Seeing God’s Artistry in the Fall Colors

My grandson and I were looking out of the dining room window at the trees. The leaves were changing color. “See the linden tree—the leaves are turning yellow.”

My grandson said, “But look at that tree. Its leaves are bronze.”

In the distance we could see a tree with orange leaves. I explained what I knew. In the fall the chlorophyl  in the leaves diminishes as the days shorten and temperatures drop.

Other questions arose in my mind. Why do the leaves of some trees turn yellow, others bronze, orange or red? Why are the colors so rich and vivd this year?

The Old Farmers Almanac has answers.

 . . . pigments, carotene (yellow) and anthocyanin (red), exist in the leaf all summer but are masked by the chlorophyll which helps plants absorb sunlight. (The browns in autumn leaves are the result of tannin, a chemical that exists in many leaves, especially oaks.) 

In general, a wet growing season followed by an autumn with lots of sunny days, dry weather, and cold, frostless nights will produce the most vibrant palette of fall colors. This vividness is especially true of red leaves, such as those on sugar maples and red maple trees.

This year we are blessed with an array of colors: rich red, flaming yellow and orange, bronze with a back drop of evergreens. God’s artistry in the design of trees.

Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth.

He will judge the earth in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness. Psalm 96: 12b-13 ESV

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Learning and Teaching Patience

Patience is a virtue, worth cultivating in ourselves and our children.

Some years ago I read an article by Pamela Druckerman that extolled the way French parents teach their children to wait. In her article, Why French Parents Are Superior, Druckerman pointed out that children who have learned patience are more content and better behaved.

My senses were awakened to the virtue of practicing and teaching patience.

It pleases me to watch my daughters as they make good choices in parenting. When I am talking with my daughters on the phone, invariably a child may want their attention. They calmly inform the child “I am talking to Grandma. When I am finished I can help you.”

It is good for children to practice waiting.

One daughter has six children and the youngest is two years old. This little guy is aware that I often have some lollipops in my purse. If I stop by for a visit in the morning he runs to me with a big hug, and then he asks me, “Did you bring your purse? Do you have lollipops?” 

When tell him, “yes I have lollipops”, I explain that he must wait until after lunch. He is satisfied.

Gardening provides practice in patience for me and for the grandchildren. We plant seeds and water them, waiting for the appearance of stem and leaves. Then we wait for flowers to bloom, for tomatoes to appear and ripen, for raspberry bushes to bear fruit.

The Bible has a message about waiting.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.

It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Lamentations 3: 22-26

In our walk of faith we are encouraged to develop patience.

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community. The prompt that stimulates our thoughts today is: WAIT

Active & Steadfast Faith

So many things can cause me to worry—illness, divisive politics, concerns about friends and family, goals not met. Do I live in fear or do I hold fast to God with faith?

The book of Joshua in the Old Testament lays out great examples of active faith. Today I was reading about Caleb. Caleb was one of the twelve men that Moses sent to spy out the promised land.

Caleb had faith that they could enter the land and fight for it. God would give them victory. But ten of the men were afraid of the descendants of Anak, described as giants. Fear settled on Israel like a mist. As a result 40 years would pass in the wilderness before Caleb would enter the promised land. I wonder how those years went for Caleb. Forty years is a long time to be patient. Caleb was steadfast.

Caleb was with Joshua when they entered the land and took possession (as God promised). God was with them in the battles.

When the land was being divided and given to each tribe, Caleb reminded Joshua that he had been promised land for himself and his descendants. At the age of 85 he offered to win the hill country from the Anakim—the same area of land that he had seen 45 years before. He was ready to fight the giants. Steadfast faith.

Caleb’s example speaks to me. He actively listened to God. He believed God and was ready to act. He endured 40 years of waiting patiently, steadfastly. At the right moment he was victorious at Hebron.

The good news is that when we are listening to God, willing to act, he helps us. Our faith is molded by prayer, Bible study, obedience to God’s word. We receive encouragement in community with other believers.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

This post is linked with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: ACTIVE

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A Call to People of Faith for the Sake of the Children

Attorney General Bill Barr gave a speech to the law school at the University of Notre Dame on October 11, 2019. In that speech he said:

“For anyone who has a religious faith, by far the most important part of exercising that faith is the teaching of that religion to our children. The passing on of the faith. There is no greater gift we can give our children and no greater expression of love.”

Barr went on to explain that our schools are interfering. It is true in Illinois. Legislation has been passed mandating that people who are/were LGBTQ and who have made contributions to society must be acknowledged along with their sexual preferences. Children in elementary school, beginning with kindergarten, will be exposed to sexual terms and behavior. 

Why must young children be exposed to every kind of sexual behavior? Is there no period of innocence for children any more? This takes away parental rights to teach about sexuality at the appropriate time.

The high school district that provided my children with an excellent education is now distracted with the issue of bathrooms and locker rooms. The school board is considering a policy that will give a transgender student (biologically male) full and open access to the girl’s locker room, shower and bathrooms.

How many girls feel comfortable sharing their dressing room with a biological male? Why should they? Ten years ago this would have been shocking. Why is this happening?

The attorney general observed:

One of the ironies, as some have observed, is that the secular project has itself become a religion, pursued with religious fervor.

The secular view of sexuality is now being forced on young people. This distracts from the real goal of a high school education—learning subjects and skills needed to achieve employment in our society. 

Unless we speak up, engage in events like the school board meetings, study the the candidates for public office and vote with wisdom, we will be swept away in a culture that is so damaging to the children growing up now.

The attorney general said:

They [Judeo-Christian moral standards] reflect the rules that are best for man, not in the by and by, but in the here and now. They are like God’s instruction manual for the best running of man and human society.

The full text of Attorney General Barr’s speech can be read here.

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One Sunday Morning in Albuquerque: Balloons and Roosters

The Balloon Festival in New Mexico is a great family activity. I was amazed to see so many people, so many family groups, strolling together at the Balloon Festival Park. It was a state fair like scene at 6:00 am. Parents were pushing strollers and pulling wagons as they walked past venders offering coffee, donuts, burritos, turkey legs and more. Brightly colored banners and souvenirs beckoned to the crowd. 

At 6:30 am the first balloons lifted off, and the air currents carried them into mist. Clouds were scattered throughout the sky.

At 7:00 am a soloist appeared on the bandstand and sang the Star Spangle Banner. As she finished singing flames soared from the hot air burners, and the crowd cheered.

Because of mist and fog (unusual for Albuquerque) the conditions were not optimal for the giant balloons, so only a few more lifted off. 

Still a multitude of the balloons were fully inflated and the crowds grouped around the various launching sites.  The Star Wars site was hugely popular.

Do you see Darth Vader?

Colorful balloons were interspersed with character balloons.

The following day, Sunday morning, we went to a hill that gave us a view of the balloons in the air. It was a beautiful clear morning and the sky was full of colorful balloons. We watched for favorite balloons we had seen inflated the day before.

By 9:30 am most of the balloons had landed and we went to church with our son and daughter-in-law. 

The sign for the church has a rooster on it and I asked my son what it meant.

He said, “Remember Peter and the rooster crowing after Peter denied knowing Jesus? Peter failed Jesus, but Jesus called him back and forgave him. We are all broken people.”

The call to worship was appropriate for the day.

Sing to God; lift up a song to Him who rides through the deserts. He ascended on high, leading a host captive in his train.

He who descended in humility is also He who ascended far above the heavens, that He might fill all things.

And He gave gifts to men, to equip the saints, for the building up of the body of Christ.

Let us therefore grow up in every way into Him who is the head, that the body may build itself up in love.

The pastor reminded us that we cannot reach up, cannot ascend by achievement to God. God, righteous and holy, is far above us. We may be in a wilderness, but God has descended to us through Jesus. Jesus came down and suffered and died on our behalf. We need only to accept the forgiveness and salvation that Jesus offers.

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The Value of a Critique

It is so nice to receive compliments and to have the good opinion of others. It is something that I desire. But what about criticism?

Recently I participated in leadership training. A coach critiqued the discussion that I led. For ten minutes I listened to the coach list things I could have approached differently or done better.

I listened quietly, but later I vented to my husband. “I think I got a B- instead of an A.” The next day I brought up the subject again.

My husband said, “Are you still on this topic?”

The criticism pointed me to ways that I could grow and improve. Why was it so hard for me to see that?

This experience reminded me of a critique that I received for a manuscript proposal. My proposal and first chapter was marked up. Only a few lines were unmarked. There were questions about the setting, my format and more. At the time it stung. I had to pause, and gradually I have seen a new approach to this project.

Listening requires active participation. When it includes hearing criticism it is difficult. Sorting through the criticism to see what is helpful is important (not all criticism is helpful).

Listen to advice and accept instruction that you may gain wisdom in the future. Proverbs 19:20 ESV

This post is linked with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: LISTEN