Winter Seasons in Life


Winter season is on us. Usually that’s great, for skiers and snowmobilers. Right now, with the rain and cool weather I am not sure what to make of winter. All around us are bare trees; everything is covered with snow; the days are short and nights longer. Outside, the world seems to be silent and dead except for chickadees and cranky crows.

However, nothing can be farther from the truth. For example; last spring I noticed that some of my cedar evergreen shrubs were brown and dry. They struggled to green up. I found out that evergreens turn brown because the leaves lose moisture in extreme cold and will dry up and die. I didn’t consider that my shrubs, though they look dead, continue to be active even in the coldest and frozen times of winter. Some plants continue to function beneath the surface in the winter like tiny clocks ticking away. Flower bulbs you’d think would freeze and die, require cold to make them bloom and blossom in the spring.

Had you considered that freezing and thawing cracks open the surface of the earth to receive seeds that have been lying dormant on the surface of the soil? Then they germinate at the first signs of spring. The season that to our senses appears to be a time of nothingness, silence, and death is actually a season of preparation for a soon-coming burst of new life and new strength. So it is, in the life of man.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8  ESV For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;  

There will be seasons of nothingness in all our lives. To deny those seasons in our lives, is against the design of our Creator to cause us to grow and mature. I’ve heard believers say, “My life seems to have dried up. I don’t feel like I hear the voice of God or sense His presence in my life. I look around and my life seems to be so unproductive and dead. Where is God?”

But it’s like the world of nature around us. God is always at work in our lives even when it seems to be a season of winter. Our senses are the worst indicator of that reality. What we feel, see, and hear is a poor indicator of what God is doing behind the scenes in our lives.

Let me tell you about Doubting Thomas. Thomas was one of the disciples of Jesus. He saw the miracles and he actually heard the incredible teachings of Jesus. Yet when the disciples told Thomas that Jesus rose from the dead and actually appeared to them, it says in John 20, that Thomas replied:

25 “Except I see in his hands the print of the nails and put my finger into the print of the nails and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Faith does not rely on our senses. It believes the Word of God despite what we feel, see or hear.  Jesus appeared to Thomas, and Matt. 20: 29. This is what Jesus replied to Thomas’ unbelief;

Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed.”

We don’t need to be afraid because we do not feel his hands at work. We do need to pray for His hands on us.

Isaiah 41:10 “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

He is there. As believers in Jesus Christ, we believe and have faith, that God is active in our lives even though we are in a long lifeless winter or dark days in our lives. Maybe we haven’t seen or felt His presence in our lives in a while but God is always at work. Maybe there has been pain or darkness in your days lately, but God is working behind the scenes in your life. Train yourself to see beneath the surface. God is perfecting whatever concerns you. Without those days where we don’t feel or see His hands at work, how can our faith be tested, strengthened or refined? Do I need faith when I get or see what I want or choose? Resistance excercise makes your muscles strong. It is the same with your faith.

And I think faith seems to see best in the dark. You may seem to have “lost your green leaves” or the freshness in your life. Things may seem to be “dark and lifeless.” But as in nature, movement and activity continues below. The true believers’ life is always moving toward maturity so let the seasons in your life produce new growth, give life to new seeds, blossoms to living plants. Let all seasons, whether good or bad, produce deeper and stronger roots in you. Let all seasons produce a greater trust and dependence upon the Lord who promised that He would never leave us nor forsake us.

Another spring will come along with its future growth and strength, to make you even stronger for the next winter season of growth in your life.

Isaiah 35:1-10 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God. Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped;

Repeat this verse to yourself, 

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged (because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him,) for there is a greater power with us than with him.

II Chronicles 32: 7

My Mother’s Knobby Knuckles

This is my thought for today. Of course if you don’t agree, that’s fine. Don’t get bent out of shape. Just reply or message me. It is kinda long because I am feeling sad for my jail students who nearly always recall some physical abuse in their childhood..

Real adults don’t hit, punch or pummel others. That means that if you are mature and adult, you have other ways to communicate. Some women want to gig men into hitting them to get attention and drama. They deride, degrade and disintegrate men to get what they desire! Some women get what they want with the poison of personal abuse. Some men hit because they are twelve-year-olds in large bodies and don’t know what else to do.

Hitting someone is generally a bully’s way of expressing their personal sense of hurt, frustration and pain. They lash out because they don’t know how to make life return to a comfortable ‘normal’ again. I have learned a valuable lesson in my life about discipline. Discipline is about a relationship of love, not physical abuse.

Kids get “hit” because parents don’t have a clue what else to do. My mom used to knobKnobby Knuckles me on my “bony little head” with her knuckle to get my rather lax attention and then look deeply into my eyes and talk to me at my comprehension level. When I was an adult I listened not because she knobbed me but because she looked me in the eyes and talked to her blue-eyed baby girl that she loved very much. I don’t remember ever getting spanked or slapped by my parents.

But, smacking a kid on the butt when they run out into the street is a pretty effective way to physically exclaim, “Don’t do things like that, I am terrified you will die and I love you with everything that I am!” On the other hand, waiting until daddy gets home to do it is saying “You’re stupid, you need a spankin’ for being stupid and I don’t wanna do it so your big, evil daddy has to do it.” Then who is stupid? Shaking and slapping a kid or spanking for dribbling cereal on the carpet tells the kid that hitting is just fine in these situations. IT IS NOT. It proves that you didn’t teach the kid well and you are frustrated with yourself for their errors.

What I have learned in 62 years is that kids don’t forget it, EVER. Do you want them to remember you as someone who hit them? If you care how you send them out in life, why not just knob yourself, show them how to clean it up, and be a better teacher/parent next time?

June Nights

image001A Northern Wisconsin perfect balmy June night

stars glimmering across the sky, a gentle breeze rattling the Quaking Aspen leaves, and sighing through the pines. I want it to stay like this forever; my shadow is cast across the freshly mowed and fragrant lawn as I stare into the face on the laughing moon so huge above. There goes the Big Dipper but who are those stars- or are they planets? I don’t remember the names of the constellations any more because no one talks about them like my mom and dad did long ago. “There’s Orion, see his belt?” mom would say, her warm breath on my upturned face. A loon cried and mom answered back as we meandered down the road in front of the farm. “See Venus and there’s Jupiter, aren’t they lovely?” In the field a sleeping cow moaned, probably irritated by our chatter. The sweet soft smell of our Bridalveil Spirea bush is mixing with the last few blossoms of the lilacs but it is still too chilly for the hungry mosquitos.

When my mom was my age I had graduated from HIgh School and was not paying much attention to her. I regret that now. My life seemed so important in 1973 and now, well I just wish I had my mom to tell me the secrets of the universe again before she tucked me into my bed upstairs in that room, right up there where my grandson lies sleeping soundly tonight. I pause to rest on the wicker settee on the fairly new deck, thinking about how my eyes don’t see the stars and the moon like they used to. Long ago there was much less sound, cars never raced down our road and you never heard a far-off blaring radio, just perhaps the heart beat of a family drum on Little Round Lake. There was no pink tinge to the southern horizon from the Casino lights.

I stand up and spin around in my pj’s there on the deck for a few seconds in the moonlight, dancing like a young girl again, smiling at my foolishness. My eyes roll back sheepishly as I discover I locked myself out again and my husband is sleeping- so I climb through the window I forgot to lock. “Silly old woman; look at her,” I heard my father say with a smile from somewhere far away beyond that starlit night. “Goodnight guys!” I wave through the kitchen window.

Love Your Brother, Sister, Neighbor

Did you ever sit down and just write down the names of your friends and acquaintances?

Do that, and then think of something good about them: maybe they are a good cook, a ‘fun’ partner, a confidant, have nice hair, pretty eyes, cute ears, an interesting or humorous attitude- just anything that is nice. It is hard to be angry with or hate someone when you find something nice about them. I know that sounds a little Pollyanna-ish but that is what my parents taught me.

I find it hard to dislike people for more than a short while. Something always pops up and I remember something I like about them…except Idi Amin. I didn’t know him well enough to get past the fact that he was a brutal murderer. Or maybe Caligula, but he lived a long time ago.


Kindle Fire In My Brain!

Imagine you are sixty-two (I know that for some of you that may be quite a stretch) and you are looking at your grandson’s Kindle. He wants yet another book to read (I understand the place in your head sucks the written word like a black hole) and you have already spent fifty bucks on new reads from Amazon. He read all the free ones too! He looks pathetically at you for the newest book in the series. Seriously, thirty books? You call your daughter to ante up for this title.

Imagine your surprise when she says “just register your Kindle and get it from the library”. What? I rush to my computer and there it is! I can enter my library card number, the library tells me when I can access the book and sends me an email! This is huge! No trip to town, no huge credit card account at Amazon and my reading desire fulfilled.

Imagine how your mind races off to a million new places. Kindle access in every hospital room for patients. Kindles at the Nursing home! Kindles in the school and jails! Kindles in offices downtown and realty offices. You could rent a Kindle from the library. You could get Kindle deals from churches and other social groups. Oh man, here we are! My mind is on “Kindle Fire”!

Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor

A century ago immigrants streamed into America to feed her insatiable need for factory workers and common laborers. What is different now? We need to rejuvenate our building trades, create new markets for food and education.

The problem is that we need to look past our anxiety about “The Others” those who don’t look just like us or have different social lives. Imagine how our forefathers felt about people who ate putrid fish with pancakes at Christmas!

Let’s create new paths to America! The young people of Mexico, Guatemala and other southern nations have been blocked from entering the USA. Their countries don’t want to lose their students to America, but these bright young people could lift our economy out of the pit it is in…think about it.

Recently my husband went for a walk and discovered two tiny hatchling sparrows on the lawn. He called me and we tried to find the nest from which they had fallen. Sadly we could not find it and left them there hoping that the sparrow might find them and help them. Later I found a laundry basket that would protect them from big predators but allow the mother to come to their aid. I went to bed expecting them to be dead in the morning. The next day Ron got me up and said “Come see,”! They were not only alive but there was another tiny guy next to them with a piece of the nest. We gathered them up and put them and their nest in the tree. They survived the night weakly but no mother came to their aid. The next day we took them inside and my grandson fed them hummingbird nectar mixed with fish flakes on the end of a toothpick. When I got up the next day one was missing but following his peeping I found him fluttering around on the floor of the garage.

I scooped him up and brought all three of them to the kitchen; their little gaping mouths are hungry all the time! I am reminded of new Christians who hungrily cry for the Word of God and occasionally fall weakly from their nest struggling to survive on their own. As Christ followers grow stronger, we can reach out and feed those who fallen and are lost, hungry and thirsty. We all need to lift our hungry hearts to the Lord and cry for His guidance and care. Isaiah 40:31 says, ”but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

A Hunting We Will Go

It is five a.m.

Hunters in drive formation.

The hunters begin to rouse in my house. The alarm clocks buzz and the toilets flush. Like mice in my country cabinets there is shuffling, clunking and the ‘click’ of light switches on and off. When I smell the coffee I climb out of my warm bed and wander into the kitchen in my old housecoat where men in orange have gathered, their rifles on the dining room table and shells in their pockets to share that last cup of coffee before they head for the woods and fields. There is a familiarity in the wool pants and socks and their orange coats that takes me back forty-five years.

I used to be the first one up. I loved the preparations for the hunt and the anticipation of the day. Ron made breakfast for all of us. The kids and I packed our lunches and stuck candy bars and parafin dipped matches in our pockets for emergencies. Everyone reviewed the list of stuff you need; your extra shells, the rifle clip, gloves, hand warmers, a compass and extra truck keys. You checked the weather and temperature and by sticking your nose outside and then went back and changed again. Men, women and kids bundled up and excited, headed out to stand silently in the woods for hours, if need be, to get a quick shot and bag next winter’s dinner.

Perhaps it is the swaggering confidence of we who will provide meat for the winter that is attractive. I enjoyed how we planned our drives through the woods like generals on the battlefield. Maybe it is the sense of camaraderie as we review past hunting exploits; the trophies, our mistakes and near misses. Maybe it is the time we take to renew old friendships and think about days gone by.  I miss all of this. I am so sad. This year I will participate but not carry a rifle, again. For me the cold is agony and the difficult forest hiking equals a week of pain. Tendonitis in my shoulder  limits my ability to lift and aim my weapon. Later on, depending on the temperature, I will dress warmly and attempt to help drive the herd in the woods. I will sit here and reflect with a smile and a second cup of coffee on the good times we had and the fragrant memories of the past.

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