Called by Name

This inchworm is measuring a flower in units of its own length – thus the common name – inchworm. Its scientific name – geometridae – also alludes to its measuring ability. I now know this name and the origin of the name because I have been participating in the 2021 Mountain True BioBlast. It is a friendly competition between our county and two nearby counties with similar bio diversity to determine how many different species of plants and animals can be recorded within a two week period.

I have enjoyed this so much! Most of my pictures have been taken in our own yard. We are blessed with such diversity here on Macktown Gap. I don’t know all the names – but the app we use on our phones – called iNaturalist – identifies the plant or animal BY NAME! It records the location as well. Not only have I had fun looking for as many different plants and critters as I could find, I have learned their names in the process.

This butterfly, named Great Spangled Fritillary landed on a flower called Butterfly Weed. Such an appropriate name.

Names are important. They not only give significance to something but often describe it as well. Instead of “look at those plants”, saying “look at that Jack-in-the-Pulpit” identifies and singles out one plant from among many others.

God gave Adam the task of naming all the animals and birds in the Garden of Eden – Genesis 2:19. The names of things has been important since the very beginning of creation.

As a teacher I worked very hard to learn the names of my students. I was not always good at remembering – but I really did try. It was important to me that each student knew they were unique and important to me. Knowing their name was a way for me to acknowledge them. (Kristen and Chelsea Cucumber are identical twins and they had to constantly forgive me for mixing up their names – as did twins Kristen and Kelsey Bradley) Now I have identical twin grandsons. Poor Amos and Tyler…..

But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
    O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
    I have called you by name; you are mine.  Isaiah 43:1

I love that God tells us, His people, that He has called us BY NAME. He knows us, He formed us.

We are His.

Steadfast Love

Each year, right around Mother’s Day, these rhododendron bushes along our driveway bloom in all their glory. This picture does not do justice to the magnificence of these flowers. Their size and abundance amaze me every year.

I can take no credit for them. The late Charles Mason gifted one of these rhododendron bushes to his lovely wife Peggy Queen Mason each year for Mother’s Day. They remain a living legacy of their family.

When we purchased our home in 2005 it was November. I thought it was nice that the driveway had these mature bushes along it and I was pleased that they were evergreen.

Then, the following spring, the week of Mother’s Day, they burst forth in glorious purple. How pleased we were! And they faithfully bloom each year. Unlike my hydrangeas, which got frozen in March, these mature plants withstand the uncertainties of weather and steadfastly bloom each year.

This is a lovely reminder of the faithful love of God for his children.

  • it will show up in surprising ways
  • it is steadfast, reliable
  • it is not dependent on circumstances
  • it is unconditional

The comparison is not perfect. A large white pine tree fell on one bush last year and took it out. Fortunately, a new shoot is growing from the roots. These bushes won’t live forever – God’s love will – it is eternal, steadfast.

Lamentations 3:22-24 says

22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
    His mercies never cease.
23 Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
    therefore, I will hope in him!”

In My Garden with God

Preparing for His Appearing

when they appear in spring …

This time of year I am preparing the places in our native plants area for the spring.

To prepare these places, I remove any debris that has fallen from trees and heavy leaf matter. I clean up all around, and then put a light, protective layer of leaves covering the soil where the trillium, trout lily, mayapple, bloodroot, lady slipper, and Solomon’s seal will appear come spring. As those leaves rot, they feed the soil which benefits the plant growth.

Doing this preparation work will allow these wildflowers to flourish, and it also allows the new growth to appear without the old dead stems and leaves diminishing the beauty of the new growth. Heavy leaf matter and large pieces of tree branches could prevent the new, tender shoots from pushing through when it warms up. This work does not show immediate effect like weeding and pruning do, yet over time its results show the value of the work.

Technically, it isn’t even winter yet, December 21 is that day, but it sure feels like winter. It was 21 degrees this morning and the frost on our deck table was white and thick. In years past, I waited too long before preparing for the emergence of our wildflowers. The flowers came up and when I began to clean up the leaf matter and sticks so the plants had room, I inadvertently damaged the young, tender shoots. There is no set date for trout lilies or bloodroot to emerge. They are usually the first wildflower to pop up along the edge of our yard and are the sign that the mayapples, trillium, and lady slippers will soon follow. Their appearance is determined by the weather, when it gets warm enough, the plants emerge – then bloom.

So, to allow the native plants their full growth potential, I must do the preparation work long before there is any sign of the future blooms.

Our Community Women’s Bible Study is studying the book of Revelation. I have been reminded that in Revelation John urges us as followers of Jesus to “be prepared” for His second appearing. This week, like many of us, I have been preparing our home for the arrival of Christmas. I have put up a tree, strung some lights outside, and gotten my mother’s Christmas china out. All these preparations celebrate Jesus’ first appearance on earth.

What have I done to prepare for His second coming?

Revelation 16:15 in the Amplified Version says –

15 “Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is he who stays awake and who keeps his clothes [that is, stays spiritually ready for the Lord’s return], so that he will not be naked—spiritually unprepared—and men will not see his shame.”

So, I don’t need to decorate my house or clean away leaf debris to prepare for Jesus second coming. As my friend Patti Harper said when we were reading this verse – “We need to be awake – aware – and attired.

Awake – realize that Jesus is coming AGAIN

Aware – that no matter what is happening around me – God is faithful

Attired – clothed in His righteousness, Jesus paid the price for my salvation

During these days of cold weather and darkness all around us, may we share the light of Jesus. His Light shines brightest in darkness. May our “hearts prepare Him room” as the beautiful carol “Joy to the World” reminds us.

Then we will be prepared for Jesus appearing.