What Doesn’t Blow You Down Makes You Stronger

Special thanks to Daily Thankful, Adrianna, and Angela (click to read their fantastic posts) for unknowingly helping to inspire the words in this image and in the post below – seems that we are on the same wavelength. ❤

For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. (Jeremiah 17:8 KJV)

“He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” Psalm 1:3 (NASB)


Grab a cup of tea or hot chocolate or coconut water or whatever beverage you enjoy sipping on while reading long articles because this is going to end up being a long one. 😅

Last fall, I put some apple seeds that I saved out of an apple into some dirt to allow it to naturally go through the winter. I also put some in the refrigerator last November and again in January. I took them out briefly for the photo below. The seeds are wrapped in a damp paper towel which I placed in a Ziploc bag so that they wouldn’t dry out.

This process is known as stratification.  “In horticulture, stratification is the process of pretreating seeds to simulate natural conditions that a seed must endure before germination. Many seed species have an embryonic dormancy phase, and generally will not sprout until this dormancy is broken.” — Wikipedia

When it comes to apple seeds, it usually takes, according to the linked article, 70 to 80 days. However, it looks like they can sprout too soon. I say that because one of the little apple trees  I planted to be stratified this winter sprung up too early instead of waiting for spring like it was supposed to. The silly thing. Anyway.

Johnny Appleseed the Second, in his pig pot under the plant light

I brought that one inside and left the rest to be good little seeds and go through the rest of stratification. The little tree (whose name is Johnny Appleseed the Second, by the way – because I name everything – and this was my dad’s suggestion for a name) is now about three inches tall; I didn’t expect it to survive because it sprouted at the wrong time. But it did. So I put it under my plant light with my citronella plant, garlic, rubber plant, daffodil, Aloe Vera, Venus flytrap, pitcher plant, tomatoes, peppers, lemon trees, Mandarin orange saplings, and one other citrus tree that I am unsure of what it is. I think I’ve turned our “Arts and Crafts room” into a nursery at this point. 😅 Oh, I’m digressing. Getting back on topic…

So far, Johnny Appleseed the Second looks healthy. However, since Johnny Appleseed the Second will be indoors until spring, I wanted to make sure I was taking proper care of him. The ones I had last year (that came up in the spring like good little seeds) nature took care of, except for the occasional watering, so that they would be used to being outdoors. I thought I remembered this, and so researched it:

“Wind greatly affects plants throughout their growth. When plants are seedlings, slight breezes help them grow more sturdy. ” — Gardening FAQ

Turns out I remembered correctly. Thus, if the little guy is constantly protected from the wind and then planted outside this spring, his trunk will be weak and the wind could break him.

Therefore, staking a plant or blocking the wind from reaching a plant can actually do more harm than good in the long run, as long as the wind is not storm-strength. Every other day or so, I blow on Johnny Appleseed the Second, trying to mimic wind to make him stronger.

Tree trunk silhouette at sunset

And then I realized… just like I am doing for little Johnny Appleseed the Second, God allows us to go through trials that make us bend and knocks us around so that we get stronger in Him. He allows the wind to blow, and with it, strengthens us so we don’t break when the stronger storms come later.

In conclusion to this long-winded (sorry bad pun) post: We’re like apple trees! 🍎 🍏 Okay, okay: Our Father in Heaven allows turbulence to strengthen His children because He loves them.


This poem by Lillian E. Barr was in Streams In The Desert in the January 16th devotional; it seems relevant here. I hope you enjoy her poem as much as I did:

THE TREE GOD PLANTS

The wind that blows can never kill
The tree God plants;
It bloweth east, it bloweth west,
The tender leaves have little rest,
But any wind that blows is best;
The tree God plants
Strikes deeper root, grows higher still,
Spreads wider boughs, for God’s good will
Meets all its wants.

There is no frost hath power to blight
The tree God shields;
The roots are warm beneath soft snows,
And when Spring comes it surely knows,
And every bud to blossom grows.
The tree God shields
Grows on apace by day and night,
Till sweet to taste and fair to sight
Its fruit it yields.

There is no storm hath power to blast
The tree God knows;
No thunderbolt, nor beating rain,
Nor lightning flash, nor hurricane
When they are spent it doth remain.
The tree God knows
Through every tempest standeth fast,
And from its first day to its last
Still, fairer grows.

If in the soul’s still garden-place
A seed God sows
A little seed it soon will grow,
And far and near all men will know
For heavenly lands, he bids it blow.
A seed God sows,
And up it springs by day and night;
Through life, through death, it groweth right;
Forever grows.

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The Origin Of Valentine’s Day

A lot of people celebrate Valentine’s Day. (Or if you are like me and you are single, this holiday is most likely S.A.D –  Singles Awareness Day.) But have you ever wondered why we celebrate it, and who this Valentine guy was? Well, wonder no more! (Click the links at the end of the quotes if you want to view the whole article where I found the information. 😉)

Image Credit: Pixabay

The history behind it is actually quite dark. Two people with the name of Valentine were martyred in different years in Ancient Rome on that day. The Catholic church recognized them as saints. And at this time, Lupercalia was already established by the ancient Romans to be celebrated from February 13th through the 15th. So, what is that celebrating?

Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons

Lupercalia was a very ancient, possibly pre-Roman pastoral annual festival, observed in the city of Rome on February 15, to avert evil spirits and purify the city, releasing health and fertility. Lupercalia was also called “dies Februatus”, purified (literally “februated day”) after the instruments of purification called “februa”, which give the month of February (Februarius) its name. – Wikipedia on Lupercalia

Killing two birds with one stone: Now we know where February got its name from too…

Image Credit: Pixabay

Anyway…

The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain.

The Roman romantics “were drunk. They were naked,” says Noel Lenski, a historian at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Young women would actually line up for the men to hit them, Lenski says. They believed this would make them fertile.

The brutal fete included a matchmaking lottery, in which young men drew the names of women from a jar. The couple would then be, um, coupled up for the duration of the festival — or longer, if the match was right. – NPR

So… that’s awful. Those poor women. I don’t even want to think about it.

Later, Pope Gelasius I muddled things in the 5th century by combining St. Valentine’s Day with Lupercalia to expel the pagan rituals. But the festival was more of a theatrical interpretation of what it had once been. Lenski adds, “It was a little more of a drunken revel, but the Christians put clothes back on it. That didn’t stop it from being a day of fertility and love.”

Around the same time, the Normans celebrated Galatin’s Day. Galatin meant “lover of women.” That was likely confused with St. Valentine’s Day at some point, in part because they sound alike. – NPR

This sort of sounds like what happened with Christmas. Take a pagan holiday and combine it with a Christian holiday in an attempt to convert people. Or in this case, try to twist the pagan holiday to make it “Christian”.

Then I was curious about how the Valentine Cards were started:

Another embellishment suggests that Saint Valentine performed clandestine Christian weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry. The Roman Emperor Claudius II supposedly forbade this in order to grow his army, believing that married men did not make for good soldiers.  However, George Monger writes that this marriage ban was never issued and that Claudius II told his soldiers to take two or three women for themselves after his victory over the Goths.

According to legend, in order “to remind these men of their vows and God’s love, Saint Valentine is said to have cut hearts from parchment”, giving them to these soldiers and persecuted Christians, a possible origin of the widespread use of hearts on St. Valentine’s Day. – Wikipedia on Valentine’s Day

So that’s how Valentine’s Day got its start
And how people started sending Valentine’s Day hearts.
I do hope that you enjoyed and learned something new
Happy Valentine’s Day (or Singles Awareness Day) to you!

💘

The Light & A Life Update

Image credit: Pixabay

Have you heard the phrase, “light at the end of the tunnel?” I recently read this one: “Due to extenuating circumstances, the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off.” At first, I thought that this was clever – and it is – however, I realize with depression, it can certainly feel that way sometimes.

The enemy puts a blindfold on to block the view, and it takes a lot of effort to get it off.

Image credit: Pixabay

For anxiety sufferers, the tunnel constricts our view of the Light as the airway constricts when a person has an asthma attack. Nothing can get in, and nothing can make us feel more helpless and alone.

But maybe, just maybe, tunnel vision causes this. Thoughts have a way of blocking the Light and making it seem smaller than it is or telling us that the Light at the end of the tunnel is a train that’s going to run us over. It’s sometimes nearly impossible to control them.

image credit: Pixabay

It’s all lies. Yes, that is our view of things. But, whatever the case may be, just because I can’t see the Light, doesn’t mean that it isn’t there. For we walk by faith, not by sight (Second Corinthians 5:7).

So even when we feel hopeless in the middle of some tunnel where it’s dark, and where sometimes we’re even afraid of the Light, we know we must keep walking. Even when the tunnel starts to constrict, keep pushing forward. Even when the Light isn’t visible anymore, keep going. And when it looks like the Light might just run us over – keep on. Wield the Armor of the Spirit and order those lies away.

Image credit: Pixabay

For the Light is waiting to shine on us, and shine through us. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).


That’s pretty much where my brain has been today. It has been hard to stay focused on the Light and Who He is. If you read this post from a couple of weeks ago, then you know that life has been hard for me this month.

You may remember this photo from the past. Radar is the one on the left, washing her face. Last night, she became violently ill – and the vet isn’t open that late, so I had to wait until morning. I kept checking on her most of the night. When I checked on her around 1AM, she was already gone. I had no chance to even try to help her, it happened so fast. Here is another photo; she is on the left (and Sketcher is on the right):

Her eyes weren’t always different like that. When she was a kitten, another cat scratched her eye, and she became blind in that eye. She adapted so well, but I always had to keep that in mind because if I approached her on her blind side and then reached to pet her, she would lose her mind because she didn’t see it coming. 😅 I have many fond memories of her losing her mind. Most of the time it happened because I mistook her for Rabbit (Radar’s mother). Without seeing the face, they looked almost identical.

Now they are both gone, within a couple of weeks of each other.

Radar would have been eight this spring.

I may not be as active online the next few days while I try to put my heart back together. Love you guys! ❤

Broken Heart’s Embrace (Poem) & An Update On Life (January 17, 2018)

Tiger and Rabbit

Hello all! 🙂 It looks like I’m going to make up for not posting for the past few days by filling up your readers and inboxes today, haha.

If you have been following me long, you’ve probably noticed that I don’t talk about my life much in terms of personal life. And I still don’t plan to share a whole lot, but at the same time, I want to be a little more open. (The “An Update On Life” title was inspired by Maggie’s Life Updates – if you haven’t been to her blog, I encourage you to drop by – her blog is amazing. I linked to it there. 😉)

My dad is very ill. He caught my cold and he has asthma, but he has been ill for six years now, so this is hitting him extra hard. He has requested privacy so I won’t be saying anything else about him. Prayers would be appreciated though.

I’m still battling with fear a bit, but it wasn’t as bad as that one instance a couple of weeks ago. The unknown is scary.  Dwelling on what the future may hold can easily make the here and now more miserable than it needs to be. “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, 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.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NASB) Why is it so hard sometimes to give things to God? I hold onto things for dear life that I shouldn’t be holding onto. Always thinking of the worst case scenario and then believing that will happen when that’s not necessarily true. I’m not omnipresent, omniscient, or omnipotent. I don’t know the future. It’s not as if worrying will actually help anything anyway, even if I knew the future. It wouldn’t change it.  It would probably do the opposite, for “…who of you by being worried can add a single  hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:27 NASB) Really. Worrying would most likely take hours away from life, not just in the long run, but all the wasted hours worrying that could have been spent elsewhere are lost forever because once the time is gone, there is no way to get it back. But I do know one thing – as I go through life, Jesus will be with me, so I needn’t fear.  Now to convince my brain so it will stop worrying… (Haha, wow, this paragraph was massive. 😅 Moving along to the last part of the update…)

And as if that’s not enough… if you read my post titled New Year, New Things, you probably saw the photos of my cats that I shared. Last week, Rabbit died suddenly; you’ll probably recognize at least one of the photos below. It was a huge shock; I didn’t realize she was sick, she seemed fine the evening before, and I found her gone the next morning. She would have been 10 years old this Spring. In her memory, I’m going to post a collage of a few photos of her (and her siblings that happen to be in the photos with her) that I’ve taken over the years.

I’ve been an emotional mess for the past week for these reasons, as you can imagine. Also, because of all of this, I don’t know how often I will be posting on WordPress for a while. (I do, however, plan to catch up on responding to comments today if possible – I’m days behind! 😱)

I wrote a poem last year for Rosie and other pets that I have lost over the years. In Rabbit’s honor, I’m sharing it below.

Broken Heart’s Embrace

Today it hurts too much
To ruminate on images of your face
Or your loving touch
On my broken heart’s embrace…

Pain dulls the delight
Of memories we shared way back when
Like a shade over the light
Until I wonder if it will come back again.

Remembering reflections
Moments of sweet and bitter sorrow
Mingle with recollections
That will be more cheerful tomorrow.

Someday it won’t hurt so;
The pain will be dulled by the bliss,
Tears of sadness won’t flow,
And will be replaced by joy’s kiss.

“Thy Sins Are Forgiven, thee.”

If you read my post Humility – Jesus In The Wilderness, then you know I have been studying the Gospels and Andrew Murray’s book, Humility. Since that post, I’ve also posted Humility – Simon Peter And The Fish, but you don’t have to read either of those before reading this one. These are a few notes I made while in Luke 5. 🙂

Luke 5:17 – 26: And it came to pass on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them. And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before Him. And when they could not find by what way they might bring Him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus.

Now that is faith.

And when He saw their faith, He said unto him, “Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.”

Jesus didn’t heal the man when he was lowered; He forgave his sins. Jesus was focused on his soul, not his flesh. This implies that the condition of his soul for eternity was more important than his physical body being healed. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” saith the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the Earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?”

But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answering said unto them, “What reason ye in your hearts? Whether is easier, to say, ‘Thy sins be forgiven thee;’ or to say, ‘Rise up and walk?’ But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (He said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, ‘Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house.’ ”

“So that you know that the Son of man has the power on earth to forgive sins…” Jesus healed the man to show Who He is…

And immediately he rose up before them and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.

All to glorify the Father in Heaven!

And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen strange things today.”

And this led to the multitude glorifying God as well. How wonderful it must have been, to witness this scene! All for His glory!

“We have seen strange things today…” REALLY, PEOPLE??? Strange? You witnessed Jesus heal someone. Strange? What about marvelous? Wonderful? I can think of so many other words to use in the place of strange. What about thankful? Not only for Jesus healing the man but for Him forgiving us of our sins? That Jesus has the power to forgive sins? That Jesus became the reason that we can be forgiven for sins?

Thankful.

May we be thankful to Him on this day. ❤

Chopping Down Idols

Acts 7:41: And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.

My first thought when reading this was, “People don’t make idols anymore like they did back in those days.” But then I really started thinking about this, a lot – and began to see idolatry in a new way.

Leviticus 26:1: “Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God.”

I take away several things from this verse, but the main one is this. “Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image…” This implies that not all idols are a graven image or image of stone. Therefore I had to ask myself, what kind of idols is it talking about then? Are there things that I sacrifice too much time to, when I should be giving it to God? It can be anything that is put before God. The tricky thing is, there isn’t anything wrong with these examples in normal circumstances: television, social media, money, computer games, food, etc. But they can become problems if they become idols. If they are made into idols.

This certainly put a new perspective on things.

A couple of days ago, my Internet went out for 10 hours, and I was a wreck. How would I talk to my friends? How would I check my email? How would I check who has posted on WordPress? How would I do research for my novel? I was much more frantic than I should have been, and in every activity I tried to immerse myself in, my thoughts came back to it.

Why couldn’t I think about Jesus this much?

I cringed inwardly and was so convicted.

I knew I really enjoyed being online, but I hadn’t realized how much of an idol it had become, getting in the way of studying the Bible and being with family.

First Corinthians 10:14: Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.

I’m also reminded of Daniel 3:16-18, where Nebuchadnezzar decreed that all would worship the golden image: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”

They were thrown into a fiery furnace that was heated seven times hotter than usual (Daniel 3:19) because they refused to bow down to an idol. They didn’t fear burning or dying for their God. (Even though He saved them, they didn’t know that before going in.)

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)

I have to ask myself… if I was there with the three of them that day, would I have done the same thing they did? I’d like to think so, but then the conviction hits… when faced with a similar scenario of an idol without an image or a face, would I do the same thing?

They can creep in without us realizing it sometimes, and once they are seen for what they are, they cannot remain. The graven image has to fall. With that being said, I’m going to take a short blogging break to chop down the idol. I plan to return at the end of the month with poems, photos, a Liebster Award acceptance post, and more if things go well. 🙂 Jesus must be the only God in my life, for He is King of kings, Lord of lords, and God of gods.

I’ll miss you guys! I love you all, and I hope that you have a lovely October! ❤

Following Him,
Grace 🌸

 


 

P.S.: I don’t know what the little black wooden figure is supposed to be; I got it at a flea market many years ago (it was in a big box labeled “free”) when I was in my dark Gothic phase, and at the time I thought it was really cool. Now I find it to be really creepy. I am curious about what it is, and what it represents, but there’s another part of me that is unsure of if I want to know… But I thought it might make a good “idol” for this post, anyway. 😅

Faith Is Like A Tea Bag…

Thanks to Angela for having a discussion with me about tea – I couldn’t stop thinking about tea after that, and then I remembered a quote I’d read once by Eleanor Roosevelt: “A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong it is until it’s in hot water.” I propose that faith is like that as well… you never know how strong it is until you end up in hot water.

And I’d love to take this analogy a bit further. If faith is like a tea bag, then what does the water represent? Trials and hardships, perhaps?

If this is so, then here there is only one thing left to ask: When placed in hot water, does your faith make tea, or do you turn the water lukewarm with an icy heart?

“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:15 & 16)

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. (James 1:2-4)