Saturday, August 24, 2019

Joy in the Garden

Psalm 28:7
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.

Flowers bring me joy. If you've checked out my Flower Friday posts, you know botanicals have played a part in my life since childhood. From the flower garden my mom nurtured to the row of irises (we called them flags) my dad planted, I've always enjoyed flowers. The whole process from sowing the seed or placing the baby plant in the ground to the photosynthesis in the leaves is nothing short of amazing.

My granddaughter Dilly and I planted zinnias, snapdragons, geraniums and a few other flowers in my tiny flower bed in May. As I walked by them this hot August morning I noticed how they had spread, like they lifted their arms toward the sun and stretched. The beautiful array of colors fills me with joy.

Jesus calls us to be a joyful people. Not just happy but filled with joy. In sadness, disappointment, distress, or frustration the joy of knowing my Savior loves me fills my heart with hope. Each time I look at the flowers in my little garden, I'm reminded of the everlasting joy of life with God.

At camp and vacation Bible school we sang a song:

I have the joy, joy, joy down in my heart.
Where?
Down in my heart.
Where?
Down in my heart.
I have the joy, joy, joy down in my heart.
Where?
Down in my heart to stay.
-George W. Cooke (Public Domain)

As simple as the words are, they speak volumes. That joy that is a product of loving Jesus is in my heart to stay.
Do you know the joy Jesus gives?

Friday, August 23, 2019

Flower Friday: Coneflower

The purple coneflower stands guard over the garden. A member of the echinacea family, "The genus name, Echinacea, comes from the Greek word ‘chinos,’ meaning hedgehog." The center of the flower stands out like a prickly little hedgehog.
Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds love the coneflower.
They're easy to grow and add lovely color to the garden.




Grant, Bonnie. “History Of Purple Coneflowers.” Gardening Know How, 5 May 2018, blog.gardeningknowhow.com/tbt/history-of-purple-coneflowers/.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Children's Book Review: The One & Only Wolfgang: From Pet Rescue to One Big Happy Family by Steve Greig & Mary Rand Hess; Illustrated by Nadja Sarell


Book Description:
What makes a family? Is it sharing favorite foods, cuddling up for snuggle time, loving each other no matter what you look like in the morning?
For Steve Greig’s oddly wonderful, real-life family of senior dogs, chickens, rabbits, and a pig named Bikini, family is all those things and then some! And this lovable bunch is now starring in their very first children’s book that showcases the importance of family.

Meet the Wolfgang, a loveable bunch of animals belonging to Steve and each other. Greig looked for the most “unadoptable” animals and gave them a home … his home! Strange and unique, The One and Only Wolfgang will remind readers that no matter how old or how odd, everyone has a place where they belong.



My Review:
The One & Only Wolfgang is a delightful story based on a real-life family. I checked out Steve Greig's Instagram and looked through the fun pictures of his menagerie. His book encourages kids and adults to consider how much each person or in this case pet brings to the family. I like the colorful illustrations mixed with the photos of all the animals. Steve's animals are also seniors. I find this a wonderful way to show kids that seniors, whether animals or people, should be valued and respected. This would be a great gift for anyone who loves animals. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Zondervan. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Fiction Review: A Glitter of Gold by Liz Johnson


Book Description:
Anne Norris moved to Savannah, Georgia, for a fresh start. Now her pirate-tour business is flagging, and paying the rent requires more than wishful thinking. When she discovers evidence of a shipwreck off the coast of Tybee Island, she knows it could be just the boon she needs to stay afloat. She takes her findings to local museum director Carter Hale for confirmation, but she runs after a disastrous first meeting.

Carter has been searching for the location of the wreck detailed in the worn pages of an 18th-century diary, the discovery of which could open the door to his dream job at a prestigious museum. But convincing Anne to help him fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle is no easy task. And working with Carter means that Anne will have to do the one thing she swore she'd never do again: trust a man.

Finding a monetary backer and sticking with a search that's turning up nothing will take all their dedication--and every secret they've tried to hide. If they can find the lost ship, they may discover a treasure worth more than all the pirate gold in the world--love.


My Review:
I've read most of Liz Johnson's books, this one is my favorite. The character Anne is plucky and real, a pixie of a girl. She's paving her way after a terrible experience in her past. Carter is a sweetheart. Imagine cute guy, a bit of a nerd with black glasses. He's not your typical hero. The setting is gorgeous and the history of the lost ship is fascinating. In the story, Anne and Carter share a diary from a young woman who risked everything for her brother. I found the diary excerpts as wonderful as Anne's story. If you want to sink yourself into an enjoyable story filled with mystery and adventure, pick up A Glitter of Gold. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

The Bucket List

Ephesians 6:19-20
Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

The bucket list.

Do you have one? For years I didn't think I did. But then I reached an age of looking back. I had to consider whether I'd accomplished the things I'd set as goals (aka bucket list.) Yes, some of the ideas I conjured came to fruition.
  • I'd finally completed my bachelors degree at age 48.
  • We'd raised the kids to be adults who care about others and give back.
  • I gave myself the freedom to let my hair grow into its natural color.
  • I had a few of my writings published.  
  • Tim and I moved into a condo and see it as our home for the rest of our days.
  • At 60 I finally got to journey to Maine.
  • And I retired.

Yes, some of my bucket list is complete. But what about the opportunities Jesus offers me now. Or the nudges I receive from the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes when God calls me to check off or accomplish an item on His list, I react with fear. That's not new to me. I've been fearful of failure most of my life. My anxiety shoots up and leaves me frozen.

I completed my degree, but not without hesitation. We reared the kids, but not without doubts, then there's my writing. That draws out the fear like nothing else. Yet, each time God calls me and adds an item to my list, He fills me with his confidence and equips me to complete the work.

The apostle Paul requested prayer for his ministry. He asked his friends to pray that in spite of fear, he would accomplish his calling. You know what? God answered his prayer. The Holy Spirit worked through Paul and gave him courage to live for Jesus and to share the gospel with everyone. And he'll do that for us, too.
"Life is filled with bucket lists. When God nudges us, step out on faith and check off the bucket opportunities that God gives us." -Tim McGinnis

Friday, August 16, 2019

Flower Friday: Hydrangea

The hydrangea bush produces gorgeous blooms in clumps of tiny flowers to create a pom-pom like bouquet. The ones we saw in Maine had huge clusters of almost cloud-like blue blossoms. Did you know hydrangea bloom in pink, blue, white, and purple

According to the FTD blog the different colors represent these symbols:
  • Pink hydrangeas symbolize heartfelt emotion.
  • Blue hydrangeas symbolize frigidity and apology.
  • White hydrangeas symbolize boasting or bragging.
  • Purple hydrangeas symbolize a desire to deeply understand someone.


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Dreams and Bucket Lists

A trip to Maine had been on my bucket list for years. When Tim and I made the journey, I was determined to see puffins. On our third day in the beautiful state, we climbed aboard a boat and sailed out toward Eastern Egg Rock Island. The overcast day made for good picture taking. But the choppy waters challenged me. I held on to the rail, balanced myself and my camera and shot photos of the floating birds. They bounced on the water, I bounced on the boat, but I did it. I captured those cute little fellows in their environment. At sixty years old, I accomplished my dream. 

Atlantic Ocean Puffin

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Knee-deep

Proverbs 1:5-7
Let the wise listen and add to their learning,
    and let the discerning get guidance—
for understanding proverbs and parables,
    the sayings and riddles of the wise.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
    but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

I'm knee-deep in learning. My friend Jody and I attended a writer's conference at Taylor University. The speakers and teachers shared their knowledge and wisdom about the writing and publishing world. My ears tingled as I listened to Dr. Angela Hunt, a prolific Christian author, share about the skeleton plot. That may sound funny, but I was excited to learn from the best.

I've also been helping my daughter, Sara, prepare her classroom for the new school year. The smell of crayons and paper gets me excited for the kids. The new principal in Sara's building is initiating a super hero theme, encouraging the students to do their best, be a good friend, and be a bucket filler. You see along with academics, the teachers work to instill confidence and positive behavior. Those little kiddos are blessed to have teachers who care about them and want to fill their buckets with kindness and joy.

So I'm knee-deep in learning...about writing, about kids, and about Jesus. Talk about hearing from the best. There is no better place to learn than at the feet of Jesus. Like Mary in the Mary and Martha story, I want to hear every parable, word of wisdom and proverb Jesus shared. I'm thankful the writers of the Bible penned God's words. I'm excited that I have the very words of Jesus (red letters in many Bibles) to read and tuck into my heart.

God wants his people to keep discovering Him. Every day brings a new experience, a new perspective, a new way to learn and share Jesus story.
What have you learned today?
If you have a minute, pray for all the kids, teachers, and staff heading back to school.

Friday, August 9, 2019

National Book Lover's Day!

I love books, and I cannot lie. 
Big books, small books, short books, tall books!
Here are some of my favorite children's books. 
I love sharing them with my grandkids. 
As a children's librarian for twelve years, I fell in love with the picture book.
Of course I love novels and nonfiction, too. But there is something about the illustrations and words that create an incredible experience for young readers and the young at heart.
Pick up a book and read!

Happy National Book Lover's Day! 



Flower Friday: Hollyhock

When I was a little girl, my mom showed me how to refashion the beautiful flowers into dolls who sashayed in the garden. They wore their bright colored blooms as skirts. 
Hollyhocks can grow as tall as ten feet high. 
With their pops of color, they're a lovely addition to any flower garden. 

Pink Hollyhock

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

He is my Hope

Everyday I am amazed. God made me. He loves me. He carries me through my days. 
Even as I am a white-headed and seasoned, He loves me!


Saturday, August 3, 2019

Rest, Recharge, Refresh

Matthew 11:28-30
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

My daughter, Maggie, directs the VBS program at her church every year. She pours her heart into preparing the best possible environment for kids to learn about Jesus. Along with her children, she decorates the church with the year's theme and turns it into a wonderland for the kids. This year the beach theme brought out surfboards, Hawaiian leis, hibiscus, palm trees and beach balls. You may wonder, why all the effort? Because she loves creating a place for kids to hear Bible stories, for kids to be loved on, and for kids to know someone cares. I had the privilege of helping her with a few small tasks, and I can tell you this momma's heart is proud of the work she does for Jesus. No matter how many or few kids show up, they will be blessed.

Yet, as much joy that comes from preparing for and working at VBS, exhaustion usually follows. I've been there and done that. I'm guessing you have too. Worked for days, even months on a project you've been called to do, plus all the other responsibilities in life. By the end you are tired. That's when we need to rest, recharge and refresh.
But Jesus who calls us to work the fields also calls us to rest.
I love that Matthew tells us that Jesus has a gentle and humble heart, and that he offers us rest for our souls. When we put in effort doing the Lord's work, we don't just get physically tired. We often become spiritually weary, dragged down by negativity, judgy people, and frustration. Jesus promises to recharge us through his rest. His yoke lifts our burdens and refreshes us because he carries them. When we take on Jesus' yoke, we take on the love he pours over us.

When the weariness and burdens seep in, turn to God in prayer and read his word in order to soak in the Savior. His is a yoke of love meant to lift burdens and give rest. Thank you Jesus for your loving kindness.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Flower Friday: Magic Lily

The delicate pink blossoms stand tall on slender stems. I'd didn't encounter the magic lily until I was in my twenties. A little lady, who lived up the road, told me they were called naked ladies because the leaves had come and gone in the spring. 
These beauties are also referred to as surprise lilies or resurrection lilies. 
These gorgeous flowers bloom in my favorite shade of pink.