Sunday, July 22, 2018

Trials, struggles, sorrows

"We never know the trials that await us in the days ahead. We may not be able to see the light through our struggles, but we can believe that those days, as in the life of Job, will be the most significant we are called upon to live. "
~Robert Collyer

"Who has not learned that our most sorrowful days are frequently our best? The days when our face is full of smiles and we skip easily through the soft meadow God has adorned with spring flowers, the capacity of our heart is often wasted."
~J. R. Miller

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Weedin' . . . The Story of my Life!

The Longwalk through the Perennial Garden

Weeding IS a large part of my life although now that I know more about plants, it seems to be more of a challenge.  So many of those we have been told were weeds are actually beneficial herbs that would be better off on the table than in the compost.  I think particularly of the Plantain, Nettle, Garlic Mustard, Milkweed mentioned in the thoughtful poem following. 
Weeding in our Garden
 by Raymond A. Foss
Finding the tares, the weeds
the grasses, the ragweed,
milkweed and plantain, growing, thriving
in the lilies, the beds, the wild mustard plants
all growing in the rich soil, growing in the sun
weeding in our garden, pulling the dead,
letting the light in, culling the weeds,
the roots, the dead leaves, those choking out
But seeing the clematis vines, the milkweed
home for monarchs, the yellow of the goldenrod
all part of the garden, the wild, untamed
the rocks too, all growing among tomatoes,
the cosmos, the lilacs, the maples,
a living wild, garden,
finding balance and color
a garden taking shape
a purpose coming into focus
slowly, carefully, prayerfully

Friday, July 20, 2018

I'm out in the Garden

a dear friend who knows me well gave me this door arrangement
THE Lord God planted a garden
In the first white days of the world,
And He set there an angel warden
In a garment of light enfurled.
So near to the peace of Heaven,
That the hawk might nest with the wren,
For there in the cool of the even
God walked with the first of men.
And I dream that these garden-closes
With their shade and their sun-flecked sod
And their lilies and bowers of roses,
Were laid by the hand of God.
The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,--
One is nearer God's heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.
For He broke it for us in a garden
Under the olive-trees
Where the angel of strength was the warden
And the soul of the world found ease.
Dorothy Frances Gurney
Note:  My sister-in-law gave me a framed cross stitched piece with this poem many years ago.  I believe it influenced my appreciation of time spent in the garden, for truly it is there where one is taught innumerable lessons about God, His wonder and His power.  Truly, a garden is a miraculous work of His creation.

Thursday, July 19, 2018


"No one can live, and not have influence. Says Elihu Burritt: "No human being can come into this world without increasing or diminishing the sum total of human happiness, not only of the present, but of every subsequent age of humanity. No one can detach himself from this connection. There is no sequestered spot in the universe, no dark niche along the disk of non-existence, to which he can retreat from his relations to others, where he can withdraw the influence of his existence upon the moral destiny of the world; everywhere his presence or absence will be felt, everywhere he will have companions who will be better or worse for his influence." These are true words. To be at all is to have influence, either for good or evil, over other lives. The ministry of personal influence is something very wonderful. Without being conscious of it, we are always impressing others by this strange power that goes out from us. Others watch us and their actions are modified by ours. Many a life has been started on a career of beauty and blessing by the influence of one noble act. The disciples saw their Master praying, and were so impressed by his earnestness, or by the radiancy they saw on his face, as he communed with his Father, that when he joined them again they asked him to teach them how to pray. Every true soul is impressed continually by the glimpses it has of loveliness, of holiness, or of nobleness in others."

~J. R. Miller from "Making the Most of Life"

The Photograph:  a daffodill
These lovely sweet scented spring blooms always bring back sweet memories of those days wandering through my grandmother's home noticing her attention to detail.  She didn't talk much but her influence on her young granddaughter was tremendous.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018


"It is true that "as a man thinks in his heart, so is he." But it is no less true that as a man reads — so very much will he think. Mind, memory, conscience, imagination, will, affection — all will be influenced by that which you read."

George Everard "The importance of Reading" (1885)

"No book is really worth reading, which does not either impart valuable knowledge, or set before us some ideal of beauty, strength, or nobility of character. The ancients were accustomed to place the statues of their distinguished ancestors about their homes, that their children, by continually seeing them, might be stimulated to emulate their noble qualities. Noble lives embalmed in printed volumes have a wondrous power to kindle the hearts of the young, for, as a writer says, "A good book holds as in a vial, the purest efficacy and instruction of the living intellect that bred it." There are enough great books to occupy us during all our short and busy years. If we are wise, we will resolutely avoid all but the richest and the best."

J. R. Miller "Books Worthwhile" (1913:

Tuesday, July 17, 2018


I don't recall now whether these were daisies or dandelions but I do remember my mother taking this photo in the meadow next to our home where I grew up, loving flowers even then. 

Daisies by Mary Oliver
It is possible, I suppose that sometime
we will learn everything
there is to learn: what the world is, for example,
and what it means. I think this as I am crossing
from one field to another, in summer, and the
mockingbird is mocking me, as one who either
knows enough already or knows enough to be
perfectly content not knowing. Song being born
of quest he knows this: he must turn silent
were he suddenly assaulted with answers. Instead
oh hear his wild, caustic, tender warbling ceaselessly
unanswered. At my feet the white-petalled daisies display
the small suns of their center piece, their - if you don't
mind my saying so - their hearts. Of course
I could be wrong, perhaps their hearts are pale and
narrow and hidden in the roots. What do I know?
But this: it is heaven itself to take what is given,
to see what is plain; what the sun lights up willingly;
for example - I think this
as I reach down, not to pick but merely to touch -
the suitability of the field for the daisies, and the
daisies for the field.

Monday, July 16, 2018


Ferns and Canadian Violets which have opportunistically established themselves in my perennial garden
"The difference in men is not in the opportunities that come to them, but in their use of their opportunities. Many people who fail to make much of their life charge their failure to the lack of opportunities. They look at one who is continually doing good and beautiful things, or great and noble things, and think that he is specially favored, that the chances which come to him for such things are exceptional. Really, however, it is in his capacity for seeing and accepting what the hours bring of duty or privilege, that his success lies. Where other men see nothing, he sees a battle to fight, a duty to perform, a service to render, or an honor to win. Many a man waits long for opportunities, wondering why they never come to him, when really they have been passing by him day after day, unrecognized and unaccepted."

J. R. Miller from "Making the Most of Life"

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Love has no harsh words

"Love has no harsh words, no harsh feelings. It is full of mercy and easy to be entreated. Where this heavenly wisdom abides, there will not be a disposition . . .
to assert one's own rights,
to be self-willed, or
to hold fast to one's own ways.

On the contrary, if its blessed presence fills our souls — we shall be merciful, kind, forgiving, patient, pitiful. We shall have the same tender feeling for our brother who has done us wrong — as the father had for his prodigal son. We shall be ready to run to meet him. We shall be ready to forget all the past. Our hearts will be filled with joyfulness at the expected reconciliation. O brethren there is nothing needed quite so much today and every day as that heart-quality that makes people "easy to be entreated.""

~Chas. Naylor (1920)

Friday, July 13, 2018

If Tomorrow Never Comes

If Tomorrow Never Comes

If I knew it would be the last time
That I'd see you fall asleep,
I would tuck you in more tightly,
And pray the Lord your soul to keep.
If I knew it would be the last time
That I'd see you walk out the door,
I would give you a hug and kiss,
And call you back for just one more

If I knew it would be the last time
I'd hear your voice lifted up in praise,
I would tape each word and action,
And play them back throughout my days
If I knew it would be the last time,
I would spare an extra minute or two,
To stop and say "I love you,"
Instead of assuming you know I do.

So just in case tomorrow never comes,
And today is all I get,
I'd like to say how much I love you,
And I hope we never will forget.
Tomorrow is not promised to anyone,
Young or old alike,
And today may be the last chance
You get to hold your loved one tight.

So if you're waiting for tomorrow,
Why not do it today?
For if tomorrow never comes,
You'll surely regret the day.
That you didn't take that extra time
For a smile, a hug, or a kiss,
And you were too busy to grant someone,
What turned out to be their one last wish.

So hold your loved ones close today,
And whisper in their ear,
That you love them very much, and
You'll always hold them dear.
Take time to say "I'm sorry,"
"Please forgive me," "thank you" or "it's okay".
And if tomorrow never comes,
You'll have no regrets about today

~ Norma Cornett Marek

Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Rose

Some say love, it is a river, that drowns the tender reed
Some say love, it is a razor, that leaves your soul to bleed
Some say love, it is a hunger, an endless aching need
I say love, it is a flower, and you, its only seed

Its the heart afraid of breaking, that never learns to dance
Its the dream afraid of waking, that never takes the chance
Its the one who won't be taking, who cannot seem to give
And the soul afraid of dying, that never learns to live

When the night has been too lonely and the road has been too long
And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong
Just remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed, that with the sun's love in the spring becomes the rose
-Gordon Mills

Wednesday, July 11, 2018


"Do you give thanks for this? -- or that?"
No, God be thanked
I am not grateful
In that cold, calculating way, with blessing ranked
As one, two, three, and four, -- that would be hateful.
I only know that every day brings good above
"My poor deserving;
I only feel that, in the road of Life, true Love
Is leading me along and never swerving.
Whatever gifts and mercies in my lot may fall,
I would not measure
As worth a certain price in praise, or great or small;
But take and use them all with simple pleasure.
For when we gladly eat our daily bread, we bless The Hand that feeds us;
And when we tread the road of Life in cheerfulness,
Our very heart-beats praise the Love that leads us.

~Henry Van Dyke

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Example

I'd rather see a lecture than hear one any day,

I'd rather one should walk with me, than merely show the way.

The eye's a better pupil and more willing than the ear;

Fine counsel is confusing, but example's always clear;

And the best of all the teachers are the men who live their creeds,

For, to see the words in action, is what everybody needs.

I can soon learn how to do it, if you'll let me see it done,

I can watch your hands in action, but your tongue too fast may run.

And the lessons you deliver may be very wise and true;

But I'd rather learn the way it's done by observing what you do.

-- Edgar Guest

Monday, July 9, 2018

My Garden

View from the Back Porch
A garden is a lovesome thing, God wot!
  Rose plot,
  Fringed pool,
Fern'd grot—
  The veriest school
  Of peace; and yet the fool
Contends that God is not—
Not God! in gardens! when the eve is cool?
  Nay, but I have a sign;
  'Tis very sure God walks in mine.

Thomas Edward Brown

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Phlox and Cranesbill

I tend my flowers for Thee by Emily Dickinson
I tend my flowers for thee --
Bright Absentee!
My Fuchsia's Coral Seams
Rip -- while the Sower -- dreams --

Geraniums -- tint -- and spot --
Low Daisies -- dot --
My Cactus -- splits her Beard
To show her throat --

Carnations -- tip their spice --
And Bees -- pick up --
A Hyacinth -- I hid --
Puts out a Ruffled Head --
And odors fall
From flasks -- so small --
You marvel how they held --

Globe Roses -- break their satin glake --
Upon my Garden floor --
Yet -- thou -- not there --
I had as lief they bore
No Crimson -- more --

Thy flower -- be gay --
Her Lord -- away!
It ill becometh me --
I'll dwell in Calyx -- Gray --
How modestly -- alway --
Thy Daisy --
Draped for thee!

Friday, July 6, 2018


“So there is a blessing for us in the commonest, wearisomest task-work of our lives. “Blessed be drudgery” is truly a beatitude. We all need the discipline of this tireless plodding to build us up into beautiful character. Even the loveliest flowers must have their roots in common earth; so, many of the sweetest things in human lives grow out of the soil of drudgery. “Be thou, O man, like unto the rose. Its root is indeed in dirt and mud, but its flowers still send forth grace and perfume.”
~J. R. Miller

Thursday, July 5, 2018


It's true what they say, “You are what you eat,” but that doesn’t just apply to physical food. What we feed our mind through our eyes and ears becomes part of who we are. There are things you will see that you can never un-see. They will be part of your memory and influence you in subtle and even blatant ways. This, of course, applies to the media we consume – books, movies, games, music. It also applies equally, if not more so, to the people we interact with and the friends we choose."

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Essentials :-)

My  Herb Garden in July

I have often mentioned using essential oils and herbs. Just came across this article by Taylor Miller which will provide some very helpful insights:

"Essential Oils, or EO’s, have infinite purposes. Here are 19 tried and true practices for the beginning user. Believe it or not, this list is by no means exhaustive, but it was somewhat exhausting to write!

Lots of mixing to ensue.
An Essential oil will release its powerful fragrance if cleverly placed . . . 

1. Put a few drops of Peppermint Essential Oil on a napkin, and rub over a lightbulb. When you switch it on, the bulb will heat and release a beautiful minty scent. But please use only on tungstens, not compact fluorescents. If you are more environmentally friendly, a stove top, when warmed, creates a similar effect.
2. I always put a few drops of essential oil on my new furnace filters. When the air blows through the vent, it circulates the beautiful scent throughout your house (much cheaper and healthier than those room-to-room evanescent fresheners!) If you use a disinfecting oil, like Lavender or Tea Tree, you can stop some nasties before they invade or to cut back on dust mites, use Eucalyptus. Every week or so, add a few more drops for continued enjoyment.
3. If the night lights in said “fresheners” (Tip 2) are just too irresistible to give up, refill the reservoir with a few drops of Essential Oil and water for an easy-peasy, CHEAP, solution.
4. Harvest and dry some of your summer flowers, your spike speedwells and roses, your lavenders and mums. Dry them by hanging them upside down, and then cut ‘em into small pieces. Mix in a few drops of your favorite smelling EO, wrap in a tissue or thin cloth and BAM, instant potpourri.
5. For an air freshener that lasts, mix 10 parts vodka with 1 part of your favorite EO (maybe Bergamont or Cedar) in a spray bottle. But just don’t drink it, kapeesh?
6. And why not mix in some EO with a bucket of paint (might I suggest lemon)? Essential oils aren’t fatty, so oil spots shouldn’t be a problem. But if you’re a worry-wort (like me), experiment on a small patch of wall and let dry.
7. ¡Amor, amoré! Scent love letters by stretching a half cotton ball, doused with a couple drops of Jasmine EO and seal in an envelope. Caution: Jasmine is an aphrodisiac. Well, that may not be so much of a caution, really as just a … a head’s up.
Many essential oils are concentrated enough, they disinfect!
8. Vinegar is a super-effective cleaner but smells egregiously bad. And anti-bacterial sprays do only that, kill bacteria. But fungal spores are a growing problem (literally), and EO’s can save the day. In a large spray bottle, mix Tea Tree or Lavender oil (and be generous) with a cup of vinegar. It’s an instant multi-surface cleaner, so use it.
9. For caked on gunk (in the bath or kitch), mix in a bowl some baking soda and lemon juice until you have a paste, then add an EO for extra scent and as an antiseptic. The baking soda is used as a mild-abrasive, and the citric acid in the lemon juice cuts through the grease and grime. Basically, Lemon juice + EO = Love.
10. Brush a TEENSY bit of EO onto your microfibre or brand name duster to super-scent your daily dust-bust.
11. Last night I dropped a couple drops of Peppermint EO in the dishwasher with the detergent, and as the dishes heated, the aroma warmed my home.
12. For a home-made carpet deodorizer, mix some EO with baking soda in a large bowl. Let the oil dry for several hours (or you’ll have oil spots), then stick in a mason jar and punch holes in the lid. Shake-it-like-a-salt-shaker on your carpets, let it breathe for 4 hours, and vacuum away!
And surely you’re aware of the health benefits …
13. The EO vs. the Dust Mite. Ah, how I hate the dust mite (See the post: Attack of the Killer Tea Bag). All my friends have allergies, and I’ve been trying to find effective solutions to make them more comfortable visitors. I read a study on the USDA Web site that says, in small quantities, Eucalyptus oil, when added to the wash, kills dust mites on fabric (which is tough to do, because most can survive washing AND drying). Don’t put too many drops of EEO on fabrics or you could potentially damage your washer. Like they say, a lil’ dab’ll do ya.
14. After you’ve applied tip 13 in the wash, put a few drops of Lavender EO on a damp cloth and throw it in the dryer with your bed sheets. Bugs hate it (see tip 15), and studies have shown Lavender to be an effective sleep aid. Don’t let the bed bugs bite! You can use the same trick for towels, because it won’t reduce static like fabric softener or dryer sheets (so your towels will still absorb water).
15. Eucalyptus oil can be your one stop shop for essential health: Put a drop on your toothbrush to wake up your gums. Rub a bit under your stuffy nose to clear your nasal passages. Sit a bottle on your desk at work, and inhale every so often to keep you awake. Mix with a bit of baby oil and massage on achy joints or muscles. Mix one teaspoon with some Epsom salts and soak your worked-out feet. And mix a few drops of Eucalyptus oil with your shampoo to stimulate blood flow to the scalp (baldness-be-gone).
Bugs vs. Essential Oils, a one-sided war …
16. My grandma has this beautiful trunk that reeks of moth balls, gross. There’s a better solution: Lavender, Rosemary and Sweet Basil all contain a chemical compound known as camphor, which is the effective ingredient in moth balls. Camphor has a distinctive smell that moths hate, and most of the aforementioned essential oils have retained some camphor in the oil process, but smell good. Mix it with a Cedar EO in potpourri and wrap them in a tissue or thin fabric to put in drawers, chests or trunks. BEWARE: Moth balls, when consumed or inhaled, can be fatal!
17. Put Citronella oil on a rag and wipe buggy or spidery walls. Insects hate it, and if there are no bugs, there are no spiders.
18. Put a dab of Eucalyptus oil between the shoulder blades of your dog (where they can’t lick it off) to discourage ticks.
19. 2 cups of water + 1 TSP of Eucalyptus Oil + ½ TSP of Dishwashing Fluid = bug repellent spray for plants."
--Notes from of Herb Companion Magazine, one of my favorite publications

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Favourite things

The Things Divine
    by Jean Brooks Burt
These are the things I hold divine:
A trusting child's hand laid in mine,
Rich brown earth and wind-tossed trees,
The taste of grapes and the drone of bees,
A rhythmic gallop, long June days,
A rose-hedged lane and lovers' lays,
The welcome smile on neighbors' faces,
Cool, wide hills and open places,
Breeze-blown fields of silver rye,
The wild, sweet note of the plover's cry,
Fresh spring showers and scent of box,
The soft, pale tint of the garden phlox,
Lilacs blooming, a drowsy noon,
A flight of geese and an autumn moon,
Rolling meadows and storm-washed heights,
A fountain murmur on summer nights,
A dappled fawn in the forest hush,
Simple words and the song of a thrush,
Rose-red dawns and a mate to share
With comrade soul my gypsy fare,
A waiting fire when the twilight ends,
A gallant heart and the voice of friends.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Slow down . . . stop, and smell the flowers

Sweet Peas started from seed collected from Grandma's garden
Slow down . . .
You are not responsible for doing it all yourself, right now.
Remember a happy, peaceful time in your past.
Rest there.
Each moment has richness that takes a lifetime to savor.
Set your own pace.
When someone is pushing you, it's OK to tell them they're pushing.
Take nothing for granted:
watch water flow,
the corn grow,
the leaves blow,
your neighbor mow.
Taste your food.
God gives it to delight as well as to nourish.
Notice the sun and the moon as they rise and set.
They are remarkable for their steady pattern of movement, not their speed.
Quit planning how you're going to use what you know, learn, or possess.
God's gifts just are; be grateful and their purpose will be clear.
When you talk with someone, don't think about what you'll say next.
Thoughts will spring up naturally if you let them.
Talk and play with children.
It will bring out the unhurried little person inside you.
Create a place in your home . . .
at your work . . .
in your heart . . .
where you can go for quiet and recollection.
You deserve it.
Allow yourself time to be lazy and unproductive.
Rest isn't luxury; it's a necessity.
Listen to the wind blow.
It carries a message of yesterday, tomorrow and now.
NOW counts.
Rest on your laurels.
They bring comfort whatever their size, age, or condition.
Talk slower.
Talk less.
Don't talk.
Communication isn't measured by words.
Give yourself permission to be late sometimes.
Life is for living, not scheduling.
Listen to the song of a bird; the complete song.
Music and nature are gifts, but only if you are willing to receive them.
Take time just to think.
Action is good and necessary, but it's fruitful only if we muse, ponder, and mull.
Make time for play - the things you like to do.
Whatever your age, your inner child needs re-creation.
Watch and listen to the night sky.
It speaks.
Listen to the words you speak, especially in prayer.
Learn to stand back and let others take their turn as leaders.
There will always be new opportunities
for you to step out in front again.
Divide big jobs into little jobs.
If God took six days to create the universe,
can you hope to do any better?
When you find yourself rushing & anxious, stop.
Ask yourself "WHY?"you are rushing and anxious.
The reasons may improve your self-understanding.
Take time to read.
Thoughtful reading is enriching reading.
Direct your life with purposeful choices, not with speed and efficiency.
The best musician is one who plays with expression and meaning,
not the one who finishes first.
Take a day off alone; make a retreat.
You can learn from monks and hermits without becoming one.
Pet a furry friend.
You will give and get the gift of now.
Work with your hands.
It frees the mind.
Take time to wonder.
Without wonder, life is merely existence.
Sit in the dark.
It will teach you to see and hear,
taste and smell.
Once in a while, turn down the lights, the volume, the throttle, the invitations.
Less really can be more.\
Let go.
Nothing is usually the hardest thing to do but often it is the best.
Take a walk-but don't go anywhere.
If you walk just to get somewhere,
you sacrifice the walking.
Count your friends.
If you have one, you are lucky.
If you have more, you are blessed.
Bless them in return.
Count your blessings - one at a time and slowly.

~author unknown

Saturday, June 30, 2018


The Hydrangea Walk

"Let us walk together in the garden, dearest heart,

Not apart!"

~Henry Van Dyke

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Too Late?

Too Late?

How wonderful it is to be loved and appreciated, but based on the high percentage of divorces, not to mention unhappy people we know, that sense of the heart is missing in many lives. How many people have you known that never complimented, that never said they cared, that just seem to take things for granted? How often have you put a lot of work into something to please someone you cared about only to have them look for faults?
Perhaps the best way to make a difference is a change in ourselves instead of trying to change the other person. Isn't this what the Golden Rule is all about?
"Do unto others as you would have others do unto you."
Found this poem in great grandmother's scrapbook. It touched my heart and reminded me how important it is to let people know that I care, that I appreciate not only what they have done but what they mean to me, for the day will come when I may not have another chance. Surely, none of us can do it perfectly, but we can try and remember always that real love is not a feeling but a verb. It is something we do whether we feel it or not.
Too Late
What silences we keep year after year,
With those who are most near to us and dear;
We live beside each other day by day
And speak of myriad things, but seldom say
The full sweet word that lies just in our reach,
Beneath the commonplace of common speech.
Then out of sight and out of reach they go -
These close familiar friends, who loved us so;
And, sitting in the shadow they have left,
Alone with loneliness and sore bereft
We think with vain regret of some fond word,
That once we might have said and they have heard.
For weak and poor the love that we expressed
Now seems beside the vast, sweet unexpressed,
And slight the deeds we did, to those undone,
And small the service spent, to treasure won
And undeserved the praise, for word and deed
That should have overflowed the simple need.
This is the cruel cross of life, to be
Full-visioned only when the ministry
of death has been fulfilled, and in the place
Of some dear presence is but empty space
What recollected services can then
Offer consolation for the might have been?
author unknown

Monday, June 11, 2018

Humility and Obedience

"We live worthily—only when we do what God sent us here to do. A splendid career in the sight of men—has no splendor in God's sight!

Not the making of a fine worldly career, therefore—but the simple doing of God's will—is the one true aim in living. Only thus can we achieve real success.

If we do this, though we fail in the earthly race—we shall not fail in God's sight. We may make no name among men, may raise for ourselves no monument of earthly glory—but if we please God by a life of obedience and humble service, and build up within us a character in which divine virtues shine, we shall have attained abiding success!"

11 And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; 12 That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.
(I Thes 4:11-12)

18 And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom: to Whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
(II Timothy 4:18)

~J. R. Miller
~Photograph: God's handiwork in late afternoon

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Pictures in the Heart

"The cause of discontent is not in men's circumstances—but in their own spirit and temper. Get the song into your heart—and you will hear songs all about you. Even the wailing storm will but make music for you. Get the beauty and the good into your own soul—and you will see only beauty and good in all things. Get the peace deep into your own life—and you will find peace in every lot. hearts make our world for us.

The things we see around us—are but the shadows of our inner experiences, which are cast outside. The things we hear are but the echoes of our own inner thoughts and feelings."

Pictures in the Heart

J. R. Miller, 1880

The photograph:
Morning sunshine

Saturday, June 9, 2018

To Everything there is a Season

The Pergola with daisies, lilies and a few roses in bloom

 "To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven."  At that thought, a familiar song likely comes to mind reminding us of spring, summer, fall and winter and the world around us.  But there is so much more to the seasons of our life . . . SO much more. 
"We are always coming to the end of something; nothing earthly is long-lived. Many things last but for a day; many, for only a moment. You look at the sunset-clouds, and there is a glory in them which thrills your soul; you turn to call a friend to behold the splendor with you—and it has vanished, and a new splendor—as wondrous, though altogether different—is in its place. You cross a field on an early summer morning, and every leaf and every blade of grass is covered with dewdrops, which sparkle like millions of diamonds as the first sunbeams fall on them; but a few moments later you return, and not a dewdrop is to be seen! You walk through your garden one summer morning, and note its wondrous variety of flowers in bloom, with their marvelous tints and their exquisite loveliness; tomorrow you walk again along the same paths, and there is just as great variety and as rich beauty—but all is changed. Many of yesterday's flowers are gone—and many new ones have bloomed out.

We come also to the end of trials and sorrows. Every night has a morning, and, however dark it may be, we have only to wait a little while for the sun to rise, when light will chase away the gloom. Every black cloud that gathers in the sky, and blots out the blue, or hides the stars—passes away before long; and when it is gone there is no stain left on the blue, and not a star's beam is quenched or even dimmed. The longest winter that destroys all life and beauty in field, forest and garden—is sure to come to an end, giving place to the glad springtime which re-clothes the earth in verdure as beautiful as that which perished.. . .
So it is with life's pains and troubles. Sickness gives place to health. Grief, however bitter, is comforted by the tender comfort of divine love. Sorrow, even the sorest, passes away—and joy comes again, not one glad note hushed, its music even enriched by its experience of sadness.

Thus in a Christian life—no shadow lingers long. Then it will be but a little time until all shadows shall flee away before heaven's glorious light—when forever life will go on without a pain or a sorrow! There is another ending: we shall come to the end of life itself. We shall come to the close of our last day; we shall do our last piece of work, and take our last walk, and write our last letter, and sing our last song, and speak our last "Goodnight". Then tomorrow we shall be gone, and the places that have known us—shall know us no more. Whatever other experiences we may miss—we shall not miss dying. Every human path, through whatever scenes it may wander, must bend at last into the Valley of Shadows.

Yet we ought not to think of death as calamity or disaster; if we are Christians, it will be the brightest day of our whole life—when we are called to go away from earth—to heaven. Work will then be finished, conflict will be over, sorrow will be past, death itself will be left behind, and life in its full, true, rich meaning will only really begin! The fragility and transitoriness of life, should lead us to be always ready for death. Though we are plainly taught by our Lord, not to worry about anything that the future may have in store for us; we are as plainly taught to live so as to be prepared for any event which may occur. Indeed, the only way to eliminate worry from our present—is to be ready for any possible future. Death is not merely a possible event—but is an inevitable event in everyone's future; we can live untroubled by dread of it—only by being ever ready for it. Preparation for death—is made by living a true Christian life. If we are in Christ by faith, and then follow Christ, doing his will day by day—we are prepared for death, and it can never surprise us unready.

True preparation for death is made, when we close each day as if it were the last. We are never sure of tomorrow; we should leave nothing incomplete any night. Each single separate little day—should be a miniature life, complete in itself, with nothing of duty left over. God gives us life by days, and with each day—he gives its own allotment of duty—a portion of his plan to be wrought out, a fragment of his purpose to be accomplished by us. Our mission is to find that bit of divine will—and do it. Well-lived days make completed years, and the years well lived as they come—make a life beautiful and full. In such a life no special preparation of any kind is needed; he who lives thus—is always ready. Each day prepares for the next, and the last day prepares for glory.

If we thus live, coming to the end of life need have no terror for us. Dying does not interrupt life for a moment. Death is not a wall cutting off the path—but a gate through which passing out of this world of shadows and unrealities—we shall find ourselves in the immediate presence of the Lord and in the midst of the glories of the eternal home!

We need have only one care—that we live well our one short life as we go on, that we love God and our neighbor, that we believe on Christ and obey his commandments, that we do each duty as it comes to our hand, and do it well. Then no sudden coming of the end will ever surprise us unprepared. Then, while glad to live as long as it may be God's will to leave us here—we shall welcome the gentle angel who comes with the golden joy to lead us to rest and home!"
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 
 Eccl 3:1 

Coming to the End by  J. R. Miller, 1888

Friday, June 8, 2018

Memories and Influence

Aunt Sarah called these Evening Primrose while others call them Sundrops.  They are just starting to bloom!

I've been back to grandmother's garden
Where the dear old flowers grow,
That she planted there and tended
In the summers long ago
The sweet old-fashioned flowers
That used to delight her so

--Helen E. Reford

The walks are hedged with dusky green of box,
That once enclosed long borders, trim and neat;
Within them good great clumps of snowy phlox,
But now the phlox wild morning-glories seek . . .
The pale sweet-william, tinged with pink and white,
Grows yet within the damp shade of the wall;
And there the primrose stands, that as the night
Begins to gather, and the dews to fall,
Flings wide to circling moths her twisted buds,
And all the air her heavy fragrance floods . . .
A wave of vivid blue the larkspur shines
From out the thorny heart of the sweetbriar,
And at her side are velvet brandy-wines,
Shadowed by honeysuckle's fringe of fire.
On the long grass, where still the drops of dew
Are threaded like a necklace for the dawn,
The flaming poppies their soft petals strew . . .

Margaret Deland  The Old Garden

Grandma is gone now, as are her gardens, but memories linger, especially when the sweet fragrance of the purple phlox wafts on the breeze, bringing with it thoughts of happy times meandering the grass paths between the peonies, lilacs and phlox.

My grandmother, who passed away when I was in high school, gave my mother a piece of one rose (still my favorite of all my antique roses, each fragrant bloom lasting but a day but perfect for garlands and potpourri) as well as tubers of red cannas and a quiet love which she has passed along.

Perhaps it was more through a passion for poetry and reading that my mother encouraged us as we were growing up, through bedtime stories of faraway lands where princes living in castles, often galloping through dark forests to rescue maidens in distress or turning into frogs to be rescued themselves . . . I became very interested in family history and the not so fanciful idea that our own ancestors did, indeed, live in castles and and thatched roofed cottages and courted as well as performed many of their daily routines in enchanting walled gardens.

Next door to where we grew up was a once-beautiful old home which had fallen into disrepair, eventually demolished. I could see this house from my bedroom window and fancied how it would look restored. Then in late teens, a friend who also loved old neglected houses, took me on wonderful jaunts through quarries, cemeteries and abandoned homes, regaling me with stories that would influence the future.

 Fast forwarding a few years, when it came time to think about buying a house, all of these memories came together into a dream, not quite come true, but certainly waiting to happen. We found a c1760 home on a seldom-traveled tree-lined road so sadly neglected that the estate managers had bulldozed the junk-strewn overgrown grounds and planned to burn the house! It was love at first sight! The sills needed replacing, the roof on the "new" additions had fallen in, the windows were smashed out, the doors hung partly open on sagging rusting hinges and it was strewn with the vandalized remainders of what had once been a collection of treasures so great that only a path wound through the house! (One evening when our real estate agent and his wife were helping us shovel (yes!) the debris out of what is now the summer kitchen, we found a brown bag of money! 67 cents!)

The house had once been a lovely place mentioned in local history books, with gardens, picket fences, gates . . . but in about 1927, some well-intended newlyweds bought it. Enough said. Their "but good intentions" were a blessing in disguise for rather than being remuddled, the house was sadly neglected leaving the fabric of the home relatively unspoiled

I wasn't into gardening yet then. The house was overwhelming enough, but under the huge old maples outside the decrepit back porch, not a thing could grow although fragments of broken glass and pottery seemed to flourish! There were rocks piled here and there amongst the weeds and bushes. Well, before you knew it, we decided to just put them down into a stone terrace leaving space for beds along the kitchen, resolving the issue of the ugly bare ground. We also cleared brush and plowed a rectangle for a vegetable garden as money was very tight.

Eventually evolved the idea of a courtyard so I ordered bareroot Ibolium privets to lay out a pathetic-looking hedge . . . one thing led to another. Before we knew it, we'd decided to put a gold fish pond in and surround that with a garden with brick walks and surrounded by another privet hedge . . . then came another garden and another

When we bought our first home, we had no money (well, $1200!) after college and the four years my husband was in the military. BUT, we had dreams . . .

We've rarely hired contractors except for occasional backhoe work, etc. but usually acquired books to learn what we needed to know as we went along. A local historian stopped by when we first started work to encourage us by taking us to his historic home which he had been working on for twenty years, to help us to understand that it would be a long, lifetime labour of love. He was right. We still have much to do, but I have long made it a policy to not complain or nag.

It is important to have a dream and to work together. It isn't money or possessions that make a house a home, but love and obedience to God, that the home might be a representation of heaven on earth.

To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. (Titus 2:5)

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Actions Speak Louder than Words

I'd rather see a lecture than hear one any day,

I'd rather one should walk with me, than merely show the way.

The eye's a better pupil and more willing than the ear;

Fine counsel is confusing, but example's always clear;

And the best of all the teachers are the men who live their creeds,

For, to see the words in action, is what everybody needs.

I can soon learn how to do it, if you'll let me see it done,

I can watch your hands in action, but your tongue too fast may run.

And the lessons you deliver may be very wise and true;

But I'd rather learn the way it's done by observing what you do.

-- Edgar Guest

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

In my garden . . .

Salvia and Yarrow in the Herb Gardcen

"In my garden there is a large place for sentiment. My garden of flowers is also my garden of thoughts and dreams. The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful. "

~Abram L. Urba

The photograph:  dreaming of summer

Tuesday, June 5, 2018


This heirloom Wisteria vine was started from seed which came from the old vine of a dear friend.  I had noted the ancient Wisteria at Washington Irving's Sunnyside home in Sleepy Holly, Tarrytown and was intrigued by the knarled vines seeming to strengthen the arbor on which it clambored.  (I was also enchanted by Washington's library!)  Washington Irving probably spent time in our home here and is also a relative which I ind quite an interesting coincidence.

"Wisteria woke me this morning,
And there was all June in the garden;
I felt them, early, warning

Lest I miss any part of the day. 

Straight I walked to the trellis vine.  
Wisteria touched a lifted nostril:  
Feelings of beauty diffused, to entwine 
My spirit with June's own aura." 
-  Ann McGough, Summons

Monday, June 4, 2018

On this June day . . .

"On this June day
the buds in my garden are almost as enchanting as the open flowers. 
Things in bud bring, in the heat of a June noontide, 
the recollection of the loveliest days of the year -
 those days of May when all is suggested, 
nothing yet fulfilled."

-  Francis King

Sunday, June 3, 2018

When Purple Morning Breaketh

Still, still with Thee, when purple morning breaketh,
When the bird waketh, and the shadows flee;
Fairer than morning, lovelier than daylight,
Dawns the sweet consciousness, I am with Thee.

Alone with Thee, amid the mystic shadows,
The solemn hush of nature newly born;
Alone with Thee in breathless adoration,
In the calm dew and freshness of the morn.

As in the dawning o'er the waveless ocean,
The image of the morning-star doth rest,
So in this stillness, Thou beholdest only
Thine image in the waters of my breast.

When sinks the soul, subdued by toil, to slumber,
Its closing eyes look up to Thee in prayer;
Sweet the repose, beneath Thy wings o'er shadowing,
But sweeter still to wake and find Thee there.

--Harriet Elisabeth  Beecher Stowe

 Harriet Elisabeth Beecher Stowe (/ s t oʊ /; June 14, 1811 – July 1, 1896) was an American abolitionist and author.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

The time of perfect young summer


What is one to say about June,
the time of perfect young summer,
 the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months,
and with as yet no sign to remind one
 that its fresh young beauty will ever fade. 

Gertrude Jekyll

Friday, June 1, 2018

Early June in the Perennial Garden

Heirloom Iris and Ferns in the Perennial Garden

This Harrison's Yellow heirloom rose has been blooming for over a week now, maybe closer to two, which is unusual.  It only blooms once each year.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

I Shall Not Pass This Way Again


I shall not pass this way again---
Although it bordered be with flowers,
Although I rest in fragrant bowers,
And hear the singing
Of song-birds winging
To highest heaven their gladsome flight;
Though moons are full and stars are bright,
And winds and waves are softly sighing,
While leafy trees make low replying;
Though voices clear in joyous strain
Repeat a jubilant refrain;
Though rising suns their radiance throw
On summer's green and winter's snow,
In such rare splendor that my heart
Would ache from scenes like these to part;
Though beauties heighten,
And life-lights brighten,
And joys proceed from every pain---
I shall not pass this way again.

Then let me pluck the flowers that blow,
And let me listen as I go
To music rare
That fills the air;
And let hereafter
Songs and laughter
Fill every pause along the way;
And to my spirit let me say:
"O soul, be happy; soon 'tis trod,
The path made thus for thee by God.
Be happy, thou, and bless His name
By whom such marvellous beauty came."
And let no chance by me be lost
To kindness show at any cost.
I shall not pass this way again;
Then let me now relieve some pain,
Remove some barrier from the road,
Or brighten someone's heavy load;
A helping hand to this one lend,
Then turn some other to befriend.

O God, forgive
That I now live
As if I might, sometime, return
To bless the weary ones that yearn
For help and comfort every day,---
For there be such along the way.
O God, forgive that I have seen
The beauty only, have not been
Awake to sorrow such as this;
That I have drunk the cup of bliss
Remembering not that those there be
Who drink the dregs of misery.

I love the beauty of the scene,
Would roam again o'er fields so green;
But since I may not, let me spend
My strength for others to the end,---
For those who tread on rock and stone,
And bear their burdens all alone,
Who loiter not in leafy bowers,
Nor hear the birds nor pluck the flowers.
A larger kindness give to me,
A deeper love and sympathy;
Then, O, one day
May someone say---
Remembering a lessened pain---
"Would she could pass this way again."

by Eva Rose York 

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

My Garden

My Garden is a pleasant place
Of sun glory and leaf grace.
There is an ancient cherry tree
Where yellow warblers sing to me,
And an old grape arbor, where
A robin builds her nest, and there
Above the lima beans and peas
She croons her little melodies,
Her blue eggs hidden in the green
Fastness of that leafy screen.
Here are striped zinnias that bees
Fly far to visit; and sweet peas,
Like little butterflies newborn,
And over by the tasseled corn
Are sunflowers and hollyhocks,
And pink and yellow four-clocks.
Here are hummingbirds that come
To seek the tall delphinium -
Songless bird and scentless flower
Communing in a golden hour.
There is no blue like the blue cup
The tall delphinium holds up,
Not sky, nor distant hill, nor sea,
Sapphire, nor lapis lazuli.
My lilac trees are old and tall;
I cannot reach their bloom at all.
They send their perfume over trees
And roofs and streets, to find the bees.
I wish some power would touch my ear
With magic touch, and make me hear
What all the blossoms say, and so
I might know what the winged things know.
I'd hear the sunflower's mellow pipe,
"Goldfinch, goldfinch, my seeds are ripe!"
I'd hear the pale wisteria sing,
"Moon moth, moon moth, I'm blossoming!"
I'd hear the evening primrose cry,
"Oh, firefly! come, firefly!"
And I would learn the jeweled word
The ruby-throated hummingbird
Drops into cups of larkspur blue,
And I would sing them all for you!
My garden is a pleasant place
Of moon glory and wind grace.
O friend, wherever you may be,
Will you not come to visit me?
Over fields and streams and hills,
I'll pipe like yellow daffodils,
And every little wind that blows
Shall take my message as it goes.
A heart may travel very far
To come where its desires are,
Oh, may some power touch my ear,
And grant me grace, and make you hear!
~Louise Driscoll

Sunday, May 20, 2018


"He who says he abides in Him, ought himself also to walk just as He walked." 1 John 2:6

"We must pattern our lives after our Lord, and follow in the way which He trod.

God's will for His people, is that they set before the world a worthy example of Christian character.

A blameless character is the best sermon!

In all our relations with others, we should manifest a sweet temper, kindness, meekness, gentleness, forbearance, patience, reasonableness, cheerfulness, magnanimity and all the other things that go to make up Christian character.

In our lives we should be examples of holiness, consistency and moderation. We should be free from worldliness, ostentation, and the vanities that are ruining the world. We should not be not of the world . . .
  in the tenor of our lives,
  in the motives that move us,
  in the purposes that actuate us.

God's will for His people regarding . . .
  the vanities of this world,
  the desires that have their root in worldliness,
  and the sinful customs of the world,
is that we do not imbibe them.

Jesus said of His own, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." He has chosen us out of the world. Un-worldliness is a characteristic of true Christianity, and is found in all genuine believers.

The multitude of worldly professors who call themselves by Christ's name, but who, in their lives, and in the worldliness of their hearts, deny Him--are not Christians at all. They are Christians in name only. Their religion is only a veneer that covers a heart of sin. They are actuated by the spirit of the world, and they love the things of the world.

To be a true Christian, means to be severed in spirit . . .
 from the vanities of the world,
 from the pride, fashion, display and pretense of the world,
 from the world's love of pomp and power, and its hypocritical pretensions.

We must strive to be separated from the spirit, desires, aspirations, and hopes of this world--as really and as truly as Jesus was.

We must desire to live out in the life, those things that definitely mark one as having his hopes set on something higher, his aspirations set on something nobler, and his interests aimed at something greater and more lasting than . . .
  the perishable things of the world,
  the popular opinions of the world,
  the sinful customs of the world,
  the fashions and frivolities of the world, and
  the pleasures and amusements of the world.

"Just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do. For it is written: Be holy, because I am holy." 1 Peter 1:15-16"

Charles Naylor

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Slow Me Down, Lord!

Slow me down, Lord!
Ease the pounding of my heart
By the quieting of my mind.
Steady my harried pace
With a vision of the eternal reach of time.
Give me,
Amidst the confusions of my day,
The calmness of the everlasting hills.
Break the tensions of my nerves
With the soothing music
Of the singing streams
That live in my memory.
Help me to know
The magical power of sleep,
Teach me the art
Of taking minute vacations
Of slowing down
To look at a flower;
To chat with an old friend
Or make a new one;
To pat a stray dog;
To watch a spider build a web;
To smile at a child;
Or to read a few lines from a good book
Remind me each day
That the race is not always to the swift;
That there is more to life
Than increasing its speed.
Let me look upward
Into the branches of the towering oak
And know that it grew great and strong
Because it grew slowly and well.
Slow me down, Lord,
And inspire me to send my roots deep
Into the soil of life's enduring values
That I may grow toward the stars
Of my greater destiny.

W. A. Peterson

Friday, May 18, 2018

Wasting Time

Lamium or Dead Nettle, a pretty groundcover that I was excited to find here amongst the brambles

I do it some and suppose most of us do more or perhaps less. I try to make the most of my time and have eliminated a good many of those things that were unproductive or less important and sincerely want to redeem what is left.

Each and every day is an investment.  We tend to forget that.   We exchange or invest the gift of our days in the way we choose to spend our time and talents beyond our immediate responsibilities. Those precious hours can be used in countless ways for which we will soon answer.

Not a one of us knows if we will have a tomorrow here on earth. How vital it is to consider our future and our influence on those around us.

May this be our prayer:

(Henry Law, "Family Prayers") 
O Eternal God, who alone has immortality,
ever living in glory, unchanged, unchangeable, bend down Your ear to hear.
We confess with shame--past hours wasted in unprofitable reading and other worldly entertainments. If future days are ours--guide us that no more time be squandered in vain pursuits.
Impress on our minds . . .
the shortness of time, the work to be done, the account to be rendered, the nearness of eternity,
 the misery of lamps expired, when the voice of the Bridegroom is heard.
May we never forget that . . .
Your eye always sees us;
Your ear always hears us;
Your recording hand commits all to a book of remembrance;
all hidden works must be unveiled at the judgment day!
Above all things--may we seek Your favor!
Above all things--may we dread Your frown!
May Christ be the pulse of our hearts.
May He speak in every word of our lips.
May He shine in every step of our earthly walk.
Grant our requests, for His dear sake.