Queen of the Shade Garden

Along with our addiction to scrabble   –   (My Addiction Cost Me 27 Days in 2017)   –  my husband and I share a love of hostas.

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It started innocently enough.  We bought a house with a large above ground pool.  It was surrounded by lots and lots of concrete.  Concrete slab for the pool equipment and a large concrete slab with two ugly metal sheds.  There were no trees or flowers and very little grass in the back yard.

Since I hate getting water in my face in the shower, I was clearly not going to use the pool.  After one year of trying to keep the pool clean with all the time and money that required, my husband decided it was not worth it for the two or three times a month he would swim.

So – out with the pool and all that concrete!

Now what?

We decided to plant some hostas.  We had never grown hostas before but after my husband had planted so many trees in our background and it was very shady, it seemed like a good choice.

At first we had a small area of hostas under the trees next to the house.  But now it has grown until almost all of our back yard is filled with hostas.  The small patch of yard still left should be gone by the end of this summer as my husband is busy dividing the ones we have and transplanting them to other spots in the yard.

 

Hostas come in all sizes – from four-inch dwarfs to six-foot giants.  They come in different shades of green, blue and chartreuse.  During the summer they produce spikes of pink, lavender or white flowers.  While the flowers are beautiful, it is their foliage that makes them such a wonderful plant for the shade garden.

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Hostas came to America in the 1800’s from Korea, China and Japan.  Hostas are mentioned as early as the Han Dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD).  They are mentioned in Japan as early as 710 AD.  There were originally about 40 species from Asia but today due to selective breeding there are about 8,000 cultivars.

If you are looking for a plant that provides beauty year after year requiring little care and lots of variety in flowers and foliage, check out the hostas, Queen of the shade garden.

 

 

 

Are You Called?

God's call

As followers of Jesus Christ, we sometimes hear people speak about receiving a call from God.  Some are very certain they have received a call from God for a certain ministry or a certain job or even a certain place to live.

In the Bible we read of several dramatic calls of God.

There was Moses and the burning bush.

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Little Samuel who heard the voice of God calling him in the night.

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And the very dramatic call of Saul who was persecuting the church but became the Apostle Paul after his encounter with Jesus.

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Yet, for many who follow Jesus there has been no dramatic call, no definite word from God as to the vocation they should pursue.  For those who feel they have never had a definite moment when they sensed God leading them into an area of ministry, they sometimes feel as if they are second-class Christians, not as spiritual as those who have felt a definite “call of God.” 

There is clearly nothing wrong with those who have a clear “calling” from God.  But whether you ever have that “burning bush” moment, whether you ever know without a doubt what God has called you to do, you can rest assured God has called you.

Called you to what?

But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.  1 Peter 2:9

Peter tells us that we have been called to be a priest.  When we think about the duties of a priest, we must remember that Peter was writing this at a time before organized religion with its priesthood.  He would be thinking of the priesthood as defined in the Old Testament.  This subject, I confess, is beyond my own training and knowledge but looking at the Levitical priesthood and comparing that to our being priests I saw these similarities:

  •  In order to be a priest you had to belong to a certain family.  You had to be a descendent of their first priest Aaron.  As someone called to priestly work today, we also have to belong to a certain family.  And by belief in Jesus Christ, we do,

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.  John 1:12-13

  • Great emphasis was put on the Old Testament priest to be “holy.”  They could not come into the temple to administer the sacrifices without proper cleansing.  There would many rules about how they had to live and even dress.  So God has called us to live a pure life as we serve Him.

So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy.  1 Peter 1:14-15

  • Function of the priests were to serve both God and man.  This is what we all are called to do, regardless of whether we feel we have received a “special calling.”

When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  John 13:12-14

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.  Colossians 3:23

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.  Romans 12:1

So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.  1 Corinthians 15:58

I think these scriptures show us that whether we are a secretary, a fireman, a teacher, a doctor, a nurse, a stay-at-home mom, whatever  we are – we have a calling from God.

  • Serve others
  • Whatever your job, give it your very best as to the Lord
  • Live a life that is worthy of the name “Christian”

 

 

 

 

Denmark Vesey – Leader of Failed Rebellion

Hampton Park, Charleston, South Carolina.  What a beautiful place to visit.  Shady walks with old, old oak trees covered with Spanish moss.

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Beautiful pond with ducks and a fountain.

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But also a place of history.  I recently wrote about the first Memorial Day celebration in the park.

Former Slaves and the First Memorial Day Celebration

In exploring the park, we also found more history that was never in the history books in school.  We turned a corner in one of the walkways and there was a statue of a black man with a book under one arm and a bag of tools in his other hand.  Who was he and what was a statute of him doing in this beautiful park?

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Denmark Vesey, a self-educated slave who planned a massive rebellion.  In one hand is a Bible and a bag of carpenter tools is in the other.

Being history nuts, my husband and I could not walk away without knowing this man’s story.

Denmark Vesey was sold when just a young boy to a slaver captain, Joseph Vesey in 1781.  Assuming his master’s name, Denmark accompanied his master on several voyages before they settled in Charleston, South Carolina.

Denmark was able to purchase his freedom in 1800 and began working as a carpenter.  He taught himself to read and soon read about the Haitian slave revolt in the 1790’s.  He joined the newly formed African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1817 becoming a leader and preaching in his own home every week.  Whites in Charleston constantly monitored the meetings often disrupting services and arresting members.

Vesey preached from the Old Testament telling the story of the Israelites enslavement in Egypt and how Moses led them to freedom.

Frustrated because he was not allowed to purchase freedom for his family, unhappy with being a second-class citizen and knowing first hand the oppressive conditions of the slaves, he organized a revolt.  The plan called for the slaves to attack guardhouses and arsenals, seize their arms, burn and destroy the city and free all the slaves.

Scholars do not agree on how many blacks were actually involved in the planned rebellion but estimates say it could have been as many as 9,000.

Warned by a house servant, the rebellion was thwarted before it could begin.

Some 130 blacks were arrested with 35 hanged.  Vesey was one of those 35.

Angry whites burned the African church and resticted even further the few rights the slaves in Charleston had.

Vesey became a martyr for African-Americans and a symbol for the abolitionist movement.  The increased loss of freedom and added oppression of the slaves helped to continue to pull the country toward Civil War.

Former Slaves and the First Memorial Day Celebration

Hampton Park in Charleston, South Carolina, is a beautiful place to walk or just sit and enjoy the many flowers, trees and the fountain.  When we spent a few months in Charleston during the winter of 2016 we walked almost every day in the park.  At 60 acres, there are plenty of walkways.  Just six months out from a knee replacement surgery, I found it a great way to get some exercise to build up my physical strength, but also a wonderful place to just sit and reflect on God’s creation.

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But the park is also full of history.

Originally part of a plantation owned by John Gibbes, the portion that is now Hampton Park was purchased by the South Carolina Jockey Club and a race course was built.  Named the Washington Race Course, the one-mile loop is now a roadway that runs around the park.  Featuring some of the best horse racing in the South, it became the social event of the year during Race Week held every February.

During the Civil War it became a camp for Union prisoners of war.  At least 257 Union soldiers died at this location. Facing disease and the advance of the Union Army, Confederate guards hastily buried the dead in an unmarked mass grave.  Most white residents abandoned the city and it was ironic that the first troops to enter and march up Meeting Street was the 21st U.S. Colored Infantry.

Days later, free black residents and former slaves walked to the mass grave and reburied the Union soldiers in proper graves. Erecting a marker and a small fence around the burial ground they built a memorial arch which read:  “Martyrs of the Race Course.”

On May 1, 1865, black Charlestonians, many former slaves, along with white missionaries and teachers and Union soldiers staged a parade to the race course.  They laid flowers on the graves, listened to speakers of both races, and picnicked on the grass.

This celebration has been called by many America’s first Memorial Day. After the war, the as the cemetery suffered neglect, the soldiers’ bodies were again exhumed and buried in 1871 in South Carolina’s national cemeteries at Beaufort and Florence.

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Interesting that this celebration conducted by former slaves honoring the Union soldiers who died for their freedom has been buried in history and credit for this day of remembrance goes to others.

I would never have known of this Memorial Day celebration had we not walked in that park so full of history

And there’s more history there – but that calls for another blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Garden that Love Built

 

 

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In November 2001 my husband and I moved into our new home.  It had no trees or flowers anywhere on the property. In the backyard, a deck opened onto an above ground swimming pool.  The backyard was ugly and hot with lots of concrete and rock around the pool.  Two metal sheds sat on large slabs of concrete.  My husband, who loves flowers and trees wanted to get rid of the pool.  But I wanted to try to learn to swim so I convinced him to keep the pool for our first summer in the house.

The next summer I was only in the pool three or four times because every evening when I came home from work all I wanted to do was just lie down.  I was constantly exhausted.

In November 2002 we discovered why I was feeling so badly.  After a visit to the doctor and then a biopsy, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. A very aggressive cancer and my doctor told me the chances of my living ten more years were only 25 percent.

I have shared that story in other blogs:

Cancer Survivor

Coincidence or An Act of God?

I’m Still Beautiful!!!

That spring my husband took down the pool and began planting.  It was therapy for him and something he could do to be close to me for the days/weeks I was too weak to move from my bed.  He put a chair next to the patio doors and I would sit and watch him plant beautiful flowers and trees.  He said for every tree he planted, I would get another year of life.  Our property now has 34 trees!

My children teased me that they are going to come over and cut down some trees because he now has me up to almost 90 years of life.

oh no

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The yard has remained a work in progress.  Each year we said we have enough plants and each year we add more.

This is not only a beautiful garden – an oasis in our backyard, but it is a garden made with love.

 

 

 

On Being Self-Righteous

Confession time:

I recently became angry at my husband for what I perceived as displaying insensitive and rude behavior to me.

But then I was reminded by the Holy Spirit of my own actions earlier that week.  They might have been perceived by him as being insensitive and rude behavior.

Thinking on my actions vs. his actions, I realized I often excuse my own behavior while not allowing any excuses for others.

Ways in which I sometimes justify my own behavior when compared to others.

  • You are prejudiced/I have strong convictions
  • You are being defensive/I am just setting the record straight
  • You are stubborn/I stand firm for my principles
  • You are refusing to listen/I am just stating my opinion
  • You are yelling at me/I am just raising my voice to emphasize a point
  • You are lazy/I am just exhausted

I must remember the words of Jesus when He said:

Don’t criticize people, and you will not be criticized. For you will be judged by the way you criticize others, and the measure you give will be the measure you receive.”

 

God’s Promises for the “Old Folks”

As I wrote a few weeks ago, turning 70 was an emotional time for me.

I’m “Officially” Old!

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In sharing with one of my good friends, who recently also turned 70, we came up with some quotes about being old.  (Can’t claim these as originals.)

You know you are getting old when:

  • You used to do the shuffle; now you just shuffle along with the lost.
  • The twinkle in your eye is only the reflection of the sun on your bifocals.
  • You remember when you could refer to your knees as left and right instead of good and bad.
  • You can remember getting through a day without taking a picture of anything.
  • Your idea of a night out is sitting on the patio.
  • Most of the names in your address book start with “Dr.”

And the one thing I really love about growing old:

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I had to laugh at this one.  My granddaughter recently had a sleepover at our house.  When she comes over, she comes prepared for Grandma to do nothing but play with her.  I try to keep up with her but often find I need to excuse myself to use the bathroom.  At one point she asked so innocently,

Grandma, why do you go to the bathroom so much?

I just thought,

Someday you will know little one.

But in reading God’s Word I found some wonderful thoughts on how God views the older generation.  I love these.

Gray hair is a mark of distinction; the award for a God-loyal life.  Proverbs 16:31

That is why we never give up.  Though our bodies are dying, our inner strength in the Lord is growing every day. 2 Corinthians 4:16

But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted to the LORD’s own house.  They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green.  Psalm 92:14-14

I will be your God throughout your lifetime until your hair is white with age. I made you and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.  Isaiah 46:4

Not that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God. Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me.  Psalm 71:18

All my life I have been active working for the Lord in my church. You name it, I have probably done it. Worked in nursery, played the piano for worship, led the women’s ministry, organized kids klubs, taught Bible classes and even cleaned the toilet.  Now my age and energy have limited how much of that I can do.

Yet I have many more years and I want to still be of service to the Lord.  As I have sought the Lord for what He would have me do in this “last stage” of life, I found a new purpose – to be an encourager for the younger women who are now doing the work I used to do.

To pray for them and speak words of encouragement. To be there to offer advice (only if asked); otherwise to just let them know someone is in their corner cheering them on.

So I have discovered:

Sometimes you get to what you thought was the end….and you find it’s a whole new beginning.

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