Hello! Welcome to Feels and Flowers, where your host finally has had enough and decides to come clean about something she’s been trying hide for a while. Clickbait? Of course not! She’d never!
We are done at last with Noah! Or… are we…? We’ll see. This week we are talking about Faith. To do so we delve into Genesis 11, the construction of the Tower of Babel and what it represented. You host gets the chance to dust off her undergraduate education and drones on and on about masonry, highrise structures, and why in a strictly engineering standpoint, the project was doomed to fail.
The flower of the week is the Geranium. Learn about its history, its uses in aromatherapy, and also why the geranium you know and love is probably a big fat fake.
Find semi-accurate show transcripts, essential oil blends, notes from the episode, and all kinds of random extras at https://feelsandflowers.com/
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I want to apologize you guys, for what I said last week.
And for what I am going to say week too. I’m sure that after this episode all of you will be disgusted and stop listening.
But honestly, this just needs to be said….
— [THEME MUSIC] —
Hi, Welcome to Feels and Flowers, I’m your host Paula Perez.
How are you all doing? Hanging in there? Good!
I am well. We still have plenty of toilet paper and Oreos here at home so I am doing better than most. We also have plenty of canned food and rice and beans. We might even open up a can of veggie dogs just for kicks. We are, however, dangerously low on fresh produce, and because here in California we’ve been told to avoid shopping for the next week or so, we must ration our measly 3 apples, 7 oranges, and 6 lemons from here until we can go grocery shopping again in 6 days.
I just hope we don’t get scurvy here before then.
Really quickly, podcast news: I figured out how to put this podcast on YouTube. It’s going to lag a month behind this podcast, but it will catch up eventually. So if you go to the app and type in “Feels and Flowers” my channel will come up and you can listen to the earliest episodes. I don’t know why anybody who already uses Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or Castbox would listen on YouTube, but I’m gonna do it for my mom, cause she’s having issues listening in her tablet.
Love you ma!
We have officially left the story of Noah… or have we? We will see!
This week we are zooming past the genealogies in Genesis 10 and learning about the world’s first skyscraper. The tower of Babel. Genesis 11 says:
Now the whole world had one language and a common form of speech. And as people journeyed eastward, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.
And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” So they used brick instead of stone, and tar instead of mortar.
“Come,” they said, “let us build for ourselves a city with a tower that reaches to the heavens, that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of all the earth.”
Then the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the sons of men were building. And the LORD said, “If they have begun to do this as one people speaking the same language, then nothing they devise will be beyond them. Come, let Us go down and confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.”
So the LORD scattered them from there over the face of all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it is called Babel, for there the LORD confused the language of the whole world, and from that place the LORD scattered them over the face of all the earth.
I’m excited. It’s time for me to dust off my Civil Engineering knowledge and feed you some interesting tidbits of trivia. But first, it’s our favorite segment: our flower of the week: the Geranium.
— [FLOWER MUSIC] —
A note about geraniums. The geraniums you know and love are probably NOT Geraniums. They are most likely a plant of the genus Pelargonium.
Pelargoniums are native to South Africa, and have slightly asymmetrical flowers in clusters, whereas true Geraniums belong to the genus Geranium and are native to the Northern Hemisphere. True Geraniums have symmetrical flowers either singly or in clusters.
The naming problem occurred in the 1600s when the first Pelargoniums were brought to Europe and were called Geraniums, since they were similar to the true Geranium. So the name stuck ever since.
To make matters worse, Geranium essential oil actually comes from Pelargoniums. Therefore, I will continue the tradition of botanical confusion and just keep saying Geraniums when I mean flowers in the genus Pelargoniums. #sorrynotsorry. Pelargonium is a mouthful for someone like me [who struggles with an accent!].
Anyway, low-maintenance and bursting with color, the geranium has been used since antiquity for beauty, medicine, and even for food. It is especially appreciated for its long blooming season that starts in spring and can last into the fall.
Geraniums are drought-resistant, thriving on sunny climates and moderate watering. They also do very well in pots so long as they are well-drained. But keep in mind that some geraniums stop blooming in very hot weather. This condition is known as “heat check.” They resume blooming when temperature goes down. Additionally, they don’t do well in cold, and can only take minor frosts.
Geraniums are native to South Africa, but have been used since antiquity. For example, there is evidence that the ancient Egyptians used Geranium oil as part of their beauty regimens.
Geraniums were brought to Europe in the 1600s, as I said before, and have since spread all over the world. There are hundreds of geranium species of different colors and shapes, but the most distinctive feature that most geranium species have are their heavily scented leaves.
The flowers and the leaves are edible. Use fresh leaves to flavor jelly and iced drinks, use dried leaves in sachets and potpourri. They can flavor sugar, iced tea, and lemonades. Or they can just be eaten fresh. Victorians used to place fresh geraniums at the dining table both as decorative pieces and to be consumed if desired.
Geraniums were also used for medicinal purposes. Their roots were used by the indigenous people of South Africa to treat respiratory problems, and its essential oil helps alleviate depression, stress, and other maladies. Additionally, some types of geraniums (those that have citrus-like aromas) act as natural insect repellents.
But before you go crazy with the geraniums, you should know that according to the ASPCA, geraniums are toxic to dogs and cats. So please keep your geraniums out of the reach of your furry friends.
If you want an essential oil with a floral scent that is not so sweet as a Rose or Jasmine, and is far more economical, I highly recommend geranium. Its scent is more herby and is reminiscent of roses. I will tell you more about some excellent ways to use geranium, including my favorite way to use it—but that’s for a little later. For now, let’s jump back into Genesis.
— [FLOWER MUSIC FADES OUT] —
First I need to say this.
I want to apologize to you guys, for what I said last week. And for what I am going to say this week too, because I’m sure that after this episode all of you listeners–yes, all three of you which include my mom–will be disgruntled, disappointed, and disgusted and stop listening.
But honestly, this just needs to be said….
I am often hesitant, even ashamed, to call myself a Christian.
But even more so when I have the opportunity to tell people that I have a Christian podcast. I am a lurker in my Podcaster Support Group, only chiming in when it comes to technical aspects of podcasting. And in my many other interest-based groups, I masquerade as a progressive, vaguely spiritual sort of person in order to engage in conversations with people who would otherwise not engage in discourse with a professed Christian. When they talk about their favorite influencers and the various podcasts about social change, feminism, science, technology, books, and even about their own podcasts–I stay silent.
Even with my colleagues, I never talk about Feels and Flowers. It’s sad but this weekly endeavor, this Christian podcast, which at first started as a hobby but now takes up the vast majority of my spare time and into which I pour so much of my heart into, is now something I am simultaneously the most proud of and the most embarrassed about.
I wonder if it’s because in my heart of hearts I hope no one ever listens to this painful revelation:
While I love Christ, and I marvel in his creation and his transformative power in my life, I very often find myself disillusioned with Christianity as a religion and especially as a culture which more often than not comes across as and pretentious and needlessly belligerent to those we claim we want to save.
So there. I said it. I apologize for having wasted your time so far, and if you want to call me an infidel… that’s fine, I guess. At least the flower trivia was fun, wasn’t it? I promise you every word I said was real, but I don’t see how I can continue on this journey without laying this out in the open.
It’s important that you understand where I’m coming from:
I am not some woman of God with a loving husband, 2.6 kids, and an Instagramable life.
I am an emotionally scarred human being. I sometimes feel desperately lonely, but I can’t stand to be around people. I curse on an every-day basis [gasps!]–though I AM proud to say that I limit my wrath to only every other day, and I’m happy to say that lately it’s been once a month. Yes, I have a very short temper, I lack patience with myself, and on occasion make my family members cry. I am working in the empathy department, but I am failing there as well as in any other areas. I love my fellow man, but I find it really hard to love them when they drive me crazy. I adore the Bible. I love reading it, I love its history, and nothing gets me more exceited than nerding out on it. But I often make excuses so I don’t actually have to set aside time to sit down with it and let the Holy Spirit talk to me through its pages.
In short, I am a very real, very angry, very tired, very weak human being who is disgusted at herself for the Christian pretentiousness I spewed out last week.
Last week I told you that you can face any crisis with grace. Just hold on to the Father and trust him. The message itself was true. I do not retract a word of what I said. But I am afraid that I gave you an incomplete picture. I gave you something that was too vague. I told you you needed something, but I did not tell you how to get it.
It’s like during a church potluck you compliment someone’s pasta or cake or cookie or whatnot and they just go off talking about their grandmother and how that recipe came over with the pilgrims and has been handed down in their family since then. And THEY WILL NOT STOP TALKING ABOUT IT! And then when they are done talking you figure you might as well ask them for the recipe and THEN they tell you that it is a secret family recipe.
Oh, come on. Surely you can tell ME?–You say.
Well–they say seeming to relent–here’s the secret: it was made with LOOOTS of love.
UGH! I hate it when that happens. So here is my attempt to set things right.
It’s easy to say “trust in God.” I told you to do that. But you can’t trust in God if you lack ONE crucial thing: Faith. So here it is, my brave attempt at hammering out the subject that stumped me for most of my Christian life: Faith.
If you understand Faith, what it is, how you get it, and how it alters the way you live, then you have everything, because without it, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).
So let’s start with the definition:
- Definition of Faith: Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)
Such a clear answer, and yet it brings up questions. What exactly does this hope for and assurance in something we don’t see mean? Is faith just a Holy “hoping for the best”? Is it a leap into an unknown? Does it require we first adopt an optimistic view of life?
Art Azurdia, former pastor and preacher at Trinity Church at Portland answered this so succinctly in a sermon Jam I heard:
Faith is not a call to believe in things when common sense tells you not to. Faith is not a mindless stab in the dark. It is not a crossing of the fingers and hoping for the best. It is not a leap into apparent nothingness. It’s a word that speaks of reasoned, careful, deliberate, intentional thought upon God and his promises
In other words, faith is an unshakeable certainty, but it is never blind.
So what does faith require?
- Requirements for Faith: Faith requires deep knowledge of the object of your faith. (John 17:3, Jeremiah 31:33-34, Jeremiah 9:23-24, 2 Peter 3:18)
Think of this: you have various degrees of faith in the people around you: your significant other, your sibling, your co-workers, your neighbor, your dentist, your gynaecologist. You trust one for one thing, and others for another thing, correct? Those you have more faith in are usually those you know and interact with the most, or who have a track record for trustworthiness in a particular area. For us Christians, this object of our faith is God and all His promises.
I talked about Paul last week and how he was an example of faith under fire. Close to the end of His life, Paul wrote a letter to his friend Timothy in which He explained about how he was able to suffer for Christ:
“…I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher [of the gos pel]. That is why I am suffering as I am. But I have no regrets. I couldn’t be more sure of my ground—the One I’ve trusted in can take care of what he’s trusted me to do right to the end.” (2 Timothy 1:11-12)
Now here is where a lot of us get stuck: knowledge ABOUT God, and the conviction that He does, in fact, exist and is very powerful… that is not enough. You see, even the demons believe—and tremble! (James 2:19) and they aren’t really living their best God-filled lives from what I understand. Why? Because anyone who wants to approach God and grow in Faith must believe both that He exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
That’s why so many professed Chrsitians like me are not living a full and abundant Christian life. They KNOW about God, and Know how to PRACTICE the religion and how to behave when among Christians, but that is not knowledge of God that helps our faith to grow.
- Faith Works: Faith is positive certainty expressed in action. (James 2:17)
Here is where “Works” comes in and where I always was thrown off because here was a conundrum I couldn’t come to terms with. Works don’t save you (Galatians 2:21), but faith without works is dead…(James 2:17) Whaaaaat? Hebrews, clarifies the faith/works “conundrum” with a list of examples. And who is at the very top of our list? Yep, our boy Noah:
By faith, Noah built a ship in the middle of dry land. He was warned about something he couldn’t see, and acted on what he was told. The result? His family was saved. His act of faith drew a sharp line between the evil of the unbelieving world and the rightness of the believing world. As a result, Noah became intimate with God. (Hebrews 11:7, MSG)
Again as Pastor Art Azurdia says,
Faith is Taking God at his word, living in obedience to his revelation whatever the cost because you know… that God will always do what he says, that his speaking is his doing. Authentic faith is an abiding assurance in God in his promises that animates you to persevere in your obedience to Him.
- Therefore if you want to be able to do what God wants you to do, and truly TRUST God and His promises, you must have a greater faith.
- To have Greater Faith, you must learn more about the object of your faith: Christ. The basis of faith is in knowledge of the object of our faith (Romans 10:17)
- To know more about Christ, you have to read the Bible and immerse yourself in the life of Christ. It’s as simple as that. You can never trust a person you don’t have faith in. You can never have faith in a person you don’t know. You can never know someone if you don’t seek them out.
It’s so clear, but it took me years–DECADES–to understand this.
I lived thirty one years of my life dreaming about arks, designing and revising the plans, knowing deep inside me that God had called me to do something great for him–and yet I never managed to execute any one of those dreams. To be honest I was very confused. While in my dreams I designed arks, In my day-to-day life I was busy–very, very, busy–building up towers.
The people behind the building of the Tower of Babel decided to set up in this world a monument to themselves. Not only that, but they hoped to build a structure of such prodigious heights that the top of their tower would reach up into the heavens. They were fully aware of their origins. They were aware that God had promised that he would never again destroy the world and its inhabitants by flood.
But why trust an ephemeral promise? The rainbow, the sign of his covenant, was not enough for them. So they chose to put their trust and faith on their bricks rather than on the God behind the rainbow promise.
It was a lousy Idea, and not just simply in a spiritual sense.
Civil engineers, heck even an undergrad can very quickly point out the pros, and cons of building with bricks: masonry buildings (buildings made out of brick and mortar) are, by necessity, severely limited by height because of the way the weight is distributed. Usually a steel frame transfers the load very efficiently making the need for thick load-bearing walls moot. Well, masonry buildings are not like this. Each wall needs to become a load-bearing wall. That is why there are no skyscrapers made out of bricks. Tall structures made out of bricks have walls that are at least 20 or 25 feet thick at ground level simply to support the weight of the upper floors.
And you can say, ok, so the lower floors will be mostly narrow corridors for storage, people can live on the top floors, right? Yeah, I suppose, though it would be a terrible waste of material, and there is only so much compression brick can take.
Still, if you can live with super-thick walls, you will still be met with a severe setback in your plans. You see, these people did away with the mortar, which is the traditional material used for masonry, and is an excellent binding agent for bricks. Instead of mortar they used tar.
[What in the world?] Tar is definitely not a good mortar. Sure, it is sticky and if you process it enough, it might get thicker and probably solid-ish in the way asphalt does. But tar is foul-smelling, and it is a fluid that never actually solidifies. It doesn’t do well in heat, either. A fire would have been disastrous. But even a small fire would not be required to put a dent in this plan. Even modern asphalt, made from tar, will melt in hot weather.
The only thing Tar is is good for, is for creating waterproof seals. That is why it is used on boats to waterproof and seal ropes, rigging, and decks.
While thinking about all this it hit me that these people in their pride and self-sufficient defiance, were hoping to create a tower that would let them survive the next flood. They hoped to build high enough to reach heaven, or at least to be higher than the highest mountain. And the tower had to be leak-proof to withstand the rising waters. That is why they used a water-proofing material to build their tower.
Oh, they knew about God–Noah had been around 300 years after the flood to teach his progeny about Him. and Shem, Noah’s son and another witness to the flood, had outlived Noah by hundreds of years as well. But those descendants had no faith in God. Hence, they could not trust that His word was true.
In the same way, in our sad self-sufficiency, the majority of us spend our time building useless towers. At least, I certainly did.
Day by day, week by week, brick by brick, I was doing what I thought was the right thing for a Christian to do: I was going to church every week, I was very active member at church. I poured out my time and talents for the cause. I embraced the Christian culture as much as I could. I listened to the right music, I dressed the part of a good church girl, I said the right things, I volunteered, I gave my tithes and offerings. I avoided all the wrong crowd and I isolated myself from other nonbelievers, missing out on so many friends and experiences because I feared contamination and I feared being seduced by the dark side. But I didn’t need to go anywhere to be seduced by the dark side, all that time I was struggling with all kinds of secret sins, feeling disgusted at myself and feeling so unworthy because I knew I was the biggest fake.
Still, I was desperate to make it to heaven. I professed to love and know the God I preached about, but in reality I had turned my back on His word and His promises, and relied on myself and my pathetic efforts to save me and let me make it to heaven.
I could have saved myself the work of building ugly, foul-smelling, tar-covered towers when I could have embraced a life that is truly abundant: A life where I don’t have to feel afraid of the future, and I don’t have to hate myself. And now I can only mourn the wasted years and try to make up for it.
The only consolation is that maybe, just maybe, I can make that time count if only one of you hears this and is helped by it. Maybe then it will have been worth it.
Because I don’t want you to waste any more time. Thirty years was too long for me and I hope to God no one else has to languish like I did.
Despite my past folly, not all is lost. The same word that one day created the world from the darkness is still powerful enough to renew me and create out of me a creature more beautiful, more glorious, more exalted, more alive and more wonderful than if I had never sinned. This same power can do the same for you. Christianity has failed me and it will continue to fail me if I rely on it to save me.
But God, on whom I have faith, and in whose promises I will trust can save me. Because God–and God alone–saves.
If you’ve reached this far, thank you for listening. This episode has gotten a little too long, but I did promise to tell you about Geranium Essential Oil.
Here is a laundry list of Geranium essential oil benefits:
- Hormone balancing
- Relieves stress
- Boosts skin health
- Helps in muscle oil toning
- Is a natural diuretic.
My favorite use is as a massage oil to help me during that time of the month. I used to have very heavy or very irregular periods but I used an essential oil blend that included Geranium, Chamomile, and Lemon and it helped out A LOT.
You can find this and many other blends at feelsandflowers.com. Additionally I place in the post for this episode additional links and media that you may find helpful, including a Sermon Jam that 2 years ago changed my life and helped me once and for all sort out my deep misconceptions about Faith.
Send me flowers! If you’d like a shoutout or you just want to say hi, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can also follow me on IG: @feelsandflowerspodcast and Twitter @feelsandflowers. If you enjoy Feels and Flowers please be sure to leave a rating and subscribe on Apple podcasts or whatever podcast platform you use. That would really help a lot.
Until next time… please remember that you are beautiful, you are loved, and you were made with a purpose.
Faith vs Trust: https://www.icr.org/article/faith-vs-trust
More reading if you are interested in the Pros and Cons of Masonry. Very nice article that doesn’t get mired in technical jargon: https://www.ny-engineers.com/blog/masonry-construction-advantages-and-disadvantages
Tallest masonry building in the world: https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/83196/11-facts-about-philadelphias-city-hall