Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

Image result for Baptisia

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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Beauty in Aloneness

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After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, – Matthew 14:23 (NIV)

Jesus was always connecting to his heavenly Father in prayer. The gospel accounts record that he would often be found in a lonely place praying. The pattern is pretty clear—Jesus found renewal in prayer. As Christians, why would we think any differently? We are quick to do bible studies—even studies on prayer—but do we pray? To walk in the ways of Jesus is to seek God in prayer (David Whitehead).

Reflection: If Christ needed time alone with his father, surely we do also.

Another photograph by Jim Forney.

January 5, 2016

Sourwood Tree

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The sourwood tree (Oxydendrum arboretum) is native to North America. It is one of our endemic trees that is not found on other continents unless planted. The tree has no related species. A medium-sized tree, the sourwood thrives in hardiness zones 5–9. This tree shines in summer and fall. Its midsummer flowers appear like lilies-of-the-valley, are highly fragrant, and contrast nicely against the green foliage. Then in the fall, leaves turn beautiful shades of brilliant crimson, purplish-red and sometimes yellow. And its flowers are a favorite of pollinators for honey production.

Something sour turns our stomach. Often children spit sour food out of their mouth with an “ugh.”  Although the wages of sin are often sour, accepting and following God — the real true God — is not sour.  When I was a pre-teen, I believed that Christians had no fun and their lives were sour and dour. Wow, was I ever wrong. As a more mature Christian, I know that living with and for Christ makes me radiant and joyful, not sour.

Reflection: If you are a sour, dour Christian, rethink your relationship with Christ. Consider that it might not be as right as you think it is.

Copyright December 22, 2016: Carolyn A. Roth

Check my website at http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com/

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Attention-grabbing cabbages

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For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope-the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior,.– Titus 2:11-14 (NIV)

 The supernatural outcome of seeing the power of the cross is an eagerness to do good works. We are not doing things to get God’s attention; we serve others because we HAVE God’s attention. That attention unleashes God’s grace to us that sets us on a path toward restoration and redeeming the world around us. In other words, grace will produce faith, and our faith will be seen by what we do for the betterment of those around us (David Whitehead).

Ornamental Cabbage (of all things!)

It is the middle of December and in the mountains of Virginia, very few plants  bloom. Those which do, get our attention. For the past several years, I’ve planted ornamental cabbages in the fall. They are early winter hardy and give interest to a winter garden. This year I added about 5 to our Church Bible garden. As the cold weather increases, the  tops become a more vibrant purple.

Application

As cold — stress, persecution, health problems — occur in my life, my thoughts turn to a cabbage. Under cold weather, I can die off like my zinnia blossoms or even go into hibernation like my primrose. Or I can show a more vibrant color to the world.

Cognitively, I know which option I prefer — to become more vibrant. To evidence more love and more understanding, just as Christ did under the severest stress. The only way for me to be more vibrant — like the cabbage top — is to spend time with Christ every day in my devotions.

Reflection: What helps you be become or stay vibrant? Are you getting attention from others for the right reasons?

Copyright December 16, 2013; Carolyn A. Roth, updated November 27, 2016

Please visit my website to learn about other Bible plants: http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com

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Poinsettia, Symbol of Purity

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The Poinsettia is known as a Christmas flower, but it didn’t grow in Judea at the time of Christ’s birth. Poinsettia is native to Mexico where it was a symbol of purity to Aztec Indians. Joel Roberts Poinsett introduced the flower into the United States. While Ambassador to Mexico, he had poinsettia sent to his home in Greenville, SC. He distributed the flower to botanical gardens and to friends interested in horticulture.

Today, poinsettias occur in different colors, e.g., red, pink, white. There are mini poinsettias to large specimen tree-size poinsettia. Their stems are woody and they tend to quickly drop flower petals.  The poinsettia is not only the most popular Christmas flower, but the number one flowering potted plant in the United States. My brother had a poinsettia for about 7 years. Every year it blooms around Christmas. He started to decorate it like a Christmas tree.

Every Christmas, members of my Church can donate a poinsettia to decorate the altar.  I suppose the reason is the beautiful color of the plant — I’ve never heard any discussion about the flower being symbolic of purity.  In the future when I see a poinsettia at  the  church altar, I am going to think about the purity of the Christ child who came to earth.

Reflection: If you receive a poinsettia for Christmas, enjoy it and don’t forget to think about ways you can be a pure light in a darkening world.

Copyright: December 17, 2016; Carolyn A. Roth

Please visit my website to learn about other Bible plants: http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com

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Christmas: Always New

Top aglaonema

The aglaonema (Chinese evergreen, Firecracker) is a newish Christmas plant and an alternative to the poinsettia. It is less woody than the poinsettia and doesn’t have flowers; however, it is almost as colorful. Although there are over 40 types of aglaonema, red aglaonema is seen during the Christmas season. Red aglaonema’s foliage lasts longer than the typical poinsettia. 2014 was the first time, I saw aglaonema sold in nurseries in the Roanoke area. It was even sold in K-mart and Lowes.

Meaning of Aglaonema

Traditionally, aglaonema is associated with good luck or something auspicious. The whole idea of luck troubles me. I couldn’t find the word “luck’ in the Bible, in Strong’s (2010) Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, or in Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary (2011). Luck is ancient pagan concept. For me to say “Good Luck” to someone is denying that God is in control of their lives and they have to rely on capricious Lady Luck, whoever that is.

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Don’t refuse to purchase and enjoy a plant because superstitious individuals associate the plant with some idea or concept, e.g., luck, triumph, love. Buy it, and praise the Creator for the plant’s beauty.

Care for Aglaonema

If you purchase an aglaonema, don’t put it in direct sunlight. Rather, place it 6-10 feet from a window or glass door. It needs only 1-3 hours of indirect sunlight a day. Some nurseries identified that aglaonemas were a good plant to place in an internal room, e.g., a bathroom or study because plants preferred low-level lighting. Water aglaonema when the soil is dry when you touch it with your finger. Never let aglaonema stand in water or dry out completely. Feed the plant about every two weeks to keep it looking optimal. Aglaonema doesn’t tolerate a temperature of less than 50 degrees Fahrenheit. You can set it out in a shaded area in the summer and in very warm climates plant it outdoors. USDA shows the plant as growing year around only in Florida.

Reflection: Consciously, I have tried to omit the words “good luck” from my vocabulary. Words that I substituted are “best wishes,” and “blessed.” Think about and respond to this blog with Godly hope/wishes to substitute in place of “good luck.”

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: December 27, 2014, Carolyn A. Roth, All rights reserved.

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Happy Thanksgiving, 2016

Fall foliage, Blue Ridge Parkway

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name –  Psalm 100:4 (NIV)

Psalm 100 is one of the songs of  ascents—or a Psalm that was sung as the Jews entered Temple. It tells us that thanksgiving and praise has little to do with emotions; they are choices that we make as we prepare our hearts for worship.

Reflection: Take a moment now and ask yourself: What can I be thankful for? How can I praise God’s name today? Don’t be surprised to see your heart change as you do, because praise and thanksgiving is designed to take our eyes off of ourselves and place them on the One who has the power to change us.

This meditation is adapted from David Whitehead (2016).

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