Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The Gift of Encouragement

“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Proverbs 25:11

What is one of the single most powerful tools you possess that can have a lasting impact on another human being?

The gift of encouragement.

A short note of encouragement can have a powerful effect on others…A word of appreciation can send forth ripples of impact that last a lifetime. Anyone is a candidate for an encouraging note. One of the natural outcomes of my pressed flower card business was actually using the cards, and I've gradually become very interested in the art of ecouragement.

At first thought, it may seem that writing a note to someone is hard, and sometimes it can be. But, keep in mind that our words don’t have to be polished, or breathtakingly eloquent. Simple, heartfelt words will go the distance, and span the gap from your heart, to theirs.

One of the best notes of encouragement I ever received was during my sophomore year of college. I attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and one snowy day I was working in the mailroom of the Plant Pathology department, cold and damp from biking to campus in the snow, dreading upcoming exams, and wondering where I really fit in this world. As I was sorting through the mail, putting each envelope onto the appropriate faculty mailbox, I was stunned to find that one of the envelopes was addressed to me! I opened it up, and on the inside of a dime store card were the simple words, “Liz, I like you!” It was signed by an older woman who was one of the department secretaries, whom I assumed never even knew I existed. That simple, totally unexpected note made my miserable day! That simple note had the power to lift me beyond my present circumstances – something I hadn’t been able to do myself.

These days, in the age of instant messaging and e-mail, just the effort of obtaining a card, addressing the envelope, and putting a stamp on it, speaks volumes. Only a few heartfelt words are needed for a truly encouraging note.

Here are some ideas to get you started on your quest to becoming an encourager:

*Commit a random act of kindness, by simply letting someone know you appreciate them

*Encourage someone after a difficult loss is perhaps the most challenging kind of note to write, but say a prayer and do your best. Your efforts will give the recipient something to keep, share, and re-read, in other words, you will be blessing them with lasting encouragement, to get them through the difficult days ahead.

Here’s a challenge for you – it’s actually a challenge I received from a godly friend years ago: send one note of encouragement a week. Just think of the positive impact you can have in this world, by encouraging 52 other people this year! I must admit that I haven’t been able to keep up that pace, so I have revised this goal to a monthly one. On the first of every month, I select one of my pressed flower cards, and send it off. And you know, nine times out of ten, I end up receiving encouragement from those I try to encourage! What a blessing, from so little effort.

”Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…”1Thessalonians 5:11

Friday, April 22, 2005

How to Press Flowers volume 1

Welcome to my first Blog entry.

I've been thinking of doing a blog for quite some time, but must admit I had been dragging my feet. I'm not the most dynamic writer in the world - my writings and musings don't have the "snap, crackle, and pop" that so many bloggers have, but for the sake of SEO, (search engine optimimization), I'm jumping in. Besides, I've got things to say!

I plan on touching on an array of topics, including pressed flowers and handmade paper, of course, but also using herbs (another passion of mine), running a home business/website, incorporating more of God in my life, and what ever else comes to mind that I think may be of interest to the viewers of my website. Please come by every so often!

I'm going to begin with one of my passions - you guessed it...Pressed Flowers!

Pressing Flowers

There is a wealth of information on the web about pressing flowers on the web - (see my Pressed Flower Links for a number of my favorite pressed flower sites), but I want to give you some of my tried and true tips for you pressed flower enthusiasts out there.

* My most used press - I love the "Microfluer". This press is a microwave press, essentially two thick pieces of plastic grid, 4 clips, and thick fleece liners. I use this press the most, because it's so FAST and easy. I can press about 15-20 decent sized pansies in about a minute. The color is exceptional - often the color seems richer after the microwaving, but there are a few flowers that turn strange colors, or don't tolerate the microvave at all. Also, the timing can be tricky, i.e. how long to zap the flowers, but it just takes some patient trial and error. Please practice on some "not so perfect" flowers first.

* Gently flatten the flowers - before placing them in your press. That way they have a better chance of pressing perfectly.

* Don't forget the leaves! - it's easy to get so carried away while gathering flowers, that you forget to snip a few leaves and stems. Find young fresh leaves, they press best. Also, if the stems of a certain flower are thick and bulky, substitute a more slender stem from another flower.

* Cultivate a sense of wonder - Take a moment to look...really, really, look at a flower. See the intircate handiwork of each flower - the precise symetry, the irridescent glowing colors on such a tender canvas. How kind of our Creator to sprinkle such beauty at our feet!

* Cultivate a sense of humor - I try to gently knock the bugs off each flower I gather, but those little pests are persistant! Can you believe God made so many odd looking bugs? I try to be patient and carry those little bugs back outside, but after the millionth one..

* A few of my favorite flowers to press - Cosmos, osperspermum, pansey, viola, violet, verbena, coreopsis (there's a new coresopsis hybrid called "Heaven's Gate" that I can't wait to try), calendula, transcantia, borage, edelweiss, mallow, lavender, etc. There are more, which I will add at a later date, but the flowers listed here are easy to press, and retain their color well.

If you haven't pressed flowers before, please try it! If you have any questions, just e-mail me. I'd be happy to help get you started!

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