Monday, August 25, 2014

He said, "I love you, too."

The joy of bird song, and leaf dance, and sun sprinkles dazzled me.  
Tears flowed as I worshiped Him and thanked Him for His glorious creation

I danced and twirled for the pure joy of His presence
Over and over, I whispered, "I love You, I love You, I love You..."

And then He said, "I love you, too."
With a "heart" on Golden Pond

I glanced up and saw it...

Looked closer....and YES!  

The heart lay in the pool....reflecting....speaking His love for me.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Thankful Thursdays #7 - Hunt Family Pond and Garden

Welcome back, sweet Gail-Frends.  This week, we'll be visiting the pond and garden of the Hunt family on Merritt Island.  The garden has a large collection of tropical plants and trees, and focuses on plants with fruit.  (The picture above is a water barrel at the Hunt home.  I want to paint one like this.)

This garden features a huge pond that covers 1/3 acre and is filled with koi, bream, tilapia and catfish.

Isn't this an inviting spot?

I love this fanciful dragonfly sculpture.

I imagine they enjoy some nice parties on this lovely deck that overlooks the pond.

My grandson enjoyed the fish.

They had a great, big chicken coop, but only one little, lonely chicken.
This beautiful old oak tree had a bleeding heart climbing up into its branches.

Our guide said this was the hottest pepper known to man, and warned us not to even touch it.  I think it was diablo or something like that - meaning "the devil".  

These are mangoes.  Recently, I had a "champagne mango", and they are even better than the common variety. 

Mango and avocado trees are abundant here in our area.  The avocado are the Florida variety, which are quite large.  I prefer them over the California Haas variety.  They are starting to come in now and I am so happy!

This tree was very interesting.  It called the "egg fruit" because when cooked it tasts like a cooked egg yolk.  Our guide said it makes a wonderful ice cream that tastes like eggnog.  Since it grows well here in Florida, I think I"ll put one in our yard. 

These are lychees.   Yummy fruits. 

We saw another tree that had fruit that tasted just like a strawberry, but I didn't get pictures.  By this time, my grandson was ready to go HOME.  I think he did well thought to last through seven hours of pond touring.  We were, too, because here in central Florida by 2:00 pm it gets so hot you have to go inside for some good,old AC.

This is the last stop on our pond tour.  I hope you enjoyed it.  You may also enjoy the tour from last year.  Just click on "pond tour" under the list of subjects on the left of this page.  

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Wisdom Wednesdays - Emunah

Emunah is the Hebrew word for faith.  The Scriptures mention it many times throughout the New and Old Testaments.  

As a young woman, I set a goal to become a woman of faith.   I had several mentors in my life who showed great faith, and I aspired to be like them.  These women spoke of their faith in Hashem, of the Scriptures, and encouraged me to pray and live a life of faith.  That was my heart's desire then, as well as now.

I remember attending a teacher's meeting where we were required  to memorize I John 5:14-15 (KJV)

14 And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He hears us:
15 And if we know that He hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.

I grumbled to one of the older ladies sitting near me, "I hate memorizing things, don't you?" 

She turned and looked deep into my eyes, smiled and seemed to glow, "Oh, no, Gail.  Hiding G-d's Word in our hearts makes those precious promises so much more helpful to us.  Think about this promise, Gail: we can have CONFIDENCE that He HEARS US when we ask for something that is His will.  Isn't that wonderful?  But there is more, Gail.  He not only hears us, He also promises to give us what we pray for."  She was really excited about it, and she made me excited, too.

The Bible verse came alive to me that day.  I memorized it, clung to it with my whole heart, and I still repeat it to myself.  

I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that when we pray for someone to come to Yeshua, and believe in and surrender to Him, He will answer that prayer.  One reason I believe this is because His heart's desire is for all men and women and children to come to Him.  This is His purpose in making this world and everything in it.   This is His purpose in preserving His Holy Word over thousands of years.  

I prayed for my father to bow the knee to G-d until he was seventy-five years old .  It happened on his death bed.  Every time I visited him, I begged him to surrender.  After several days, he repented in tears and surrendered to Yeshua.  I will never forget the vision I had at that moment.  I saw a completely black sky.  Then I saw a tiny speck that glowed like a twinkling star.  It grew bigger and bigger and came closer and closer.  Then I saw it - a newly born baby, completely naked.  I knew my father had been born again at that moment. My prayers, and of many others, had been answered. 

I remember, as a little girl,the many times a preacher would come and talk to my father about surrender.  Daddy never would.  How sad that all those years were lost.  

Over the past few months, three of my most fervent prayers for people to surrender to Hashem have been answered:
  1.  One I prayed for four years.
  2.  One I prayed for twenty-five years. 
  3.  One I prayed for thirty-six years.
Never give up, Gail-Friends.  Have faith, and when your faith grows weak, pray for more faith.  That's another prayer I know Hashem will hear and answer.

We'll talk about faith more next week.  

I would love to hear your praises for answered prayer.


  I'm linking up today with:

Modest Mom Monday Link-up 
Meet-Up Monday

A Wise Woman Builds
Whole Hearted Wednesday 
Wake Up Wednesday

Jenny Marie's Wordless Wednesday 

Favorite Things 

Hearts for Home 

Fab Creative Friday
Friendship Friday 
Freedom Friday

My apologies

My dear Gail-Friends, I apologize for my inconsistent postings over the last week.  I have internet issues.  It goes in and out and is extremely frustrating.  The last time I had this problem, they found that the root of a  tree was affecting the underground line.

Hopefully, the issue will be resolved within the next few days. 

I will resume postings as soon as I'm able. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Israel Trip - Mount Scopus in Jerusalem

View from Mount Scopus 
(photo courtesy of David Jackson)
What a thrill to go up to Jerusalem.  I can't tell you how exciting it is to enter the city that is the subject of so many stories in the Bible.  This is the city where the Temple stood.  The place where pilgrims traveled to celebrate three of the commanded feasts,  Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot.  (Deuteronomy 16:16)

So much happened here.  So much is happening here now.  So much will happen here in the future.  My heart thrilled to step on to Mount Scopus and look out over the beloved city -- the city that keeps calling to me.  This is what I saw.

photo courtesy of Aaron Velunta

In the photo below, we are listening to Natalie tell us the history of Mount Scopus.  Jerusalem is built on seven hills. Mount Scopus, the most noticeable, looks over the Old City  One can see all the way to the Dead Sea and the Jordan border.  The name Mount Scopus is derived from the Latin for “Mount of the Watchers”. During the Jewish revolt in 70 AD, the Romans used the mountain as a lookout point in their efforts to suppress the rebellion. It's easy to see why when you take in this view.

Photo courtesy of Aaron Velunta

Jerusalem is a big city, and is heavily populated.  Buildings are built on top of ruins.  Many ruins are being uncovered and discoveries are made quite often.  Here is an example:

On my first trip to Israel in 1996, this ruin adjacent to our look-out point had not been uncovered.  According to Natalie, this structure was only very recently excavated.

Mount Scopus is the site of the Hebrew University campus and the Hadassah Hospital.  I visited the hospital on my first trip, and regret that Shelby and the others did not get to see the famous and beautiful Chagal stained glass windows.

We had a friendly greeter on the mountain, and a very nice cat he was.  Here he is, taking a little cat nap.

We left Mount Scopus and headed down toward the Old City.  As we sat at a traffic light, I noticed several Arab women carrying infants.  They were also crossing the street without the light (aka jay-walking), and since the traffic in Jerusalem is crazy,  this seemed quite dangerous.

Next week, I'll show you some photos as we came into the Old City.

Jerusalem is unique, exciting, amazing, and according to Scripture, Hashem's eyes are always there.  She is His Holy City.  Thrills and chills cover me as I remember her even now.  Oh, how I long to return.  

I hope you'll stop back by next week, and please continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.


  I'm linking up today with:

Modest Mom Monday Link-up 
Meet-Up Monday

A Wise Woman Builds
Whole Hearted Wednesday 
Wake Up Wednesday

Jenny Marie's Wordless Wednesday 

Favorite Things 

Hearts for Home 

Fab Creative Friday
Friendship Friday 
Freedom Friday

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Thankful Thursday - Pond Tour #6 - Kim's Garden

Kim's pond and garden were next on the tour.  Kim is known as the Ace Garden Girl, and she is the garden consultant for Merritt Island Ace Hardware.   I visited her place last year on the tour, and took a ton of photos you can view HERE.  There is so much more than I'll show you here today.  Be sure to check it out.

I was fascinated by the passion flowers , especially the red one above. Here's another one.  It climbs around the swing near one of Kim's ponds.  It is a lovely and cool, shady spot to sit a spell.  You need it when you visit this garden.

Kim's place is several acres, with many different "garden rooms", each with a different theme.  She's been working on this beautiful acreage since 1978.  She does this labor of love in addition to working with Ace Hardware's garden department.  She loves gardening and loves to share information with visitors.

I took many photos last year of the ponds, so be sure to check them out in last year's post.  I love this bit of whimsy in the natural pond.  Could it be Nessie, the Loch Ness monster on vacation here in Florida? 

In addition to this pond, Kim has a 3,000 sq. ft. enclosed koi garden.  It includes a 20,000 gallon koi pond surrounded by smaller ponds, with a beautiful collection of plants and pottery.  There is also a 5,000 gallon "hippo" pond filled with water lilies.  (pictures are in last year's post).

Since I'd already taken so many pictures of the ponds last year, I decided to photograph some of the plants and flowers this time.  Be sure to click on the link above to see those photos.  I love how Kim puts color groupings together, like this one near the natural pond, with shades of purple and blue.

These are purple passion flowers.  She also had some white ones, but I guess I didn't take picture of those.
The purple is common here in our area, and grows wild.  The plant is medicinal, and the fruit is edible.

Here are some pretty red groupings.

As we meandered through the beauty, we discovered Kim's donkey.  My grandson loved this.

Gardenias are one of my favorites, and the aroma was heavenly.

More beauty.

We were all getting tired (especially my grandson) after touring Kim's garden, so we decided to break for lunch.  We'd been going strong since 8:00 a.m., believe me by mid-day, the heat was killer.  We were trying to get in as much as possible before the afternoon rains set in.

I still have much more to show you, so come back by next week.

Thankful Thursday is my weekly discipline - to express my gratitude to Hashem for His over-flowing, abundant blessings.

  I'm linking up today with:

 Spiritual Sunday

The Gathering Spot Link-Up
All Things Bright and Beautiful Link-Up
Modest Mom Monday Link-up 

A Wise Woman Builds
Whole Hearted Wednesday 
Wake Up Wednesday

Hearts for Home
Favorite Things 

Fab Creative Friday
Friendship Friday 
Freedom Friday

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Wisdom Wednesdays - Be Strong! Take Courage!

 In our synagogue, we say, "Chazak! Chazak! Venischazeik! (written in Hebrew above) when we finish each book of the Torah.  It means, "Be strong! Be strong! And may we be strengthened!" This part of our Torah study is very precious and encouraging to me because it is a much needed reminder.    

There have been times in my life when I thought I could not take another step.  I have grown weary and wanted to give up, but I heard G-d say to my spirit, "BE STRONG!"  I've been blessed because I chose to listen to that voice.  

A few years ago, my daughter was in the hospital, very ill, and I had been awake for so many hours I'd lost count.  I sat alone in the waiting room in the early, dark hours of morning and thought,  I am so tired, L-rd, I can't go on.   

At that moment, a security guard walked into the room, carrying a portable radio.  He sat it on a desk near me, turned it on, and walked away.  The radio was on a gospel music station, and the song playing at that moment was His Strength is Perfect by Steven Curtis Chapman.  Through that song, I heard the L-rd say, "BE STRONG, and take courage!"    His strength and courage came into my soul and my body, and I was able to keep going for many more hours.

No matter what task is before you and no matter how weak you feel as you face the load you have to bear, G-d will help you.  He will give you strength to go on.  He will help you finish what you've started, no matter how weak you may feel.  

One other point...I don't know about you, Gail-Friends, but sometimes fear strikes my heart, especially when I watch the news.  Over the years, I've learned to renew my mind by focusing on His Word instead of giving in to fear.  I take courage.  I take His strength to replace the anxious thoughts.  

Here are some words of encouragement for times of weakness or fear:

"...take heart and BE STRONG" (Deuteronomy1: 28 and 3:28).

"BE STRONG, and keep your courage high; there must be no cowardice, no flinching before them" (Deuteronomy 31:6).

"...BE STRONG, and keep your courage high" (Deuteronomy 31:7, 23).

"Courage then, BE STRONG . . . BE STRONG you must, and keep your courage high, carrying out faithfully the law my servant Moses enjoined on you; never swerve to right or left and you shalt order your life truly. . . . Courage, BE STRONG, that is what I ask of you; no room for fear and shrinking back, when the L-rd your G-d is at your side wherever you go. . . . Courage, then, BE STRONG" (Joshua 1:6-9, 19)

"… keep your courage high and BE STRONG" (1 Kings 2:2).

"BE STRONG, fight we valiantly for our people, and for the city walls that are sacred to our G-d" (2 Samuel 10:12 and 1 Chronicles 19:13).

"Courage, then, my son; the L-rd be with you, and prosper you ever. Build a house for the L-rd your G-d, as he has promised . . . BE STRONG, and keep your courage high, never doubting, never daunted. . . . To the task, then! The L-rd will be ever at your side" (1 Chronicles 22:11, 13, 16).

"Here is this house to be built, the L-rd's sanctuary; on you his choice has fallen; courage! To the task!" (1 Chronicles 28:10,).

"Be strong, courage! To the task! Never doubting, never daunted; the L-rd your G-d will be at your side, never failing you, never forsaking you, and see that you have strength to do all that must be done for his temple" (1 Chronicles 28:20).

"But you, take courage; never slacken your resolve . . . Upon hearing the inspired words of this prophet, Asa's courage rose" (2 Chronicles 15:7, 8).

"BE STRONG, he said, and keep your courage high; let there be no shrinking, no faint hearts, at the sight of the Assyrian king and the hordes that follow him; we have many more on our side than they on theirs. Theirs is but mortal strength; we have the L-rd our G-d to aid us, and fight on our side" (2 Chronicles 32:7, 8).

"Nay, fears are not for you . . . Take courage, and be strong! With that, I found my strength again; Speak on, my L-rd, said I; you have put a new heart into me" (Daniel 10:19).

"Take heart, keep high your courage, all you that wait patiently for the L-rd: (Psalm 31:14)

G-d understands our frame, and He encourages us to be strong and courageous.  Remember, it is our choice. 

My dear Gail-Friends, no matter what you're going through today, I pray for you to choose to BE STRONG and take COURAGE.  

As you meditate on these Scriptures, you might enjoy listening to this song, entitled "Chazak!"


 I'm linking up today with:

Modest Mom Monday Link-up 
Meet-Up Monday
Chatting at the Sky Link-Up for August

A Wise Woman Builds
Whole Hearted Wednesday  
  Wake Up Wednesday
Favorite Things 
Hearts for Home 

Fab Creative Friday
Friendship Friday 
Freedom Friday

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Israel Trip - Beit She'an

After our visit to the Yardinit, we headed south through the Jordan Valley and the historical site, Beit She'an.  This was my second visit.  My experience at this site is one I love to talk about.  

On my first trip in 1996, we had gone through several days of visiting archeological ruins and I was getting tired of  it.  I remember saying, "If I see one more ruin, I'm going to scream."  I laugh now as I think of that, because I was about to learn something wonderful.

The morning of the visit to the site (in 1996), we boarded the bus and our tour guide,Yael, said we were going to enter the site from the back, which meant we were going to climb a very steep hill.  That hill is pictured at the beginning of this post.  Yes, we climbed that hill, with me complaining the whole way.  The weather was warm that day, the sun beating down, and I thought we would never reach the top.  But when we did...oh, my...I will never forget the sight of Beit She'an at the bottom of that hill.  This is what I saw:

I stood in awe as I viewed the city below me.  Beit She'an is the remainder of a Roman city.  You can see the main street with the Roman columns lining the roadway.  The street is lined with shops.  At the top, and in the middle,  is the amphi-theatre.  To the right, near the top is the white roof covering the bath house.  Most of the city was completely covered in dirt until the 1950's.  Much more of the city had been excavated by the time I visited the second time, in December, 2013.  Can you imagine what this city must have looked like two thousand years ago?

The picture below is a closer view of the area that contains the bath house.

I couldn't wait to get to the bottom of that hill and explore those ruins.  The picture below is how the road probably looked in the Roman period.

Some visitors strolling through the area.

You can see how massive the columns are here.

The streets were constructed with slopes which allowed water to run out of the area.  Ingenious, right?

The mosaics on the floors of the shops  and the bath house were intricate and beautiful, and fascinated me:

The mosaic pieces were only about 1/2 inch square.  Such great artistry and workmanship.

As we explored, we learned from our tour guide, Natalie, that an earthquake destroyed this city in 749 A.D. She pointed out that the epicenter of the quake was within the city because some of the columns fell in one direction, while others fell in the opposite direction.  Interesting.  She also showed us the column to which I am pointing in the photo below:

The dark black mark on the column indicates the level of soil covering the city.  At the time it was discovered, this column was the only thing appearing above the dirt.  Can you imagine that?  This entire city was completely covered with dirt.  Over the thousands of years, different groups controlled the city, and it was common practice to cover the old buildings and build new structures on top.  

Excavations of Beit She'an began in 1949, and continued through 1996.   There is much more interesting information about this site at this link:

Another area we all found interesting was the toilet house.  Yes, the Romans bathed together, and also sat on the toilet together.  Can you imagine?  My husband said they had close quarters like this on the Navy aircraft carriers in the 60's.  Underneath the seats were troughs that had running water to take away the waste.  Those Romans thought of everything, didn't they?

Two of the girls in our group clowning around.  These two kept us in stitches for the whole trip.  They were a hoot!

I couldn't figure out if this toilet seat was for a VERY large person, or if it was just broken.  

The intricate beauty of the decorations throughout the city really caught my eye.  Here is Shelby admiring a piece of wall adorned with a sunflower design:

Sunflowers are my favorite, and Beit She'an is at the top of my list of favorite places to visit in Israel.  

Next stop on the tour was Mount Scopus in the Holy City of Jerusalem.  Don't miss it next week, Gail-Friends.  

 I'm linking up today with:

Modest Mom Monday Link-up 
Meet-Up Monday
Chatting at the Sky Link-Up for August

A Wise Woman Builds  
Whole Hearted Wednesday  
 Wake Up Wednesday
Favorite Things 
Hearts for Home 

Fab Creative Friday
Friendship Friday 
Freedom Friday