A monthly newsletter to support and inspire your #HeartspokenLife. April's theme is “New Growth.” [Reading time under 5 minutes].
April 15, 2019
What's going on at Riverwood
I hope you're paying attention to the daily changes as spring arrives in your part of the world. In just two days of warm weather, spring is bursting forth in all its glorious extravagance here. The forsythia is beginning to fade, but new this month are the pear trees, lilacs, and more blooming bulbs every day. I saw my first hyacinth in a flowerbed at church last week, and the beloved Virginia Bluebells are a riot of bloom along the riverbank (photo, right). Much to my husband's dismay, the grass seems to be growing as we watch, so he had to start mowing this past week.
The bird feeders have been emptied, cleaned, and put away until it's cold enough next fall for the bears to be in hibernation (hopefully). But I've taken a chance on putting out hummingbird feeders. My heart soared when I saw our first tiny Ruby-Throated Hummingbird on my birthday yesterday, so we will enjoy their beautiful company until it's time for their fall migration back south again.
What's going on in your part of the world? Send me a photo and I'll post it to the Heartspoken Facebook page.
✧ NORTH—Faith: Spiritual growth is not about striving
I must be hardcore untrainable, because I seem to have to learn the same lessons over and over. One lesson I've run smack dab into again recently is that spiritual growth—that elusive goal we all strive for—should not be about striving at all.
Striving means doing more, worrying more, running around without a roadmap…and often it's also about feeling inadequate because we're not wherever we think we should be. That is not God's plan for us!
More often than not, I've found, spiritual growth is about letting go, abiding, and creating sacred space in which God can meet me and nourish me and heal me. One way I've tried to do this recently is through contemplative prayer. If you love analogies the way I do, let me suggest that the path to spiritual growth is about placing yourself on the potter's wheel and just staying there while the Master Potter shapes you. Or it's about picking yourself up by the scruff of the neck like a wiggly puppy and placing yourself back on the newspapers your owner has put out for you. Or it's about gently guiding yourself back into God's everlasting arms when you, as a squirming child, have twisted away in pursuit of some shiny new object.
As you're cultivating space for God's spiritual seeds to grow in you, remember this beautiful message which sits right beside my computer to remind me of this lesson every single day.
✧ SOUTH—Connection: Do you wish you could read faster?
Reading is such an incredible portal that connects us to knowledge, places, experiences, and emotions we would otherwise miss. Reading helps us grow intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally as we learn from the authors (nonfiction) and characters (fiction) in our reading life. If I live to be 100, I'll never have enough time to read everything I'd like to read, but this hunger for reading is a good thing — it keeps our minds and hearts engaged.
So, naturally, I was fascinated when I read an article title called “A speed reader shares 3 tricks to help anyone read faster” by Mary Halton. While I don't think your goal should just be speed, I think you'll find this post helpful for improving the quality of your reading too.
✧ EAST—Self-Awareness: Are you moving enough?
We all have heard that sitting is the new smoking, but there's some good news for couch potatoes: “What 30 minutes of daily activity does for those who sit a lot.” Here's an amazing quote from the article: “For those who get the least amount of physical activity, replacing a half hour of sitting time with physical activity was associated with up to a nearly 50 percent reduction in mortality.” Less physical activity lowered that percent, but wouldn't you be willing to get up and move more often for even 20% increase in mortality? That's a pretty good return for minimal effort if you ask me.
One way I've taken action after reading this article is to incorporate a simple 5 to 7-minute action into my morning routine. Right after I prepare my coffee-maker to brew a pot of coffee, I drink a full glass of water and then do leg stretches and leg lifts, leaning against my kitchen sink — a 30-second stretch and 20 lifts for each leg. Then I grab my 8-lb hand weight and do 20 curls for each arm. That's not enough exercise, of course, but by doing this without fail, I at least know that no matter what else the day holds, I've moved my body a little. Do you have any tricks to share about how to get more movement into your life?
✧ WEST—Nature: The lesson from my apple and pear trees
From singer/songwriter Carrie Newcomer, I snatched the word extravagance when it comes to Spring's beauty and showiness. It seems that every bit of energy in the natural world is being poured into the rapidly-changing new growth all around. Surely this can't be an efficient way for Nature to work, yet I know it has its purpose — the beauty of flowers and blossoms attracts the pollinators and the pollinators ensure the perpetuation of new life.
Even my old and dying apple tree has some buds bursting forth with its exquisitely delicate pink and white blossoms. The ancient pear tree at the curve of our driveway has such a big hole in the trunk, I can see through it, yet the white blossoms erupting from the branches are so prolific I can hear the hum of hundreds of honeybees as they flit from blossom to blossom gathering nectar.
This sends an important message to me as I turned 69 this month — even old roots and trunks can send forth new growth! God can use us to display His glory wherever we are in life.
What I'm loving right now: “One Great Book” podcast
Anne Bogel, host for the “What Should I Read Next” podcast, has a new weekly podcast called “One Great Book” that I absolutely love. It's short (usually under ten minutes) and each week, Anne pulls one book off her bookshelf and talks about why it's worth our time reading it. She has such a gift for making a book irresistible that my To Be Read (TBR) stack is growing at an unsustainable rate, but if you want some great ideas for your next book club selection, this is a great place to start. There have only been four episodes to date:
1. The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel (I'm reading this now and it's a great escape book.
2. Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman – a book about books for book lovers
You can listen to this podcast from your desktop computer or from your cell phone or iPad via your favorite podcast app.
Cherry Tomato Salsa/Salad
We've been trying to use fresher ingredients in our meals, and I've adapted this one for Cherry Tomato Salsa/Salad and found it not only delicious but very forgiving when I'm in a hurry and throw ingredients together without measuring. I've posted the recipe HERE. Please share your favorite recipe on the Heartspoken Facebook page.
Did you miss any of these recent posts on my Heartspoken blog?
Blast Yourself Out of Winter's Black Hole With Some Spring Cleaning – Don't let yourself stay stuck in winter's grip, either physically or spiritually.
Book Review: On The Brink Of Everything by Parker J. Palmer – With a subtitle of “Grace, Gravity, and Growing Old,” of course I loved this book by my online mentor and beloved author. His wisdom transcends age, though, so consider reading this at any age.
The National Park System: America's Hidden Treasure — it's time to get outdoors and take advantage of the amazing resource we have in our national parks. I've posted some of this information before, but this includes updated information and a new guide.
March 2019 Faithful Writers Toolkit – I shared my recent experience with contemplative prayer as well as a new tip and new resource for writers of all kinds.
A Heartspoken Moment: Remember The One Minute Rule – This is the third in a monthly series of short, actionable reminders for those who aspire to unlock the #HeartspokenLife.
Let The Spirit of St. Patrick Feed Your Soul – Of course we celebrated St. Patrick's Day…this year with a special prayer and some inspiring music from Celtic Thunder and Paul Byrom.
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“Oh, the lovely fickleness of an April day!”
~W. H. Gibson
“A gush of bird-song, a patter of dew, A cloud, and a rainbow's warning,
Suddenly sunshine and perfect blue– An April day in the morning.
~ Harriet Prescott Spofford
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See you in May when our focus will be “Bloom where you're planted.”
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