Fairest Lord Jesus, Illustrated Hymn

I have been trying to post a devotional to the blog every Sunday. I was a little late this week in doing so, but after hearing a soloist at church sing the hymn “Fairest Lord Jesus,” I had a different sort of inspiration for a post — to illustrate the hymn’s lyrics with images in slideshow form.

You should be able to play the music video below it and follow along with the lyric slideshow.

Cuteness Overload — Cuddling Animals

Are you ready to see some adorable animals cuddling with other animals, children or stuffed animals? In some cases, the animals getting cuddly with one another are not even of the same species.

These photos were all collected from my Pinterest animal board. (Individual attribution can be found there.)

An unexpected friendship.

Even squirrels enjoy a stuffed animal friend.

The Frenchies I care for cuddle one another but not usually in this position, facing each other.

I would have liked to have seen the scenes that preceded this shot.

“You are mine. I mark you with my face.”

An odd couple, for sure. I’d really like to know how this happened.

“So what about what the cartoons say about us being enemies?”

“Hi there, Neighbor. Long time no see.”

The meeting of two babies of different sorts.

The picture of serenity

Their sideways hug is so human-like.

Squirrel family love.

We are family.


Trust Fall in the Arms of the Father

Photo by Conner Baker on Unsplash

“But He said to them, ‘Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?’ Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.” Matthew 8:26 NKJV

On Monday of this past week, I was carrying a puppy down my deck stairs outside. On the final step, I tripped forward, landing on concrete. I am blessed to have survived the fall without a serious injury, only some “road rash” and bruising on my right knee and leg and a little on the back side of my right hand (though this was sufficiently painful.) I fell in such a way as to protect that puppy, without putting a hand out to break my fall.

I later contemplated how the puppy handled the fall. She seemed to be unscathed, not just physically but emotionally. She never yelped or showed any fear or concern. A friend joked that puppies are made out of rubber and just bounce. That might be … metaphorically speaking, at least. I think it might also be that she felt held and safe and had complete trust in me as her caretaker that everything would be fine.

Have you ever done a trust fall, one of those exercises where you fall backwards, perhaps even blindfolded, into the arms of several others, trusting them to catch you? Do you remember your father playing with you as in the photo above tossing you into the air? Did you ever fear that Dad would drop you? I grew up with three older brothers eight, ten and twelve years older. As a child, I remember one brother actually tossing me over to a second brother who caught me. I never worried I’d be dropped.

As believers, that’s exactly how we should feel in the arms of God our Father, even when everything is turning upside-down and topsy turvy, when life circumstances seem frightening and uncertain. While Jesus was out in the boat in the middle of the storm with His disciples, He was sleeping at first. How did He react when the disciples woke Him in alarm? “Why are you fearful oh you of little faith?” and then He stopped the storm. Our level of trust should not change with the atmosphere. We are held in the arms of the Father, and He will not let us go.

Lord, we are often of little faith. Like another father in the New Testament, we say we believe but please help us with our unbelief as well. Help us to put our perfect trust in You. Amen

And just because this demonstrates little dogs having child-like trust …

And to remind us of God the Father’s love for us …

I happened to be reminded recently of this Billy Graham quote put together with art by one of my favorite popular artists, Mary Engelbreit. I thought I would tack this to the end with a “Happy Father’s Day!” to the dads out there. I think I posted more about Father’s Day this year than about Mother’s Day, and that just happened to be the writing rhythm I found myself in rather than a belief that one role is more important than the other.

Father’s Day Gift Basket Idea

This weekend is Father’s Day weekend in the U.S., and I’m sharing this post with Weekend Coffee Share.

Today, I created a “pop”-themed gift basket for my dad for Father’s Day. I filled this little plastic shoebox with interesting soda “pops,” some gourmet lollipops, and other “pop” snacks like Popchips potato chips and Popcorners popcorn chips.

There’s a few specialty items in here that might not be available everywhere in the U.S. (or outside of the country,) but you certainly should be able to take some inspiration and do your own version of this. I will take you through my whole shopping and basket-making experience and even share a few extra pop-themed gift ideas I did not personally use, but you might be able to use.

I do not call my dad “Pop” or even Papa, but if I’m in a silly mood, I’ll call him Papa (with the emphasis on the second syllable.) My brother goes by Papa to his kids and Poppop to his granddaughter, and there must be some other Papas and Poppops out there. Even if your dad is not Pop or Papa to you, it might just be a fun idea.

First, I went to a discount store near me for my basket. This discount store, called Amazing Savings, is not national, but you should be able to find plastic shoeboxes like this in Walmart, Target and similar stores and possibly even in a dollar store.

I happened to see a few other items that fit the theme while I was shopping here. First, I saw this poppable fidget toy.

It seems this toy tries to mimic bubble wrap. I know some people are crazy over popping bubble wrap, and I think this toy would be appropriate for an adult who happens to like fidget desk toys (and bubble wrap.) I didn’t think it was the best thing for my dad in particular. If you like this idea, it does seem like you can find similar items on Amazon.

I also happened to see another non-edible and non-potable item that I decided to buy … a silicone cell phone pop stand. It has a suction cup on one end and a silicone sphere on the other, for holding up a cell phone. I think my dad might make good use of this.

Then, I was off to the Kings Supermarket for some individual bottles of specialty sodas. Yes, I use the word “soda” and not “pop” for carbonated drinks. I realize that outside of the New York/New Jersey area in the U.S., nearly everyone else in the country says “pop.” It’s soda to me, but for a fun theme, I was willing to use that other term. If you live in an English-speaking country outside of the U.S., let me know in the comments what you call a carbonated drink.

Assorted sodas and drinks at Kings Supermarket

I picked out several of these. I’ll show you my picks later on in this post.

I also went to the snack aisle for some popcorn and other snacks with “pop” in the title. Of course, bagged popcorn or boxed microwave popcorn would fit the theme, but I went with Popcorners chips. My mom and dad really like these Popcorners chips, because it’s made with popcorn but has no hulls that can get stuck between teeth.

There were a lot of popcorn options, including kettle corn and sweetened popcorn.

Even though I was beginning to wonder how everything would fit into my shoebox, I picked up a bag of these barbecue-flavored Popchips. Poppables chips would work too or maybe even Pringles. Do you remember that slogan, “Once you pop, you can’t stop?”

Then, I remembered an interesting popcorn product I’d seen earlier in the store. This Lesser Evil brand had very unusual flavors such as pink grapefruit, lemonade and watermelon hibiscus. Both parents (and I) are adventurous eaters, but for this gift, I still thought it was safer to go classic. Still, I thought I would show you these unusual flavors.

My next stop was at Staples, the office supply store, just because I happened to remember from the last time I was there that they were selling some gourmet lollipops with interesting flavors. I wonder how many customers go to Staples just for lollipops? They didn’t have as many as they did when I was last there, but I was able to get a few. I picked up two strawberry shortcake flavors, one strawberry banana and another in party punch flavor.

Pop Rocks, if you can find them, might be a fun idea for a Gen X or Boomer dad who would remember them from childhood, but maybe not the best one for my octogenarian dad. Cake pops, either store bought or home made, are another possible idea. Popsicles, of course, can’t be left out, but you could leave a note in your gift basket, directing Dad to the freezer.

After this, I headed home to assemble everything.

Here, you can see the interesting picks I had for sodas. There are Stewart’s brand root beer and orange and cream sodas, a pomegranate and blueberry Mash soda, pomegranate GUS (Grown Up Soda) soda and Olipop strawberry vanilla sparkling tonic. This last one was a prebiotic drink that needed to be refrigerated. I live with Dad, so I wrapped this one up in a plastic bag and put it way in the back of the refrigerator to hide it. I’ll move it to the basket on Sunday.

I decided to go with specialty sodas. I don’t know if you will be able to find all of these exact brands and flavors where you are, but you can also go with tried and true favorites. One other source of some unusual, even nostalgic sodas, is the store portion of Cracker Barrel restaurants.

I found this 5×8″ index card and trimmed it a little to fit the side of my shoebox. I then found some markers and wrote this message on it, “Happy Father’s Day to my ‘Pop’!” and decorated it with balloon designs. I used wide packing tape to fasten the card to the side of the box.

I used the packing tape to tape other items into place as well, taping the lollipops inside the sides where they were sticking out visibly and attaching the bottles to the bottom to keep them stable. The bags do barely fit, but they can prop themselves partially inside behind the bottles, and a little tape helped there too.

Consider the Lilies

Matthew 6: 28 – 30 NKJV “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;  and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”

I took this photo of the lilies above this past weekend. Beautiful, aren’t they? Recently, I commented on a fellow blogger’s iris photo, and I said that a fashion designer could take inspiration from it. At the time, I wasn’t really thinking about the passage in Matthew cited above, but it fits perfectly.

Here is an iris I photographed at the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens.

Look at this iris. There does seem to be a parallel between it and women’s gowns, doesn’t there? It’s diaphanous, soft and ruffly. It made me think designers could take inspiration from flowers.

It made me wonder, “Has a fashion designer been inspired by the shapes and textures of flowers?” I looked up “gowns inspired by flowers” on Google, and here is some of what I found.

I also found some fashion illustrations from Grace Ciao, a fashion illustrator from Singapore, where she incorporates actual flower petals into her illustrations.

You can see how man can be inspired by God’s design in nature. God tells us in this passage that even (King) Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as well as one of these flowers of the field — which are only temporary and fade. God cares for us more than He does for the flowers, so why do we worry?

Why do we worry? For me, I think I feel a sense of responsibility for myself. Where my responsibility ends and where God’s provision begins can feel a little confusing. We do what we can, but there are circumstances (like world-wide pandemics) that aren’t really under our control.

I had been planning on this post for a while, but through some quirk of timing — God’s timing? — for the first time in a long while, I did some major clothes shopping this past weekend. I had a shortage of certain summer clothes. I had very few summer dresses or shorts that fit right. A little doggy ate up my last pair of summer sandals (true story!) I made do with what I had for a while, but it worked out that God provided, and I felt I was able to get several new things.

God does expect us to take certain actions in faith, but then we can expect God to do what we can’t do for ourselves.