{Beautiful Joy} from the African Violet

“She had not consciously formed the thought in her mind, but she realized that she had expected the inside of the woman’s house to look much like her tumbledown main store vacated-store. Instead, she was looking into a neat and tidy kitchen. The furniture was old but cared for, the table and cupboard cleared of all clutter. Dishes gleamed on the wall shelves, reflecting the afternoon sun. But most surprising to Anna was the off-street window. It was filled with blossoming violets.”
– The Measure of the Heart
Janette Oke



It was only 10:30 a.m. on a normal January morning. But there was one thing on my mind …

Picking up the receiver of the telephone in the kitchen, I quickly dialed out the numbers for my husband’s work phone number.


“Hello,” I asked, cheerily, “How is your day going?” I stood by our cookstove and stirred the beef stew that was simmering away in a large pot. After finding out a few details about my husband’s day, what time he’d be home from work and so forth … I asked him my question, the reason for my calling.

“I was wondering …. would you have time to look for some African violets for me?”

I posed the question gently, with cheer, not sure if it was too much to ask. On certain slower days, my husband is only a stone’s throw from the local stores – whereas going out for me, especially during the winter, with eight children at home, a school and home to run and woodstoves to tend to,  is a much more detailed ordeal.

Then, he asked the question. Why?

“Why do I need a violet? Well, I don’t know – I just really would love an African violet … or three …? They’re pretty,” I replied.


Hanging up the phone, I smiled.  He said he’d try to find one. I have a good husband who will help cheer me up when he can. I am blessed. Sometimes it does not work out – he is busy at work or cannot come home in time for dinner, but we take the good with the bad some days. My husband likes to collect mechanical things – tractor parts, metal things I don’t know anything about, rusty bits of … something? what are they anyway? … whereas I, I suppose collect plants {and teacups!} … different flowers for the garden, various plants for the house, ivy, violets, garden plants, vegetable plants…. yes, hand me a plant and you will find the way to my heart.

Around January, my heart aches to grow something and view beautiful scenes. I have many houseplants that I care for, but always am looking for more  -and something with a burst of colour.

In the winter months, it is so lovely to surround ourselves with natural beauty, flowers hand painted by our Creator and lovely details that bring out the glory of the winter months. With the frosty snow covered scenery outdoors, the landscapes are dormant and peaceful. I find it so encouraging to have beautiful flowers indoors, if at all possible, during this season of rest. What joy a simple African Violet can bring to this old soul!

A quick call to our local greenhouse discovered that they would be getting a shipment of violets –but not until later this week.

“A good way to practice patience,” I thought, as I returned to my chores and dreamed of the lovely exotic flowers to come. My hopes heightened and I could not wait to pick out the pretty potted flower for my kitchen windowsill.


“The old woman stopped mid-stride and turned to face her.
‘You like violets?’ she growled.

‘Yes, our pastor’s wife always had violets. Beautiful ones.
Whites and pinks and blues – every colour.
Ever so pretty. I always used to admire them…’
Apart from the other {plants}, as though sitting on a throne among commoners, was the most beautifully formed violet Anna had ever seen.
Its petals were creamy white, lined with a delicate purple fringe, frilly and full and perfectly formed. Anna breathed in slowly.
‘It’s wonderful. Absolutely beautiful.'”
-The Measure of the Heart, Janette Oke




I’m not sure why I love violets so much, but I do. Last winter, I wrapped an African violet up and delivered it to my south-side neighbour, in the stark coldness of winter, as a wistful thought of the spring to come. She said it reminded it of her mother – who also grew African violets in her childhood home. The children and I have also given them to my mother in law on her birthday last year, also in the middle of winter, and she still has it healthy and blooming on her kitchen windowsill.

It seems, in some common yet enduring way, the African violet is a part of the women’s natural place in the home. I know my sister has a few African violets in her living room, as well.

As I waited for my precious violets, I pulled out my pretty purple and pink violet teacup to soothe my need for beautiful colour.

In the parlour, there are two African violets from previous years and while they are not flowering right now (due to the lack of natural light, I was told by the florist), they are still alive and well. That is a good sign and a sure confirmation that I can overwinter my violets and be promoted to the owner of a few more for the house.

The week passed and the moment had come – the day had arrived when African violets would be brought into our home!

Later that day, we were blessed again as my mother in law surprised us with bringing three more plants to our home! We all marveled at the lovely flowers on these delicate plants and decided which girl would be mother to a few new African Violets in their room. I told the girls they love north-east facing light {so I have read}, room temperature water (and to not get the leaves wet) and we all determined where the plants should make their home.

{A violet themed teacup, filled with a beautiful pink rosehip tea,
goes so well with a true African violet, don’t you think?}

The two eldest girls picked out their delicate violets and happily carted them upstairs to their windowsill with joy. Oh, how lovely it is to have children that appreciate growing living things, I thought – plants, created by our creative, amazing God, flowers so beautiful and delicate, bringing such joy in the middle of a normal, brisk January day.

Setting one plant, fully adorned with it’s beautiful purple flower blooms, aside on the kitchen counter, I determined to deliver this little precious African violet  to my other neighbour, a single woman, who lives just down the road in the coziest yellow cottage. Her sweet country home is always adorned wonderfully in the spring to summer months with beautiful flowers in her windowsill, in her gardens and on her porch.  She will love it, I thought … who doesn’t love flowers in the middle of winter?

Bring prettiness and feminine touches to the home is one aspect of my job that I just love. Why have a dreary, dark home when you can brighten it up with a beautiful potted plant, some twinkle lights or a beautifully scented candle? Life is too short to not live with beauty around you. It does not have to be expensive or ornate – it just needs to breathe fresh life and charm to your every day journey.


There is nothing self-indulgent or worldly about such small pleasures when we approach them with a spirit of gratitude because God’s gifts help us go about the tasks he has given us.

When we feel that the little things in our lives are pleasant and satisfying, it’s amazing how the outside stresses and disappointments fade, at least for the moment.

We can then regroup, prioritize, and pray –
cultivating a quiet, feminine spirit and
preparing ourselves to be God’s people in the world.
-Emilie Barnes
The Spirit of Loveliness

January 21, 2020 - 4:14 pm

Gigi Sarah, I have always loved seeing your beautiful violets on your blog. 🙂 They are so lovely!

January 21, 2020 - 4:13 pm

Gigi Kristal, I love the winter months too!

January 21, 2020 - 4:13 pm

Gigi Regina, thank you for asking about the pregnancy. It is going fine- and speeding by! I hope to do an update soon.

January 21, 2020 - 4:07 pm

Gigi Paula, I would *LOVE* to build up my collection that way! What a wonderful memory!

January 21, 2020 - 4:06 pm

Gigi Hello Robyn, a veriegated one sounds so lovely.
No, my bold is an oldie – 13 years old now! Welcome. 🙂

January 21, 2020 - 4:04 pm

Gigi Bethany, I completely 100% agree!

January 18, 2020 - 3:21 pm

Bethany It’s so true how these small simple things can bring so much joy! It really does make me smile when I see these small and simple, yet pretty things, even if it’s just a mug or a placemat! Why drink out of a beige mug when you can drink out of one that has a pretty design on it that makes you happy?

January 17, 2020 - 11:37 pm

Robyn Yes I love them too. I have a variegated one, but have been losing a few leaves lately. Haven’t seen your blog before, is it a new one?

January 14, 2020 - 4:28 pm

Brenda (Gigi’s proud Momma) I too love African violets. I used to have many around the home. Maybe you don’t remember them? Sometimes I overwatered them and that was disappointing. Mrs G had them too. xo

January 13, 2020 - 3:02 pm

Monica I love the violets—so cheerful and old-fashioned. I’ve just been aware of this the past few months so I’m on the lookout for some. 🙂

January 13, 2020 - 12:01 pm

Paula In the 1960’s when I visited my grandma, she had a violet. She took me visiting and we had afternoon tea and those ladies all grew them. So all these years later, I grow them. Back then you built your collection up via cuttings from friends. Frugal plus there were not many “nurseries” back then. When I look at my violet it brings all those memories back. Thank you for loving African violets.

January 13, 2020 - 11:10 am

Kristal African violets are very beautiful. I agree, there is something about January that makes one yearn for growth and beauty. I do love the snow (a lot actually), but fresh sun and growth are a favorite too. I hope all is going great and the pregnancy is going well!

January 13, 2020 - 10:55 am

Regina Shea I love African violets and I also have a violet teacup. You have me wanting to go to the nursery to get a couple of plants now.
How are you doing? How is your pregnancy coming along?

January 13, 2020 - 9:12 am

Sarah Your African violets are beautiful! What a lovely assortment of colors. I have four African violets in my kitchen window. I have had them about five years now. They always make me think of my grandma, she kept a couple violets in her kitchen window too. I need to re-pot my violets, they have grown quite large now and one has grown an entirely new plant beside the original! I enjoyed all of your quotes. There is something so cheering about seeing flowers in the winter.