Tag Archives: Photos of spring flowers

You Must Strengthen Your Core!

Here is a meditation and some beautiful photos that my friend Charylene Powers shared with me, with a spiritual analogy that the Lord gave her during her morning prayer time recently. As the end of 2017 approaches and we consider where we’ve been and where we’d like to go next year, perhaps this will encourage us.

From the side of the therapy pool my Back Splash instructor looks down at me with compassion and understanding in her eyes and says, “You MUST strengthen your core.”  It is a bone chilling January morning. As I back out of my driveway, the snow crunches under the weight of my car tires. I’m leaving for the MVP therapy pool in the darkness of early morning. My back pain has pretty much put a halt to life as I have known it. Immersing myself in the warmth of the therapy pool every morning is about all I can do.  One morning a week, I am attending a Back Splash class offered at MVP. There are usually ten ladies in attendance; all of us with muscle and joint problems. Our instructor directs us to the deep end of the pool, which prevents us from touching the bottom of the pool.  She continues to instruct us saying, “place the swim noodle under your arms and hang straight down, straight as a pencil, back straight, legs together. Look straight ahead; your head is the eraser.” These instructions sound easy enough. However, as I try to follow her directions, my legs float off to the right. I struggle in the water trying to control my body, and I attempt the pencil formation once again. This time my legs float off to the left….and this is when I hear, “You MUST strengthen your core!”   After weeks of daily trips to MVP and attending my Back Splash class, faithfully practicing all the exercises that I am being taught, I am finally able to hold a perfect pencil formation as my instructor counts off the seconds.  Spring is approaching, I am back on my bike….riding down the bike path, enjoying a strengthened core and the freedom that brings.   I have another core: My spiritual core. How do I strengthen my spiritual core? The same way that I strengthen my physical core. Daily, I must practice the spiritual disciplines that keep me on the path that God has asked me to walk. “Not turning aside to the right or to the left.”  In Celebration of Discipline, R.J. Foster tells us “God has given us the Disciplines of the spiritual life as a means of receiving His grace. The Disciplines allow us to place ourselves before God so that He can transform us.”  ……hence as I practice spiritual disciplines, it is God who strengthens my spiritual core.   As I read and mediate on God’s Word, the Psalmist tells me, “His Word is a lamp to my feet, a light to my path.” The path God has chosen for me. “The Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” This is my powerful promise from God.  Prayer is how I communicate with God. I hear His “gentle whisper” and feel His “Divine nudging.” In Luke one of the disciples asks, “Lord teach us to pray.” The Lord will teach me to pray as He taught His disciples. When I do not know what to pray the Holy Spirit directs my thoughts. The more I pray the more, I long to pray and “praying without ceasing” becomes a reality in my life not just a desire.   Fasting has been a part of the Christian tradition for centuries. It is a discipline that Christ talks about in Matthew… “when you fast.” Why am I not pursuing this discipline like I do the other disciplines? Probably because I think it sounds like too much work and sacrifice. Maybe this is the discipline that would bring me closer to God ….. The key to my success in strengthening my physical core has been my daily trips to our health club and practicing all the exercises my caring instructor has given me….hence leading to the healing of my body and the freedom that brings.

The key to my success in strengthening my spiritual core is the same: Daily coming to my heavenly instructor and embracing the spiritual disciplines that He is teaching me….hence leading to the healing of my soul and the freedom that brings.

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice
behind you saying ‘this is the way; walk in it’.”
(Isaiah 30:21).

 

Tulip Time Festival: It’s All in the Timing…or Is It?

One of the many joys of living in this area is our almost annual trek to Holland’s Tulip Time Festival, which is usually the week before Mother’s Day.  This year it’s May 6-14, 2017.During the festival, Holland, Michigan, which is 30 miles south of Grand Rapids, is glowing with 6 million tulips, as well as a potpourri of other beautiful spring flowers. However, this year the weather has been unusually warm, and the tulips are almost all blooming right now, so we decided to visit last Sunday afternoon (which was April 23—two weeks before the festivities are to begin). The weather was perfect, and so were the gardens. The only down side is that there are vast fences around the flower beds at Windmill Island Gardens  to keep out the deer, who consider tasty tulips fine dining. It will be sad enough that the flowers will be past their prime for the festival, but if the caretakers were to take down the fences now (which they won’t), there would be nothing but leaves for the masters!  😦(Oh, but there would still be daffodils, because they’re poisonous.)Of course, there are all sorts of fun things to do at the festival!There’s a wonderful parade, a marathon, Dutch dancing, a carnival,
an arts and crafts fair, music and great food… So, the festival will still be worth visiting. However, if your first love (among such earthly loves) is spring flowers, I’d recommend going ASAP! The weather forecast is pretty bad, so you might have to consult your favorite weather station for some prognostication, but sooner will be better than later!

Festivals are fun, but they’re pretty insignificant compared to some of the weightier matters of life, like school and career choices, whom you’ll marry
(if you marry) and where to live. Are you facing a challenging decision? Timing is critical! However, it’s not always easy to figure out the correct timing. When it comes to festivals, you can consult the weather man and your friends, but when it comes to the big decisions of life, may I encourage you to consult the only One who knows you perfectly and who knows the future as well as He knows the past and present? God knows “all about it.” He knows all about everything, in fact, and He can give you the wisdom you need to make the right decision, if you’ll only ask.  Thus saith the Lord the maker thereof, the Lord that formed it, to establish it; the Lord is his name; Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not” (Jeremiah 33:2-3).

Two Dozen Reasons for Believing that Spring’s Coming

Sun reflecting off lakeWhen Alan and I woke up this morning, it was 37° out, Spring Failing to Installand I remembered seeing  this clever Facebook sign a few days ago. Fox SquirrelSo, is spring going to load or not?? Quiet Reflections in a spring swampThankfully, it’s a gorgeous, sunshiny morning, and when I went outside Deer at edge of our woods I found ever so many reasons for believing that spring is on its way. Flowering QuinceFor our mutual encouragement,
I’ve paired some bright thoughts about spring with the photographs:
Mink by our dock“Despite the forecast, live like it’s spring.”
—Lilly PulitzerGold Finch“Spring won’t let me stay in this house any longer!
I must get out and breathe the air deeply again.”—Gustav MahlerTiny Buds opening in rain“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”…
“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”
—Rances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden  Great Blue Heron on our dock“In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.” —Mark Twain  Racoon on the waterfront“When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.”
—Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast   Wild Rose Budding“An optimist is the human personification of spring.”—Susan J. Bissonette  PrimrosesNo winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.”—Hal Borland Wisteria Budding“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.”
—Vladimir Nobokov, MaryLily of the Valley“The sun just touched the morning;
The morning, happy thing,
Supposed that he had come to dwell,
And life would be all spring.”
—Emily DickinsonForsythia“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
‘Winter is dead’.”
—A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young  Nectarine Blossoms“The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness,
the human soul is apt to revive also.” —Harriet Ann Jacobs  Canada Goose and Great Blue Heron on lake“It was such a spring day as breathes into a man an ineffable yearning, a painful sweetness, a longing that makes him stand motionless, looking at the leaves or grass, and fling out his arms to embrace he knows not what.”
—John Galsworthy, The Forsyte Saga
Cherry Tree in Bloom“What a strange thing!
to be alive
beneath cherry blossoms.”
—Kobayashi Issa, Poems  Trillium“Every spring is the only spring, a perpetual astonishment.”—Ellis Peters  Great Blue Heron“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”
—Ann Breadstreet, The Works of Anne Bradstreet  Kayak beside lake“I suppose the best kind of spring morning is the best weather God has to offer.” —Dodie Smith, I Capture the CastleRed-winged Blackbird singing in Cherry Tree“Because the birdsong might be pretty,
But it’s not for you they sing,
And if you think my winter is too cold,
You don’t deserve my spring.”
—Erin Hanson   Tom Turkey showing for for the girls“If people did not love one another, I really don’t see what use there would be in having any spring.” —Victor Hugo, Les Miserables
(This is Tom Turkey showing off for the girls.)
Red-winged Blackbird“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want—oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!” —Mark Twain  Daffodil“Always it’s Spring and everyone’s in love and flowers pick themselves.”
—E.E. Cummings, 100 Selected Poems  Canada Geese with Goslings“Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love!”
—Sitting Bull  Wood ducks by dock“Nostalgia in reverse, the longing for yet another strange land, grew especially strong in spring.” —Pablo Neruda  Cherry Blossoms“For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.” —Isaiah 61:11  Wild Blackberries Budding“While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” —Genesis 8:22Nuthatch on railing