The Season is Changing

Anyone else stumbling around in a post-time change fog this week?

Yikes.

I read once that it takes three weeks to fully adjust to a new schedule, so hopefully by the end of the month we’ll be caught up on the sleep we’ve missed!

Give me all the daylight, though. Every day we’re getting closer to 10pm sunsets and 5am sunrises, and the twilight hours that fill the hours in between. We’ll be making up for the winter darkness.

I smelled mud the other day and I remembered spring. It took me by surprise. I was in a parking lot and the heavy, earthy scent drifted past, bringing with it a sudden swell of hope! Same with the sound of water trickling through the downspout as the snow melts off the roof.

Ordinary evidence that the season is changing, and with it, the things we spend our time and energy on.

It’s the Lenten season. I recently read a Lent devotional that seemed to pit personal times of worship against serving the least of these in our community, as if the former is selfish and the latter is spiritual. It seemed to say that reading our Bibles and spending time in prayer is meant to somehow impress God with our efforts to be holy, when our energies would be better spent serving those among us who are truly in need.

It broke my heart.

When we put our faith in Christ, the Bible teaches that we become Christ’s righteousness before God. When God looks at us, He doesn’t see our vain efforts to impress, He sees Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 says,

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

So why should we view the Lenten season as some sort of exercise in spiritual pride, bent on giving us brownie points with God? If that’s what Lent is for you, I strongly recommend you rethink this season.

That last verse gets me every single time: God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. When we understand exactly what Jesus did for us, we no longer see these seasons of examining our hearts and engaging in repentance and renewal as an effort to impress Him with how spiritual we are. We fall down in worship, fully surrendering our proud hearts and recognizing that there is no other Person who can bring us back in to a right relationship with a Holy Creator to whom we owe the very breath in our lungs.

I will say, though, that these times of worship must bring about lasting change in our hearts! And out of that change comes minds that are transformed by the truth of God’s Word, hearts that are open to the Holy Spirit, eyes that are searching for opportunities to put Christ’s love in action, and hands that are ready to serve Him by serving others.

I think the author of the Lent devotional is right in pointing out that inaction is a grave mistake that we would do well to pay attention to. But I am sad when I see worship and service pitted against each other.

In the weeks leading up to Easter I’ve begun to read the Gospels of Luke and John, once again re-living the life of Christ and praying that God will move in my heart through the story spread out on the pages. My heart has been stunned and amazed and encouraged by Jesus! And most often, I am finding that service of the least of these consists of pouring practical love on the very people that are right in front of me.

frozen bunny tracks

I found these frozen animal tracks one morning.

And then, Spring

It’s the strangest, most wonderful, yet most ordinary thing.

A couple of weeks ago, all the trees in our neighbourhood were bare twigs reaching up to the bright blue sky, sunlight streaming through, casting their thin shadows on the ground.

Then, one day last week we were going about our daily routine when suddenly one of the kids noticed a hint of green on some of those very same trees.

“Mama! Look! The leaves are coming!” she shouted with glee.

So they were. And then I remembered that after winter comes spring, every single year, no matter how long and cold it is. This year’s winter felt like it would never end, but here we are – bees are buzzing, flowers are blooming, trees are bursting with leaves. The sun has warmed the earth, waking what was asleep and breathing new life into what was dead.

There’s just so much in that, isn’t there? We all have places in our lives that appear to be long gone, where the cold rushed in and left an icy stillness in its wake. Sometimes those areas sit in frigid silence for what feels like forever.

But then, the air shifts, the season changes and we begin to feel the gradual, steady warmth of the Holy Spirit stirring in us, breathing new life into our hearts, astounding us with the beauty of growth and newfound strength.

Isn’t the love of Jesus something wonderful? We’re resting in Him as He does something new in our hearts today.

rose bush

My rose bush coming alive again.

Dandelion Bouquets

The dandelions are popping up everywhere.

That’s how I know it’s almost Mother’s Day.

As a little girl, I wandered the yard and picked the biggest, brightest ones. I bunched up as many as I could curl my small fingers around and carefully carried them inside, leaving a trail of yellow bits behind me.

“Here Mom! Happy Mother’s Day,” I’d say. As soon as she saw the bouquet in my hands, her eyes lit up, face filled with joy, and she’d kiss my cheek and say, “Thank you, my sweet petunia.”

Then she’d take them and set them in the clear, short-stemmed, pressed glass water goblet on the middle of the table, as if they were a dozen long stem roses.

There they would stay, on that brown table in our tiny kitchen with the matching turquoise appliances, Mother’s Day evening sun streaming in the small west window, until they wilted.

And in the springtime of my teens, right in the middle of that long brown table in the farm kitchen with the strawberry plant wallpaper and brown paneling, Mother’s Day morning sunshine streaming in that east window above the sink, until they wilted.

Year after year, I picked dandelions for my mom. And year after year, they went on display, filling my little heart with joy and pride.

Our dandelions appeared this week, and they don’t stand a chance of going to seed because as soon as my own girls see one, it gets picked… just for me.

The tradition continues.

Without fail, they bloom in three generations of hearts, as a sweet shared memory of the most beautiful Mother’s Day bouquet of all.

I love you Mom. Happy Mother’s Day.

dandelions for ma

Dandelion bouquets

The Winter is Over.

The sound of melting is music to my ears, peppered with little boots splishing and splashing alongside stroller wheels on the sidewalk.

The first walk of Spring is underway. I can hear birds twittering and flittering from tree to tree, preparing for a long season of growth and change.

The winter is over. We breathe a sigh of relief. Yes, we know that more snowflakes will fall before summer arrives, but in the meantime, sun bathes our neighbourhood in warmth and beauty. Even the runoff, meandering down the middle of the road, is sparkling with life and hope.

“Look at the way this one curves back and forth,” I say, pointing to a small stream trickling down the sidewalk in front of us.

“Wow!” they shout, zigging and zagging through it, pants wet to the knees from all the joys of puddle-jumping.

One bends down and fishes three soggy pinecones out of the mud puddle, tossing them happily into the middle of the road. “Here ya go, squirrels!” she shouts. “Some food for you!”

Simple joys.

Thank you Jesus for the beauty of this moment.

tulips

White tulips growing in my living room!