Blooming Rose-of-Sharon

Here are some more photos of my blooming Rose-of-Sharon.  I shared some photos, a week ago in my blog called Blooming, when it was first blooming, and I shared some photos last fall, after I just pruned the Rose of Sharon, in a blog called, Pruning Time.  (I also shared my spiritual insights as relating to God “pruning” me, so I could bloom.) 

Hope these pictures encourage you, if and when you go through your own “pruning” times!!


Blooming!!  My Rose-of-Sharon bush that I pruned last fall, is now blooming!!  When I pruned it, I knew I was doing the right thing for it, but it was still difficult to do.  I pruned it way back—so I was not sure if it would come back well.  And now it is blooming.  

The Rose of Sharon, after pruning it, last fall.
Rose -of Sharon Blooming!!

I pruned my lilac bushes as well, and they are also flourishing—they are full leaved, and abundant, whereas before their pruning their branches were straggly, and not very full.  Now they are exactly how I hoped they could be.

The white lilac tree–after blooming season but flourishing!
The deep purple lilac tree, again flourishing, but after blooming season!!

Just as I pruned my bushes for their health, and benefit, God prunes—or disciplines us—for our health and our benefit.  In Hebrews 12, it says that we discipline our children, doing the best we know how to do for them in our limited wisdom and understanding.  Our Heavenly Father disciplines us—with all knowledge, all wisdom, all gentleness and all power.  He does this for our best, to make us complete—or Holy—as He is Holy.

This past year of Covid—I have experienced God’s pruning in my life.  I did not enjoy the quarantines—(I know some people who did—they liked the slower pace of life)—I did not appreciate the shortages of supplies—I did not love wearing the masks—I did not like not having social times with family and friends—I reacted to all these situations with annoyance and anger.  

Then God started working in my life, and my attitude.  He started taking my focus off me, and onto Him, and others.  I started thanking Him—that He was still the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords.  He had not left His throne.  (It sure felt like He had—but the truth was—He had not)—He is in charge over life and death.  He still knew the plans He had for us, to give us a future and a hope.  He still knew us before the foundation of the world and knew the number of days we would each have on this earth.  He is still sovereign over the affairs of men.

This week, I went to our community’s school board meeting.  I have homeschooled my children, but my grandchildren attend public schools, so I wanted to see this meeting.   They were talking about a variety of issues that people have conflicting opinions about, (i.e.  masks, critical race theory, LBGTQ, etc, etc.)

There was a great deal of passion and some anger in that room.  After the meeting, I went to talk to the Superintendent of the school board, and I told her how much I appreciated her calmness in the room.  Beside her was my neighbor, who is an administrator of the schools.  I told them that I would be praying for them in this coming year and thanked them for doing their jobs in the midst of a very difficult season of life.

 My daughter-in-law is a teacher, and this past year, I have taken her lunch and her baby to nurse during her lunch break, and so I have seen and heard first-hand the struggles and trials of the teachers as they seek to teach our children, during the age of Covid.

What is the point of all of this—we have all been tested this year.  We have been pruned.  We have been put in situations where we have gotten angry with each other.  We are annoyed with each other.  We have differences of opinion with each other.  We feel powerless, and out of control.

I am here to say—that is ok.  We never did have power.  We never did have control.  The Bible tells us to be angry, but do not sin.  What does that mean?  Some things should make us angry—to see evil oppressing and winning the day—that should make us angry.  But our battle is not against flesh and blood.  What does that mean?  It means we are fighting a spiritual battle—against Satan and all under his dominion, and God has already won the war.  He won it on the cross, two thousand years ago.   He bought us back from the Kingdom of darkness, and into His Kingdom of light and Holiness. 

We experience the reality of that victory through our faith and trust in God and His Word.  We experience the reality of that victory as we spend time with God and His Word, as we pray in faith, and appropriate His power in faith, in the spiritual realms.

We need to rest in the victory that God has already brought us through the cross, and rest in Him—as soon—every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord!! 

 We can love each other with the love of the Lord!!

 We can be kind to those we disagree with—for it is the kindness of the Lord, that leads to repentance.  It is the kindness of the Lord that leads to repentance.  Romans  2:4

And it is the pruning of the Lord—the discipline of the Lord—that leads to our Holiness—that we may experience the reality of the freedom that Jesus sacrificed to give us and bear the image of our Father—to the world. 

So that we can bloom!!

So let’s be encouraged!!

 Heb 12:1

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

 Heb 12:2

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

(Pro 3:1112 )

 Heb 12:3

Think of all the hostility He endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

 Heb 12:4

After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

 Heb 12:5

And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as His children? He said,
“My child, don’t make light of the LORD’s discipline,
and don’t give up when He corrects you.

 Heb 12:6

For the LORD disciplines those He loves,
and He punishes each one he accepts as His child.”

 Heb 12:7

As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as His own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father?

 Heb 12:8

If God doesn’t discipline you as He does all of His children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really His children at all.

 Heb 12:9

Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?

 Heb 12:10

For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in His holiness.

 Heb 12:11

No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

What would I say to my younger me?

Have you ever played a game with yourself, where you wished that you could go back in time and make a different choice?  I have.  At the time, the choices seemed so muddy—but in hindsight—it becomes clear what would have been the better choice.

There is a song, titled, “Dear Younger Me?”  It starts with the lyrics:  Dear younger me, Where do I start,

If I could tell you everything that I have learned so far, Then you could be, One step ahead,

Of all the painful memories still running thru my head.   I wonder how much different things would be—Dear younger me.

Then the song goes on to say: Dear younger me, I cannot decide, Do I give some speech about how to get the most out of my life,
Or do I go deep
And try to change
The choices that you’ll make cuz they’re choices that made me—Dear younger me.

I love this song because it depicts—a scenario, I have experienced so many times—wishing I could have a do- over.  Wishing I had not made the mistakes I have made.  Living with regrets and guilt.

That’s why my favorite line of this song is this one:  Dear younger me
It’s not your fault
You were never meant to carry this beyond the cross
Dear younger me

I start crying when I hear this part of the song—I was never meant to carry those regrets and that guilt beyond the cross. 

Then the song goes on to say:

You are holy
You are righteous
You are one of the redeemed
Set apart a brand new heart
You are free indeed

Can you believe—that is how God sees us now?!!!—because we are in Christ, and Christ is in us.

Don’t believe that because the song says so, or I say so, believe it because God says so:

…… you are a chosen people, you are royal priests , A HOLY NATION, God’s very own possession. As a result you can show people the goodness of God, for He called you out of the darkness into His glorious light. 1 Peter 2:9

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes.  Ephesians 1: 3,4

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—…….. Galatians 3:13

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17

This was a prophesy about the Messiah found in Isaiah, and Jesus said he fulfilled this prophesy. Jesus sets us free!!

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.  Romans 8:2

John 8:36   So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

We are righteous, We are holy, We are of the redeemed, Set apart, a brand new heart,

We are free indeed!!

So—let’s all tell our younger selves—to carry our regrets and guilt to the cross—and leave them there.

Let’s be encouraged!!

Here are the words to this song:


Dear younger me
Where do I start
If I could tell you everything that I have learned so far
Then you could be
One step ahead
Of all the painful memories still running thru my head
I wonder how much different things would be
Dear younger me,

Dear younger me
I cannot decide
Do I give some speech about how to get the most out of your life
Or do I go deep
And try to change
The choices that you’ll make cuz they’re choices that made me
Even though I love this crazy life
Sometimes I wish it was a smoother ride
Dear younger me, dear younger me

If I knew then what I know now
Condemnation would’ve had no power
My joy my pain would’ve never been my worth
If I knew then what I know now
Would’ve not been hard to figure out
What I would’ve changed if I had heard

Dear younger me
It’s not your fault
You were never meant to carry this beyond the cross
Dear younger me

You are holy
You are righteous
You are one of the redeemed
Set apart a brand new heart
You are free indeed

Every mountain every valley
Thru each heartache you will see
Every moment brings you closer
To who you were meant to be
Dear younger me, dear younger me

You are holy
You are righteous
You are one of the redeemed
Set apart a brand new heart
You are free indeed

You are holy
You are righteous
You are one of the redeemed
Set apart a brand new heart
You are free indeed

You are holy
You are righteous
You are one of the redeemed
Set apart a brand new heart
You are free indeed

God’s Faithfulness — Unshakable Hope

A month before Bill went to heaven, he sent me an email.  The top line read: “If I go home: Don’t think for a minute that God failed us!  You know how faithful God has been.”  He continued with a list of things that I needed to take care of (his book, his funeral, etc.), […]

God’s Faithfulness — Unshakable Hope

I read this blog tonight, and was so impressed with this woman’s story–what an encouragement to God’s faithfulness. I hope it encourages you as it has encouraged me.

The Gift of Babies

Babies: adorable, sweet, cuddly, who can resist them?  Well, I thought I could.  Before I got married, I had a conversation with a friend, stating that if for some reason, I couldn’t have a child, I would not try to change that ability through medical means.   If I wasn’t a mom, oh well, I had no great longing and desire to be a mother.

Then I had my first child, and a switch was turned on inside me.  All my latent maternal instincts sprang into being.  This child had to be the most fabulous baby on the face of the earth.  My heart was flooded with love, tenderness and emotion.  I had never felt such devotion before in my life.  I would look with pity on mothers who had older children, as they did not have a baby any longer.

I wondered when I was pregnant with my second child, how I would ever love my second child as much as my first.  Yet, when I held our second child, once again, overwhelming love came over me.  I think I was experiencing what God does with His children—limitless love.  Sometimes, I think some of the greatest lessons I’ve learned about how much God loves me, is when I see how much I love my children.

I think God uses babies to remind me of His love. Have you ever noticed how a happy, smiling baby can effect others? They seem to bring joy and laughter into each social occasion they are in, be it a funeral, a wedding, or a family gathering. Babies comfort.

My granddaughter was born 11 months after my son died.  She brought and still brings immense comfort to me and my family.   From the beginning, she would snuggle into me when I would rock her.  As she grew older, she would pat my back, as I patted hers.  I sensed God’s presence when I was holding her, as if she could hear Him whisper in her ear, “Be kind to your Nana, she needs special love right now.”

Babies remind me that there is a God, and He creates and designs life.  Each baby is a miracle, an absolute miracle.  There is a verse in the Bible that says, “…You have knitted me in my mother’s womb….  I am fearfully and wonderfully made….”   Psalm 139: 13, 14.  I love the visual image this presents of God, crafting each child, putting into each child the things He wants them to have—not just their physical attributes, but their special talents and gifts. 

Babies also bring—ok, I’m going to go there—guilt.  This could be the reason I did not initially want to be a mom. I knew instinctively that I would fail and feel guilty.  I wanted to avoid those feelings.  I wanted to avoid these thoughts and questions:  Am I doing enough?  Should I go back to work?  Should I stay at home?  Should I nurse, or bottle-feed?  Should we homeschool or send our children to private school or public school? How should we discipline?  Etc., etc., etc.

 The decisions are countless, and unending. The practical decisions frame the moral decisions of choosing to pay attention to each child, being consistent , choosing to follow through on an assignment or a consequence, remaining patient and kind, acting out love in all the ways that are significant to that child.

Here’s the thing– I have failed many times as a mother.   I have failed in what I have done, and what I haven’t done, in what I have said and what I haven’t said, in what I have thought and what I haven’t thought. 

 Here’s the good news–Jesus has died for all the ways I have failed.   Jesus has died for all the ways you have failed.  He gives us Forgiveness. He gives us the courage to begin again.

 Jesus has given us His Word to guide us in raising our children.  The Bible is full of wisdom, (All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 2 Timothy 3:16).   

God loves our babies more than we do.  He loves us, more than anyone else does.  Maybe that’s why we love babies so much, because babies remind us of who God is:  The Creator, the Designer, the Giver of every good gift, the Giver of Forgiveness, the Giver of Love, and the Giver of the Gift of Babies!!

So be Encouraged!!

“I’m on the team of my life.”

Mark Cavendish just won his 4th stage in le Tour de France, tying Eddy Merckx for having won 34 stages total in le Tour de France.  After he won his 2nd stage, he was told by one of his teammates that he was in the form of his life, and he replied, “I’m on the team of my life.”   He said this in the heat of the moment, without time to prepare a statement, revealing that this is what he truly thinks—his wins are not about him being in the form of his life, they are about him being on the team of his life.

I think that this could be said about just about any person who is successful, it isn’t just about their talents and gifts, it is about the team of people who also had talents and gifts and who helped them  achieve their goal of success. 

When Mark won the 4th stage, he had teammates putting him in position, for him to sprint across the finish line 1st.  They sacrificed for him, riding in front of him to shelter him from the wind, so that he could go on to sprint across the finish line.

I just helped my friend give an Open House for her daughter.  She brought me a gift today to say thank you, and In the card she wrote she thanked me for my gift in organizing events and children. 🙂 I told her that it wasn’t me—it was the great team I had to work with.

When I was on staff with Cru, I was in put in charge of the weekly meeting, directing the music, the talk, the skit, the videos.  I had so much fun, and every week, was astounded by the event and the talent.  On my next assignment, I also was put in charge of the weekly meeting, but it was not so great.  I realized that it was the team of people I was working with that had changed.  On my first assignment, it was so much fun and so easy, because I had a great and talented team.  On the next assignment, not so much.

It’s the team, that makes the difference.

So, what is my point?  God tells us we need each other.  We need each other.  We are apart of His team. 

I Corinthians 12 talks about how we are apart of God’s body, and we are connected to one another, but have different purposes, just as my eye and foot are a part of my body but have different purposes.  We each have been given a gift to help each other. 

My prayer for each of us, is that we will know what gift God has given to us individually, so that we may help others, and that we will allow others to help us, in the areas we need to be helped.   Because, believe me—we are on the Team of our lives!!

So let’s be encouraged!!

Hope Pursued

Mark Cavendish won his 3rd stage today—stage 10!!  Wow!!  In my last blog, “Hope“, I wrote about how when Mark won his 1st stage, I cried with him, as I felt hope and elation with this racer who thought he was done and came back to win.

Hope!!  It is so needed!!!  One of my favorite verses in the Bible is in Jeremiah 29:11:  “For I know the plans I have for you, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”

This was written to the exiles of Israel—living in Babylon– taken into exile by Nebuchadnezzar the King of Babylonia.  He ruled from 605 B.C. to 562 B.C.   The Israelites were told by God through the prophet Jeremiah, that they would live in Babylon for 70 years, and they were to take wives, have children and work for the good of the kingdom they were in, and they would be called back to Jerusalem at the end of that 70 years.

These people had just experienced calamity—they had been taken from their homeland as slaves—they had lost everything they had—they knew that they had experienced this because they as a People—the nation of Israel– had been disobedient to the Lord—for centuries.  They had disobeyed Him in every way (breaking all His commandments)—and He had been patient with them—sending them prophet after prophet to tell them to turn back to Him, and they ignored Him and killed His prophets.

After their captivity, God tells them, “I know the plans I have for you, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.    Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.  I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.

Does this ancient manuscript have any meaning for us today?  I think it does.  I have been reading through Revelations recently.

Did you know that Revelations is written in code?  Christians were being persecuted, and Revelations was written to a persecuted church. Many Christians were in hiding.  John wrote Revelations, and he wrote it so that it could be interpreted if one knew the prophesies in the Torah—or the Old Testament.  They are the key to decoding Revelations.  All of scripture is connected, as it is all inspired by the Holy Spirit.

I remember when I was in High School, there was a student who did a talk in his English class on what was going to happen in the future based on the book of Revelations.  Word got around that he was giving this talk, and students from other classes, asked to go and listen to his talk—the room was absolutely packed—and students were even milling around the room in the hallway to try and hear what this young man was saying. People want to know what is going to happen in the future, and the Bible tells us what is going to happen.

Even if you never read Revelations or the prophets in the Old Testament—the message is consistent—it points to a Holy God, a fallen people, a need for the Messiah–the Savior– it points to Hope. 

Our Hope is in God.  He made us, He gave us laws that reveal His Holiness and how much we fall short of that Holiness, then He gave us Jesus to bridge the gap between us and Him.

 Jesus died for each of us to set us free from our bondage as slaves in the kingdom of darkness and bring us into His kingdom.  This is a gift from Him that we can each choose to accept or deny.  If we accept it, we will have a relationship with God that will continue for eternity.  We accept that relationship with God by our faith.  We can communicate our faith in prayer.

God is telling us, “I know the plans I have for you, plans for your welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope.”

May we be encouraged!!


One of our family rituals is to watch Le Tour de France, a bike riding race, that takes 21 days, as the riders race day after day through the picturesque streets of France, finishing in Paris, France.  (Sean wanted to be a bike racer, so we watch because of Sean and his love of biking.)

We munch on croissants and drink coffee, and cheer on the racers.   It is only stage 7, and already, we have cried with Mark Cavendish as he won a stage, (he has won 2 stages so far).  Mark Cavendish thought he would never ride in another Tour—when he was asked to ride rather last minute—by the Deceuninck–Quick-Step Team.

I wondered as I shared his tears, why I was so moved by his comeback.  I think it is because it is a visual representation of hope for us all.

Many of us feel the weight of this past year, of businesses closing, of life seemingly changing in rather scary ways.  A trip to the grocery store reveals increased prices, gas prices have increased, building materials have skyrocketed—the future is uncertain—and many of us are more than just concerned.

Perhaps we are like Mark Cavendish, thinking we are out of the race, that we may never race again, and suddenly we are called back into the race, and amazingly, we may even win a battle!!  Life is not over for us yet, there is hope, there is hope!!

And this hope will not lead to disappointment.  For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.   Romans 5:5

God is still with us! 

That is why I shared Mark Cavendish’s tears—because God is still with us and is leading us to win our race!!  1 Corinthians 9:24; Hebrews 12:1

May we be encouraged!!