On the Fifth Day of Summer…

IMG_9489My camera brought to me,

Five pink petals.

I was looking for five things for this project, but the only compelling things I could find were roses.  They were exceptionally pretty and summery, but all as solitary as could be.  This presented a quandary, until it dawned on me that there can be five things within one thing.  I had been so intent upon counting flowers that I had forgotten to count petals!  I was a little sheepish at the discovery that I’d been frowning in puzzlement at exactly five identical things the whole time, but was too blind to see them!

While we’re on the topic of roses, I have five rosy things for you, one for each of those pretty pink wild petals.  I hope one or two of them brightens your day:

If you’re feeling adventurous in the kitchen, a lovely recipe for chocolate pots de creme that includes a splash of actual rose water.  You’ll be surprised at how delicious it is!

A waltz, by Strauss, about roses.

A quote from a favorite childhood book that pretty much sums up this time of the year: “It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside.”—Maud Hart Lovelace, Betsy-Tacy and Tib

The song about roses that always reminds me of my Grandma, right down to the Southern Gospel style she loved.

A verse, speaking of the glory of Zion: “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. (Isaiah 35:1)

 

In case you missed the other posts in this series, this way to the first day, second day, third day and fourth day.

 

In Celebration of Pink

pink rose / rejoicing hills Some of the prettiest pink things God ever made happen in the month of June.

It’s the month of glorious pink roses billowing in the ditches…wild rose / rejoicing hillsAnd pink begonias blooming on my porch…

IMG_1120 editAnd pink peonies bowing their full ruffled heads gracefully to the ground…peony / rejoicing hillsAnd foggy pink sunsets on summer solstice…IMG_4937…and my personal favorite this year? IMG_4991The pink toes of a certain wee baby girl.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”  (James 1:17)

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Triumph of the Tulips

IMG_3632You watched them get planted.  You watched them grow up through the snow.  It only seemed fair that you should get to watch them bloom, too!IMG_3635This story wouldn’t be complete, however, unless I told you about the very last piece of adversity they had to come through to reach this glorious moment of full bloom.IMG_3271Yep.  This would be the guilty culprit, caught in the act of walking nonchalantly into our front yard in broad daylight.  No shame whatsoever.

One morning, I looked out the front window at my flower garden as usual, and my jaw dropped open.  There were literally half as many tulips in the garden as there had been the day before.  I guessed that it had been the deer even before I ran out and found the cloven hoof prints clearly defined in the soft garden dirt.

I wasn’t about to watch the tulips I had waited for all winter be systematically consumed by deer who have the entire national forest at their disposal for dinner, without even getting to watch them bloom!  Where there is a will, there is a way—and bird netting was the answer.

A few days later, under their protective veiling, fat buds on the surviving plants emerged and blushed coral-pink.  Yesterday I took it off for good, as they opened their glowing petals to the morning sunshine for the very first time.  They had persevered through winter, unexpected spring snowstorms and foraging deer—and somehow that made the triumph all the more joyful!

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)

“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”  (James 1:12)IMG_3645

When Autumn Comes

nasturtium / rejoicing hillsWhat does that picture have to do with autumn, you ask?  Where are the photos of flaming red maple leaves and golden poplars?

Yes, I know.

This is a strange time of year to post pictures from my flower garden. But the lovely truth is that this is exactly how my flowers looked for the entire month of September.  We kept getting frost warnings, and every morning I kept thinking that I’d wake up to find them all black and wilted—but on they bloomed, seemingly unfazed by the chilly nights.  October came, and they still looked gorgeous even after the tomatoes I’d left in the garden froze and the leaves on the maples across the field had turned to orange.

I was both amazed by their resilience, and delighted.  I was even beginning to wonder if they were invincible.

russian sage / rejoicing hillsapricot nasturtium / rejoicing hillsThen my baby let out her hungry cry just after 6 AM Monday morning, just like clockwork.  I tiptoed sleepily in to scoop her up, and stopped to peek out the window.  I expected to glimpse the first pale brightening to the east of the sun rise, and I did—but my attention quickly shifted to the rest of the world.  It was breathtakingly white with a frost so thick it almost looked like snow.  Fog was rolling in heavy off the lake in the chilly air.  The cosmos and nasturtiums stood starkly silhouetted against the steadily brightening sky, stiff with the heavy lace of frost.

Would they survive even this, I wondered?

cosmos / rejoicing hillscosmos / rejoicing hillsI didn’t have to wait long for my answer.  The sun rose, and the little garden of billowing old-fashioned flowers that had brought me so many hours of dish-washing pleasure wilted and turned black.  Of course, they weren’t invincible.  They had lasted long, but their turn had come, like it always must, to succumb to winter’s coming cold.  As I regretfully watched them droop, I was reminded of the comparison made in James:

“For the sun rises…and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.” (James 1:11)

It’s so easy to admire and long for, even covet, the riches and prestige of this world.  The possessions, the comforts, the privileges—and no matter how much you have, it seems like there’s always something more to get.  But the truth is, it’s all just as fleeting and temporal as the flowers in my garden after harsh frost.cosmos at sunset / rejoicing hills  I love, though, that James follows this somewhat disheartening truth up some good news.  Because while earthly riches are of surprisingly low value in God’s economy, he’s quick to tell us that there is something of infinitely greater value to pursue:

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”  (James 1:12)

When the end of all things comes, it will not be the one with the most money in his bank account who is honored, but rather the one who has remained faithful through trial and temptation for the sake of the One he loves.

May we each take our eyes off the earthly things around us that sparkle and call with empty promises of satisfaction, and set our eyes instead on that higher and sure goal, a glorious crown of life!

End of Summer

IMG_9747 editThis morning, as the mid-morning sun was making the dew on the spider webs sparkle, I rode my bike down the bumpy gravel road to Sheryl’s house.  The bike trailer bounced behind me, heavy with my precious cargo of two little ones and a Bible tucked in the back pocket.  I hoped I had estimated how long the ride would take me correctly; I didn’t want to miss out on the sweet fellowship time beforehand!

This is the third summer we’ve spent studying the 23rd Psalm.  What precious times we’ve had together going slow through the beloved familiar passage, sometimes word by word, soaking it in, mining the depths of Scripture for quantities of treasure that we never dreamed could exist in the space of so few words.  And now it was all over until next year.  Today was the last day, our sweet weekly summer gathering coming to a close just as the calendar was gently finishing August.  The ditches were full of goldenrod and lavender clouds of asters, and the banks of ferns were curling up brown around their lacy edges.  Yes, my eyes told me, as I focused up on the landscape around me and away from the dusty road beneath my tires:  fall was really almost here.goldenrod / rejoicing hillsI’m really sorry to bid this summer adieu, because it’s been such a good one.  Beautiful fellowship with these dear sisters in Christ has been just one of the highlights of this season for me.  As I meditated back over the passage we had been studying, somehow the other happy memories and pictures of this summer seemed to intertwine in my mind with the words of the psalm.  And so in honor of the end of a glorious season and those precious weeks of study we savored together, I present this photographic essay of my summer and Psalm 23:

pie / rejoicing hillsThe Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…herd of cattle / rejoicing hillsHe maketh me to lie down in green pastures…pine over lake / rejoicing hillsHe leadeth me beside the still waters…peaceful porch / rejoicing hillsHe restoreth my soul…country lane / rejoicing hillsHe leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…IMG_7262 editI will fear no evil, for Thou art with me;  Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me…tiny bee on cosmos / rejoicing hillsThou preparedest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies…droplet on petunia / rejoicing hillsThou anointest my head with oil;  my cup runneth over…summer sunset / rejoicing hillsSurely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Amen.

Because She Loves Pink

china rose / rejoicing hillsBecause my mom’s favorite color is pink, it seems only fitting to post these pictures on Mother’s Day.  Even more fitting, because the pictures of this splendid china rose just bursting into bloom were taken in my husband’s grandmother’s yard—so this is really in honor of the mothers on both sides of our family.  Aren’t these flowers beautiful?  But certainly no more so than the beautiful spiritual heritage our mothers passed down to both my husband and I.  We are so grateful!

“I greatly desire to see thee…that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice, and, I am persuaded, is in thee also.”  (2 Timothy 1:4-5)

china rose / rejoicing hillschina rose / rejoicing hillschina rose / rejoicing hillsP.S.  I took these pictures in the rain.  Thank you Lord—we needed it!