We had a lovely afternoon at the Chicago Botanical Garden. The flowers were in bloom in the conservatories. Lovely wreaths adorned the walls. Poinsettias lined the displays and were hanging from the ceiling! A variety of trains were on display as a Christmas exhibit. The miniature trains travel on tracks through scenes of Chicago.
It is December in Illinois, and throughout our neighborhood there are winter decorations.
We have a wreath on our door.
My display of angels celebrating the birth of Jesus is in our foyer.
We have had two snowstorms and to my surprise the calendula flower has two buds. It may still bloom! I love this flower.
Are you discouraged by the conflicts and moray decay all around us? I am. The study of the book of Acts is giving me hope. I am glad that this book was chosen for the fall Precept Bible study.
Sometimes political issues stir my emotions. Can political action groups solve the problems? They may have a place, but the problems in our country are spiritual.
It is not wrong to stand up for a point of view—in fact we must pursue truth. Every life is valuable. God designed marriage as one man and one woman. This truth comes from the word of God.
As I spend time studying the Bible, I realize that God’s plan of salvation is woven through the scriptures and this message is most important. The gospel changes hearts. The apostles spoke about Jesus:
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12
The apostles and early church were focused on the message of the gospel. Even when persecution began they prayed for boldness.
And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness. Act 4:29
Followers of Jesus, the church, have a specific role for this time. We are called to be a witness for Jesus Christ. Through our words, our attitudes and actions we have a responsibility to have a message that points to Jesus and salvation. Sometimes we fall short. We need to be in the Word, in prayer and dependent on the Holy Spirit. Jesus has given the Holy Spirit to be our helper.
I know that I am more sensitive to the Holy Spirit when I am studying my Bible, spending time in prayer and joining in fellowship in my home church. These are necessary activities. I encourage you to embrace these practices.
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God, among those who are being saved, and among those who are perishing. 2 Corinthians 2: 14-15
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank-you for completing the plan of salvation. Thank-you for forgiving my sins and giving us your Word. Guide me by the Holy Spirit to be a witness for you.
Linking with Thought Provoking Thursday, WholeHearted Wednesday, A Little R & R, Titus 2sday, Hope in Every Season, Words with Winter, Sharing His Beauty, Sunday Stillness, Grace & Truth and Faith Filled Friday
In recent years I have been charmed by the benefits of a flower that has a long history. According to the Complete Herbal Book: This sunny little flower—the “merrybuds” of Shakespeare—was first used in Indian and Arabic cultures, before being “discovered” by the ancient Egyptians and Greeks.*
The medicinal qualities of calendula are listed: Calendula flowers contain antiseptic, antifungal and antibacterial properties that promote healing.*
This year I bought some heirloom seeds from Select Seeds—Art Shades Calendula and Orange King Calendula. Both are growing in my garden.
Calendula is an edible flower, and the dried the petals of this flower have been called poor man’s saffron. I dry my calendula flowers by placing them on cheesecloth or a paper towel over a drying rack.
It takes approximately 2 weeks for the flowers to dry in room air. Then I place them in an airtight canning jar for use throughout the year.
Calendula flowers make a healthy tea. Tips for a variety of ways to benefit from calendula tea are posted at thenerdyfarmwife.com. Be sure to note the caution mentioned for use during pregnancy. Calendula salve is another way to make use of the flowers. It is fairly easy to make. You can find my process here.
Update: My flowers have continued to bloom well into the fall of 2017. More recipes for this special flower are appearing on-line. Vintage Remedies has a simple recipe for calendula & coconut oil salve.
Every couple days I pick the blossoms, but when I am not fast enough they go to seed. The seeds can be saved for next year’s flowers.
The curved seeds with a bumpy surface are released from the dried flower head. It is possible for the plant to self-seed for the following year, but that hasn’t worked well in my garden. I plant the seeds outside in the early spring.
Mary’s Heirloom Seeds has an article about the benefits of calendula.
Another source for calendula seeds is Pinetree Garden Seeds.
If you don’t have calendula in your garden but would like to add it to your stock of helpful herbs, you can order a package of dried calendula from The Bulk Herb Store.
*McVicar, Jessica, The Complete Herb Book, Kyle Cathie Limited: London, 1994. p. 56-57.
When the grandchildren come to my home they like to pick berries and flowers. I name the various berries and tell them a little about them. We talk about which berries are safe to eat.
The flowers have names too. The granddaughters have enjoyed picking stalks of flowers— tiny white stars covering a stem that is shaped like a shepherd’s crook—from the front of my yard. This plant has a funny name, gooseneck loosestrife. I bought this plant as a perennial and had no idea how aggressively it would spread. I have to set boundaries and uproot it when it wanders, kind of like a shepherd managing his sheep.
I encourage the girls to look at the herbs in my herb garden. A few days ago we all munched on a leaf from chocolate mint, giving opinions about the flavor.
This is my opportunity to share a love of nature, enjoying the world God has created. Together we delight in the bright flavor of a currant berry or raspberry. We see a new flower with wonder. As a grandparent (and retired nurse) I feel blessed in having this time–finding it easier to pause to see than when my children were little.
What a desolate place would be a world without flowers? It would be a face without a smile; a feast without welcome.—Are not flowers the stars of earth?—And are not our stars the flowers of heaven? Clara Lucas Balfour (1808 – 1878)
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; Praise him in the heights! Praise him sun and moon, Praise him all you shining stars! Let them praise the name of the Lord! For he commanded and they were created.
Psalm 148: 1, 3, 5