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.

Evening Encouragement

The power of encouragement

Good evening friends. I hope this was a good day. In reading my devotions today, I was reminded of two main things – Life is about choices and Jesus is the correct choice, always. Billy Graham reminds us that while we all come from different backgrounds, it’s our choices that drive our direction. When we get discouraged we need to refocus on the future, not next week’s future but the future future – Jesus returning to make things right. When we focus on the brokenness around us, it can be depressing and gloomy but if we gather people who love us close to us and combine that love with Jesus’ love, then we can sustain our position and focus on the blessed day of hope.

The sunlight of His love can still shine in the darkest part of your life. Billy Graham

Succeeding in life has to do with choices and we can choose how we react to any situation.  We can blame  this broken world for our situation and wallow in the muck of it, or we can accept our responsibility of our choices and make better choices. Think how perfect the world was when Adam was here…and the choice he made.  God has always given us the power of choice.

We have to remember that Jesus was also born into this broken world but he changed it by changing people. Billy Graham

I have a new favorite t-shirt that I got from the church t-shirt sale and the back of it says “God’s got my back”.  And I think if we choose to hang onto that truth, He will not only have our back but will walk beside us and occasionally carry us when needed. So hang on to His blessed love and His promise of hope that one day we will be face to face with Our Lord.
Have a wonderful and calming evening and may you feel His peace surround you. And as always, remember to be kind. It helps you be calm as much as the one to whom you are being kind with.

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. 

Negative to Positive

Good evening family. I sincerely pray you are doing well, even those who are really struggling, I pray you can find joy and peace in His presence. I read something last week and caught myself needing it today so I had to check myself.  In Jesus Calling, Sarah Young made the comment of how easy it is to become negative when life explodes around us. We all have those moments where we just vent before exploding and we jump on the negative train as it starts to barrel down the mountain. If we don’t stop the train quickly it will spiral downward gaining momentum and darkening our perspective and possibly ending in an ugly mess at the bottom.

It is hard to not be negative when nothing seems to be going right around us but God tells us to trust him. He has a plan and He has got you in His hand.

When we “go all in” with trusting the Lord, a sense of hope surrounds us and transforms the negatives into positives creating an anchor of  inner peace.

God stands ever ready in every storm of our life to turn those hopeless situations into victories. We may not see the victory at first but with trust in Him we know it will eventually rise to the top. 

So, I encourage you tonight to trust Him and feel His love, hope and inner peace lift you with calm reassurance as He holds firmly to your hand.

Have a blessed evening and great day tomorrow and remember to always be kind.

Never, A Christian Perspective

The word NEVER is an absolute value even though it has nothing to do with math. And when we hear the word never we think of negative actions like “I will never”. In math, a true absolute value removes any negative sign in front of a number making it a positive value. I could not wrap my head around that when I was in college 50 years ago so I surely can’t do it now but…it makes perfect sense when we think of Jesus.

He will NEVER leave you…that is about as positive as you can get. It was so important for God’s people to understand this idea that so He said it again 2 verses later.

Even as far back as Genesis, God reminded us that He would always take care of us. He always honors His promises.

The writer of Hebrews reminds us again….

All through the Bible, we are reminded that he will never leave us – Joshua 1:5, Psalms 94:14, Isaiah 41:10, Matthew 28:20, Revelation 3:10, just to name a few. It is important we do not lose hope when the world blows up around us. He is there, sometimes carrying us when we don’t realize it. There is a new song on the radio that when it comes on, I sing it out loud and raise my hand out the car window. It was written by Zach Williams and Dolly Parton sings a duet with him. I will post it at the end if you care to listen but I wanted you to read a few of the words because the song talks about us straying as we do sometimes …but even then He never leaves us.


There Was Jesus

Every time I try to make it on my own
Every time I try to stand, I start to fall
And all those lonely roads that I have traveled on
There was Jesus  

In the waiting, in the searching
In the healing, in the hurting
Like a blessing buried in the broken pieces
Every minute, every moment
Where I’ve been or where I’m going
Even when I didn’t know it
Or couldn’t see it
There was Jesus 


 No, I never walk alone
Never walk alone
You’re always there


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BU0P19V_EFs
Always remember He is as close as your reach so let that fill you with hope to face whatever you have to face and try to do it with kindness.

Have a blessed day.

Friends on the Couch

How many of you love to sit around and enjoy each other’s company? Envision a group of family or friends sitting around and laughing as they tell stories of old. Sometimes they are scary, sometimes they make us laugh and sometimes they make us cry. But being together with friends and loved ones is what makes the stories worthwhile.

friends

This morning as I read through the Jesus Calling devotional, I remembered many times of the full pleasure this brings us. I recently wrote a book showing how much fun this could be with wonderful groups of friends or family just sitting around telling stories from the past. But we need to remember, there is a very important friend we need to invite that desperately wants to be a part of our group, he wants to join in with our fun, laughter and tears and that would be Jesus. He wants to be a part of every moment of your life.

Jesus laughing

He can enrich our fun and turn our dull grayness to wonderful brightness. When we get stuck in the dullness of everyday tasks, we have a tendency to to forget life’s joy and we descend into the unfocused grayness of discouragement. But if we realize this is happening and refocus our minds and hearts back on Him,  He will lift us back where we need to be, guiding us back to Him on a wonderful bright path of joy.

Psalm 16 11

Yes, this sounds a little far fetched and an unreal way of thinking, but I promise it is very real and well worth the try. We were each created for a purpose that only He knows and guides and we are never meant to do it without Him.

Acts 17 28

His presence goes with us, wherever we may go. You may not feel His presence, you may even deny He is there, but I promise you He is always there. There is a saying that zips through facebook and other social mediums stating that while we prove to Him many times that we am not worthy of His love, He ignores it and loves us anyway. How can you not want that sitting with you on the sofa.

Hebrews 13 5

So my theory is this, if He is going to be there anyway, then offer Him a seat on the sofa and watch the room begin to glow with His love and presence. And when he reaches over to take your hand, grab it firmly in yours and hold on tightly, it will be a fantastic ride.

Psalm 63 8

I leave you with this prayer of encouragement.  Ask Him to remain close to you and guide your way…He has already said yes.

Thank-God-for-Endless-Love-Lamentations-3-22

And as always remember to be kind. It is the most under rated quality of mankind.

Elephant kindness

Mother Nature at Her Worst

A Derecho

Life can be hard but as you will begin to see

It seems easy compared to what happened to me

The storms clouds came in thick and dark as night

It took us by surprise, no one expected this sight

D 3

The winds began to blow as they roared down the plain

D 4

Tearing everything up it touch, like a runaway freight train

Those along the coast know how hurricanes can be

But here in the midwest, its tornadoes we usually see

The width of the destruction on an in-land hurricane

D 5

Makes our widest tornado look like a minor pain

A reminder to us all, no matter where we live

Mother Nature is a force, her respect we must give.

Anita Neal

When you get slapped in the face by something you can’t describe or understand, you write about it to help ease the pain. I was a very fortunate being through this fiasco but I have many friends who were not as fortunate. Some paid with their lives.

There are still areas without power, and cleanup will be for months. Some of these trees were decades if not over 100s of years old. Two other picture I wanted to include but it didn’t fit in the poem was one house was hit by an airplane wing that had been ripped off of a plane and sent flying. The other one was where a house was destroyed and a beam from it was sent through a house across the street.

If you are a prayerful person, please send this part of the US your prayers. Much loss of homes, business and the farming industry was crushed. And I don’t even want to talk about the wild animals that were killed and displaced.

If you care to see further pictures, they are all over the internet. Look for  Iowa 2020 Derecho.

It is hard for me to close as I always do, but now more than ever, this world needs to see, feel  and receive as much kindness as we can share with each other. There are lots of storms facing all of us all over this world. Please always be kind.

kindness1

A Evening with Psalms, Encouragement

Tonight I am posting an evening encouragement in the form of a reflection with a few of the Psalms written by David and others where they poured out their hearts in writings and songs with love to God. On nights when I can’t seem to sleep, I will turn to this book and just breathe in His peace and encouragement of the Psalms. This is just an example of the consistent love God has for us. In reality, this post could be really long as there are lots of good encouragement in the Psalms but I will pick out a few we don’t read as often and maybe sometime later, I will do it again. Tonight I will start at Psalm 1 and go onward. Enjoy and be encouraged. I took these pictures from christian websites.

Psalm 1 6
 
He knows us from the inside…
 
Psalm 11 7
 
We all know this next one but I had to use it. It’s a favorite.
 
Psalm 19 14
Even though it is hard to rejoice when we are hurting, scared or overwhelmed, we know deep down we can rejoice quietly on the inside and he will hear.
 
Psalm 32 11
Always remember he will guide you…
Psalm 37 23-24
This next one we need to always remember and hang onto every letter of each word.
Psalm 48 14
I leave you with this short bit of encouragement from Isaiah 41:10 in hopes that you do indeed sleep like a baby tonight with peaceful assurance of God’s love for you.
Sleep like a baby
And as always, remember the ripple effect kindness brings as it fans out to others.
kind ripples

Nightly Encouragement, Laughter

Recently we started a new out-reach with our church to do evening encouragements. Normally people do morning encouragements to help get your day going but with Covid still among us and seeming growing for a second wave, we felt like all of our members could use some encouragement at the end of the day so yesterday we rolled out the Nightly Encouragements. The pictures are not mine but found on Christian websites that matched the message of encouragement I am trying to share. Tonight we are discussing the value of laughter. My hope is that if you decide to read on, that you are in some way encouraged to stand firm for another day.

In a time such as this, where we are weighed down with life around us…we need some laughter. We have been told laughter is the best medicine but laughter has many documented medical benefits as well.

laughter

But better than that, the bible tells us laughter is good medicine…
cheerful heart
The benefits of laughter make us glad….brings us joy…and make us smile..
Psalm-on-Laughter
When we are filled with joy, we are kinder people. When we are filled with joy, we reflect the love of Christ.  So, let us always be filled with Christ and reflect His grace.
 
God's love
Even when times are tough, things look bad, you can’t see a way out…remember God is always there. He is our rock that we stand on, our hope that we cling to and our peace that knows no other understanding except Christ alone. I leave you with this prayer in hoping a bountiful measure of blessing gets poured on you and your family.
God
sleep well
And as always…try to be kind
kind smile

A Little Nighttime Encouragement

With our hectic lives that we live, zooming here to there or staying closed off in our homes, we all need a little encouragement that everything will be okay…eventually. While no one can guarantee that, I can guarantee this…you are truly loved by God and I share this with you as a little encouragement to help keep you going.

To be encouraged is to be filled with courage, to face life as it moves around us. Let’s face it, there are many things we come upon that fill us with fear and discouragement, like… Is this what I need to do, am I good enough to get it done, did I do it right according to whomever, the list is endless…  but Jesus encourages us with His word as He reminds us that all discouragements that have ever made in this world… He has ultimately squashed…

image

It is the enemy’s job to undermine out thinking, making us feel fear and uncertainty. While we are now in the middle of scary and uncertain times, I know for certain who really is in charge, God. While we do not understand His ways, we can understand His love. So let us snuggle up to Him as He gently gathers us in His loving arms for the evening. Let us relax in His tender mercies with the hope he grants us for restful sleep and encouragement for facing another day tomorrow.
image (1)
Have a blessed evening. And remember to be Kind. It is a true reflection of Love.
kind moon