Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Abe Lincoln and Kindness

Recently I purchased Abraham Lincoln's Daily Treasure: Moments of Faith with America's Favorite President, edited by Thomas Freiling. I thought it would be an interesting read, and I love to read about people of faith in the past.

The other morning I read "On Acts of Kindness" and thought you'd enjoy this piece: "One morning President Lincoln asked Major Eckert, on duty at the White House, 'Who is that woman crying out in the hall? What is the matter with her?' Eckert said it was a woman who had been expecting to go down to the army to see her husband, but because an order recently had gone out prohibiting women from visiting the army, she could not see him. Mr. Lincoln sat moodily for a moment after hearing this story. Then suddenly his face lit up with pleasure. 'Let's bring him up.' The order was written, and the man was sent to Washington. It was spur-of-the-moment decisions like this, small acts of kindness, that endeared Lincoln to the American people. Do you take a break now and then to show an act of kindness? It will not only make you feel better, but it will help give you a reputation like Lincoln's."

As we all know, it is the little things that one does that makes a big difference. I always find it inspiring to read of the lives of others and learn what they've done to make a difference.

                    The girls were taking a rest one day, and I caught their pensive mood.

I knew I was not going to be able to do a lot in my gardens this spring while my body was trying to gain strength and energy. I was able to rake up some leaves and debris in April, but mainly I just watched as plants started growing. But this month of May I have been astonished at the health and beauty of the gardens. Just knowing I didn't do anything to enhance them this year, the gardens are full, the flowers are blooming and the beauty is delicious!

       This is the 4th spring for my first garden. Jerry put down a stone path that isn't quite complete.
                                                  The two Wiegelia bushes are in bloom.

My gardens are full of perennials, and for the most part, there is little care needed. But because of my illness this year, my joy is especially full, knowing I didn't do anything to help. If you're not a gardener, there's always hope that one day you'll find yourself digging in dirt. I was 63 when it happened for me!

This is the 3rd spring for my second garden. Poppies are blooming, the Geranium bush next to it is in bloom, pale blue flowers, the Pulmonaria in the foreground is in bloom, and the Clematis are too, although hidden. And there are babies in the church birdhouse.
And I'm proud to tell you that my friend, Roy Thomas, published his first book and it's on Amazon. I worked with Roy at the Baptist Center in Columbia for 16 years. I consider him a dear friend  and fun guy! Click on the following link to read more.
I leave you with this picture of my 91 year old mother. During her trip to Oklahoma and Texas a few weeks ago, my cousin got her on this Longhorn.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

What an anchor!


 The allium is a strange flower with its long, tall stem and bud at the top. This one has started opening.

"Anchor yourself to God's Word. No matter what storms arise, His truth always stands firm and prevails. Every form of earthly security may disappoint you, but Scripture will not. It Cannot!  Backed by the awesome power of Almighty God, His promises are fully accomplished and absolutely victorious."  Charles Stanley, Every Day in His Presence

"Backed by the awesome power of Almighty God" caught my eye. What a truth! The quote is from the May 7th devotion, titled Anchored. 1 Kings 8:56 is the verse Stanley was writing about.

There is nothing that compares to the power of Scripture. It's alive. It's truth. It's real.

         You can see the little flowers as the bud continues its opening process-- tiny flowers.

Following are some quotes I perused about Scripture:

"Every Christian must refer always and everywhere to the Scriptures for all his choices, becoming like a child before it, seeking in it the most effective remedy against all his various weaknesses, and not daring to take a step without being illuminated by the divine rays of those words."  Pope John Paul

"However powerful and learned he may be, the Bible always sets man face to face with God, reminding him thus of his frailty and his weakness.  Paul Tournier (1898-1986)

"All things desirable to men are contained in the Bible." Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

"There came a time in my life when I doubted the divinity of the Scriptures, and I resolved as a lawyer and a judge I would try the book as I would try anything in the courtroom, taking evidence for and against . It was a long, serious, and profound study; and using the same principles of evidence in this religious matter as I always do in secular matters. I have come to the decision that the Bible is a supernatural book, that it has come from God, and that the only safety for the human race is to follow its teachings."  Salmon P. Chase (1808-1873)

"Nobody ever outgrows Scripture; the book widens and deepens with our years." Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)

"The Bible does not thrill, the Bible nourishes. Give time to the reading of the Bible, and the recreating effect is as real as that of fresh air physically."  Oswald Chambers (1874-1917) 
"I am sorry for men who do not read the Bible every day. I wonder why they deprive themselves of the strength and the pleasure." Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924)
"It is not possible ever to exhaust the mind of the Scriptures. It is a well that has no bottom." Saint John Chrysostom (c. 347-407)
                        The allium completely in bloom is a lovely, delicate flower, in bloom now.

"Backed by the awesome power of Almighty God . . ." Now that's an anchor!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Down in the Mouth

The only time I've gotten out for a photo shoot I found these sheep on a hillside. I like the color of spring in the snap. Of course, the sheep and lamb ran away when I stopped.

"Down in the Mouth." What a funny phrase. Of course, we all know it means being sad, depressed, low-spirited, filled with melancholy. That's sure a fair description of Eeyore, whom I well associate with. Yes, I've been "down in the mouth" lately.

When something serious happens to you it causes you to think strongly about your life and what you do. I suppose I've been in that frame of mind recently. I've thought about the time and effort I put into photography--just how many pictures of fawn can I take? my writing for my blog--do I really have something useful to say, and does God still want me to write encouraging notes.

Yes, I have a mother living with us and see to her care, and Jerry has his own physical ailments that we deal with. But, is there more? Sound familiar?

Recently I read these words by Tricia Goyer in her devotional "Amish Peace": "It is not uncommon for Americans to go through what is referred to as a midlife crisis. Men and women realize their mortality more clearly as the years tick by, and they desire a change in their day-to-day situation. Some may make good choices, such as turning away from selfish pursuits to serve other people. Others focus on self-indulgence and pursue things they wish they had had before, whether it be a new place to live or a different kind of work."

Continuing, Tricia said: "It's not uncommon for those who believe in God to have spiritual midlife crises too. Maybe they had expected that life with God would turn out differently. Yet the level of their devotion to God--their commitment--becomes evident when doing good is hard. Aren't you glad that God does not leave us alone in our efforts?"

There is some color in the second garden. That's my own little lamb to enjoy.

I don't feel like I'm having a mid-life crisis, but my journey with cancer is giving me cause to consider what I'm doing. I find my energy level is still low, and it prohibits me from doing things I yearn to do like working in my garden. Who I am hasn't changed. I'm still the extreme introvert whose emotions cry at the thought of any thing the least bit emotional. I prefer writing to talking--which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

The world will continue to change, and more than likely, I will not. I do want the fervor of finding fawn and snapping their picture, making note cards to share God's creation; I do want to be filled with inspiration to write posts that may encourage others, and I do want to continue writing notes to cheer the hearts of others with God's love.

Doing good is becoming harder as I experience the maladies of age and aches. May my season of "down in the mouth" be exchanged with "Those who trust in the Lord will find new strength . . ." Isaiah 50:31a

   This sweet snap came from the Shenandoah National Park website. The cub was born in Jan/Feb.

I feel like I do so little, and yet I can't do more. The years have taken their toll, and I must accept what life has given me. The phrase "little is much when God is in it" just popped into my mind and as most of us know, it's the title of a song written by Kittie L. Suffield, 1924
The refrain goes like this:

"Little is much when God is in it! Labor not for wealth or fame;
There’s a crown, and you can win it, If you go in Jesus’ name."

The third verse seems to fit me:

"Does the place you’re called to labor, Seem so small and little known?
It is great if God is in it, And He’ll not forget His own

Before they all started running away I managed to get this snap off. One's nursing at the top of the hill.

Yes, Eeyore and I have been friends for a very long time. Eeyore may be blue on the outside, but I believe there must be a heart of gold on the inside doing those small things to encourage others. Least I'd like to think that. May I be as worthy.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Getting Back to Simple

This was taken the other week. They're about twice that size now. Looks like we're going to have plenty of giant zinnias for my gardens.

Jerry and I have had a little vacation this week and this week coming. Mom went back to Oklahoma with my sister for a visit, and she'll also visit a niece and a friend in Texas. So we've had some free time to enjoy.

With the girls here we haven't taken any overnight getaways, but we are taking some day trips. Driving a little farther than normal for lunch, hoping to see bear again at Cacapon State Park, WV, driving past Gettysburg through apple orchard territory, and a scenic drive near Bedford PA.

                                            The girls playing tug-of-war on a warm afternoon.

Just simple outings, getting away from home now that I'm feeling just about normal. It had been a long winter of illness and these shorts trip have been refreshing.

I've also been able to get out in my gardens for the first time, as warmer weather is starting to become the norm. Shrubs and plants are blooming, trees are blooming, and baby laves are now almost full grown on our maple tree. With rake in hand, I've had the energy to do some work and its been good!

                                                   Our new cherry tree did well this spring.

We're not big travelers, really just homebodies, and doing what we can in the neighborhood. I've been able to write notes again, and that makes me happy. I'm reading again, and sitting in our back yard enjoying the scenery God's given us.

Life has returned and it feels good. I lived in another world for four months, and I'm glad its ended. The simple life is returning. It may not be for everyone, but it is for me. I've even made my first lunch date with a dear friend.

                             Candytuft is now in bloom. It's a nice bright spot in early spring.

Mom will return home near the end of next week. They tell me she's doing well. Well, I am too! And for that I'm very thankful. Thank you, God!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Every Step is Lovely

My sister, Kathy, and her husband, David, came to visit recently. They live in Oklahoma and it had been three years since we'd been able to visit. I love this snap I took of her one early morning in the kitchen. I love you, Kathy.

Every step in the development of each plant is lovely!

There's always surprises as I walk our yard in the spring, looking for new sprouts and buds. This week I wasn't disappointed. Our young magnolia tree is in bloom, and yesterday while looking at the flowers I saw inside one of the blooms. Usually the petals are folded together, but this bloom was open and it looked like another flower inside at the base. I can't recall ever seeing this before. What a treat!

The viburnum shrub in two gardens is filled with the glossy, dark red flower buds that show before the flowers bloom. They're almost as pretty as the flowers themselves! The flowers have a deliciously sweet aroma. I can't keep away from them when they're in bloom!

The peony plants are strong as they shoot upward in development. I can see in my mind the large, beautiful flowers yet to develop. I find it amazing the steps each plant goes through.
Tulips are budding and will open soon for a stunning display of color! Jo dug up some of the tulips that were outside of the garden fence, but I still have enough to enjoy!
And I can't forget my baby leaves that are still wound up loosely just waiting for a warm and sunny day to open. It only takes a few days for the leaves to grow to their full size, so make sure you stop and look at a new baby leaf!
I think watching each plant develop can be just as beautiful as a full blossoming flower! And each one of these plants was designed by God. Each step lovingly created so the plant grows into a beautiful plant.
And that's what He does for us. At 66 I'm still going through each step He has designed for me until I am completely mature and full grown. We're all a work in progress as the beauty of each plant so magnificently displays, just like that lovely second flower inside the delicate magnolia petals.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Seasons Change

"Each moment of the year has its own beauty . . . a picture which was never seen before and which shall never be seen again." Ralph Waldo Emerson

   I like this adorable snap from Carol's (not me)Country Sunshine Facebook page. Spring indeed!
In the April issue of Mature Living magazine, Executive Editor Mike Glenn, had these words to say about spring:

"April is a time of mixed blessings. By now, we're excited about the coming of spring, but we also have to pay our taxes. The days are getting a little longer, but sometimes it's still too cold to enjoy them.

"Such is life. Most of our days aren't all good or bad but a mixture of both. While we can't control everything that happens to us, we can control how we respond. A lot of times, having a strong purpose and meaning, regardless of the circumstances, allows us to deal successfully with the ups and downs of life."

I don't know if I've ever wanted spring to arrive more than I do this year. It's coming, friends. As each week passes there are more warm days to enjoy. There was one spring, many years ago, after a bitter and depressing winter, that God brought me new life in the form of baby leaves (see Baby Leaves, March 30, 2009). They're going to be here very soon.

    Baby leaves are so lovely to look at. It only takes a few days for them to grow to their normal size.

Spring will arrive on time according to His plan, in nature and in our hearts. There's always hope.

I'm looking forward to photo shoots. My camera took an unwanted rest, and my snapping finger is ready to snap once again. I learned from my friend, Peggy, that there is an eagle's nest not far from home. I had Jerry take me over there. I didn't get a good snap. The nest was too far away and you couldn't get close to it, But fuzzy or not, that's definitely two eagles below!

Soon I'm going to find new calves, lamb, foals, goslings and fawns! And those tulips will bloom soon and my lovely magnolia's will too. I'll be in snapping paradise!

Yes, spring is coming. Thank you, Lord, for the hope of new life as the seasons of nature, and the seasons of  life, change according to His plan. I'm in a new season now. It's unfolding slowly, but rest assure, His Hand still guides, and I still follow.

"Springtime . . . invites you to try out its splendor . . . to believe anew. To realize that the same Lord who renews the trees with buds and blossoms is ready to renew your life with hope and courage."
Charles Swindoll.