A Road Trip Game

Chrismas in Fall by sherriwoodbridge.com

On the way down to visit my in-laws, we passed several items of magnificence along the way. Redwood trees, rivers, mountains and more. At some point on our journey, I was wondering if I could come up with a verse for works of God I spotted along the way. This is what I came up with…

The poplar’s tree leaves were joyfully dancing in the wind reminded me of trees clapping their hands…
You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Isaiah 55:12

A flock of sparrows flew by over dry grass alongside the road…
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:26

Rocks sitting as statues along the roadside…
they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 1Corinthians 10:4

Cattle, grazing on the hillside…
for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. Psalm 50:10

Signs along the way…
There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Luke 21:25

An eagle was soaring above us as we crossed the border between Oregon and California…
those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar onwings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

The sun beat down in Redding at a low 96 degrees…
I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. John 12:46

The valleys were in desperate need of a drink…
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,I fear no evil, for You are with me;Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4

Beautiful mountains
And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. Matthew 17:20

We crossed over the Klamath river
Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb… Revelation 22:1

We passed wildflowers and tamed flowers and some were… lilies.
And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the fieldgrow; they do not toil nor do they spin… Matthew 6:28

Green pastures were scattered between the dry lands…
He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. Psalm 23:2

Old, beautiful barns
Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? Matthew 6:26

As we drove, I continued to think about the verses I could remember and thanked God I could remember them! There is hope in being able to remember God’s word; to be able to recall it as you get older.

I thought of my children and how that would have been a fun traveling game when we went on trips. I guess if I ever do a trip with my granddaughter, I’ll have a great activity. ‘Til then, if you have kids, why not use this as a travel game on your next trip around the country—or around town. And if you can’t think of a verse to go with something you see, look one up when you get home and make that the verse to learn for the week.

And, have fun!

I Dare You

 

 Look at the center of a flower. The long, slender spikes that protrude upward and out. Do you see the pollen? The intricacy of these small parts which have a role in the making of other flowers? So small and yet they have a vital role in the cycle of life. So small and yet so important.
Look at the texture of the petals. Their softess. Their delicateness. Their color.
Isn’t God awesome? To create this for our pleasure? And yet, how many times have we merely passed by – run by –  without notice? Not even a second glance. Scurrying off to our next appointment, our next duty, another emergency, another distraction. We rush around frustrated and daunted by life’s demands.
If we just stop, even for just one moment in our day, and take time out to notice one thing of beauty…
        a child’s smile… 
        the gratitude of one you gave selflessly to… 
        the cotton-candy clouds above… 
        the petal on a rose…
        a dragonfly on a post…
        an aged man sitting on a park bench…
Stopping and noticing just one thing of beauty puts you into a completely different frame of mind. It has the power to change the course of your day and bring peace and refreshment where chaos may have prevailed.
Stop today. 
For just a moment. 
Make yourself notice something beautiful. 
Just one thing.
I dare you.
Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.  – Luke 12:22-31
Just one thing.

Woodburn Tulip Festival

While on our trip to Idaho, we took a short detour to visit the beautiful Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival in the town of Woodburn (approx. 3 1/2 hrs northeast of Southern Oregon). Meandering through the outskirts of the main town, we passed several lush green farms, trees with ferns growing out of their trunks, and a gorgeous old church, its walls bursting with thousands of stories begging to be told. It stood across the street from an old school house, which boasted its own memories and stories of childhood days past. A familiar, old, steel gray merry-go-round and ladder slide stood ghostly still, vacated in the school’s play yard.

Shortly down the road, tulips by the thousands waited to be photographed and so I did what anybody else with a camera in tow would do and started shooting pictures of tulips. Reds, purples, pinks, yellows and what seemed every color under the sun were waiting to mesmerize the visitor and take their breath away. 

tulip_field_3.jpg

And so they did.

Row upon row of tulips standing upright in anticipation of being photographed for the next enlargement upon the wall of a bragging tourist who had visited these rows. And that is what we were, along with the hundreds of others walking the tulip fields of Woodburn, that cool and cloudy Spring day. Tourists taking a tour, a walk, a journey in an ethereal place.

Workers dotted the large fields as they busied themselves cutting freshly budded tulips to be shipped and sold for arrangements and bouquets. Tractors stood silent at the ends of colorful rows for children to try out their climbing skills and parents to use as props for photographing those little ones for posterities sake. 

A cow ‘trainmobile’ was available for moms and dads of small children needing to be transported for a fun ride from here to there.  A larger hay-ride version was available for bigger ‘kids’ to have a welcomed reprieve from finding they may have absent mindedly walked too far from the main hub while being taken aback by the beauty surrounding them. 

We were thankful to have taken our rubber boots, as mud puddles were frequent but were not frowned upon for after all, the beauty to behold distracts the happy photographers and visitors from the to be expected mud. A child would go nuts here, if allowed to!

 

Wooden windmills, both life-size and childlike stood stoically on the grounds, giving a sense of being transported to another place. Holland, perhaps? But did you know that tulips originally were wild flowers that grew in Turkey? The name tulip is derived from the Turkish word for turban (tulipa), as the tulip is said to resemble a turban. The flowers were sent to a man named Carolus Clusius by his friend, Ogier Ghislai de Busbecq, who was serving as the ambassador of Constantinople (present-day Istanbul). Ogier had seen the flower and sent a few bulbs to his friend Carolus for his garden where he lived in Leiden, Vienna.

Carolus, a famous biologist, had become the director of the Hortus Botanicus in Leiden. Lieden is the oldest botanical garden of Europe, founded in 1587. Clusius planted the bulbs and thus, the beginning of all the bulb fields you see today. When Carolus Clusius wrote the first major book on tulips in 1592, they became so popular that his garden was raided and bulbs stolen on a regular basis.

Tulipmania“, as it was known as, skyrocketed and money was exchanged for these bulbs like nothing you have ever seen. Tulip bulbs went for more the cost of a home in Amsterdam. The “Tulip Crash” was inevitable and forced the government to place restrictions of the trading of this flower. 

The tulip’s popularity is said to have been caused from the exuberant colors, dramatic flames and frilly petals. These flowers had actually, instead, been infected by the mosaic virus, also known as  the Tulip break virus. The virus is famous for its dramatic effects on the flower, such as the streaks found in some tulips. The healthy tulips were supposed to be a solid, smooth, monotone color. The virus causing the mosaic disease infestation had come from a tulip louse (insect) that lived on peaches and potatoes. The diseased varieties, which are no longer sold, are now replaced by varieties that are hybrids which appear similar to the beautifully diseased flowers but are now genetically stable.

The healthy flowers were supposed to be solid, smooth and monotone. The virus came to the tulip from a louse living on peaches and potatoes. These diseased varieties are no longer sold, but what you can find is hybrids that look similar but are genetically stable.

Though tulips originated in Turkey, Holland is best known for these delicate, curvaceous creatures. Known as the “flower shop of the world“, fields of vibrant colors and tulip festivals are  in abundance in springtime. Taking their love of tulips with them, the Dutch people, upon settling in America, went about spreading their memories of home by spreading tulip bulbs within the new land in which they now found themselves. Evidence of their ancestry can be witnessed throughout the United States, abounding mostly in New York and Michigan, where Dutch roots are very strong.

One of my favorite tulips is the Parrot tulip. I had first seen a picture of one of these on a photography site and it took my breath away. Multi-colored, frilly, curvaceous, stunning, crinkly – all in one. Then, not thinking about it, not expecting it – I saw one. To say it was beautiful is to lessen it, to do it an injustice. It stood there, gently being teased by a breeze and swayed as I stood, still. It was as if I were gazing upon the handiwork of the Creator himself. Ahh… but that is indeed what I was doing. It was a moment of worship.

I know man alters, grafts, replicates, and clones… but only God can deliver. Only God can supply the ingredients needed. Ultimately, only God can claim glory. And so, I freely gave it. Right there in that muddy tulip field on that cold, cloudy day.

We took off our boots when we got back to the car and stuffed them into plastic bags which we hadn’t intentionally put in the car but were grateful they were there. Two weeks later and the mud is now dried, but still pasted to the soles and sides. I haven’t cleaned them off yet. Could it be I just want to savor a bit longer the fresh smell of those fields? The colors of those flowers? The wonder of the moments spent there?

It just may be.

This Week’s Offering

Heading south from Medford, Oregon, stands a fairly quiet and quaint little town.  Founded in the 1800’s, the city of Ashland began unofficially with just a water-powered sawmill and also a flour mill that stood along Ashland Creek, giving credibility to those who wanted to call this paradise their new home.

Ashland is known for its Shakespeare Festivals, the Ashland Hotel, wineries, outdoor recreational attractions and more, not to mention Southern Oregon University. But the greatest treasure I have found in Ashland is a not-so-small park, tucked away just off of the main road. And I mean, right off the main road.

Lithia Park boasts 93 acres of pristine and lush blades of soft, green grass, picnic area, blooming flowering cherry and magnoliia trees in the spring and colorful autumn-hued trees in the fall. In the summer, the playground equipment is in full use and the creek cools off tired hiking tootsies. 

In the early 1800’s, people from Ohio and Kentucky made their way to western Oregon, settling in this small area and since these settlers hailed from Ashland, Ohio and Ashland, Kentucky, they most likely agreed the best choice for a name was that of the hometowns from which they came.  With the opening of their post office, the city of Ashland became official.

In 1892, Lithia Park was started as an 8-acre project for a city of then almost 3,000. Ashland was the largest town in the county at that time and was growing faster than any town south of Portland, six hours north. People began coming from all over to visit and camp in what would become Lithia Park and drink the fresh, bubbling, lithium rich fountain water, now known as Lithia-water, right from the porcelain fountains at the entrance to the park.

Parts of the park have been restored and in 2014, Lithia Park was named one of the top ten Great Spaces by the APA. Parts of the park are stil undeveloped, which gives you the feeling of being out in naature, but also knowing you can stop for a slice of great pizza at Martolli’s Hand Tossed Pizza on the way back to the car. (Yum!)

I have lived in Medford for almost eight years now and have driven by Lithia Park a few times, strolled it briefly less times, but this week I have visited twice and plan to revisit it tomorrow as it’s nothing short of breathtaking. Especially now, with Spring’s buds and blooms opening wide to the fragrance of a new and bright season. 

As the cherry trees drop their petals in the soft afternoon breeze and gently land on the pond water like freshly fallen snow, the wood ducks that have stopped over on their migration north show off their colorful, feathered coats for all to see. A flutist sits on a bench inside the bandstand, playing classical tunes that echo out and through the wooded areas that are filled with cedars and firs, rhodededrons,  azaleas and more. A trail guide is available and one day I will pick one up to see all the places there are to behold, but for now I don’t want to miss what’s right in front of me. 

You Just Don’t Know It Yet

Boppa (Grandpa) and Boo (granddaughter) sit on the couch while watching The Little Mermaid together. A scary part comes on and Boo tells Bops to be brave, that it will soon be over, to which Boppa replies, “But I’m not brave.

“You are brave, Boppa,” Boo states. “You just don’t know you’re brave yet.”

In the book, The Help, the main character, Aibileen Clark, a maid, has charge over a little girl all throughout each day. Because the little girl is neglected so often by her mother, the maid tries to instill truth and confidence into the little girl as often as she can. Not a work day goes by in which Aibileen doesn’t say to the little girl (at least once during the day), “You is smart. You is good. You is important.”

Aibileen got it and so did my Boo.

There are good and decent things about each of us that we cannot, will not, or just plain refuse to see, yet we are so very quick to see the negative things in ourselves and to dwell on those quite ‘happily’.

Dr. James Dobson, a leading family psychologist/counselor was once heard to say that for every criticism a person gives to another person, specifically that of a parent to a child, it takes seven affirmations / seven acts of praise / encouragement / positive words to balance out what that one negative comment will do. If this is indeed true, can you imagine what goes through the mind of that child/adult who heard nothing but criticism and negative feedback all through their growing-up years? The child who constantly felt they never quite measured up to their parents’ expectations because they never brought home perfect test scores or made first string on a sports team?

Have you ever been to a child’s Little League or soccer ball game and listened to the parents in the bleachers? There’s three different sets of parents. The ones who come to the games to socialize and they never really pay any attention to the games. The others who come and you know they’re there even if you never see them (they’re always cheering or yelling for their kid). And last, the type of parent who, if they don’t loudly verbalize their disappointment at how their child is performing/playing, you will hear the disappointment muttered with a message (clearly having no regard for the breaking of their child’s spirit) to those sitting near that their child can’t meet their performance standard(s). If it’s muttered in the stands, you bet it’s muttered at home and if it’s muttered at home, you can be sure it’s heard or understood by the child who is listening. And you can be sure they’ve heard every word.

How does a child grow up and feel good about himself when the negative outweighs the positive?

He doesn’t.

It takes someone who’s been there to identify the garbage which that person can’t seem to get rid of. It takes someone who’s been there to show that person they really are of value and worth and how to take the lies they have been fed and replace them with truth.

Not all of us had someone to tell us on a regular basis positive words like, “You are kind, you are beautiful, and you are smart,” like Abileen was able to do for the little girl she cared for. Imagine the child who grows up hearing words of affirmation like that every day, or things like, “You are so compassionate.” “You are so gentle.” “You are so patient.” You are so kind.” A child who hears words of that caliber has a better chance of not only growing up with a healthy sense of self-esteem, but also with a sense that s/he just may have something of worth to offer society.

Look down deep inside of you. 

You are smart. 

You are kind. 

You are beautiful. 

You are patient. 

And though you may struggle with believing those positive attributes – as we all do at one time or another, they are there.

You just may not know it yet.