An Easter Refresh

One of the things I love about Easter is it’s a reminder of the fresh start that we get with our relationship with God. Sometimes it’s important to be persistent and really see things through, but there’s something almost magical about new things. I’m not a huge fan of having 4 seasons, personally I prefer it to be a bit warmer all year long, but where I live there are 4 seasons, and we get all 4 every year. But as much as I sometimes find the change of seasons to be challenging, there’s something magical about the season of spring. There’s just no way to truly describe the feeling of wonder and excitement that you feel when you see those cherry blossoms begin to appear and little yellow forsythia blossoms appear practically everywhere after months of living in shades of primarily gray, brown and white.

On the first Easter morning all those years ago people woke up feeling disappointed and hurt, until they found the grave empty and learned that Jesus actually did what He said and rose again. His rising means that not only are we given the opportunity of eternal life, but we’ve also got the ability to be forgiven of our past and have a fresh start. Easter is like that big fresh start that appears each spring, but sometimes what you need isn’t that big refresh, but rather a smaller one. One of the things I’ve always been amazed by are morning glories. They flower for a few hours at the beginning of each day in the summer and then they close up. Yes, all the greenery in the summer is amazing, but there’s nothing like waking to find an explosion of color waiting for you on your deck or fence or wherever you have them.

But Easter isn’t the only fresh start we get, it’s not a one-and-done thing. We can have a fresh start any day, at any time. We can choose to sing a new song, have a new conversation, make a new friend, think a new thought or have a new attitude whenever we want or need. But we only get that start if we’re willing to let go of the past and move into the future. That takes a measure of trust in God as well as ourselves, in knowing that He’s got something better for us in the future, and that we can ride out the changes and be strong enough to resist whatever lures our past, recent or distant, may have. What will you do with your fresh start?

“He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.” Psalm 40:3

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The Progress of Spring

I’m so excited that spring is officially here! I love seeing all the new life around us and seeing how the world transforms each year in this time. Pablo Neruda said:

“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.”

There is little we can do to make the world do our bidding. We’ve tried to exert some control over our food, over the animals, and over each other, but most things seem to backfire on us. We can try to cut all the flowers, but we won’t stop spring. It continues on with or without our bidding.

In older times most cultures had some rituals they performed during this time to ensure a good harvest and a healthy year of growth and prosperity. We don’t tend to perform these rituals as often anymore, maybe because we see how little control over the things of nature we have.

That said there are things we can do to put the odds in our favor, like learning, communicating and sharing our knowledge and experience with others around the world. We’re not helpless even though we have little to no control over the world around us. But we have to be willing to take action, admit we don’t know everything and fail occasionally (not necessarily in that order).

Our lives continue to march on whether or not we want them to. It’s up to us to decide if we want to march in line, strike our own path or be swept away. Most people choose to be swept away or march in line. It’s easier and doesn’t seem to require as much work or commitment from us. However, we do commit to not taking action and responsibility for our lives in those situations. Only when we chose to strike our own path do we stand a chance of thriving like spring does.

This week I encourage you to shake off the snow and chill of winter and step forward into the power of transformation that spring holds.

The Spring of Eternal Life

This month we’ve been talking about spring and what spring means, and one of the most obvious things it means is new life. There’s a kind of life that we would be remiss if we did not talk about when talking about new life this month: that of eternal life. What happens after death is something that has been pondered since the beginning of time. Each civilization, group of people, culture, part of the world and span of time has their own ideas on what comes next, some that are similar and others that are vastly different. What most people groups can agree on is that there definitely is something “next,” whether it’s reincarnation, the afterlife, purgatory, hell or eternal life, this life isn’t the end.

What is awesome about the Christian belief of Eternal Life is that not only is there something after this life, it’s something better, and that something better is possible because of love. How cool is that?! I mean there’s so much talk about how commercialized love is and how it’s thrown around too much and not truly valued, but if you want proof of value here it is!

As we dive into this Holy Week of 2016 not only is it an opportunity to reaffirm our faith in Jesus and our belief that He is The Way, The Truth and The Life, it’s also an opportunity to share some love with those in our communities and our churches. Easter is one of the biggest attendance days for the Church so not only are the C&E (Christmas and Easter) people present, you’ve got people who have a feeling that they want something more out of their life and figure that because the church will be so crowded they can just slip in unnoticed. As you go to various church activities in the next week I encourage you greet those you don’t recognize. But don’t do it in a way that will embarrass them or make them feel guilty for being there, but to let them know they’re welcome and you’re genuinely glad to see them. If they seem like they want to chat offer to treat them to coffee (no, not the coffee that will be served after the service) and get to know them better. It could be your opportunity to share about the gift of Eternal Life with them.

“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.”  1 John 4:9

Waiting for Spring

Spring always makes me think about hope.  With everything coming to life there’s just something so invigorating to us even though we’re not getting a new set of leaves or flowers. Of course we do have the ability to have “springs” in our live at any point in time we don’t have to wait for the right months to show up like the plants do.  But when you think about hope there’s the other side to consider that we usually don’t think about when talking about hope, that not all of life is hopeful, sometimes it’s just not good or lasting, and eventually death happens.

But the thing I love about hope is that it doesn’t promise perfection, it just promises a better tomorrow.  Maybe that tomorrow does include death which means the suffering will be over.  Maybe that tomorrow includes a new challenge that will finally free you from the frustrations of the past.  Maybe that tomorrow has the break you’ve been waiting for.  Or maybe that tomorrow just includes a friend who will let you cry on their shoulder and be a support to you.

Don’t let your bad or tough day today ruin tomorrow or the rest of your life.  Just as the spring shows up every year, know that things will turn around for you.  You have to be open to moving into that hope though, I know that the negative spiral is more than willing to keep spiraling with you trapped in it.  Will you choose to welcome hope into your life this spring?

“Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come.” Robert H. Schuller

Spring Forward

Welcome to a new month! This month I’m excited about our theme, it’s hopefully going to remain very relevant as we move through the month; our theme is spring! As I was thinking about this theme I decided to check out what the dictionary says about it:

1. to rise, leap, move, or act suddenly and swiftly, as by a sudden dart or thrust forward or outward, or being suddenly released from a coiled or constrained position: to spring into the air.
2. to be released from a constrained position, as by resilient or elastic force or from the action of a spring
3. to issue forth suddenly, as water, blood, sparks, fire, etc. (often followed by forth, out, or up).
4. to come into being, rise, or arise within a short time (usually followed by up)
5. to come into being by growth, as from a seed or germ, bulb, root, etc.; grow, as plants.

This month we’ll be touching on all of those definitions of spring. I want to encourage you to let this be a month of new starts for you, of beginning days well, of meeting people who will make your life better, of new beginnings, of finally getting things off the ground, of making progress, of seeing results and growth, of starting fresh, of taking action, of trying new things, of accepting the changes that have happened and moving forward, and of being excited for what the future holds.

I know for many people spring is the season they look forward to because it comes after the harsh, cold and limiting winter. While that winter hasn’t really happened where I live this year, I still believe that sometimes what we need is a spring of life. Be open to the changes that are happening in your life and meet them with the same excitement that the bulbs and creatures greet the bright spring sun each year.

The Necessity of Spring

Every day I see a few more signs of spring, this week there were tons even though on this first day of spring we’ve got snow coming down. I can’t wait until we’re all free to just leave the house and take a walk without considering how many layers we need, if it’s going to snow or where we’ll walk because there’s snow all over the roads.  I’m thankful that I live in an area of the world that has spring, I can’t imagine what I would do if I lived where there was mostly snow or only summer because spring has a very important role to play in our lives.

I do love summer, it’s one of my favorite seasons.  Summer is associated with warm temperatures and fresh produce.  It’s a great time to get out and go places as well as a time to grow things because of longer hours and warmer weather.  Because summer reminds us to grow it’s an important season.

Fall is a time of change, which is an important season for us because our lives change too. Change isn’t a topic we’re all comfortable with but it’s a fact of life, just like fall is associated with cooler temperature and changing leaves. I like fall because it reminds us that things have to change, very few things stay the same.

Winter is associated with warm fires and more time spent at home.  It’s the one season that you can really see the impact of the weather as the snow falls from the sky and fills the ground.  You can’t see the sun do that and you can’t see the direct impact of the rain usually.  But winter reminds us that sometimes we need a break and need to take time to rest and reflect.

But spring is an explosion of life.  Maybe it’s because there’s such a drastic difference between winter’s snows and spring’s life. Maybe it’s because there’s so much activity after so little. Maybe it’s the multitude of colors from white and grey. For these reasons and more spring is a time to celebrate.  Spring does something very important: it celebrates life.  I always remind my clients of how important it is to celebrate the victories, big and small, in their lives and work.  It’s not always about the finished races, big financial goals or meeting that special someone, the journey itself should be celebrated.

So today on this first day of spring, I invite you to share the things that you’re celebrating today big or little in the comments below.

“Spring is nature’s way of saying, “Let’s party!”” Robin Williams

Freedom to Fail

I love spring because it embraces our topic for this year: freedom. Some years it feels like spring doesn’t even send a heads-up message, it just explodes onto the scene and we’re shocked to turn around one morning to find ourselves knee-deep in flowers, sweet smelling green grass and little creatures. It always amazes me that we can go from the bleak world of winter into the passion that is spring, that despite how cold or snowy it was spring is just waiting for the right time to flourish.

In many ways I envy spring: it’s not waiting for more money to show up in the bank account, our partner to sign the divorce papers, to find the love of our life, our kids to head to college or the world to accept us for who we are. No, spring just says “HERE I AM!!” and expects the whole world to join in on its celebration. And many of us do; we dance around the may pole, we buy flowers, we clean things up, and it seems like we start living again. We don’t have to wait for spring to be free though. No, we can choose to try something new, make a change, do something different or live just because today is a great day to be alive.

The challenge comes in knowing that we won’t get it right like spring does every time. We might fail or make a bad judgment call or not fully get there. This is where the challenge of fully embracing freedom comes in. If you’re truly free, if you’re truly embracing freedom in your life you have to embrace that it won’t all be perfect. Spring always seems to get it right, because there has to be rain with the spring or the flowers can’t grow, there won’t be any buds for summer foods and the earth won’t be green. Spring gets it right because it’s open to everything not being sunny days and beautiful blooms.

As we enter into spring this weekend I encourage you to embrace both spring and freedom, all of it, not just the nice parts. You’ll be a stronger person because you did and you’ll find freedom as well.

“Liberty is the possibility of doubting, of making a mistake… of searching and experimenting…” Ignazio Silone