Happy Hanukkah

pink rose menorah

A rose themed menorah to celebrate Hanukkah. To order one, visit this link. 

 

As “ever-blooming” roses, are you dedicated to letting your light shine? Keep in mind light shines brightest in the darkness. Fear not!

“Hanukkah” in Hebrew means “dedication” and is often referred to as the “Feast of Dedication” or “Festival of Lights”. Ironically, the only time Hanukkah is mentioned in the Bible is in the New Testament. Evidently, Jesus celebrated Hanukkah as it is referred to as a “Feast of Dedication” in the Gospel of John.

John 10:22-30 (NKJV)

22 Now it was the Feast of Dedication  in Jerusalem, and it was winter. 23 And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch. 24 Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. 26 But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one.”

 To learn more about Hanukkah, you could click here.
Happy Hanukkah!
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Activated Abilities

After relocating my struggling climbing rose known as ‘Florentina’, I discovered she simply needed to experience a new environment in order to grow into her full potential. Previously, Florentina was residing in a pot on my north facing balcony at the beach. However, after months of failing to produce even one bloom, I finally decided to transplant her to a sunny east facing garden bed within the condominium community I reside in (with permission of course). Although it has only been a few weeks since I relocated her, the conditions seem to be beckoning her to bloom. She has already produced numerous new leaflets and I assume in appropriate time, she will eventually put forth luscious layers of crimson colored petals.

activatedabilities

Upon meditating on such a enlightening transformation, I realized our God-given abilities react to whatever environment we find ourselves planted in. Put another way, depending on the environmental conditions, we may or may not manifest the spiritual DNA embedded deep within us. I’ll never forget the bizarre spiritual giftings that manifested in me when I started attending a small, but flourishing Spirit-embracing body of believers in 2008. Having been a believer in the saving grace of Jesus Christ since I was just a little girl, this was the first time I experienced such foreign abilities. In fact, I was always advised such “abilities” were not relevant in today’s modern, new and improved type of faith. Initially, upon experiencing such unexpected, unwanted, and frankly, at times, inconvenient abilities,  I was alarmed and unsure of what was unfolding within and from His Spirit buried in me. Nevertheless, I quickly discovered such manifestations were for the benefit of those around me as well as helped nurture my seed like faith.  Much like a rose blossoming for the first time, she may find herself reluctant to share such a sacred and beautiful gift, but in time, she will understand and therefore, willingly produce something beautiful to better bless those around her. As I saw others reaping the benefit of my flowers, the fragrance of Christ, and eventual fruit, I learned to not fear, nor to reject the spiritual DNA manifesting as crazy or ridiculous. Instead, I eventually chose to embrace my environment and the love emulating through such Spirit-scaped blooms or abilities.

Through the ongoing seasons, having been transplanted in different gardens of believers, even in the soil of different states, some familiar flowers have bloomed while different ones provided fresh opportunities of growth. Had I not been open to relocation or refused to allow new leaflets to bud out due to uncomfortable fear, I would have missed out on unique opportunities to love others all the while learning more about God’s loving nature!

If you hear the Master Gardener discussing plans of relocation, whether to a nearby sunny spot or distances far and wide, fear not! He may be creating an environment ideal for cultivating the beautiful rose He intended you to be… A rose ever-blooming in this abundant garden of life!

Garden Border Control

Creeping Charlie (Small)

Creeping Charlie {photo credit: unknown}

Today, I found myself performing the never ending task of weeding. In particular, an intruding vine, known as “Ground Ivy” or “Creeping Charlie”, knows no bounds as it constantly invades my rose beds.  Although it looks deceptively charming at first, Creeping Charlie will choke the life out of my roses and other plants if allowed. Hence, why I pulled out my knee pad and spent about 2 hours ripping this vine out as best as I could not to mention the persistent flock of dandelions and other unknown weeds in my urban garden. I’m not sure who sowed Creeping Charlie into my yard probably decades ago, but my goodness, what a headache! To help eliminate the encroaching yard from reaching my flower beds, the husband and I will soon be implementing a border control of sorts with old brick or stone (it’s still up for discussion as to which we can agree on).

brickborder

{photo credit: unknown}

So while the dirt compiled under my nails this morning, I thought about how necessary boundaries are in our lives as they define our roles, our responsibilities, and our way of life. Without boundaries or borders defining and describing such areas, both our garden and our world would be chaos. Boundaries not only define who we are, but they protect what we value most. A brick or stone border, a fence, a wall, laws, rules, and terms of an agreement, are all examples of boundaries. God’s word found in the Holy Bible provides boundaries to live by as well. Such boundaries, or written terms, are designed to define our roles and responsibilities as believers, who we are in Christ Jesus, and the way to life. By rejecting these Judeo-Christian boundaries, there are chaotic consequences – just look at the world around us or even your own life. I certainly suffered chaotic and unnecessary consequences when I didn’t abide by God’s boundaries. I’m sure you can think of a time or two you did as well. Clearly, without them, ungodly vines like Creeping Charlies can invade our hearts and homes choking out the life God intended for us. How important it is we learn to abide within Christ’s border control while eliminating the ungodly vines and weeds the world sows.

Delighted To Find You

After much researching and deliberation, I set out to find a specific rose of particular beauty and fragrance known as “Double Delight”. As I slowly perused the rows of selection at a local nursery, I was disappointed to not find the rose I had my heart set on. Nevertheless, I lingered about intrigued by the variety of colors and scents displayed before me. Upon walking up and down the aisles, I decided to look a little more carefully just beyond the arrangement of roses for sale. To my utmost surprise and delight, there was my desired rose hiding in a dark, forgotten corner. She was the last one left, wrapped up in bare root form, just waiting to be redeemed. Upon finding this rose known as “Double Delight” and redeeming her as my very own rose, I experienced double delight indeed!

double delight

“Double Delight” {photo credit: unknown}

Did you know, the Spirit of the Lord searches for those He desires? He long-suffers, patiently pursuing us with the desire to redeem us, heal us, transform us. He’s not afraid to reach into the dark, overlooked corner we’ve been hiding in. He sees beauty in us no other can possibly see. He longs to adopt us into His collection of fragrant roses because He knows in time, we will dispense a unique fragrance of love into a hurting city of barrenness. Once we are found and come into His kingdom, Jesus tells us in Luke 15, all of heaven rejoices over such a delightful find! If I delighted in finding such a rose, surely, He doubly delights in finding you!

A Sucker or a Rose?

You probably are familiar with the parable of the wheat and tares found in Matthew 13, where Jesus warns that His true followers are like the wheat of a field whereas others who follow the world and may even appear to the naive as Christ’s followers, but aren’t, are the tares, which is another word for weeds. Wheat and tares grow side by side and look very similar until they are fully mature and ready to be harvested. If the tares are weeded out of the field or world early on, it may cause the wheat not to mature. Therefore, at the end of the age, there will be a harvest. At such a harvest, the tares or weeds will be destroyed from Earth through burning, while the wheat will be stored safely in God’s barn.

sucker

{photo credit: Hanford Rose}

Many rose bushes you buy at local home improvement stores and nurseries are grafted onto a hardy, vigorous root stock. If you see a knot at the base of a rose, this is called a “bud union” where the two plants are united. Once planted, below the ground is the hardy root stock. Above the ground is the bush you selected for it’s color, fragrance, disease resistance, etc. Sometimes, what’s known as a “sucker” grows up out of the ground alongside the rose bush you purchased. The sucker is a separate cane that has manifested from the root stock. The sucker often looks similar at first to the rose bush you bought – after all, it is still a rose cane. Eventually, as both the sucker and the intended rose bush develop, the gardener will realize the sucker is indeed a very different bloom than the one they bought. If one is new to rose gardening though, it would be easy to assume the sucker is in fact a normal part of the rose bush until both mature. It is then, one will clearly be able to differentiate the two just like the reapers could in the parable of the wheat and tares. Once the gardener determines the difference, the sucker must be removed.

How about you? Are you a glorious rose in God’s garden or are you a look-alike sucker that will eventually be removed?

Fighting With The Wind

Yesterday, the strong winds violently shook my solid holly tree, whipped my small garden flag, and swirled my hair all around me as I took out the garbage. Today, a gentle breeze soothes my roses from the warmth of the Spring Sun. And as the bees buzz around searching for new buds and the butterfly flutters, they fight with the wind. Meanwhile, the roses sway in the motion of the wind as if relaxed by it’s movement.

Peace.4thofJuly.web

Peace with Fourth of July in background

I wonder why it is we all too often fight with the wind for the wind signifies the Spirit of God. Jesus informs us God is Spirit and where it comes from and where it goes we cannot easily determine. We can only do so by listening to the sound of it (see John 3:3-8). Christ teaches much depth in such analogies, but one could decode the importance of listening for the Voice of His Spirit  or His Wind in order to follow Him wherever He blows. Furthermore, we cannot see His Holy Spirit as the Jews could see His flesh, but we can see the effects of Him blowing around us, in us, and through us. Do you fight the sound of His wind as a struggling insect or do you welcome it like a relaxed rose? What does His Wind sound like to you? What does He look like in your garden? Life is too short to fight with the wind.

Getting Dirty For God

bareroootsoakingUpon letting the roots of my newly purchased bare root rose soak in a bucket of water for approximately 24 hours, I decided to recruit my 11 year old son in helping me plant it. Although willing to help me out, my son was not keen on getting his hands too dirty. After all, his hands prefer Legos and videos games. Nevertheless, I figured he could use the sunshine and learn a thing or too in the process. After choosing the desired area of where I wanted to plant my new rose, we saturated the ground to make the digging easier while also testing the drainage of soil. My son and I then took a few turns plunging the shovel in the dirt till we reached the width and depth we needed. By this point, we were ready to transplant the bare root rose from being in the bucket filled with water to it’s permanent home in the ground. Because the ground was reasonably muddy, I put on pink rubber gloves to protect my freshly painted nails. Apparently, even I don’t like to get my hands too dirty!

I proceed to create a mound of soil in the shape of a pyramid within the hole so I could rest the rose on top of the mound while sprawling it’s roots out as best as possible for optimal growth. barerootplanted.webWhile holding the rose in one hand, or glove I should say, I used the other to pack the dirt around the roots as well as the dirt around the base of the rose till she was firmly secure. Overall, the process of planting our newly adopted rose was a success, but we sure did make a muddy mess.

Many days later, I reflect on how we as Christians often like the beauty of our Christian traditions and concepts much like we enjoy the beauty of roses or the idea of a lovely garden. pinkdirtygloves.webHowever, we don’t usually like to be too inconvenienced by getting our hands dirty. It’s far easier to be comfortable in our faith journey or to be what I call “convenient Christians” than followers of Christ willing to follow Him all the way to our own cross and eventual resurrection. More often we prefer to stand around like my son and watch others get dirty for God. Or if we do take the plunge, we set limits on our love by wearing gloves so the depth of our devotion doesn’t stain our nails, alter our appearance, or even transform us.And yet, Christ’s devotion willingly took the depth of a few nails to remove our sinful stains with the hopes we’d be firmly rooted in His garden.

Ground-Covering or Ground-Breaking: Which Are You?

Peach.drift.web

Peach Drift is about 1.5 feet high by 2 to 3 feet wide. Although, some of my drift roses’ canes reach nearly three feet high.

As the warm Spring air awakened my senses, I decided to spend sometime addressing the garden beds my ground-covering drift roses call home. Kneeling on my padded garden mat, I ever so delicately cleared away the dead leaves that found themselves entangled within the canes of these low to the ground roses. While slowly and carefully clearing away the fallen leaves, random trash, and overgrown weeds from tight places so close in between the rose canes and the dirt, the Holy Spirit gently pointed out to me how these little wandering roses were being smothered and held down partly by the dead leaves embedded in their canes, partly by the proximity of the rose being too low to the ground, and partly by the weeds that encamped these drift roses. Similarly, how easy it is to become small roses “drifting” through life by hanging onto burdensome leaves like offense or by allowing enormous life sucking weeds like negative people, places, or things to stunt our growth. Thankfully, when Jesus, as our Master Gardner, kneels down besides us, reaches in our mess, and starts to slowly clear the debris, we can start to see the truth of our ugly realities, who He is, and who we are in His beautiful garden more clearly. When we start to accept the truth of our own captivity and how we got there, while letting God’s Spirit get in our dirt, we will no longer be ground-covering roses painfully drifting through this garden called life. Instead, we will be ever-blooming and ever-growing roses breaking new ground!