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"But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep...For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive."- I Corinthians 15:20, 22

From sharing in church services to a recent staff meeting to a coming Easter letter to The Shepherd's House family (coming to a mailbox near you) I have been captivated by a picture a beauty, transformation, and life. Over the last couple of weeks I have noticed the blossoming of Flowering Plum Trees all throughout our town. There are some on Oak View Drive as I arrive at the church property each day. There are some throughout my neighborhood in Newbury Park. So in this season I have been pleasantly surprised by these white blooms popping up wherever I walk, drive, and look around.

This blossoming has served as a beautiful picture of what God has been doing in our church family in this recent season. I have watched God pour out blessing after blessing, producing wonderful results! We have experienced a "blossoming" as individuals have shared accounts of deliverance, as our Sunday services have been marked by a strong and sweet presence of the Lord, as our Spanish, Kids, and Youth Ministries have experienced visible growth, and as a Mexico missions team prepares for this weekend's trip to bring God's love and light to our world.

As we are entering into the spring season and are just a little over a month from Easter, the picture of "blossoming" is also a present reminder of the powerful work God desires to accomplish in our lives. This past Sunday Pastor Dan Sneed shared a message with one of his points reminding us that there is a season for sowing and a season for reaping, and often they come at different times. This message from a dear friend and strong leader provided us with a sense of encouragement and hope, as Pastor Dan shared from Galatians 6:9, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Just as the spring season has ushered in the beautiful blossoming of these Plum Trees, so too this season announces, echoes, and arrays itself in the grand truth that Jesus is risen, death is defeated, and we have been set free! Our joy, strength, and hope is found in Jesus' victory, just as those that first Easter encountered an empty tomb, an angelic announcement, and a personal encounter with Christ, which released in them an unquenchable joy and an immovable faith.

There is one particular street where the Flowering Plum trees are found which is deeply moving to me. There is a dear woman in our church who is battling cancer. It seems with each passing week the body is weaker and heaven is nearer. On one of my recent visits over to the family's home, I noticed multiple trees with white blooms on their street in Newbury Park. As I looked at those trees I felt the Holy Spirit saying that the life of Jesus is always present with us. And that His life always overcomes the emptiness and enemies we face, even death itself.

The Word of the Lord to us is that the blessings, promises, and miracles of God are popping up this very day everywhere we look, everywhere we go, and in everything we need! May we see it and be glad, may we believe it and be encouraged, and may we experience it and be changed!

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