Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Such Beauty

I am amazed by the vast range of colors God has created.
These beautiful impatiens spread across a flower bed in Cincinnati,
and I had to snap a photo. 

Do you notice the vibrancy of summer flowers?
They lift my spirits and add joy to my day.
Thank you, Lord, for creating such beauty.


 

Saturday, June 8, 2024

Don't Let Him Steal Your Joy

1 Samuel 16:7
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Proverbs 4:23
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

I experienced joy in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Have you ever experienced something or attended a gathering where you tasted a hint of heaven? That’s what I experienced at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference.

I spent a week at the Ridgecrest Conference Center immersed in fellowship, worship, and education. More than knowledge, wisdom swirled in those mountains. Every day we spent two sessions listening to encouraging and hope-filled messages from the keynote speakers. We were led in worship by a young couple who blessed us with their love of Jesus. We attended classes led by amazing authors and folks in the publishing industry, and I met fellow writers who, like me, needed encouragement to stay obedient to the call to write.

The experience as a whole filled me with hope and anticipation, but I knew when I went home to my family (who I longed to see) and every day life, I’d need to ease back into life. I say this because I know the Devil and his wily ways. He can’t wait to suck the joy out of me, but Kia Stephens, the final keynote speaker, reminded me to guard my heart from the one who wants to inflict doubt.

God told Samuel He looks at the heart, and Proverbs reminds me to guard my heart because everything flows from it.

One way to keep my heart safe from attack is to praise God, lift my face to Jesus, and allow the Holy Spirit to fill me with peace.

When the devil attacks—fight backlift your voice and sing. It doesn’t matter if it’s off key or not, just praise the Father and ask Him to fill your heart with His hope and peace.

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

A Wink of Color

The blueish-purple bud winked at me. 

Mostly green, from the trees, bushes, and stems, 
wrapped the edges of the walking path, this time of year. 
The spring flowers have completed their life cycle
of gorgeous blooms, while just a few blossoms remain.

As we trekked through the wooded area, the wink of color, 
the humble spiderwort plant shared, caught my eye.
The tall green stem and spikey leaves held the three petals high.

Had I not been paying attention, I would have missed the beauty 
God created in the small petals. 
Even the yellow of the anthem that sits atop the filament
added a brightness to the pretty plant.

God is in the details. 
He knows our hearts as well as he knows this lovely flower.
He's with me in every little and big thing. Always.


 

Saturday, June 1, 2024

The Fragrance

John 12:3
Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

The essence of lavender hung in the air. 

I’ve grown lavender in my flower garden for years. One of the plants I have has moved with me three times. Usually lavender doesn’t transplant well, but this particular plant has endured. Many types of lavender don’t like rich loamy soil but want an alkaline base, instead. When I discovered how well the plant thrived in the dirt at our condo, I added two more plants, a French lavender and another English lavender. Both produce lovely purple blooms and a fragrance I love.

As long as I water the plant (they don’t need an abundance) put it in a sunny spot, and prune it when it’s time, I enjoy the fragrant smell of it all summer. I can keep the smell around longer if I gather the stems and blooms and tie them in bundles to dry for winter. Some people press the blooms and draw out the oil to use in soaps and other products.

The oil Mary used to anoint Jesus’ feet may have come from the Nardostachys jatamansi, a flowering plant in the honeysuckle family. It produces an expensive thick golden oil used sparingly. Mary understood how precious her friendship with Jesus was, and that His purpose on earth would change the world. She chose to honor His life as many would honor His death.

I’ve read that the sense of smell is the sense that brings back the most memories. The smell of lavender will always remind me of the peace and calm I feel when I’m working in my plants. For Mary, I’m sure every time she smelled the fragrance of nard, she remembered Jesus and His sacrifice.

I’ve been to the church camp a few times in the last few weeks and the smell of the woods and the dorms never changes. I’m reminded of some of my best days as a kid, when I learned how much Jesus loved me.

I hope something reminds you of Jesus every single day. Whether the smell of a flower, a picture, a kindness shown to you or that you show to others.

Jesus loves you, every day.