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winter : a season of the heart // buford snow day

We left the familiar on a hot July morning, when the Florida heat was blazing, the humidity was strong and though it was summer, our hearts surely felt like it was anything but.
As we traveled the road between our new home and the place where we’d left our hearts behind, the children tried to entertain themselves with walkie talkies and chapter books, giving attention to anything but the heaviness in their souls.
For weeks they had dreaded this moment and there wasn’t much to excite them or calm their fears.
But there was talk of snow.
Yes. Snow.
A strange topic of conversation in the middle of summer, especially for these little Floridians.
The four of them would dream about the possibilities they’d heard, of blankets of white covering open spaces and days off from school.
For weeks, maybe even months after moving, it was the only positive they could find in a sea of difficult changes. We would catch glimpses of smiles and hope, as they considered what it would be like to wake up to something so beautiful.
We gently braced our brood for reality, encouraging them not to get their hopes up, all while secretly praying that the Lord would grant them this one little slice of joy in the midst of their heartache.
For the first few months we continued the mundane tasks of life in a new place… routines began to fall into place, fears of new schools began to diminish with each passing day and we tenderly nudged their hearts to settle down.
But it was hard.
For all of us.
And even though we’d found ourselves out of Summer and transitioning into Fall, our hearts continued to feel as though we were smack dab in the dead of Winter.
It felt heavy and dark, we longed for the warmth deep friendships provided and for the security that comes from feeling like you belong.
Instead, it felt cold and stagnant. We were surviving, but wanting more.
The late turning of the leaves, ushered in Winter a bit quicker than we expected and suddenly we found our hearts matching the dreary landscape we could see through our window panes.
We kept pressing on. Praying hard. Seeking Jesus. Asking for His help and hope, joy and peace, for new friendships and redefined purpose…and yes, snow.
And then it happened.
I had joined Eden on a bowling field trip with her 5th grade class and as the balls were rolling steadily down the lanes, soft white streaks slowly began dancing down from the sky.
I will never forget the look in her eyes when I moved her gaze from what was in front of her, to what was happening just beyond the doors of that alley.
Honestly, that’s what we’d all been trying to do since July- to look beyond the hard spots right in front of us and to focus on what was to come- to see beauty and purpose and joy in the waiting.
Waiting.
It took 5 months of waiting.
But my kids, they got their snow.
It came down so quickly and with such intensity, schools let out early and we got an entire afternoon to run and slide, to build snowmen and make snow angels, to smile and laugh and forget all the worry that had been residing in our hearts.
We were present with one another and content with the exact place God had us.
You see, it may seem silly- but that snow- it was more than just stellar precipitation.
It was a gift.
And we didn’t just unwrap it as a family. We savored it and we thanked The Giver.
Our family needed this day, we needed this moment.
Our children needed to build a strong happy memory in their new home and this was unlike anything we could have concocted on our own.
It was life giving.
A few days later, our oldest piped up on a trip to the grocery store, “Mom, that snow day was the most fun I’ve ever had with you in my entire life; and it was the best day we’ve had since moving!”
And a lump formed in my throat.
“Perhaps, buddy if we had one awesome day here, there are many, many more to follow. Let’s just keep looking beyond and trusting in what God is doing.”
For I am about to do something new.
    See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
    I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
Isaiah 43:19

 

What we’ve learned in this season of Winter:

1) God is always with us, even when we can’t see or feel Him- HE IS THERE!
2) You can always foster a heart of gratitude and thanksgiving, even when things are tough.
3) Love others well, especially the people inside your four walls. They are gifts from above and should be treated as such. Circumstances will change, but these blessings are constant.
4) Winter is a season. Spring is coming.

Are you in a season of winter? Here are a few ways to “look beyond:”
Pray. Not just a quick, once a day prayer- but moment by moment as needed. Some of my richest prayers, and subsequently, my deepest spiritual growth has often come during a “winter season.”
Memorize a few verses that will bring you comfort and remind you God is in control. A few of our family favorites:
Psalm 56:3 But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. (NLT)
Psalm 94:19 When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer (NLT)
Isaiah 41:10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.  I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. (NLT)
Wait with purpose. If you’re looking forward to a new season, but just waiting for it to come, step out of idleness and step into activity. Get focused on Jesus and then go do something! Invest in someone. Meet with someone (even a new friend) for coffee. Serve in your church or with a local ministry. Considering others and their lives, gives you perspective and can help you shift your attitude during your own season of winter.

Know someone who is in a season of winter (maybe it’s not a move, but a significant loss, a dream shattered, a longing unfulfilled)?
Here are a few easy and practical ways to minister to their hearts:

Pray for them and then let them know. Nothing warms a heart more than an email, text, phone call or handwritten note from a loved one who has lifted you up.
Listen. Especially if it’s your child(ren). And listen not to solve a problem, but to hear the hurt.
Invite them over for dinner, bake them cookies or leave a bouquet of flowers on their doorstep. Small tokens like these build strong bonds over time and help scatter both sunshine and love to those with weary hearts.
Check in on them, as the Lord prompts your heart; but also on a regular basis. It’s ok to schedule it on your calendar so you don’t forget! Your consistent care and attention to their hurts will speak volumes to their hearts!
Celebrate with them when they have a “winter breakthrough!”
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How have you grown through a season of Winter or how has someone ministered to your heart during a time like this?

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