I’m a faithful sky watcher. Whenever I’m outside, I’m looking upward. The sky holds so much beauty and wonder that I’m always astounded by what I see. One day, I gaze upon a striking blue canvas dotted with cottony tufts. Another day, smoky thunderheads drape the heavens like dark curtains ready to unfurl. Morning announces its presence with a spectacular display of light, and evening staves off the darkness by painting the horizon with glorious colors. Even the night sky sparkles with tiny diamonds.
As I stand amazed beneath the sky, I become more and more enchanted by the Creator of the heavens. The depth of the Lord’s artistic talent is limitless. Artists paint pictures on canvas, but God paints a masterpiece throughout the world. Every continent lies beneath a magnificent sky.
I walked into a warm breeze, enjoying the way it swished through my hair. The air felt pleasing as it flowed around me.
I thought about the way air affects us. We open our arms to gentle breezes. We smile as we walk into them. Cold frosty air causes a different response. We tuck into ourselves and turn our backs to the harsh wind. We look for places to hide from it.
People respond to the Lord the way they respond to wind. If they perceive the Lord as gentle and merciful, they open their hearts and walk toward him. If they perceive the Lord as cold and harsh, they turn their backs to him and close off their hearts.
Psalm 145 discusses the character of God the King. Verses 8 & 9 describe him as gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and full of love. He has compassion upon all of his creation.
This is the God I know so I open my heart to him and I walk toward him.
Do you perceive the Lord as a gentle breeze or a harsh wind? I encourage you to read Psalm 145 and then evaluate your perception.
To learn more about the wind check out these websites: weatherquestions.com; weatherdudes.com.
I love my Mexican petunia plants. Their trumpet-shaped purple blossoms dance along the edge of my lanai. My friend calls them happy plants. Each day, in late afternoon, all the flowers drop from the stems, but the next morning, fresh new blossoms appear.
Mexican petunias remind me of God's grace - it's new every morning. Just as the flowers of the petunia flutter to the ground at the end of the day, we can lay our sins down at the cross before we go to sleep. Then, the next day, as new petunia blossoms smile in the morning sunshine, we can smile as the light of a new day shines with forgiveness, grace and mercy.
Ask yourself: Do I follow the example of Mexican petunias? Do I release my sins and failures at the end of the day so I can begin a new day refreshed and cleansed by God's great mercy?
You can read about Mexican petunias at www.Floridata.com or at www.southernliving.com
A Palm Tree
When I moved from NJ to FL, I wanted a palm tree in my yard. I went to a garden center and asked for a palm tree. The retailer asked, "What kind?" I stood there and stared at him. I thought a palm tree was a palm tree. He informed me that palms come in many varieties. They can be trees as well as shrubs. Their trunks can be smooth and slender or rough and criss-crossed like a pineapple. Their leaves range in shades of silvery green to deep forest green. I chose a queen palm because it looked like the image I had in my mind.
As I drove home, I noticed the many different kinds of palms around me. I thought about God's love of variety. Within every genus, he designed unique differences. There is amazing diversity within groups of trees, flowers, birds, fish and animals. If our Creator desired such variety in nature, he certainly designed us with uniquely wonderful characteristics.
We come in many sizes, shapes, colors and temperments. Our differences are qualities to be appreciated and admired. Our differences make our lives richer.
Let's challenge ourselves to value the qualities that make us individuals, because in each distinction we see the touch of our Heavenly Father's hands.
To learn more about palms visit www.sunpalmtrees.com and www.florida-palm-trees.com.
Psalm 100 reminds us to give thanks to the Lord for he is good. I witnessed a stunning example of God's goodness when I stepped outside at dawn. The sky above my streeet was surreal. Ripples of clouds formed a textured backdrop for a morning light show in shades of yellow, orange, pink and purple. My breath caught as I looked up. My heart filled with praise for the Creator of the sunrise. I wanted to shout for joy to the Lord.
Our wonderful God makes himself known in the physical world. Everything around us attests to his amazing design.
As we enter this week when we celebrate Thanksgiving Day, let's give thanks to the One who created everything for which we're thankful.
What fills you with a desire to give thanks?
You can learn what causes the colors of a sunrise at www.spc.noaa.gov.
Brilliant colors, orange red and golden yellow, dapple a clear blue skyline. Crimson bushes line the walkway. I snuggle into my jacket as brisk air chills my neck. I'm delighted to be in New Jersey while autumn is still going strong.
God created spectacular gifts for this transitional season. He caused trees to don their finest outfits in fall. He sent cold air to provide relief from summer's heat. This is my favorite season.
As much as I treasure God's autumnal gifts, I treasure another masterpiece of creation even more. My heart swells with wonder and awe when I behold the sparkling eyes and sweet smiles of my four grandchildren. They are the Lord's highest creation because they are created in his image. Being with my children and grandchildren is my best gift of the season. As the psalmist says, "Children are a gift from the Lord. How joyful is the man who has his quiver full of them!" (Psalm 127:3 and 5 NLT).
What is your favorite part of autumn?
Learn why leaves change color at www.sciencemadesimple.com
Of Great Value
A flock of White Ibis gather in a large puddle near the beach. With stick-like legs they wade in the water, barely making a ripple. They swish their bills through the water searching for food.
Birds are very different from people; yet the Lord breathes the breath of life into them as he does for mankind. He cares for birds by providing food and adaptations for their survival. The Lord cares for birds and all creatures because he values all he created.
The Bible says we are of more value than all the birds. How much more does our Heavenly Father provide for all our needs? He loves us with a love that is deeper, wider and greater than any we've ever known. I wonder if we comprehend the magnitude of God's love and care for us. Do we live as people who know our true worth to our Creator?
Visit www.audubon.org to learn more about White Ibis.
Each morning when I step onto my lanai, I'm greeted by a colorful array of lovely flowers. Hibiscus unfurl their petaled skirts of coral, crimson and golden yellow. Mexican petunias tiptoe about my garden wall in tiny purple tutus. At the far corner, plumbagos cluster together wearing outfits of periwinkle puffs.
I praise the Lord for the touches of color he places on the earth. This week I'll be mindful of the beautiful designs he paints on flowers. Will you join me in thanking the Lord for the blessing of flowers?
To learn more about hibiscus go to plants-houseplants.knoji.com
Flowers abound in The Villages. There are gardens along the main roads and at the entrance to each village. The gardens are lush with pansies. During my walks, I see pansies of every color combination. When I stop for a closer look, I'm amazed at the detail the Lord painted on each flower. Some pansies are multicolored and look like butterfly wings. Others seem to have an angel silhouette in the center of the petals. The petals vary from papery thin to a rich velvety texture. Not only are the pansies a visual delight, they give off a delicate aromatic fragrance.
When I think about the Lord's attention to detail in the creation of pansies, I'm overcome with wonder as I think about his concern over the details in our lives. Our Heavenly Father isn't just involved in the big things. He cares about each little aspect of our lives. He reminds us of this in the flowers.
To learn more about pansies go to www.aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu
Granite is a rock. But what an opulent rock! Colors swirl. Crystals shimmer. Minerals splatter and speckle unique markings throughout the stone. When polished, granite feels smooth to the touch. It's a luxurious material that people showcase in their homes.
Granite began as molten rock, a hot bubbling liquid in the earth's core. It seeped into fissures and pushed upward toward the crust. It cooled. During the flowing and cooling process, minerals mixed together. They formed unique patterns and color combinations. The result was granite, which I now have in my kitchen. I gratefully display an example of God's handiwork.
The Lord took an unlikely substance and molded it into a magnificent stone. Once again, I'm captivated by the Creator.
You can learn more about magma at www.nationalgeographic.org
From my kitchen window, I see flowers of almost every color, but the color that grabs my attention is yellow. It pops. It stands out among the competition.
I did some research about colors and I learned that yellow is the most highly visible of all colors. It's the lightest and brightest on the color wheel. Even some blind people can detect yellow. The color yellow has a long stimulating wavelength. Psychologically, its the strongest color, evoking emotions of optimism, happines and warmth.
I was intrigued by the study of color. Each color affects our emotions. Artists and graphic designers know this. They purposely choose certain colors to elicit certain emotions. Blue evokes feelings of serenity and trust. Purple symbolizes royalty and luxury. Red stirs up a sense of importance. It increases breathing rates and blood flow.
The Bible refers to particular colors. The interior curtains of the tabernacle, as well as the priestly garments, were made of finely woven fabric of blue, purple and scarlet. Thin strands of gold were interspersed in the weave. The Creator of colors purposely chose those colors to be used in the tabernacle.
The most vibrant energizing color, the one that evokes positive happy thoughts, is the color God chose for the light that rules the day. The sun was designed to emit the color of optimism. We can begin each day with a bright outlook.
God designed a world filled with color, and each color affects our psyche. When I look out of my kitchen window, my emotions are stirred. Once again, I'm captivated by the Creator.
Learn more about colors at www.color-wheel-artist.com
My grandson and I visited the Insectatarium and Butterfly Garden in New Orleans. After much ewwwing and shoulder shivering, I was able to appreciate certain qualities of the insects. I was surprised at the beauty in some of their outer shells. They were shiny bluish-green. But the real beauty was on the butterfly wings. The variety of colors and patterns mesmerized me. Some of the most intriguing wings were in neutral shades and looked like lace. Some butterflies wore shades of blue, covering the spectrum from deep indigo to shimmering aqua.
I also learned interesting facts about butterflies. They don't eat, they only drink. Their feet have taste buds, and they step up and down on leaves to stimulate the chemicals to see if the leaves will be appropriate food for caterpillars to eat.
Butterflies see colors. This ability helps them identify their own species, as well as attracting them to flowers.
The smallest butterfly measure 1/8" while the largest measures 12". Most butterflies live only 2-4 weeks.
A creature as tiny and short-lived as a butterfly was designed with immense attention to detail. If God made such a small creature spectacular, imagine the amount of care he put into designing us, who are created in his image! Each one of us was created with unsurpassed beauty. Beauty is more than our outward appearance. It is seen in our mannerisms, our personalities, our gifts and talents. It is heard in our voices. Our minds and hearts reveal a unique hidden beauty that only some will find.
Rather than judging and comparing our differences, let's rejoice in the surprise beauty we can discover in one another. As we seek to know each other more fully, we'll uncover the richness that lies within each person.
Once again, I'm captivated by the Creator. He made everything beautiful.
Learn more about butterflies at www.thebutterflysite.com
Half of the roots dangled in the air while the other half grasped a small outcropping of rock. Harsh weather battered the exposed roots; yet the tree stood straight and tall on the edge of the cliff. It refused to be defeated, despite its difficult situation. The tree shouldn't have thrived. It did because its roots clung to the little bit of ground they could reach.
Sometimes, we're challenged by difficult circumstances. It may seem as though our roots are dangling in the air and the slightest disturbance will push us over the edge. But there is an outcropping we can grasp. The Lord is our Rock. If we cling to him, he'll uphold us. One tiny root of faith is all we need. When we reach toward Jesus, he reaches for us. His grasp is strong enough to keep us from falling. We can withstand the worst situation by clinging to him.
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. Psalm 63:8
To learn more about trees and roots go to gardeningknowhow.com
The Master Artist
A luck dragon swooped over the pond, its long gray tail steering it like a ship's rudder. Soon the tail separated from the body and morphed into rocky cliffs hugging a harbor filled with tiny ships.
The scales of the dragon's wings floated apart until each feathery puff transformed into a cotton boll ready for harvest.
Wind currents dragged their fingers through clouds, forming and re-forming vaporous images, creating works of art on a blue canvas stretched around the earth.
Our Almighty Creator who bestows artistic talent upon mankind, also grants such capability to the elements of nature. When God set the universe in motion, he gave the wind and clouds the power to produce lofty masterpieces in the sky. All day, every day, they paint and sculpt representations from water vapor, creating images that stir our spirits to remember the Master Artist behind the artwork.
When you go outside, look up. A collection of nature's ingenuity and craftsmanship floats above your head. How many images can you find? As you delight in the billowy pictures, you can join me in words of praise as I'm captivated by the Creator once again!
To learn more about clouds go to www.weatherquestions.com
Moments of Refreshment
Cool crisp air washed my face and hair. It splashed my arms like a refreshing shower at the end of a hot sticky day. As I inhaled the clean air, my mind lit up, suddenly aware of every sensation.
The sky shimmered like a blue crystal in the light. Emerald silk covered the ground. On the pond, sun drops splattered the water's surface like sparklers on July 4th. Meanwhile, birds gathered on the trees, a flash mob singing in harmonic syncopation. What a glorious day!
Today was a surprise from the Lord, a moment of refreshment in a pattern of hot days.
Our Heavenly Father specially designs moments to brighten our lives when most needed.
When problems drape us in gray clouds, or difficulties pour over us like persistent rain, the Lord places unexpected gifts in nature. We may notice a fresh white daisy along our path. We may feel a gentle breeze hugging our shoulders, or hear a sweet melody from a bird outside our window.
Each gift was placed there especially for us by the One who knows just what we need at a particular time. The Lord designs these moments to refresh our spirits. Our part is to open the door, step outside and discover God's gift meant just for us.
When you discover your moment of refreshment, you'll be cativated by the Creator, too.