Spring Lambs

Recently I had someone ask me about the significance of bunnies during Easter week. The honest answer: absolutely nothing. I suppose we can chat about the whole idea of spring, new life, fertility, birth…blah blah. Unfortunately, chocolate isn’t mentioned in the Bible, as far as I know. So, I don’t know how it got associated with the most significant holiday of the Christian movement. However, it did get me a’ musing about another iconic Easter decoration: Spring Lambs.

Google to the rescue again. Spring lambing is not as glamorous as I thought. Turns out, it’s all about the slaughter. If your timing is right, spring lambs are ready to go at barely four months old. You’ve spent little time in raising them, so little cost to the farmers. These babes are barely weaned and then out to fresh spring pasture when all the getting is good –so the meat is tender and ideal for eating. Spring lambs can be sold cheaply and effectively. So, Easter shanks it is. So much for cute little spring flower crowns and meadow frolics.

Sorry for the slightly morbid thought process here, but this is the mood today. Death is a significant part of life. Even a young life. It saddens me to hear about school shootings, violent outbursts and clashes on the transit systems. Politics is so full of, pardon the pun, cutthroat tactics and sick games people play, and therefore upsets my ideological theories of how the world should be. Silence of the Lambs, indeed.

Why? Why, I question? Perhaps it’s my lack of sleep today, perhaps it’s my being constantly bombarded with sickening news, perhaps, it’s simply wishing for brighter days ahead. Less dark. Less lifelessness and a craving for more life-fullness. Maybe this is why we want chocolate and bright pastels and fluffy lambs and bunny rabbits and chicks at Easter — because the harsh reality is: Easter is a celebration of death.

How do you describe that to one who has never heard? Yes, we rejoice in a brutal death where the crowd frenzy took a nasty turn and chose a hardened murderer over innocence. We hold memorials and mark dates for scourging, torture and brutality. It just doesn’t sound right. And in some sense, it’s not. Still, how do we describe it? You can’t. Faith isn’t a clear picture. It’s mottled and deeply felt somewhere in our souls. When you get it, you get it. Oh, when you get it!

I’m struggling to share with my friends the reality of my faith. Some days, I just want to shake them and say “You need Jesus!” That doesn’t seem effective either. And so, I must bring them to the dining table and let them taste for themselves the tenderness of a spring lamb. To savour the sweetness of fresh herbs, fragrant and organic. True, there must be death to bring this new life. And such is the joy of Easter. And when you get it, you get it. Have you got it, my friend?

Spring Planting

Happy Spring! It certainly doesn’t feel like it around here – with sub-zero temperatures and five feet of snow on the lawn, but the calendar tells us Spring has arrived!

By now we should have started some seeds indoors… but it hasn’t happened yet. The cold weather and my poor results from attempts last year have deterred me from being adventurous with my seed selections this year. Buying small plants and seedlings is easier. Let the professionals start the hard and delicate part of planting seeds. Then, I will just carry on from there. I don’t have a hothouse for tomatoes or peppers. My soil is not ideal for some of the more particular crops. And I’m too impatient for Lufas or teeny seeds like daisies and other flowers. I’m excited to try – last year we geared up in February for the first fruits. Failure makes me cautious. You’ve heard me say that growing is God’s miracle, we just plant the seed! I should just leave Him to His job.

Photo by Nikola Jovanovic on Unsplash

I watched a cute little YouTube clip from a kid’s object lesson on this topic. I love how Nature is so good at teaching even the most straightforward lessons. Jesus used them often to help His students learn. I’ll link the video in case you need a Sunday school lesson…

Seeds are dormant, hard little creatures that sit around waiting to die… protectors the “Bible mom” calls them. Keeping everything safe until just the right time at just the right moment to bloom, explode and display all their blessings. Plants and seedlings, on the other hand, are vulnerable and out there. They start out delicate. And if they get good care… well, they can become the mighty oak!

Unfortunately, last year my seedlings didn’t grow well. I let the protectors down and the producers just didn’t catch and flourish into the big plants they were intended to be. The few my mom got did pretty well at her house… she got some fruit. I guess her conditions were better.

And so it is with us. We need to be in the right conditions to flourish and grow. We need to be in a good church body with good teaching. We need to be mentored, encouraged and coaxed to grow. We need to feel confident enough to break down that hard protective shell of seed and sprout into seedlings and vulnerable plants. We need to be watered and fed and protected from the outside when we lose our shells.

And we need to be that protector for others. Those of us that are parents are all too familiar with this. We raise our kids, giving them all the attention and allowances we can. Eventually, they sprout and produce their own fruit. (Eek… am I heading to grandma zone??) But it’s true! Time waits for no one. We have limited chances to do our best. Still… it’s never too late! Even sickly seedlings can pick up with a bit of sunlight, a little water and some good food. They may never be the strongest in the garden, but the fruit is possible!

Photo via Jenni Haikonen

So let’s learn from spring buds, shall we? Encourage. Help grow. Seek it for yourself. Plant yourself in good soil. Break down your hard seed shell and bloom!

Here’s that kid’s video clip. May have to look up the “Bible Mom” again. Seems like a nice lady! 🙂 Bible Mom Lesson

I Want Some Ice Cream!

Ever want something so bad you wept over it? It consumes you. It envelops your thinking, your time, your energy, and sometimes your money. Guilty pleasures are often this way. They are not needs or necessities. They are just something you want so bad you ache for it. Like a kid in an ice cream store. Okay, like me in an ice cream store! You can taste it. You dream about it. You lose sleep over it. You plan and plead and plot.

Sometimes you get that decadent treat, all drippy and gooey, and after your first bite… brain freeze. Often, our strongest desires don’t end up being as tasty as they look. You are disappointed. Our brain has built up this desire so much that we can’t even live up to the potential we set for ourselves. Or others. Am I alone here? Surely not.

Photo by Dana DeVolk on Unsplash

I’ve been reading about Hannah this week. Her desire for baby Samuel quickly took over. In fact, Eli thought she was a full-on drunk in the middle of the day. Crazy woman. Consumed. Even her hubby thought she was “overreacting” and getting too obsessed. “Am I not of more worth to you than ten sons?” Those poor husbands. They try and fix things by helping. Sometimes we are more than they can handle. “Do what you think is best, dear.” That is all they can say.

I’m learning a hard lesson from Hannah. She gave up her most prized possession after finally getting it! Now, I’ve made this deal with God before. I promise I will use this or that for your ministry, Lord. If you only do this for me, I’ll “make it up to you”. Honestly, you and I both know that’s stinkin’ hard. Who wants to share the perfect ice cream cone? Hannah not only shared, but she also gave it away. With joy.

Hannah prayed:

I’m bursting with God-news!
    I’m walking on air.
I’m laughing at my rivals.
    I’m dancing my salvation.

2-5 Nothing and no one is holy like God,
    no rock mountain like our God.
Don’t dare talk pretentiously—
    not a word of boasting, ever!
For God knows what’s going on.
    He takes the measure of everything that happens.
The weapons of the strong are smashed to pieces,
    while the weak are infused with fresh strength.
The well-fed are out begging in the streets for crusts,
    while the hungry are getting second helpings.
The barren woman has a houseful of children,
    while the mother of many is bereft.

6-10 God brings death and God brings life,
    brings down to the grave and raises up.
God brings poverty and God brings wealth;
    he lowers, he also lifts up.
He puts poor people on their feet again;
    he rekindles burned-out lives with fresh hope,
Restoring dignity and respect to their lives—
    a place in the sun!
For the very structures of earth are God’s;
    he has laid out his operations on a firm foundation.
He protectively cares for his faithful friends, step by step,
    but leaves the wicked to stumble in the dark.
    No one makes it in this life by sheer muscle!
God’s enemies will be blasted out of the sky,
    crashed in a heap and burned.
God will set things right all over the earth,
    he’ll give strength to his king,
    he’ll set his anointed on top of the world!

11 Elkanah went home to Ramah. The boy stayed and served God in the company of Eli the priest.

1 Samuel 2 (Msg)
Photo via Katia G. Photo B.C. 2018

Oh beloveds, I am not there yet. Let’s encourage one another to be more like Hannah. Personally, I’ve still got ice cream dripping down my cheeks.