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Our company offers a wonderful perk we like to call “summer hours.” Yes, I know it isn’t summer. It isn’t even spring. But the origins of the practice started a long time ago when, beginning the week of Memorial Day, the company leadership allowed employees to come into the office at 7:30 each morning, Monday through Friday, and with no lunch break on Friday, everyone could leave at 1. The program only ran until the week prior to Labor Day – thus the name “summer hours.”

A few years ago the company decided to extend the dates from Daylight Saving Time start to end (about March to early November). Employees are ecstatic with the early out and the leadership is happy (because we’re working the same amount of hours). Win-win.

Our company president gave us an early start to our “summer hours” this week…maybe because it’s been an awful winter, maybe because spring seems so far down the road…maybe because he’s just a nice guy (he is!). So we’ve been arriving at the office at 7:30 each morning…and Wednesday started my no coffee thing. Yes – I’m dragging. Seriously dragging today. But it’s an early out Friday so I can make it.

Spring_forwardI hope you have something you’re really looking forward to as much as we’re all looking forward to 1 p.m. Happy Friday!

P.S. – Don’t forget to turn your clocks ahead this weekend – otherwise you’ll be seriously late for church. And that’s embarrassing.

 

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This beautiful day gives me energy to take on some spring cleaning. After a long winter, I love to open up the windows, let in the beautiful sunshine and fresh air and get rid of the mustiness of a closed up house. Time to turn off the furnace – though in Iowa I know that’s a day-by-day, sometimes hour-to-hour, decision. There are three specific areas I try to take care of during my spring cleaning efforts.

(1)    Closets.

I don’t know how it happens, but my closets fill up with lots of junk over the winter. Sweaters, coats and boots take up more room than tank tops and sandals. My hall closet seems to bulge with the accumulation of hats, mittens, scarfs, and sweatshirts along with items no one knew what else to do with except shove it in and quickly shut the door. For you old radio show aficionados, it’s like Fibber McGee’s closet. So I like to go through each item, determine whether it’s worth keeping, and if not, it goes to Goodwill or the trash. We took 3 large trash bags today and I’ll have more as the spring progresses

(2)    Corners.

Our home does not have an abundance of natural light so we rely on lamps for most of our illumination during the winter. As a result, we don’t always take time to examine closely the corners of our rooms. When spring’s light shines in, those cobwebs show up big! Time for a little broom action to rid us of those little creepy-crawly homes.

(3)    Windows.

My least favorite area to clean but probably the one that needs it the most is my windows. We have a nature trail and cement manufacturer behind our house so I could clean my windows one day and they’d be just as dirty the next. So I don’t. I just get overwhelmed with the enormity of the task and don’t do anything at all. Guess what? My windows are filthy, especially the back ones. I finally tackle the project in the spring and of course, it’s amazing what a little soap, water and elbow grease can accomplish. The hardest part is getting started. 

'It must be Spring. I can't see out the window.'

‘It must be Spring. I can’t see out the window.’

I need to do spring cleaning in my spiritual house too. I don’t know about you, but I allow the dullness and routine of life to keep me from the regular maintenance we all need to do on our hearts. So how do the three cleaning areas in my house translate spiritually?

(1)    We all have junky attitudes that accumulate if we aren’t diligent about keeping our spiritual closets clean. Where God intends us to “store” our spiritual gifts and talents, we sometimes keep our unforgiveness, greed, selfishness and pride. We hide it away from prying eyes, but it’s still there. Now is a great opportunity to clean out those closets of your “old” self and fill it with God’s blessings of grace and favor.

(2)    I don’t think I’m the only one who needs to closely examine the corners of my heart. Old habits tend to grow and spread without the illumination of God’s love. Time to take the broom of God’s Word and sweep away the webs of deceit and lies. Allow the Holy Spirit to show you what needs to be cleaned up. He’s just waiting to be the “merry maid” in your cleaning adventure!

(3)    Finally, the windows of my soul need regular maintenance. The dust and dirt adhere so strongly if I don’t scrub them clean on a regular basis. It’s no fun. Who wants to see just how dirty you get throughout a season of life? But it needs to be done and not just once. We need to work out our salvation or do what’s necessary to keep ourselves saved. That means keeping those windows clean by continually being washed by God’s Word, praying (even when you don’t feel like it), forgiving those who’ve hurt you, serving those in need and allowing the bright light of God’s love to shine out from those beautiful windows.

So tackle that spring cleaning soon – both physically and spiritually. What a great way to begin a new season – uncluttered, clean and shiny!

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Spring always means I start thinking about my dream of a perfect lawn, flowering plants and bushes, and an abundant garden with luscious vegetables. But it’s really only a dream. I don’t have enough determination and know-how to make it actually happen. Besides the lack of knowledge and willingness to work, I’ve got an insidious enemy in my lawn. His name is Charlie. Creeping Charlie.

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Creeping Charlie is a ground ivy but that doesn’t really cover all you need to know. According to www.gardeningknowhow.com “the creeping Charlie plant is rivaled only by dandelions in terms of difficulty to get rid of and control.” But they’ve given me hope. It seems all I need to know are a few tips and tricks to “beat this annoying lawn invader.” First I have to identify it by studying its appearance. Then I can stop it from thriving by working to create a healthy lawn. Most recommend using a dicamba-based herbicide. When creeping Charlie hits your flowerbeds, you’ll need to actually use your hands to pull it out or try a smothering technique. Some sources recommend using Borax, but that can kill your other plants too, so be cautious.

If you’ve made it this far in the blog, you’ll be asking yourself, “What does this have to do with giving up something for Lent?” I’m glad you asked. Today’s “giving up” involves bitterness and there is no better analogy than my little plant friend Charlie. Like that ground ivy, bitterness often takes root in an unhealthy situation and grows alone untouched until it has taken over your life. Bitterness is tough to get rid. Determination alone won’t do it. You’ve got to get your life healthy, like I must get my lawn healthy, to truly stop bitterness from growing. The bitterness seed is often planted by an action done against you, something that hurt or offended you. But then you watered it with constantly thinking about, or talking about it with others. Now that bitterness ivy grows and grows, often unchecked until it has taken over the lawn of your life.

Want to get rid of Creeping Bitterness? Use the same techniques as ridding your lawn of Charlie. First you need to identify the condition in your life. Recognize you have this little bugger and then decide to work hard to stop it from spreading. Get your life healthy in other ways – feeding it with the Word of God, watering it with consistent prayer, fertilizing it by spending time in the presence of God. The very best method of killing bitterness is applying a healthy dose of forgiveness periodically. Forgiveness will kill a lot of nasty plants which want to attach themselves to your life. And the great news, forgiveness won’t kill anything good in your life…actually forgiveness works to only kill the crud and causes the good things to thrive. Maybe bitterness has invaded your family relationships already. Like getting rid of Charlie in your flowerbeds, you may actually have to get your hands dirty pulling out each bitterness plant, one by one. It’s worth it. Nothing flourishes like weed-free flower beds or bitterness-free family relationships

It’s spring so let’s get down to business and create a beautiful life by ridding yourself of Creeping Bitterness.

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