As I mentioned yesterday, Alan and I just celebrated our 44th anniversary
this past weekend, and it occurs to me that we’re getting pretty old!Here’s just a little thought, but I have a gardenia plant,
and I’ve been so inspired by watching it bloom! Do you know how most flowers turn brown on the edges as they get oldbecoming wilted and all bedraggled by the time they die? Well, my gardenia blossoms unfold like a pinwheel of pure white…slowly unfurling their petals day by day until their blooms
are as full and fragrant as the finest rose. However, as gardenias age, the blossoms don’t turn brown like withering roses, they gradually turn deeper and deeper shades of yellow.I would like to learn to age beautifully, like gardenias,
continuing to flourish and produce fruit until the day I die! “12 The righteous flourish like the palm tree
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
13 They are planted in the house of the Lord;
they flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They still bear fruit in old age;
they are ever full of sap and green,
15 to declare that the Lord is upright;
he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.”
(Psalm 92:12-15, NIV, emphasis mine)
(The baobab tree in this last photo is called “The Big Tree.”
We saw it recently while we were in Zimbabwe. It’s somewhere between 1000-1500 years old, and it’s still producing flowers and fruit!
Talk about incredible and inspirational!!)
Posted in A Few of my Favorite Flowers, Aging and Retirement Issues, Around home, Encouragements for Living, Inspiration, Meditations and reflections
Tagged Aging in gardenias, Ancient baobab tree still producing fruits and flowers, Are gardenias fragrant?, Photos of gardenias, Psalm 92:12-15, The Big Tree in Zimbabwe, What do gardenias look like?
May your Thanksgiving is blessed with joy this year! If you’re an American, I hope you’re able to celebrate with loved ones,
and maybe enjoy a turkey dinner too! If you’re not an American,
I still hope you will take a few minutes today to count your blessings. Right at the top of my list is God and all those with whom I share love. I can’t think of anything more wonderful! I’m also thankful for the scripture, which feeds my soul. Somewhere way under that, but still exciting to me are beauty and color, so today I want to share with you some of the lovely flowers I saw in Africa, paired with a few of my favorite verses on the subject of thankfulness: “But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving;
I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9). “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord,
and to sing praises unto thy name, O Most High” (Psalm 92:1). “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6). “I will praise the name of God with a song,
and will magnify him with thanksgiving” (Psalm 69:30). “Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his,
and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness” (Psalm 30:4). “Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms” (Psalm 95:2). “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise:
be thankful unto him, and bless his name” (Psalm 100:4) “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). “We are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13). “O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever” (Psalm 107:1).
Here’s a big bouquet of roses gathered from Manito Park last summer while helping out with Jon and Gerlinde’s new baby, paired with a bouquet of quotes by former presidents of America that I thought might help inform our thinking as we consider for whom we should vote next week:
“To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.” George Washington, Jan. 8, 1790 “The happiness of society is the end of government.”
John Adams (1797–1801) “That government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves.” Thomas Jefferson (1801–1809) “The boisterous sea of liberty is never without a wave.”
Thomas Jefferson (1801–1809)
“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” Thomas Jefferson (1801–1809)“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone,
and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.”
John Quincy Adams (1825–1829) “But I contend that the strongest of all governments is that which is most free.” William Henry Harrison (1841)
“Wealth can only be accumulated by the earnings of industry and the savings of frugality.” John Tyler (1841–1845) “I have come to realize that people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Abraham Lincoln (1861–1865) “The goal to strive for is a poor government but a rich people.”
Andrew Johnson (1865–1869) “I have never advocated war except as a means of peace.”
Ulysses Simpson Grant (1869–1877) “No other people have a government more worthy of their respect and love or a land so magnificent in extent, so pleasant to look upon, and so full of generous suggestion to enterprise and labor.”
Benjamin Harrison (1889–1893) “It is the responsibility of the citizens to support their government.
It is not the responsibility of the government to support its citizens.”
Theodore Roosevelt (1901–1909) “Absolute freedom of the press to discuss public questions is a foundation stone of American liberty.” Herbert Clark Hoover (1929–1933) “Imperfect action is better than perfect inaction.”
Harry Truman (1945–1953) “The American, by nature, is optimistic. He is experimental, an inventor and a builder who builds best when called upon to build greatly.”
John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1961–1963) “Liberty without learning is always in peril; learning without liberty is always in vain.” John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1961–1963) “If government is to serve any purpose it is to do for others what they are unable to do for themselves.” Richard Milhous Nixon (1969–1974) “A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.”
Gerald Rudolph Ford (1974–1977) “The best way to enhance freedom in other lands is to demonstrate here that our democratic system is worthy of emulation.”
James Earl Carter (1977–1981)
John F. Kennedy held a dinner in the White House for a group of the brightest minds in the nation at that time. He made this statement: “This is perhaps the assembly of the most intelligence ever to gather at one time in the White House with the exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”
“And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it” (Psalm 90:17)
Kathy asked yesterday which site in France was our favorite. Wow! That’s a hard one! Alan said Mont St. Michel, and there’s definitely something to that! I feel like we came home with a lifetime of unforgettable memories, and that narrowing it down to one favorite is nigh unto impossible given the uniqueness of the various scenic places. However, for an over-the-top sensory experience in color, texture, fragrance— even sound…in fact, pure, unmitigated beauty everywhere I turned, I would vote for Giverny, the sublimely riotous gardens so artistically designed by Claude Monet.Monet (1840-1926) was the great father of —and most prolific contributor to—French impressionistic painting. Ten years ago, Alan and I visited the fantastic gardens of Giverny with two of our kids (Kathy and Jonathan), and we were enthralled. Five years ago, I reflected on those visions of glory while visiting Manito Park in Spokane, Washington with Jon’s family (https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2011/09/10/monets-giverny-reflections-of-glory/).This May, Alan and I visited again, this time with our two youngest, Stephen and Joel, and I have to say that if anything, Giverny is even more than ever an unforgettable kaleidoscope of color and perfumes! The Japanese bridge over Monet’s lily pond (basis for his most famous paintings) was bursting with exuberant wisteria, and cheerful beds of tulips interlaced with forget-me-nots and a profusion of other spring-blooming plants were joyfully overflowing their bounds along every path. We could have sat transfixed for hours at any resting place without ever taking in all the intricacies right before my eyes. Even if I possessed all the money in the world, I couldn’t imagine or produce such a magnificent display of brilliant color. The impact was so overwhelming that I just found myself laughing and blinking my eyes, like I’d walked into a Thomas Kinkade painting of heaven! In fact, it did make me think of heaven, which will be more glorious and exotic and dazzlingly beautiful than we can imagine. Are you ready? Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:1-16)(Yes, all these photos are from Giverny, taken a couple of weeks ago [except for the photo of Claude Monet from Wiki, and Mont St. Michel, taken a few days later]. May is perhaps the most beautiful time to visit!)
Posted in A Few of my Favorite Flowers, Beautiful Estates, Beauty Around the World, Flower Photos, Gardening, Gardens, Impressions of France, Inspiration, Meditations and reflections, Parks, Travels Around the World
Tagged Beautiful spring flowers, Claude Monet, Father of French Impressionism, Favorite sites in France, Giverny's gorgeous gardens, John 14:1-6, Manito Park Spokane WA, Mont St. Michel, Photographs from Giverny Home and Gardens
Springtime is in full bloom at Meijer Gardens, and it’s all I can do to keep from running over there every sunny afternoon to see what’s new.This is the first year for spring blossoms in the new Japanese Garden,and they are a delight, although the trees are young, so they’re like frilly little girls compared to the glory of cherry blossom festivals in Asia. Still, I think the 158-acre Meijer Gardens is by far the most colorful and artistic botanical park available in Michigan,and I never tire of breathing in all the beauty. We’ve been members since the park opened in 1995, and by 2005, Wiki rumor has it that The Wall Street Journal wrote, “There’s nothing quite like Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park this side of the Kroller-Muller Museum and Sculpture Park in The Netherlands.” That seems a bit grandiose, although it may be true. Also, since I haven’t been everywhere in the world, I can neither verify nor discredit the claim that in 2009 it was listed as one of the top “30 must-see museums in the world.” On the other hand, I don’t doubt that it’s one of Michigan’s top tourist attractions, or that it hosts more than 650,000 visitors every year. And, every time I visit my mind is always filled up with new visions of beauty to treasure. The pleasure I find in Meijer Gardensreminds me the joy I experience in meditating on the Bible,and I just keep running back to see what’s new
(or, at least how the Bible speaks to me in a new way).However, I also know that the grandiose claims I make about the Bible being God’s Word and 100% true may seem suspect. If you doubt that the Bible contains the words of life, I encourage you to delve into it for yourself. May you experience the rebirth of your spirit and find springtime blossoming in your soul.“Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:67-68).
Posted in A Few of my Favorite Flowers, Activities in the Greater Grand Rapids Area, Beauty Around the World, Flower Photos, Gardens, Meditations and reflections, Michigan Beauty and Fun, Nature Studies, Parks, Seasonal Pictures, Simple Pleasures, Travels in America
Tagged DeVos Japanese Garden Cherry Blossoms, John 6:67-68, Photographs of beautiful spring flowers, Springtime at Meijer Garden, The beauty of meditating on Scripture, The beauty of springtime