Winter Wonder

The arrival of winter is magical to me, so much so I often become giddy at the first sign of a cold front. I even cried at my first glimpse of snow this year. Call me crazy, but I think there's something so wonderful about winter. Maybe it's because I know it precedes Spring, but more than that, there's something to enjoy in the slowness, the search for a cozy, warm space, the awe and wonder at the scenes painted in snow and ice. 

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Today marks the first official day of winter, and I'm both ready and expectant for it. A couple of years ago, as two friends were praying for me, they referenced the end of Psalm 23, which says "Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life..." Sometimes (or most times) that's more of a faith statement than reality, but in the seasons of lack, confusion, or brokenness is when faith counts most and when I pull out this scripture again and again. 

You see, making it through the winter with spirits and head held high requires faith and a trust in something or someone we cannot see. And once you come out on the other side, the next year winter comes, it's as if you know goodness and mercy are coming, if not already here.

I was driving through southern Kansas on my way home to my parents house a few days ago and looked out the window to see the snow covering the rolling hills and fields and heard a still soft voice. I heard the a soft whisper saying just as the snow covers the earth, so does grace and mercy cover me.  And it settles into a pure, soft, still, and beautiful layer as if to say what's underneath isn't the primary concern. It's the grace and the mercy that matters most - and it's what we can see if we'd pause to look. 

To me, winter represents a softness and a stillness, a sweet season to lean into the covering of grace and mercy, and a trust that underneath the ground spring is coming forth. It's a season of expectation and purpose - one that brings hope and fills my heart with faith. 

This year I get to take a two week break from life and work (although I'm doing a few things here and there) and my plan is to revel in the stillness of winter, to soak it in, and really enjoy it. I'll take time to set my 2017 goals and may even share some year-end questions or a goal setting guide with you, so stay tuned. But in the meantime, I hope you'll lean in and enjoy winter, too. 

If you're looking for an inspiring winter read, check out the the Cageless Birds winter issue. I picked it up at a friend's house last week and already ordered my own copy. It's filled with little short stories, poems, and writings from those who appreciate and lean into winter. Do yourself a favor and order one. 

There's Something About October

For the past few weeks I've been trying to articulate why I've been anxiously waiting to turn the page on my Paper Source wall calendar to the month of October. To put it simply, there's just something about October and I've been anticipating her arrival for months. Summer is my least favorite season and typically by August (or even July, let's be honest), I'm so over the heat and ready for the cooler temperatures to set in. Yet I realize that without summer, the entrance of fall wouldn't feel as rich or grand.

Isn't that true about life sometimes? The good times and seasons of plenty and blessing could pass unknowingly had we not gone through the fire or seasons of lack to reach them. I'm not implying that good times have to be earned, but instead, I believe God designed our lives to operate in seasons. 

Right before my 24th birthday I experienced a breakthrough of sorts and finally felt like myself for the first time since my move to Texas the year before. I often affectionately refer to my 22nd and 23rd year of life as the year of death part one and two - not dramatic at all, right? I've found it common for people trying to navigate life in their early 20's to experience some sort of dying to self as they embrace adulthood and start owning their life choices and planning for the future. 

Needless to say, after a few years of watching dreams, expectations and relationships wilt and in some cases, wither all together, I was ready for something new. One night after a prayer meeting with some friends I came home and thought to myself I'm going to wake up a new person tomorrow. And I did. I finally confronted the disappointment deep inside, making space for something new to come to life. The seasons of death and hardship had prepared the way for new life. 

I've been anticipating a shift for the past several weeks now, as if I'm waiting for the dam to finally break open and spill over. I don't know what you believe about God or the Holy Spirit, but I think there's a voice to our spirits, whispering that change is coming if we'll only learn to embrace it. October represents that change to me. And I feel hopeful for the first time in a while - a gift not to be taken for granted, but deeply appreciated. 

No matter what sort of season you're in, ask yourself what you can anticipate today. Living without hope can be a dark and lonely place to be. Believe with me during this month of October that hope is rising and new life is spring forth if we'll only lean in a little while longer. Each morning this month I've decided to ask what I can anticipate and hope for. I plan to write it down and then let gratitude fill my soul as I look back and see the shifting and breakthrough. Good is coming, friends.