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Conversations

Spaces Surging with Stunning Splendor are Something to See #4

Thank you so much for joining me today for the last post in the “Something to See” mini-series. Education by conversation and collaboration is the most enjoyable way to learn. Thank you for the interesting discussion!

I’ve been posting a handful of photos each day for a few days. In case you’re new to the series, you can catch up on the other articles here: Spaces Surging with Stunning Splendor are Something to See #1, #2, and #3.

I’m hoping you might be able to give me some insight about the stunning summer flowers I’ve encountered while hiking around my new hometown. I’d love for you to comment the number and name of any blossoms which you can help me to identify. (Click the pic, if you like, for larger view and scrolling capability.)

Consider for a moment what it takes for a flower to bloom.

  • First a seed must fall from its parent plant to a place where it can be nourished.
  • It has to grow many times it’s size, sending roots down, stems up, and leaves out.
  • Then it must develop buds.
  • Finally, with light, water, and God’s miraculous touch, the buds explode into stunning splendor.

The size, shape, color, and fragrance of each blossom was coded into the tiny seed from the beginning. But it could not fulfill its purpose if it stayed in seed form. It had to die to what it was, undergo amazing growth and transformation, and bloom. Next, it will wilt, drop seeds of its own, and start the process again.

These flowers are not only stunning in their surge of summer shimmer, but they are also superior object lessons. I want to be radiant and fragrant, showcasing the splendor of my Creator. But it isn’t as easy as just saying so.

  • I have to start small, die to myself, and submit to God.
  • I must embrace the process of learning, stretching, and growing.
  • As I am nourished by Him, I begin to develop opportunities to showcase the person He intended me to be.
  • In His perfect time, His beauty and fragrance surges through me in a burst of His stunning splendor for all to see.

Related Post: Angry and Convinced Someone Should Die? Make It Quick!

And, just like a summer blossom, my time to display His wonder will fade away. It is imperative that I invest in others, especially those younger than me, while I may. I need to sow seeds of my own.

Then those seeds, when planted, will follow the same lifecycle and the Savior will be showcased again and again, spreading joy and faith exponentially. That, my friend, is how you and I can leave legacies of eternal importance.

Let’s be perennial flowers, if you will, surging with stunning splendor in our respective spaces. May the seeds of our faith and obedience bloom through the generations and be something to see many years from now.

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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!

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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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Emotions

Living a Heart-Rock Life in a Proven Hard-Knock World

It’s the hard-knock life! I’m sure you’ve heard the sentiment, made famous by the popular Broadway musical “Annie”. It is relatable as it focuses on the difficulties of living.

Empty belly life

Rotten smelly life

Full of sorrow life

No tomorrow life

Excerpted from the lyrics of “It’s the Hard-Knock Life” by Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin

I went to the store last night and found the price of eggs has TRIPLED in the last couple of weeks. So much for inexpensive protein! Empty belly life? Not quite. But I briefly considered a chicken coop in my small space, which could make for a more rotten smelly life for sure!

Jokes aside, this world is full of tribulation, and it is easy to get focused on the hard knocks. But God.

“In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33b

Have you noticed the lens through which you look at life can be changed dramatically by a few hard knocks? I have! My optimistic nature which typically notices blessings and beauty can flip on its pessimistic head and suddenly the struggles loom larger than anything else.

I was out walking a few weeks back and I was burdened by some hard knocks. My fur-baby had died (you can read about that here) and it was lonely to be on a walk without him. I had also received some pressing news about a loved one which weighed on me. I’m sure you know the feeling.

I was in an area where my dog had loved to sniff around. My heart was heavy. My footsteps felt labored. My eyes were downcast.

God knew it and He met me there. We don’t have a God who says, “Eyes up! You know better. When you pull yourself together and look at me, I have something to show you.” No, He gets in our line of sight and attracts our focus to Himself. From there, He lifts our heads.

“But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts up my head.”

Psalm 3:3

With my head hanging and my gaze downward, I saw this:

A grey heart-shaped rock on a bed of red gravel and pine needles.
Hard-knocks are real, but so are heart-rocks!

I’ve been on the lookout for hearts in creation. It began in January with Valentines from God. I started a photo challenge and boy, have I been feeling the love ever since!

On this day, Jesus reminded me that hard-knocks are real, yes, but so are heart-rocks. In other words, the struggle is great, but He is greater. I feel burdened but He is there, offering encouragement and aid.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

It’s the heart-rock life for us! We walk through the hard knocks with a Savior who loves us. He has promised perfection in Heaven and, if we have accepted it, He is personally escorting us there. He keeps us going; encouraging us when we’re down, giving us strength when we’re weary, and carrying us when we can’t muster another step.

Are your eyes open to the figurative, and maybe even literal, heart rocks our God places around you? He is Love. Any token of Himself to which He draws our attention should remind us of His affection toward us.

When we start to dwell too much on the hard knocks of this broken world, may we refocus on the heart rocks He offers along the way !

Will you be on the watch for hearts from God? When you see one in the clouds, shadows, trees, rocks, or anywhere, snap a quick photo and share it! Be sure to link back to the original Photo Challenge post so we can gather them all in one place.

Be blessed today, my friend. Time has proven there will always be hard-knocks in this world. What kinds of struggles are you facing? It would be my honor to pray for you.

Together, we can give our tribulations to the one who has over come them. Because of Jesus, it’s the heart-rock life for us! May His joy and peace be with you.