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Starry Winter Nights

 

night sky

I don’t care how you spin it, I am just not a winter person. I don’t like the cold or the ice or the short days and long nights. I don’t like having to bundle up in heavy coats. I don’t like the way my hair gets so fly away in the dry air, and I don’t like having to wear gloves which makes me even clumsier than I already am.  I love the way everything looks right after a snow storm, but as soon as I look at the shovel leaning up against the porch door, I’m longing for spring.

Having said all that, let me add one more thing. I do love the night sky in the winter. The stars never look brighter than they do in winter. That cold, dry air that is my skin’s worst enemy, causes those stars to sparkle like they never can in the humidity of summer.

No matter how cold it is, I always take a moment to look up on cold nights and see how many of the constellations I can recognize. I call out their names like greeting an old friend, “There’s Orion!” and “Follow the star to Arcturus!”. And all the time I know that I am not the one who really calls the stars. They do not appear for my benefit. They answer a higher call and serve a greater purpose.night sky 2

Lift your eyes and look to the heavens; who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.

Isaiah 40:26

The God that created such a dazzling display that we humans have been watching night after night for eons and still have not tired of, that God also looks down upon me and smiles with a tenderness that I cannot understand yet am grateful that it exists.

When I consider your heavens, the works of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you havestars set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?

Psalm 8:3,4

The stars dance at His command. The sun sets and rises at His calling. The winds and the waves answer to Him. Hard to imagine that He can hold the universe in one hand and myself in the other. When I stray, He calls me back. When I walk straight, He holds me close.

 

 

Who am I that He should even notice?

I am His child.

father and child feet

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It’s been a weird winter

birds and snowmanI’m not getting as many birds at my feeders this winter because of this unseasonably warm weather. I miss my little friends although I am sure that they are enjoying not having to battle the elements this year. Still I saw this picture and couldn’t help but think that it would be fun to build a snowman and place some birdseed on his head.

Not that I am complaining, but a warm winter is just weird unless you live in Florida (or other parts south). I love not having to shovel. I don’t even know where the snow shovels are hidden in that cavernous garage. I love not needing extra time to heat up the car and scrape the windshield each morning. I love not having to worry about how my kids at their respective colleges are dealing with the cold and ice. And I am really rocking the low heating bills!

Still, I find it a bit unnerving when I see a cherry tree in full bloom in December. My gardens are still tinged with green and I have found occasional blossoms here and there. It makes me wander what this spring will look like. The seasons seem to be a bit mixed up. El Nino weather patterns have taken over the Northeast this year and I am enjoying wearing sweatshirts rather than full winter gear outdoors. Today’s weather report calls for the first real snow of the season but it should be just a coating to an inch. We won’t even have to shovel. I’m going to be soooo spoiled!

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1

 

 

 

 

 


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Is it really snowing again? Enough already!

winter 2015

winter 2015

It seems like this winter is taking on true Narnian proportions. It’s the last day of March and as I look out my window it’s snowing again! If I lived in New England, I might be able to accept this but here in New Jersey, we are sooooo not happy. People are really getting frustrated because we are not used to this. Sure, we may get a snowstorm even in April, but the ground is warming up by that point and whatever falls will be gone with twenty four hours. I think the big problem with this winter, is that it has been so consistently cold that the ground is still fairly frozen. Everytime it snows, it sticks around for a bit. Right now the only thing that has me holding on is that since we have switched to daylight savings time, we do have more sunlight even if it is cold and cloudy most of the time.

I’ve been thinking about friends who live in Vermont and rapidly gaining new admiration for them. I remember my friend joking with me that New Englanders only get three seasons – Summer, Fall and Winter. I asked what had happened to Spring. She laughed and said that spring only lasts about 3 weeks and they just call it “mud season”. They will have massive amounts of snow and then a quick warm up in which everything floods. Since this is an annual, short- lived event, they are ready for it. My friend’s home did not have an official mud room but she did set aside a small area around the entryway where people could wipe off shoes and leave them there before entering the house. She had told me how their basement is set up to accomodate an inflow of water during mud season and they are very experienced at cleaning it all up. This is thier lives and they do not complain about it. They would have quite a shock if they moved Jersey. Everytime the weatherman forecast snow, which is now down to just flurries that will not amount to anything much, my Facebook page is filled with fearful, despairing or downright angry posts that demand the snow to stop. Kind of funny when you think about it. We are just having a cold winter, that’s all. And although Mother Nature has not been very kind to us, God has been. We have had a tremendous amount of moisture this winter in the form of snow. This is good news for our reseviors and hopefully will allow us to enjoy summer without water restrictions. But if we have a quick spring warm up, all that water is going to flood our suburban homes and we are not as prepared as our New England neighbors are. God has been giving us a little warm up, a little melting and then drops the tempatures just as I start to see a thin line of water seep into my basement. Not bad, I can handle this! And I can thank God, who handles not only the snowmelt but all the other aspects of my life. I’m thinking about how He has brought many changes to my live but always at a rate that He could walk my through. If things do happen a bit faster than I would like, He holds me up above the floodwaters. As I look back, it’s painfully clear that the times I felt inundated by waves of trouble or sorrow were during those times that I had let go of Him. When I am holding tight, the troubles are still just as bad and just as painful, but He carried me through (just like that old “footprints” poem promised).

The first time that I read the Bible as an adult was after years of walking away from God. I was so struck by the picture of Peter stepping out of the boat towards Jesus. As soon as Peter let fear crowd out faith, he began to sink. That was me for so long. I had to learn the difference between letting my life be controlled by my circumstances or being controlled by my Lord. I had to learn that “perfect love” really does “drive out fear”. Even as I look out my window and see a most unwelcome sight of the ground turning white again, I remind myself that God has a purpose for all of this. This spring will be a most joyfully welcomed season since we are being forced to wait so long for it. Maybe He is teaching us patience…. or gratefulness….. maybe He is saving us from spring flooding and a summer drought. Or maybe, like Peter, we are being asked to step out in faith. Just the act of putting one foot in front of the other. And we’ll make footprints that might be wet with snow, stuck in mud or slipping over ice, yet still walking the path that allows us to follow Him. And maybe that’s all this is.  A call to trust Him, to follow Him, to walk humbly with Him. So here’s a picture of the last patch of snow that is still hanging on in my backyard as crocuses are pushing up in the front yard and the snow is still falling. I remind myself to trust in the One who brings each season in it’s perfect time.

the last patch of snow

the last patch of snow

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:

a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

a time to search and time to give up

a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,

a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,

a time for war and a time for peace. 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

I will trust in His timing. I remind myself to be patient with Him. After all, He is so patient with me.

looking forward to spring

looking forward to spring