Winter-weary warriors, wait no more!

It has always been difficult for me to choose a favorite season. I can easily narrow my list down to four finalists, but then I’m pretty much stumped.

Today though, I’m rather certain I like spring best, particularly after a winter as long as we’ve had in Northern Virginia. (Yes, I can hear my New England family saying, “Winter? We’ll show you winter!” All I can say is that for some reason, I’m not pining as much as usual to visit you.)

Across most of the nation, winter receded like an ocean tide this year, ebbing and advancing. With each advance we received yet another blanket of snow, another no-school day, another bring-in-more-wood-for-the-fireplace night, another too-cold-to-leave-the-bed morning.

We’re weary, and some of us are even a bit gloomy. It’s been that kind of winter. But now we’re finally stumbling out of our homes, still dazed and a little hibernation-groggy, and we can see hope seeping up through the tired, cold land that even a week ago seemed to threaten to never thaw. It’s in the air.

Tulips

They’re coming. I don’t think they’ll be blue, but they’re coming.

The trees are still bare, for the most part. Still we know that those tiny, tight buds at the end of every branch are pieces of beauty and new life preparing to burst forth. And just below the surface of the damp ground, millions of eager daffodils, crocuses, and lilies are trembling with anticipation, waiting for the warm sun to call them upward. It’s coming.

There’s something precious about watching nature re-awaken every year. It melts the icy memories until we can barely recall running outside in jammies to warm the frozen car, or sliding over icy patches, hands clutching wildly for something stable, or re-shoveling that mound of white stacked against the mailbox by midnight plow trucks.

Instead, we remember the frogs and crickets who will be back soon to sing their evening serenades, and the mockingbirds and finches who will post themselves high in the trees, where the acoustics will do them justice. And hummingbirds, and butterflies. (And yellowjackets & wasps, but we’re ignoring them for now.)

Spring is a time to plant and wait, knowing good things are coming. Spring also reminds us about second, third and fourth chances, or however many we need. The yard is a clean slate. Squirrels haven’t stolen this year’s crop of tomatoes, we haven’t lost the grass to dandelions, and the holly bush we thought for sure had been trimmed back too far is showing signs of life. Life is all around us.

For those of you who think you can’t make it one more day, trust me, you can. Spring reminds us that all things can be made new—even people. Toss off that cloak of weariness and delight in every good thing. Allow yourself to take joy in the anticipation. Breathe deeply, and notice anew the gift that is spring.

Because in springtime, anything is possible.

See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. — Song of Solomon 2:11-12

————————–

Christmas year-round: March

I’m a little behind with my March Christmas idea because of family concerns, but it’s not too late to do a little something. In fact, let’s deck the halls, you know, with spring—Eggs, chicks, flowers and bunnies! It’s just the ticket for driving winter out for good…or at least for eight more months.

Easter decorations

A study in Easter’s disproportionate nature

And the Greatest is Love…

I haven’t been able to blog lately because the words just haven’t been there. My thoughts are across the country with family in Sacramento, and I’m having trouble stringing together meaningful words. It’s an unusual situation for me, considering words usually spring from my heart and my funny bone at the slightest poke.

Yet, as I wait for news, five powerful words circle my heart. They have become the only words that matter to me lately, and as I ponder them I realize they represent the only concepts that have mattered to millions of people throughout the generations.

The first two words are “friends and family.” When life is stripped to the bare minimum, friends and family are still there. When we’re no longer concerned about finances, housekeeping, physical fitness, status, retirement, or earthly belongings, we look at those around us and realize friends and family are all that matter.

The next three are also grouped together, and not just in an Alan Jackson song. They are “faith, hope, and love.” I’ve wondered through the years how anyone can claim that, of the three, love is greatest, but I think it’s sinking in this week.

Faith is an essential element. We all put our faith in something, whether in God’s mercy and providence or in our own ability to keep our lives on track. The strength of our faith builds or erodes as we receive evidence of its trustworthiness.

Hope sustains us. It is a desire we harbor deep inside that our faith is well placed. For those who have put their faith in God, hope keeps us from despair in troubled times and makes it possible for us to experience what the Bible refers to as “a peace that passes all understanding.”

But love, well now, that’s a grand concept, is it not? Love can be given, received, taught, revealed, demonstrated, and treasured. Love can heal, comfort, encourage, inspire, and even save someone’s life. Love is the answer. Love makes the world go around. Love is alive. In fact, I can go on listing music titles for pages and never hit them all.

Yet, none of that tells me why love is the greatest of the three, so here’s my best shot at it:

Willa

Love

One day, you see, although they will endure until the end of time, one day there will no longer be a need for faith or hope. Only love. Regardless of what you believe or hope is keeping this world on its axis, there can only be one truth. I place all my faith in God’s promise that the truth is He is Love.

God is love, and God is eternal, so love is eternal.

Willa, your family loves you, and that’s a truth for all eternity.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” — 1 Corinthians 13:13

Saluting the Grammar Police…Heroes from a Whole Nother Era

Egg's and Chicken's

Last year’s sign (thanks Albert). Still funny, in a sad sort of way…

I just can’t let National Grammar Day go by without sending a shout out to all my red-pen-hearted peeps out there who are struggling mightily…to find the page-sized “X” option in the track changes menu so they can truly express their preferred course of action.

Sorry guys, but that type of editor satisfaction has become a thing of the past. Sadly, it appears the well-written sentence is fading as well.

We just don’t seem to pay attention to our words as much as we used to. I recently came across a briefing slide that claims, “The average American consumes more than 400 Africans,” and a parking lot sign warning that, “Violators will be towed and find $50.”

Words are losing their identity faster than department store credit card customers. Nouns are verbing (as in, “I don’t want to brain today” and “trending this week”), and verbs are nouning (“The accomplishment resulted in a pay increase.”) Worse still, we’re getting lazy with real words. Why do newscasters insist on using the terms, “terror plot” and “War on Terror,” when we’re actually fighting terrorists and terrorism?

Our dictionary writers are caving. Find a dictionary less than 5 years old and look up “nother,” as in, “that’s a whole nother story.” It’s in there.

The AP Style book is caving. Thanks to the wonderful world of advertising, the word “over” is now an acceptable substitute for “more than” and it’s okay to start a sentence “Hopefully” without a supporting pronoun. (It’s also okay to write “ok” but I can’t make my fingers do that.) The Chicago Manual of Style may be caving, but it’s too big so I don’t use it. (I was going to tell you about Super-editor Christina here because she is the only person I know who has cracked that tome open, but I can’t exactly say she uses it—she has it memorized.)

Fat free milk

It may be fat, but it’s also free!

Why are we taking our cues from the advertising world anyway? These are the same people who gave Victoria Secret the, “You’ve never seen body’s like this!” campaign, and had Michael Jordan touting the Lay Flat Collar! Not the sharpest tools in the shed, if you know what I mean.

Just look at the printed world around us. We live in a country where the milk we drink is not only fat, but also free. And, if that doesn’t satisfy, we can swap our milk for some orange juice toted as “the most tastiest.”

Now, before you jump on my blogwagon, yes, I understand that language evolves. One day we’ll need a dictionary to remember how to use “hash tag” as a noun and to learn the purpose of a selfie stick. However, it’s not the new words that add to my life’s uhtceare (There, find your own dictionary!); it’s the wrongly used words, and the wrongly punctuated words.

So, if you’re in the writing business, hug an editor today.  You’ve probably been saved at least once by that red pen tracked change luminary. If you’re an editor, dry you’re “tears” and take a heart. Sadly, the very existance of such a day ensures you’ll halve employment for as long as your want it.