My Father’s Handiwork

     2006

My sister-in-law, Mitzi, recently sent me this picture of my father collecting tiny Japanese maples under the beautiful “mother” tree in her yard in Eugene, Oregon. Dad brought these two inch high seedlings home to North Carolina on the airplane and planted them in a sheltered place.

Now, fourteen years later we have several beautiful trees and so do our daughters! One even traveled north to Wheaton when Mom and Dad moved there to a retirement community. These Japanese maples are especially beautiful in the fall.

All from little seedlings.

The greatest blessing to me is the remembrance of my father whenever I see these trees.

I realized after Mitzi sent me this picture that I have reminders of my father ALL OVER OUR YARD! His handiwork is a constant reminder that my Dad lived here with us for over 8 years, and not only did he live here, but he left a legacy of beauty.

Which leads me to the next realization  – my Heavenly Father has left His legacy – all creation – as a constant reminder of His presence.

Just as I look at a tree or flower that Dad planted and am reminded of him, I recognize that God, in His creative power has made all things, including humans. When I see people, I am reminded that God created humans in His image.

“Red, brown, yellow, black and white, we’re ALL precious in His sight.”

Caring for our garden and the plants Dad left here honors his memory.

Caring for other people honors God who created them.

If I am not showing love and respect for ALL people, I am not honoring the God who created them. In this time of turmoil and unrest in our country, I must do all I can to honor God by showing honor to His creation – the entire human race.

In Mark 12:30-31 Jesus answers a question from one of the religious leaders – “Which is the most important commandment?”

30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

When I love my neighbor as myself. I am honoring my Heavenly Father by caring for His creation.

My challenge right now is to show love to all people, not only those I agree with. Because each person is God’s handiwork and He loves them, so will I.

2020

 

In My Garden with God #26

 

 

 

Thankful, Tender Hearts

I wrote the following post in 2016. Yet I feel it is just as important today when I think about celebrating all I have to be thankful for. May God bless you and yours this Thanksgiving.

“There are many people in our country and the world today that are suffering. The pain, fear,and loss they are facing leaves little room to be thankful.

Here I am, looking forward to the arrival of some of our children, grandchildren and friends tomorrow. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because I enjoy the family gathering, the food, and the focus on being thankful.

Yet I know many are not blessed the way I am. Recently, friends from church lost their college aged son in a tragic accident. A school bus crashed this week causing the loss of five young children. What is there to be thankful for in these situations?

A dear young mother recently shared in our women’s Bible study group that she was dealing with reconciling the fact that –

God is good,

God is faithful,

Yet the pain of the loss of seemingly senseless death lingers.

We are studying Ezekiel, a challenging book heavy with judgement. Yet this young mother shared that she felt challenged by the following verse. Ezekiel 36:26 –

26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.

“Do the situations around me cause me to harden my heart, or soften my heart?”

When my young friend said this – I realized – that is the challenge for me as well.

Will I allow situations around me, and personal suffering to harden my heart? Will I allow God to give me a new, tender heart that is able to see and feel His presence in the midst of suffering?

We have much to be thankful for, yet the suffering some face is very real.

The book Defiant Joy, the Remarkable Life and Impact of G.K.Chesterton by Kevin Belmonte recounts that during a period of utter despair, Chesterton “was filled with both an enormous sense of thankfulness, and an enormous need for someone or something to thank.” (p. 218) This insight caused Chesterton to embrace Christianity. He went on to become a critic and writer that greatly influenced the lives of C.S.Lewis among countless others. “The test of all happiness” he wrote, “is gratitude; and I felt grateful.” (p. 221) The defining quality of his life as described by his contemporaries was JOY. Thankfulness leads to joy.

Notice that it was “during a period of utter despair” that Chesterton came to the point of recognizing his need for God. He had a change of heart.

As we gather this Thanksgiving, let us remember to pray for those throughout the world who are suffering in loss and fear.

Pray that we would have tender, thankful hearts to experience God’s faithfulness and love in the midst of all we face.”

“The Savior’s Come”

 

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Abigail, with the help of her boys, made this Lego video last year. It illustrates a song written by one of their pastors, Paul Cummings. They did an amazing job!

I LOVE how it proclaims the TRUTH of the greatest gift we celebrate on Christmas.

Watch it with children and grandchildren – you will all be blessed!

Merry Christmas!