Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Sunflowers...


“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows. It's what the sunflowers do.”
-Helen Keller
While riding around in my neighborhood I noticed that many yards and gardens were adorn with beautiful sunflowers. They stood tall and cheery above all the other plants and flowers with their bright yellow "faces" seemingly bathing in the summer sun...they make me smile.  So even though I did not plant any sunflowers in my yard or garden I did do a bit of decorating with some faux. (will attach pics at the end of this post.  But for now here are some facts about this cheery fun flower ...
 
•The stem of a sunflower can grow up to 10 ft tall and the flower head can be 11.8 in wide.

•Sunflowers are very fast growing plants, in the right conditions they can grow 8-12 feet tall in six months.

•As of 2012, the Guinness World Record for the tallest sunflower is 27 ft for a sunflower grown in Germany.

•Famous Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh did a series of paintings featuring and called Sunflowers.

•There are two kinds of sunflower seeds. Sunflower oil which is used in cooking and in margarines is made from black seeds and snack food is made from the striped seeds. The seeds can also be used as bird feed.

•Sunflowers can also be processed into a peanut butter substitute called Sunbutter. In Germany, sunflower seeds are mixed with rye flour to make a type of bread (Sonnenblumenkernbrot).

•The sunflower is native to the America's and was used extensively by Native American Indians for food, as oil, in bread, medical ointments, dyes and body paints.

•Kansas is often known as the Sunflower state and the flower is in fact Kansas's state flower. The sunflower is also the national flower of Ukraine.

•Sunflowers can be used to extract toxin such as lead, arsenic and uranium from contaminated soil. For example, sunflowers were used to remove toxins from a pond after the Chernobyl disaster and similar projects took place after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

While doing my fun "research" on sunflowers, it's interesting to know how popular they are. They are used in:

Clothing:

Strapless dress
 
Gown and jacket


Bowtie
 

Neck tie




Jewelry:





Handbags:
Of Course Bouquets:




Food:
 



Pottery:



And we can't forget "Sunflower" Pups!:






I'm so thankful that God made Sunflowers...hope these pictures made you smile ...

 
“Think how the flowers grow. They do not work or make cloth. Yet, I tell you, that King Solomon in all his greatness was not dressed as well as one of these flowers.” Luke 12:27
 (New Living Translation)

Here's my Sunflowers around the house:









Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Fear vs Love...my story...


“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.  In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”  1 John 4:7-11

It has been a while since I have posted anything. Lots have been going on.  Even though I have retired, I still find myself busy and feeling as if there is not enough hours in the day to complete my tasks.  However after 4 weeks of not being at my job, I feel as if I am a bit more organized and have a set schedule somewhat.  And an important part of that schedule is to write, one of my most favorite things to do besides reading.
This will be a different post, I usually try to write something that I think may be uplifting to others, but this one I feel will be therapeutic to me. Bear with me as I tell my story…

Many years ago my late husband, our young son and I belong to a church. In that church we received our salvation from Christ, were baptized and became very active members. I remember us being so excited about our new lives, the people were lovely and we felt they accepted us as family. We really dedicated our lives to the ministry and felt fulfilled. This went on for many years, until one day we began to notice that we were doing things out of fear, the fear of appearing to the leadership that we were not dedicated members.

We would hear message after message about how if you were not serving in a certain capacity, then we would not be blessed of God, that God was not obligated to look out for our good if we did not do the things that was asked of us.  So, instead of serving God “cheerfully” we began to do so out of fear.  This was a slow and steady process and to our shame we began to lie.  When a show of hands were asked to be raised for all who would be a part of the work day (a day to clean and maintain the property) we would proudly raise our hands and knew in our hearts that we would sleep in on our only free day off.   Our Sundays were filled with morning and evening services with a few hours in between and sometimes there were off campus ministry events to attend.  We were busy doing the work, but had begun to do it not out of love but out of fear, fear that if we did not, God would punish us.

Now as I look back, I know that we could have left any time or simply shook ourselves and taken charge of our lives and realized that we should not have feared a man. But to our credit and most importantly God’s glory, we LOVED the Lord and really thought that we were pleasing Him.  We so wanted to do things right that…yes we followed man instead of God.

Fear is a powerful spirit, it can paralyze you and make you afraid to move forward. That is what happened to us for several years. We began to hear things that we knew were not of God, but were afraid to challenge it in any way, even though we were leaders. The intimidation began to wear on us, so much so until after the service we felt beat up…physically. I know now that it was my spirit that was being assaulted, week after week. And yet we stayed because of fear, fear that if we left something bad would happen to us. 
Finally after some time, we felt like we could no longer handle the atmosphere and temperament of the “Ministry”, we decided that we had to go. It was a very devastating and monumental decision. We would be leaving our “family”, people we had known and loved for over 20 years, we would be leaving the ministries that we had been involved with for many years…but it was too painful to stay. Still wanting to do the right thing, we scheduled a meeting with the leadership to tell them of our decision, also letting them know that we would continue giving our tithes there until we found a new church home.

Let me just interject that many folks did not understand my late husband, he was a quiet man, but let me just say that he loved the Lord with all his heart, soul and mind and he always wanted to do things decent and in order. I must confess that if it was just me, I would have simply walked away and not be seen there again (though I know that was wrong), but even though my husband was afraid, even had his integrity questioned and his godly authority challenged from time to time, he said to me “Roni, we have to do it the way I believe God wants us to do it” and I agreed.  So we did it… scared, shaking in our boots.

I wish that I could tell you that the meeting went lovely and they sent us off with a hug and a blessing, but that would be false.  All I will say is, when we left we felt wounded and fearful as if we had been turned over for the enemy of our souls to have a heyday.  I hope I don’t sound bitter, because I am not. After feeling like we were wandering around in the desert for some weeks, with God’s help and healing we learned that God is a God of Love not fear. My husband and I sent letters and notes to the leadership to express that we held no bitterness or un-forgiveness and loved them still.
It has taken some time, with the Lord peeling and removing one layer at a time to get me to the place to REALLY understand that He REALLY loves me and that I must serve Him in love not fear. Even during my husband’s illness and subsequent passing, God finally convinced us that the sickness was not a result of us leaving that church. That in this life things happen, some we will never understand on this earth, but one thing for sure He LOVES us and does NOT want us to Fear Him, He’s our Father.

Why am I saying all this? Sometimes you just have to get it all out!  This was our experience and God has used it to make us stronger and closer to Him ( I say US because my late husband learned all this before he went Home).  Back then we thought we knew God, but instead we only knew what man told us He was. We were going by their portrayal instead of getting to know God for Himself, by reading His Word and spending quiet time with Him so that, yes you can give Him your request, but then He can speak back to you.   Understanding His Word so that we won’t let the misuse of scriptures like “Touch not God’s anointed…” be a fear tactic to silence opposition of wrong doing.
God is love, we cannot operate in fear and say that it is of God.

“Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”  John 8:36