FOTD, November 29

I generally don’t have beautiful flower pictures this time of year, and these are in a vase, but they are filled with the color of fall and make my office look happy. Flowers make everything look better and happier.

I first thought the peach colored carnations clashed but the more I looked at them, they seemed to add a different look to the bouquet.

While the yellow mums up front are always a favorite, the multi-colored mums are bold and striking drawing you in to the full beauty of the mix.

The the golden Alyssum drooping from the sides ties them all together with fall colors of warmth and beauty.

Come join in with Cee’s Flower of the Day challenge and share the beauty you are seeing. Share the beauty of kindness where ever you go and its beauty will make you shine.

Reflections of Love, Loss and Encouragement

Good Saturday morning friends. If you celebrate Thanksgiving where you are, I hope It was a wonderful time of family and love. This past week we lost two women from our church family that were synonymous with their biblical names reflecting love, kindness and strength of character. I did not know Mary as well as Ruth but we as a church family will miss both ladies. Even in this last year as Ruth began to slow, her love of Jesus and people never slowed and the power of kindness radiated from her. Something we all should remember and try to copy. 

As we start into this holiday season, first with this past holiday of Thankfulness, we next go into a season of preparation. A time filled with hope, love, joy and peace. Another fierce encourager in our church family gave out a small devotional book to help us prepare for this season, the season of Advent. I realize not all churches celebrate Advent but I think we should all understand its purpose and decide individually whether or not to celebrate this beautiful season. I hope to shed some light by sharing this devotional with you, each week until Christmas, to help us focus on “the coming”. So many of us focus on the coming of Christmas that I think we forget to focus on the coming of Christ. The nation of Israel focused for centuries on the coming Messiah and now that he has come, we need to focus on His return so that not only are we celebrating His birth, but we are focusing on our preparedness for His return.

The circle of evergreen surrounding the candles of advent represents God’s never ending love for each of us. He came into this world to save us. The large white candle represents Christ, an ultimate gift of love from God surrounded by four other gifts from God to help us walk through this darkness.

As we prepare to walk through this season with these gifts from God, lets remember to share these gifts with those around us and to always be kind.

Always Be Kind

The Difference Between Need and Want

Good morning friends. I hope you are well this morning. I am afraid the winter grays are upon us here in the midwest. At least that is how I see it. During the warmer months, the sun shines its light and warmth upon us to reflect the beauty of God all around us.  As the weather begins to cool, the cloud cover appears more often. But there is beauty there also, we just have to look a little harder to see it and feel it. The brightness of the sun is replaced by bright yellow and red leaves. Pumpkins and colorful gourds are in the markets and the corns is getting dry in the field to make food for farm animals. Proof that God is there to fill our needs. We have a needs for all things from God and He wants us to be filled with them.

Many people will not understand how much we need God in all things but those of us who follow Jesus understand just how important our need and His want for us in filling all those needs are tied together.

“Economically, they may manage; intellectually, they may manage; socially, they may get by. But down underneath the surface of rational man is a vacuum-a void that can be met only through Jesus Christ.” Billy Graham

Mankind will continue to believe he can fully fill his needs without Jesus, but the void God created in our inner most depths is to be filled by God Himself. The towers of Babel we try to build to fill that void will still crumble because He wants us to fill that area with Him. It’s kind of a simple hard task – we have needs and He wants to fill them. It’s simple because all we have to do is believe, but it’s hard because it’s a lifelong process. But He is ever by our side to meet any need. I think the trouble man has is understand the difference between need and want. We want a lot more than we need.

So let us reassess our needs today and enjoy God daily gift He wants to share with us.

Dear Father, help us to understand how you want to fill our souls with the beauty of your presence to fill our every need.

Have a blessed rest of the week and weekend and remember always the power of kindness. Kindness can bridge the concerns of a day and allow the waters of kindness to flow out to others in need.

Morning Encouragement

Good morning friends. Today in the Mid-west it is a wet and gloomy day. No rain but just heavy humidity and gray clouds. It is a great day to visualize and understand the true joy of Christ. In my reading this morning in Jesus Calling, Sarah reminded us that joy is not dependent on what we see, what our circumstances are or how we feel. We can be on top of a mountain enjoying the beautiful sunshine or in the bottom of the damp valley surrounded by foggy gloom. Regardless of what is going on around us, we can feel the true joy of Christ.

“True Joy is a by-product of living in God’s presence.” Sarah young.

We are creatures of habit trying to gain our happiness from the things we see instead of knowing or understanding who is standing right by us, that we may not see. God’s presence in our lives not only breaks through the gloomy clouds but can reflect from us onto others as we go through this life.  And there is no limit to the love He wraps around us for us to give also to others.

And although we don’t like the trials, the trials can give us perspective, understanding and hope. And Romans reminds us that “hope does not disappoint”. It strengthens our faith to survive the trials.

The Holy Spirit is ever present reminding us of His constant love even though we may be hurting from the effects of this world. That pain is not forever, but His love is. He speaks of His love all through His Word, and He showed us His ultimate love by dying for us when we didn’t deserve it. So when you face gloomy days, remember the light reflecting off of His face, just for us. He is always close by.

May you feel His love and Peace engulf your possible gloomy times. Know that the brightness of His love will melt that gloom. Embrace it and remember to be kind. Giving kindness, even when not deserved, can show others the beauty of God’s love.

Always be Kind

FOTD -“The Penthouse” Doth Fall

Cee Neuner has created a wonderful challenge called Flower of the Day where we can share beauty, amazement…and laughter. Today we are sharing amazement with a hint of laughter. Last week I posted a FOTD called “The Penthouse” where I highlighted my last sunflower that had been taken over by my Birdnest gourd with a gourd hanging from the drying flower. So we are going to give a little history of this summer’s fun time so you can get a better idea of “summer’s last effort” to hang on.

The sunflower itself grew 13.5 feet tall before it created the largest bloom of any of the other sunflowers planted. I thought it interesting that although all the seeds came from the same package…they indeed did not have the same parents. Or maybe its the magic the bees create as they move from flower to flower. Some plants created many smaller blooms and some created one massive bloom.

The picture to the left was one plant with 16 blooms while the picture to the right is one huge 9.5 inch bloom. The plant that created the penthouse was featured in a separate post due to the massiveness of the stalk – 4 inch wide and 13.5 feet high.

Picture taken early summer , now much thicker

“The summer’s last effort was a thunderstorm to mark the end of 90 temps of summer. While I love summer, this was a hot one and I am glad to see the season begin to change. Although if Farmer Almanac and my exterminator are correct – its gonna be a cold rough winter here in the upper midwest.

When you have a huge sunflower, weighing in at 3.5 pounds, two Birdnest gourds, one weighing 2.5 pounds and mix in 35 MPH winds, that is no match for that 13.5′ high, 4 inch stalk, and down she came. The sunflower measured in at 14 inches and while one the gourds is still attached to the the mass of vines, one broke lose and I brought it inside to hopefully finish curing.

The glare on the tape of the first picture did not show its numbers so I added a second photo. You get a visual of just how large these flowers can get and then the gourd is no small fry. This is not even one of the bigger ones, so we will see how they all do.

Now I wait for the cold air to come in and dry out the vines. It will make an interesting Halloween decoration. Not a big fan of Halloween but it is what it is.

In closing I remind you the beauty and power of being kind. It creates a brightness like nothing else.

Always Be Kind

FOTD – September 8, and Macros

Cee Flower of the Day challenge to day looked to be a macro so I thought I would share some of mine from today’s play in the front yard. September is marching on by and this beauty we now have won’t be around much longer.

First off we have the FOTD star of the day, my last giant sunflower with the rich blue fall sky behind it. And of course the gourd trying to make sure he is in the picture as well.

Lemon Yellow 1en footer

The birds due to their messy eating habits planted 5 sunflowers this year but only two are currently blooming. These are smaller guys at 3-4 feet high.

I have enjoyed watching the different phases of growth on the sun flowers. Due to their size, you can get a good look at each stage of development. The bees are really enjoying these as well so I played a bit with my macro lens. You can see the hair on the bees legs as he gather the pollen to feed his crew.

The breeze was playing havoc in me not getting a good clear shot but his legs are amazing as he walks on top of stamens

The beauty of macro is that you see things you just don’t see with the regular lens.

Check out the stripe of sunlight as it slipped between the petals, the curl of the pollen covered “thingys” and then the star topped “thingys” toward the center of the flower. Can you tell I know very little about flower definition. I know stamens but not which which is which. Regardless, nature is amazingly beautiful.

I am also showing other flowers currently blooming. My baby mums are lovely. And my double dianthus is trying to sneak out from under the gourd plant that has taken over the yard,

Both blooms are small, about 2 inches across but they shine with all their worth. The “bug guy” as we call him jokingly, came by the church today to do the monthly spray for insects and check for mice. He did not have good news for us about the coming season. He was telling us that the wasps, insects and mice are not behaving normal per this time of year. They are all ahead of schedule for their seasonal behaviors. He told us that last time he saw this behavior was the year we here in Iowa had the polar vortex. UGH!!. Even farmers Almanac is prediction a colder that average and longer than average winter. This was a really hot summer this year so it may be followed with a really cold winter. So enjoy the beauty of fall while we can and remember to always be kind.

Share Your World, 9-6

Normally with my blogging I am sharing my world but I thought this would be a fun challenge as I have never done it before. I had a birthday over the weekend and maybe it time to start new challenges. Melanie B Cee does a fun looking challenge called Share Your World where you answer a set of questions and since it is a holiday and I am home, lets play.

QUESTIONS

Do you believe in soul-mates?  (my definition of ‘soul mate’ is the IDEAL partner romantically).

No. I do believe that there are things that attract us to people but if we rely souly on that for a marriage, then the marriage will fail. Marriage is a partnership of respect, work and love.

What are three scents you like?

A summer shower, especially after a hot day. Flowers while still in the garden, lilies are a favorite but roses come close. Christmas trees or evergreen boughs at Christmas time.

What are some things you might be considered too old to do, but that you enjoy?

Going on long hikes through nature. While physically I am sort of able to do that, but due to the stupidity of youth, my knees are shot.

Blowing Rock, NC

What is one food you absolutely refuse to share?

I don’t think I have one. If I find something truly delicious I want to share it so we can all experience it deliciousness. If it is something I myself am making, I make sure I have plenty to go around.

YUM!!! A truly southern delight – pork chop with gravy, turnip greens, black eyes and FRESH stewed tomatoes over buttered bread.

GRATITUDE SECTION (as always, optional)

I am grateful for my health. I told my kids on this birthday that I am not old…yet. When I turn 80, then I may be old. I see may friends who are younger than me who are having health issues usually associated with old age and I am grateful I am not experiencing them.

And in closing any of my posts, I always close with a reminder of being kind.

Always Be Kind

FOTD – August 28, The Workers

What would we have if we didn’t have the little workers who pollinate our flowers? We would miss out on all the photographs plus the unimaginable benefits we get from the work they do. Cee’s Flower of the Day challenge reminds us of the beauty we see all around us throughout the year. So today while I am showing various picture of my sunflowers(before they fell) the true subject is the bees that so loved these huge flowers.

When a bee lands on a flower, the pollen sticks to the tiny hairs on it legs. Then the bee takes this pollen, which is high in protein, to other flowers and finally to feed its developing offspring.

When water is added to the flower’s sugar, it creates nectar. The nectar is a food source for the bees that gives them energy to fly from flower to flowers, pollinating as it goes. If we didn’t have bees pollinating our plants, we would not have the vegetables and fruit we enjoy eating. It is all a part of the many intersecting rings of life.

So enjoy the many circles of life and understand how very much we need each other to survive. And in doing so, remember the extra advantage of being kind within all the circles. Kindness can be sweeter than any nectar from any flower.

Always Be Kind

FOTD – Aug 13, Sad Day

Today we say goodbye to the beauty of my sunflowers. The tallest of the spiers was well over 12 feet high with over 15 huge blooms on one stalk. Some blooms were over 9 inches wide.

Then Wednesday a storm came through and all but one of my sunflowers hit the ground. The picture below was taken less than one minute before she snapped. The weight of even more blooms that the earlier picture proved she was no match for the wind.

The storm took out power as well as limbs and some trees. One year plus one day ago we had a derecho come through that caused massive damage to trees, crops and power. I am afraid that as our oceans warm due to human carelessness, that the collapse of that important system for the entire globe will only make our weather more erratic.

The weight of each of these blooms was almost too much to carry indoors but the are making my table beautiful for now. I had to use a heavy cut-glass vase to make sure the weight of the flowers did not pull the vase over.

But I enjoyed them so much that yes, I will plant them again next year. If you love flowers as a lot of us do, join in on Cee’s wonderful challenge of Flower of the Day. And as always I remind you of the beauty of kindness. It complements any flower of any garden.

Faith Hope & Love, Encouragement & FOTD

Faith, Hope and Love are to me the top attributes to the Christian faith. Today I want to tie that in with flowers and Cee’s Flower of the Day as I show off my sunflowers, again.

When my sunflowers started growing, because I am on the quirky side, I gave them names. Some got a name change due to how they bloomed and some remained true to their name. First we have the King and Queen. The King was the first on the scene, planted by the local bird population. King kept his name due to his flower being the largest of all at 9.5 inches (214.3mm) across. While his height was less impressive, King still stands 4.5 feet (1372mm) high. He looks to be on his way out but he actually is just about fully ripe. If you look at the top you can see the seeds starting to show their heads. Soon he will be a feast for the birds.

The King

Queen is much more flamboyant and beautiful as any queen should be. While her blooms are much smaller at 6 in (152mm) she does showoff with14 blooms and she stands at 8.5 feet (2591mm).

The Queen

As beautiful as these two are, the three that guard my gate as I go in and out have been named Faith, Hope & Love. Faith is closest to the gate to refresh me as I go in and out. Hope is furthest from the gate but like his namesake, he is strong, protective and holds the three together. Love is in the middle radiating his name by reflecting his beauty with leaves larger than my hands together.

Faith, Hope & Love

These three have yet to show their flowers but their stature is quite impressive. Hope, on the far left, is 9.5 feet (2896 mm) tall showing 10 buds to share his smiles with those who see them. Faith, on the right, is a little taller at 10 feet (3048 mm) and seems to have only 1 colossal bud, which is fitting for our faith should be large and strong to carry us through any crisis we face. Love takes over the center position which is fitting as love should be centered in who we are and how we are. Love is also the tallest and the largest at 12.5 feet (3810mm) tall. Its stalk is so large that I can barely wrap my fingers around it. Love has more than 12 buds thus far and I still see buds forming because it is still growing. This is how our love should be – strong, with multiple buds and height to be seen from afar.

I am a firm believer that God shows His beauty of faith, hope and love in all things that he creates for us to enjoy and learn of His caring nature. So look at nature with a different eye and let the fullness of Christ fill you with its various forms of beauty.

And in closing, I always like to remind us all of the power of kindness. Kindness can calm, soothe, encourage and give hope for almost any situation. So remember to always be kind.