Cosmos: The Universe Seen as a Well-Ordered Whole

I'm not sure why the flower, named Cosmos, was named such.   It is one of my favorites, all colors of them.  Especially white and this orange variety.

I took these photos last August and the sun was pretty perfect in the Tank Garden when I took them.  I gathered this basket full of just the blossoms to dry them and keep them in a jar.  I've read somewhere that you can use them for dye.  Plus, they are just really, really neat and I like jars full of neat things.  

This morning as I found the photos and decided to post them here, a connection to the Cosmos came to me.  I love Metaphors.  The metaphors in life that connect us and help us understand the greater truths in Christ just blow. me. away.  Truly.  They speak to me strongly and I sit in awe.  

There is an order to the Universe and we can be part of it.  The metaphors we see are little Parables.  Little bits that are more easily understood, more digestible, to use the words of my daughter, Bonnie.

So what was the metaphor that I saw in these photos?  

The abundance that can occur, that can grow from sharing even just a small seed in generosity.

Almost 6 years ago, I posted about my now 92 year old gardening friend.  I met her in 2013.  She has shared her knowledge and her zest for life on two garden visits now.  She has also shared her seeds and plant cuttings.  Our visits are sparse and brief really, but what I have gained from her....abundance.

She has shared her passion for politics, her zest for the small things in life, her heart for what some may call small things, but are really big things, her garden knowledge, her confidence in who she is, and generously, seeds and plants. 

And it keeps giving.  I have shared seeds that I have saved from the plants of the seeds that she gave me. Her sharing has given me this post on God's abundance.

Absolute overflowing abundance.  

That is what happens when we give generously.

A life metaphor from tiny cosmos seeds, shared out of generous love from the beauty a woman saw in a flower.  From her awe in the Creator who made the seed. 

Be sure to read my first post about her here.  I also have the Cypress plants blooming here and have been saving and sharing seeds from it too. 

The metaphor continues:

Every year when I plant seeds, it's the hardest thing to do.  I know some will grow, but it's so hard to take the time to fiddle with the little seeds and worry that they won't grow.  I would much rather plant already growing plants.  But there is beauty in the process too.  The struggle, overcoming the fear that I've planted them incorrectly.  Will we get enough sun to germinate them?  Can I keep them moist enough?  Can I identify them when the markers fade or blow away because that's hard to do too?  My back and legs hurt from being on my knees.  Our ground is clumpy and not great soil.  Can I patiently wait for the blooms?'s metaphor...all the worries in life...raising children...especially in almost all we encounter and hope for, can I patiently wait??

Find Your Peace Within

Peace is always a quest, isn't it?

What do you want most from life?  

A path to Heaven for my family and myself  (and everyone else!) and peace.

When you look out at others, what they are doing, what they have, it gets a bit hard to find the peace you desire.  The other day when I was up close in the blossoms of the flowering crab trees, it was so beautiful and peaceful within the branches and I was reminded of this truth.

Peace can only be found from within, where Christ dwells in you.  

Why is that where it's found with Him?

Because that is the only place where you are fully known.  Within, by Him.

And, that is a pretty wonderful place to be.

Sunday Vibes

Spring Blossoms ♥

I've seemed to have briefly lost my way in photography and photo editing. I am seeing how a person can let outside influences affect you interiorly in surprising ways.

The depth and nuances are too much for a blog post. 

So, I'll just say, that it's my hope to return to picture taking with my Nikon.

The flowering crabs were just gorgeous yesterday and the sun was perfect to highlight the blossoms!

When you get right up in the blossoms to smell them and to take in the little details, the experience is very different than just looking at them from a distance.

One of my daughters was outside when I began taking pictures and I called her over.

To get up close and personal with the blossoms so to speak. :) 

It was great that she could see without my prompting, that there were shadows in the little parts of the blossoms from the sun.  

So many details that we miss.

We have two varieties of flowering Crab Apple Trees.

Good thing I don't have to choose a favorite.  The white one however has sent out quite a few "volunteers" which is a huge bonus!

~ Happy Springtime ~

Finding Photos

Today, is  gloomy and I have a real 'taking ibuprofen/acetaminophen/carrying around a box of tissues/using a hot pack' kind of cold.  So I'm catching up a bit on photo organizing on the computer.

I don't remember the occasion, but I do remember telling the girls that since they were dressed up, lets do a photo shoot in the newly cleared path in our trees.




Since this day, braces have come off...woohoo!  That's always a grand day!  Five kids down, one to go. :) 

They are always so willing to have their pictures taken and I'm so happy for that.

This cold that I have along with the gloomy cold weather we are still having makes planting the garden still seem so far away.  I've been repotting and taking some more cuttings of plants I wintered over so I'll have a few "free" plants to put out.  Very excited about that.  I managed to save a few varieties of coleus, two begonias,  two varieties of Wandering Jews along with quite a few succulents.

I hope it warmer where you are...have a great Tuesday!

It Was Just a Used Notebook

It was just a used notebook, but it was poignant in it's message.

I took these photos five years ago.  Today, I discovered them again on my computer. 

When I discovered them in a file on my computer, I instantly remembered taking them and how much I was moved by this empty notebook.

It was from the drawer of drawing and old school supplies for the kids.

This used up empty notebook was just so full.

Full of all that was accomplished.  Full of showing potential realized.

Full of a reminder to me to use up all I'm given for God's glory. 

This notebook represents the practice of life.  The negative space speaks so much more volume than if you could see everything that had been written on the torn away pages.

So much beauty of life is in the doing and the using.  

A Short Film: February Birthdays

My son-in-law and I both have February birthdays and we celebrated them together a couple of weeks ago at their home.  My two youngest daughters baked and decorated our birthday cakes!  The night before, my co-leader of our 4-H club led a lesson in cake decorating, so it was perfect timing for the girls to practice.  My son-in-law and daughter have been learning German for years now as his Mother is from Germany so Audrey had the idea to write "Happy Birthday" in German on his cake.  Nora decided a mug of coffee would be good on my right!

I didn't have a tripod with to get a group picture, so I had a picture taken with my granddaughters and then had the oldest, who is almost seven take a picture of the rest of us. The youngest was hiding in the legs and then ran out and I didn't even know it until I looked at the pictures, made me laugh!

February Birthdays 2019 from Jill Ruskamp on Vimeo.

If you want to begin to make your own little films these are my resources:
For music: Soundstripe 
With this link, you can get 20% off the first payment with Soundstripe Standard

The Software: Cyberlink PowerDirector I bought it before it became a subscription plan.  I have been really happy with it.  Fairly easy to use for the number of features it has.

A Secret Garden Tea Party...Six Months Ago!

Last August we celebrated this little one turning 3!

She had a sweet Secret Garden Tea Party!

I didn't take a lot of pictures and then I never got back to edit them.  By the way...what is it about little cucumber sandwiches that is so good?!  So simple and well, I ate a lot of them!

I checked out a book on flower arranging from the library and that's what reminded me about these pictures.  Spur of the moment, I had put together a woodland themed centerpiece for the birthday party.

I had the wood slabs, the logs, and the bark pieces just waiting for a project.  Of course when it got dismantled, I saved them all for another project someday.

I gathered not only the greens and flowers, but teacups and teapots from my dishes and it all was just so fun to make.

I think cups as vases are great any time.

This vine came from a plant that just kept on giving this summer and I brought it in this winter so it's still available to cut from.  I'll move it back outside in the spring.

It was actually a challenge to cut small enough leaves and buds as I was used to cutting big ones for big vases.

The paper cups my daughter made to stack up were really cute!

My kids and cheese:  It just goes poof.  Gone.

Pretty fancy. :)  And good. :)

It was all really adorable.  

 My daughter really enjoys decorating...pretty sure the next parties are already planned. :)


I hear that snow may be coming again tomorrow so I guess I better bury into the seed catalogs!

My Birthday Story

 Today is my birthday. I was born in 1964.  I was the seventh child of my family.  Bud and Vandelyn.  The sixth baby they had was Betty Christine and she was born prematurely, dying after living one day at one pound.  The practice at that time was to not let the mother hold such a fragile newborn and she died and was taken back to be buried without my Mom ever getting to hold her.  That was a pain that my Mom shared with me when I was an adult.  She didn't share verbally or physically much for emotions so it's safe to say, this was a great sorrow.  She died two years ago and about 3 years ago,  I thought to ask her about when I was born.  "Were you afraid to have me after losing Betty?"  She thought for awhile, leaving our conversation for a moment to retrieve a piece of her life,  then said, "Yes, I suppose so.  We didn't go buy anything until after you were born and stopped at the store on the way home from the hospital to buy bottles and diapers."

My folks were able to come and visit Jim and I (and my brother and sister in law living in the same town) regularly at the end of my Dad's life.  From my younger years, I knew from some vague conversation that the last three of us kids weren't "planned".    On one of their visits my Dad said to me, "You may have been a mistake, but I'm sure glad we had you."  Keep in mind that my Dad was a farmer and a bus driver, not a poet.  While not articulate about feelings, in his older years, he could really show you love with his actions and face.  These words were poignant and heartfelt.

Fast forward about 8 years.  Jim is gone and life has been really really hard.  Randy comes into my life and we get married. Along comes Audrey, a "mistake" as my Dad would have not so eloquently put it. I'd prefer to say a surprise gift from God.  Then another surprise Gift and I was pregnant again.  Not yet knowing who the gift was. But God knew who He had given us. It was my birthday.  I was about 4 weeks pregnant and you could say a bit scared and worried.  42 years old with five other kids, one only 7 months old.

So. Thirteen years ago, it's my birthday.  And I'm worried and scared.  My husband greets me with a "Happy Birthday!", wraps his arms around me and says "Thank you God for the day this woman was born." with all the sincerity and love that a person can express.  Because of his words, I remembered my Dad saying, "You may have been a mistake but I'm sure glad we had you." There in that moment, I knew that my baby may have been a surprise, but I was sure glad I was having this baby.  I remember crying and telling my husband after his beautiful words that someday someone could be hugging our child in pure gratitude for the day they were born.

Of course now we know who God was knitting in my womb, our little Nora.  The youngest of six.  Just like me the youngest of my family.

Mom and Dad are both gone.  My oldest brother also deceased.  My next brother just turned 67. 

My oldest child is 29.  then 27. then 24. then 19. then 13. then 12.

My oldest granddaughter is 6. then 3. then 2.

The picture being painted is so much bigger.  So much bigger than the fear allows a person to see.

The reality is...the reality is, that the gift of life is... so stinking much bigger than the fear.

And, I thank God for the day I was born.

A Gift Idea

I had a great idea for a gift for our youngest granddaughter back in November.  I wanted to make a matching memory game for her with photos of our family.  I thought and thought about how to have them printed so they would be sturdy.  When I pitched the idea to my older girls they told me that they were already offered as games to print online, ha! (Apparently, not an original idea of mine!) I went looking and there were a few printer sites to choose from.  I opted for Shutterfly and was really happy with the product. My plan for the pictures was to have a similar background and use a few simple props or do silly poses to make them fun.  My son wasn't there when we took all the pictures so I used one I had of him from a while back.  I loved that it worked out that there was one black background one.  

This was really a lot of fun to do!  Here are the photos I ended up using.

The games come in sets of 12 photos (24 cards) which worked out perfectly for our family!

It was a gift for the youngest, but they all love playing with it! ♥

I hope this gets you thinking about how you could take photos to make a gift for a little one in your life!

Actually, I kind of want to have these photos printed and on the wall for myself!

A Celebration Cake

The first "Celebration Cake" I made was three years ago and I posted about it here.  It now dresses up my sewing room since my Mom passed away two years ago. 

This is now the third one I've made.

This one is less "scrappy", a little smaller, and has a more fancy vibe than the other two.  I have a nice stash of vintage velvet thanks to a great garage sale score a while back so my "icing" is velvet. ♥  

I took these pictures last month while the house was decorated for Christmas and temporarily set it here.  Hard to find good light in December!

When I first made book page flowers years ago, I made a number more than I needed for the wreath I was making so I have a jar of them ready to use when needed.

Having your own hand made supplies ready to go is great!
I'm sure you know that the "cake medallions" are vintage earrings with the backs clipped off.

This one was a gift for my sister's 60th birthday.

The post I linked to at the beginning gives a few more details if you are wanting to make yourself a celebration cake.  I imagine a cake either labeled with what you are grateful for or perhaps a cake to celebrate a personal accomplishment?  I can see making a little flag on the cake "Hope" or "I am a child of God".  A little joyful reminder of gratitude.  :)

My daughter talks about the importance of celebration.  It really is important.  It goes along with gratitude. 

Celebrating makes space for gratitude.

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