Our Spring

I have been walking more when weather permits and trying to shake off the anxiety of the pandemic. Not ALWAYS successful, but the effort continues.

This magnolia type caught my attention recently. Blue sky, flowers popping and petals covering the ground. In the autumn Bob and I discuss how the maple trees all decked out in the changing colors of red, yellow, orange seem to drop their gowns or dresses. This spring I am noticing the flowering trees especially as they drops their “ruffles” of petals.

Have you noted things lately that remind you that Spring is bursting out, pandemic or no pandemic? God is not taken by surprise, upset and focused on only the negative with this disease. Can you allow yourself a few minutes to turn off the case count and death totals on television and radio. Even a few minutes of gratitude can do much to mitigate the soul crushing fear circling the earth right now.

For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.

2 Timothy 1:7 HCSB

A spirit of power, love and a sound mind or sound judgement. It has been a struggle for me to hold on to these. And then I am reminded from some quote, I read from someone, that is it not my grip upon God that counts, but His grip on me.

 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10 (NIV 2011)

Lyrics by Rich Mullins – Video below

Well sometimes my life just don’t make sense at all
When the mountains look so big
And my faith seems so small

So hold me Jesus cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

And I wake up in the night and feel the dark
It's so hot inside my soul
I swear there must be blisters on my heart

So hold me Jesus cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

Surrender don't come natural to me
I'd rather fight You for something I don't really want
Than to take what You give that I need
And I've beat my head against so many walls
Now I'm falling down I'm falling on my knees

And this Salvation Army band is playing this hymn
And Your grace rings out so deep
It makes my resistance seem so thin

I'm singing hold me Jesus cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

Prince of Peace, hold us in Your nail-scarred hands, reign in and through us, I pray. Amen.

Trout Lilies!

When the realtor showed us this house in 2006 my husband thought it was out of our price range. It was a speculator’s house that was brand new and had stood empty for a year. I began going to visit the house when Bob was at work. On the back hill I found wild flowers of a sort I had not noticed before. Turns out they are called Trout Lilies because the leaves resemble the scales on a trout.

Well, Bob was going past the house on his way home from work. Neither of us told the other. Just could not get this house out of my brain. Finally I asked if we could have the realtor take us back to see it once more. That is when we both mentioned we had visited more than once since the initial showing! We made an offer and started packing as soon as the deal went through. I have always believed the Lord was saving this house for us.

We had never lived in a brand new house! Over the years Bob has taken the herculean task of digging out and chopping back honeysuckle shrubs and vines. Knowing my love of King Alfred daffodils, he began getting the large bag of bulbs in the fall and planting them all over the hill. Now spring is a burst of color and fragrance and joy. I have added Grape hyacinth bulbs and a few Dutch Hyacinths, too.

This year we had a huge surprise from the Trout Lilies! [Erythronium albidum Lily family (Liliaceae)] Whether it is due to maturation of the plants we already had (they do not bloom the first 6 or 7 years of life), extra rains or mild winter we are delighted to see these!

Thousand upon thousands of flowering trout lilies! Oh my goodness. When we first moved in there were a few.

What a blessing! I have never tried to collect these and take them inside. As soon as it stops raining I will go try just that! To me, there is something soothing and special about flowers inside. The kitchen counter often makes me rejoice when I see a bouquet.

Keep smiling!

Collected Quotes

I most often read at night in bed. When I find a quote that stops me, I copy, paste to my own email and continue. Often, I forget to add where I read the quote. Usually it is months later when I decide to copy and paste the quotes to a document. So many of the quotes I want to share will be without credit given to the author. I will try to search on line to find the appropriate source. If I can’t then please just take courage form the quote itself and forgive me if you happen to be the author. yikes.

Jan 2019 I read a quote from Rumi, “But listen to me: for one moment, quit being sad. Hear blessings dropping their blossoms around you. God.” I can get caught up in all the dire news of death counts doubling and tripling, ventilators not being available for those who need them, etc., or I can try Rumi’s message from God.

What if the splendor of spring was allowed to sweep me into it’s arms for half an hour? The daffodils on our hill are bursting. Alongside them there are trout lilies with larger blossoms than we have ever seen in our decade of living here. The hyacinths in my garden are bursting with color and fragrance. My bathroom is redolent with that sweet perfume as the two blossom stems bless me. Forsythia looks better this year than in last. Yesterday morning Bob spotted a PAIR of Rufous Sided Towhees in the grass below the feeder.

They only pass through our area. Harbingers of spring and fall we get excited to see them.

If I stay glued to the tv and radio news I will miss these. “Hear blessings dropping their blossoms around you.” What can you spot today?

Ebb and Flow and Stillness

Recently I read the quote below and was blessed. We all know the many ways life can surge and churn about us. And then there is Christ, our Rock.

Trust God’s Word and His power more than you trust your own feelings and experiences. Remember, your Rock is Christ, and it is the sea that ebbs and flows with the tides, not Him.

Samuel Rutherford
The sea ebbs and flows with the tides.

“Rock of my salvation” includes the Hebrew word tsur. Tsur is the most common Hebrew word used in the names of God that describe Him as a rock. Tsur speaks of a rock that is massive, very safe, and virtually impenetrable”, says https://namesforgod.net/rock-of-my-salvation

In the quote there is that word, TRUST, again. I need to practice it and understand it more each time it comes up!

Jesus is my steady, unwavering, unchangeable rock. God’s Word and power are higher than anything I can know or understand. I choose to trust. I will be still in His Presence. If I understand correctly, the pronunciation for Tsur is like Sir. That will help me. As a soldier refers to it’s commander as “sir”, so I will refer to my Lord as “Sir, Tsur.”

 He will call out to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, the Rock, my Savior.’

Psalm 89:26 NIV

Lenten Light from You

My friend is the major contributor and editor of The Transfiguration Quarterly which comes from the Episcopalian Convent of the Transfiguration where I am an Associate. She is thinking about publishing the next issue reflecting upon Lent as an outward act and involving light.

Here is what I wrote for her.

Lent for the year 2020 starts on Wednesday, February 26th and ends on Thursday, April 9.  The practices of Lent do not end until sundown on Holy Saturday for all Christian denominations. Typically, a time of introspection with fasting, moderation, repentance, self-denial and self-discipline, what if this year, you changed it up?

In her book, My Daily Appointment with God Lucille Sollenberger notes “How interesting that God should give the world light as one of His first gifts!” The Gospel of John says, “Light shone in the darkness and the darkness could not put it out.” Isn’t it fascinating that we can create darkness by removing light; however, we cannot create light. We are made to reflect light. If there are dark corners where you live this Lent, you may be the one to brighten up those corners with the Light of Christ. What if, instead of withdrawing you asked the Lord to help you reflect His light into the world around you? Have you noticed that when you smile more, more people around you begin to smile? Your introspection at the end of the day could be self-examen to review when might you have done better by shining?

Usually we tend to hide our light under a bucket, perhaps fearful of the criticism from others. How about if we took the Light of Christ that shines in our heart and began to share that shining with those around us? It is easy to say we love those whom we barely know. Much more of a challenge to love those whom we live with and see every day. Perhaps instead of not doing some things this Lent, you could make a pact with God to try doing more kindnesses towards those you live in proximity with. Not only smile more, but be gracious even when you do not feel like it.

We are challenged in Romans 12:10b to outdo one another in showing honor. Forty days of practicing that could bring life changes! 1 Peter 2:9 reminds us that Jesus called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. That marvelous light is ours to live in, to reflect, to bring glory to Christ by showing it to others.

“For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.”  2Corinthians 4:6-7

LED bulbs are the brightest source of artificial light known to man right now. The letters stand for Light Emitting Diode.  Well, granted, we do not emit light, we reflect light and the Light we reflect is the grandest known to man! An extraordinary power that belongs to God.

At https://www.learnreligions.com/what-is-lent-700774 Mary Fairchild wrote “The purpose of Lent is to set aside time for reflection on Jesus Christ—his suffering and death, his sacrifice, his life, burial, and resurrection. During the six weeks of self-examination and reflection, Christians who observe Lent typically make a commitment to fast, or to give up something—a habit, such as smoking, watching TV, swearing, or a food or drink, such as sweets, chocolate, or coffee. Some Christians also take on a Lenten discipline, such as reading the Bible and spending more time in prayer to draw nearer to God. The goal of these spiritual disciplines is to strengthen the faith of the observer and develop a closer relationship with God.”

You may find the discipline of reflecting the Light of Christ far more difficult than fasting from chocolate. I am praying that this spiritual discipline of shining forth the Light of Christ may indeed “strengthen your faith” and help you “develop a closer relationship with God.”

A typical Episcopalian response is taken from the Baptismal vows: “I will with God’s help.”

Smoky Mountain Trek

As Bob wrote in his travel journal regarding Days 27, 28, 29 and 30 (of our miles long adventure). “We left Nashville and headed towards Townsend where we had rented a small cabin in the woods – a final stop in a familiar and loved area.We had not been here in 3 years. The ride was easy and the start of the Appalachian Range was welcomed. Far different than the Rockies, but the lush forests and green valleys were delightful. The redbuds were beginning to bloom and the dogwoods were in full flower.”

Some ask us why we go back so often? For us, wildflower hunting is similar to seeking shells on an Atlantic Ocean beach. The trillium are fairly obvious. Southern Appalachian are very large. Wake Robin is similar to Sweet Betsy trillium to me. Yellow is know as Yellow Wake Robin! I just know it is erect and easy to see in a passing car! But the Jack in the Pulpit, not so much. I find myself as we hike looking for the leaves or the curve of the neck on the Jack. The violets in purple, white, lilac and yellow show themselves. The Dutchman’s Britches are not so obvious as they look like the Squirrel Corn. One has to look closely to see the ginger pots under the Ginger leaves. And the Little Brown Jugs must be discerned, too. Yellow Bellwort grows high on Rich Mountain Road. Spiderwort is the rock clinging one I believe.

Most elusive are the Lady’s Slipper. As I wrote earlier, we found pink that had not opened yet. One clump of lovely yellow were sweet. Sadly, people dig them up (stealing from the National Park) thinking they can take them home to grow the. These lovelies have very particular growing needs. So we tell almost NO ONE where we have seen them. A Ranger at Sugarlands Park Office told us that about 3 miles up Sugarland trail they burst out in abundance after the fires a few years ago. Sadly, that is too much hiking for me.

Fire pinks, crested dwarf iris, showy orchid, wild geranium, fringed phacelia, squaw root, and the list goes on! Such Fun.

Bob wrote about the Good Friday drive along Tremont Road following the Middle Prong of the Little River , “So much rain had fallen that it was more full and rapid than we had ever witnessed. It was violent, frenzied, untamed, wild, and raging. It reminded me of the Niagara rapids below the falls. Water careened along its banks and exploded over the rocks. Waterfalls disappeared except for the ones coming down the sides of the mountain that were barely contained. And it was LOUD! Everything in the area was a soft green and dripping. Giant Trillium sat and listened to Jack preach to them and the rocks above. It was glorious. Who said rainy days are not fun? And we only put 60 miles on the car.”

The next day was only 46 degrees but the rain had stopped so we were up for another hike. Bob’s journal continues “Easter Saturday – the day between the grief and the glory – we drove to Tremont and the Middle Prong Trail. We love this trail as it closely follows the Middle Prong of the river and builds to a crescendo with a cascading waterfall. The joy for me is walking a small path that leads to the crest of the falls. Water rushes towards it and explodes over the top of the boulders below.”

On Day 31 we drove home to Ohio. 7,000 miles, a month on the road sitting side by side in the Toyota Camry Hybrid. We were still friends and still smiling. I imagine you might be tired about reading reports of this adventure. We have not tired of telling it though. There are likely more details in my blog and his travel journal than we could recite to you today, in person, without notes!

Our next adventure was a seven day flight to and around New England to pick up some of the places we missed on a previous adventure there. It is nice to be approaching 49 years of marriage completed and still enjoy one another’s company. May all of your journeys be joyous!

Photo by Robert M Dutina