Spring, a Blogging Break, and Easter Blessings

Spring is finally here! The robins are back! The temperatures are warming up, though there is still snow left to melt.

It’s awesome to see the birds check out nesting spots and to hear their joyous songs again. But joy often coexists with sadness, doesn’t it? Spring is so welcome after a long, dreary winter, but now we’re getting flooding in our midwestern city like we’ve never experienced before. Huge ice chunks had to be taken off of roads after the flooding receded. There are still many in the parks and areas around the river. Some roads and bridges are washed out or crumbled. Homes are damaged. It’s going to take a lot of time, work, and money to recover.

Now with the snow melting quickly north and west of here, people are preparing for even worst flooding this week. Oodles of sandbags have been set up to protect homes and businesses. The Falls and the bike trails have been closed off, and anyone who goes past the barricades will be fined. It’s for our safety, but you wouldn’t believe how many people ignore the warnings.

The Falls are really roaring lately. It has receded some, and we hope it doesn’t get higher than this.

On another note, I’ve decided to take a break from blogging. An overwhelming feeling has been creeping up on me. Last week I needed to just back up and allow myself grace. I felt God whispering to me to rest and not be so hard on myself that each Tuesday I MUST have a blog post ready.

After some prayerful consideration, I feel I need some time to refresh and renew my body, mind, and spirit. I also need to recalibrate where I’m going with this blog. I may only do two Tuesdays a month and I may alter my end-of-the month posts. I’m uncertain yet, but I’m asking God to guide me.

I hope to return on May 7. Meanwhile, I pray you all have a Spirit-filled, Glorious Easter!

Glorious Day (Living He Loved Me)
by Casting Crowns

“Now may God,
the inspiration and fountain of hope,
fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy
and perfect peace as you trust in Him.
And may the power of the Holy Spirit
continually surround your life with His
super-abundance until you radiate with hope!”
Romans 15:13 TPT

God’s Promise of Hope for Victims of Abuse

I posted this story nearly three years ago, but for some reason God brought it to my attention again. I felt His nudge to share it again. Perhaps there is someone who needs a reminder of hope. This is an edited version.

She was standing at the windows covering one wall. A nun staring out the window. As she stood there, a rainbow broke through the stormy clouds and brightened the sky.

The glory of the rainbow drew me to the window next to her. We were hushed with awe for several minutes.

“I asked God for a sign,” she whispered, “Now I know this is where He wants me to be.”

She opened her heart to me and shared her story of devastating abuse from a priest and how afraid she was to be at this retreat (for women victims of clergy abuse).

I was afraid, too. Shame, fear, and hopelessness consumed me, and I had almost run right back out as soon as I entered the building. But now I knew, too, that I wasn’t alone, and I needed to stay.

The rainbow inspired in both of us hope that God was on our side, He always keeps His promises, and He will never, ever abandon us.

Those days were gut-wrenching as we worked through the unspeakable pain of sexual and spiritual abuse from pastors/priests/ministers from various churches. I probably didn’t get as much benefit out of it as I could have if I had dared to open up more, but God still boosted me on the road to healing.

Two women pastors led the retreat, and on the final day, they held communion to whoever wanted to join them. Love, acceptance, and support warmed the atmosphere. One woman stood rooted to the floor several feet away. Her pain was so deep, and she wasn’t sure she belonged. Could she trust the love Jesus offers? Did He even want her? We gathered around her with love and assurance and God broke the chains of shame. She stepped forward with us, and with tears flowing, we together remembered how Jesus offered up His broken body and poured out His life blood for us to free us.

I was still in deep pain, but I had a renewed hope that God held us in His loving hands. Even though the healing journey would be painful, He would be with us every step of the way. And He has been, even though there were countless times when I felt like He had abandoned me. In hindsight I can see He was there even in those dark times of despair.

As one of the projects, each of us were handed a piece of construction paper with our name written in the middle of it and uplifting stickers on it. We were to write an encouragement or praise on each person’s page. After we went home, the leaders sent our page to us. I still have mine 25+ years later.

I want to share with you what one of the other women wrote to me, and I hope you will apply it personally to yourself.

“Keep talking. Don’t allow Satan to take anymore from you than he has. You know where your power lies. In the Creator of the universe, the Creator of you. Call on His healing. He loves you, (insert your name here), and so do I.”

If you have been abused, in whatever way, whether male or female, don’t let Satan silence you or discourage you with his lies. Don’t let him rob you of your God-given voice. His power is nothing compared to God who created you. God has the power and the willingness to heal you. He even finds joyous delight in healing you.

Even when we feel like a bruised and bleeding body tossed to the side of the road, not believed or cared about by anyone, Jesus loves to tenderly pick us up and hold us to Himself, cradling us with His love and compassion.

Yes, the healing process can be long and painful and overwhelming, but He is right beside us longing for us to trust Him as our Safe Refuge, to open our hearts to His love, and to allow His grace to heal us.

God is faithful and always keeps His promises. He will never abandon us. He is beside us even on those days when we can’t “feel” Him or see His signs.

“For every one of God’s
promises is ‘Yes’ in Him.
Therefore, the ‘Amen’ is also spoken
through Him by us for God’s glory.”
2 Corinthians 1:20 HCSB
“Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds,
I will see it and remember
the everlasting covenant
between God and all living creatures
of every kind on the earth.”
Genesis 9:16 NIV
“Be strong! Be courageous!
Do not be afraid of them!
For the Lord your God will be with you.
He will neither fail you nor forsake you.”
Deuteronomy 31:6 TLB


Overcomer
by Mandisa

Opening Our Eyes to the Beauty and Value of Winter When Our Hearts Feel Weary Of It

Is your heart weary of winter? Is your spirit sagging?

Severe cold has filled our February. And the forecast is for more of it this month. It makes us wonder if spring will ever come. On Sunday, I woke to 16 below and 35 below wind chill. It never even got above zero all day!

It’s hard not to get discouraged, isn’t it?

It helps me to intentionally open my eyes and heart to the beauty and value of winter.

Those fluffy flakes gently flowing down are so beautiful. And I’m awed that even in subzero temps, the sun’s power still melts the snow on the roofs enough to form uniquely shaped icicles.

Untrodden snow also amazes me. So white and pure. Sparkling like diamonds when the sun shines. Inspiring a deeper longing to be clean and white in Jesus, to be sparkling with His love and shining it forth to others.

“Purify me from my sins,
and I will be clean;

wash me,
and I will be whiter than snow.”
Psalm 51:7 NLT
“Come, let’s talk this over,
says the Lord;
no matter how deep
the stain of your sins,
I can take it out
and make you as clean
as freshly fallen snow.
Even if you are stained
as red as crimson,
I can make you
white as wool!”
Isaiah 1:18 TLB

I’m grateful I still can take nature photos from inside our warm home! 🙂 We planted this globe evergreen tree in between our neighbor’s and our condos two years ago. We love looking out at the green of it and how the snow forms on it.

This is after a lot of snow. We call it our cake. 🙂

I can never find one icicle identical to another. These are tiny compared to what we saw Sunday on a program in Alaska. Thirty foot icicles that are five feet thick!


This photo isn’t clear, and it certainly doesn’t do justice to what we saw. The sun was reflecting off droplets hanging from this tree, making it look like Christmas lights!

This sun dog was awesome! I wasn’t able to get the other side of it from our bedroom window. My husband saw both sides of it earlier as the sun rose, and he said it was so beautiful.

Winter not only brings beauty. It is also essential to new growth in the spring. Though the tree branches look dead and barren, their roots are growing and gathering nutrients to deliver to and strengthen the new leaves to come.

Winter of the soul can benefit us, too. Those times when losses and trials devastate us. When our hearts feel cold and lifeless. When we wonder – Where are You, God?

Those times can be brutal and debilitating, but they are necessary to deepen and strengthen our roots in Christ Jesus. Roots growing down into Him draw up much-needed nourishment for our spiritual growth. 

“And now just as you trusted Christ to save you,
trust Him, too, for each day’s problems;
live in vital union with Him.

Let your roots grow down into Him
and draw up nourishment from Him.
See that you go on growing in the Lord,
and become strong and vigorous
in the truth you were taught.
Let your lives overflow with joy
and thanksgiving for all He has done.”
Colossians 2:6-7 TLB

Though it does help me to open my eyes to the value of winter, I still long for spring. My heart yearns to be able to be out in nature and all its sights, sounds, and smells again. To feel the sun warming and thawing cold bones. As it gets nearer, I anticipate the sighting of a robin like an eager child hankering to open a long-awaited gift. Can I open it NOW?

There is something about spring that refreshes the spirit, isn’t there? To see the promising new life on the trees and perennials pushing through the soil. To watch the newborn calves and lambs kicking up their heels in the pastures. To hear the joyful chorus of birds.

Our spirits may sag when winters seem to drag on, but spring and revival WILL come, all the more refreshing and renewing after a barren winter. That’s a promise. God’s promise.

“As long as the earth remains,
there will be
springtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
winter and summer,
day and night.”
Genesis 8:22 TLB

Perhaps it’s a different season in your country right now or you live in warmer states or countries where there is no snow or cold. What are your winters like? When you’re weary of winter, what helps you get through it? Whether it’s winter in nature or in your soul? Feel free to share your thoughts!

Seasons
by Hillsong

“Though the winter is long even richer
The harvest it brings
Though my waiting prolongs even greater
Your promise for me like a seed
I believe that my season will come…”