Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

how-to Archive



May 2017

Gardening: Double Late Tulips

Written by , Posted in Gardening

tulips double late tulips

A few years ago at Savour the Flavours, I purchased a brown bag of tulip bulbs. Planted late in the fall that year, these tulips have added a burst of colour each spring season since.

I trimmed the tulips and gave them as a floral arrangement, and there were several comments about how much the blooms looked like peonies. Interestingly enough, while there are tulip-peony hybrid flowers, these blooms are indeed tulips. Double late tulips, to be exact.

An excellent reproducer, these double late tulip blooms are beautiful, low-maintenance, and love the sun — perfect for a garden that gets 6+ hours of sun each day. This year, I documented their growth from first blooms to cut flowers (check out the photos below).

Double late tulips are also known as peony-flowered tulips. They’re called double late because their flower is double the average tulip (in size and leaf). Typically, double late tulips bloom in the late spring (ours sprouted up late April, with blooms showing in early May).

Double late tulips prefer lots of sun. LOTS of sun. They require very little maintenance, and make excellent cut flowers. If you’re looking to plant your own double late tulips, do so in the fall, before the first hard frost.

Did you know that there are more than 3,000 registered tulip varieties?

tulips double late tulips

tulips double late tulips

tulips double late tulips

tulips double late tulips

tulips double late tulips


tulips double late tulips

tulips double late tulips

tulips double late tulips

tulips double late tulips




May 2017

Hope’s How-To: The Robins Are Back

Written by , Posted in Gardening

hope's how-to: Robins are nesting

If you were following along on the blog last year, you read all about the family of robins that nested on the nesting shelf that Wes built me. Well friends, the robins are back! Wes and I were so excited to see on Saturday night that the robins have officially built their nest on our nesting shelf, and we are so looking forward to seeing another robin family grow and take flight right in our own yard.

A bit of back story for you: At the beginning of April, I noticed that there were some twigs on our nesting shelf. I knew these had to be recent, as after our robin family flew the coup last year, Wes and I disposed of the old nest and sprayed down the nesting shelf. I noticed one day that there were grackles up on top of the shelf. Concerned, and thinking that perhaps it was grackles and not robins using our shelf, I cleared off the shelf once again.

Three full weeks passed, and I waited patiently for the robins to nest. Nothing. Then, last week, I asked Wes to spray off the shelf again (lest the scent of the grackles was deterring a robin family from nesting). He did, and what do you know — we checked on Saturday night and in a span of less than 8 hours — the robins had built a whole nest!

hope's how-to: robin's nesting shelf

While it’s certainly not as neat as last year’s nest, it would appear that the robins are here to stay for the season. If you’re looking for ways to attract robins in your own yard, you should note that robins love blueberries (any berries, really). Also, if you’ve got a lawn that is more moist than dry (worms love moisture), you’re more likely to attract robins to your yard.

So far, it appears that our robins are making themselves at home. The robins have been busy around our yard, searching for worms, mating (I think?), and preparing to lay their eggs.

hope's how-to: robin's nesting shelf

Stay tuned for more photos as the season moves along. We are excited once again to be sharing the journey of the robin’s nesting shelf and robin family with you!

hope's how-to: robin's nesting shelf

For more on last year’s robins, click here.



October 2016

Hope Reflected: What to do in the face of Adversity

Written by , Posted in Christian Living

what to do in the face of adversity


“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” Wise words regarding adversity from one of my favourite authours, C.S. Lewis. Inevitably, we all will face adversity in our lives at some point or another. While it may not be comforting, that’s a fact. Another fact? The key to facing adversity is how we react to it.

Proverbs 24:10 says, “If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.” It’s easy to say, but quite often when we face times of adversity, we wonder how we’ll make it through. One of the keys to facing adversity is remembering how to keep things in perspective. Whether you’re facing adversity spiritually, relationally, physically, or emotionally, there is hope.

The most important fact to remember in the face of adversity is that God can and will help you through the toughest times in your life, if you will put your trust in Him. In the face of adversity, here are three things to do:

  1. Ask the Lord what He’s trying to teach you. Is it patience? (This is a BIG one for me!) Is it humility? Is it trust? Whatever you’re going through, God’s got you. Whatever your current circumstances and situation, God will be there for you if you’ll put your trust in Him. Largely attributed to David – who, if you’re looking or a man who faced plenty of adversity throughout his life, check out the life of David in the Bible – Psalm 119 sheds light on seeking the Lord in times of adversity, especially in verse 71, “It is good or me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.” Perhaps there’s an area in your life where God is trying teach you or mature you. It seems like my life long I’ve been learning (and learning, and learning) the virtue of patience. Ask the Lord what He’s trying to teach you!
  2. Remind yourself that God is in control. Ecclesiastes 7:14 tells us, “In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider; God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him.” Whatever you’re facing, God is in complete control. You know what makes that fact easier to accept? When you trust God completely. Trusting God with your whole heart brings a peace that I can’t even begin to describe. As the apostle Paul said in Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
  3. Submit, surrender, and fight the good fight. OK that’s three points in one, but you get the idea. In the face of adversity:
    1. Submit yourself to the Lord. For help with submission, see James 4:7, “Submit yourselves therefore to God.”
    2. Surrender yourself to His will. In Matthew 16:24-25, Jesus tells His disciples, “’If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.’”
    3. Fight the good fight. 1 Timothy 6:12 tells us to “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” See also 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” And finally, Romans 8:28, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, those whom He has called according to His purpose.”

Whatever you’re dealing with today, and wherever this finds you, there is hope. God will provide for you, if you will trust in Him! I’ll close with this quote from Charles Stanley: “Often times God demonstrates His faithfulness in adversity by providing for us what we need to survive. He does not change our painful circumstances. He sustains us through them.”

Originally published as “What to do in the face of adversity.” Minto Express. September 14, 2016. 5: Print.



June 2016

Dry Lay Stone Bench, Part 2

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dry lay stone bench

It’s been a while since we provided an update on the DIY dry lay stone bench that Wes has been working on. [Side note: Please excuse the weeds; it’s a work in progress, folks!] Last weekend, Wes was able to bring the project even further along, and we’re at a point now where we’ve got to decide how we’ll cap the bench.

dry lay stone bench

Our initial idea was to pour a concrete cap, however after some discussion and observation, — the wildlife in our yard seems to enjoy landing on the stone bench and using it as a favourite vantage point, — we’re actually considering planting some grass or moss on top of our stone bench.

dry lay stone bench

Wes’s methodology behind using an earthy substance is that by growing grass on top, the grass will eventually go to seed and grow a new lawn base around the bench. If we plant moss, it would make an attractive and distinguished cushion for the top of our DIY dry lay stone bench.

dry lay stone bench

We’ve decided that this bench may only be for occasional human use, and more for the natural world to enjoy.

What are your thoughts? We’ve looked at a few European examples, which lend more to our latter idea. Would you cap our stone bench with concrete, grass, or moss?




April 2016

Dry Lay Stone Bench, Part 1

Written by , Posted in Gardening, Hope's How-To


I’m pretty excited about the latest DIY project at our house: A stone bench. Being married to a master stone mason is a big blessing! This past weekend, Wes started to tackle the large stones we have surrounding one of the trees on our property. They were originally part of a tree well, and now these stones are being used to make a very attractive (and practical) dry lay stone bench (or two).

dry lay stone bench

On Saturday, Wes started the project, and began selecting and striking the stones. Eventually, his dry lay will form a bench, and he’ll pour a cap on the top to create the bench part.

Creating a dry lay formation of any kind — whether it’s a bench, a wall, or even a foundation — requires the mason or enthusiast to constantly keep a cool head and maintain a lot of patience.

This DIY dry lay stone bench project is in the very early stages, and I’ll post further updates as we move ahead. Wes’s plan right now is to create two benches, one that faces east, and one that faces west.

dry lay stone bench




April 2016

Hope’s How-To: Build a Robin’s Nesting Shelf

Written by , Posted in Hope's How-To


Spring is always an exciting time of year: The days are getting longer, the sun is shining brighter, and there are signs of new life everywhere. All this to say, we’ve had a less than stable Spring so far, what with fluctuating temperatures and seemingly endless snow. That’s got the returning robins scrambling, looking for a secure place to nest, and also foraging for food.

You’ve likely noticed the beautiful birds by the roadside or out on your lawn, looking for worms, berries, or other items to eat. They’re also deep into scouting season — looking for the best place to settle down, lay their eggs, and raise their young (for a full 13 days).

Being the compassionate person that I am, — save all the animals! — Wes agreed to build me a robin’s nesting shelf (or two!) to see if we could welcome a couple of new feathered friends to our home.

It doesn’t have to be complicated, in fact building a robin’s nesting shelf can be quite simple. You don’t have to use the best wood, and measurements don’t need to be exact. Just remember to include the fundamentals of a sturdy shelf made from non-pressure treated wood, a shelf approximately 8 inches squared (or something in that range), a height of at least 7 feet off the ground.

Here’s how Wes built ours:

  • For building my robin’s nesting shelves, Wes used 4-inch Spruce straps, non-pressure treated. You could use any other kind of wood, permitting it’s not pressure treated. Wes just used Spruce straps since we had them on hand.


  • The platform should be approximately 8 inches squared, and depending on where you plan to install the nesting shelf, it may or may not need a roof (cover). Wes made one for me without a cover for under our covered porch, and one with a cover that’s on a more exposed side of the house.
  • Another key is that you don’t want to have any kind of barrier on the front of the nesting shelf.


  • You’ll also want to be mindful that the nesting shelf is secured in a location where there is no way for cats or squirrels to climb up into the nest.
  • A good rule of thumb for where you’ll locate the nesting shelf, is to find a place close to your home that is between 7 feet tall and tree top height. It should be in a location that gets some sun, but also stays cool and dry.
    • Many people choose to secure a robin’s nesting shelf onto their home (rather than in a tree or on a fence) because predators like cats, squirrels, and even other birds (like Starlings or Crows) are less likely to get too close to your house. (You may have noticed in the past, that sometimes robins will choose to nest above a porch light or on top of a downspout, and this is why.)


  • If your house is made with brick or stone, secure the nesting shelf with a tap-con or a concrete nail. Be sure to pre-drill to the appropriate size for that fastener. If your house is made with siding, before drilling, make sure you’re not compromising the house material or drilling into electrical/plumbing/etc.


  • When the season is over, make sure to dispose of their old nest and clean the nesting shelf. Old nests have the potential to breed lice or mites. Besides this, next year, returning robins will build a fresh nest.
  • If you’re looking to make your nest shelf even more attractive, you could set out some berries or meal worms for the robins.


Robins appearing are a sure sign of Spring. I hope you are able to take some time to get outdoors and appreciate the beauty of God’s creation during this season!

“The bird also has found a house, And the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young…” {Psalm 84:3}




September 2014

Hope, She Wrote – Being Authentic: Aligning Your Walk With Your Talk

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work, Uncategorized


My name is Hope, so it should come as no surprise that by nature I’m a relatively positive person. My cup is almost always overflowing, however there are definitely days when I would definitely rather hide out and hibernate than exude encouragement and expectation like my namesake.

Case in point? It’s funny, because one of my recent columns was about finding inspiration, and there were a few days in the past week or two where I was lacking in that department. One of my coworkers and I were discussing this very thing, and she made the comment, “go back and read your column!” That (coupled with some other experiences from the past couple of weeks) really got me thinking about the difference between talking the talk and walking the talk.

I always find it so frustrating when people say one thing, but they do another, or when someone professes certain beliefs, but their lifestyle completely contradicts their claims. Ironically, though, (talk about the mote and the beam) I’m just as guilty of this in my own life. It’s pretty easy for me to write down encouraging words, but sometimes taking my own advice can be a different story all together.

We might have the very best of intentions, but people looking at our lives don’t see our intentions – they see our actions. That’s why authenticity is so important. Sure, authenticity starts with intention, but the follow-through is what makes it real – when you put your genuine self into action – and this can be a scary thing, because let’s be honest, authenticity makes us vulnerable.

So how can we become more authentic? Well, as someone who’s trying, let me share – it’s a major understatement to say that being authentic can be challenging. Here are a few ways I’m learning to live a more authentic life:

  1. Know your values and align your actions. My beliefs might be very different from yours, however we all believe in something, and I base my value system off my beliefs. Sure, that means sometimes I make decisions that are “dorky” or perhaps even “uncool”, but I’d way rather be authentic than try to fit in by betraying my beliefs and being untrue to who I am. Why do you believe what you believe, and on what foundation are your ideals truly based?
  2. Surround yourself with the right people. This can be a difficult one, but it’s key! It’s way easier for others to drag you down than it is for you to lift them up. And while we can all be used to have an impact in the lives of those around us, ultimately it’s important to surround yourself with people who want the best for you, and who will help you and encourage you to live a fulfilled life.
  3. Recognize when you’re being inauthentic – also known as insincere, fake, unreal. What situations cause your walk to stray from your talk? Recognize when you find yourself being insincere, and think about why you’re acting and not being authentic. Unfortunately, peer pressure has power, people. [Sidebar: When you’re facing peer-pressure, just remember, if your friends are truly your friends, they won’t condemn you or judge you for making choices that might be different from theirs – they’ll respect you for standing up for what you believe in. And if they don’t, well… maybe reevaluate those relationships.]

Aligning your walk with your talk and being authentic has some pretty uplifting benefits – like a weight being lifted from your shoulders, there’s something so powerful being purposed in your choices, and living with an expectation based on your hope.

Robertson, Hope. “Being Authentic: Aligning Your Walk With Your Talk.” Minto Express 24 Sept 2014: 5. Print.



September 2014

Hope, She Wrote: Alleviating Anxiety

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work, Uncategorized


Competing priorities between work and family. Too much to do and not enough time to do it. A bunch of bills to pay, and they never seem to stop. Broken hearts, disagreements, and other relationship issues. Wars waging and people suffering the whole world over – seems like there’s always something out there to worry about.

As long as we’re human, each one of us will worry in some way or another. It’s unavoidable. And while my worries may not be the same as the next person’s, that doesn’t make them any less legit. The problem is when you let worry consume you. Especially in today’s fast-paced world, more people seem to be carrying the weight of worry and anxiety than ever before. If you’re suffering in silence, talk to someone. Don’t let worries fester or hide them inside because you’re afraid you might be judged. I guarantee that there is someone out there who can relate, and sometimes an outside perspective can help you refocus.

According to Strong’s Concordance, the word ‘worry’ comes from the Greek merimnáö, which translated means, “a part, as opposed to the whole”. Authour Max Lucado defines worry like this: “Worry cleaves the mind, splitting thoughts between today and tomorrow. Today stands no chance against it. Fretting over tomorrow’s problems today siphons the strength you need now, leaving you anemic and weak.” When we worry, we’re not doing ourselves any favours (just the opposite, really). Worrying about your circumstances or situations never makes things better; in fact, it can actually make things worse.

So how can we worry less and have more peace? While there’s no shortage of how-to guides out there, here are a few practical ways I find helpful in my daily quest to “fret not”:

  • Pray about it. I get that not everybody believes in prayer, but for me, it is a very real thing. Also, the simple act of keeping a gratitude list can work wonders. “Count your blessings, name them one by one” – that old Bing Crosby song isn’t just for Christmas, it’s something we can put into practice everyday! You’d be surprised how much worry can be watered down when you recall how blessed you are.
  • Don’t dwell too much on the past. Or the future. I had a ten-year plan, which has become a seven-year plan – those of you who know me, know I talk about “the plan” in jest; but the truth is, I really am a planner! While it’s responsible to plan and make accommodations for the future, there’s a big difference between being responsible and fretting about the future. Letting your mind move back to the past or forward too far in the future means you aren’t able to put your all into today (see the aforementioned Greek meaning of the word ‘worry’).
  • Talk about it, and look out rather than in. Communication and conversation are two important keys to alleviating anxiety. Bottling anything up inside isn’t healthy, and if you have a confidant you can trust, sometimes sharing your worries can lessen them. Also, don’t spend too much time wallowing in self-analysis or self-pity. Get out and help someone. Put your energy into encouraging another individual rather than dwelling on yourself.

“Don’t worry about it” is a famous last phrase, but putting those words into action can be incredibly challenging. Worrying doesn’t give you any more control over your current circumstances; it only strips you of your joy in the present moment. Each day is a new opportunity to challenge ourselves to overcome our anxieties; we just have to make the choice!

Robertson, Hope. “Alleviating Anxiety.” Minto Express 27 August 2014: 5. Print.