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Hello mornings

Hello Mornings book

Hello Mornings book

This week I’ve been reading the amazing book Hello Mornings: How To Build A Grace-Filled, Life-Giving Morning Routine by Kat Lee, which you can find at Amazon here.

It’s about a simple, three-minute morning routine to help you build a daily, life-long, Jesus-centered habit to anchor you for every season of your life.

Now if you’re like me, you are so not a morning person, and you don’t exactly jump out of bed in the morning with glee.

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Blog, Faith, Marriage, Parenting, prayer

Mothers’ Day with our beautiful daughters and my flower garden

Abraham Lincoln quote on mother

“I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.”–Abraham Lincoln

I had a great Mother’s Day weekend and hope you did, too. The best part for me was seeing our precious, beautiful daughters Heather and Leah. I went by to see our middle daughter Eden, but she was working late until that night. Hopefully I can see her this week when she is off work. 

Heather bought me a sweet card and beautiful fresh red roses, my favorite flowers–so thoughtful of her!

card & roses from Heather

card & roses from Heather

Heather works full-time, stays constantly busy and on the go, and lives almost an hour away from me here in Butler. So it was a real treat for her to drive here with her girls Annabelle and Violet and take me out to lunch at the Mexican restaurant, El Charro. 

Me & our beautiful daughter, Heather Mothers' Day 2018

Me & our beautiful daughter, Heather
Mothers’ Day 2018

 

Heather opening her card & gift from me The girls watching her Mothers' Day 2018

Heather opening her card & gift from me
The girls watching her
Mothers’ Day 2018

Heather and the girls then stopped by our house to see our black cat with green eyes, Natalya, for the first time. Violet loved her! Natalya is shy, so I was really glad she allowed them to pet and even hold her!

Heather seeing our cat Natalya the first time

Heather seeing our cat Natalya for the first time here

 

Our granddaughters Violet & Annabelle seeing Natalya the 1st time

Our granddaughters Violet and Annabelle seeing Natalya for the 1st time here at our house

Their visit was very short and sweet, because Heather had an errand to run, but I’m so thankful that I was able to see them and spend time with them for this special holiday!

On actual Mother’s Day Sunday, our youngest daughter Leah treated me to lunch at El Charro, too (we both love Mexican and I can never have too much chips and salsa!). Seeing our daughters made my whole weekend!

Me & our precious, beautiful daughter Leah on Mothers' Day 2018

Me & our precious, beautiful daughter Leah on Mothers’ Day 2018

 

Mexican lunch

Mexican lunch

 

I'm addicted to chips & salsa!

I’m addicted to chips & salsa!

The restaurant staff also blessed me with a free dessert for Mothers’ Day: it was a creamy, yummy cake with strawberries!

the yummy dessert: Leah & I shared it!

the yummy cake with chocolate & strawberries: Leah and I shared it!

I’m so thankful that I was able to do this with Leah. It made my whole day.

My husband Ray bought me a beautiful butterfly card (I love butterflies!) and a Chicken Soup for the Soul book, The Empowered Woman. What the card read inside about me being beautiful and what he wrote about me as a mom meant the most to me and deeply touched me.

butterfly card & book

butterfly card & book

To treat myself afterward, I planted some flowers in my flower bed that I’d bought at the Mennonite store in town, the Stoplight Market, where I purchased them last year. All this is a lot of hard work, and I was very sore the next day! I posted a meme on Facebook which read, “My glutes are on FIYAH!”

 

flower bed

my flower bed. I started gardening last year and am happy to have fresh flowers again!

My friend Stephanie urged me to buy mulch for the flower bed, so the rains wouldn’t wash away the petunias. I went the next day to buy the mulch and put it down to protect the flowers.

mulch

mulch

 

petunias

petunias in a variety of colors

 

cute little sign-fairy

cute little sign: fairy crossing

 

yellow daisies

friendly daisies for our back steps

 

purple potted petunias

purple potted petunias

 

gardenias

red gardenias for my sunroom

I love having creamy coffee and drinking it in our sunroom in the morning. It’s a great place to just pray to God and watch the birds, squirrels, butterflies, and bunny rabbits.

coffee in the sunroom

coffee in the sunroom

My mother-in-law Judy bought me this beautiful, little glass table for the sunroom. I love it! It is perfect for my coffee, flowered cactus, and aloe vera plant.

glass table

glass table

Our cat Natalya loves our sunroom as much as I do, but for different reasons. She intently watches the birds and the squirrels, anticipating a kill if she could only get outside (she’s an indoor-only house cat!). 

Natalya watching the birds

Natalya watching the birds

 

Natalya by the sunroom screen

Natalya by the sunroom screen

 

Natalya in the sunroom

Natalya in the sunroom

I bought a few herbs for my sunroom: wonderful-smelling lavender, oregano to use in cooking dishes like spaghetti, and beautiful purple Salvia. I never leave our cat alone in the sunroom with the plants, as some can be toxic. The door stays locked when I’m not in there.

I have the herbs in a big, white crate that was filled with goodies the attendees blessed me with last year, when I spoke at a retreat in Liberty, MO.

herbs: lavender, oregano, and Salvia

herbs: lavender, oregano, and Salvia

 

faith deco in sunroom

faith deco in sunroom

Last year I planted a big butterfly bush to entice butterflies, which I love. It blossomed well, and drew butterflies in my garden. But Missouri can have harsh, cold winters and it’s likely the ice and the snow killed the poor, little plant. I wasn’t able to find a big plant I really liked for that corner, so I bought a Celtic Cross.

I am proclaiming it is a prophetic declaration for me visiting Ireland, one of the things on my bucket list! Irish legend says that Saint Patrick was trying to convert the pagans to Christianity. Some of these pagans worshiped the sun, so it is said that he combined the cross with the circular pattern of the sun as a way to associate light and life with the Christian cross in the mind of his converts. I think it adds a unique touch to the garden.

Celtic Cross

Celtic Cross

I also put new bark mulch around my roses. Last year I planted my first rose garden. Two of the rose bushes look somewhat sad this spring, so they may have to be uprooted and replaced. I’m not sure they survived the winter. The other two rose bushes are doing well, and one is already blooming beautifully.

rose garden

rose garden with stones

 

my roses from this year's garden

my roses from this year’s garden

I bought bags of black sunflower and other little seeds to draw the red cardinals, sparrows, purple finches, blue jays, and other beautiful birds in our yard. I’ve already seen the male and female red cardinals in our yard. The red male cardinal is my special sign of love from God, and it makes me so happy to see one!

I’ve also seen purple finches and mourning doves. Doves make beautiful sounds in the morning and are among my other favorite birds. An interesting fact about doves is that they mate for life. 

red male cardinal Image source: Pinterest

red male cardinal
Image source: Pinterest

 

purple finch

purple finch

Last year my mother-in-law Judy bought me the squirrel-proof feeder on the left in the pic below. The squirrels are greedy, and practically do acrobatics on the feeders, even going upside down, to try to get to the seeds and eat them. 

bird feeders

bird feeders

I also put back out the hummingbird feeder with sugar water, and have already seen hummingbirds at them. I love the hummingbirds; they are so little and cute!

To make safe hummingbird food (there is controversy whether the red dye is safe or toxic to hummingbirds),  mix 1 part sugar with 4 parts water and bring to a boil to kill any bacteria or mold that is present. Cool and fill your feeder. They love it! This morning I saw a big black and yellow bumblebee at the feeder; they like it, too, so be careful. I was stung by a bee on my foot as a child, and my foot was swollen to twice its size, so I’m allergic to bees. 

“Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.”–Ashley Smith

hummingbird feeder

hummingbird feeder

The previous owners of this house had planted two pink peony bushes on the side yard. They are now blooming beautifully. My friend Stephanie said these are her favorite flowers, and that if I take care of them, they can grow as big as saucers.

pink peonies bush

pink peonies bush

 

pink peony

pink peony

I have a few more goals for our yard. One is to get a white trellis for the Wisteria tree, that Ray suggested I buy and plant last year. We put it in the front of our house by the little porch. It is now taking over our house, and friends of mine advised to get a trellis to train its growing “arms,” so it won’t destroy the siding on our home.

Wisteria tree

Wisteria tree

My other planned project is to buy 3 giant rocks at The Grass Pad in Martin City, MO, and make an attractive fairy rock garden on top of it. This is where I bought my stones for my rose garden last year. 

I had a very good Mothers’ Day this year and am so thankful.

Me on Mothers' Day 2018

Me on Mothers’ Day 2018

What did you do for the holiday? Leave your comments below.

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Blog, Faith, Marriage, Parenting, prayer, Spiritual Gifts, Writing

Lessons From a Garden

purple petunias

purple petunias

Recently I created a rose and flower garden, for the first time in my life. I found out quickly that gardening is hot WORK, but I’m very pleased with what I accomplished and love looking at the beautiful flowers from my sunroom, as I drink coffee in the morning.

Here are some lessons I’ve learned working on my gardens:

  • It’s hard, hot work. The Christian life isn’t easy and Jesus never said it would be a “rose garden.” (Pardon the pun, but I couldn’t resist!) In fact, He warned us that we would have trouble in this life, even persecution and suffering if we followed Him, but we don’t need to feel afraid because He has overcome this world. (John 16:33) I’ve had my fair share of trials and heartaches, and then some. What about you? Let’s face it, marriage is hard (really hard!). Parenting is hard. So is having a ministry, grandparenting, paying the basic bills, staying healthy and fit, dealing with people at your job or church, not losing your temper in traffic, speaking at conferences, writing your book, blogging, taking care of pets, finding life’s real meaning, simply getting out of the bed in the morning, and any number of things we face in this world. But one thing for sure, Jesus will never leave or abandon us. (Hebrews 13:5) He will help us to do what we need to do each day, if we ask Him. He will help us get to that finish line! Just don’t quit.
  • Have a vision. The Bible says in Proverbs 29:18, “Without a vision the people perish.” You need to have a vision for your garden. Before I started shoveling dirt and buying a bunch of flowers, I thought about what I wanted my two gardens to look like. I googled online and drove around cities to see what other gardeners had done and theirs pretty gardens looked like for inspiration. You can ask your family and friends for their ideas, too, like I did on Facebook. My friend Rose on Facebook and others were a great help to me, since I’ve never done this before and told me how they had made theirs with very helpful tips–what to do and what not to do.
  • Dig deep. You can’t just go throw seeds on the dirt, or plop some flowers from the bucket on top of the soil to create a beautiful garden. You have to prepare the soil first and dig! My friend Rose encouraged me to first clear the area where I wanted the garden of grass, pebbles, and what appeared to be “Creeping Charlie” weeds that were in abundance by the patio and garage. Then she said to lay down cardboard flat on the dirt, which is biodegradable and works better than landscape fabric, and put bark mulch on top of it for my rose garden. For the annuals and perennials, I cleared the area, spread out compost and potting soil, and mixed them together to prepare the soil for the flowers to take root. In order to plant the roses and my flowers, I had to dig–in some places deep. One of my favorite scriptures is Psalm 42:7: “Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me.” God doesn’t want you and me to have a shallow, superficial relationship with Him, but a deep, intimate one each day. Go deeper with God in prayer, worship, and studying the Bible every day. Choose to grow closer to God.
  • Water and weed daily. I’m treating my rose and flower gardens a little like I do my kids and grandkids, worrying over them. My grandmother Moore had a green thumb and could grow anything, but I’ve never done this before and don’t want to kill my flowers! They need sunlight, watering and weeding daily. I need to give them enough water, but not too much. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what exactly they need and want (again, like our children!). I have to watch vigilantly for weeds and pests. They both can destroy a garden. In our lives, we need to watch for pests that can destroy and weeds that can quickly overgrow in our hearts and minds, such as unforgiveness, bitterness, anger, jealousy, envy, gossip, pride, resentment, discouragement, depression, unbelief, and more. These can cause great spiritual destruction in our lives and cause us to get off God’s plan and path for our life. We want to yield eternal, good fruit for God, not waste our lives or have sins choke out the good fruit (flowers). Ezekiel 17:8 says, “It was planted in good soil beside abundant waters, that it might yield branches and bear fruit and become a splendid vine.”
  • Fertilize. Sometimes plants and flowers need a little extra boost with fertilizer–replenishing lost nutrients, ensuring they have the food they need to flourish, stimulate root growth, helping the plant set buds and flowers, and improving vitality. I bought rose food for my roses and applied it the first week, per the box’s instructions. As believers, we face times of crisis (much like strong winds and relentless rain to the flowers) and need to apply the principles of spiritual warfare, being sure to keep on the armor of God, which you can read about in Ephesians 6. I recommend my book, The Hands of a Woman: Everyday Women in Everyday Battles, available for sale at Amazon, which is about 8 women’s greatest spiritual battles. Another great book is Priscilla Shirer’s study on The Armor of God, also at Amazon. I also recommend watching the movie War Room, in which Priscilla starred with Karen Abercombie and T.C. Stallings. Staying grounded in God’s word and prayer will be the fertilizer we need to stay strong through faith in Christ.
  • You’ll get tired. When I started working on the gardens, I used muscles that I certainly had not been using in awhile, so I felt it in every part of my body afterward—I was so sore! What I needed was a hot shower, good food, and to sit down and relax watching a movie! Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30, AMP, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened[by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation].Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.” God wants to give your soul rest–peace and quiet from the hectic, busy, noisy pace of today. Sometimes a garden is the perfect place to do that. As my friend Rose reminded and encouraged me yesterday on Facebook, Jesus spent a lot of time in gardens. At other times, it’s watching a chick flick, eating chips and salsa with Mexican, taking a bubble path, getting a mani or pedi, ordering pizza and laughing with family and friends, going to the beach (my place of peace!), or just getting a good night’s rest. God wants to refill and restore you when you’re tired and weary.
  • Enjoy the view. I was worn out making these gardens. I had to go to a lot of different nurseries and garden places to find the supplies and flowers, in 90+F degree, sweltering heat. I’d never done this before and, frankly, I’m out of shape! It is WORK! I sweated a lot and had to take breaks, since I was planting quite a bit of flowers. But once I finished (I just have one rose shrub left to plant, which hasn’t arrived yet but it’s ordered online!), I was pleased with the overall effect. I love it! It makes me happy to look at the pretty roses and flowers from my sunroom, drinking coffee in the movie. I am praying I can keep them alive and they will thrive; please pray, too! But remember to enjoy the view. Savor the moments in your life. Love your family, friends, and others. Glorify God in all you do. Humankind began in a garden. It is a place of beauty and life.

“When I’m writing, I think about the garden, and when I’m in the garden I think about writing. I do a lot of writing by putting something in the ground.” ~ Jamaica Kincaid

Althea flower

Althea flower

What lessons have you learned from gardening? Please share and leave your comments below.

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