Archives for posts with tag: flowers

Today is Valentine’s Day. It is a day when candy, flowers, and gifts are exchanged between loved ones.

One source, attributed to the Greeting Card Association, estimates that 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas.)

The origin of this holiday and its theme of romance is not clear and there is much mystery about its patron saint St. Valentine. Theories include aspects of early Christianity, ancient Roman tradition, and customs of Victorian England.

The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. (https://www.history.com)

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured.

According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today. By the Middle Ages Valentine had become one of the most popular saints in England and France.

It has also been suggested that in the 5th century when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s feast day it was an effort of the Church to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia which was celebrated on February 15. Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to the Roman god of agriculture, and to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.

It was not until the Middle Ages that Valentine’s Day became definitively associated with love. In those days it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of Valentine’s Day should be a day for romance.

Although Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, written Valentines didn’t begin to appear until after 1400. The oldest known valentine still in existence today is believed to be a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London.

Whatever the origin of Valentine’s Day and no matter what customs or traditions are followed, it is a good thing to focus on the most powerful force in the universe. Reeva Steenkamp said, “I’ve realized that although Valentine’s Day can be a cheesy money-making stint to most people, it’s a day of expressing love across the world. It doesn’t have to only be between lovers, but by telling a friend that you care, or even an old person that they are still appreciated.”

So on this Valentine’s Day “let’s love each other, because love is from God, and everyone who loves is born from God and knows God.” (I John 4:7 CEB)

Jamie Jenkins

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Early one morning last week I walked outside my house to discover two naked ladies by my driveway and an army marching up toward the house. No I not am exaggerating or imagining. They were there for the whole world to see. However, there was no need to rush to get my camera or to call for reinforcements.

The two naked ladies were standing tall and proud among the roses alongside our driveway. These beautiful flowers have many identities. They are called Belladonna Lilies, Belladonna Amaryllis, Jersey lily, resurrection lily, magic lily, surprise lily or the March lily, depending on what part of the world you may live in.

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This gorgeous flower produces green, leafy growth that emerges in spring and dies back by mid-summer. In late summer, leafless stems produce elegant, pink flowers. The stem without leaves is why it is called “naked lady.”

As I was enjoying these beautiful naked ladies I noticed dozens of caterpillars advancing steadily up the driveway headed to the flower beds. Each one of this army of little critters is basically a “stomach with legs.” Gardening guru Walter Reeves said “their existence is dominated by the urge to eat as many leaves as possible in the shortest time period.” I felt that it was my duty to save the plants in my wife’s garden from destruction by this invading army.

Now admit it, when you saw the heading of this column, did you jump to wrong conclusions about the subject matter? Did you keep reading because you thought the topic was something other than what you discovered it to be? Were you disappointed?

In this day of sound bites and the media frenzied world we live in it is easy to get wrong impressions and be led to faulty conclusions. Words and images inform and influence us. We need to be careful that we are not manipulated by them

I remember ordering a small drink at a fast food restaurant several years ago and being told they did not have small beverages, only medium, large and extra-large. Call it whatever you wish but one of those offerings was the least-big of the three.

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Products on the supermarket shelves often claim to be “new and improved.” That designation is supposed to attract our attention and influence our buying decision. Is it really “new” and what is “improved” about it?

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Have you received a call offering you a free vacation? If you listened to the spiel, you probably learned that it might be “free” but there were some charges involved.

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There was a day when gambling was viewed by most people as an undesirable activity. We are now supposed to believe that it is a healthy and wholesome activity where people have loads of fun. The gambling establishments are now presented as entertainment venues frequented only by happy and healthy individuals. The picture that is painted has very little basis in reality but we are intrigued by the inviting images and the positive descriptions.

Jesus warned of “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” Things are often “dressed up” to deceive us. We must guard our minds, our hearts, and our wallets lest we become ensnared by naked ladies and invading armies.

Jamie Jenkins

I am not a contemplative person. Not one given to long periods of quiet meditation. Although I understand the value of silent and thoughtful reflection, that is not my nature. However, last week as I sat in my backyard I was reminded of how important it is to stop my ceaseless activity and be renewed.

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A gentle breeze was blowing as I sat in the swing watching the birds flitting to and from our bird feeders. The bright red flowers of the Crocosmias in my wife’s beautiful garden had not yet appeared but their sword-like leaves swayed and the leaves of the Japanese Maple began to flutter in the wind. Three chipmunks scurried along the rock wall and paused to eat some of the bird seed that had fallen to the ground.

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There was hardly a sound. Just the creaking of the swing as it moved back and forth. It was a silent and sacred moment. Refreshing. Renewing.

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As I looked around at the beauty of our small space nestled between sub-division house on either side and behind. I sensed the Voice of the Eternal saying, “Be still and know that I am God.”

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Observing the seemingly carefree way the birds and the chipmunks went about their ways and seeing the beautiful flowers of the garden I remembered the words of Jesus, “Look at the birds in the sky. They don’t sow seed or harvest grain or gather crops into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth much more than they are? Notice how the lilies in the field grow. They don’t wear themselves out with work, and they don’t spin cloth. But I say to you that even Solomon in all of his splendor wasn’t dressed like one of these. If God dresses grass in the field so beautifully, even though it’s alive today and tomorrow it’s thrown into the furnace, won’t God do much more for you, you people of weak faith?” (Matthew 6:26, 28-30)

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Sitting in that relaxed environment I found the words of a familiar hymn running through my mind:

This is my Father’s world,*
and to my listening ears
all nature sings, and round me rings
the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world:
I rest me in the thought
of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
his hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world,
the birds their carols raise,
the morning light, the lily white,
declare their maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world:
he shines in all that’s fair;
in the rustling grass I hear him pass;
he speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world.
O let me ne’er forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world:
why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let the earth be glad!

Jamie Jenkins

* Words to the hymn, This Is My Father’s World, by Maltbie D. Babcock

My wife is an artist. She does not use brushes and paint, pen and paper, chalk, needle, or camera. She uses spades and flowers. Our yard is her canvas. She loves to dig in the dirt to plant new and move old plants.

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My Master Gardener spouse does not trim shrubs or cut grass, although she can and she has. These chores are left to the yardman. Recently she expressed concern that the tasks were too much for him in the scorching temperatures and high humidity. I appreciated her sensitivity to his situation but assured her that he was alright and could accomplish his work with little difficulty.

I am thankful that we have a small yard. Still it requires a lot of work and it is pretty costly to maintain it properly and retain the beautiful environment that has been created. If it was much bigger, the work load might be too much and the expense to high but for now it is manageable, even for the aging yardman.

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There are 85 houses in our subdivision but none of them have a garden like ours. We live in a tree lined neighborhood and the homes are relatively neatly landscaped with low maintenance shrubs and trees. The lawns are all pretty well kept most of the time but most, if not all, of the neighbors have a lawn service- except us. My wife is the gardener. I am the yardman. She has the knowledge and the creative eye. I take care of the menial tasks of grass cutting and shrub trimming.

I am grateful that I am still healthy enough to mow the grass weekly and occasionally give the shrubbery a trim. The yard is small and the work load is manageable. Besides, my wife says the chore is saving my life by keeping me somewhat physically active.

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I don’t enjoy the yard work but I don’t really mind it either At times it is an inconvenience but it is not a burden. On the other hand, Lena loves to work in her garden and I am grateful for what she has created. Every time I pull into our driveway and view the landscaping I am appreciative of her dedication and skill. As I sit on the patio watching the birds and enjoying the beautifully serene setting of our back yard I thank God for her love for gardening and her hard work.

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Lena and I have been married for 46 1/2 years and I hope to have many more anniversary celebrations with her. So if the minimal work that I put into our yard contributes to longevity, so be it. And if her long hours of hard work in the heat and humidity bring her satisfaction, that is good. I know that there will come a time when we will not be able to maintain our current level of physical activity (as minimal as mine is) but until then I am thankful to God for our health and to Lena for her labor of love.

God created the first garden and then entrusted it to human beings. I don’t know God’s assessment of their care for this new creation but I am sure that God is pleased with the garden my wife has created. .

 

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For the beauty of each hour
of the day and of the night,
hill and vale, and tree and flower,
sun and moon, and stars of light;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.*

Jamie Jenkins

 

* For the Beauty of the Earth- Text: Folliot S. Pierpoint/Music: Conrad Kocher