Memorial Day Balloons

Memorial Day – an American holiday set aside to honor military men and women who died serving our country. It originated following the Civil War and was then known as Decoration Day.

Memorial Day is a day to refresh our memories regarding people and events. The majority of Americans honor this day by decorating graves in cemeteries, going to parades and/or having picnics. I want to tie together these three ways of remembering. Balloons will be the common denominator.

Historical memories are jarred when we go to cemeteries to decorate graves. We recall the wars that are part of our nation’s history. We remember our ancestors who gave their lives during these battles. Our country has a rich heritage to be remembered and honored.

While visiting cemeteries and placing wreaths on graves, there may be some sorrowful tears shed. However, flowers placed near the tombstones may also speak of life. Symbols of lives once lived on earth and now lived in heaven. If this is where you find yourself on Memorial Day, reflect on some happy memories. There are stories of life to be told at the sites honoring the dead. Maybe you can tie a balloon to a bouquet of flowers.

For me, balloons in a cemetery trigger a memory of my father. I remember his life and his legacy. Although he did not serve in the military, he loved his country. He was a farmer who lived to be 91 years old. While in the cemetery for the burial of his body, we celebrated his life by having each of his great grandchildren release a green balloon. (We chose green because he was Irish.) It was amazing to watch one of these flying balloons float towards the farm that had provided his livelihood.

The story continued a few weeks later in a restaurant’s parking lot. Our son and daughter-in-law had gone out to dinner. Their two-year-old daughter was given a balloon as they left. Once they were outdoors, Anna let go of her balloon. Mom and Dad sighed and promised that she could get another one soon. However, Anna was not unhappy – she was smiling. Her response, “I let the balloon go so Great Grandpa can play with it in heaven!”

Some memories bring smiles while others bring tears. Both are experienced on Memorial Day.

Parades offer the opportunity to create new memories. Family traditions are established as relatives join together to watch a parade. A parade that includes marching military men and women who may have been involved in active combat. Soldiers currently serving our country are also part of the spectacular scene. Bands play patriotic songs. American flags proudly wave in the breeze. Patriotic balloons are carried by parade participants and shared with sideline observers.

There may be a trio of red, white and blue balloons tied to a sign announcing “Picnic Held Here!” Food and fond memories are in abundance at these gatherings. While eating hot dogs, stories may be shared about family members who are no longer in attendance. Children may hear anecdotes of grandparents and great grandparents they never knew. Possibly, a photograph of a relative in military uniform is displayed.

In a few days, we will join in Memorial Day celebrations.

Maybe it will be a time to release some red, white and blue balloons in memory of those who died serving our country. You may choose to add a balloon of another color to represent someone special. I encourage you to honor the veterans in your midst. They may be coping with PTSD and recalling some difficult memories today. Take time to give thanks for a life given sacrificially for our country. Take pride in the people who took pride in serving their country.  According to Romans 13:7, let us give honor to whom honor is due.

In a Memorial Day speech 2019, Vice President Mike Pence said, “Their duty was to serve. Our duty is to honor.” Romans 13:7 instruct us to us give honor to whom honor is due. May we comply with these words of wisdom on May 31, 2021.

Seed – FEED – Weed (2)

Gardening is an enjoyable summer activity. However, it is also demanding. There is always some type of work to be done. Gardening is a labor of love. Previously, I mentioned 3 words associated with gardening. Seed – feed – weed. Last week we dug into planting seeds. This week we will do some required feeding. Once again, we will think about both earthly gardens and spiritual gardens. We are gardeners of the soil. God is the Gardener of our souls.

Seeds have sprouted. Plants are prevalent. Now growth requires nourishment.

Rain has watered our planted seeds and prevented them from shriveling and dying. Sunshine has helped the seedlings to sprout and push their way above the ground. But, more is needed.

Plants need food to grow. Their form of food is fertilizer. Fertilizer is a natural or synthetic compound applied either to the soil or directly upon the plants to improve growth and productivity. Potassium, phosphorous and nitrogen are major nutrients. Bags of fertilizer are purchased at garden stores. Then the nutrients must be sprinkled or sprayed upon the plants.

So much for our botanical lesson. Now we progress to the garden of our heart.

II Corinthians 5:17 says, “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!When we accept Christ as our Savior, we become new creations – new plantings that need to grow.

We are provided spiritual water and sunshine.

Rain is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The Lord declares in Isaiah 44:3, “I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring, and My blessing on your descendants.Isaiah 45:8 declares, “You heavens above, rain down My righteousness; let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness flourish with it; I, the LORD, have created it.

Our sunshine comes from the Son of God. Hebrews 1:3 says, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word. John 3:16 proclaims “For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Like the flowers in our outdoor gardens, we still need more. We need spiritual fertilizer.

The Bible is our bag of spiritual fertilizer. The proper nutrients are contained within it. Jesus says in Matthew 4:4, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.However, we must do more than just read and know the scriptures. We must liberally apply them to our lives for new growth.

Colossians 3:16 NKJV portrays spiritual fertilizer. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom.Job and the Psalmist give us examples of how to apply our spiritual nutrients. Job 22:22 NKJV says, “Receive, please, instruction from His mouth, And lay up His words in your heart.Psalm 119:11 declares, “I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You.

The parable of the sower is recorded in Matthew 13:1-9. Verse 8 says, “Still other seed fell on good soil and produced a crop—a hundredfold, sixtyfold, or thirtyfold.The soil the Lord is talking about is the soil of our hearts. The productive soil of the soul had been properly fertilized supernaturally.

Botanical plants grow in gardens of the ground. Spiritual plants grow in the gardens of our hearts. Galatians 5:22-23 describes the fruit that grows within us. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.While it is summertime, we enjoy the produce of earthly gardens. The fruit of the Spirit is available year round to all who live by the Spirit according to Galatians 5:16.

SEED – Feed – Weed (1)

This is a beautiful time of year! According to the calendar, spring has been with us for almost 2 months and summer will be appearing in another month. Ecclesiastes 3:11 is a promise fulfilled by nature during this time of year. “He has made everything beautiful in its time.This is also a beautiful spiritual promise for us.

Seed – feed – weed! Three words placed in the hands of every gardener who wants to make everything beautiful. During the upcoming weeks, we are going to focus upon each of these activities.

With a shovel in our hands, we dig in the dirt to plant some seeds in our gardens. With the Bible is in our hands, we dig into the Word to find some spiritual seeds to plant within our souls.

Do not be anxious about anything,
but in every situation,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6

Gardening should be pleasurable, not stressful. We can ask for God’s help with anything – including gardening projects. Outdoor gardening requires us to get down on our hands and knees to dig in the dirt. Spiritual gardening requires us to get on our knees in prayer  He will guide us with our garden decisions. One of the first things to be decided is what kind of seeds to plant. Flowers or vegetables? If we decide flowers, then we have to choose which floral varieties.

We also have a choice regarding what is planted within our soul’s soil. Hosea 10:12 NLT says, “‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the LORD, that He may come and shower righteousness upon you.’The Lord says in Zechariah 8:12 NLT,I am planting seeds of peace and prosperity among you.James 3:18 NLT tells us, “Those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”
Isaiah 43:18-19

Let’s forget the cold winter days that no longer exist. However, our flower gardens may currently look like a wilderness composed of dead leaves and a few remaining sticks of frozen flowers. Allow the spring raindrops to water the dry hardened ground. When the soil is sufficiently soaked, a season of new birth will be released in nature. Time for us to plant seeds. Soon we will see the evidence of new plants.

We also have the promise of new spiritual growth if we will forget the former hurts and allow new growth to spring forth. Hosea 6:3 NLT says, “Oh, that we might know the LORD! Let us press on to know Him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.The spring rain is symbolic of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit softening and preparing our hearts. Then we can plant new promises in our heart’s fertile soil. II Corinthians 1:20 NKJV says, “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. We are assured God’s promises will grow. A fresh start is always welcome by plants and people.

Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting,
“Clear the way through the wilderness for the LORD!
Make a straight high
way through the wasteland for our God!”
Isaiah 40:3 NLT

Previously, we referred to gardeners clearing away debris to prepare the ground for planting spring seeds. Now, if a gardener wants to plant his/her seeds in a straight row, he/she may make a straight furrow with a hoe before inserting the seeds into the ground.

Spiritually, we may also need to do some ground work. Other translations of this verse say, “Prepare the way of the Lord.” We must prepare the garden of our heart to allow God’s plans to be planted in us. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” The Lord will plant His plans within us in an orderly manner. We desire for these seeds to sprout into reality.

James 1:21 says, “Get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.I like the Message translation which says, “In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.

As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat, summer and winter,
day a
nd night will never cease.
Genesis 8:22

Seedtime and springtime go together. They are part of God’s plan for the earth. Seedtime is when we plant seeds in the ground. Springtime sunshine provides the warmth required for new plants to grow. The results are beautiful flourishing flowers.

Spiritual seedtime is when God’s promises are planted in our souls. Spiritual springtime is evident when the love of God’s Son shines in our lives. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, new spiritual growth bursts forth revealing the beauty of Jesus in us. Spiritual planting and growing is always possible. It is not dictated by nature’s cycle of seasons.

One fact remains whether we are planting flower seeds or spiritual seeds. When we plant seeds, we implant the promises of new life.  Seeds are containers of life.  They reproduce after their own find.

I Peter 1:23 says. “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. May we strive to become flowers that radiate the glory of God! Colossians 1:27 NLT says, “Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing His glory.

Special Mother’s Day Greetings for Special Moms

Mom! A endearing name spoken with love. This coming Sunday is a day set aside to celebrate those who claim this name.

Moms come in many different forms. All are worthy of honor. Today I am thinking specifically about the biological mothers who have made it possible for other women to become mothers. And, about the women who are mothers because of adoption.

I begin by sharing a true story. A married couple desired to become a family. However, their dream was not becoming a reality in the usual way. They started the adoption process. In January 2016, this couple passed the adoption home inspection. The nursery was ready. A crib was set up. When would their baby arrive? Would they wait the usual nine moths for the arrival of a newborn? Would the time be longer or shorter? They had already been waiting multiple years to have a family.

Fast forward, or rather slowly creep forward, to October 2018. The couple had kind of given up hope. The crib no longer had a place of honor in the room designated as a nursery. Some baby items had been given away. They were happily married and they continued to live their lives.

That is until October 26, 2018. His cell phone rang but he was not available. Her cell phone rang but she did not answer. Finally, they responded to a call on their land line. A baby girl had been born. Did they want her? They had three hours to make their decision. Of course, they wanted a daughter! Off to the hospital – with a stop at Target to purchase a baby car seat.

They arrived at the hospital. They were met by a social worker. What did they want to name their baby? They looked at each other. Not a clue! The biological mother had given her baby a first name. They decided to honor this woman’s choice. They personally added a middle name. It would take longer to determine the legal last name.

Their family of three was becoming more of a reality by the minute. They had waited almost two years. Nothing happened. Then everything changed in a few short hours. So slowly and yet so quickly.

The social worker informed them of how they were chosen to be this little one’s parents. The biological mother requested her daughter be given to the couple who had been waiting the longest for a baby. They qualified! Such a blessing. This fact still brings tears to my eyes. Such a sacrifice for a biological mom to make for an adopted mom!

Legal adoption was scheduled for April 2020. However, court actions were detained because of COVID. Multiple months later in 2020, they finally were the legal parents with an adopted daughter. A beautiful true story!

Previously, we have watched the television program Long Lost Family. In the episodes, Chris Jacobs and Lisa Joyner help unite family members often separated because of adoptions. Although usually having lived in loving families, many individuals still feel an emptiness not knowing their biological mothers. They love their adopted moms but want to meet their biological moms. Why were they not raised by their birth mother? Were they not wanted? Was it because their mother thought there was a better option for her child? In most cases when mothers and children (often adults themselves by this time) meet, there is an instant bond.

Many times, the birth mom has experienced guilt having given up her child – even though she felt this was the best option at the time. Such a sweet reunion when biological parents and children first meet. A mom’s empty arms are finally filled with the baby she never held. It does not matter that the baby is now an adult. Sons and daughters who never experienced being enfolded in the arms of their birth moms now experience this unique love.

There must be birth moms for there to be adopted moms. These women who gave birth are mothers in their own right. They deserve to be honored on Mother’s Day even through their motherhood may be a secret only they know. They may silently observe Mother’s Day. For them, it may be a painful day.

Mothers by adoption never have the privilege of carrying their children in their wombs for nine moths. However, they carry a growing love in their hearts that overflows to their children. They hold their children in their arms while holding a legal document in their hands verifying they are mothers. They uniquely understand the precious privilege of being moms. I wonder if a mom through adoption ever thinks about the special woman who birthed her son or daughter.

Psalm 127:3 NLT says, “Children are a gift from the LORD.” Extenuating circumstances may cause some young women to feel as if their newborn baby is not a gift. It may appear impossible for them to care for and raise a child at this time in their lives. They may feel it is best for their baby to be released into the care of a childless couple. They may choose to give their infant as a gift to a woman who is unable to have a child naturally.

A woman unable to conceive a baby may be blessed with the gift of a baby through adoption. She may be thrilled to have the opportunity to fulfill Proverbs 22:6. “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers. You are worthy of honor. However, I express particular admiration to two groups of special women. Mothers who have given up their children for adoption. And, mothers who are moms because of adoption. God bless you all!