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?
Deep within Kauai’s mountainous heartland lies Mt. Wai’ale’ale,
which means “rippling water.” With an elevation of 5,148 ft. and an average of 452+ inches of rain every year, Mt. Wai’ale’ale’s summit is considered one of the rainiest spots on earth, and its “Wall of Tears” is filled with waterfalls streaming down its face. From a distance you can’t see the waterfalls. You have to come closer and look carefully. This area is so wild and remote that it was used in filming Jurassic Park. My husband didn’t want to go on the helicopter ride because sudden drops and sharp turns in narrow spaces make him motion sick, but I was totally enthralled the entire time. I’ll always remember my wondrous flight into the heart of Kauai, and how much it made me think of flying into the heart of God. God’s heart is deep, rugged, and privately owned, just like Kauai’s mountains. His heart is inaccessible except by permission of the Holy Spirit,
who is able to guide us in. Within God’s heart is a “Wall of Tears”
weeping for mankind to choose to love Him. Do you realize that God’s ultimate sacrifice of love is in allowing us
to choose good or evil, to reject Him or love Him…
and then loving us so much that He sent His Son to redeem us?If God forced us to obey Him…forced Himself on us, He’d be a rapist, not a lover. Do you wonder why there’s sin in the world? Because we choose sin over God. Still, God loves us so much that He sent Jesus to save us from sin
and transform us into children of light and love. Have you allowed the Holy Spirit to transport you into the heart of God? Have you marveled at his love and experienced drinking from His Living Water? In not, can I encourage you to come into His heart today?“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all,
how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifies. (Romans 8:31-33)
Posted in Beauty Around the World, Hawaiian Island Adventures, Meditations and reflections, Nature Studies, Relationships, Salvation
Tagged Aerial Photos of Kauai mountains and waterfalls, Aerial photos of Na Pali Coast, Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Tour of Kauai, Manawaiopuna Falls, Mt. Wai'ale'ale Falls, Mt. Waialeale, Romans 8:31-33, Seeking the Heart of God, What's in God's heart?
As one who taught life saving and served as a water safety instructor for ten years, and as one who swims around our little lake most days during the summers, I thought we’d do okay at the Devil’s Pool. Alan wasn’t going to go at all, but he did sign up at the last minute—mostly in hopes of keeping me from drowning, I think. We did survive, but after thinking it over, I personally feel that the adrenaline rush and excitement wasn’t worth the risk to life, limb, and health. Here are my reasons:
1. We had to swim in the Zambezi River,
where I’d seen hippos and crocodiles upstream.2. Even though there had been a twenty-year drought and we visited just before the rainy season began, there were all kinds of safety issues. 3. There was a definite current to negotiate. 4. We had to walk on somewhat slippery rocks to reach the river. 5. We had to feel our way over slippery rocks under the water
for part of the time. 6. We also had to swim upstream (up river) for a short distance. 7. Logs or other debris could have hit us at any time. 8. Fish nibbled at our feet and made us all jumpy. 9. One false move could have sent one of us over the edge. 10. The rock ledge, though sturdy, will doubtless one day give way. May it not happen when anybody’s nearby!
(That was the #1 reason our tour guide didn’t want to try it.)
11. Last, but perhaps most importantly (and I didn’t know this until we were having dinner a week ago with some friends who do medical mission work in Africa), the Zambezi River is known to have a strain of parasitic Schistosomiasis which is a common in Sub-saharan Africa and can be lethal if not treated. There are some 200 million people affected world wide, half of whom live in Africa. Since learning this, I’ve made an appointment with my doctor for testing. So, to answer my question: Did the Devil Make Me Do It? No. I chose to do it. Was it a wise choice? I don’t think so. Would I do it again? No. Did I pray about it? Yes. Why didn’t God tell me not to go? I’m not sure. I think sometimes God allows us to do things that aren’t wise, just like a parent allows his child to do things that the parent knows are risky. I do believe in God’s divine will (which cannot be altered) and His permissive will (which allows us freedom of choice). I prayed and didn’t get a clear “No,” so I went. And, as with all unwise decisions, there may be consequences I didn’t consider when I made my choice. In future, I think I want a clear “Yes” before making decisions, not just a “You may!”
“Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him” (Proverbs 26:12)
Posted in Adventures, African Adventures, Health Issues, Making choices, Meditations and reflections, Nature Studies, Parks, Sports and Sporting Events, Travels Around the World
Tagged Eleven reasons to resist the temptation to go to the Devil's Pool, God's divine will and his permissive will, Is there Schistosomiasis in the Zambezi River?, Proverbs 26:12, The dangers of conceit, Victoria Falls, What is Schistosomiasis?, Where are lethal types of Schistosomiasis found?
It’s snowing and 8° here in Michigan this morning. The sky looks almost foggy, and everything is wrapped in a mantle of white as luxurious as ermine fur! Don’t you love how snow softens lines and covers over the deadness and defects of our landscapes after the cold has killed off everything green? It occurs to me that it’s almost impossible to guess what’s under the soft, glistening mounds of white unless you know the landscape well.
For instance, wouldn’t it be impossible to know what’s under the white mounds of snow in the preceding photos unless you’re able to back up and see the bigger picture? (Outdoor grill)(Not a bed, but a stack of firewood!) Makes me think of God, who covers over our sins with his grace and makes us clean, not only on the outside but on the inside too! (Kayak on our dock.) Thank you, Father, for a new year and the chance to be renewed again! “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:7). “Whoever covers an offense seeks love” (Proverbs 17:9).
“Stop! Please!” Everybody wanted our bus driver to pull over so we could take photos of a troop of baboons traveling down the road beside us in South Africa.We were totally charmed by the mother baboons with their playful babies climbing all over them, but our guide was more enamored with four baboons who were perched on top of the fence poles, something he’d never seen before. Apparently the fence was to protect the wildlife in the Cape of Good Hope Nature Preserve and give them a safe place of refuge. However, the curious baboons preferred roaming everywhere, despite the dangers on the highway, and four of them appeared to be contemplating whether or not to return home or just sit and survey the landscape. I wondered what they were thinking. Were they looking for predators, or trying to decide if they really wanted to go back inside the fence? Here it is January 3, 2017, and I find myself sitting on the fence, so to speak, contemplating the landscape. I still haven’t finished working out my New Year’s Resolution Reclamation Act. I’m pretty sure there’s a certain fear of failure. I may not be on the lookout for whatever harasses baboons, but I’m definitely thinking about how to negotiate all the challenges I see in front of me. Nevertheless, I’m quite sure sitting in the middle of the road isn’t safe, and sitting on the fence will get me nowhere fast, so I’m going to get back inside my wildlife refuge and take up the challenges God has for me there. How about you? Ready for the challenges of 2017? “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea…“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge” (Psalm 46:1-2,10-11). (All photos were taken along Chapman’s Peak Drive, south of Cape Town, South Africa, on our recent tour.)
Posted in African Adventures, Animal Stories, Critters, Encouragements for Living, Making choices, Meditations and reflections, Parks, Travels Around the World
Tagged 400 beautiful photos from around the world, Baboon troop traveling along the road, Beautiful Atlantic coastal scenes from South Africa, Cape of Good Hope Nature Preserve, Chapman's Peak Drive, Psalm 46:1-2, Psalm 46:10-11, Sitting in the middle of the road isn't safe!, Things to do in Cape Town South Africa
Can you believe it’s the dawn of a new year? When Alan and I were kids (back in the dark ages), neither of us got past imagining how old we’d be in 2000. We’d be 50…pretty much ancient! If “three score and ten” expresses a natural life time, then in just three more years we’ll be in to overtime. Yikes! Is it only the people who haven’t figured out how to finish the game by 70 who have to play extra innings? On the way home from a recent trip to visit family in Florida, I watched in wonder as our plane skimmed above the clouds while the sun rose with unusual splendor. Often, my flight path takes me above the clouds, but for whatever reason, this flight sailed between the layers of clouds, and I was also heading northwest, so the sunrise lasted much longer than usual. I think it was a combination of elevation, direction, and clouds that made the sunrise so splendid: rising, heading home, peering through the ever shifting clouds that obscured the sun but made every appearance all the more glorious and captivating… Isn’t that just how life is? It’s the struggle to rise, to journey home, and to deal with the clouds of life that makes every appearance of the Son so precious to us. As we begin this new year, may we experience a fresh Sonrise in our souls…one that lasts a long time, totally captivates us, and causes us to stand in awe of our glorious God. “He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap:
he layeth up the depth in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord:
let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him” (Psalm 33:7-9).
Posted in Adventures, Aging and Retirement Issues, Beauty Around the World, Encouragements for Living, Holidays, Meditations and reflections, Nature Studies, Thoughts on God
Tagged Beautiful images of sunrises, Cloud formations and sun rishing, Clouds make the sun all the more precious, Difficulties make God all the more precious to us, Flight from Florida to Michigan, Happy New Year, Looking for God through the clouds of life, Psalm 33:7-9, Sonrise in our souls