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About the Cover Photos
The cover photos have many special meanings to me. I knew I wanted to use photos from Japan for this book because the two times our family lived in Japan, my faith increased greatly with each journey. The first time, I have to admit the primary reason I went to church was to hear and speak English (our two oldest kids were in Japanese schools and it was a great opportunity to think and speak English on Sunday).The wonderful warmth of the people and the uplifting praise music got me hooked so I was happy to find a similar church on our return to Ohio (before that, we had not attended church very regularly during our married life). The second time living in Japan, we were surrounded by an amazing group of friends, missionaries and educators who inspired me and really made me think.They opened my heart and my mind to so many things and really stretched my faith. So I began looking through our photos from Japan to choose something for the cover.
When searching through hundreds of photos of stunning Japanese scenery and beautiful flowers, even though I loved the cherry blossoms and the bright colors of the hydrangeas, the iris photos seemed to appeal to me the most. My Grandma Riegle (who was a very strong spiritual influence in my life) had a huge iris garden across her entire back yard.Even though she often gave irises away to other gardeners, they kept increasing. (I recently came to the realization that her irises were like love and kindness:the more you give, the more you have to give.) There are still many places to find reminders of Grandma’s love and generous nature when her irises bloom every spring (I always think of her when I see her irises in our garden).
In January of 2007, I attended a women’s retreat near Mt. Fuji, Japan, which had the theme of purple and gold. The amazing women came not only from all over Japan, but a few women traveled from the east and west coast of the United States just to share in that wonderful experience. I also remembered the two different times I got a swift kick in the head, the prominent colors on my cheek were purple and yellow. When I realized that the purple and yellow in the irises tied together the inspiration of living in Japan to the loving memories of Grandma to the spirit filled women at the retreat to my beautiful bruised cheek, the choice was obvious.
NOTE: When the book cover was done, but the book was still in the publication/printing process, I was reviewing the cover with some friends. The first friend thought it was powerful that the garden showed rocks and a stone lantern for strength and also the lantern for light. Another dear friend who is an expert in the uses of natural plants and herbs, was very excited to tell me that the flower essence from the purple Japanese iris (blue flag iris) is used for …. enlightenment!! Again, I got goosebumps and was so excited that I followed the strong feelings to use these specific photos for the book cover!