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Conversations

Spaces Surging with Stunning Splendor are Something to See #3

Welcome back to the “Something to See” mini-series. Thank you so much for joining me. I’m excited to share today’s photos with you! They have me singing a song from my childhood.

Consider the lilies and how they grow, blossoming there in the field 
‘Tis not for their labor they flourish so, flowers of beauty to yield. 
Through the grace of God above, tending all in constant love, 
Every want shall be supplied, for God the Lord will provide.

Consider The Lilies, by Natalie Sleeth

I hope the pictures don’t take too long to load. Your time is precious, and I’m so blessed that you’re spending it here with me, admiring these spaces which are surging with such stunning splendor. I sure wish you could see these colors up close! Feel free to click on any pic to enlarge and scroll through them all.

If you’ve been following these posts, you know that I’d love your input on what kinds of plants these are. Please comment the photo number and any knowledge you have to share. So many of these flowers are new to me.

This isn’t a flower, per se, but this photo is also in my thoughts today.

Large bird with a stunning view from atop of a tall tree
Do you see the special tree-topper?

I took this picture, wondering what it would be like to sit atop the tallest trees. What a stunning view this bird must have had! I suspect this photo came to mind because of the second verse of the song in my head.

Consider a moment the birds in flight, everywhere filling the air. 
With never a worry they seek the height, nourished in bountiful share. 
Through the grace of God above, tending all in constant love, 
Every want shall be supplied, for God the Lord will provide.

Consider The Lilies, by Natalie Sleeth

While the spaces surging with stunning splendor are something to see and savor, they should point us to something even more spectacular. They should remind us that God really cares about us. He knows the details of our lives and gets intimately involved. I leave you with the third verse of the poetic song I just can’t seem to shake today.

For more than the lilies that bloom and grow, more than the birds of the air, 
Your Maker forever your need will know and feed you with heavenly care. 
Through the grace of God above, tending all in constant love, 
Every want shall be supplied, for God the Lord will provide.

Consider The Lilies, by Natalie Sleeth

Blessings, my precious friends. You are loved!

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Conversations

Spaces Surging with Stunning Splendor are Something to See #2

Hello again! Welcome back to the “Something to See” mini-series. I just have to say THANK YOU so much for your help! I’m fascinated to learn what you know about the stunning splendor that is surging in open spaces all around me. The flowers are incredibly beautiful!

Waiting for my photos to load might take away from your reading time, so I’m posting just a handful a day for a few days. Aren’t today’s specimens spectacular? And oh, I wish you could see them up close and personal – they are breath-taking!

(Click any pic to see it larger and for the ability to scroll through them.)

Amazing, right? All flowers, but so different in size, shape, and color. Each is a masterpiece of God’s unbelievable creativity. Hmmm… not unlike you and me!

I would love your assistance identifying these blossoms in the comments. Just use the number in the photo’s caption and tell me what you know! And if you don’t know what kind of plants these are, simply comment on your favorite blossom. I am anxious to hear your thoughts!

I was reminded that I wrote about the surprisingly stunning summer blossoms when I visited Northern Arizona, on vacation, just last year. You can read my thoughts in this post from only months ago, when living here was still a future dream.

So much has happened in such a short time! I’m daily pinching myself, trying to comprehend how God saw us through all that it took to move. I feel extremely fortunate to call this beautiful place home. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share the spaces surging with stunning splendor, which are truly something to see.

I’m so blessed to have you along for the adventure. Thank you, my friend. You are precious to me!

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Conversations

Spaces Surging with Stunning Splendor are Something to See #1

Yes! I’m so glad you’re here! I have something spectacular I want you to see. The open spaces around me are absolutely surging with stunning splendor!

Spring seems to have sprung late where I live. It’s already the end of July. But this whole area seems to have suddenly exploded in joyful bloom.

I’ve tried to photograph several varieties of the flowers I’ve encountered the past few weeks. Most are growing wild in open spaces. I have guesses as to what one or two of them might be, but I’m hoping some of you are more botanically inclined and can help me out!

Will you teach me? I’ve numbered the photos below. Hopefully the different reading platforms are all capable of displaying captions.

It takes a beat to load photos, so I’m going to post just a handful a day for a few days. I’d love for you to comment the number and name of any blossoms which you can help me to identify. (Click on the pic, if you like, for larger view and scrolling capability.)

Aren’t they gorgeous!? What an eye God has for decorating, huh? His open spaces around here are stunning in their surging splendor. My photos really can’t compare to the natural thing, but I hope you enjoy them just the same.

Oh, and one last picture just for fun. Do you have dandelions this big where you live? This is something I had never seen before moving to Northern Arizona. I’m used to them being the same size as the face of my watch. I had to put my hand in this photo for reference. This one is more like the size of my actual face!

A dandelion as big as a human head
Look at the size of that dandelion!

Spaces surging with stunning splendor are certainly something to see, aren’t they? I look forward to learning from you. Let me know what you know about these wild and beautiful plants!

And if you’re a novice admirer like me, will you tell me which are your favorites? I know, it’s hard to pick! But I’ve chosen mine. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

Categories
Reflections

One Unexpected Way the Beautiful Trees Exalt Our God

The forest in which I live is spectacular! It treats my senses every day. The elevated trails I wander put me where I can see the treetops and they go as far as my eyes can see in every direction.

The Beautiful Trees

It would not be unexpected for me to say that the trees exalt God. There are many aspects of them which signal His greatness. They are beautiful, strong, and useful, implying a powerful and creative, Intelligent Designer.

Standing among them, feeling small and in awe, the trees put me in my place. And the shapes of them, especially the pines near which I live, point directly up to their magnificent Creator. What a perspective they provide!

A forest of pine trees
I feel so small among the trees!

Yesterday, the beautiful trees exalted God for me in an unexpected way. My husband and I were in a different part of the forest than we usually walk. Many trees were marked with an orange stripe. My hubby had seen that when he was young, in another forest in another state. There, it meant the tree was marked for removal.

I looked around and could not even attempt to count the number of trees with orange stripes. It hurt my heart! I hoped the marks meant something else and wondered if it would make God sad if so many of His beautiful trees were, indeed, slated for removal.

The Unexpected Exaltation

I suddenly felt an overwhelming awe of God flush over me. He is aware of every tree. Not just the trees in the massive forest where I live, but every single one across the county, state, country, continent, and the world!

A dense forest of pines
God sees every tree on every hill, mountain, and valley, everywhere!

He knows how many trees are out there. And not just that! He is acquainted with every creature which makes its home in every leaf, needle, fruit, branch, trunk, and root of every single one. He is aware when one tree falls, and when another sprouts – across the entire planet!

“I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive. I will set junipers in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together, so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it.”

Isaiah 41:19, 20

“He gives food to every creature.
His love endures for ever.
Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures for ever.

Psalm 136:25, 26

I was struggling to grasp the enormous number of trunks with orange marks. But God not only knows every one of those trees, He knows of every one He has ever made anywhere! That made my head spin.

My head – yes, that’s right! God knows the number of hairs on my head. And he is acquainted with every star in the sky. Of course He sees each and every tree.

“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”

Luke 12:7a

“He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.”

Psalm 147:4,5

Next time you’re in a forest, I encourage you to stand at the trunk of a tree and look up. Then look around at how many trees there are. Maybe you can go there now in your imagination. What do you feel about God in that moment? What perspective does it put on your relationship with Him?

Perspective from the ground, looking up the trunks of a some very tall pines
Photo by Marco Trinidad on Pexels.com
How many branches, how many needles, how many animals, how many birds, how many insects…? How Great is our God!

“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”

Isaiah 55:12

Good on those trees! In that moment, they were exalting God. They were revealing His splendor to me.

“Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.”

Psalm 96:12

For me, it was an unexpected reminder of how marvelous, majestic, and mighty our God is. Those trees exalt Him every day just in their existence. Do I? Do you? We also were created to exalt Him. What do others see about Him when they look at us?

“Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.”

Psalm 148:13

I want to be a vessel of praise alongside the beautiful trees. They have certainly reminded me of His greatness. May we all exalt God in unexpected ways!

Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding, you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds, kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth, young men and women, old men and children.
Let them praise the name of the Lord.”

Psalm 148:1a, 7-13a, emphasis mine
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Reflections

Out In the Pines, I Understand The Popular Mountain Vibe

“What is the vibe of Northern Arizona?”, our friends asked us. When we first fell in love with the place on our vacation in fall of 2020, people wondered why. I don’t think it was the vibe then, although we definitely noticed there was one.

“Outdoorsy”, was our answer. People ski, play disc golf, raft, climb, bike and hike, just to name a few of the most popular pastimes. Residents of the area work hard and play harder, outside in the fresh mountain air.

In the first week after moving here, I commented to a friend that the whole region smelled like Christmas. The fragrant cover of fresh cold pine reminded me of tree lot excursions and piles of bough wreaths. Being outside and inhaling deeply made my heart happy in an almost giddy way.

“The smell of pine needles, spruce and the smell of a Christmas tree – those to me, are the scents of the holidays.”

Blake Lively

I suddenly wonder whether outdoorsy people are drawn to the mountains or if the mountains draw people outdoors.

Mama Lava
Blooming cactus coming up amidst the pine needles and pine cones.
When you live in the mountains, but it is also the desert, you get pine cones and cactus. This is spring in the mountains of Northern Arizona.

But now that spring has sprung, and the sun has warmed the pine needles, the musky scent is an altogether different kind of wonderful. It smells like camping trips and adventure. I can barely stand to be inside. I suddenly wonder whether outdoorsy people are drawn to the mountains or if the mountains draw people outdoors.

I suspect it is the latter. Out among the pines, I understand the popular mountain vibe. It beckons me to join, and I feel helpless to resist.

“The ground’s soft with pine needles and the occasional crunch of a cone. The air smells like it’s just been born.”

Libba Bray

“To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug.”

Helen Keller

“God dwells in His creation and is everywhere indivisibly present in all His works. He is transcendent above all His works even while He is immanent within them.”

A.W. Tozer

“Lord, you have been our dwelling-place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”

Psalm 90:1-2
Categories
Celebrations

Surprise! This is a Back Porch Happy Birthday Social!

You’re here! I’ve been waiting for you – Surprise! This is a Back Porch Happy Birthday Social and you’re a guest of honor!

This weekend, the Back Porch Blog turns 1! And because of you (yes, YOU!), my cherished reader and friend, this is something to celebrate.

Mama Lava’s Back Porch has become a special place. I always look forward to meeting with you on this site, enjoying social connection, and sharing both the heaviness and happiness of our lives. I pray you’ve been blessed here as much as I have!

I want to publicly thank
God for giving me the motivation to write,
You for spending your time reading and conversing with me,
and WordPress for providing the planks upon which the Porch is built.

Happy Birthday written on a chalk board
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com
This celebration is because of YOU!

The other day, someone asked me to name the best thing that happened in my life last year. I had to give two. The first was my daughter’s wedding. The second was the birth and growth of the Back Porch.

Those were big things, but in all honesty, every day has contained happiness. Since the Back Porch was designed as a place to be encouraged, I thought it would be fitting to celebrate with 12 happy things, one for each month of the year.

And Surprise! This is a participatory party. I’m counting on you to help me emphasize the happy in this birthday. Here is a list of 11 things that make me happy. I want to hear yours for number 12. As you read, be thinking about what you would add. Don’t be nervous, there are no wrong answers!

My List of Happy Things
(in Alphabetical Order)

  1. Activity – dancing, sleeping, hiking, playing, the ability to both move and rest
  2. Fragrance – cookies baking, fresh laundry, country flowers, ocean air, newborn skin, the wafting aroma from a barbecue
  3. Humor – creative chuckles, finding the funny, belly laughs with tears of joy, the art of being silly
  4. Lights – sunlight, firelight, twinkly lights, city lights, the miraculous beauty of illumination
  5. Love – The unconditional love of God, romance, friendship, familial ties, the discovery of a kindred spirit
  6. Salvation – the free and unmerited gift from God. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8, 9
  7. Scripture – encouragement, admonition, the instruction it contains. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16, 17
  8. Solutions – immediately given or finally found
  9. The Sky – the glow of dawn, the colorful burst of sunrises and sunsets, the moon, sun and stars, billowy, feathery, and fluffy clouds, birds, airplanes, the expanse of blue
  10. Unique Creation – the colors, sizes shapes, contrast, depth, and dimension of people, animals, plants, bugs, and topography
  11. Vibration and Sound – music, laughter, chirping birds, a heartbeat, pounding surf, dripping rain, the song of a cricket

Now it is your turn! What happiness would you add next? If you wholeheartedly agree (or disagree) with one or more of mine, let me know. With all of the negativity threatening to pull us down, it is good to remember all that we have to smile about.

Thank you so much for helping me put the happy in this surprise Back Porch Happy Birthday social, and for all you’ve done to make this first year so fun!

Colorful, helium filled balloons: Surprise Back Porch Happy Birthday Social
Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash
“Together” is how we put the Happy in Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday, Back Porch… and here’s to many more!