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

Ten Year Anniversary

Beautiful Daughters
Beautiful Daughters

Goodness…. I have been writing this blog for 10 years!

It is often said – “Time flies when you are having fun” so it must have been fun because I can hardly believe it has been 10 years.

I started “blogging” because I was challenged by a Bible teacher and friend with Jesus’ mandate to His disciples…go make disciples.

“Who are you discipling?” I was asked.

I had to think a bit and I realized that I was sharing what I hoped was Godly insight with several young mothers, including our three daughters.

  • But was I discipling?
  • Was I being intentional?
  • Was I prayerfully, thoughtfully sharing what God had deposited in me over the years?
  • Was I just “shooting from the hip” so to speak – sharing whatever popped in my head?

I realized that God wanted me to be VERY intentional – that if my daughters and other young mothers were going to be drawn to be like Jesus through me, I must take this role prayerfully and seriously.

So, through the help and encouragement of our daughters, I started blogging.

I am an artist and teacher.

I am not a writer.

But with the gracious editing of my husband, Phil, also known as Mr. Spellcheck, Mr. Grammar, Mr. Punctuation, Mr. Proof Reader…need I go on?  – I have written this blog for 10 years. (any mistakes that remain are all mine)

I must say in all truthfulness that God has shown me so much about myself through this journey – the main point being that in my weakness – He is made STRONG! When I started, most of my posts were about being a mother. Our daughters were in the midst of having babies and that subject was in the forefront of my thoughts and prayers.

Now, my posts tend to be focused on what I am currently learning and often reflect on my time in my garden with God. I sense God’s presence so closely in His creation.

Romans 12:1-2 is my heart’s cry.

1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. NLT

God is faithful.

So, I will continue to write as long as I sense that God has given me something to share. I still have so much to learn, I invite you to join me as this journey continues.

As women, we are all our Father’s daughters.

Passing the Mantle

A dear friend of our family, Janet Halverson Strobeck, passed on to her heavenly home this week at age 93. She is the beautiful woman seated on the right. Next to her is Ruth Muzzy, who also passed on this past year at age 97, and standing is my mother, Esther Barker who passed on in 2018 at age 90.

I use the words “passed on” intentionally because though their bodies died, each of their souls lives eternally with Jesus. What a great reunion they had this week!

These three women became friends early in their marriages and in their last years ended up living at the same retirement community. It was such a gift to each of them to have this dear friendship for over 60 years. Their husbands were friends as well and they had years of sharing life together including the joys of children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren. Janet found out recently that a great-great granddaughter is expected!

These women first met at College Church in Wheaton in a Sunday School class. Their friendship was founded on their relationship as fellow Christians – “sisters” in the Lord. That fellowship carried them through life’s difficult storms. Each experienced loss, tragedy, heart break, and most difficult – the loss of their husbands after marriages of over 60+ years. They also shared the joys and celebrations of their families and extended families rejoicing with each other.

The three friends prayed together over the years and prayed for each other – their children – grandchildren – great-grandchildren. I am the recipient of so many of those prayers. It has made me feel secure in my faith over the years knowing that these ladies who loved me and loved my family were faithfully lifting me up before our heavenly Father.

I remember “Aunt Jan”, visiting her daughter Carol (we were roommates in Sylva, North Carolina) soon after I first met Phil – who is now my husband. Aunt Jan and Uncle Chuck grilled me on the worthiness of Phil and told me they did so on behalf of my parents. Their main concern was that Phil was a Christian and that his commitment to the Lord was sincere. They took seriously their friendship and love of our family.

Which brings me to the thoughts I am having now as the last of this generation of saints passes on. These ladies were not perfect – you can ask any of their children. They made mistakes and sometimes hurt each other and their families. BUT – they did love God, confess their sins, and dearly loved their families. Each wanted to see the gospel of Jesus Christ shared throughout their community and the world. And each wanted their loved ones to walk in sincere faith.

In II Timothy 1:3-5 Paul reminds Timothy of his heritage in the faith. He mentions the faith of Timothy’s mother and grandmother.

I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.

Paul mentions that this faith now lives in Timothy also.

The faith and example of the prayers of Janet, Ruth, and Esther is passed on to the following generation – us.

We must take up the mantle of sincere faith. We must live our lives worthy of the calling of Christ Jesus in our lives.

The mantle has passed on to us – may we carry it well.