Category Archives: Flower Photos

Thoughts on Love for Valentine’s Day

“The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.” Blaise Pascalroses-and-liliesReady for some beautiful thoughts on love? Or, like Joseph Fink, do you think: “Valentine’s Day is a disaster. Any day that is designed to perfectly encapsulate something as messy and personal as two people in a romantic relationship would have to be.” Well, whether the quotes I’ve found strike you as funny, true, or overly idealistic, I was touched by all of them, and I hope that—whether or not you’re in a romantic relationship with someone today—these thoughts will cheer your spirit. Because, in all of them I found a kernel of truth that also expresses the way I experience God’s love. His love for us is greater than any human love, and the power of His love is the greatest positive energy for transformation in the universe!

“I know of only one duty, and that is to love.” Albert Camus

“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.” A.A. Milne

“No matter how much time and space may come between us, I still feel you.” Ken Poirot

“Love is an afternoon of fishing when I’d sooner be at the ballet.
Love is eating burnt toast and lumpy gravy with a big smile.
Love is hearing the words ‘You’re beautiful’ as I fail to squeeze into my fat jeans.
Love is refusing to bring up the past, even if doing so would be a slam dunk to prove your point.
Love is your hand wiping away my tears, trying to erase streaks of mascara.
Love is the warm hug that extinguishes an argument.
Love is a humbly-uttered apology, even if not at fault.
Love is easy to recognize but so hard to define; however, I think it boils down to this…
Love is caring so much about the feelings of someone else, you sacrifice whatever it takes to help him or her feel better.
In other words, love is my heart being sensitive to yours.” Richelle E. Goodrich

“Where there is great love, there are always wishes.” Willa Cather (and for some of us, wishes turned to prayers)

“They invented hugs to let people know you love them without saying anything.” Bill Keane

“We’re most alive when we’re in love.” John Updike

“Love will find a way through paths where wolves fear to prey.” Lord Byron

“When you love someone all your saved up wishes start coming out.” Elizabeth Bowan

“Love is the ultimate no-calorie sweetener.” Richelle E. Goodrich

“Doubt thou the stars are fire,
Doubt that the sun doth move.
Doubt truth to be a liar,
But never doubt I love.” William Shakespeare (…and God!)

“So fall asleep love, loved by me…for I know love, I am loved by thee.” Robert Browning

“For ye will know not love, if ye knoweth not your God.” Henrietta Newton Martin

“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.”
1 John 4:9-11 pink-tipped-rose-africa-copy


African Flower Thanksgiving

ixia-at-kirsetenbosch-national-botanical-garden-south-africaMay your Thanksgiving is blessed with joy this year! coral-tree-in-kirsetenbosch-national-botanical-garden-south-africaIf you’re an American, I hope you’re able to celebrate with loved ones,
and maybe enjoy a turkey dinner too! phylica-pubescens-featherhead-or-flannel-flower-bush-in-afternoon-sun-at-kirsetenbosch-national-botanical-garden-south-africaIf you’re not an American,
I still hope you will take a few minutes today to count your blessings. pink-cluster-of-roses-africaRight at the top of my list is God and all those with whom I share love. everlasting-flowers-south-africaI can’t think of anything more wonderful! golden-trumpet-tree-south-africa-cape-townI’m also thankful for the scripture, which feeds my soul. african-daisies-south-africaSomewhere way under that, but still exciting to me are beauty and color, bougainvilleaso today I want to share with you some of the lovely flowers I saw in Africa, angel-trumpet-tree-south-africapaired with a few of my favorite verses on the subject of thankfulness:  poinsettias-south-africa“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).  yellow-proteas-south-africa“It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord,
and to sing praises unto thy name, O Most High” (Psalm 92:1). pink-rose-africa“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). flamboyant-tree-south-africa“I will praise the name of God with a song,
and will magnify him with thanksgiving” (Psalm 69:30). lilies-south-africa“Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his,
and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness” (Psalm 30:4). jacaranda-tree “Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms” (Psalm 95:2). scadoxus-multiflorus-or-red-ball-of-fire-at-victoria-falls-zimbabwe“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). bougainvillea-along-chobe-marina-lodge-botswana“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise:
be thankful unto him, and bless his name” (Psalm 100:4) african-orange-flower“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). hibiscus-and-bougainvillea-botswana“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). jasmine-cape-town-south-africa“O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever” (Psalm 107:1).

The Wild Bergamot and The Bees: a Lesson in Unintentional Consequences

bergamot-and-black-eyed-susans-charylene-powersEven though many of the wildflowers have gone to seed in August, the wild bergamot plants are thriving. As I walk the trails at the John Luton Prairie Restoration Park, I immediately notice a great number of black and yellow bees. The buzzing bees traverse from flower to flower gathering the nectar they need to survive. My desire is to take advantage of the afternoon sun; photographing this beautiful prairie and all the inhabits that call it home.bergamot-by-charylene-powersThe Flower  – Wild Bergamot
The soft lavender flower heads of the wild bergamot plants look like a little fireworks display.  The unending historical medical uses for this plant include; poultices for boils and lacerations, as well as minty tea infusions for headaches, indigestion and colds.  The Ojibwe tribe placed these leaves in warm water baths for their babies. In addition to medical uses, the Indigo Buntings build their nests using the strong square wood stems. charylene-powers-birdThe Pollinators – Bees
It is estimated that a third of the food we eat is dependent on bee pollination.  Bees pollinate by carrying pollen on their bodies from the male part of the flower to the female part of the same kind of flower. The stiff hairs all over the bees’s bodies attract the pollen. The bees gather nectar from the flowers to eat. As the bees feed themselves, they provide a service that feeds all of us.bee-on-bergamot-charylene-powersObservations
Focusing on the task of gathering nectar, seems to be all consuming for the bees. When I move in to take my shot, the bees do not notice me, even though I am inches from them. I’m sure  my desire to get a close up of flower and bee will result in a stinging retort from the bees. However, they just keep doing what God has intended them to do. I need to be this focused with my assignments from God.

“So be careful to do what the Lord you God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left.” (Deuteronomy 5:32, NIV)

Thoughts to Ponder
I think of the work of the bees and what they actually accomplish. They gather nectar to sustain themselves and pollinate our food source for us.  The work of pollination is really an unintentional consequence on their part. God has a bigger plan in mind for the work He has given to the bees. A plan that the bees cannot even imagine nor will they ever know. What about my assignments from God?  Am I as focused as the bees? Does God have a bigger plan in mind for the assignments He has given to me?  A plan that I – like the bees – cannot even imagine nor will I ever know.

bergamot-field-charylene-powers“As the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9, NIV)

(Guest author: Charylene Powers. Thank you, Charylene. This is just beautiful!)

Inspiring Friends (Written by my Inspiring Friend, Lisa!)

How do you respond when you’re stumped by a question from a child?  How important is the correct answer?  Even trivia can be challenging.

luton-park-mi-wildflowers“What’s that flower called, Grandma?” my friend, Charylene’s, granddaughter asked as they walked along a trail through the woods.  She answered honestly, “I used to know that, but now I don’t remember.”img_6793 This exchange challenged my friend anew to research flowers, their names as well as facts about their biology, history, and use.  img_6792Sharing a love of photography with her granddaughter, they “hunted and shot” flower pictures from various angles, providing invaluable time together.   achillea-millefolium-white-yarrow-charylene-powersThen, after gathering accurate information, she decided to write a description of each flower’s fun facts as well as how she saw God working through them to speak to her faith, since all creation declares His glory.  daisies-by-charylene-powersAs she learned more about flowers and their various purposes, she tied in spiritual truths to be “rooted and built up in Christ” (Colossians 2:6-7).  asclepias-tuberosa-butterfly-weed-by-charylene-powersNow she’s joined our writer’s group and is in the process of making a book to share with her grandchildren, combining the beauty of macro-lens photos with the glory of God’s living and active word.  She’s sharing her faith through wildflowers!  echinacea-purple-coneflower-by-charylene-powers
I appreciate seeing her progress as she works toward this worthy goal.  She sets an example that it is never too late to learn or try new things so she can share wisdom and faith with the younger generation.  She offered and took me to the prairie restoration site near her home so I could experience and learn for myself.  luton-park-miI felt inspired and challenged to consider how I can share my passion for learning and for the Lord with others.  I even spent time at our writer’s retreat writing a devotional about how we can pay attention and share the various gifts, truth, and talents we’ve experienced with others.  img_9081Who asks you questions? What gifts, wisdom, and talents do you have that can be shared to inspire others?  img_0413Romans 1:20 – “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”  img_0430Isaiah 40:6-8 – “A voice says, ‘Cry out.’ And I said, ‘What shall I cry?'”

“All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”

The most important question and answer:  And Jesus continued by questioning them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.” Mark 8:29 (NASB)

(Guest Author: Lisa Walkendorf. Thank you, Lisa!! You’re a gem. Also, Charylene shared four of the flower photos that she took that day, so a special thank you to Charylene as well!)

ArtPrize 8: Just Where is the Rising of the Sun?

the-more-you-sweat-in-practice-the-less-you-bleed-in-battle-artprize-8-kathryn-w-armstrongArtPrize 8 is off and running! I’ve had several friends wander into the Holiday Inn without realizing that my mural is there, so let me give you the details in case you’re in GR and planning to go to ArtPrize, because I’d love to see you and I’d hate to miss you! My entry is titled “From the Rising of the Sun” and is being displayed at the Holiday Inn at 310 Pearl St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504.

gerald-r-ford-museumIt’s opposite the Gerald Ford Museum, van-andel-museum-center-jpgacross the street from the Van Andel (Grand Rapids Public Museum), devos-learning-centerand kitty corner from Ah-Nab-Awen Park.

grand-riverIt’s just across the river (0.2 miles) from the Amway Grand, so it’s at the cross roads to some of the best art in town. It’s also just 0.4 miles from Grand Rapids Art Museum, 0.5 miles from the B.O.B. (Grand Rapids’ “Big Old Building), and 0.6 miles from DeVos Place, so it’s super convenient for the most popular venues! arriving-at-the-holiday-inn     Whether you go in the front or back entrance,  you’ll see half the mural.artprize-8-front-lobby-mural-at-holiday-inn “January through June” is at the front entrance, and “June through December” is at the back entrance. Using 400 of my favorite  photographs from around the world, I’ve created a collage trying to tell the story of life on Planet Earth through the seasons of one year and one lifetime. artprize-mural-summer-to-winterHere’s my “Artist Statement: “The top row reminds us of the universal constants we all experience: the glorious sun and moon, rising and setting with comforting precision. Row two showcases another global experience, the beauty of flowers, which can be found everywhere around the globe. Row three highlights the experience of fauna through the seasons. Row four looks more closely at how the flora and individual homes are affected by seasonal changes, using photographs from our cozy “Tanglewood Cottage” here in Grand Rapids. Row five takes an intimate look into one person and one family (mine) through the seasons of one year and one lifetime, but my hope is that it resonates with the emotions and cultural experiences of everyone who views it: birth, growth, adulthood, marriage (or family life; I know some never marry), new life and enjoying grandchildren, growing older, and finally, in the December of life, walking into a sea of clouds on the mountain top, looking hopefully to a glorious future life after we leave Planet Earth.january-of-the-year-artprize-8The lower half of the mural is arranged in ten collages, each comprised of twenty photographs from around the world on a particular theme that compliments the season above.”   artprize-8-from-the-rising-of-the-sunThis is my hope and prayer for the mural: “From the rising of the sun on the day we take our first breath until we walk into life’s sunset, I hope the beauty of our world lifts our hearts to praise the One who created us and provided such a glorious home.” friends-stopping-by-to-see-from-the-rising-of-the-sun-mural-artprize-8I have a booklet with notes on each photograph for anybody who comes and would like to know more detail, although if I’m there when you come, I can answer questions! I’d really love to see you if you come, and if you leave me a message in the comment box or on Facebook (message works too), I’ll try to make sure I’m there when you come! I’ve been going about 10:00-5:00 Monday-Friday every day, but I’ll be less regular on weekends due to family responsibilities and fun, although I’ll still be there at times, so please don’t be shy! It’s a real highlight of my day when friends drop by!

from-the-rising-of-the-sun-mural-artprize-8“From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same,
the Lord’s name is to be praised” (Psalm 113:3).

Rise Up, My Love (202): The Third Grace—A Living Love

SS 202:09:04:16Song of Solomon 6:9 “She is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her.” In the physical world, being an unknown woman’s only daughter is not something that would normally bring praise. In the spiritual world, however, it is easy to understand the significance. “Mother Earth” has produced many sons, but only one daughter who ever came to birth spiritually.

The bride of Christ is the “only one of her mother.” There is no other. Every child of earth who has ever come to faith in Christ has become a part of the mysterious body called “the bride of Christ.” Just as there is only one Christ, there is only one bride for him.

Christ is the only true Son of God…the unique, only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. There is only one God; all others are false idols. There is only one true daughter; all others are spiritually dead though they may live in this physical world, just as all the idols of this world are made of sticks and stones…they are dumb and deaf.

Those who call on Buddha or look to Mohammad, or follow the way of Hindu…those who worship the sun and moon and stars…those who fall down before the statues of stone they’ve etched from lifeless rock…all of these have never come to spiritual birth. They are the dead who worship the dead. They have no spiritual life or breath and have never drunk at the fountain of everlasting life nor feasted on the living bread that came down from heaven.

Every other daughter conceived by Earth has come into the world a stillborn. “My dove, my undefiled, is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her.” There may be threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number…there may be countless beautiful distractions in the world, but none turn the eyes of our Lord away from us, for he sees with the eyes of God. “Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (I Samuel 16:7).

Our heavenly bridegroom knows that even as he is the uniquely begotten Son of God, even so is his bride the uniquely begotten bride prepared for him. Do you ever mourn, dear daughter (son) of God, because you are not all you long to be? “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). Do you ever look about you and fret because others who profess to be Christians do not appear to be all they should be? “Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is Christ’s, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ’s, even so are we Christ’s” (2 Corinthians 10:7). Remember, together all believers compose the body of the bride, chosen of God—elect and precious. Be secure; take care for yourself because you belong to Jesus; love other believers because they are part of Christ’s body and bride.

As we learn to truly love others and care for them as part of the bride of Christ, we will find that we are developing the third grace which will bring about the praise of God and men: love. As it says in John 13:35: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” And, “The fruit of the Spirit is love…against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23). True love, where it is observed and understood, is the universal quality that attracts people and earns their admiration and respect.

What earns the praise of our Lord and those in the world around us? A dove-like, meek and gentle spirit; an undefiled faith in the redeeming blood of Jesus; and a uniquely begotten, living love. What causes our Lord to rejoice over us? Taking on his character…the dove-like character of the Holy Spirit…the rock-like character of the ever-faithful Father…and the eternally loving character of the Son of God. Where do we get such graces? “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures” (James 1:17-18).

“Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness,
My beauty are, my glorious dress.
Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.”
(—Count Nicolaus L. von Zinzendorf, 1739)

A Hidden Garden in Grand Rapids

Grandpa's GardenNot everyone has the brilliance and budget to develop a Giverny Aquilegia (Columbine)(or maybe no one), but just a few days after we’d returned home from Europe, Alan, Daniel, and IDaniel and Brianna had us over for dinner, and then
—knowing how much I love gardens—Hostas Galore!+they took us to see a beautiful garden in their neighborhood. Hostaholic Lives Here SignThis amazing garden has over 1,000 hostas growing, Hosta Garden. 2plus dozens of flowering perennials that can tolerate shade.  Statue in Hosta GardenI was totally surprised (but delighted), Clematisbecause we’ve walked through the neighborhood many a time, Alan with Samuel in Hosta Gardenstrolling Baby Samuel after dinner, Hosta Garden. 5and none of us had never noticed this hidden treasure before!Bug on a bench(Of course, it is in their neighbors’ back yard.) Dan and Brianna in Hosta GardenApparently our kids’ next-door-neighbors knew about it and invited Dan and Brianna to view the gardens…who in turn invited us, because—as it turns out— Hosta Garden. 9the couple who owns the gardenRhododendronsare very willing to share all the beauty they’ve created! Hosta Garden. 6It was like visiting a lovingly tended botanical garden! Pooh Bear HostaEach type of hosta was neatly labeled, and everywhere we turned Native hydrengeathere was something to delight our eyes. Decorative bugs on tableIt was obviously designed with their grandchildren in mind too, Face on a treebecause there were lots of playful touches. Grandma's Garden of HostasThe lady of the home toured us around Hosta Careand was super gracious about discussing the plants, Columbinehappily dispensing tips on how to care for shade-loving species Hummingbird Feederand even answering questions about how to attract and care for hummingbirds! Hosta Garden. 7I stood in awe of her willingness to share the fruit of all her hard work Solomon's Sealand wisdom with total strangers! Hosta Garden. 10To keep the garden free of weeds,Hosta garden 17they literally go through on their hands and knees weeding! Hosta Garden. 8When we returned home, Dan and Brianna’s next-door-neighbor was up on a ladder repairing something, and he filled in the details. Pink AzaleasApparently the owners of the hidden hosta garden started their work
20 years ago when their daughter was graduating from high school. Hosta Garden. 4The family had tall trees in their big backyard, and between the children
and the trees, the grass just couldn’t thrive in the shade, Primroses and Columbine in Springleaving the area pretty bleak and muddy (which is obviously no longer true!).Hosta Garden 13In order to have a beautiful setting for their daughter’s graduation party, Hosta Garden. 12they planted some hostas…and one thing led to another. Peonies“Quite the love story!” the neighbor reflected. Indeed! Hosta Garden. 11And, one that I’ve thought a lot about this past week. Hosta GardenImagine if every believer cleaned up the mud and mess in the backyards of our lives so that our kids would be glad to have their friends over. Hosta Garden 16Imagine searching through our lives as couples on our knees, rooting out sins!Hosta Garden. 3Imagine having such beautiful lives Statue of a lady with waterthat neighbors notice and tell other neighbors and bring them over to visit!Ceramic Toadstools in a gardenImagine being that open to having people just drop in out of the blue, Azaleas. Orangeand being willing to share the fruit of our spiritual lives…of being willing to take time to explain what we’ve learned and “how to” grow in grace. Chipmunks. Ceramic statuesWow. Have I ever got a long way to go!   Listening to gardenerBut in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).