Spring

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Last week I went to Longwood Gardens for the day. The last couple weeks had been pretty intense, so I thought I would get away a little bit. I suspected the outdoor gardens would not be much to look at, yet I knew the greenhouses would be alive with color. It was in the greenhouses I thought I would spend my day.

When I arrived, it was actually warmer than I thought, so I found myself walking the paths, enjoying the quiet except for the occasional songbird, and squeal of a child. The gardens were just as I expected, brown and bare. I had never walked the gardens this time of year. Other times I had visited,  there was always something blooming, or at Christmas time the gardens would sparkle with Christmas lights. If I had not known what the gardens usually look like, I would have thought they were not anything special to see. But somehow because I had seen them before and knew what they would become, I could find beauty in the barren, and enjoy the quietness and rest they invoked.

There are days when my heart reflects the brown and barrenness of a winter garden. The winds of winter can turn a soft heart hard, and difficult circumstances can turn a once blooming heart into desert wasteland.

Yet as I sat there and could feel the hard earth around me starting to thaw, I felt that same thaw occurring in my heart. As I remember and trust that Spring will always follow Winter, I can trust the warmth of His love to once again make my heart new.

Remembering gives way to trust and trust gives way to hope.

As I walked further down the path, I looked hard into the dark soil, straining to see whatever growth I could. And finally I saw it… a little green shoot poking its head above the dirt.

flower

A little sign of hope… spring and new life returning again.

“…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31

 

It’s the little things…

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The other morning as I took a walk with Smokey our dog, I could feel the warmth of the sun on my back. I could barely remember what that felt like, the sun sharing its warmth. In my mind there have been many grey days this winter.

So when I felt the sun’s warmth, I did what any normal person would do:) I stopped in the middle of the road, and stretched my face towards its rays, and let myself take in all its goodness.

Sometimes it is the little things…

Smokey did not seem to mind, it gave him more time to try and rip off his “gentle leader” and eat more snow.

When I lived in Sweden this is often what would happen in the early spring. After months of not seeing the sun, people would stop and tilt their faces upwards, ready to capture all of the sun’s warmth and gain back what they were missing those dark winter months.

I have certainly missed the light and warmth this winter. And while I have enjoyed this season, I am looking forward to Spring.

Some of the things I have enjoyed this winter:

  • reading (I have rediscovered the joy of a good novel and can’t seem to get enough of them.) The latest one was The Midwife of Hope River by: Patricia Harman – so good!
  • knitting – a simple shawl, and crocheting a lap blanket for my daughter (I think it is going on the third year now)
  • slow mornings – yea for snow delays!
  • coffee and coffee with friends – the only thing that really gets me through the winter

What I am looking forward to this Spring:

  • planting – flowers/veggies
  • walks without dressing like a snowman
  • patio meals with friends
  • biking to work

And finally I am hoping to incorporate some new ideas here on the blog. This blog has mostly taken on the form of a devotional, and while I intend to keep this aspect of the blog, I also want to include other ideas I have floating around in my head!

So if the sun is out, take a moment and let your face feel its warmth and goodness. And if it is hiding in the grey, look forward to its return with anticipation and look for the other gifts hiding in today.

Advent – Joy

I pray that you and I would know God’s joy this New Year. May the same message of joy the angels brought to the shepherds, reach deep into our hearts and change the way we live. May we give room for God to be our Savior, saving us from ourselves and the many things which weigh us down. May we know we are not just saved from these things, but saved for and to someone.

And this someone is waiting for you…waiting with joy.

Advent – Love

This is for you this Christmas.

For those of you who feel

little,

passed by, or forgotten.

For those whose hearts are filled with doubt or shame.

And for those of you who are waiting, waiting to be chosen.

This Christmas I seem to be playing one song over again and again, Francesca Batistelli’s, “Be Born in Me”.

“…Trembling heart, somehow I believe that you chose me.”

Out of the many God chose Mary, to carry His son.

From the very beginning this has been our hope and our longing, to be singled-out and picked for the team. Or have you already forgotten your elementary school years? Two kickball captains standing in front of you, ready to choose their teams?

We are not so different from Mary. And God is still choosing.

Out of the many He chooses you and chooses me.

We carry His son with us – Immanuel.

“They will be called the holy people, the redeemed of the Lord, and you will be called sought after, the city no longer deserted.” Isaiah 62:12

Advent – Peace

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Smokey our puppy has found a new love…paper products. Anything he can rip apart and tug on, he does. His favorite seems to be the toilet paper roll. I walked out of the kitchen the other morning to see a long trail of white streaming out of the bathroom. At the end of the trail, there was a blizzard-like mess. White crumpled paper was everywhere.

Some days this is amusing, and other days the amusement just feels like chaos. My heart longs for a little stillness, for a little peace. My guess is this time of year, I am not alone. You may be longing for a little peace as well?

“…and he will be called wonderful counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of peace, of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end…” Is.9:6

Peace came to us that day in a manger. His life, his sacrifice is the peace we so desperately need and want. Yet how do we receive this peace He has for us?

And I read again in Isaiah…”You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” Is. 26:3

Last week  – Hope and trust.

This week – Peace and trust.

Like hope, peace seems to come to us in the trusting.

Trusting,

God will provide. He will care for. He will heal. He will give the grace needed for a situation. And He will make all things right, if not in this life most definitely in the one to come.

It is in the trusting…

we find peace.

Advent – Hope

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As I slow down this week, I am remembering hope.

Hope for me is one of those tricky, abstract words. What does it really mean? Merriam Webster defines hope this way: 1. to cherish a desire with anticipation 2. trust 3. to desire with expectation of obtainment 4. to expect with confidence: trust

This time of year when I think of hope, I think of a childhood Christmas. The waiting, the expectation, the paging through toy catalogs, the writing and rewriting of the sacred wishlist, the sleepless night before Christmas, and the trusting, trusting in the magical appearance of packages in early morning light.  All this waiting and hoping for what Christmas morning would bring.

Somewhere though between the Christmases of childhood and adult, the hoping, waiting, and anticipation seem to slip away. Hope, which came so easily as a child, becomes increasingly difficult as the years pile up. Why is it so easy for children to hope and for adults not to?

The answer may lie in hope’s definition. Within a word so closely intertwined.

Trust.

Is this the part of hope, as adults, we keep tripping ourselves up on? Trust for a child comes easy. There are no experiences yet which prove just how untrustworthy trust really is.  An adult on the other hand carries an experience or two of pain which affects the ability to trust. Trust becomes tainted and hope is difficult to find.

Hope.

The reason for Christ’s birth.

Trust and hope. Verse after verse declares if we trust in Him, He will do this. (If we) “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, ” (He will do this) “He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5,6 Trust gives way to hope. The one gives birth to the other.

This week as we focus on the Hope of Advent, I pray you will remember trust, hope’s stepping stone. And may you have grace to release those things difficult to trust, and find hope as you find Him.

How are you trusting and hoping this season?

Advent

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27 more days until Christmas.

If there is one thing I can count on every year, it is the way Christmas sneaks up on me.

Each year I promise myself to be more intentional and find my way to the Christmas I want to remember.

And each year…

I become less intentional, rather than more.

Surviving Christmas, rather than letting it lead me to the

One

Christmas is meant for.

So… this year I am slowing down.

I will advent. (yes this word should be a verb)

I will look for God in the little moments of this season.

Join me once a week.

And on Instagram starting December 1st, posting #24daysofadvent. Feel free to join along. Post a photo a day to celebrate the waiting.

 

 

 

Winter trees

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The Sacrament of Letting Go
by Macrina Wiedekehr

Slowly
she celebrated the sacrament of letting go.
First she surrendered her green,
then the orange, yellow, and red.
finally she let go of her own brown.
Shedding her last leaf
she stood empty and silent, stripped bare.
Leaning against the winter sky,
she began her vigil of trust.

Shedding her last leaf,
she watched it journey to the ground.
She stood in silence
wearing the colors of emptiness,
her branches wondering,
How do you give shade with so much gone?

And then,
the sacrament of waiting began.
The sunrise and the sunset watched with tenderness.
Clothing her with silhouettes
that kept her hope alive.

They helped her to understand that
her vulnerability,
her dependence and need,
her emptiness, her readiness to receive,
were giving her a new kind of Beauty.
Every morning and every evening they stood in silence,
and celebrated together
the sacrament of waiting.

Yesterday as I biked to work, I watched as colorful leaves danced and swirled, bidding their final goodbyes. The warmth of this season is slowly coming to an end. Despite my love of winter, there is always a bit of sadness as the last few leaves fall quietly to the ground.

The last couple of years though, I have come to appreciate this season of in-between. This time after color and before the quiet dusting of winter settles onto the tree. There is something incredibly beautiful in the simple skeleton of a tree.

At first glance, the tree void of its colorful leaves may seem to be empty of beauty. A  closer look however, reveals an underlying strength and elegance that would not have been visible were it not for the bareness of the tree.

No one likes to feel empty, to stand naked in a sense with nothing to show.   And even though we enter the world with nothing, and will leave it in the same way, we want the in-between to be filled with something.  We want lives filled with meaning, covered in beauty.  To this end, we try and fill our life with things that we think will make us more attractive, our merits and badges.  All the while, God is gently stripping us bare, revealing the beauty that is already there.

So today, I am learning from winter trees.

I am okay with empty.

I will rest, wait, and trust.

I will trust, that God is always turning our formless and empty into something beautiful.

“Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” Genesis 1:2