Posted on Leave a comment

March: A Month of Change

Peonies from my garden, May 2018 [et_pb_section fb_built=”1″ _builder_version=”3.19.15″][et_pb_row _builder_version=”3.19.15″][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”3.19.15″][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.19.15″]

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

In Ohio, many winters are harsh and spill over long into spring. As I write, it is snowing outside — the perfect type of day for a writer. No matter if it is sunny and warming and beginning to feel like spring, or if it is snowing out, March is a month of change. 

March, Month of Change

Many years ago, I read a quote to the effect of Even if we live to be 100 year old, we will have experienced Spring only 100 times. I have written about that quote here. 

I’m a person who loves to witness the miracle of Spring. I marvel at the green shoots poking through the barren earth in March, and I anticipate the flowers that will blossom from the stems in a month or two. I love Spring.

 

Peonies from my garden, May 2018

Peonies from my garden, May 2018

Change in Blog Frequency

Some may have noticed that for the months of January and February 2019, I posted daily blogs, which republished content from the book I wrote in 2007. It was an effort from the heart.

I personally read brief thoughts and devotions each day, from the Bible.com app and from other thinkers like Seth Godin. Both impact my train of thought for the day. I like to spend time to stretch and grow and be inspired to live my best.

The effort in publishing the daily inspirations from my book published in 2007 by Tyndale House was a success. But I have also learned something else during the past two months. The large amount of effort needed to sustain the daily blog is beyond what I am capable of sustaining. I spend much time and energy at my work, at being a mom and a friend, and have to invest myself carefully. This is why I am scaling back.

I will continue to occasionally publish photographs of travels and things that inspire me, and will share them here. And with that, I want to say thank you for your interest, reading, and thoughtful words you’ve shared with me.

Now, to enjoy the season upon us, of change, of miracles, of rebirth. To enjoying one of those 100 springs!

Jennifer

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]
Posted on 4 Comments

35 Ways I’m Finding Joy This Spring

Lilacs in bloom

Here in Ohio, Spring has been hard to find. Winter kept its grasp on the weather and continued snowing up until the last week of April. It’s difficult to feel like winter will ever end on years like this one. And yet, spring is indeed arriving, even if it is a few weeks late. Now, the flowers are blooming, undeterred. The lilacs (photo below) caught me off guard — I hadn’t expected them. But despite the adverse weather, whether it’s in our natural worlds, or in our lives, difficulties do pass, and color does return to our worlds. We just have to hang on. Tight, sometimes. This spring, I am excited for the color. Looking for the joys also helps me to see them, especially when I slow down. Finding joy is one of the most important things we can do.

“Let your joy be in your journey—not in some distant goal.” —Tim Cook

Here, a few ways I’m finding joy this spring:

  1. a mason jar brimming with Lilacs from the yard Lilacs in bloom
  2. the sound of songbirds waking the dawn
  3. a table-full of family
  4. cappuccinos in the morning
  5. candlelight
  6. a sunroof open kind of day
  7. finding a penny and making a wish
  8. Lindt chocolates by the bag-full
  9. fresh baked cookies
  10. a simple, sincere thank you
  11. roadtrips
  12. a week with no snow
  13. spring florals and a fragrant breeze
  14. a smile ear-to-ear
  15. a glass of rose
  16. a hug from a long-time friend
  17. singing along in the car
  18. sandals and sunshine
  19. picnic in the park
  20. spotting my first hummingbird of the season!
  21. high-fives to a job well done
  22. unexpected opportunities
  23. spicy guacamole
  24. a low full moon
  25. an American flag waving in the breeze
  26. scent of cut grass
  27. hikes through the forest
  28. peonies bursting into bloom
  29. the blue of a crisp spring sky and hydrangeas in bloom
  30. the purr of a kitten
  31. clean scent of air after a hard rain
  32. a shelf full of books ready to read
  33. clean sheets, a hot bath, and an evening to soak it in
  34. music playing, and dancing follows
  35. laughter. Till your sides hurt and your heart feels whole and happy

The truth is this spring has been busy–far too busy, in my opinion. But the good news is when the days slow down and I have time to breathe again, finding joy comes more easily. The simple things spill into the moments and fill my heart again.

“Joy is the holy fire that keeps our purpose warm and our intelligence aglow.” —Helen Keller

My favorite time of year is when the grass greens, the skies clear to pure blue, and the flowers burst into bloom. The world is a riot of color, if we look for it. If I am open to the joys, they pile up and my thankfulness meter returns to the right place. All is well with the world.

Please share the joys you find that bring light to your spring days. I continue to capture photos of spring on Instagram under the hashtag #100Springs. Wishing you a wonderful spring day!

Posted on Leave a comment

100 Times to Experience Spring

Peonies from my garden

“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”…
“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…” – Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

Today I am ready for the reawakening of Spring. It snowed today for hours with white-out conditions. By this time in the year, I am ready for the darkness of winter to pass and the light and color of spring to come. I’m ready for a new season.

Spring / Winter in Ohio today

Spring shakes me up inside because of the newness of it all, the rebirth. The reawakening of the world does something to me deeply. When autumn passes to winter, I mourn the brown sticks and rustling dead leaves. And now, after months of dead and dark, I yearn for renewal. The best way to do that is to really experience spring.

I once heard this: “If we live to be 100 years old, we will have only experienced Spring 100 times”

We can only experience Spring if we’re paying attention.

That quote always brings me back to this season with wide eyes. In only weeks, I’ll be looking out at flowers and hummingbirds and butterflies. By the way the deadened world looks now, it seems impossible. But it will come. Something bigger is at work, right before our eyes. Spring.

100 Times to Experience Spring | #100Springs

My life always fills up and brims over with busyness, so unless I am intentional I will miss this rebirth we call Spring. To help me remember to watch and be on the lookout for the miracle of Spring, I intend to do these 5 things as often as possible:

  1. Pause and look at the landscape, and notice what has changed from the day before.
  2. Take a walk through someplace wild—the backyard, or a park, or an open field. I love the fresh smells and popping colors floating on the breeze.
  3. Plant more flowers. I can’t wait for the peonies I planted four and five years ago to bloom. My modest garden now yields hundreds of peonies. I’m excited for flowers and color as Spring draws near.
  4. Cut bouquets to bring indoors. Tulips, daffodils, lily of the valley, peonies, iris … an endless parade of Spring beauties wait outside laden with fragrance to be enjoyed. And as I mentioned, I can’t wait for the peonies to come.
  5. Pull out the camera and capture a photo or two of a Wow moment—that moment when I see something new and its beauty takes my breath away. Somehow, capturing something through a lens makes the experience richer, into one that can be shared.

Peonies from my garden
Peonies from my garden

If you have a cell phone with a camera and have Instagram (my favorite photo-sharing app), take one photo a day–not a great one, but one photo of Spring in action that catches your eye, and share it there. I’m tagging my photos with #100Springs so that at the end of the season, we can look back at Spring as it came. If you tag your spring photos with #100Springs (no spaces), they’ll show up in the tag and we can view all of them together.

My account at Instagram is @jennifer___lyn. I look forward to you joining me!

Posted on 8 Comments

A Gardener’s Color Guide: 20 Favorite Garden Flowers

my former USA backyard gardens, colorful bliss

“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece” – Claude Monet

I love flowers. I always have, and probably always will. This year, I’m more excited than usual to get planting — I have a garden to plant, a blank slate. Before my family and I moved to Prague, my gardens at our former house overflowed with flowers. Now that we are back in the US and have a yard to plant again, I’m ready to work on it and turn it into a place like the photograph below.

June gardens at the peak of bloom
June gardens at the peak of bloom

Gardens, flowers, and nature have long been inspiration for poets, writers, and painters. None is more famous than Monet’s Water Lilies or Van Gogh’s Irises, great paintings of flowers and gardens as Muse. For me, a beautiful backyard garden is one of the gifts that never stops giving. With an investment of some work, time, and money, a backyard can become an accessible daily retreat.

June Gardens, seats for two
June Gardens, seats for two

I always forget how much I miss the colorful world of spring and summer until winter begins to fade and the world wakes up again. Ten days ago, it snowed 2″ at my house. This past weekend, the weather was gorgeous — sunny, 75*F. It beckoned. I bought a few annuals and planted my front step planters (dahlias for the first time), and replaced a few plants which faded over the winter (I did move a LOT of dirt to fix the flooded basement. It’s a wonder my whole flower garden didn’t die.). The color, the potential–all of it outside brings a certain kind of happiness.

Amsterdam Flower Markets Painting
Amsterdam Flower Markets Painting

Spring is my favorite time of year for its feast of color. Friends often ask what they should plant — following is my list of favorites, for their ability to come back year after year, and for the length of blooms during the season.

20 Favorite Garden Flowers

Will Goodwin Clematis
Will Goodwin Clematis

Purple Bearded Iris
Purple Bearded Iris

Penstemon, a hummingbird favorite
Penstemon, a hummingbird favorite

Echinacea
Echinacea

Gemini hybrid tea rose
Gemini hybrid tea rose

Peter Mayle rose
Peter Mayle rose

Inspector L Peony
Inspector L Peony

Peony
Peony

spider daylily
Daylily

Poet's Daffodil
Poet’s Daffodil

Becky Daisy
Becky Daisy

About Face Rose
About Face Rose

July gardens, with Pandora's Box daylily, Litrum, Becky daisy, and Russian Sage
My favorite combination: Pandora’s Box daylily, Lithrum, Becky daisy, and Russian Sage

A swath of daisies
Happy daisies

Endless Summer Hydrangea
Endless Summer Hydrangea

Hibiscus
Hibiscus

Jeanne La Joie climbing rose
Jeanne La Joie climbing rose

True Blue Delphinium
True Blue Delphinium

Nepeta (Catmint) and May Night Salvia, with a Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Nepeta (Catmint) and May Night Salvia, with a Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Can you think of any flowers I’ve missed? What are your favorite flowers to plant in your gardens? I’d love to hear what your favorites are … Happy planting for a beautiful spring and summer!

Posted on 4 Comments

Sunshine, Spring, and a Fresh Breath of Joy

Bleeding Hearts bouquet

“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”
― A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

Sunshine, Spring, and a Fresh Breath of Joy

One week ago, ferocious wind and sideways snow blew through the little corner of Ohio where I live. Here in Ohio, winter is dark, often overcast for weeks at a time. The weather has been this way this year — heavy skies with sometimes snow. There is no sea with its vast power, no mountains with their sheer grandeur. The sunrises and sunsets can be glorious when we see the sun, but winter means clouds. I sometimes (oftentimes?) wonder to myself why anyone would choose to live here. But then a taste of spring swoops in and saves me.

This past weekend was this girl’s dream, filled with golden sunshine — a divine kiss. It was just what I needed.

a hint of Spring
a hint of Spring

“The sun just touched the morning;
The morning, happy thing,
Supposed that he had come to dwell,
And life would be all spring.”
― Emily Dickinson

The coming weeks will certainly still be characteristic of Ohio winter — cold, gray, windy, oppressive — but soon sunshine will be the norm. Thank God for the taste of Spring, for the reminder that what is to come will be more beautiful and fragrant than we remember from last Spring, for the hope and joy that come with the change in seasons.

“Spring shows what God can do with a drab and dirty world.”
― Victor Kraft

Tulips, Redbud, and Narcissus bouquet
Tulips, Redbud, and Narcissus bouquet: the fragrance!

“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”…
“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”
― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

As I wrote on January 5, “Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you. (Walt Whitman)” This year, I’m focused on keeping my face angled up toward the sunshine, and these sunnier days certainly bring joy and warmth. Do they for you?

Have a great week, snowy, dark, sunny, or otherwise. Soon it will be spring!

Posted on 2 Comments

A Lasting Spring, in photos

Poet's Daffodil

“Sweet spring, full of sweet days and roses…” – Sir Alan Herbert

This past weekend, I took advantage of the warm hours of sunshine, slipped on my gardening gloves, and headed out into the gardens with the pruners. The remnant of last fall’s foliage, weathered and grayed and lifeless, lay strewn in mounds. After a few hours of whacking and pulling, I could see the new green leaves working themselves up from the thawing ground.

Though it’s a lot of work, there is nothing to me like getting down on the ground, working in the dirt. The smell of earth and soil is sharp, with the hint of something alive and growing. After many months of snow and freezing temperatures, I appreciate the hope of spring.

Something new is coming. For some reason, I feel like this spring will last.

Crocus: Delight
Crocus: Delight

Song: “Orpheus with his lute made trees” By William Shakespeare

(from Henry VIII)

Orpheus with his lute made trees,
And the mountain tops that freeze,
Bow themselves when he did sing:
To his music plants and flowers
Ever sprung; as sun and showers
There had made a lasting spring.
Every thing that heard him play,
Even the billows of the sea,
Hung their heads, and then lay by.
In sweet music is such art,
Killing care and grief of heart
Fall asleep, or hearing, die.

Vivid Tulip bouquet
Vivid Tulip bouquet

 

Tulips
Tulips

 

Poet's Daffodil
Poet’s Daffodil

 

Sunny Daffodils for Bleak Winter Days
Sunny Daffodils

Have a wonderful week, and join me in watching this spring come (post last week) with #100DaysofSpring!

Posted on 8 Comments

100 Days of Spring

“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”…
“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…” – Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

Today I am ready for the reawakening of Spring. It is a new month, a new week, and a new day. A new season.

the Delicate Laughter of Spring
the delicate color of early spring

Spring happens to be my favorite season. Not for the wind and rain and cold and dark, but for the newness of it all. Rebirth. The Reawakening of everything brown that brings back the green. The verdant beauty waiting just beneath the surface of the brown sticks and rustling dead leaves. Renewal.

I once heard this: “If we live to be 100 years old, we will have only experienced Spring 100 times”

But we experience Spring only if we’re paying attention.

That quote always brings me back to this season with wide eyes. In only weeks I’ll be looking out at flowers and hummingbirds and butterflies. By the way the deadened world looks now, it seems impossible. But it will come. Something bigger is at work, right before our eyes. Spring.

white tulip
white tulip

100 Days of Spring #100DaysofSpring

My life always fills up and brims over with busyness, so unless I am intentional I will miss this rebirth we call Spring. To help me remember to watch and be on the lookout for the miracle of Spring, I intend to do these 5 things as often as possible:

  1. Pause and look at the landscape, and notice what has changed from the day before.
  2. Take a walk through someplace wild—the backyard, or a park, or an open field. I love the fresh smells and popping colors floating on the breeze.
  3. Plant some flowers. Pansies are cheery reminders of spring with their colorful faces and sweet disposition, and I’ve planted a mass of them in a container on my deck. I’m excited for flowers and color as Spring draws near.
  4. Cut bouquets to bring indoors. Tulips, daffodils, lily of the valley, peonies, iris … an endless parade of Spring beauties wait outside laden with fragrance to be enjoyed. I can’t wait for the peonies to come.
  5. Pull out the camera and capture a photo or two of a Wow moment—that moment when I see something new and its beauty takes my breath away. Somehow, capturing something through a lens makes the experience richer, into one that can be shared.

 

#100daysofspring
#100DaysofSpring, a photo I recently took of Morris my cat and daffodils

 

If you have a cell phone with a camera and have Instagram (my favorite photo-sharing app), take one photo a day–not a great one, but one photo of Spring in action that catches your eye, and share it there. I’m tagging my photos with #100DaysofSpring so that at the end of the season, we can look back at Spring as it came. If you tag your spring photos with #100DaysofSpring (no spaces), they’ll show up in the tag and we can view all of them together.

My account at Instagram is @jenniferlynking. I hope you’ll join me!

Posted on 8 Comments

5 Favorite Spring Bouquet Photographs

Bleeding Hearts bouquet
Bleeding Hearts bouquet

Flowers… are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1844

After such a dark week last week, I need a colorful fix of beauty and light, one of my favorite kind, of flowers, flowers, flowers.

My hands are in the dirt more often now, as my family and I are settling into our new home. The backyard is a complete blank slate, with not even a tree inside the fence, so I’m busy working on a rose garden. It’ll be some time before the flowers thrive and look beautiful, but I’ve found some of my favorite photographs of flower bouquet photos from my former backyard garden … enjoy!

Tulips, Redbud, and Narcissus bouquet
Tulips, Redbud, and Narcissus bouquet: the fragrance!

Continue reading 5 Favorite Spring Bouquet Photographs

Posted on 8 Comments

Blooming Recklessly, Spring

Daffodils

The artist is the confidant of nature, flowers carry on dialogues with him through the graceful bending of their stems and the harmoniously tinted nuances of their blossoms. Every flower has a cordial word which nature directs towards him. ~Auguste Rodin

Vibrant Tulips
Vibrant Tulips

Every year about this time I remember one of my favorite quotes, unknown in source, that says, “If we live to be 100, we’ll get to witness Spring only 100 times.”

This year in Prague, spring tiptoed in. The dark grays and dreary colors so akin to the post-Communist world have clung tightly to winter, yet slowly we are seeing color return to the scene. Green in the grass in spots, a snowdrop flower bobbing in the breeze — yet adding the robin’s-egg blue sky and the warm sunshine, it feels like spring. She is coming!

I love the flowers of spring, and have taken several photos of recent bouquets to share … I can’t wait for the garden flowers to begin to bud and bloom. And yet, the anticipation of spring’s grand performance is part of the joy.

Delicate Tulips
Delicate

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
~William Wordsworth, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,” 1804

Daffodils
Bouquet of Sunshine and Fragrance

I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.  ~Claude Monet Continue reading Blooming Recklessly, Spring

Posted on 5 Comments

Prague and the Longest Day of the Year

Painted Lady on Lavender

“If a June night could talk, it would probably boast it invented romance.”  -Bern Williams

In Prague, there is one sure way know that it is the longest day of the year: it is officially dark  from 11:30pm to 2:30am. Yes, we are at the shortest night of the year, and I can hardly imagine how people North of Prague are able to get any sleep … it is a really strange sensation to see light along the horizon when it should be the middle of the night.

But, I have to say now that we are officially at the Summer Solstice, that this past Spring was the most beautiful of my life. While the rest of the world has been wrecked with tornadoes, earthquakes, violent storms, and tsunamis, Prague and the majority of Europe has coasted through Spring 2011 with sunshine, 75*F, and a few rain showers. We have so many reasons to be grateful:

Swans Paddling the Canal in Brugges, Belgium
Swans Paddling the Canal in Brugges, Belgium

Continue reading Prague and the Longest Day of the Year