Soft Things

 

I am one of the many recipients who receive an email from Alan Webster, who writes his thoughts in a daily output called Quiet Times.   Often there is food for thought and encouragement for those who need it.

At times I can be a  ‘word-and- phrase catcher’ and so it was with the last QT that came my way,  the phrase – ‘soft  things.’
For some reason it conjured up in me a feeling of gentleness, and I got to thinking about what the ‘soft things’ were that spoke to me personally.
But before I expand on this I want to share with you the Scripture and the particular paragraph that stood out.

The title of his writing is Spring into Life,  – with a nod to the coming season of Spring,
–  and as Hosea writes to those who have fallen away, to return to the road less travelled.

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Hosea 14:5-7
5.    I will be like the dew to Israel,
He shall grow like the lily,
And lengthen his roots like Lebanon,
6.   His branches shall spread,
His beauty shall be like an olive tree,
And his fragrance like Lebanon.
7.  Those that dwell under his shadow shall return;
They shall be revived like grain,
And grow like a vine
Their scent shall be like the wine of Lebanon.

“What a wonderful picture of awakening is given in these verses by Hosea
Note the gentleness of the Lord who offers  soft things like dew and shade,   

            morning-dew

almost imperceptible touches of grace to allow room for healing and restoration.
Nothing is forced, nothing pushy, nothing fabricated.
Providing the right conditions of water, sun and shade,
the plants that have withered and perished can come back to life.
        ……….   And even while the hot dry winds of August blow, 
blossoms are appearing.
Father, I praise You for the life that comes after a dormant season.  Amen “

In essence it is to me a description of the way the Lord works.
He offers soft things like dew and shade…
Nothing is forced, nothing pushy, nothing fabricated….
…. The plants that have withered and perished can come back to life.

Such a gentle God, a characteristic we do not often ascribe to Him, yet He is gentleness itself.    Gentleness, when delivered, brings with it such grace, relief and freedom to the person to be themselves and feel acknowledged, accepted and loved.

So what soft things talk to me ?   My ‘beeg’ blue soft cushion on which I prop up when I read, or when I feel to rest my sleepy head.   The nearness of my cosy cat.

Ice cream in cone

Soft serve ice-cream !
And for soft cool breezes on a humid and hot summer day.
But most of all the soft kind words of people by, through and to people,  –  are a few that come to mind.

What are the  ‘soft things’  that imperceptibly move you ?
Give it some thought, write them down, even create a poem ? –  and perhaps discover the gentleness in you.

 

 

Sap Rising

 

Big tree

 

Here in our part of the woods, the Southern hemisphere,  Spring is coming.
The sap is rising is an often heard description of early spring.   If you cut into the stem or branch of certain trees  on a cool spring day, you may see sap dripping from the cut end.

Did you know ?

In early winter, deciduous trees enter a dormant phase.   They drop their leaves, move sugar to their roots and wait for warmer temperatures to return.   During this time, as long as the temperatures are above freezing  (water is still liquid), water will continue to flow into the roots.
Trees will absorb water until the water pressure in trees is equal to the surrounding soils.
When air temperatures rise, the tree is primed and ready to go.   It’s flush with water and starts moving sugars from its roots to the twigs, supplying the energy needed to grow new shoots and leaves.  Ref : Woodlandtrust.org.uk

Isn’t Nature wonderful ?   There are so many wonderful lessons we can learn by observing nature.   The soil, the seed, the plant, and the seasons – the essences and cycles of life.    And these cycles of life have one purpose in mind – to restore, replenish, rejuvenate and  resurrect.
All done in the silence and mystery of the nature of things.
Sometimes when a tree is cut right down, and the stump gets a scent of water, it will send out shoots in anticipation of new life, of resurrection.

Job 14:7-9.  says it beautifully

8.    For there is hope for a tree,  if it is cut down, that it will sprout again,   And its tender shoots will not cease
8. Though its root may grow old in the earth, And its stump may die in the ground.
9.  Yet at the scent of water it will bud,  And bring forth branches like a plant.

Resilient humans are like that too.    When brought low, they may be dormant for a while then at a hint of hope, will rise up, like the sap in a tree at the coming of a new spring.

To continue in the metaphor of the tree, there is also a pruning season. Why a pruning season ?   Well in nature, the reasons for  pruning trees are  –  beautifies them,  helps the tree to grow, encourages fruit production, removes hazardous branches, treats diseases and improves vistas !   Most humans need pruning too, that is spiritual pruning, probably for the same reasons trees do, only we may feel the pain of it more intently.

images (3)
In trees is the breath of life.  They take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen, a commodity we cannot live without.   They fulfill such an important part of our existence here on earth.   They provide the nutrition of good food to keep us healthy,  wood to keep us warm, and paper to write our hearts on.  On a hot summer’s day they give shade to man and beast.     And they are a beauty to behold.

jacaranda trees

I love the parallel between people and trees.
In Scripture there are many descriptions of people like trees :

Psalm 104:16   The trees of the LORD are full of sap,  The cedars of Lebanon which He planted,

Psalm 92:12  The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree.  He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.   13.  Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.   14.  They shall still bear fruit in old age,  They shall be fresh and flourishing. 

Isaiah 55:12    ….   And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. 

Job 8:16   He grows green in the sun, and his branches spread out in his garden.  

I think God likens people to trees.  I like to think that in His fields of Faith, throughout the ages and generations He has planted many seeds.  Some seeds (souls) lie dormant for a long time, some come to fruition in their time.
In the fullness of time, the seeds begin to grow, and if watered and nurtured by His Word, they fulfill their destiny and His purposes.
Of course there are dangers around every turn to prevent the souls from coming into their full potential.   Danger lurks everywhere once the stem pushes through the soil.
But once the seed becomes a fully grown tree it provides beauty, shelter, shade and food for others to enjoy.    In its season, the sap will rise, to bear more leaves and branches, to give more fruit and more shade.
A season for pruning may come, to cut away distorted growth, diseases and the necessary surge for new growth to take place.  All to the advantage of the beautiful tree.

God watches over His fields of Faith, the planting of the Lord.   He knows and sees the trees of the field, and knows their needs, their desires and their seasons.  He lovingly waters them and nourishes them with His care and by His Word.

So in this new Spring season I tell myself,  ‘don’t be a dying stump, reach for the promises of God, allow the sap to rise, and grow new praise branches.’

 

green-graphene-gum-trees-1

Pretty Feelings

 

They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.   And though beauty may be all around us we sometimes just don’t see it.
There are some days when life gets a little heavy to carry,  and the feeling is glum, then   on those days I want, and need,  to see something pretty.   I know it will help the mood to shift.

It is as if, beauty is a medicine for the soul, an antidote for ugliness – and isn’t ugliness all around us too ?
More often than not the beauty, the pretty for me, comes through nature.  Perhaps because nature is perfect, and speaks to everything being okay and in its place.

Art and Music may also have such an effect on a mood.    It can transport us on wings of beauty to other places in our souls, where we can find a soothing from the daily grind.

But we need eyes to see and ears to hear, and hearts to understand.

I came across a picture of a rose, and had an injection of prettiness.  It tugged at me and I just knew I wanted to draw the rose.  You know the feeling you get when a picture  just “speaks”  to you ?    Well this picture spoke to me through its gentle simplicity and soft colours.
So I sharpened my pencils, and sat down to re-create it as best I could.  I did not give it its full justice, but my rose does give back to me a hint of soft gentleness, and a warm sense of  prettiness.
I hope you get pretty feelings too, when you take a look at it.

 

rose

Consider the Seed

 

VeryBerryPorridge

I have been on one of my jaunts, and down numerous rabbit holes looking for good food.
I have come to the conclusion that pretty much everything needed for our consumption for a healthy life is tied up in nature, and more pertinently in the small but mighty seed.

In my meanderings I started off in Genesis, and found, what seems to me to be a comprehensive summary of God’s provision of food for man and beast.   I read that on the third day God spoke –

” And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit whose seed is in itself according to its kind.  And God saw that it was good. ”  Genesis 1:12

Seeds are the primary method of propagation in most plant families.
And so God in His goodness and provision perpetually stocked up man’s pantry for food, as a self producing food factory, all through seeds.

When I told my husband that seeds are good for him, he promptly told me that he was not a budgie !!    That is what comes to most minds when we speaks of seeds.  But seeds are so much more than bird food or cattle feed.

seeds
I researched and read that there are different types of seeds.
GRAINS :    A grain crop is a grain-producing plant.  The two main types of commercial grain crops are cereals and legumes.   Grains and cereals are synonymous with caryopses the fruits of the grass family.     ref : Wikipedia
Examples of grass seeds  :  maize, millet, barley, oats, rye, spelt,wheat,  sorghum.
If you think about it these form the basis of our cereals, providing health-sustaining food for our bodies.
They form the staple diet of many people groups, and their nutritive value is immense.

green-peas

Legumes : or grain legumes are members of the Pea family and they are higher in protein.
Some examples :  Chickpeas, common beans, common garden peas, fava beans, lime beans, lentils, lupins, mung beans and soybeans.

HERBS

thyme

In general use, herbs are plants with savoury or aromatic properties that are used for flavouring and garnishing food, medicinal purposes or for fragrances.  Ref : Wikipedia
Some examples : Basil  Parsley, Thyme, Sage and Dill.

 

Fruit

FRUIT  AND  VEGETABLES 
Botanically speaking, a fruit is a seed-bearing structure that develops from the ovary of a flowering plant, whereas vegetables are all other plant-parts, such as roots, leaves and stems for example :  
Fruit – apples squash tomatoes,  – while roots such as beets, potatoes turnips,  and leaves such as spinach, kale and lettuce, and stems eg. celery, broccoli are all vegetables
Ref : http://www.livescience.com

peach fruit

Fruit trees :
The fruit tree and their seeds provide us, with a little heaven on earth.
Fruit has natural filtered water, natural sugars, vitamins, minerals, flavours and other nutrients too.  Cool and refreshing, nutritious and absolutely delicious all at the same time – and a veritable natural pharmacy !

Dr Cherry in his book The Bible Cure says :
Grains, seeds, fruits and vegetables are sources we have available to us for carbohydrates.
The main focus of your food intake should come from the following groups of complex carbohydrates
+  Green/yellow vegetables.
+   Grains, including cereal, rice, whole grain breads,
+  Fruits.
+  Beans and Peas  

What astonished me, was the fact that this food is self-generating – of course terms and conditions apply e.g. good soil, moisture, sunlight, and air must be in supply.

One definition of a seed :  A seed is a small embryonic plant enclosed in a covering called the seed coat, usually with some stored food.  It is the product of the ripened ovule of gymnosperm and angiosperm plant which occurs after fertilization and some growth with-in the mother plant.   Ref : http://www.sciencedaily.com/terms/seed
What is an Ovule ? – the part of the ovary of seed plants that contain the female germ cell and after fertilisation becomes the seed.

Perhaps that is a bit to much information !   But seemingly a pattern is set, which I suspect is a pattern for not only food but for the way of Life itself.  The ovule, is where the seed grows.   Humans too come from the same concept.   There must be a blue print for the pattern of Life.
The life-cycle of the seed, to me, reflects such a pattern.

However, apart from the marvellous provision that the seed provides for our good food, our health and well-being,  the seed also illustrates for us life-lessons.
“Be fruitful and multiply’   That is the purpose of the seed to be productive and to cause increase.
“There will always be seed-time and harvest time –  a pattern for the prosterity of life.  There are seasons in our personal lives too …… ” a time to cry and a time to laugh, a time to make war and a time to make peace”
“Sowing and reaping” is a principle not only applied to the farmer, but to reciprocity, to  finance and even hinge on justice and reprisal.
Seeds are in our genealogies.
(Yes,  somewhere in every family tree there may be a nut!)
God planted a seed  in Abraham, with the promise of many many descendants, even while his wife Sarah was old and barren.   Abraham believed God, and so began the story of the People of Faith, who  would exponentially grow in history,  to make the invisible God known to the nations of the world.
Hidden in plain sight, but perhaps a little obscure in the heap of histories,  is Jesus Christ, who is Abraham’s Seed,  (ref : Gal 3:16)
God’s promise of salvation for the People of His Promise, that would extend far beyond Abraham’s imagination.

Not all seeds grow, but all have potential to grow  – (author unknown)

A seed can hold a destiny, because faith (what you think and what you believe) is like a seed.    The promises of God are the seeds of faith.  We can believe them, nourish them in our thought-life to grow a better and more abundant tomorrow.
The Seed is the word of God  – Luke 8:11
It is good spiritual food for intellectual understanding, and the sound development of  mind, soul, and spirit – and that of our societies !

Mustard_Seed Tree

But there is another life lesson the seed brings to us, and it is that of transformation.
“………  unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.  (John 12:24
If a grain of wheat dies, it can produce and become more.  More grain,  – and more bread to give food and life to many who are hungry.

wheat ear

That is perhaps the hidden essence of life – to die so that there can be a rebirth.   A surrendered life of ‘becoming’ is an ongoing process, but carries with it seeds of great magnitude, and a new consciousness.    One just has to ponder the story of the Cross of Christ, and the resurrection power of transformation.

All plant life starts with seeds.   They are small, but they are mighty.   Seeds are not just little ‘husky’ things, but carry various and necessary compounds that work in our bodies in many precise and methodical ways to grow cells or to repair damaged ones.  Therein lies the wonder of the seed.
Seeds, plants and nutrition all have a part to play in the restorative power that can bring healing and wellness to a sick body.

Plants are loaded with essential minerals, vitamins and disease-fighting nutrients that are often lacking in our modern-day diets.
I read of some cancer fighting plants, with their unique compounds found in their substance :  There are many more of course
Garlic and Onions : – Allium compounds, which increase activity of immune cells that fight cancer and indirectly help to break down cancer causing substances.
Grapes : contain ellagic acid., this compound blocks enzymes necessary for cancer cells to grow, thus slowing the growth of tumors.   Grapes also contain compounds that can prevent blood clots.   Another substance in grape skins (resveratrol) prevents deposit of cholesterol in arteries.
Citrus Fruits  – contain limonene, which stimulates cancer-killing immune cells (T-lymphocytes and others)   Oranges are shown to have strong anticancer benefits.
Some 60 anti-cancer chemicals contained in citrus fruits.
Tomatoes –  contain lycopene, an anti cancer substance, some researches suggest may be stronger than beta carotene.
Watermelons, Carrots and Red Peppers also contain this powerful substance.
Broccoli and Cabbage  – contain indoles, can effect estrogen converting it to a benign form that will not stimulate abnormal breast cancer cells.   These cruciferous vegetables contain multiple cancer fighting chemicals.  Brussel Sprouts and Cauliflower also fall in this category.
Ref : The Bible Cure. Dr Reginald Cherry M.C.  Siloam Press.

vegetables-colorful

I for one, would like to applaud those who are sowers of seeds, the farmer, the teacher and the preacher, for they scatter seeds that bring us good food for increased growth, health and sensible development.

But there are those who would modify the preciousness of the seed. These modifiers are those who tamper with the health and well-being of many generations to come !!   To them I say  ‘hands off our seeds’.

seed shoots

So in my jaunt in search of good food, the seed became the focal point of consideration.  Think about it, what comes first :   the seed, the plant, the flower, the fruit, the death and then the rebirth – a cycle and a pattern for the good life, both physical and spiritual.

All that, and more is the precious seed from which plants grow and provide us with the most, and the best nutrition for sustaining the life of man and beast here on earth.

Here’s to good food and good health. Let’s be thankful and eat from God’s sustenance for us, provided ultimately through the Seed.

Yellow-Mustard-Seeds