Category: flowers

If a Rose needs support – do I?

rosetrellis

I bought a trellis for my rose bush this weekend.

It’s for its own good.

It gives stability for the plant’s long, gangly branches that hang down to the ground. And it provides a framework to display its beauty.

But does the rose understand what I’m doing for it?

Does it resent being tied to a frame – limiting its growth to one direction or one plane? Is it grateful for the support? The stability it offers? Will it feel different from the other plants that don’t get that kind of support?

 

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This project caused me to think about my life and how I am like a rose bush

I want to have the freedom to go in any direction I choose or feel led. But do I need a trellis?  And what is it for me?

 

 

book-1936547_640For me, the Bible gives me guidance, structure, some might say wisdom. But do I see it as wisdom and embrace it willingly? Always? Or sometimes, do I see it as restriction, leading me in a limited path that seemingly restricts my freedom of choice?

 

I would love to say I embrace it all the time. But I have fought it, tried to get around it, occasionally wondered what my life would be had I taken a different path.

I hope, with the support of the trellis, my rose bush will stand tall, displaying its beauty and fragrance for all to enjoy.

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And I hope my life will be the same. That God will be my gardener. And that I will embrace His Word to direct, guide, encourage, support and strengthen me whenever and however I need it. So that I will stand tall, displaying His honor and His grace for all to see.

 

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Through Nature – God Speaks

The air was still, and cold enough to make your breath visible. There was a crispness in the crunch heard underfoot. The panorama of clear blue sky, bright shining sun, frigid lake and majestic mountains lay ahead like a still life watercolor. The one newly added element of beauty: a crystal, sparkling cover of frost on everything close to the ground.

ice twigs bird

Just yesterday, each individual blade of grass stood erect at attention, solid in its color, shape and form. Broad leaves on the grapevine fanned out, completely concealing clusters of heavy, ripe fruit. Tiny blossoms on the ground cover delicately looked up to form a carpet of color.

Beautiful? Yes. But this morning, the frost gives a fantastic surreal quality to the whole scene.

frostgrassThe cold has caused everything to bow down.

The tall blades of grass, still firm at their bases, are bent low in their length, all in a similar posture. The grape leaves droop from the stem, revealing bountiful clusters beneath. The small flowers, already low to the ground bend in humble submission. And yet, in this portrait of prostration, this vista of genuflecting humbleness, there is an exalting of each individual entity.

frosted leaf

The frost has covered and completely encased each blossom, each leaf, each blade of grass, redefining its shape and form in glittering beauty. The special uniqueness of each stands out and is magnified in glistening profile by the sun! What a picture of being humbled, but exalted, of bowing low, yet being lifted up!

Scripture tells us that one day every knee will bow, and for those who humble themselves in the sight of the Lord, He will lift them up. This very scene is played out in nature for us to see and appreciate.

frosted bent flower

It’s as if the plants represent us, bowing in the presence of our Lord. The frost is like the Holy Spirit on those who are believers. His light will shine on us and define us with a beauty that surpasses our own and exalts us in His presence.

This magnificent scene, so uplifting in its beauty, was short-lived; lasting only a few minutes before the heat from the bright shining sun took its toll on the icy beauty..

The image it created in my mind of what is to come will be with me always. I remain grateful that through nature…God speaks.

God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, His ways are not our ways

When I woke up, my throat was dry and sore. My head was stuffy and my nose was running. I began reorganizing my day so I could get the kids off to school and then snuggle back into my warm bed for several hours of recuperative rest.

There are not many things that would have thwarted this endeavor. But, when I called out to my youngest son to wake up and he responded with a raspy, croupy voice, that was one of them. I got out of bed and ran a tub full of hot water to make a steam room, and got him in there. Silently, I hoped my plans of sweet slumber would only be slightly delayed.

A trip downstairs to look at the calendar revealed that he was not buying the hot lunch selection offered at school, necessitating making him a lunch. AND that it was Band day, meaning an extra heavy load for him to carry. As I started the lunch, his friend and walking buddy phoned to say he was ready to go early. Since Collin was not ready and the steam would take a little while to work, I told his walking buddy to go on without him. Now the prospect of making him walk to school, late, alone, and carrying his trumpet was too much. The obvious solution: I should drive him.

I made his breakfast and took it on a tray upstairs to the steam room. He was sounding much better. After making his lunch and filling his backpack with various permission slips and homework papers, I resigned myself to get dressed.

In 20 minutes, he was looking, feeling, and sounding fine. With one last glance at my now coiffed covers, we were off.

my-lakeRight by the school is the lake I usually walk around for exercise and inspiration. While it had not been my plan for this morning, (remember my dreams of snugly slumber?) the fact that I was up and dressed and all the way to the school left me no acceptable excuse.

Even though walking the lake is something I really enjoy and something I know is good for me. I can come up with a myriad of excuses to avoid actually doing it. But God seems to know when I need it most. And when he wants to teach me something. Being close to nature makes me look and listen more intently to what He might have to say. So forgetting my sore throat, I began walking.

dahlia-2823975_640Not even a quarter of the way around the lake, I stopped to admire a beautiful dahlia. This tall blossom had grown huge and strong and boldly faced the sun. I remembered how many flowers bend to grow towards the sun; some even track the sun as it moves across the sky each day. I began noticing that other plants had oriented themselves towards the sun too. Not only the flowers, but some bushes had obviously sent more branches out in the direction of the sun.

What a lesson!

How often do we stand tall and face the Son? And how often do we shade ourselves a bit? Are we afraid of what His true light would reveal?

Facing the sun/Son is saying, “I am ready to receive what you will give me.” The flower receives sunlight that helps it live and grow. We receive life and growth and so much more from the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. God is prepared to send down His grace, forgiveness, love, peace, joy, guidance, direction, protection. We need only turn to face Him.

This flower, looking full into the face of the sun, reminded me of the words to a song I love:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full in His wonderful face

And the things of the world will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace

©1922 Helen Lemmel

As I continued around the lake I realized the truth of the statement in Isaiah 55:8-9 “God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, His ways are not our ways…”. My thought had been to stay in bed, hidden from the sun. But God knew I needed the healing power of facing and focusing on the Son. Being up and out had cleared my head and encouraged me for the day. I am so glad I walked around the lake and saw that dahlia.  So glad I can trust that He knows what I need better than I do.  So can you.

 

Casting Down their Golden Crowns

At the end of summer, the bounty of the season becomes plainly visible. Fruit trees are heavy with ripening fruits of all kinds. Vegetables are on their second or third crop. Vines of gourds and squash are laden with maturing produce.

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One of the most dramatic looking plants is the Giant Sunflower. These can grow to be 10-12 feet tall, with thick, bulky stalks and large, broad, flat leaves. Most spectacular, however, is the head of the sunflower. The bright yellow-orange petals stand at attention around a wide dark platform of seeds up to 2 feet across!

The larger these giant heads, the more they weigh. Often, these giant sunflowers will be seen with their heads braced by support poles or with ropes making a sling of sorts to help with the weight. Still, the heavier and more abundant the seeded head, the more it droops. Eventually, it may bend down all the way to the ground, if it doesn’t snap the stalk first.

sunflower-1705178_640Several of these extraordinary flowers grow around a lake nearby. Early on, they overshot many of the other flowers in the bed. By mid-summer, they were towering over everything else, standing alone as giants among the rest. Watching them grow all summer was exciting. But soon it became obvious that the strain of the large showy heads was too much for them.

The sheer weight of the head of the flower began to bend the stalk. The spectacular golden-crowned heads, bowing down reminded me of the lyric in a hymn about the future:

“All Thy works shall praise Thy name in earth and sky and sea…

Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea”

from Holy, Holy, Holy by Reginald Heber © 1826

What a posture of homage these majestic flowers assume depicting our purpose and privilege on earth is to attain crowns so that we may offer them to Jesus. What a beautiful image, illustrating how one day we will all bow down and lay our crowns at the feet of Jesus: a token of our gratitude for what He has allowed us to experience and produce in our lives.

Rev. 4:10 gives us this: “…the 24 elders fall down before Him who is seated on the throne… and cast down their crowns before the throne,” to honor and glorify God.

It is not our purpose to be grandiose and showy, but to honor God with what we are, to worship Him with what He has allowed us to produce. These beautiful colorful flowers will always remind me that what we are given is for God’s glory.

And our posture should mimic nature’s own.

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The Weeds are back!

Just when I think the lawn is greening up and looking alive, I realize the green I see is mostly weeds! They probably never left but just lay dormant until Spring’s rain and sun coaxed them out of hiding.

One way to deal with weeds is to poison them. But if the weeds are in or near areas of desired vegetation, the poison will kill the good plants too. So the solution is to pull the undesirable weeds out of the places where desirable plants are growing.

I’ve learned two good steps in getting rid of weeds like this: prepare the ground, prepare yourself.

1 – Prepare the ground. In order for the ground to be willing to give up the weeds, it must be prepared in advance. If you go out and mow or just start pulling, you’re liable to only get the weed tops. When the roots remain, all you’ve done is stimulate the plant to grow more vigorously! It will come back again and again, each time more hardy than the last.

pulling-weeds-samanthas

So a day or so before the uprooting, the ground needs to be thoroughly soaked and maybe tilled a little. Then loosen with a pitchfork of sorts to break the hold the cemented soil has on the roots. When this is done pulling up weeds and getting the roots is more successful.

photo by samanthas

2 – Prepare yourself. This step is intended to protect you during your weed-pulling excursion. Sunscreen or protective clothing may be desired to limit the sun’s burning ultraviolet rays. There may be strategically located places on your body that are exposed during the squatting and bending hours of pulling weeds that burn very quickly and can leave you hurting when the work is done. Also, a mat or pad to kneel on or lean down on can save your lower back from the discomfort of bending at the waist.

Use a hand tool to break up the earth when it seeks to hold the roots tighter than your own arm strength. The final protection: appropriately thick or leather gloves to give you the firm grip you need to get leverage on the weeds as well as protect your hands from thorns and stickers.

Prepared in this way, you can enjoy a wonderful experience of clearing an area of ground to allow grass or new plants to take root. And they can grow unencumbered by the choking demands of unsightly weeds.

And so it is with life.

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Weeds of bitterness, jealousy, shame, anger, and fear can ruin your enjoyment of life. They can get a stranglehold on your sense of peace and destroy your attitude of Christian love. They show up as ugly and undesirable feelings, as cross, unkind words, as unloving attitudes. But you can tackle them!

Following the same guidelines as for gardening, you can have a beautiful, healthy, enjoyable life, growing in peace and joy.

1 – Prepare the ground. Spend time in prayer asking God to go before you and to be at work in the situation causing you pain. He may choose to change the circumstances, but He may also choose to change something in you. Be willing to accept what God tells you is needed. Ask Him to work in the circumstances and in the lives of any people involved.

If you need to go to someone and talk to them, ask God to safeguard the time set aside for the meeting and prepare their hearts to help you remove the weed between you. Also ask God to send the Holy Spirit to be in control and guide both your words and their responses.

2 – Prepare yourself. Go forward in the full armor and protection of God. To be cleansed in His perfect forgiveness, confess any sin in your life. Be especially specific involving the “weed” situation you are working on. Ask for and accept His forgiveness, cleansing you from your sin, guilt and shame.

Then prayerfully ask for God to give you His perspective on the problem. He may want to teach you something through this difficulty. Ask for His will to be done in the situation. Ask God for wisdom to show you how to get a grip on and remove the root of the issue. And put on the armor of God found in Ephesians 6 to protect you from anything that might keep the “weed” alive in your life to defeat you.

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You may discover that the biggest, meanest looking weeds give way easily when God has prepared both you and the ground.

Don’t be afraid to tackle the weeds!

 

Keep pulling on them and working the ground till they give way and are gone! In this way, you can be a victorious Christian, enjoying the fruits of the Spirit taking root and growing unencumbered in your new, weed-free life!