Friday, February 16, 2018

Thursday Reprise

Geraniums on our shepherd's staff
Another week is nearly done and another time of sorrow is upon our nation. There is hardly an opportunity to breathe freely between the tragedies. My friends in Colorado tell me about three police officers who have been gunned down in three separate incidents, just since January first. Their flags are at half mast all the time. Now this, here in Florida. 

I'll just climb up on my soapbox for a moment here (or should I say my pulpit?). I don't think our nation is being punished for its sin. Rather, I think we are experiencing the consequences of sinful choices. I think there is a fine line of difference between the two. If our nation does not turn around, the punishment will come. But for now, I am of the opinion that we are seeing what naturally happens when we abandon God's way of doing things. Eventually that abandonment takes a toll. That's what we are seeing now.

Lack of church attendance, lack of Bible reading and prayer both privately and corporately, deliberate reversal of laws that were created for the well-being of people -- these things have consequences and none of them are good.

People don't understand that God is good and He desires a personal relationship with every single person. It's for our benefit. To refuse Him results in a lack of His blessings. He won't bless ungodliness.

All a person needs to do is to cry out to Him, ask Him to forgive and then live obediently. He forgives all sin. But we have to ask Him.

So now I'll move onto other things. Spring is arriving in Florida!! I've come to the conclusion that what I define as autumn coincides with winter here in my new home state. The two seasons run concurrently with each other. We have a fair number of dead tree leaves in the gutters these days but the weather is warmer this week. I'm wearing sandals and capri pants again today and Beloved and I have resumed enjoying lunch together out on the back porch!

I have to share this funny thing with you...

picture taken at Whole Foods market
Look closely. This guy caught my eye while grocery shopping yesterday. With his pleading eyes he begged me to take him home with us. But Beloved told him no, because his fate would not be pleasant if we did. 

Does our Creator have a sense of humor or what? He can speak to us in the most delightful ways if we will just pay attention.

firecracker plant
After we got home and put the groceries away, I changed my to-do list. I was going to play in the yard on Saturday, but the weather was so beautiful yesterday afternoon that I decided to get out there right away.

We moved into this house on July 1st of last summer, so we are still getting acquainted with the flora and fauna of our yard. This pot held the most beautiful plant that I have learned is called a Firecracker. He had long branches with teeny tiny red flowers that are long, kind of like a dash -- the firecrackers.

I was afraid the hard frosts of our unusually cold winter (or so the locals tell me) had killed him off. I texted Martha, a friend from church who has lived here all of her life. She had one of these plants in her yard last summer so I asked her if mine was a goner. She replied that I should cut him back and watch him grow. I then looked it up on the internet and her words were verified. So he got a severe cut-back and I'm expecting only the best out of him.

a baby Spanish moss
Here in northeast Florida we have the absolutely gorgeous Live Oak trees you may associate with south Georgia. They are gigantic in size and hang over the streets like a tunnel. When we go through places like that, Beloved and I like to say, "oooh, aaahhh" because it's so amazing.

With that beauty also comes the Spanish Moss, gracefully draped and slowly killing the host trees. Yes. That's what that beauty does. It's a fact of life here.

I think it would most certainly be a losing battle to try to remove all the Spanish Moss, and it is beautiful in its own way. We have a Bottle Brush tree in the back yard that has some small tufts of the stuff on the branches. I nipped off some dead branches from the tree and took a closer look at the parasitic Spanish Moss that was at eye level. Interesting stuff. A person could make a pretty good sermon out of that, but I've already done that for this post.

"Wicked"
Then there's this gal. I feel pretty sure she's a Bougainvillea, but not a healthy one. The internet tells me this thorn-covered bush does not tolerate freezing temperatures well, so I think this one might be a casualty from our winter. You see those thorns. They are not nice. Not at all. 

I gingerly pruned her of all but the thickest branches. In doing that, I was surprised to see some green in the center of the cuts, but that possible sign of life did not stop me. Beloved hauled her out to the curb for trash day, container and all. We want nothing more to do with her. Yes, her flowers would have been a delight, but at a price.

I told Beloved this plant reminds me of a beautiful woman with a nasty disposition. I call her Wicked. She sat out on the curb overnight and then this morning a van pulled up and the men asked Beloved about her. He told her our guess was that she's a Bougainvillea. They asked to have her. He nodded 'yes', and now she's off our hands.  

Roots. As we pulled her container onto the wagon, we saw she had grown roots through the drain hole in the bottom of the pot. I pulled up as much of that as possible without disturbing neighboring bushes and the foundation of the house. I hear Bougainvillea send out runners underground. Hmm. We may not have seen the last of Wicked. But I will be as diligent as possible to keep her offspring from surviving.

another leftover
This clay pot is another leftover from the previous owners of our house. I don't know what it is. It was just finishing its bloom when we moved here. My guess is Amaryllis?  I've just dispatched a snail mail letter to the past owners to ask them. As you can see, it is sending out hearty shoots that look promising. I threw a tarp over this one when we had the freeze warnings because I was pretty sure this would be a "keeper" in my opinion.

one of our local haunts
An afternoon spent in the yard would not be complete without a quick run over to our fav home improvement store. Happily for us, this store and my craft store are both within about a 5-minute drive of our house! Is that a confirmation that we bought the right house or what?!!!

I continue to marvel that we are playing with spring flowers so early in the year while my family and friends in Colorado are still keeping the shovels and snowblowers handy for storms that will come clear into April (and often, May).

from my chair on the back porch
In the twilight of that blessed day, we sat on the back porch watching the sunset peeking at us through the forest trees. A hot cup of de-caf coffee helped to rejuvenate me just enough to get dinner on the table.  

We thank our Lord for comforts amidst heartache and tragedy. 

Lo, I am with you always,
Even to the end of the world.
Matthew 28:20