Perception and Breathing New Life

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February has always been a month of contrasts for me. The magic of the first snowfall is long gone, and the once flourishing garden is a tangle of gray, dormant branches and stems. And that lingering fatigue from the latest flu strain is getting old. On the other hand, it’s time for seed catalogs, late winter pruning, and first glimpses of crocuses. I think of my Star Word of the year, “perception,” and how one scene can trigger contrasting emotions — depending on one’s perception.

Here in Boise, the temperature has been in the 60s for the past few days, so my husband John and I picked up the pruning shears and headed for the patio and garden. Later, my mom and I savored the sunlight in our front yard. I’ve seen enough winters to know that spring always returns, but I admit I am relieved when I see those first shoots emerge in late winter.

 

“While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” Genesis 8:22

As we approach Lent and then Easter, I am keenly aware of God’s fierce and renewing love for His creation: a love that repeatedly breathes new life into our cloudy, icy mornings, and refuses to give up on any of us. It’s a love so fierce that it will lay down its life to give new life. A love that says “I forgive you” before it hears the words “I’m sorry.” A love that says “I love you where you are right now, because I can see past the dry, dead brambles and anticipate tender new growth.”

“Where man sees but withered leaves,
God sees sweet flowers growing.”
~Albert Laighton

I pray for sharpened perception as the Creator breathes new life into our dreams. What new perspective will He show us in a cherished but stale goal? What refreshed perception will we have of ourselves? What new beginnings will he create — as only He can create — out of what looks like ashes?

I hope that wherever you are, whatever your circumstances at this moment, that you sense the promise of renewal and rebirth in the coming seasons!

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Perception: Who Says I Can’t Have Two Words for 2015?

Perception: My Star Word for 2015
Perception: My Star Word for 2015

Since we moved into our new home in Boise, Idaho last March, so many things have been new. I was introduced to a lovely new tradition at church this Sunday, as we celebrated the Epiphany, or the day that the Magi visited the Christ child.

After we received communion this Sunday, we each received a Star Word for the year 2015. As I turned over the star-shaped paper, I read my word: perception. In my previous blog post, I wrote about my focus on the word “mercy” for 2015. As a lover of words, I will gladly ponder, pray and learn from my Star Word, too!

Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. Isaiah 64:4

At first glance, the word “perception” brings to my mind the age-old question, “do you perceive the glass as half empty or half full?”

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Merriam Webster tells us that perception is

  • the way you think about or understand someone or something
  • the ability to understand or notice something easily
  • the way that you notice or understand something using one of your senses

To perceive can also mean to discern, realize, recognize. The word “recognize” reminds me of the walk to Emmaus after the crucifixion, when the disciples did not realize that the stranger who was walking with them was the risen Jesus.

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. Luke 24:13 (NIV)

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, Ephesians 1:18 (NIV)

Will 2015 be a year of sharpened perception for me? Will it open the eyes of my heart and bring the word mercy into clearer focus? Will I see Jesus in places I didn’t expect to see Him?

Mercy and perception: so I’m starting the new year with two powerful words. Stay tuned to see what these words teach me this year!