2021 Reflections on the Grace God Still Gives Us

2021 has been a tough year, hasn’t it? Most likely, for all of us in one way or another. Physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing. Losses of different kinds. Deep hurts in so many hearts. Uncertainties and fears about the future.

But God… Yes. But God is still with us and is giving us grace to survive. Even when we feel forsaken. Even when we feel weary, troubled, and sorrowful. Even when events in our lives or in the world have crushed us. He is still holding us up with His faithful love and compassion that will never, ever leave us.

This year God is teaching me on a deeper level how crucial it is to:

๐Ÿฆ‹ Remind my fainting heart to keep my eyes fixed on God’s unchangeable character. All the heartaches and changes in our world may disorient us or depress us, but God will never change and His love will never abandon us.

๐ŸŒˆ “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet My unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor My covenant of peace be removed, says the LORD, who has compassion on you.” Isaiah 54:10 NIV

๐Ÿฆ‹ Let go of my tight-fisted grip of “needing to fix” situations out of my control. This is so hard to do, isn’t it? But God longs for us to leave these anxieties in His Almighty hands and to believe in His power to heal, redeem, and bring justice in His time and way.

๐ŸŒˆ “This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Donโ€™t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but Godโ€™s.” 2 Chronicles 20:15 NLT

๐Ÿฆ‹ Diligently seek, pay attention to, and thank God for the beauty and the blessings still surrounding me. There are so many blessings right in front of us that we take for granted each moment, right? The beauty in God’s creation, the strength we’re given with each breath and step we take (whether emotionally, physically, mentally, or spiritually), the kindness and love many people still do show. And on and on it goes. Even in the midst of chaos and heartaches, God still heaps on the invaluable gift of His grace so freely.

๐ŸŒˆ “And from the overflow of His fullness we received grace heaped upon more grace!” John 1:16 TPT

What has been the toughest trial to you personally this year? What special grace have you been given even in the midst of it, whether in the moment or in hindsight?

Opening Our Eyes to the Beauty and Value of Winter When Our Hearts Feel Weary Of It

Is your heart weary of winter? Is your spirit sagging?

Severe cold has filled our February. And the forecast is for more of it this month. It makes us wonder if spring will ever come. On Sunday, I woke to 16 below and 35 below wind chill. It never even got above zero all day!

It’s hard not to get discouraged, isn’t it?

It helps me to intentionally open my eyes and heart to the beauty and value of winter.

Those fluffy flakes gently flowing down are so beautiful. And I’m awed that even in subzero temps, the sun’s power still melts the snow on the roofs enough to form uniquely shaped icicles.

Untrodden snow also amazes me. So white and pure. Sparkling like diamonds when the sun shines. Inspiring a deeper longing to be clean and white in Jesus, to be sparkling with His love and shining it forth to others.

“Purify me from my sins,
and I will be clean;

wash me,
and I will be whiter than snow.”
Psalm 51:7 NLT
“Come, letโ€™s talk this over,
says the Lord;
no matter how deep
the stain of your sins,
I can take it out
and make you as clean
as freshly fallen snow.
Even if you are stained
as red as crimson,
I can make you
white as wool!”
Isaiah 1:18 TLB

I’m grateful I still can take nature photos from inside our warm home! ๐Ÿ™‚ We planted this globe evergreen tree in between our neighbor’s and our condos two years ago. We love looking out at the green of it and how the snow forms on it.

This is after a lot of snow. We call it our cake. ๐Ÿ™‚

I can never find one icicle identical to another. These are tiny compared to what we saw Sunday on a program in Alaska. Thirty foot icicles that are five feet thick!


This photo isn’t clear, and it certainly doesn’t do justice to what we saw. The sun was reflecting off droplets hanging from this tree, making it look like Christmas lights!

This sun dog was awesome! I wasn’t able to get the other side of it from our bedroom window. My husband saw both sides of it earlier as the sun rose, and he said it was so beautiful.

Winter not only brings beauty. It is also essential to new growth in the spring. Though the tree branches look dead and barren, their roots are growing and gathering nutrients to deliver to and strengthen the new leaves to come.

Winter of the soul can benefit us, too. Those times when losses and trials devastate us. When our hearts feel cold and lifeless. When we wonder – Where are You, God?

Those times can be brutal and debilitating, but they are necessary to deepen and strengthen our roots in Christ Jesus. Roots growing down into Him draw up much-needed nourishment for our spiritual growth.ย 

“And now just as you trusted Christ to save you,
trust Him, too, for each dayโ€™s problems;
live in vital union with Him.

Let your roots grow down into Him
and draw up nourishment from Him.
See that you go on growing in the Lord,
and become strong and vigorous
in the truth you were taught.
Let your lives overflow with joy
and thanksgiving for all He has done.”
Colossians 2:6-7 TLB

Though it does help me to open my eyes to the value of winter, I still long for spring. My heart yearns to be able to be out in nature and all its sights, sounds, and smells again. To feel the sun warming and thawing cold bones. As it gets nearer, I anticipate the sighting of a robin like an eager child hankering to open a long-awaited gift. Can I open it NOW?

There is something about spring that refreshes the spirit, isn’t there? To see the promising new life on the trees and perennials pushing through the soil. To watch the newborn calves and lambs kicking up their heels in the pastures. To hear the joyful chorus of birds.

Our spirits may sag when winters seem to drag on, but spring and revival WILL come, all the more refreshing and renewing after a barren winter. That’s a promise. God’s promise.

“As long as the earth remains,
there will be
springtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
winter and summer,
day and night.”
Genesis 8:22 TLB

Perhaps it’s a different season in your country right now or you live in warmer states or countries where there is no snow or cold. What are your winters like? When you’re weary of winter, what helps you get through it? Whether it’s winter in nature or in your soul? Feel free to share your thoughts!

Seasons
by Hillsong

“Though the winter is long even richer
The harvest it brings
Though my waiting prolongs even greater
Your promise for me like a seed
I believe that my season will come…”