Saturday, March 31, 2012

Don't Waste Your Trials

Photo by PatriciaEGreen
Just read Don't Waste Your Cancer by John Piper. You can download this free Christian resource (it's an 18 page booklet) here. It was written by Pastor John Piper on the eve of his prostate cancer surgery.

When I first read the title I was a bit shocked. It seemed insensitive. But usually John Piper's writing inspires, enlightens or encourages me in my Christian walk so I decided to read it, thinking more about whether I would use it as a resource for others than for myself but it turns out that I benefited from it after all.

When reading this booklet you could replace "cancer" with any affliction/trial that you are personally facing so it really applies to all Christians. I've been having some health challenges (not as serious as cancer) so I replaced "cancer" in the reading with "health challenges" and there were some eye openers for me. I hope if you read the booklet that you will be encouraged and challenged in your Christian faith. If you would like me to pray for you I'd be glad to do so. Just comment below or email me at

May God bless you and may you feel His loving presence in your life today.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Fresh Spring Flowers: This Week in My Maryland Yard

Spring is my favorite time of the year and this has been an exceptionally great week for flower gardening. I took this picture of our first iris bloom of 2012 two days ago just after a rain. God willing, we'll have blue, purple and yellow irises following in the next few weeks.

 A walk around the yard this morning revealed our first azalea bloom of 2012. You can see a bunch of buds promising more flowers soon. This bush is on our sunny side yard. We have three azaleas in our shady back yard and they have buds but no blooms yet.

I love violets but my husband thinks they're weeds. If you love violets please comment below so I can show him others appreciate them too and maybe he'll let more of them live!

Remember photo from a couple weeks ago when the bleeding heart foliage was just pushing through the ground? As you can see in the photo above, the bleeding heart plant is blooming freely now.

Our Virginia blue bells are just starting to flower.

My beloved husband may not like violets but he likes these purple African daisies because he bought three pots of them last week to brighten our front walkway.

This week hubby also purchased and planted this nifty fringe petaled gebera daisy. We still have a lot of weeding to do, mulch to lay, seeds to plant and more but I find when I focus on the beauty of the flowers (instead of all the work that still needs to be done) I enjoy our garden a lot more. The flowers God created are beautiful and they bring joy to my soul. May God bless you today and always!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Cherry Blossom Dog

Photograph by Ben Wheeler
Turns out my husband was disappointed that I didn't post his cherry blossom dog photographs so, not being one to disappoint my husband, and in hopes that you'll get a big smile (fitting in with the joy part of my blog's theme), here you go. He shot these pictures near the Tidal Basin in Washington DC, close to where the Cherry Blossom Festival is held. It appears that the dog's tail was actually dyed pink; however, the dog didn't seem to mind and was happily prancing down the sidewalk. Not knowing the dog's actual name, I call it the Cherry Blossom Dog because its tail matches some of the more pink blooms. I loved that its leash was also pink. Of course, I love pink anyway.

Photograph by Ben Wheeler
Hope you enjoyed my beloved's Cherry Blossom Dog photos. May God bless you and keep you this spring and always, dear friends!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happy Spring! Floral Photos: This week in My Maryland Yard

Happy spring, dear readers! I took all of these photos today on this first day of spring, 2012. Can you believe our first tulip is blooming today? It seems so early but I don't mind at all. I think this is an Angelique tulip. We saw them in the U.S. National Arboretum and had to try them in our yard. The Arboretum's were much taller and pinker but it's still neat to have them in our own yard.

Here's a lovely  primrose with raindrops on its petals.

We do have forsythia in our yard but no sweet gum trees and I thought the combination was uniquely beautiful. The photo was taken on my "celebrating the first day of spring" walk today. I thought about changing the title of the post to "This Week in My Maryland Neighborhood" but because "This Week in My Maryland Yard" is a regular blog feature I kept with the tradition.

 This is a neighbor's bi color daffodil. We have some of these too but theirs looked better.

And this is the same tulip as the first picture only I cut it, popped it in a tiny vase and added it to my inspirational arrangement on my dining room table. It's amazing how changes in light, location and angle can make a flower look so different. We'll have more tulips outside but I wanted one inside to symbolize and celebrate this first day of spring. May God bless you this springtime and always dear friends!

"Love Finds A Home" Book Review

Enjoyed this lovely "heartwarming inspirational romance" story by Kathryn Springer. It's the second in her Mirror Lake series (I enjoyed the first one too). I read this on Sunday both on the way to and from viewing the Washington DC cherry blossoms and finished it up last night. I read a lot of these Love Inspired books but I don't always review them. What stood out as special to me about this book were two quotes that  I'll share them with you.

On page 43 the heroine's friend points out "When God gives you a gift, it's part of His plan." I've been blessed in so many ways and I am very thankful. There are a few gifts I have that I'm not sure how God wants me to use them but this reminds me to keep my eyes open for God given opportunities.

On page 100 the hero's youth pastor brother reminds him that "We're both under divine construction." This is true for all Christians. As long as we're here on this earth, God is working on our hearts, minds and souls. We aren't perfect and we never will be on this side of heaven. That's ok. That's not an excuse to be sinful but it is a very freeing observation. Confess any sins and move on. Let's get out of God's way and let Him work his divine will in our lives. May God bless you!

Note: I borrowed this book from my local library and have no material connection with anyone or thing mentioned in this article (although I do envision myself publishing a Christian romance novel in the future).

Monday, March 19, 2012

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms and Monuments Photos

Jefferson Memorial Photo by Phyllis Wheeler
The Washington DC Tidal Basin cherry blossoms are beautiful and appearing very early this year. My beloved husband and I enjoyed a visit yesterday. The skies were overcast but we hope to visit again on a sunnier day and get better photos. Just in case we don't I thought I'd share these.

Washington Monument Photo by Phyllis Wheeler
If you live within driving distance it's really a great treat to see this area in full bloom. The National Park Service coordinates parking and even offers a shuttle from some of the more distant areas so people don't have to walk for an hour just to get to the Tidal Basin area but even the parking area is filled with blooming cherry trees so it's not a bad way to pass the time (walking amidst the trees to get to the main attraction) if you're healthy and fit.

Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Photo by Ben Wheeler
My husband caught a rare glimpse of blue sky in this photo. Today would be a perfect day for viewing the blooms as the skies are a beautiful blue but Ben is working and the housework won't do itself. I still got to enjoy some cherry blossoms in my own neighborhood though and that was a nice treat. May God bless you and may you enjoy the fruits of His handiwork!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Hilarious Happy St. Patrick's Day Cat Photos

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone! These are our 2010 funny cat photos for St. Patrick's Day. I decided to post them here because this blog didn't exist in 2010 and the first photo is my favorite feline St. Patrick's Day photo I've ever taken. You can see our 2011 photos here. We had little leprechaun hats for the cats this year.

 Hope you enjoy the photos and have a wonderful holiday weekend!

May God bless you and may you be a blessing to others!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Funny St. Patrick's Day Cat Photos

I'd originally planned to set up a little photo area for our cats' 2012 St. Patrick's Day photo session but they were mellow last night and I seized the opportunity to dress them up (they know they get treats afterward and don't seem to mind these sessions). Here was the first step - adding the leprechaun hat.
 Next came the St. Patrick's day necklace.

 And a package of glittery shamrocks.

 Happy St. Patrick's Day from Moose, our elderly cat.

Happy St. Patrick's Day from Baby, our junior (but full grown) cat.  Hope you enjoyed our funny feline St. Patrick's Day photos. May God bless you with a fun and blessed St. Patrick's day!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Banana Cream Health Smoothie Recipe

This tasty yet healthy smoothie was creamy, sweet tasting, filling and energizing. It kept me full for a good four hours. The Amazing Berry Banana Smoothie is still a favorite but it's fun to try new recipes.  This morning's smoothie is pictured above on my dining room table with my $5 bromeliad plant and Love is a Verb, one of my 12 Great Books for 2012 selections.

Please note that I tend to just throw stuff in the blender so my quantities are estimates. Also I like my smoothies more liquid than thick so if you like yours thick use less water.

Banana Cream Health Smoothie
  • 2 cups leafy greens (I used a 50-50 blend of spinach and field greens today)
  • 1 1/2 cups water (divided)
  • 1 medium-large banana 
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 scoop Vegalite vanilla pea and rice vegan dietary supplement (powder) by Thorne Research (or your favorite vanilla flavored smoothie powder)
Put ingredients in blender using 1 cup of water. Pour remaining 1/2 cup water over powder in blender. Blend until completely smooth. Enjoy immediately (add ice if you like).

I'd love to hear what you think if you try it!
Note: I have no material connection with any of the products mentioned in this (or any) post unless I specifically state said connection. I'm just sharing things that work for me.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Floral Signs of Spring: This Week in My Maryland Yard

My husband bought the brightly colored annual flowers (above) this past week and popped them in a pot to brighten our front yard.

 Periwinkle (aka vinca) are in full bloom all over the shady areas of our yard (as you can see we didn't quite rake all the leaves up yet but I think it makes the bright green stand out even more so it's all good).

This isn't technically a good photo but I like how the daffodil seems to glow. It's a cream petaled daffodil with a yellow center.

Crocuses have been blooming for weeks so I'm not sure how much longer they'll be blooming this year. We've planted some crocus bulbs in our lawn and won't mow over them until the foliage has time to die back and rejuvenate the bulbs for next year's blooms.

 Tulip foliage pokes through the soil (and the bare soil reminds me that we need to lay down some mulch in the flower beds).

Old fashioned bleeding heart foliage bursts through the soil. It won't be too long until the bush is 2-3' high and blooming with it's lovely pink and white flowers.

It really looks and feels like spring here in Maryland. I even went barefoot outside for a few  minutes today. I absolutely love spring! May God bless you this springtime and always!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge Photos

Heron in Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge
Photograph by Phyllis Wheeler
This weekend we visited Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge for the first time because we'd heard about their 12th annual Eagle Festival on the radio on the morning of the event. The festival was fun and we took advantage of the free admission to tour the refuge as well. As you can see above we spotted a beautiful wild heron. I always feel so blessed when seeing these majestic birds.

Scenic vista in Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge
Photograph by Phyllis Wheeler
We enjoyed walking and driving around the beautiful park and were really thrilled to spot two wild eagles circling above us.

Bald Eagle in Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge
Photograph by Ben Wheeler
The eagles were really high up in the sky so the photo above was the best we could get with our current lenses but if we get a larger zoom lens we'll likely go back for some better shots. Still, this is a nice memento of our fabulous day in the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. May God bless you with something near and dear to your heart, dear reader.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Eagle Festival Photos

One winged female bald eagle
Photo by Phyllis Wheeler

This morning my husband heard about the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge's 12th annual Eagle Festival and we decided to check it out. We had a great time and saw this one captive eagle (above) who was wounded in a fight with another bird as well as four wild eagles (two in the refuge and two just outside). In addition to eagles we viewed four different kinds of owls, a hawk and a vulture. There was also an assortment of preserved animals on display. I felt really bad for the one winged eagle. She really didn't seem to like being on display but it was quite amazing to get so close to the beautiful animal. You can see what other activities and displays were available here.

Asian eagle owl
Photo by Ben Wheeler
Screech owl
Photo by Phyllis Wheeler
The owl handlers were really patient. The Asian eagle owl was superbly trained and the poor screech owl was brain damaged but on the positive side, it didn't seem to care that people were crowding around it and taking photos.

Next year, God willing, we're going to bring binoculars so we can better view the wild eagles. What a blessing it was to see these amazing creatures up close. May the God of all peace reign in your heart today!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Pink, Yellow and White Blooms: This Week in My Maryland Yard

I started a This Week in My Maryland Yard tradition last year on a different website. Now that I have my own blog it seems right to share my flowers with you here. I hope you enjoy them. It's early in the growing season but a quick walk around my yard showed definite signs of spring. The first primrose blooms of the year light up a shady area, daffodils brighten up the curb and hellebores (also known as Lenten roses) bring color underneath our largest lilac and rose of Sharon bushes. Spring is such a joyful time. I feel like God is showering us with his artistic love when viewing the beautiful blooms. May you feel His loving presence in your heart today!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Authentic Relationships Book Review and Quotes

Authentic Relationships: The Lost Art of One Anothering was one of my 12 Great Books to Read in 2012 selections and it was a great read. There were many good reminders and even some new thought provoking ideas as well as some solid calls to action for people looking to have stronger, authentic relationships. While reading nonfiction books I tend to use an index card to note the pages I want to come back to for my book notes upon completion of the text and this book's great ideas filled both sides of my index card. Here are some of the best quotes from the book.

p. 30 “[God] wants to set you so free in his love that it spills out of you and touches others...One anothering is not some onerous chore, but the joy of sharing God’s life, not only with his people but also with a world captive in darkness.”
 p. 40 “Hurting people do stupid things. Usually the more stupidly they act, the deeper their pain. When someone lashes out at me or treats me with contempt, I am tempted to respond in kind. When I realize, however, that people who do such things are in incredible pain themselves, it helps me to be patient with them , hoping that my love and gentleness might open a door for their healing."

p 53 “If we learn to love one another, we will need nothing more. We won’t need commitment, we won’t fall victim to expectations, and we won’t be disappointed when others don’t do for us what we have done for them. God’s love demands nothing in return.”
 p 71 “In a culture where most people are looking out for number one, random acts of kindness stand out as brightly as a lighthouse on a moonless night.”
 p 76 “Our life in Jesus, or the lack of it, is demonstrated by our compassion for people in need. He looks at those actions exactly as if we are, or are not, doing them for him. His compassion is 
contagious. Once we have experienced it from his hand, there is no way we can hold it to ourselves.”
 p 83 “‘Serving one another in love’ marks the transition from being slaves to the law to living in the Spirit.”
 p 92 “‘Whom can I encourage today?’ is a question we all can ask every day. When you know you are going to spend some time with someone, ask God what you might say or do that would help that person experience a touch of God’s grace.”
 p 94 “Your demeanor, thoughts, or simple affection can rescue people from their own anger, ego, or selfishness and free them to live on a higher plane in the life of Jesus.”
 p 96 “Stimulating people to love and good deeds does not happen by picking at their failures or by pushing them to try harder; it happens by helping them draw closer to Jesus.” 

p 114 “Picture talking to God like a five-year-old crawling into her daddy’s lap and sharing with him her hurts, frustrations, wants and needs. It doesn’t matter of she makes a mistake or is unsure of what to say; he already knows her heart and is thrilled to have the moment with her.”

I guess the main idea of the book is that we need to take time to truly understand and bask in God's boundless, deep and eternal love for us and then we'll be naturally overflowing with love for others. My prayer for both you and I, dear reader, is that we will do just that. May the love of our gracious Lord flow through you today!

One Anothering Bible Verses

After reading "Authentic Relationships: Discover the Lost Art of One Anothering" by Wayne & Clay Jacobsen, I knew I'd like a list of the bible verses referenced. The authors kindly list the verses and the relevant portion of the text on pages 10-11 but I thought it'd be neat to have it as a jpeg that could randomly pop into my computer's screen saver and figured I should post it here in case some of you wanted that too (feel free to use it for personal reasons). I'm still learning how to use paint. If you have any tips or can recommend a quick and easy read for mastering it I'd appreciate the information. Remember that God already loves you beyond measure - keeping that in mind sure helps me throughout the day. May God bless you and deepen your love for Him and your fellow humans! 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Happy March Haiku

Photograph by Phyllis Wheeler

Happy March Haiku
March brings spring blessings
Green starts to fill the landscape
Happy March dear friend!

Hadn't written any haikus in a while and then was suddenly inspired to write nine last night and one this morning. God is good!

I love spring. I know it's not technically spring yet but it feels like it is and I'm thankful. I took this photo this past weekend on a walk with my beloved husband and am looking forward to some walks that include cherry blossoms later this month. May God bless you during the lovely month of March and always!