Friday, June 30, 2017

I Planted My First Rose Bush

This week marked a 'first' for me. I planted my first rose bush. I've always admired that a plant with such prickly thorns could produce flowers that were so delicate, yet sturdy at the same time. It's not often that I write product reviews, but occasionally I do make an exception.  My blog has never been about promoting things or gaining advertisers or trying to make a profit off of my words. My blog has always been more about conversations, thoughts, hopes, and dreams; but when I have an opportunity to combine the two together ... well, I consider it a challenge and a little bit of fun. Who could turn that down?

I was approached last week by Proven Winners Direct to write a product review for them. Some of you may remember that last summer I wrote one for them for their new DIY Hanging Basket Kit. I had so much fun with that one and was so impressed with the quality of their product that I just couldn't say no to this one. This time, in celebration of National Rose Month, they asked if I would review their brand new 'At Last' Rose. At Last combines all the fragrance of fully-petaled tea roses with the no-nonsense practicality of a disease-resistant landscape rose. This is a sneak preview of the 'At Last' Rose that will not be available to the public for purchase until 2018. I feel so ahead of the times, lol.

They've arrived safely.
Let's begin ... I received an email from Proven Winners on Monday and responded. By Tuesday I was contacted that my roses were on their way. On Wednesday they arrived. I was SO excited when my husband called me at work to say, 'There's a BIG package on the porch for you!' I couldn't wait to get home and check it out. Thursday night I went to work; I needed to free up a little space in my garden beds first to make room for the newcomers.

Packed with special care.
Proven Winners always ships their products in sturdy cardboard boxes. The plants always have access to the air and they've never arrived squished or damaged. I'm always amazed with the thought and care they put in to their packaging. It makes ordering plants from the convenience of your kitchen or office so simple, especially when you feel confident that they will arrive safe and sound. It's super easy!

All this came in one box!

I opened up the box the night they arrived and left it in my garage. The next day when I was ready to plant I took everything out on my driveway to see exactly what I had ... 4 beautiful At Last Rose bushes (all in 1 gallon containers). I was SO excited! My neighbors must have thought I was little goofy as I stood there just looking at them from all angles and taking pictures (with a big smile on my face, of course, lol).

First I must say that my husband was probably as excited as I was to be adding these beautiful flowers to my garden. His mother passed away just last fall. He said the roses reminded him of his childhood when his mother had rose bushes planted by their front porch and the side of their house. My mother-in-law's middle name was Rose (which is why we gave our daughter the same middle name). I'm thinking these new At Last Roses will be a wonderful memorial tribute to her.

Getting settled in its new home.

Back to the planting. The biggest portion of the planting process for me was actually digging up some flowers to make room for the new ones. I found two perfect places right away and went to work. The third plant I am still deciding where I should plant it. The fourth I gave to one of my neighbors who loves flowers as much as I do. I figure whenever we are blessed with something we weren't expecting that it is only right to pay it forward and share the good fortune ... besides I may even get to look out my window and see the plant growing in her yard. It's a win-win for sure.

Such a BEAUTIFUL color!
These At Last Roses are the prettiest color I think I have ever seen. They look so fragile, yet are so strong. They combine fragrance and disease resistance. They will be easy to take care of: no spraying required and no need for fussy pruning. AND they will bloom for a LONG time, with flowers present from late spring though frost. They will grow 30-36 inches in height and spread 30-36 inches. Just plant them in average soil with sunlight. I'm thinking these are going to be a HUGE success in my garden.

Do you want to try them out as well, before they are available to everyone else next year? 

Proven Winners is letting me offer a GIVEAWAY! They will send four At Last Roses (one gallon size, just like mine) to one lucky winner. What do you have to do to win? It's easy. Just post a comment to this blog post telling me WHY you would like to win; to plant the flowers in your own garden, to share them with someone else, or whatever your reason is. Post your reply no later than midnight, Thursday, July 7th. I will choose one lucky winner and you'll receive your beautiful roses shortly thereafter ... in plenty of time to enjoy yet this summer. How easy is that? I can't wait to read all of your comments. Proven Winners asks that whoever the lucky winner is shares with them WHAT they did with the flowers. Maybe you have an interesting landscape idea or will plant the roses some place special. They ask that you share a photo using #atlastrose and tagging 'Proven Winners Direct' on Facebook. This will enter the winner for a chance to win more roses. Is that cool or what?

I hope you are as excited about these roses as I am. I can't wait to watch them grow and post some photos of their progress.

* I received this product from Proven Winners Direct.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

What Is Your Purpose?

Life is full of transitions. We grow up. We grow older. Hopefully in the midst of it all, we even grow a little wiser. We face challenges and battles; some expected and some not. I often wish I had a crystal ball that could clue me in on what I am supposed to be doing, when I should be doing it, and what the ultimate goal and outcome will be. It's mind-boggling when I think of the time and effort I put in to projects, never knowing if I am ultimately making a difference or even on the right path.
I know many people who have struggled after a divorce or the death of a loved one. They felt lost for a long time and tried to figure out what their new identity looked like now that they were 'one' instead of  'two'. I've seen some college graduates wander aimlessly after graduation, with their diploma in hand, trying to discern what they would do next and where they would go. Life is full of questions.
We look around. We assume we know what direction we are heading. We hope we know what our future holds. Sometimes, though, what we are meant to do finds us when we aren't looking for it. We're so busy focusing on the bigger picture that sometimes we don't see what is right in front of us.
We should ask ourselves WHY we think we want something. Is it our head or our heart leading us? Maybe we should be more open to the possibilities. Life is full of them. The right job, relationship, and project will come along. By nature, we are impatient. We want to know the WHO, the WHAT, the WHERE, the WHY, and the WHEN. We don't like to wait and we certainly don't like to guess what is coming next. How can we be expected to be ready or do our best if we are surprised?
So what do we do? We hold on to hope and faith. The hope is something that gives our mind reassurance. The faith is something that reassures our heart and soul. Ultimately God knows the plan and will clue us in on the details when the time is right. Knowing that we are never alone is reassurance of the biggest kind, that's where we'll find our drive and our strength to face the uncertainties.
How do you stay focused and on track with your goals and clarifying what your purpose is?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Some Things Run Their Course

Canned foods have a shelf life. Fresh fruit and meat will spoil after a certain number of days. Plants and flowers have certain seasons of growth. Some things in life run their course, and that's okay. Not everything lasts forever. Relationships will mature and change, they won't always be exactly the same as they used to be. Even friendships will go through cycles, some will last and some will not.
I've noticed through my job and various volunteer organizations that even some projects have life spans. I've been part of different service and outreach groups over the years that had a lot of momentum for a long time, then things changed. Life changes. Your core group of volunteers move through different phases of their lives. The economy changes, ultimately limiting the funding that the projects need. Sometimes the passion or interest just isn't there anymore. When that happens, it is okay. It doesn't mean that the project is no longer good or isn't serving a purpose. It can be compared to pruning a plant. Sometimes you need to trim back the stagnant growth in order to make way for new and better growth.
Projects need to be backed by people who have the right motivation and passion. We are all human. Our responsibilities, our goals, and the amount of time we have to offer changes (sometimes all in the same day). When this happens we need to know that it's okay for us to step back and make way for someone new to jump in. It doesn't mean we don't believe in the project or the relationship any more, it just means that our perspective and what we feel we can offer has changed. Often when I've done something for a long time I feel like I am somehow abandoning it when I have to step back, when in reality I am not. If the project is meant to continue, it will. If the friendship is meant to stay strong, it will. I can only accept responsibility for my own actions. Projects and relationships involve more than just me. They require commitment and involvement from others as well. Those other people will take responsibility for their choices, as I have for my own.
Things will work out in the end. If you ever feel overwhelmed, overloaded, or over-extended  ... know that it is okay to step back and take a breather. Perhaps your heart is leading you towards a new project, something that you feel a renewed sense of passion for. It is okay to put yourself and your needs first. You can't give more of yourself than you have to offer. It's better to feel that you've done something well and with excitement than continue to do something your heart is no longer in to.
Volunteering is something I have always felt passionate about, but what I have accomplished and where I have done it does change with time. Volunteering is part of my core being. Volunteers should never be overlooked or underappreciated. Without us, a lot of things would never get done. Some volunteer opportunities will run their course, and that is okay. New opportunities will present themselves at the right time. Something you have moved on from may be the exact starting point that someone else is looking for.
When is the last time you gave in to the urge to step back from a volunteer role?
Did things still move forward without you?
Did you find something new that you could feel excited about?

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Blind Faith

We are often faced with situations and circumstances that we weren't planning for; the loss of a loved one, a traffic accident, an unwanted diagnosis, a pregnancy we were hoping for, a surprise visit from a friend. Not all situations or circumstances are bad, or even unwanted. Yet, they can still catch us by surprise. The question is ... how do we react when we come face to face with them? Do we welcome the situations with open arms or do we question everything about them? WHY is something happening? WHO will it affect? WHEN will we have the answers we feel we need to go forward? HOW will we handle it? WILL it be a good thing?
We go on Blind Faith. Blind, not just because we can't see the answers in front of us in a clear black and white, but because we believe that God will walk alongside of us and give us the tools we need to deal with it; whether that be patience, knowledge, or strength.
Faith is something that is bigger than we are, stronger than we are, goes deeper into our hearts than what can sometimes make us feel comfortable, and yet, has an unending supply. Faith is what we choose to make of it. It's free. It doesn't have to cost us a thing, other than being humble and perhaps vulnerable when we don't want to be. The cost is up to us. How much do we want to invest in our faith? Faith isn't something someone else can give us, rather we need to accept it on our own. Others can certainly share theirs with us and show us the possibilities, but ultimately faith will always be our own personal choice.
How is your faith these days? Does is keep you strong and steady? Does it waiver in its stability on certain days? More importantly, what can you do to strengthen it?
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, 'Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understandings; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.'