Category Archives: Uncategorized

Radiant daffodils

I have never read about daffodils in the Bible. Bible writers missed their chance to refer to or identify a beautiful flower. In March, we had about a week of unseasonably warm weather and the daffodils started to bloom across the Roanoke Valley. Daffodils say to all of us:  “see me, it’s spring!” as they give off their radiant yellow color.

The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. Psalm 19:8 (NIV)

God’s laws were never meant to be burdensome. They were given to us to create life and light. So when we are weary from reading Scripture the problem is not the Bible—it is with our hearts (ouch!!!). Yet this is good news, for the Bible not only exposes our hearts, it can also encourage and even transform our heart. The Scripture will reveal and equip us to work on the attitudes that we all struggle with (adapted from David Whitehead).

Note: the Bible mentions the narcissus; that is a close enough flower to the daffodil.

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Wealth and Lukewarm Christianity

You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. Revelation 3:17 (NIV)

Prior to this passage the writer John calls this church lukewarm. How did they get lukewarm? By trusting in their wealth. They thought that money brings security, We are not to confuse what the world calls wealth with what God calls wealth (adapted from David Whitehead).

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For-sightful Forsythia

Forsythia

The forsythia (Forsythia europaea) is an ornamental shrub; a member of the olive family of plants. There are about eleven species. Most are native to eastern Asia and one native to south-eastern Europe. Some gardeners refer to forsythia as “Golden Bell.”

Forsythias are an early-spring flowering deciduous shrub. Back home in southern Pennsylvania, our forsythia bush bloomed in April, generally the earliest flower to bloom. Our forsythia bush grew on a trellis and was about four feet tall; however, forsythia bushes can grow up to 20 feet tall. Forsythia also makes an attractive hedgerow if you are willing to prune them repeatedly. The deeply four-lobed flower are medium, the petals joined only at the base. Petals become pendant in rainy weather, shielding reproductive parts. Flowers appear before leaves.

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Low hanging forsythia often take root in the soil, and can be removed for transplanting. Commercial propagation occurs through cuttings, taken from green wood in late spring to early summer after forsythia flowers. Alternatively, cuttings may be taken between November and February.

For the longest time, tradition advocated that forsythia flowers produced the milk sugar (lactose). Lactose rarely occurs in other natural sources except milk. However, the presence of lactose was never confirmed.

Christian Fore-sight

I’m multitasking, writing this column and watching a popular news channel. A woman, who wrote a book, claimed Radical Islam wants to create an Armageddon-like situation in the Middle East. Their approach is to kill any group who disagrees with them, even peace-loving Muslims. For any group to aspire to such a goal is mind-boggling.

St. John wrote about Armageddon in Revelation. If you have never studied Revelation, now would be the time. St. John foresees the end times (the end of the known world) and a huge battle which includes the world’s superpowers. The battle ends with blood, destruction, and death of millions.

Seeing and writing about the Battle of Armageddon his battle must have been difficult for the sensitive apostle. I don’t know what will happen in the Middle East; however, I do believe in the end-time prophecy fore-seen by John. But, I am not spending my time working for it or praying for it to come. Instead, I am praying for the salvation of souls, even of the jihadists.

Reflection: What about you? Do you remember to pray for salvation of the terrorists who are inflecting inhumane atrocities as well as their victims?

I love Bible plants along with their symbolism. If you want to learn more about them, read my two books: 1) Rooted in God and 2) God as a Gardener. You can purchase them from my website: Carolyn Roth Ministry at http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com/

Copyright: March 1, 2015 by Carolyn A. Roth; Updated March 6, 2017. all rights reserved.

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Rooted in God

Friends, my publisher is closing. I have 5 copies of Rooted in God left. If you want to purchase one, you can do so at http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com.

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Choices, Choices!

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Cleveland select flowering pear.

The pear tree produces beautiful white blossoms that delight our eyes early in spring in the mountain valleys of Virginia. They are blooming all over the Roanoke Valley. Often we call them the Bradford pear or Callery pear. The flowers are produced in early spring before leaves expand fully. They are white, with five petals, and about 0.79 to 1.2 inches in diameter. Flowers have a sickly-sweet smell. The fruit is small, hard, and almost woody until softened by frost. Humans don’t eat them, but birds consume them enthusiastically. Bradford pear trees often push out native American plants and trees. On the Bradford pear tree, limbs grow upward from the main branch at an angle so narrow that hard winds break limbs from the tree. Rarely, will you see an intact mature Bradford pear tree.

Today, many municipalities and individuals who want the spring-time beauty of a flowering Bradford tree buy and plant the Cleveland Select pear tree. Cleveland Select pear tree is a genetically-improved variety that grows in a uniform globe shape. The Cleveland select tree is strong because of its limb structure. It withstands ice on branches and/or strong winds without breaking or coming apart because limbs grow at an optimal (45-60 degrees) – rather than a too narrow (5-15 degrees) – angle from the trunk or central leader (limb) of the tree.

Application:

When something is optimal, it is best, ideal, finest, or most advantageous. The opposite of optimal is worst. On a continuum between optimal and worst Christ-like behavior, there are a lot of points, i.e., a lot of distance between optimal and worst. Unlike the Cleveland Select pear tree limbs that are strong because they are at a larger angle from the tree’s main leader, Christians aren’t stronger when there is a lot of distance between them and God. Closeness counts in a relationship with God.

Words from today’s church liturgy were: “Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth: You have given us the spirit of discipline, that we may triumph over the flesh and live no longer for ourselves but for Christ.” Aren’t they food for thought? God has given us a spirit of discipline. We have the choice to exercise or not exercise that spirit. No one can say, “The Devil made me do it.”

Reflection: What kind of limbs do you want to grow on your tree of life?

I love Bible plants along with their symbolism. If you want to learn more about them, read my two books: 1) Rooted in God and 2) God as a Gardener. You can purchase them from my website: Carolyn Roth Ministry at http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com/

Copyright 3/5/17; Carolyn A. Roth

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Lent, A Time of Celebration

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In orthodox churches, Lent is the 40 days before Easter. Lent is a time of reflection and repentance; therefore, tends to be a solemn time for Christians.

Lent begins with Ash Wednesday which in 2017 is March 1. We will get ashes as a reminder that we are repentant sinners who don’t deserve what Christ did for us. During Lent my church has a Wednesday noontime service and Wednesday evening service to help us to reflect on Lent. We tend to be more about what we can do extra in Lent than what we can give up.

When we walk into the church on Wednesday noon, seeing the blooming Lenten rose makes me smile and tends to calm me.

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This beautiful flower starts blooming about February in Roanoke, VA (Plant Zone 7) when the ground is still frozen. The Lenten rose is present during Lent, hence its name. This evergreen plant is in the Helleboros genus, and like most Helleboros grows best in a shade garden.  It is resistant to both deer and voles, long-lived, and provides exquisite blooms at a time when flowers are a scarce delight. Once established Lenten rose is drought tolerant but grow best when the soil is evenly moist. Water well during extended dry periods. I have mine on a soaker hose with a timer during the summer. Lenten rose flowers are creamy yellow as the one above or a dark magenta color.

Reflection: What do you plan to do “extra” to celebrate (and it is a celebration) of Lent?

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February 27, 2017: carolyn a. roth; all rights reserved.

 

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Priceless

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ONE SUNDAY MORNING, THE PRIEST NOTICED LITTLE ALEX STANDING IN THE FOYER OF THE CHURCH STARING UP AT A LARGE PLAQUE. IT WAS COVERED WITH NAMES WITH SMALL U.S.A. FLAGS MOUNTED ON EITHER SIDE OF IT. 

THE SEVEN YEAR OLD HAD BEEN STARING AT THE PLAQUE FOR SOME TIME, SO THE PRIEST WALKED UP,  STOOD BESIDE THE LITTLE BOY,  AND SAID QUIETLY,  “GOOD MORNING ALEX.” 

“GOOD MORNING FATHER,” HE REPLIED,  STILL FOCUSED ON THE PLAQUE. “FATHER, WHAT IS THIS?” HE ASKED THE PRIEST. 

THE PRIEST SAID, “WELL, SON, IT’S A MEMORIAL TO ALL THE YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN WHO DIED IN THE SERVICE.” 

SOBERLY, THEY JUST STOOD TOGETHER, STARING AT THE LARGE PLAQUE. 

FINALLY, LITTLE ALEX’S VOICE, BARELY AUDIBLE AND TREMBLING WITH FEAR, ASKED, “WHICH SERVICE, THE 9:00 OR THE 11:00?”

False Indigo

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Blue False indigo (Baptisia australis) grows in St. John Lutheran Bible garden. I planted it several places because it doesn’t seem to need a lot of water. Deep-rooted and long-lived, blue false indigo (Baptisia australis) forms a large bush at maturity with clusters of deep blue flowers in late spring.   Flowers change to a brownish pod in late summer-early fall so the plant has interest about 6-7 months of the year.  The native range for false indigo is the eastern United States particularly in zones 3 – 9.  It grows about four feet tall and spreads widely (3-4 feet). Blue indigo is a perennial.

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The false indigo doesn’t grow naturally in Holy Lands.  So why did I put it in the Church Bible garden? Because it is attractive, interesting, and native. This blog focuses on Bible plants, but I digress occasionally.

Symbolism: Native

A synonym of native is indigenous. Native means belonging to a particular place at birth. At birth I was not native to heaven or even God’s family. I did not belong to Christ. God had to seek me out, to reach out to me. He made me— an alien—his daughter. I became Christ’s sister. I am now one of the family. I belong to God.

I have God living in me in the form of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I am just tickled pink and feel all warm and fuzzy inside that the Holy Spirit lives in me. At other times I am more cerebral and thoughtful about his presence. At still other times, I forget that He is there and I ignore God.  What a broad spectrum of responses to the Trinity.

Today I went to a funeral. Ira was a 96 year old former minister. He was one of God’s family. He wasn’t born into God’s family; he was not native or indigenous to God’s family. But when Ira accepted Christ he became a family member.

Reflection: Are you a member of the family of God?

Copyright January 24, 2017; Carolyn A. Roth

Please visit my website at http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com/

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Growing Faith

St. John Lutheran Grows Faith Through Bible Garden

From: Roanoke Star newspaper

Flowers and Verse
Flowers and Verse

Over 125 plants are named in the Bible; however, most individuals have little idea what they are, what they mean, and how they were used by ancient peoples. Last year St. John Lutheran Church started a garden designed to showcase Bible plants. Currently, the church Bible garden includes about 70 plants such as the rose of Sharon, fig tree, black mustard, and lily.

The garden is the brain child of Bruce and Carolyn Roth. Both Bruce and Carolyn are Roanoke Tree Stewards and Carolyn is a Virginia Master Gardener. They spend about two hours each morning tending the garden.

According to Mark Graham, senior pastor at St. John, “The Bible Garden helps people connect the beauty of God’s Word to the beauty of His work of creation. It’s become one of the most appreciated and enjoyed features on our church grounds.”

Each Bible garden plant is labeled with its name and one reference where the plant is identified in the Bible. The Bible verse promotes connections with God’s creation and his written Word.

St. John children’s ministers, Dale and Rosalind Stanley, are enthusiastic about the garden. Dale said,  “This garden brings to life what was once merely words on a page and creates connections not only between the plants in the Bible and in the soil, but the promises from the Book to each child himself or herself.”

Carolyn and Bruce hope to expand the number of garden plants. They completed two trips to Israel and Jordan to study plants that grow there. In one visit, they stayed on a frontier kibbutz in Israel’s Negev Desert and consulted with a botanist at Ben Gruion University. The Roth’s admit that finding Bible plants that grow in the Roanoke Valley is a challenge. At times they use the American plant that best corresponds to the one that grows in the Middle East.

The Bible garden at St. John church is the only known Bible garden in southwestern Virginia. Jim Forney, president of St. John Council, noted that the Council supports the garden because it is both a witness to the Lord’s handiwork and spiritually enriches church members.

St. John Church welcomes visitors who want to view plants. The church address is 4608 Brambleton Avenue SW, Roanoke, VA 24018. No appointment is necessary; however, if visitors want personalized tours, they should contact the church office (540-774-0712) to schedule a time.  Parishioners are available to give talks on Bible gardens and plants to churches and civic groups.

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Jerusalem artichokes

39484220 - jerusalem artichoke, helianthus tuberosus, sunroot, sunchoke, perennial herb with elongated tobers, green alternate leaves and yellow terminal heads, tubers used as root vegetable

39484220 – jerusalem artichoke, helianthus tuberosus,

Adapted from Mortal Tree

Jerusalem artichokes (Helianthus tuberosus), we call them Sunchokes,  are not so much a stable ground cover as masterful bed builders. They don’t just block, but obliterate grass lawn, taking the place of bed building mulch  if handled correctly.

Its home is the American prairie, where it stretches for sun among massive grasses and other very competitive plants. Placing it in the standard lawn, full of short European grass species, or even an overgrown field is like releasing a saber tooth tiger into a playpen with modern house cats. It’s a brute.

It begins by pumping nutrients from deep in the soil to power billowing clouds of leaves rambling up sometimes 15ft tall stems. Every year it sends out runners. To unleash the beast, get a bucket of the tubers in fall, and with a shovel, make little slits in the ground about one foot apart, inserting the tubers deep enough they aren’t exposed, and walk away. The days of the nearby plant residents are now numbered.

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Jerusalem Artichoke sprouts

Don’t worry next spring when the tubers don’t sprout early. Jerusalem artichokes don’t like frost, and wait until late in the spring to pop up their furry little heads. I have planted these into completely unamended yards where lawn grass wasn’t even happy, but the ‘chokes still grew well. Later, in a very dry year, Jerusalem artichokes were the lushest plant in my food forest to feed my rabbit. She liked them, so I would snap off the growing tips, let the plants branch off to the side, and snap of the side branches to make rabbit happy. I started this when the plants were about 5ft tall, leaving about 4ft stems that in turn could return their nutrients to the tubers. Nevertheless the plants that normally topped ten foot came up the next year anemic, and dwarfed, barely reaching three feet.

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Symbolism

As I read my friends description of Jerusalem artichokes, my reaction is that they were hearty – lived over the winter, produced when it was hot and dry.  I stay alive in cold, blustery times by hunkering down; it is like I go into hibernation. But in my hibernation, I don’t read my Bible, meditate, or pray. Usually, I watch television or read novels – not really the way to get through a rough patch is it? To paraphrase St. Paul, I do things that I don’t want to do and neglect those I should be doing. Oh wretched me, who will save me from myself?  The answer is Christ, Christ will save us from our self.

Reflection: When life is cold, tough, overwhelming and miserable, spend only 5 minutes a day not just emoting to God, but praying for His intervention in your life.

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