The roads were crappy and the weather bitter cold. One glance out the window and I swore I could hear Mother Nature whispering a plea to stay inside. Still, I chose not to listen and instead bundled up my two littlest in the minivan for a winter trek to the grocery store. It was a desperate moment I wasn’t sure if I would later regret, but in the back of my mind I had to be real – if my family is going to be snowed in all weekend it is much easier to grocery shop with two kids rather than with four!

Alas, I traveled on the main road outside of my neighborhood, staying in pace with the other vehicles out braving the driving conditions. Which was very similar to the speed of a sloth, in case you were wondering. At a red light, I couldn’t help but take in the scenery surrounding my van. Sure, it was ridiculously cold outside (like 1 degree Fahrenheit, to be exact) and the roads were slickly covered in ice, but that didn’t take away from the beauty of God’s marvelous creation. Snow covered branches and slowly falling snowflakes sparkling in the air…it may not be a tropical sight but it was beautiful nonetheless.

Sitting at that red light, I was both taken with the winter beauty and reveling in the imagery – a white landscape laid before me, full of purity and hope, a blank canvas seeking attention to fulfill the Artist’s purpose.

Growing up in West Michigan I experienced four seasons of weather, including brutal winters for the first 21 years of my life, but never have I ever had eyes to see what was right in front of me during the coldest months of the year. Blinded by the dark bitterness of surface-level winter, I couldn’t consider the goodness that was buried underneath the seemingly endless frigid season.

It was the perfect God-wink, signaling me to remember my word of focus for 2019 – P R E S C E N C E. You can miss so much when your head is down or when you are stuck in the pressure cooker of life.

Winter by far is my least favorite time of the year but that shouldn’t allow me a free pass to let it slip by. Quite contrary, the ugliness of slushy, brown snow and freezing temperatures could be a symbol of Satan’s attempts to defect God’s goodness and perfect creation. The freshly fallen snow on the ground covers over the dead grass or muddy ground, giving it a chance to start over or a new opportunity to fulfill a greater purpose. Whether the weather is so cold you don’t dare to venture outside or the snow is falling ever so softly as it slowly makes its appearance, we can be reminded that winter is also a time to bundled up our hearts, slow down our pace of life, and reflect on what is important as we begin a new year.

Experiencing the seasons since moving back to my hometown of Grand Rapids, MI, I have personally been able to reflect on the seasons of life we all experience. Sure, some seasons are better than others and some seasons we’d rather hibernate than endure, but there is still purpose to be unveiled and glory to be found. Even if you find yourself feeling dry or barren this winter, I pray you will be encouraged that this season will pass and will bring forth new life and blooming opportunity. There is a time for everything and a purpose in all things. Throughout it all God is with you, using each moment in each season of life to mold and shape you.  Piece by piece, your soul is being tweaked and inspected through the process of sanctification, eventually transforming you back to your original design.

Being out in the cold this winter season I am intentionally slowing down my life in order to be present in the moment. I am seeking wisdom so as not to turn up the heat and skip through this season like an Instant Pot dinner desiring to be demolished before having enough time to marinate and absorb the flavors.

The roads of life will always be slippery and we must navigate with caution. Take time to slow down and be present. Open your eyes by opening your heart to receive God’s Word along with His promises and direction.

Get out in the cold, it’s okay. Grab a blanket, get in your comfies and snuggle near to the One who can fill you up and warm your soul.

 

Everything on earth
has its own time
and its own season.
There is a time
for birth and death,

planting and reaping,
for killing and healing, 

destroying and building,
for crying and laughing,
weeping and dancing,
for throwing stones
and gathering stones,
embracing and parting.
There is a time
for finding and losing,
keeping and giving,
for tearing and sewing,
listening and speaking.
There is also a time
for love and hate,

for war and peace.

What do we gain by all of our hard work? I have seen what difficult things God demands of us.  God makes everything happen at the right time. Yet none of us can ever fully understand all He has done, and He puts questions in our minds about the past and the future.  I know the best thing we can do is to always enjoy life, because God’s gift to us is the happiness we get from our food and drink and from the work we do.  Everything God has done will last forever; nothing He does can ever be changed. God has done all this, so that we will worship Him.

Everything that happens
has happened before,
and all that will be
has already been—

God does everything over and over again.” ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1-15 (CEV)

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