

He believed! He knew….but he could not  maintain his focus on Christ.  I think we identify well with Peter because we see ourselves in him. We have a big advantage that Peter didn’t have, we have the Bible. But if we don’t stay focused on its teachings, we too will be easily distracted. Tonight’s words of encouragement in Jesus Calling Evening addition reminds us that circumstances of life can be scary, hard and seem dark beyond our capabilities to withstand.  But regardless of how it all may seem, God assures us it will be glorious and to be patient, have faith and trust God to do the  driving. 

Relax in His wonderful love and have a safe and peaceful evening.  As you breathe in his love and feel His peace come around you, remember to show kindness as God has shown us kindness.

And remember…God’s got this. 

Raindrops of the Heart

Raindrops of the heart can be a sad place to start

As life of those loved around us do inevitably depart

But Raindrops of the heart can also come from joy

As we remember the funs things we both did enjoy

Raindrops of the heart do not always come from grief

As laughter of the heart can show raindrops of relief

Raindrops of the heart are moments to be shared

As raindrops from the heart show moments that we cared.

A Different Kind of Short Story

Friends from the Garden

The sun shone brightly upon the earth below as greenery and life awoke in the backyard garden from its long winter’s nap.

“Susan. Hey, how are you? It is so good to see you again this year. How was your nap?

“It was good Daisy, how was yours?”

“It was good. Feels so great to stretch towards the warmth of the sun.”

“It looks like you have a part there that is not wanting to stretch out.”

“It was a hard winter. I had ice packed in all around me. Hoping the sun will tease it on out.”

“Well, hello there my little beautiful friends.”

“Foxy, how in the world are you? Good to see you rejoin us this year,” said Daisy.

“It’s always good to be seen. Did I miss anything yet?”

“No. We are just getting started. I remember last fall the gardener just threw out a bunch of old seeds in that empty space over there where Lupi was. It used to be just grassy weeds and such. Wonder what will grow there.”

“Oh, I remember ole Lupi being there by herself. Always complaining that her gorgeous pink color was being wasted away in the weeds,” said Susan.

“I remember back in the day when that was a beautiful bed of Lupines, Bee Balm and various lilies. The old gardener left and Morning Glories took over and choked everybody out,” said Foxy as he stretched his stalk toward the sun as new buds for blooms started to form.

“Glory was beautiful but a little wild for my liking,” explained Daisy.

“I agree,” said the every stretching Black Eyed Susan as she bent her petal toward the sun. “But if the new gardener didn’t rake up all of Glory’s seeds when he cleaned out the dried stalks last fall, they will be back. They are quite persistent.”

The sun awakened more wonderful life from the ground over the next few days and green sprouts of various shades were being seen not only around the main bed of established friends but over in the new bed where new life was beginning to show itself.

“Hi everyone,” said a bright red chrysanthemum as she popped up next to Susan, opening her bright petals toward the sun.

“Chrissy, hey. Great to see you again this year.”

“Anything new?” Chrissy asked.

“We don’t know yet,” said Susan. “We are watching across the way to that bed where the Glories took over. Supposedly the new gardener worked in there last fall. But we haven’t even see Lupi yet. She is usually up by now.”

 “I hope the glories didn’t finish her off,” moaned Foxy.

“Or maybe the gardener dug her up,” whispered Daisy.

“That would really be bad,” said Chrissy.

“Look Susan, those stalks are getting tall as you,” said Daisy as the breeze moved them around. “Let’s see if they will talk to us.”

“But what it they don’t like us, like the Glories,” cautioned Chrissy.

“They look to be stem oriented, instead of take-over vines. So maybe they will at least be nice. Yoo hoo,” called Daisy and she called across the yard.

To everyone’s surprise, several stems of various sizes and shades of green turned in their direction with help from the breeze, each swaying lightly. Some of the small stems already had small blue bell shaped flowers. The taller stems had larger buds but were not yet open.

“Hello,” said one of the small blue flowers.

“Hello,” said Daisy, who was always ready to greet anyone with a smile. “We in this small patch of white blooms are Daisies. Those lovely yellow blooms next to us are Black-eyed Susans. And a red chrysanthemum is stuck here in the middle. We wanted to welcome you to spring.”

“Hey what about me,” said the Foxglove being hurt for getting left out of the introduction.

“Sorry Foxy. This is Foxy, he is just getting started. Once he fully opens up and gets his height, he will be amazing. And that red beauty is Chrissy.”

“Thanks, Daisy. I forgive you for forgetting me. Welcome aboard friends to a wonderful garden space,” Foxy shouted over to the new friends.

“The call me BB. That is short for Blue Bell. My family comes from Scotland.”

“Hello BB, said a bud on a tall stem next to her. I too am a bell flower. They call me Tall Bell.”

“May be we can call you TB for short,” whispered BB shyly as she looked up at the tall stem moving in the breeze. “What will your color be?”

“Blue like you, but I am more of a star shape than a gentle bell like you.”

“What is that interesting smell,” exclaimed Foxy trying not to be rude of the pungent smell that suddenly hit the air.

A small quiet voice coughed from the back of the new bed trying not to interfere in the conversation. “Sorry guys. That would be me. I have a disgusting but realistic nick-name of Skunk Weed but I really come from the Spider Lilly family. I am a Rocky Mountain Bee Plant and true to my name, and smell, the bees love me.”

“That’s okay,” said Susan. “Some of us have different smells and some of us have no smell at all. It’s all part of the garden plan.”

“And some of us are liked for how we taste,” came a voice in the back of the original flower bed.

“Chicky baby,” cheered Foxy. “You came back.”

“Whenever I can,” laughed the tall blue Chicory flower as it danced in the breeze. How are we all doing this year? Oh, I see we have new friends. Hello.”

Hello came several calls from across the way.

“Have we seen Sunny yet? He was always such a hoot,” asked Chicky.

“It’s a little early yet for him. Plus the birds usually plant them and I have not seen the feeder get filled yet. Maybe soon,” said Daisy.

As the day wore on, they noticed the gardener come to fill the bird feeder with sunflower seeds so they knew that someday soon, Sunny would be back to visit them. The flowers chatted happily as the sun warmed their hearts making them shine brightly in the sun.

The following morning broke with a grayness all around them. Daisy hung her head and Susan tried to close her petals as a light mist covered them. While the plants themselves enjoyed the water, the flowers worried of bacteria and fungus being in the water that would make them sick and could kill them.

But by the next morning, the warmth of the sun was again surrounding them shaking off their fears the moisture had caused. Daisy stretched her head and followed the warmth of the sun. Susan and her friends hummed softly in the breeze as they swayed back and forth. Then a muffled gasping sound came from the bed across the way as something new was bursting from the ground that was loosened from the previous day’s moisture.  

The new flowers of the bed turned to watch a tall spike begin to raise its head toward the sun. Its top buds were still tightly closed but shades of lovely purple were being seen in the lower buds as they were cracking open to receive the sun’s warmth. The flowers marveled at the lovely shade of purple knowing that it fit so well with their various shades of blue with a few white asters scattered about.

“Oh my,” said the flower once it caught the warming rays of the sun. “That really feels good.”

“Lupi, is that you,” asked Daisy as she stretched to see better, not quite sure what she was seeing.

“Why, of course it’s me. I am the longtime resident of this bed. Who else would it be?” she asked flippantly.

“Well,” said Daisy as she looked over at her friends who refused to say anything, for what they saw was shocking. “I guess we are a bit shocked as you are usually early with us. We were concerned about you being late and…you look different.”

“I was late because I got extra dirt poured over me,” she said defiantly. “When I get my height, I will be as elegant as ever.  I am the same rose colored Lupine,” she said as her voice faded to a whisper as she looked over herself. He rose colors were gone. Too many years she had been in the ground and with age she had reverted back to the original color of purple.

“Oh, no. I am ruined,” she all but sighed. “My beautiful rose color is gone. I am now…old,” she said as she hung her head in sadness. Her tall spike falling next to TB who gently caressed her.

“How can you think you are old?” TB asked. “Your vibrant purple makes the rest of us come together as one. We have been shades of blue with the scattering of white and now with your beauty, you bring us together even more as a family of lovely colors.”

“Really,” she asked.

“Yes,” shouted Daisy and Susan from across the way.

“But I have always been a lovely rose color, now I am the standard purple,” Lupi said sadly.

“There is nothing standard about your shade of purple,” said BB. “My name is Blue Bell of Scotland, my friends call me BB. That tall fella by you is TB, Tall Bell flower and our white star shaped lily like flowers around us are asters. While each of us is quite beautiful, there is nothing as rich as you in this bed.”

“Hey Lupi,” called Foxy, “Remember, it is the Queen who gets to wear the purple.”

“You are all being so kind to me in my sadness,” she said sweetly. “Thank you. I have not always been kind in the past. I am so sorry my, friends.”

“It’s because you were over there by yourself for so long,” said Daisy. “Now you have new friends. Share your beauty with them and let your kindness shine.”

“Thank you, Daisy. And thank you, my new friends. I would be honored to share my height of purple in kindness to show you how kind you are being to me. Let us shine out together.

So as the Lupine, the various bell flowers and aster lilies raised their blooms to the sun, the kindness of that small garden reflected gently in the breezes as they moved through the yard all spring and into summer. And the summer fun of both beds brought in a new fragrance of peace that spread out through the entire yard making it a place where the small creatures, the birds and the gardeners enjoy spending much time.

By Faith…

Good evening friends. Hope you are well tonight. While it was a beautiful day in the midwest today, it’s still early spring yet, so I am not going to get too excited. I do have faith though, that spring will be here real soon.  When I think of reality of faith, the first thing that pops into my mind is Abraham.  He left family and country to follow God’s asking.

A life of faith is not a life of one glorious mountaintop experience after another, like soaring on eagles’ wings, but is a life of day-in and day-out consistency; a life of walking without fainting. Oswald Chambers

How many of us have felt like fainting but by some miraculous ability we remained standing. That’s when God shows up to hold us firmly in His grasps.  In reading the Proverbs 31 Ministry devotion this morning I was reminded of this concept in a different way. Think of a time when you were desperately tired. You have nothing left to give to another being, yet a need came up that you knew needed to be met. And from somewhere deep inside, you found the strength to meet this need. Sometimes, those are the situations where you see God’s intervention the most and you become as much, if not more than, blessed that you wonder if this was the initial reason the help being asked for. Maybe you needed the assurance God still held you close. For when you had nothing left to give…God did.

Remember the story of Jesus feeding the 5000? Do you remember what happened just before that? Jesus had sent out the disciples to go spread the word and they did. As they came back and told Jesus of their wonderful stories, he told them to come, go rest. But what happened? The people found them and followed them and Jesus felt compassion for the people. After teaching them he told the disciples to feed them.  What?? You know they looked at each other, possibly complaining of how tired they were. And now He wants us to feed them? From where? With what? There is one kid with enough sense to bring his own food and that won’t go far. But yet, they picked up 12 baskets of leftovers after feeding 5000. And lets us remember those counted were just the men. There were women and children there as well. Faith. How many times did Jesus ask his disciples “Where is your faith?”  How many times does He ask us? Where is our faith? When I look back over my life, I can visibly see the wonderful times He was there for me, but it usually all in hindsight. He never leaves us.

Tonight, we all have friends, family, fellow church members, people in our neighborhoods who are hurting, scared and who feel like fainting. Please lift them up in His precious name.  We all get weak in the knees from time to time and need His comforting arms surrounding us, holding us up.  Let’s stand together as God’s church, as we lift each other up in prayer.

I so enjoy finding these wonderful pictures on the internet with scripture on them as I am a major believer that pictures reach a thousand hearts and there are many hearts that need reaching across this world. It has been a rough year for all of us and many are still in lockdown. When we do start to emerge out of these forced cocoons, let us remember the beauty of kindness and how kindness gives us a chance to start fresh, regardless of the situation. Kindness is a reflection of God’s love and we can all use some of that.

Be safe and have a great weekend.