The Quiet of Winter

nighttime snow scene

I’m always sad to see the Christmas lights come down, it feels so bare and empty, but I do not want to push spring. I feel a need to allow the bareness. I don’t want to see bulbs being forced into blooming in these months of quiet contemplation. I know that plants need this winter rest. And my heart seems to feel the same desire for rest, for quietude and empty space, to embrace whitespace.

We’ve just finished a year and we ended it with happy celebration. At Christmas, we cap off the current year with bright lights and beautiful decorations and as many presents as we can! We celebrate our Savior’s birth and we are thankful to Him for all His gifts of grace and beauty and mercy. We are glad to have made it through another year. And at the same time, we are happy to have a new one, so we can try again. The old year may have been good to us, but we know there are still better things to come. The old year may have been challenging, sad or just plain hard. We are ready to move into a new place, with hope in our heart that the new one will indeed be better.

A good year creates confident HOPE for the new one.

A hard year gives us the hope-through-gritted-teeth kind of HOPE. It may be a small hope, but it’s there, hope for better things to come.

Our hearts, need time to process the old to be able to move forward. Unprocessed difficulty leads to baggage in the form of fear or perhaps a wrong belief (such as “I’ll never…”, “I’m not good enough to…”, “no one cares…”). Personally, the last thing I need is more problems, especially the kind I create for myself.

When we allow ourselves to marinade in the quiet emptiness of winter, we are processing the events that affected us, and let any hardness soften. Just as plants are re-grouping and gaining energy in their rest, we need that time as well. I’m trying to let January be a total, down-time. Having “the cold from hell” helped me rest. Well, truthfully, it MADE me rest. I didn’t want to rest and for a few days my mind did not rest. I fought and fussed and felt like I’d somehow failed because those germs got the upper hand. There was a conference at church that weekend and I wanted to participate! Why couldn’t I shake that cold and go to church?? Finally, I gave in and just rested. No. I didn’t not stop doing everything I could physically to combat the cold, but I made my mind be quiet. I did not spend that time thinking about what goals need to be set or what changes I want to see for the coming year. Having a snow event also made me slow down. Just as I was feeling better, the snow brought everything to a sliding halt. But, miraculously, I allowed myself to become fascinated with the process of tiny flakes of snow creating a huge blanket that covered everything and, no matter how ugly, it all became beautiful and soft.

February will see me setting some plans for change, but it will be mixed liberally with large portions of quiet and rest. I need rest to soften the edges of my soul. And like snow, it takes a lot of time to put together enough quiet to affect a change. I want to hear God’s voice, especially when I’m seeking direction for plans and changes. But God doesn’t shout very often. He doesn’t yell at you when you’re dashing down the road. For me to hear God’s voice generally requires silence on my part. Sure, I hear whispers as I hurry; I can hear small directions, little encouragements. But, like those small individual snowflakes require many working together to create a blanket of peace, for me to hear fully I must take the time to be still.

All the “crush your goals” and “force your bulbs” people wear me out. I’m not ready to rush into hyper-organization mode. I’m not lazy. I like a good project as much as the next person. And plans? Oh please! I love plans! I just do not want to start running before I’m prepared. You cannot run a marathon before you’ve conquered a mile. You can’t (shouldn’t) run a mile before you’ve stretched. I don’t want to dash off in the wrong direction and waste time.

Rest is not time wasted. Rest is preparation. Remember those plants in the ground?

Our human body and soul needs rest.

My body and soul needs the quiet rest of winter, to be ready to bloom in the spring.

 

How about you? Have you made resolutions? Do you have plans for change this year?

How do you feel about this silent winter season? Do you embrace it or fight it tooth and nail?

And one last question that might seem unrelated…. Have you chosen a “word for the year”? It could be a phrase or scripture, but it’s your central theme for the New Year.

I hope you’ll comment below and share your thoughts.

I hope you will subscribe. I publish every first and third Thursday of the month. There’s a “Subscribe” button at the top of the right-hand column. Please, feel free to share this blog.

Thank you so much for being part of the journey through whatever Pathways or Portals lie ahead!

May this winter season bring you peace as you listen for God’s voice. May you find comfort in the quiet as your soul regroups and prepares for new growth. God bless you!

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Happy 2018!

Happy New Year, ya’all!! May 2018 be a year of breakthrough for each of us!

There’s something exciting about a brand, new year- fresh and clean and bright with hope.

Of course, every day, every hour, every minute is fresh with hope and new Mercies. Someone once described those Mercies as being “excited to greet us”, excited to help us out each day. They show up whether we’re aware of them or not. They are ready to help even when we’re too messed up to notice. God’s Mercies are ready and willing do all the heavy lifting, ready to carry the burdens.

Lamentations 3:22-24 (NKJV), “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion”, says my soul, “therefore I hope in Him!””

For all my good intentions, goals set and resolutions made (not that I make them anymore), it’s God who accomplishes change. I will fail: sometimes in small ways and sometimes really big. But God is willing to give me new starts all the time, any time.

1 Thessalonians 5:24 says, “Faithful is He who has called you; it is He who shall perform it.”

I get so frustrated with myself…. Doing the same dumb things over and over. At least that’s what it feels like. Those new Mercies every morning get put to the test. They really earn their keep- when I ask for their help. I must ask. Otherwise, they are like an unopened present- it’s nice and it’s pretty but it does me no good if I don’t open it and use it!

God doesn’t wave a finger and say “Oops, nope. This time you’ve gone tooo far.” He is always, all ways, ready and desiring to embrace me, soothe my brokenness and help me do the things He put in my heart. Each failure is just a bump in the road. Each moment is a chance to change course, and use that bright, new Mercy at my disposal. I can choose, moment by moment, to follow God into His plan, with His help. I can put aside the goof-up and move boldly into His arms. Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV), “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

“let new life happen to you”, says Nayyirah Waheed. God is always wanting to give new life. He will happily make His plans for us work out.  All I have to do is turn to Him, moment by moment, use that Mercy He provides!

Jeremiah 29:11-13, says God knows the plans He has for us- they’re good plans for prosperity and hope and a good future.

So. Here I am, starting the new year by preaching to myself. I do that a lot (I should really pay closer attention). I want to make changes but the only way they’ll stick is if I do it with God’s help and do it small…. small steps, small changes that add up to big ones over time.               2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

What are your “changes” for this year? Do you make resolutions? Set goals? How does the new year inspire you! Please share in the comments below. I hope you’ll subscribe (above, on the right) so we can journey through 2018 together! And please feel free to share this with your friends.

Thanks so much for reading.

Happy New Year and God bless you good!