Birthdays, Holidays, and the Splitting of One

A few weeks ago my two oldest children celebrated their birthdays. This celebration of their birthdays was once something much more exciting for me as their Dad. Today, it is difficult for me to be excited about special holidays because of the tension it now brings due to the splitting of one family into two.

Now I have to think about which weekend they will be with me, when their mom is going to host a party, will their mom get the same gifts as me, and etc. Things I never dreamed I would have to worry about on a birthday weekend for my kids, now I must consider.

In the book of Malachi, we are told that the Lord hates divorce and I do not doubt that one bit anymore as I know the pain of divorce. I hate divorce too! No, marriage isn’t easy. Two people who are one in covenant, taking on oneness daily, is a messy thing. It is slow and for some the wounds of the journey are great but the wounds of the tearing apart of one flesh are so much deeper. God speaks of much we do not fully understand in this life and I believe marriage will be one of those institutions that on the other side we marvel at God’s intentions that we did not fully grasp. The folly of our day is that we believe we can divorce and forget about those we left.

Will you encourage those who are broken by divorce? If you are in a marriage will you commit to establishing a strong marriage and sticking it out?

Ponderable Quotes

“In bygone days when God’s covenant people sought to strengthen their piety, to sharpen their effectual intercessions, and give passion to their supplications, they partook of the means of grace in all holiness with humble prayer and fasting.

When intent upon seeking the Lord God’s guidance in difficult after-times, they partook of the means of grace in all holiness with humble prayer and fasting.

When they were wont to express grief—whether over the consequences of their own sins or the sins of others—they partook of the means of grace in all holiness with humble prayer and fasting.

When they sought deliverance or protection in times of trouble, they partook of the means of grace in all holiness with humble prayer and fasting.

When they desired to express repentance, covenant renewal, and a return to the fold of faith, they partook of the means of grace in all holiness with humble prayer and fasting.

Such is the call upon all who would name the Name of Jesus. Such is the ordinary Christian life.”  – Thomas Chalmers

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A Shoulder to Lean On

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The last few days for me have been very tough. 

I am thankful for a few friends who have reached out to me and shown grace and support. They have listened and offered words and prayers of encouragement. It is so important to have companions who are life giving – friends who build up. Sometimes we need others to speak the gospel into our lives because the preaching we are doing to our own souls isn’t getting to our heart.

Who do you have to lean on in difficult times?

Virginia Sweetspire (Itea virginica)

Virginia Sweetspire is one of my favorite native shrubs. It is a 3-5′ deciduous shrub and it flowers in late spring/early summer. Sweetspire has a white flower raceme with a slight fragrance. The plants are best known for their wonderful fall foliage, which puts on quiet a show. And even in the winter months when sweetpsire has lost all of its leaves the arching limbs can be striking.

Sweetpire is an excellent landscape choice because it has no major disease or pest problems and once established it can handle dry conditions. If you are looking for an example of its use in the lanscape check out the landscape at your nearest Bass Pro Shop where you are sure to find it incorporated in the design.

One drawback in some situations can be the many suckers it will put out as it colonizes an area; however, for some landscape uses this is an excellent feature. One of those uses is naturalizing in moist areas. Sweetspire also makes a good foundation planting, and a good mass planting.

There are several cultivars that you will often see in garden centers: “Merlot,” “Little Henry,” and “Henry’s Garnet.”

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Great paired with other indigenous plants.

It is important to note when pruning that blooms occur on old wood.

Ponderable Quotes

“The tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach. It isn’t a calamity to die with dreams unfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream. It isn’t a disgrace not to reach the stars, but it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach for.”  – Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays

Fall Container Plantings

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This week begins meteorological fall and as the weather begins to change we begin to experience many of the joys of fall. The leaves will be changing, football is in full swing, and the smells of fall begin to fill the air.

Often by this time of year our summer container plantings have lost their luster and they desperately need replacing. The heat of late summer and missed watering while we were on vacation have taken their toll. Don’t miss this time to replace some or all of the plants in your containers for a great fall display.

I have listed several plants below that will be great additions to your fall containers. Look for plants with contrasting textures and complimentary colors. The possibilities are endless!

When selecting your plants remember to select focal plant or impact plant, fillers, and a trailing plant or plants for the edge of the pot. Think VHC (vertical, horizontal, cascading) for an easy to remember guide. Make sure you provide adequate water to these new plantings as fall is often dry in the South.

Perennials

  • Cone flower
  • Lamb’s Ear
  • Coral Bells
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Canna
  • Rosemary (herb)
  • English Ivy (trailing)
  • Succulants
  • Dusty Miller
  • Creeping Jenny (trailing)
  • Sedum
  • Silver Falls Dichondra (trailing)
  • Aster

Annuals

  • Coleus
  • Pansies/Violas
  • Calibrachoa
  • Zinnia
  • Persian Shield (also a houseplant)
  • Croton (also a houseplant)
  • Begonias
  • Celosia
  • Strawflower
  • Licorice

Greens

  • Mustard
  • Kale
  • Ornamental Cabbage

Grasses/Grass-Like

  • Millet
  • Rubygrass
  • Sedge
  • Japanese Forest Grass
  • Fountain Grass
  • Common Blue Fescue
  • Black Mondo
  • Libertia

Shrubs/Small Trees

  • Nandina
  • Virginia Sweetspire
  • Japanese Maple
  • Loropetalum

Place pumpkins, gourds, dried seed pods, vines, pine cones, and other seasonal items within the display for a wonderful impact that is sure to catch everyone’s eyes.

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Share your favorite planting combinations and pictures of your fall displays.