May 19, 2013

The Glories of Springtime

I pause from my work digging in the soft earth, and lay back under my maple tree. Its tiny leaves unfurled only days before have grown large enough to cast a fairly deep shade. 

Their growing size belies their newness. Each leaf is still supple and displays the vivid green of new spring. 

The young leaves dance on the gentle breeze against a bright blue sky, and I am transfixed. I feel I could lay here all day long.  

It seems I have never appreciated a springtime as much as I have this year. I have waited so long to feel and breathe in the newness of life all around me. The tulips are still dancing in their springtime best, opening fully under the mid-day sun and closing back up at night. 

And the lilacs are blooming. THE LILACS ARE BLOOMING! Springtime has surely arrived when the rows of lilacs everywhere show their glorious lavender and purple hues and share their heavenly fragrances. It a bountiful year for these floriferous shrubs, and I will cherish every nose-full of their heavenly scents. 

To say our springtime was wet would be quite an understatement. But look at the bounty! Though Spring was late to arrive, it is hurrying to catch up with itself, sporting new growth all around us. The soft grass feels wonderful under my bare feet, and oh! how I love the fuzzy, soft green the mosses under my feet.

I will soon be planting flowers and vegetables in earnest. With good care, watering and fertilizing, and plenty of sunshine lovin' on my plants, I will reap a bounty of goodness and beauty for my efforts.

And so it is with my spiritual life. If I tend to the needs of my spirit, and sometimes hush the busyness of everyday life long enough to delight in the beauty of the natural world, I find I am blessed with serenity, and peace. 

If I quiet my mind and back off of my to-do list, and pause, and pray, I keep my focus on what is really important: my relationship with God. 

In any season, I want the fruits of my labor to be pleasing to Him. I want my purpose in life to be that which He intends for me. And I can only know when I am on the right path if I stay in tune with His Spirit's leading. 

I will leave you with these meaningful words from Psalm 65, verses 9 through 13 in the NLT:

"You take care of the earth
Making it rich and fertile.
The river of God has plenty of water;
it provides a bountiful harvest of grain, 
for you have ordered it so.

You drench the plowed ground with rain, 
melting the clods and leveling the ridges.
You soften the earth with showers
and bless its abundant crops.

You crown the year with a bountiful harvest;
even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.
The grasslands and the wilderness become a lush pasture,
and the hillsides blossom with joy.

The meadows are clothed with flocks of sheep,
and the valleys are carpeted with grain.
They all shout and sing for joy!"

I love how this passage matches how joyously I feel in celebrating this springtime. And not only springtime, but the promise of the harvest. God brings new life into our hearts, and through His work in us, we produce the harvest we bring in our lives. 

Enjoy the blessings of new life and renewal, in the earth and in yourselves. Happy Spring!

May 6, 2013

The Power of Prayer

Courtesy Best Light Photography

This post has been rattling around in my brain for a long time. It has surfaced today because once again I am in need of prayers for healing. It’s nothing major, but my zest for life has been hindered while I am dragging this painful knee around with me. Procedures done today will surely help, and I will be on my way to wellness.

Less than two months ago I had also put out a request for prayers. This was when it was time to sing Handel’s beloved score, The Messiah, and I woke up with a horrible tightness in my throat and chest congestion on the day before dress rehearsal.

Best Light Photography
I didn’t want to ask for prayers, but I knew I should. So I boldly asked for prayers for myself, (a hard thing for me to do); and with the help of God’s grace and the support of so many wonderful, prayerful people, my voice held out throughout the rehearsal and performance.

At one point during the beginning of the performance I had to leave the stage for a coughing jag. You know how it is, when you try so hard NOT to cough, you can’t stop yourself when you finally do. I made it into the wings, closed the door, and stayed there ‘till I had it under control.

The day after the performance, as I reflected on how I made it through the concert, I realized it was only by my sheer will. But I also realized that this strength came from the many dear friends who know that singing is like breathing for me, and singing for the Lord is the joy of my song. My friends prayed, and I sang, and after it was all over, I let myself rest and recover.

There have been other times when friends have prayed, but none so great as my cancer journey in 2009. So many prayers were said on my behalf, that I could actually feel the power of everyone lifting me up.

If I ever needed reassurance that I wasn’t dealing with my illness alone, all I had to do was look up to my dresser top which was covered with get-well and thinking-of-you cards and reread the heartfelt messages. I still keep those cards, not as a reminder of my sickness, but to remember the outpouring of love and support from my relatives, church family and friends.

During that time I became aware of the palpable feeling of comfort from prayers. Now I can actually feel when prayers are being lifted for me. I could feel them this morning when I faced the tray of needles and my uncertainty as I put my trust in a doctor I hardly knew.

It is humbling and so beautiful to know that someone would take the time to lift my name to God’s ears. My hope is that I can share God’s love and grace to others through lifting my prayers for them as needs arise.

Too cute not to share!
He looks contemplative!

I used to think I needed a special time to sit down and talk with God about the various prayer requests that come my way. But sometimes I would forget, and then I would feel guilty.

Now, I take a moment, right away, and pray for God’s comfort and peace for whoever needs that reassurance in their life. By taking a moment to pause what I am doing, close my eyes, and offer my heartfelt prayers, I feel I stay connected with God all day long.

The conversation begins the moment I open my eyes in the morning, and continues with little prayers of gratitude and sharing my thoughts during the day. 

I like keeping that feeling of connectedness. After all, we are never alone. God is always with us, and desires to know our thoughts and share in the beauty and the sadness that touches our hearts.

Have you ever felt called upon to pray for someone you don’t even know? So much happens every day, and the news only shares the awful and disturbing side of human nature.

Sometimes a story in the paper will draw my attention, and I feel I am supposed to pray. Or sometimes I see a person whom I don’t know and I feel in my heart that I need to pray for God’s purpose and peace in their life.

This doesn’t make me saintly or any more sacred than any of you. I think I am just tuned into the spiritual side of existence, and if I stay out of my own head and stop dwelling on my troubles long enough, I can feel more aware of what is going on around me.

Perhaps when my wonderful friends and family share their prayers for me, this frees my own worry and concerns for my health. Then I can reach out into this hurting world and strive to find its beauty.

The search for what is good and beautiful in life brings me back to gratitude and connectedness to God. And when I can keep peace in my heart, I feel more connected to God and all living things.

Prayer is simply a conversation with God. When we lift our hearts to God, our prayers are truly heard.  And prayers lifted for another soul are powerful in helping us to feel the connectedness of all living things. There is great power in prayer.

May I pray for you? If you have a prayer request, please leave it in the comments below. You may post anonymously if you would like to. Thank you for the honor of praying for you.