Tag: Spring

I Love March!

calendarMarch

I love the month of March!  It feels like the year is finally beginning.

 

bloom-blooming-blossom-355663The seasons change and it feels like the world is waking up again…more sunlight, warmer temperatures, and spring flowers begin to show filling dead looking spaces with beautiful colors and aromas.

 

choir-306900_640I remember songs from growing up in Military Chapel services like: Lead On O King Eternal the day of march has come, March On O Soul with Strength, and Onward Christian Soldiers, to name a few. Scripture tells us that spring was the time that men went out to war. And so many of these songs have the word “march” in them, that I associated them with the month of March. 

 

March on O soul with strength, as strong the battle rolls! ‘Gainst lies and lusts and wrongs, let courage rule our soul

Lead on O King eternal, the day of march has come…we follow not with fears…till sins fierce war shall cease

Onward Christian Soldiers marching as to war…like a mighty army moves the church of God…hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross…put on the gospel armor, each piece put on with prayer

We’re marching to Zion, beautiful, beautiful Zion

warfarehelmetsI know the lyrics weren’t necessarily referring to the month of March, but every March I’m reminded of them. And it births in me a strong desire to be adequately armed for spiritual battle.

It reminds me that the enemy of our soul is on the move and ready with an attack, and I need to be vigilant in praying for my loved ones. And in praising God that He protects and directs, that He guards and guides, He helps and heals.

winner-4912049_640I am reminded that He dwells in the midst of our praise. So I give Him praise! No matter what circumstances, or trial or sorrow I may face, God will be with me and is in control.

And in the victories, it is His power that allows me to rejoice.

March is coming to an end, but as you see the signs of spring where you are; the snow melting,  the flowers blooming, the trees budding, the birds returning, let it be a reminder to you to armor up! And join in, for the Battle Belongs to the Lord!

Can’t stop Spring!

We all know how different this March and April have been.

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Businesses have been and are still closed down.  Many people are out of work and at home.  Playgrounds are empty and schools are closed with kids of all ages getting their lessons on line at home.

park-closed-5027657_640Restaurants that have been able to stay open and grocery stores are making home deliveries as we are all staying in to minimize our exposure to the coronavirus.

Church services have gone on line.  As have meetings of all sorts.

We’ve all talked about what we miss about this Shelter in Place response to the pandemic:

going to a restaurant or getting coffee with friends,

seeing a movie at the theater,

attending sporting events – or even watching sports on TV,

and most of all visiting with friends, family and loved ones complete with HUGS, HUGS and more HUGS.

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But it’s interesting to me, as I take my short walk around the neighborhood, hands in my pockets, wearing my mask, avoiding every other person but waving from a safe distance; that Spring has not been stopped!

 

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Now that most of our snow is over, there are tulips, jonquils, and daffodils blooming in gorgeous color!

No one told the flowers to “shelter in place” in the ground.  Or to avoid groups of more than 5 or 10.  Buds have appeared on the trees.  And they are not waiting for social restrictions to be lifted before they come out.

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Our rose bushes are sending out runners, and the ground cover is emerging with lush greens and tiny blossoms ready to burst.

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I’ve seen insect life slowly returning, hawks swooping through the yard.  And yesterday, a butterfly!  A sure sign that Spring is here.

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Our pastor spoke today about butterflies.  They spend part of their life cycle sequestered alone in a chrysalis.  During that time, maturity takes place that will serve the pupa well in its life as a butterfly.

We seem to be in a chrysalis of sorts.  How are we investing in our maturity that will benefit us when we are able to be out and about again?

And time is marching on, whether we are participating in our usual activities or not.

So 2 thoughts:

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1– With time marching on, how are you making the most of the time you have on your hands?  Are you finding ways to keep connected with those people and things that are important to you?  Not knowing how long this social distancing is going to last, don’t wait for it all to be over before you reach out to others.

2 – What are you learning and how are you growing in ways that will contribute to your maturity when this stage is over?  What will you take from your chrysalis into the next phase of your life?

Enjoy this Spring.

From a bedroom window, a front door, a back porch, a short walk.

Time marches on…

Don’t miss it!

Spring! Planting and Weeding

gardenThere are lots of gardening plans out there for your garden – you can find them in magazines and How To books at libraries. 

Even Home Improvement stores have Do It Yourself guides for wherever you live organized by climate, growing season, water and sunlight needs, how much space you have, or what kind of plants you want – vegetable, blooming or ornamental.

I just came across one of the many Spiritual Garden Guides – perhaps this looks familiar:

Consider planting:

three rows of peas

. . . Peace of mind

. . . Peace of heart

. . . Peace of soul

close-up-cultivation-dig-169523four rows of squash

. . . Squash gossip

. . . Squash criticism

. . . Squash grumbling

. . . .Squash selfishness

three rows of lettuce

. . . Let us be faithful

. . . Let us be thankful

. . . Let us love one another

and no garden is complete without turnips

. . . Turn up for church

. . . Turn up with a smile

. . . Turn up ready to serve

It reminded me that we need to be planting purposefully in our lives as well as our gardens.  That we need to be weeding intentionally and regularly to avoid our beautiful blossoms being choked out by the weeds of the world.  So here are some fun weeds and seeds to consider!

You reap what you sow, so sow acts of kindness, encouraging words, and supportive attitudes.

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Recognize that when you smile at someone, you are planting kindness and acceptance.  When you play with them, you are cultivating fun and joy.  When you give them a hug, you are fertilizing with love and security.

 

When you help a friend or child learn a task, you are planting patience and success into their future.   When you give them encouragement, you are growing confidence.  When you share, you are seeding goodness and selflessness.

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When you pray with someone, or let them see you pray, you are sowing faithful fellowship with God.

Everything you do is a seed of some kind.  Be intentional about what you plant.

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And weeding!  There are many things that will choke the joy out of your life like weeds do to a garden.

If they’re not forcibly removed these weeds will use up all your resources – time, energy, enthusiasm.

So roll up your sleeves and get to work.

Start with something simple: weed out your family’s wardrobe.  Children grow, so every year box up clothes that don’t fit to store if you have younger children who will wear them later.  Or sell them, donate, or give them away.  Maybe you know a friend who has a younger child to pass them to.  Then pass them back if you can use them again!

That goes for your personal wardrobe too.  Box up nostalgic items you want to keep but clear out the rest that are out of style or no longer fit well.  And while you’re at it, get rid of any guilt or stress too, over bygone sizes.  Find the style and size you feel most comfortable in.  You will look more confident and attractive when you feel comfortable in your clothes.

Thistle

 

Weed out parenting strategies you think you should be doing, but that don’t work for you.  Parent from your strengths!  Know who you are and what things energize you so your children can see you parenting from joy, not guilt, fear or obligation.

 

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Same for relationships.  Examine the ones that are thriving, then check the conditions of the others.  Some may be in need of TLC to keep them growing and others may need to be weeded out.

 

Weed out negative talk and self-condemnation.  We all make mistakes from time to time.  Some of us tend to dwell on those; constantly reminding ourselves of past failures and possible future ones.  Stop those inner voices with a “You wouldn’t talk to a friend that way!”

Instead, plant kindness to yourself – say positive things to yourself every day.  Rephrase “Well, you blew that!” to ”From what I just learned, I’ll do better next time.”

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Ask God to show you where weeds of sin, rebellion, or unforgiveness may be hiding.  Sometimes the roots grow deep before the leaves can be seen above ground. Confess those routinely to keep your soil healthy.

Planting and weeding.  It’s a process we go thru every year.  And not just in the garden!

Every day, by your actions and choices, you are planting things into and weeding things out of your life and the lives your family and friends.

The key is to recognize it and be intentional.

Happy Gardening!  Happy Spring!

 

 

Live in the Light

Spring is coming!

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This is my favorite time of the year.  Maybe because the First day of Spring is my birthday!

But also because it brings me out of the cold and dark time of year and into the warmth and light.

Especially this year, I am ready to be delivered out of the darkness of this last year and into the light of new promise.

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Last year saw much illness: the diagnosis of an auto-immune disease that came with unkind medications and breast cancer, and my father’s last battle with lung disease and then his death.  It saw diminishing energy, fatigue, and discouragement over many losses.

God was good to give me some bright spots. Two sons’ weddings and a trip to Hawaii were very joyful.

But I am ready for life in the full sun.  Just as teachers and kids everywhere are enthusiastically counting the weeks till school is out, I am ready and eager for being done with cancer, and medication’s side effects.

2 Peter 1:4 tells me “I have given you very great and precious promises.” So, I am ready to draw my strength from God and those promises.

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The first thing that gives me strength is my identity in Christ.

 

Contrary to that little voice I sometimes hear reminding me how stupid I’ve been and how worthless I am, I know that in truth, I am a daughter of the King of the universe!

Among other things, Scripture tells me:

I am chosen of God, holy and dearly loved.  Colossians 3:12

I am a daughter/son of light and not darkness.  I Thessalonians 5:5

I have been made righteous.  2 Corinthians 5:21

I am free forever from condemnation.  Romans 8:1

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Next I need to know His promises.

 

Some promises are for all Believers, so I can draw strength from knowing that:

I may approach God with boldness, freedom and confidence.   Ephesians 3:12

I have been given the spirit of power, love and a sound mind.  2 Timothy 1:7

I am God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do the work, which He has prepared in advance for me.  Ephesians 2:10

To know His personal promises to me, I need to be in His Word so I can hear Him speak them.  Sometimes a new meaning becomes evident in a scripture I haven’t noticed or understood before. Or maybe a familiar passage suddenly has a unique application to something in my life.  Sometimes I feel a conviction telling me to pay attention, that this is for me.

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And finally, I need to live and act as if I believe those promises.

So since I believe I am a daughter of the King, I need to think and behave that way.  Because I believe I have been given a spirit of power and love then I will act in love and be empowered when I come up against a challenge.

Knowing that I am God’s handiwork gives me confidence to step boldly into the light this Spring.  And like Paul, be ready to “take hold of that for which God has taken hold of me.”  Philippians 3:12

I pray that you too will be energized and empowered by the light that Spring brings.  And will live and walk in the light of your true identity from God and in His promises.

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Is it Fall already?!

20180802_145757.jpegToday, walking out to my car, something yellow on the ground caught my eye. When I bent over to pick it up, I couldn‘t believe it! This couldn’t be a fall leaf. It’s still August! The kids aren’t even back in school yet. We are still in the process of figuring out who needs new notebooks, calculators, mechanical pencils and underwear!

Surely this was out of place – a joke someone was playing on me? So I looked up in the tree, and unbelievably, there were others just like it! – still green in the middle, but mixed with yellowing, and downright brown on the ends. I felt queasy, disoriented, like someone had put my life on fast-forward without my knowledge. I wanted that time back. This felt all wrong.

Why did this little occurrence upset me so?

The seasons change, I know that. It happens every year. And they always occur in the same order, so it’s not like it was totally unexpected. Yes, the days have been getting somewhat shorter, and the nights have been a little cooler to relieve the high temperatures of the day, but the leaves turning already?!

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There’s something to look forward in winter: Christmas break, hot chocolate, snowmen, the chance for a snow day at school, or a lazy, snowy winter day to curl up by a fire.

 

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And when that gets old, we can’t wait for exciting spring! A time when the earth reawakens: Easter, flowers, baby animals, light, hope. Spring is my favorite season: warm sunshiny days with cold nights to snuggle, the whole earth bursting forth with new life.

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And who among us hasn’t dreamed of and waited with excitement for summer? School is out, swimming pools, hot dogs on the grill, no homework, and long, lazy days of watching the clouds in the sky…

 

So how does fall fit in here? I think of songs we usually hear around this season:

Will I See You In September – a worry that fall will bring the end of a love relationship – not a great ode to fall

Wake Up Maggie – about a guy who realizes in the fall he’s been led on and dropped by a girl.

When I was 17 – is about the years of life, but when he gets to the autumn of his years, the days grow short and he thinks of his life as vintage wine from fine old kegs, as he says “from the brim to the dregs it pours sweet and clear…”

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The problem is that this year I’m feeling a bit like I am in the autumn of my years too. The days growing shorter reminds me of so many things I might have done with my life – which I haven’t done. I’m truly feeling there are more days behind me than in front of me.

And it makes me feel a sense of urgency about things yet to accomplish, and a sense of loss about things left undone.

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I don’t see my life as vintage wine. Or in fine old kegs. And dregs definitely do not sound good.

You could say my teens and twenties were “spring-like.” There was lot a lot of growth – things to learn and begin – lots of enthusiasm and energy.

And in my thirties and forties, there was sure a lot of busy-ness – a lot to show for all my efforts: the children growing up, involvement in church, school and community, teaching classes. So much was going on. That’s typical of summer – everything blooming and growing, looking busy.

But fall? That’s a time for the leaves to turn and wither, and blow off the trees, leaving a barren look. It’s a time of coolness turning to coldness, and a gradual darkening of the days. And I don’t think I’m ready to let go of my “leaves “– all that I’ve grown, produced – my children, my projects, my job.

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Fall is a time to gather in the harvest: freeze it, pickle it, jar it, can it up for others to enjoy throughout the next year. Is it really time to gather in my life? Is it time to “store up” all I’ve done? I can’t imagine my life in row after row of bright, pretty jars on shelves.

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And yes, the leaves are beautiful in the fall. The colors are vivid and add to the panoramic grandeur of the view. And yes, you can collect the leaves, make arrangements, even press them between sheets of waxed paper to preserve their glory. But it’s a past glory.

 

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “To everything, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” King Solomon examined everything – nature, man, wisdom, foolishness, wine, women and song. And he concluded his writings with “This applies to every person: Fear God and obey Him.”

If I can say I’ve done that, then it’s all I need to do. Regardless of the season. It’s not about how showy my spring and summer were. It’s not who has more cans on the shelf.

We sang a song Sunday that gives me hope and focus. “You [God] make everything glorious. You make everything glorious and I am yours – what does that make me!” In every season of life, I am glorious! I accept that, and trust the Father is with me always. He will guide me into and through all His seasons.  And I will do all I can to honor and obey Him.

click to hear:  See you in SeptemberWhen I was 17; You make everything glorious