Pussy Willow V

IMG_8341 edit.jpgOf course it’s the most appropriate thing in the world that we look forward to the formal celebration of the Resurrection at exactly the same time we are watching the natural world around us spring from dead and dormant to vibrant and alive.

Outside the maroon points of tulips are pushing through the cold, sodden earth within inches of residual snow banks and the pussy willows are making clouds of lace above the thawing murky swamps.  The swans circle in daily, checking the state of the lake ice, and the robins are hopping around, drumming for earthworms.  Inside, I’m writing “buy the biggest ham you can find” on my grocery list, taking stock of white tights and practicing a new arrangement of “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” on the piano.  Some of the most wonderful days of the entire year are almost upon us and, to me, the very air is weighty with anticipation.

Considering how I feel about it, I can only imagine how those last few weeks before Easter must have felt to Jesus Himself.  In hopes of catching a tiny glimpse of this, I’m planning to do something a little bit special on here this year.  Starting on Palm Sunday, I’m going to be posting daily for the week leading up to Easter, highlighting the actual Biblical events that led up to Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Some days I may just share Scripture, which we all know speaks for itself and requires no embellishment.  Some days I may add a few of my own reflections and thoughts.  It will be like an Easter devotional, a countdown to this upcoming highest and holiest of days and a sort of heart-preparation to bring deeper meaning and understanding to the celebration.

I hope you will join me!

“When they gathered together in Galilee, Jesus told them, “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill Him, and on the third day He will be raised to life.” (Matthew 17:22-23)



A Simple Recipe for Spring

IMG_8148.JPGStep 1: Bathe everything in a very generous amount of warm sunshine.IMG_8060-01Step 2: Wait for an awful lot of all this to melt.  Allow it to soak in thoroughly.IMG_8136.JPGStep 3: Enjoy the results, springing up from the sun-soaked, well-watered, nitrogen-infused happy earth.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
            And do not return there without watering the earth
            And making it bear and sprout,
            And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;

So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
            It will not return to Me empty,
            Without accomplishing what I desire,
            And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”

(Isaiah 55:10-11)

Triumph of the Tulips

IMG_3632You watched them get planted.  You watched them grow up through the snow.  It only seemed fair that you should get to watch them bloom, too!IMG_3635This story wouldn’t be complete, however, unless I told you about the very last piece of adversity they had to come through to reach this glorious moment of full bloom.IMG_3271Yep.  This would be the guilty culprit, caught in the act of walking nonchalantly into our front yard in broad daylight.  No shame whatsoever.

One morning, I looked out the front window at my flower garden as usual, and my jaw dropped open.  There were literally half as many tulips in the garden as there had been the day before.  I guessed that it had been the deer even before I ran out and found the cloven hoof prints clearly defined in the soft garden dirt.

I wasn’t about to watch the tulips I had waited for all winter be systematically consumed by deer who have the entire national forest at their disposal for dinner, without even getting to watch them bloom!  Where there is a will, there is a way—and bird netting was the answer.

A few days later, under their protective veiling, fat buds on the surviving plants emerged and blushed coral-pink.  Yesterday I took it off for good, as they opened their glowing petals to the morning sunshine for the very first time.  They had persevered through winter, unexpected spring snowstorms and foraging deer—and somehow that made the triumph all the more joyful!

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)

“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”  (James 1:12)IMG_3645

In Whatsoever State I Am

IMG_3359So—remember those bulbs I buried hopefully in the fall?  I thought you’d like to know—they survived the winter!  And they’ve not only survived in spite of all prowling chipmunks, but are also growing steadily up in spite of, ahem, the wide variety of weather conditions that have comprised our spring thus far!

Today, while my sick children blessedly napped and I sipped tea to soothe my own racking cough, I looked at them all shivering out there in the flower bed, perky double-winged leaf shoots cupping the flakes of spitting snow as the wind whistles around the house.  They were a quiet but poignant little reminder to me on a not-so-ideal day of this verse:

“…for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content…”

IMG_3360Some days, as Paul goes on to admit, are harder than others (and trust me, the hardships he had to face would make this unpleasant sick day at home seem like a picnic in the park!),

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

But the key to it all?

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13)

And for that, I am grateful.



Hope of Spring

tulip bulb / rejoicing hillsShhh!  Don’t tell the chipmunks.  This last week, thanks to this unseasonably mild autumn weather we’ve been having, I knelt in the soft earth of my flowerbed and tucked fifty tulip bulbs deep into the ground.

I dreamed of spring as I carved out those six inch deep holes and dropped in the white bulbs with their papery-thin rosy-brown skins.  It always seems strange, even cruel, to plant bulbs just as winter is looming with it’s long months of bitter cold.  I know it’s the way it has to be, though, and I know that sure as the spring will come, these tulips will come alive and blossom in due time.

It seemed very fitting that I planted them the same month that my grandpa went home to be with the Lord and we buried his remains also in the earth.  This, too, seemed like a harsh end for a beloved man who lived so long and well.  Or rather, it would have if it had not been for a confidence of a different sort of spring we all cherished in our hearts as we said goodbye.

Yes, those last days of suffering,

that shadow of death,

the tears,

that hole in the ground amidst a crowd of other grave stones,

the empty armchair in the house down the road—

the cruel reality of it all was harsher than any bitter winter wind that ever blew on earth.IMG_1422 edit

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Yet the sadness was so colored by joy, it was almost hard to tell the difference.  The damp chill of a November rain hung around us, but the church rafters rang with victory, because what seemed like loss and death to us meant only triumphant new life for him in the presence of the God and Savior he had loved so long.

He had waited eagerly through all the seasons of life, finally and bravely walked through the darkest death of winter—and now, somewhere, up in heaven, it was springtime at last for Grandpa.

“We hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”  (Romans 8:25)

For more posts about my grandfather, see here and here.