Church Life, Life Lessons, Spring, Spring Flowers

SIGNS OF SPRING

 

Bradford PearsDid it feel like a hard winter to you?

It did to me.

About all I did was snuggle beneath a soft, warm throw and wait for spring. But I realize now, I waited with limited expectations.

Maybe that was because I was still recovering from fairly serious health problems that laid me low.

Or perhaps I was too focused on the distant view outside my back window instead of my own front yard.

Whatever the case, spring caught me by surprise.

Our yard seemed so bleak that I was astounded to see a row of forsythia bushes in full bloom outside a local business a couple of weeks ago.

How could that be when I hadn’t seen even one bud on ours?

But when I got home and gave our forsythia a closer look, to my delight, I found it filled with buds and a few stray blossoms.

Forsythia 2018It was the same when a friend posted a bouquet of daffodils on her Facebook page. Although we have lots of those buttery beauties in our front flowerbeds, none was in bloom or even budding.

Or so I thought.

But when looked closer, I found several buds, and I began to watch. Sure enough, one morning there was the first blossom. Then another.

daffodils 2018 Each day more opened up until a bed of tiny jonquils defied leftover leaves and fairly shouted, Rejoice!

I hadn’t been paying attention.

Spring had sprung.

Spring CollageSuddenly I saw flowers everywhere–Tulip trees, Bradford pears, hedges of forsythia, japonica, and bridal wreath—all blooming on bare wood and waving as I drove by. Daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths danced in the March wind.

Every day their splendor brightens and lightens my heart.

Isn’t that just like God to transform barren limbs into loveliness? This bursting forth of flowers reminds me that life resides in the starkest branches and most barren ground.

 

In me.

In you. 

However, at times, I felt as bleak as those bare branches. Even writing, my usual therapy, seemed lost to me. I produced nothing beyond an occasional journal entry, Facebook post, and thank you note.

But the truth is, even when I felt my worst, Jesus was with me, asking me to trust Him.

I sensed Him each time my good husband dropped everything to take me to a doctor’s appointment or pick up meds. He accompanied the friends who brought flowers and food, insisted on helping with laundry, stopped by to visit and pray. I felt his presence in the encouraging notes they sent by text, Facebook, email, and pretty cards with uplighting messages.

The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matt. 25:40

He was there each time sweet Timmy slept in my lap while I read my devotionals or just stared out the window.

TimmyBFFEven when I was all alone, I knew He was with me.

Still that period wasn’t much fun.

But Hallelujah! Seasons faithfully change.

Now I think of the past winter as a time of rest, healing, and preparation for a new season of growth and fruitfulness.

For all of nature.

For me.

For you.

So if it feels like your spring is way late in arriving, don’t despair.

You'll bloom again

Watch for the signs.

He is faithful.

He will show up just when you need Him most.

Before you know it, your spirit will burst forth in full bloom.

… for behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. 12 The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come,  Song of Solomon 2:11-12 NIV

 

courage, Devotionals, Life Challenges, Life Lessons

CHALLENGING PATHS

Rossistones

As often happens when I’m away from home, I awaken early.

4:05 a.m. to be exact.

Rossi Place

 

I finally get out of bed around 5:00 and brew a pot of coffee.

Still in my nightclothes, I make my way onto the deck of our neighbors’ house on Lake Hamilton.

 

RossiSwing2

 

 

As the sky lightens, I notice a swing on the landing halfway down to the water. I go down the stairs but see that the seat is still drenched in dew, so I stand and sip my coffee, taking in the landscape.

 

RossiRRT

To the right, steps fashioned from railroad ties curve downward. Worn and mossy surfaces betray their age, and there’s no handrail.

Not for the faint of heart.

 

 

RossiNewPathOn the left, a newer stairway, constructed from decking and concrete, gives way to flat stone steps. It looks stable. And there’s a sturdy wire handhold.

I opt for the newer, more secure path and head to the dock and over to the seating area at the bottom of the old railroad-tie steps.

 

 

RossiMistWisps of fog hover over the lake. Somewhere across the way, a bird welcomes the new day with song. I wish one of those little clouds would drift close enough for me to reach out and touch its dream-spun softness.

I lift my head and breathe in the peace I always feel near a body of water. No wonder working people retreat here for weekends.

IMG_5769As I return up the rock stairs, I notice ferns and moss softening their hard faces.

 

Later, I find myself pondering the two paths. Although the older route would have appealed to a younger me, I’m acutely aware that at this stage of life, I would need a walking stick to maneuver down those ancient steps. Two scriptures come to mind.

Thus says the Lord: “Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ Jeremiah 6:16

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;
for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me
. Psalm 23:4

I find myself praying for the wisdom and courage to choose the right path even when it appears rugged. I recall past experiences when the way felt rocky and hard, but every time I held onto to God real tight, He delivered me safely to my destination.

 

RossiRRWay

What about you?

Are ever tempted to take the easy way out?

Whatever path you find yourself on today, whatever you are facing, I wish you peace and the revelation that when Jesus calls us to follow Him, we can trust Him to keep us.

 

For I hold you by your right hand— I, the Lord your God.

And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.

Isaiah 41:13

 

 

Gratitude, Happiness, Life Lessons, Sunrise

FINDING CONTENTMENT

HappinessProject_RightColumn

One of the books I read this year was The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. This bestseller has been around since 2009, so you may be way ahead of me.

Although I’d read her column in a woman’s magazine, I’d never felt the need to delve into the book–that is, until someone I love confided he was working on being happier.

As sometimes happens, shortly after that conversation, I saw Gretchen’s book, thought of him, and bought it. Not wanting to send him something I hadn’t read, I plunged in.

And guess what?

I saw myself.

76cc3-img_1347Like the author, I have a good life: a fine husband, children, grandchildren, and friends. I have enough disposable income to buy a pair of shoes that strike my fancy or to splurge on a surprise for someone else.

However, as I read, I realized that in spite of this, I wasn’t as happy and content as I wanted to be.

So I slowed down and pondered the research Gretchen had done and the way she applied it to her life.

And I tried some of it myself.

Consequently, I’m more aware of what brings joy to my life, and I’m happier when I take time to savor little surprise such as:

  • Finch eggs nestled in the center of a fern

Fern2

  • A fragrance-filled breeze leading me to new gardenia blooms at the end of my porch Gardenia2
  • the warmth and whir of a relaxed kitty snoozing in my lap.

I’m more content when I recognize and acknowledge other peoples’ kindnesses like:

  • The friend who called me every day when I was going through a rough stretch
  • Text messages and calls from my children and grandchildren
  • Terry’s willingness to eat out without a fuss when I’ve had a busy day or just don’t want to cook
  • Other writers who share their knowledge, read my blog, and encourage me

I feel more fulfilled when I

  • Make time to write
  • Check on that person who’s struggling with a problem
  • Exchange a daily list of things for which I’m grateful with my gratitude partner
  • Interact with readers like you.

I could go on, but you get the drift.

I’m happier because I’ve been taking the time to notice and acknowledge the blessings in my life.

There will be more to come. And I’ll probably share them here.

What makes you happiest?

 

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
    His mercies never cease.
 Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning.

Lamentations 2:22-23 NLB