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, let’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! 🙂 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. 🙂

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. 

“And now just as you trusted Christ to save you,
trust Him, too, for each day’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…”

Winter: In Nature and In Our Souls

A winter blizzard walloped us with 13+ inches of snow on the 14th. This was in addition to 12+ inches we already received this month. Then on the 18th, another 6+ inches. Will spring ever come?

I admit I’m as winter weary as this donkey…


I try to focus on the beauty in it though. Such unique patterns, both in the snow and in frost on the windows. No one but our powerful God can do that!

I’m also awed by the untrodden pureness of the snow, and sometimes it stirs up a longing desire:

“Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”
Psalm 51:7

In the freezing temperatures of this prolonged winter, God reminded me of His tender care over the birds. It’s amazing how He has equipped them. They fluff their feathers to trap heat. This slows their metabolism so they can conserve energy necessary to survive.

And just think, God counts us even more valuable than them! (Matthew 10:29-31)

On the morning after the blizzard, I was looking out our office window at all the snow. My heart sighed. Then a house finch flew in and perched on our dwarf globe evergreen. Even though he couldn’t see me through our tinted windows, it seemed he looked directly at me like he was saying, “Don’t lose heart. Spring will come.” Thank You, God, for the hope You breathed into my weary soul!

His mate perched on the nest box like she wasn’t ready to give up either. They had started building a nest in it, but it filled up with snow. That snow has melted, so hopefully they will build again.

As in the winter in nature, so also God has a purpose in the winters we experience in our spiritual lives. When one of life’s storms rips away someone or something we treasure and devastates our hearts and lives, we may feel forsaken by God.

When C.S. Lewis lost his wife, he slipped into depression. He wondered where God was in his suffering and grief. In one of his publications, A Grief Observed, he described what it was like. “But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is in vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside.”

That can be what it feels like, can’t it? But God taught him a valuable lesson because of this winter of the soul. “My idea of God is a not divine idea. It has to be shattered from time to time. He shatters it Himself. He is the great iconoclast. Could we not almost say that this shattering is one of the marks of His presence?”

We so easily trust in our own strength, and our perceptions about God can be far less than who He really is. When He does His work in us to bring us to the right place, it truly is a mark of His loving presence, even if we can’t “feel” it.

The winters of the soul strengthen our relationship with God. In nature, trees are dormant. They appear dead, but below the frozen ground, their roots are stretching and strengthening, actually fortifying the well-being of the tree. In the same way, we need to be rooted more firmly in Jesus. Our souls may feel dead and barren, but God is growing our roots stronger.

I have to admit after I wrote this, I feel better about winter. 🙂 But I still long for spring and all its new life! It’s coming!

“For just as rain and snow fall from heaven
and do not return there
without saturating the earth
and making it germinate and sprout,
and providing seed to sow
and food to eat,
so My word that comes from My mouth
will not return to Me empty,
but it will accomplish what I please
and will prosper in what I send it to do.

Isaiah 55:10-11
If I go east, He is not there,
and if I go west, I cannot perceive Him.
When He is at work to the north, I cannot see Him;
when He turns south, I cannot find Him.
Yet He knows the way I have taken;
when He has tested me, I will emerge as pure gold.

Job 23:8-10
“And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord,
you must continue to follow him.
Let your roots grow down into him,
and let your lives be built on him.
Then your faith will grow strong
in the truth you were taught,
and you will overflow with thankfulness.”
Colossians 2:6-7

“Seasons”
by Hillsong Worship

“Like the frost on a rose
Winter comes for us all
Oh how nature acquaints us
With the nature of patience
Like a seed in the snow
I’ve been buried to grow
For Your promise is loyal
From seed to sequoia…”

 

What I Learned This Summer

gods-glory-in-butterflies
I had fun with this collage template and some of my butterfly photos. Every butterfly I see is God’s whisper to me – “I am still with you, My child.”

When I decided to take a break this summer, I was so overwhelmed. Every time I went back to the computer, that feeling would become even worse. It was time to step back and rest in body, mind, and spirit. Time to examine where I was in my relationship with Jesus and my purpose on this earth. These are some of the lessons I learned or relearned:

I need Jesus like the very air I breathe. Without Him I will suffocate in this journey of life. I have had times in my life where it felt like my bronchial tubes closed up and I couldn’t breathe. I thought I would die. Without Jesus breathing His love and life into me, whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually, I will not survive.

I can worship God just by taking time for Him, by resting in His love and rejoicing in His goodness. I don’t give more glory to Him by doing more. I need to be more concerned with filling up at His fountain instead of how much I “do.” When my well is dry, I can’t offer refreshment to anyone.

I need to concentrate more on encouraging one person at a time, whoever is placed in my life’s journey. I need to quit beating myself up over not making enough of a difference in this world. At the beginning of this break, I thought that without my blog posts I wasn’t encouraging anyone. But God opened my eyes more to the needs of people He sets in front of me each day and reinforced the truth that even a smile or a compliment can encourage and make someone’s day, whether to a loved one, an acquaintance, or a stranger.

At the beginning of the summer, I was struggling with rebellion against chronic illness. I cried out – Lord, I am so weary of all this. Won’t You just take me now? What good am I doing here when I can’t even think to write a blog post? Why won’t You heal me, Lord? Why won’t you make me stronger in body and mind? Why does this have to get worse as I get older? How is this to Your glory? And on and on. At the same time I felt guilty that I was feeling fretful and complaining so much. After all, don’t others have it much worse than I do? I should be ashamed of myself. But God taught me that it’s okay to bring all my questions and troubles to Him. What is invisible to others is so visible to Him. Even when others have it worse, that doesn’t mean I should chalk off my own troubles as nonexistent. It’s still important to acknowledge I have a chronic illness and emotional trauma from past abuse and to grieve the losses. But it is also important for me to open my heart more to what I can still do that others can’t. To open my heart to all the blessings still surrounding me. To be grateful for His upholding love and grace through every loss in my life. To remember that He can transform the physical and emotional weariness into the beauty of growing stronger in Him.

grievinghowplanschange-6

I want to open my eyes more to the beauty around me. To see God’s beauty everywhere. To thank Him more. Even for ordinary, everyday things like seeing a dog as he sticks his head out of an open car window, the wind flapping his lips into a silly grin. So happy in the Creator who created him. I want to automatically whisper, “Thank You, God, for showing me this.”

I put too much pressure on myself to perform at this website. If I don’t post something every week, I feel like I’m a failure to God, to others, to myself. That’s not true. If I feel in my heart I need to rest from it, I need to listen. It’s ok if a new post doesn’t come out every single Tuesday. It’s ok if I don’t feel strong enough to write vulnerably every time. It’s ok even to just share nature photos and/or a sentence or two. God can make one word or photo breathe hope into someone’s heart just as well as many words. Nothing is impossible with Him!

possiblewithGod

“Then Jesus said, ‘Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.’ He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and His apostles didn’t even have time to eat.”
Matthew 6:31 NLT

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:28-30 The Message

A Child's Trust What is something God taught you this summer?
Are you in the midst of a heavy trial? What is giving you hope?

“Find Rest”
Francesca Battistelli

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