Before Frost

Hurry before it frosts

It’s an annual tradition for me to gather cut flowers the day before the first frost and make a couple last flower arrangements for the season.  I enjoy this ritual immensely.  It is really the only time I cut marigolds as they are laborious to arrange and they look so great in my flower beds that I don’t want to sacrifice any blooms until frost is imminent.  Because of the urgency of this pre-frost task, I have been known often to pick the flowers by flashlight because I have been too busy to pick them earlier. First frost never seems to come at a convenient time.  Now, I could just let things go.  After all, I’ve enjoyed the flowers all summer.  But I simply can’t stand doing that when I can have at least one more beautiful bouquet.

Delayed frost this year

This year here in Connecticut has been an unusual one.  Twice the weatherpersons predicted frosts and I went out and gathered flowers and arranged them.   But the anticipated frosts did not come. The second time we had a little frost on the cars but still none on my flowers.   So I had beds and pots of gorgeous flowers all through October.  Not until this past week, on the third warning, after my third set of pre-frost flower arrangements did it finally frost.  Thursday, November 9 marks the latest first frost I remember.  Attached are pictures of all three sets of night-before-frost flower arrangements.   By the third one, the zinnias were no longer available but I decided to try a miniature arrangement of verbena, lobelia and Dara carrot.   It goes so well with my wife’s fall décor.  My grandmother, Jessie Isaman, used to make miniature arrangements. I thought of her.

A reminder of the urgency of doing good

Picking flowers before frost speaks to me of the urgency of getting some special things done before…..   For people of my generation, several life events from the autumn of life could go in that blank.   “Frost” could be semi-retirement or full retirement.    It might be ill health which brings disability preventing us from doing what we had planned.  It could be the illness of a loved one.  It could be financial loss or an unplanned or a necessary move.   And “frost” ultimately might stand for our passing on to face our accountability before God (Rom. 14:12; Heb. 9:27).     

When I was still in full time ministry, there were some things I wanted to accomplish before I retired but I don’t think I felt sufficient urgency.  Hopefully I’ve learned from that and in my current part-time ministry, when I think of some key goals I almost nourish a sense that time is too short before “frost” arrives.  “Frost” in this case could be just the end of my current assignment or it might mean full retirement, but whatever it is, time always seems shorter than one thinks.  “Frost” will arrive before we are ready.

Make the most of time before “frost”

So before “frost” comes, whatever it may be, I want to pick some more blooms and arrange them well in my life.  What I mean is I want to live productively.  I want to take good advantage of the time God gives.  The Bible exhorts us to “make the most of every opportunity” (Eph. 5:16); and I believe that God has a purpose for every day (Eph. 2:10).    So I’ll use my urgent gathering of flowers before yearly first frost to help me to have a healthy sense of urgency about doing the good deeds I need to do.   I could procrastinate but … it may frost!   I’d rather see the beauty of a few more bouquets.      

Before the first frost warning

My zinnias were at their peak.  The dara carrot looks great. My late shasta daisys  work well too.    The black and green vase was Grandma's.  She had great taste for that kind of thing. 

Before the second frost warning

Second chance.    Lots of marigolds still as the late rains helped them.  

A miniature bouquet before the third frost warning

I saved some little flowers for this one that I had not used before- lobelia,  dara carrot and verbena.   One of the joys of all flower arranging is learning to use what nature provides. My grandmother, Jessie Isaman, used to make miniature arrangements. I thought of her.

I just love marigolds

One last marigold bouquet.   I used some sweet potato vine for filler along with the licorice plant which grow abundantly in my tower pots.   I used the shrub out front and the seed stalks of the Japanese Iris for straight pieces. 

A pre-frost bouquet from 2016

The ultimate goal of bouquets is to fit well and beautify the place where you place them.  Here I am enjoying a cup of tea in my big chair along side my reading table with its cheery bouquet even though the flowers outside have frosted.  

One from 2015

This one includes some mums in one of the vases I inherited from my Grandmother Isaman.    The family flower arranging tradition stems (pardon the pun) from her. 

Social

The importance of marriage confirmed again

This article summarizes statistical research on the economic effects of marriage. It supplies stark evidence that marriage is one of the greatest factors combating poverty. The research urges young people simply to marry after age 20 and to marry before having children. If they do these three things they will have nearly an 80% chance of avoiding poverty. The support for the importance of marriage and its superiority to mere co-habitation is astounding.

New study on sexuality insightful

Here is a new study that once again points out that the modern idea that some are born homosexual or transgender is not completely supported by research. The true picture is much more complex involving a combination of genetics, choice and experience. The article also says that research shows that the observed higher ratio of mental health struggles among homosexual and transgender persons is due to more than just societal pressure. These observations open the way for one of the key conclusions of the article. The author suggests that rather than push people to express a supposed pre-disposition, we should be encouraging them toward what research shows to be healthy and wholesome choices.

The Mailbox Thing

What is it about us that many of us are just not happy to use a generic mailbox?   Where I have lived, either careening cars or snowplows have taken them out often enough that it never would have paid to get too creative.   But that doesn't keep me from admiring the variety that I see on the roadsides.   I especially like the mailboxes that fit  my "Country Touch" theme.  

One type of "Country Touch" mailbox could be classified as the reused  antique farm equipment genre.   You have to have some room for this one so it is usually found in the countryside.   Hopefully they are found in places where they are unlikely to be a hazard to errant drivers.  Personally, I'd rather see this old John Deere with its lug wheels restored but...      The plow one works because it is situated slanting uphill.  

Then there is the type of mailbox where the building geniuses have been at work.    Materials and themes vary.   The example here is definitely a sturdy one made to look like the maple syrup shanties common in that area.   The mailbox looks like it's made by a good welder and I don't think the road salt will bother it either.     

Blogging Versus Facebook

Why I still prefer blogging over Facebook

Despite all the other web competition and especially despite the inroads of Facebook, my blog remains by far my favorite social media expression.   Here are a few of my reasons.

  • Blogging seems so much more suitable to a writer. The very idea of Twitter is just not me.  I desire to measure my words, not blurt out the first phrase that stumbles out.  Plus, how do I say it in 140 characters?   And if I want to banter on Facebook, I prefer it to be about something with substance like a blog article—or maybe a family picture. 
  • A blog is something I get to format. I determine the theme, how the post looks and how the pictures go with it.   I enjoy this creativity, even though it requires some continual learning of page construction.
  • A blog post seems more enduring than a Facebook post. The latter is quickly lost in the scrolling mass of input.   A blog post remains close to the top of my blog much longer.
  • A blog is an enduring resource for others on the topics which the blog’s creator chooses. Blog posts can be accessed quickly by category or tag.  Each blog adds to the internet’s treasure trove of info on the topics the writer chooses.
  • A blog post can be a source from which other social media can draw. It would not work the other way around.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appeal to a writer

 

 

Page  Creativity 

 

 

Enduring quality

 

 

 

 

 

 

Facebook has taken over as the necessary advertiser for blog posts and the locus for blog comments. 

How Facebook affects blogging

There is no doubt that the biggest change since I started blogging is the rise of Facebook.  It provides strong competition to the blogosphere.  The fact that I wrote the last paragraph at all is an indication of that competition.  Here are some other ways I think Facebook has affected blogging.

  • Some less enduring posts are put on Facebook instead of the blog. This has the negative effect of lessening the amount and breadth of material on the blog but the positive effect of strengthening the quality and depth of material on the blog.  The longer and more thoughtful posts tend to go on the blog.  The lighter, more ephemeral stuff goes on Facebook. 
  • Unfortunately, for most people, much family and personal history may end up being more on Facebook since this is where people tend to note happenings in their lives unless they use Twitter or Instagram instead.
  • Facebook has pretty much taken over as the public relations place for a blog post. If I write a post and don’t note on my Facebook page that I wrote it, very few will read it.  But if I make a note about it on my Facebook page, then I get readers.   So Facebook has become the necessary advertising vehicle for posts.  The other day I allowed the Jetpack automatic feature to notify Facebook of my WordPress post.  It did so only routinely and did not use the picture I wanted.  It garnered one “like” all day. About eight hours later, I used a more related picture and wrote a short advertisement on Facebook for the same article.  Within a couple hours it had 5 “likes” and a comment. 
  • Facebook has also taken over the role that blog comments formerly played. In the last couple years, I have received nearly all my feedback on Facebook, not via blog comments. Considering all the spam issues and the maintenance required to keep blog comments open at all, I have seriously considered doing away with them.  I have not done so as some readers who are professionals dealing with the public, such as teachers, police, etc. do not use Facebook. 
  • I modify my choice of picture byte sizes according to what I think Facebook will pick up when it advertises my post. I don’t claim to understand the relationship but I know it often affects what I do. 

A Blogging Milestone

The 1000 Milestone

I noticed that the total count of my posts, pages, sermons and comments on my blog has passed the 1000 mark.  More than five hundred of those blog events are posts.  Just over one hundred fifty are sermon manuscripts of messages prepared since coming to Copper Hill UMC.  To be honest, I thought I would reach this 1 K milestone much sooner.  But with a semi-retirement pastorate and two wonderful grandchildren in my life, I’m been much busier than anticipated.  In addition, my personal blog now has much more competition for my computer time than it did when I began in 2010.  Now I have a busy Facebook presence and a Pinterest account, plus I manage a second blog for our church, contribute to our church’s Facebook page, and help my wife with her blog-style website as well. 

 

Posts + pages + sermons + comments > 1000

 

New categories

 

 

 

New Page Software

 

 

 

Better Pictures

Renewing my blog

One goal as I reach this milestone is to renew my blog.  Change is inevitable.  It takes intentional change to create a fresh face and keep progressing.  

Toward this end, I decided that two new categories would be helpful both to me in initiating new material and to my readers.   The new category called “Country Touches” will be pure fun—interesting pictures and observations.   Another New Category named “Best Five” will be a vehicle for passing on to my readers some quick lists of top five in my experience in any area that comes to mind.  I hope it helps others tap sources of wisdom that I have discovered.

 

I’m also experimenting with new page creation software by SiteOrigin.  The Country Touch post about my sister’s outside décor was the first to use that software.   It looks like a hit.  I’ve experimented with a program called Sway as well but it did not format well online and I think SiteOrigin will replace it. 

 It is a constant goal to use higher quality pictures and pictures that fit the content better.   I hope there is a new phone camera in my near future to help this goal along.

Three goals for future blogging

This milestone has also made me stop and review my blogging goals.  What do I intend to do with my blog going forward? 

More wisdom

I plan to continue the emphasis upon wisdom.  Learntobewise.com has become more than my blog address, it has become a mission.  Wisdom is so lacking in our world today.  In fact, in general I believe we do not have wisdom enough to know we are short of it.  Action is valued; adrenaline is sought; acting is pursued; sports prowess is idolized, but wisdom is neglected. So I pray that by God’s grace I can make my blog a place where words of wisdom are shared, both ones I write and ones I find and forward to my readers via my blog.  I pray that God gives me wisdom enough to do so (James 1:5). 

More fun

I want my blog to be a place for some fun, both for me and for my readers. Look for more posts in categories like Americana, Country Touches, and on subjects like being a Grandpa, vacation accounts, daylily galleries and Christmas train set pictures. They are all blogging fun for me and I hope for my readers as well. 

More public messages pages

I plan to continue building the sermon archive on my blog as a reference and resource for parishioners, other pastors and Christian workers.   Crafting sermon outlines and writing messages for our congregation comes relatively easy to me and if I can provide resources to others, I would consider that a privilege.  It fits with my goal about sharing wisdom and it would extend the use of my gifts and my influence as a Bible teacher and preacher.   I am especially humbled to note that many readers of my blog are international.    And I am aware from my missions trips that Christian workers in other places often do not have access to all the Bible education that I have had.   Besides, it is wise use of time and resources to edit slightly what I already write each week as a part of my pastoral ministry to also build my blog. 

 

 

  More Wisdom

 

 

  More   Fun

 

 

 Message Archive

A Deportation Order for a Parent like Jung Courville is a Crime!


Jung Courville’s case is another example of the immoral policy of attempting to deport a parent who has been in the country for years as a law abiding citizen. Of course, she and her husband and her neglectful lawyer should have resolved her immigration situation many years ago. Of course, the laws should be changed like the lawyer expected. But given the current situation, deportation is a just plain immoral choice. The right answer is to resolve such cases quickly, either by further extension or preferably by some more permanent fix. Where is the wisdom and the legal structure to do so? Does the administration think this kind of debacle is good publicity? It probably makes good press for Senator Bumenthal to fight the administration on this case. And I am glad he is for the sake of the conscience of us all. Yet how about him joining a coalition to actually get the Democrats and Republicans to agree to a compromise “fix-the-system” legislation. Now there’s a thought! It seems like both parties would much rather make hay with their bases by bashing the other side. Meanwhile people like Jung Courville and Marco Reyes and their families suffer. This situation is unacceptable. It is clear that people like Jung and Marco need a way to fix what has unwisely been allowed to happen over the past twenty years. We need politicians that will get that job done!

http://www.thehour.com/news/article/Prayer-vigil-held-at-Norwalk-church-for-deportee-11740743.php

If you object to me saying that deportation of parents like Jung and Marco is an immoral choice, I defer to Christ’s Parable of the Good Samaritan and to the repeated direct words of the OT. When the Bible is this clear we have little excuse for obfuscating.

You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien. Ex 22:21 NRSV

There shall be one law for the native and for the alien who resides among you. Ex 12:49 NRSV

A Country Touch at Thompson’s

A Country Trio

Don and MarySue Thompson's Corner Trio

I just love outside country decorating touches.  I don't claim to be good at making them happen myself but I certainly do recognize them when I see them.   And I usually know why I like them too.   This little corner trio is at my sister MarySue's house.   What a great way to treat an otherwise boring driveway corner.  

  • Being from the farm originally and having an appreciation for antique farm equipment as well, I have always liked the big wheels.   In addition, I have handled milk cans like this one  as a teen on the farm.   Plus, I'm a gardener.  So I am predisposed to like this trio.  But there's more.
  • I love the repetition of red and white.   Notice the country touch of leaving the "weed" in the flower pot, I suspect because the flower is white and fits the scheme, in fact adds to it.  
  • I love the variety and the trio.  It's a pleasing number of items with a delightful  contrast of  texture, shape and size with the large wheel, the middle sized can and the low  spreading red petunias.  

 

What a great way to treat an otherwise boring driveway corner.