Preserving the Good – 31 Christmas Carols/Joy to the World

As I sang along with Dolly Parton, and other YouTube videos of JOY TO THE WORLD, I was suddenly caught up in the words “far as the curse is found.” Some renditions, such as Parton’s, leave this phrase out, but others include it. I am comforted by the lyrics that Christ Jesus rules the world with truth and grace; he defeats the curse of sin and death. This verse of the song reminds me of Bible verses I love—

“Where can I go to escape Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle by the farthest sea, even there Your hand will guide me; Your right hand will hold me fast. ~Psalm139:7-10

Bethlehem Church of the Nativity

The words from Psalms remind me that wherever there is man, wherever there is good or evil, the Lord is with us in every situation. Wherever the curse of evil works it’s way in, the Holy Spirit can cast it out. There is nothing too hard for the Lord God Almighty ‘who was, and is, and is to come.’

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” ~Revelation 1:8

JOY TO THE WORLD BY ISAAC WATTS

Joy to the World; the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King!
Let ev’ry heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing.

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields & floods, rocks, hills & plains
Repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make his blessings flow
Far as the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love.

Preserving the Good – 31 Christmas Carols/It Came Upon A Midnight Clear

I like to imagine myself in that field with the shepherds. Was the first sign of the angel appearing to them a glimmer of light, or was there an instant bright sunburst? A great company of the heavenly host, oh my, how I wish I could see that sight, hear them praising God.

The Angel Appearing to the Shepherds – Thomas Cole/1834

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear by Edmund Sears 1849

It came upon the midnight clear
That glorious song of old
From angels bending near the earth
To touch their harps of gold
Peace on the earth, good will to men
From heaven’s all gracious king
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing

Still through the cloven skies they come
With peaceful wings unfurled
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world
Above its sad and lowly plains
They bend on hovering wing
And ever o’er its Babel sounds
The blessed angels sing

All ye, beneath life’s crushing load
Whose forms are bending low
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow
Look, now for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing
O rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing
And hear the angels sing

Bible Reference

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” ~Luke 2:8-14

Plants – Gardener’s Wish Book

It arrived about two weeks ago…Baker’s Creek Heirloom Seed Catalog, 497 pages of great articles and photographs of plants. I pre-ordered and purchased this catalog, they also offer a free catalog.

It’s gorgeous. The stuff a gardener’s dreams are based upon.

I’m a bit disappointed though, the Moringa seeds I purchased last year are already sold out, but I’m on their email notification list if they get more in stock.

The catalog reminds me of the old Sears Wish Book Catalog my boys used to pore over years ago.They would circle toys in red marker in hopes Santa would bring them down the chimney on Christmas morning.

This is a great seed catalog, and in my experience a great and very reliable company. I’ve never been disappointed with their product. Take a look at their site if you love to grow plants from seed:Baker’s Creek Heirloom Seeds.

Promise – The Start of Advent/The Holy Nativity Convent

Advent – The period beginning four Sundays before Christmas and observed by some Christians as a season of prayer and fasting, the coming of Christ at the Incarnation (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)


I have been blessed to find a place filled with beautiful crafts and lovely sisters. These sisters, of the Holy Nativity Convent in Brookline, Massachusetts, are the creators of this beautiful beeswax candle. Take a look at their shop, and also visit an amazing blog post on the Susan Branch blog, that tells the story of the ladies with great photographs included.

The Holy Nativity Convent
The merchandise the sisters sell through the convent arrives quickly and perfectly packed. The candle is beautiful, smells lovely as only natural beeswax can, and is a perfect gift for any time of the year.

To read an in-depth post on the sisters visit The Susan Branch Blog.

“You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!” See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” ~Isaiah 40:9-11

Pleasures – Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I’ve been reading inspirational books by Faith Baldwin. Published in the 1960’s, the gentle wisdom, the spirit of the lady, are a balm in these up and down times we are living in. If you ever have a chance to read one of her non-fiction books, please do, you will find your spirit soothed.

“I believe firmly that whatever path a man travels in his journey toward his Creator, he will find upon it the quiet turning asides, the resting places provided for thanksgiving, trust, and sharing.” ~Faith Baldwin, Harvest of Hope

I wish for you in the midst of your Thanksgiving day, and the coming Christmas season, to find times of ‘quiet turning asides,’ and a renewed sense of hope and joy.

Preserving the Good/Pots & Pans – Candied Ginger

Ginger is full of nutrients. Ginger beefs up your immunity and helps your body function well. I love soaking a fresh piece of ginger in boiling water to make a tea. I recently found organic ginger and it was a good price. I decided it was time to make candied ginger, but…before I go on with that part of my post, let me explain a bit about preserving the good.

In the November 15, 2020, In Touch devotional, I read great words about preserving what is good. Lately, evil not only seems to be at the door, it seems to be using a battering ram to destroy everything of worth. I am going to take the advice of these wise words and try to preserve what is good in any way I can. It can be by words, by deeds, or by a blog post containing a good tip or something beautiful.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. ~Philippians 4:8


Today I actually preserved ginger by an easy candying process, no thermometers were needed. I’m including an outstanding youtube demonstration of the process I used. The only difference for me was to finish my ginger off in my dehydrator on a low setting. I couldn’t resist tasting it before it was completely dried and it is SO good. I also saved the syrup in ice cube trays, about a 1/2 tbs in each, to use for tea or upset stomach. If you like ginger, give this easy technique a try.

People – JFK – November 22, 1963

I was six years old, a student in Mrs. Johnson’s first grade class, attending school at Mount Pleasant Elementary in Easton, Maryland. I will never forget the day of the assassination. I will never forget the news coverage. At that time you could trust the press, they had integrity, or did they? I wonder what the truth really is concerning JFK’s death. Did he die because he spoke the truth and became an inconvenience to unseen powers? I don’t know…will probably not know until I reach heaven. In the meantime, I will go on living the best life I can, trying to preserve as much good as I’m able…and that’s my theme for the coming year. I’ll write a bit more about that tomorrow.

Phun – Snowflakes

One of my favorite Christmas activities is cutting paper snowflakes. I usually start in October or November and cut several each day. I need near 100 to fill the windows.

I use washable school glue sticks to keep the snowflakes in place. When it’s time to take them down just pull the paper away from the windowpane and swipe with a wet washcloth once or twice. Let the moisture soak in for a minute, wipe again, and all the paper and glue washes away. Sometimes, if I use the right cloth, I don’t even need to use window cleaner. Anyone who has ever picked transparent tape off of a piece of window glass will know how tedious it is and how long it takes. Gluing the snowflakes to the windows sounds scary, but believe me, I’ve done it for years and it is SOOOOOO much easier than taping because of easy removal.

If you live in a cold climate, and put your snowflakes in windows, they will be more durable and condensation resistant if you iron them between pieces of wax paper first. After ironing, pull the wax paper apart gently, and the snowflakes come out intact with an invisible layer of wax on their surface.

ALWAYS start with a square piece of paper. Computer paper works great! Four through eight inches are the sizes I use. The larger squares are easier to cut, but a variety of sizes on a window looks more interesting. Have fun!!!

Perspective – Decorating Cheer Trending

I’ve never been one to follow trends, but I’ve done so accidentally, I’m decorating for CHRISTMAS. I didn’t know I was part of what might be a nationwide movement until I watched a news show yesterday on the topic. I’ve noticed in my area many people began to put up Christmas decor long before November even arrived. My husband and I chalked it up to warm weather and putting lights up with sunshine on your back instead of winter winds.

I’m going to bring out the Christmas boxes and ornaments one at a time. I’m going to hold them in my hand and delight in their history. I’m going to focus on the childhood faces of my sweet boys when I hold the glittered and painted handmade ornaments they made in my hand. I’m going to remember parents and grandparents when I use things that were precious to them throughout the years.

I always try to start with the Nativity. It is the reason for the season. It might be a cliche’, but it’s one I like and intend to live by through these next few months. The joy I have felt just thinking about bringing Christmas out early makes me think I might leave the beautiful reminders of God’s love up for a long, long time. Does the word ‘Springtime’ sound long enough?

Funny, I have no urge to buy anything new or change colors or placement. I want everything in the same old corners and rooms. Decorating early seems like a bit of insulation against the horrible circumstances of the current days. I wonder…are you decorating early too?

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.” (Micah 5:2).

Place – Sanibel Island/Wildlife

What lies beneath these dark waters?

A hint was the low rumbling bellow we heard. Alligators bellow to communicate their size. The bellows were loud and seemed close.

We stayed only a few minutes, walking across boardwalks right on top of the water, not being able to see what was in the water surrounding us, I’ve got to say, we both found it creepy. I love wildlife, but I am not going to be lured into an area where alligators roam free and might be hungry. I’ll keep my alligator viewing confined to my cable wildlife channel.

The dark water the massive predators dwell in brings to mind deceivers in the Media. Residing in the murky swamp of chicanery they bellow false narratives about the recent election in the United States. Tell me, why would someone concede victory to even one lie before seeking truth first? Even those blindly voting for an apocalyptic agenda know there has been fraud, massive fraud. How can anyone in their right mind promise a dark winter instead of pointing the way to light? My hope is that the truth, at some point in time, will be revealed. Funny isn’t it, people who voted against liberal agendas don’t seem to be burning cities down. The Media Machine, combined with other dark forces, is spreading a red carpet for evil to waltz into every aspect of our lives.

We are living in a hellish reality where good is called evil, and evil is called good.

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! ~Isaiah 5:20

It’s akin to saying, “Wade right into that swampy water, that bellow of hatred you’re hearing is only a love call, there’s no danger there.”

I’m praying that an attitude of peace will prevail in the USA. But, I am also praying that anyone who was involved in any election voter fraud, who has not totally turned to evil and chaos, will have such an attack of conscience that they will find no rest until they try to put it right. Prayer changes things.


“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” ~James 5:16

Place – Sanibel Island/The Shells

Have you heard of the Sanibel Stoop?

The Washington Times describes the Sanibel Stoop as “the bent-at-the-waist posture used to collect seashells on Sanibel Island.” Of course. While other postures and positions of the human form are primarily designed to reap a benefit directly related to health, wholeness or physique building, the Sanibel Stoop takes aims purely at the aesthetic, esoteric and artsy side of our being. ~Sundial Resort

This is my attempt at creating a daisy out of an iridescent array of pen shells. I didn’t bring any of this variety home. The edges are sharp and the shells are fragile, breaking easily into smaller pieces.

I did bring quite a few seashells home though. These are my finds, cleaned in the shell hut, a small open air shed with a sink, built by the West Wind Inn for the purpose of cleaning your shells. (This also keeps their plumbing, in the rooms, from becoming clogged with sand and beach debris.)

I thought ahead and brought some heavy duty zippered plastic bags I had saved from a recent purchase.

By nestling several together, we were able to bring home shells for all the children, grand-children, grand-nieces and nephews, and many for ourselves. I had read great advice in a blog post by another traveler to save plastic containers when you buy food on the island, and these also worked great to pack our shells for the flight home. Almost every shell made it back without breaking packed between layers of clothes in our carry-on bags.

Place – Sanibel Island/The Sea

Sanibel Island has warm water and strong surf. This helps bring up shells, and also sweeps them back into the sea. We were amazed a few times to find the beach, filled just hours before with thousands, if not millions of shells, swept pristine clean.

The waves are strong. I was knocked backwards once by one that caught me by surprise. Even strong swimmers need to be aware of the strength of the surf. I didn’t see any lifeguards while we visited in October. It’s definitely a swim at your own risk area.

We were able to see sunrise in the mornings from the beach in front of West Wind Inn, and in the evening, beautiful sunsets, featured in the photos above.

Captiva Island is next door to Sanibel. My  husband rented an hour on a sailboat at the Yolo shop located at the far end of the island. Yolo stands for ‘You Only Live Once.’ While my husband was having fun living life to the fullest, I had my only bad hour on the vacation. I watched from the beach in street clothes rather than a bathing suit, and by the time he sailed back to shore, I was about the hottest I have ever been. I will be wiser if we do the same thing in the future and wear a bathing suit and sit in the water to watch.

The Bubble Room, on Captiva Island, is an amazing restaurant filled with all kinds of interesting memorabilia. Despite the pandemic, and wearing masks upon entry, we were able to have a wonderful lunch of prime rib sandwiches.

This post is part of Skywatch Friday.

Place – Sanibel Island/The Land

I am not exaggerating when I say I have wanted to visit Sanibel Island, Florida, for more than four decades. We tried to drive down once with our seven month old son in his car seat. We only drove for seven hours before realizing the nightmare of a long drive with an active baby was not going to work for us. That son is now over forty, and that’s at least how long I have wanted to see this beautiful island.

You might wonder why. What is the pull? Easy to answer…the lure of the island for me is the seashells. Sanibel beaches are considered some of the best for shelling in the world. After visiting in early October of this year…I can totally support the claim. I have never seen so many shells, or so many beautiful varieties, strewn across a beach.

Beyond the lure of the beaches and warm water of the Gulf of Mexico is the beauty of the plant life. I love flowers and foliage of all types. The island supports many tropical plants and trees. The West Wind Inn, a beautiful place built on the beach, has gardens filled with lovely flowers and trees.

I’m not sure what this tropical beauty is named, but I am using it as part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Another flower I saw in abundance was this tropical version of Black-eyed Susans. The flowers resembled the ones I grow, but the foliage was very different, thick and dense, able to withstand the heat and salt in the air.

We visited two beaches in addition to the beach in front of the West Wind Inn. The Lighthouse Beach has a fishing pier. We saw dolphins in the water there. There is quite a bit of parking, but the restroom facilities were a long hike.

Our favorite beach was Bowman’s Beach. It was a long, long walk from the parking area/restroom facilities to the water, but so worth it. We went here twice, and some of the best shells we gathered were found on this shoreline. I waited a long time to go to Sanibel, I hope I can go back soon, and not have too many years between my visits.

Phlowers – Gaura

The lovely pink blossoms of Gaura resemble butterflies. The flowers, growing from the base of the plant on tall stalks, easily move with the breezes giving a perfect impersonation of butterflies flitting about in the garden.

I’ve been pleased with both varieties of Gaura I’m growing in my garden. One is taller, with sparser light pink blooms, the other shorter, covered with hot pink blossoms. They are side by side and the long stems blend together creating a beautiful display all summer long.

I don’t use them as a cut flower because I’ve found the petals fall off easily. I do carefully snip the florets at their base and place them inside books to press. They dry beautifully and the flowers retain their vivid color for quite awhile.

One of my plants is two years old. The other planted this past Spring, quickly grew to a large size. I hope to plant more of these beauties, but first I will check beneath them in the Spring to see if they self-seeded. I grow them in full, hot sun, in soil that quickly drains. They will develop root rot if planted in poorly draining soil.

You can find more information on how to grow Gaura on Gardening Know How.

This post is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Plants – Coleus Harvest & Sampler

I am in the midst of harvesting and packaging my coleus seeds from 2020 to offer at The Flower Ark Etsy Shop.

I’ve enjoyed watching the plants develop from small seeds into 12 -30 inch plants. There have been many new patterns, colors, and edge variations to observe and cherish. I haven’t been disappointed!

This beauty growing in the side yard produced an abundance of colorful leaves and flower stalks. It was the first to produce seed this year.

For some reason I loved the simplicity of this green and ecru plant. Surrounded by impatiens and other coleus, the gently swirling leaves were finely marked and scalloped.

 

To create my samplers I photograph the leaves and insert them in Ribbet’s collage maker. This is a very easy application to use.

As I gather and package the seeds, I am already dreaming of next year’s crop. Coleus seeds will sprout and grow through the winter and make amazing and easy to grow houseplants. Indoors give them your sunniest window to prevent leggy growth. Pinch out the tips and you will soon have a bushy, colorful addition to your plant menagerie.

Phlutters – Backyard Butterflies Part II


“O LORD, what a variety of things you have made! In wisdom you have made them all. The earth is full of your creatures.” ~ Psalm 104:24, NLT

I ended Part I of ‘Backyard Butterflies’ with a photo of this Monarch Chrysalis. Since that post, the butterfly has gone through its metamorphosis and emerged.

I didn’t see the butterfly break out of its yellow-green chrysalis, but I did notice it soon after.

After it dried off a bit, the butterfly began to explore the nearby garden. I watched throughout the day as the Monarch became acquainted with the sweet nectar in my garden.

The dahlia is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Quote – A Tweet Worth Sharing

I love this clip of Billy Graham when he says, “I don’t know…” In this world of know-it-alls, his humility is beautiful and inspiring. I don’t need to know it all. I love God’s mystery…I love HIM…I have FAITH in all he has said in His Word. Father, Son, and Holy Ghost…that is all…it is enough.

Phlowers – Forget-Me-Not

I love the clear blue of annual Forget-Me-Nots. The blossoms are smaller than a dime, and the foliage is unspectacular, but the way the color reflects the sky thrills me. I might try to grow a few in the house this winter. Although the flower is small, the annual variety produces a large and interesting seed, often found in wildflower seed packets.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits. ~Psalm 103:2

If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under. ~ Ronald Reagan

These beautiful annual Forget-Me-Nots are part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Phlutters -Backyard Butterflies Part I

After a slow start, the backyard has been full of butterflies. One of the flashiest is the Monarch. The zinnias draw the Monarchs in to fill up on the nectar. They land on the flat surface of the disk and drink from the individual ray florets surrounding the center. While they are occupied they will often allow close-up viewing for photographs and video.

Another flower they love is Asclepias curassavica commonly known as ‘Silky Gold’ Milkweed. This flower and its leaves are a host plant for the monarch caterpillar.

This milkweed floret is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day Challenge. 

The caterpillars are poisonous to birds and other wildlife after eating the milkweed. The milkweed contains toxic cardenolides which keep some predators, but not all, away.

A week or two ago when I cut back a rose bush I uncovered a monarch chyrsalis on my siding.

Soon I found the newly hatched caterpillar clinging to the wall.

He dropped down to a mint plant and finished drying his wings. After a few hours he took his first flight to the upper branches of a pine tree.

A day or two later I spotted another chrysalis on the underside of a concrete lion statue I have on my patio. I’ll keep a close watch and see if I can witness the miracle as one emerges from the chrysalis.

Perspective – God’s Amazing World in Song, Scripture and Images

A beautiful rendition of Give Thanks by Henry Smith, combined with Johann Pachelbel’s Canon in D and photos from the Hubble Telescope, beautifully combined in video format by Tim and Geri Ungurean. You can find a link to Geri’s blog at Absolute Truth From the Word of God.

I love the way Geri and Tim Ungurean have combined beautiful music and stunning visuals from the Hubble Telescope to share Scripture and Song that points the way to Jesus.