Tag Archives: snow

The Healing Hush of Stillness

Be still, and know that I am God. ~ Psalm 46:10 KJV

snow new deck

The hush that accompanies a heavy snow speaks quiet into my soul. The white blanket muffles the sounds, and even with the cold, I feel somehow insulated.

The snow changes everyday noises too. The ground underneath my feet now gives off a crunch instead of a clack or a thud. Even my car tires make a wonderful, squeaky sound as I pull into our cul-de-sac on a cold, snowy night.

There’s stillness in a freshly snowed-in world that I don’t experience at other times, and it makes me want to do calm things—like bake cinnamon rolls, read a good book, or take a leisurely walk to watch snowflakes fall.

When it snows at night, one of my favorite things to do is to brew myself a hot cup of herb tea, turn off all the lights, and watch the snowflakes out my window as they drift earthward in the glow of the lamplight.

God feels very close in these times. Perhaps the changes in routine, the slowing down for a snowy day, and the hushed, snow-muffled sounds help my heart quiet. I’m not sure. But I notice the Lord in the stillness.

There are many types of noise in life. A blaring radio and angry, honking rush hour traffic is noise. Busy schedules and long to-do lists are noise. Hateful words, unjust criticism is noise. But noise can also be found inside us. Worry and fear rattle around in our souls until they feel harried and loud instead of hushed and peaceful. Anger—whether at others or ourselves can make our hearts clang with rapid heartbeats and heated scenarios. Taking those outside voices of negativity and assault into my interior places—owning them. Perhaps that’s the worst kind of noise.

But Jesus says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

The world curses. There is pain. Disappointment,

The heart bruises. Broken relationship. Abuse. Verbal and emotional scarring.

It was part of Jesus’ crushing too.

And from the fragrance comes freedom.

He says we are worthy.

He says we are loved.

Though our sins and the sins of those who wounded us are many, He says, “Come, let’s talk this over, . . . no matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can take it out and make you as clean as freshly fallen snow” (Isaiah 1:18, TLB).

Like the blanket of white which covers my yard, unmarred by a single footstep, He covers me.

I am as clean as freshly fallen snow.

I am untouched by noise of the enemy.

All is blanketed, hushed, as the presence of Jesus reminds me of the truth.

I am new. Safe. Pure. Enveloped in His feathery blanket of white.

So are you.

Sweet Jesus, let Your peace fall upon me, as pure and gentle as snowflakes. May I know You in this hushed moment. May I believe in my purified state.

Join us each day through December 25 for my journey to the manager–from a child who believed Christmas was taboo to a woman who longs to worship at Christmas. These devotional thoughts are excerpted from Soul Scents: Flourish, which releases soon. If you’re chiming in late, you can see the whole series here. Just scroll down to December 1 in this category.

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Broken and Healing

Denver boasts one of those late spring storms of destruction. My beautiful, fragrant tree, the one I love most of all, got hit this time. From her broken, jagged limbs come these thoughts.

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He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound.
~Isaiah 61: 1 NKJV

My beautiful ornamental pear tree is broken.

Just days ago I photographed her glory, an explosion of glorious white blossoms which scented the air with a fragrance that must be a whiff of heaven itself. I posted pictures to Facebook, and over sixty people liked the photo, some commenting on how perfect and pretty she was.

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Then the April snow began—the heavy, wet kind. At first blooms looked pretty, just slightly coated with snow that sparkled.

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Then they bent to the wet weight. Soon, tattered, they hung limp. Then even the limbs of that beautiful tree began to droop. Yesterday my husband shook the lower branches, hoping to protect her.

But the snow fell all night.

This morning I had to duck beneath her drooping arms to get to my car.

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While I worked the snow continued.

By the time I pulled around the corner to return home, it had happened. What last week were strong branches a child could climb upon were now severed limbs, snapped by the cold temperatures and the weight of the snow. My beautiful, beautiful tree is broken, jagged, wounded.

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My heart has been that way. Has yours?

A friend told me trees often break because they haven’t been pruned properly or at the right time. The Internet says you should wait until the cold of winter is passed to prune. In fact, late fall, when the tree is dormant is the best time. We pruned too early this year. On one of those glorious spring days we cut the limbs that were too close too our roof. I wonder if that’s why my favorite tree couldn’t handle this last late storm? Or maybe we didn’t prune the right places. I read today about the very precise way to prune a tree. It’s important to cut away the weak places so the tree can grow strong and robust.

I don’t know if a more expert tree trimmer could have prevented the damage I gaze at through my office window. Some storms are just too much no matter what you do. But it makes me think about God. About me. About this book.

In this volume of Soul Scents, I’m sharing storm stories. There were times my husband and I were broken. Parts of our life were dormant, and we were pruned. Jobs, churches, friendships, ministry, life passions—cut away neatly. The pruning started before the big storms. But there were weak places we held too tightly, refusing the snip of the pruning shears. During the storm those places fell too, only instead of neat, clean cuts they fell broken and jagged.

The good news is that even when a life storm rages harder and longer than we think possible, there is One who never leaves us. Sometimes He wisely prunes away the weaknesses; sometimes the world assaults and breaks us; other times we’re foolish and break ourselves. But He is the Master Gardner and knows just what to do help us grow strong again.

My tree will live. The snow stopped falling about an hour ago. The April temperature melts the mounded white more quickly. Even in the time since I began typing this devotional the beautiful limbs, almost relieved of the extra weight, have lifted. Those that snapped are the only ones now hugging the ground.

I love that tree.

I’m anxious to cut away the dead weight, but I am not heartless. I grieve those beautiful, blossom covered limbs that live no longer. Soon they will shrivel completely. What shocks me, though, is how many blossoms are springing back to life on the branches that survived! My pretty tree will soon be covered with fresh new leaves. She may have a few lopsided places, but she’ll keep growing. Next years she’ll stand stronger than ever. Her blossoms will once again decorate our yard and send their beautiful fragrance wafting right into my soul.

My friend, our Lord comes to heal our broken places. He refuses to leave us captive to our hurts or forever gazing at our destruction. He beckons us to step away from the rubble. He clears away the dead and severed parts, cutting the dead weight at those jagged breaks. He binds the wounds so they can heal.

Some things heal quickly. Others take a long time. Some wounds may be for heaven.

All wounds will heal.

Daily we stand stronger. More beautiful. And our lives send the aroma of Christ wafting out to souls hungry for His fragrance.

Sweet Lord, I trust You. Even when it is hard. Help me to surrender to pruning shears so that my weaknesses are more easily cut away. I want to stand strong even in storms. I know there are things that have been severed through storm, things I’ve held too tightly for normal pruning. These are especially jagged wounds. But even here weaknesses are cut away. Heal me where I am broken. I trust You to do it well. Where the wounds are the deepest I trust You to lead me out slowly, as I can handle the changes. I believe You are making me stronger. More beautiful. Make my life a fragrant offering that draws other to You.

*As I penned this devotional today I knew it was right for the first week of Soul Scents: Bloom, which releases in June. Books 1 & 2 are available now.

Skinny Jeans and Starbucks (Day 120)

Read this journal entry at your own risk!

Day 120 It was a drive Sam around and then wait kind of day–and uh, so I played.skinny jeans

When I took Sam to physical therapy I chose to shop rather than workout. How could I not? I happened to know that Target had a major clearance and, hey, I’ve lost enough weight I need some clothes! I bought  skinny jeans for $6.88. When I showed them to Sam, he snickered and said, “I guess you’re ready for Bingo.”

Huh? Then it dawned on me that he thought my super cool, flowered skinny jeans were for the older crowd who frequent his baseball team’s Bingo fundraisers.

Not a problem. I’ll just wear them in front of his friends if he continues to tease me.

I wanted a new coat I don’t swim in, but I didn’t find anything on clearance that I loved. I don’t want to buy just because it is inexpensive, which is my temptation. I want to buy because it looks fantastic.

Later it was off to Driver’s Ed with Sam. I had a wonderful time working at Starbucks while I waited for him for three hours. I wrote a scene about snow as I stared out the plate glass window at the big, fluffy flakes waltzing to the ground. (Pretty cool my WIP (Work In Progress) needed a snow scene!)

Of course snow means coffee. I did it. I ordered a yummy Starbucks. Do you have any idea how many calories are in those things?? Shocking! My favorites have more calories than I eat most meals now! I did modify what I would have bought in the past and ordered something with less calories, but I also bought one of those tiny cake pops.

I guess when a girl can fit into new skinny jeans she can handle a little Starbucks.

But when Sam and I finally made it home through the storm, I ate only a small bowl of low calorie taco soup for supper! ~ Feb. 20

Real Time:

Okay, okay. I hope that post wasn’t too risky for you. If you suddenly skip exercise to shop or can’t resist a Starbucks run, just remember yesterday’s post and make your NEXT choice to return to the path of perseverance.

Seriously, I didn’t feel badly about my choices that day. I was mindful at Starbucks. (The old me would have had a 500 calorie white chocolate peppermint!) And my NEXT CHOICE  was to eat light and healthy after my three hours with the snow and doctored up coffee.

Now that I’m a normal weight and working only to refine what I’m already comfortable with in my body, I stand by what I’ve said all along. I want this journey to be something I do long-term. I want life-change, not just weight loss.

I’m not going to deprive myself of special Starbucks moments for the rest of my life. On the other hand, the new me plans to be mindful for the rest of my life about how I treat my body. My norm will be healthy choices. My norm will be intentionality about a lifestyle that includes movement, exercise, and sunshine.

My goal is a healthier future, not just a skinnier today. (Which is why I LOVE the nutritional value of my BENew products!)

For me, the weight loss journey must be sustainable. And I can sustain an occasional Starbucks, just not a daily one.

How About You? How do you move toward your goals of a healthier you in a way you can sustain?

Share with your Twitter Buddies:

The goal is a healthier future, not just a skinnier today.

The weight loss journey must be sustainable.

Snowflakes and a Hard Heart Made Soft – Day 81

snowflake in windo

One of our homemade snowflakes, which I finally took down the first day of Spring, just in time for more snow!

I’m either totally awesome, brave, and strong . . . or lacking in common sense.

I just returned from a four mile walk. It’s 9 degrees, and I can barely move my cheeks. But I feel empowered. It’s a football playoff day at our house. The boys, glued to the TV, are begging for homemade pizza, and I just earned 520 calories of cheesy goodness. Glad I didn’t splurge yesterday just because I was sad. Glad I was intentional about choosing when and how to eat a heavy, high calorie food.

I awoke angry this morning. All those tests stirred up the weird sensations in my head. It was as bad as it was a few months ago. I cried. I don’t want to go back to that level of functionality. I’d found a peace with the last six months. After all, I’ve received much healing in all parts of who I am, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I’m in better shape than I’ve been in years. I’d even come to the place I could thank God for the process, be grateful I was “benched” so that I would take time to take care of ME.

But not this morning. I was mad at God. Afraid of what the future holds—how many more tests, what therapies are a head. I’m tired of spending so much time and energy focused on getting well. I want to get on with my goals for life!

I remembered what my friend said about my walking, about how it was Eden walks, when the Lord and I walked together, connected like Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden. And I didn’t feel all sweet and good about that. I wanted Jerry to be healthy enough to walk with me. I didn’t want to walk alone, even if it meant an opportunity to walk with God. I was mad at Him anyway.

And of course that attitude made me feel even worse because I don’t like to be mad at God. I want to WANT to spend time with Him. I knew my emotions were childish and petty, that this world isn’t heaven and getting mad at God doesn’t do anything to help me.

Maybe that’s why I was so determined to walk despite the cold: to prove to myself that I choose God even when I’m angry, when life hurts, when my emotions rail against Him. (Well, that and I wanted to enjoy no-guilt homemade pizza with my boys!)

So I took off. I made a goal of walking to the grocery store. I figured that would give me a specific plan and a place to warm-up halfway through. As I walked it was hard to think about anything except how cold it was. But when you walk with God (even if you’re ignoring Him) cool things can happen.

Cool thing #1 is that even though it wasn’t snowing, some flakes from the dusting we got last night jumped from a roof as I walked by and followed each other in a lazy waltz as they descended to the ground. My heart lifted at the beauty, and a song began in my heart:

And somewhere it’s snowing

See the soft drifting down

As the snowflakes surrender

To the hardening ground

Like the good grace of Jesus

That now covers our sin

In the kingdom of heaven

It’s snowing again.

I sang a little as I walked, breathing in the cold and panting between choruses. His grace washed over the hard ground of my heart. I sensed His love, His patience with my bad attitude.

Cool thing #2 happened as I passed a house that always has amazing Christmas decorations. Of course they are down now, but each holiday season I make a point to drive past this house and enjoy the array of Christmas scenes they display. When the kids were little, it was a family experience.  I’ve long treasured the gift the people of this house give the people of mine.

This house is over a mile from ours, so I don’t know these people. I’ve signed their guest book, but never been able to thank them personally. As I walked by a woman was unloading a bunch of groceries in the miserable cold. I rushed across the street and started helping. Of course I’m a total stranger to her, but I just had to do it. It was just a tiny token of appreciation for all the joy they have brought my family and me. It felt so good to finally thank them face-to-face.

Of course you don’t have a unique encounter like that without thinking about Jesus. I felt His smile, and I returned it with one of my own. I’m convinced He orchestrated that sweet moment so my anger could melt into joy.

Cool thing #3 blossomed as I thought about Him again. I thought of how He is with me every single moment, and how I am never alone even when it feels like I am. I imagined Him walking next to me. I thought about what I would say to a friend walking with me and tried to concentrate on chatting with Him like that. I was only successful for short spurts before my mind wandered to whatever caught my attention as I walked past. This frustrated me. I longed for deeper connection, for a true Eden walk.

Then I thought about how it is when I walk with Jerry. Sometimes we talk, and sometimes we just enjoy walking together, letting our thoughts drift in companionable silence. I looked to my left and believed Jesus was right there. I smiled because He chose the side next to the traffic, just like Jerry does. And I felt protected and loved.

Cool thing #4 happened as I warmed up at the grocery store. There was a wonderful woman offering samples. I had walked into my usual lunch time, and my cheeks were stiff with cold, so I paused a moment to accept a sample (60 calories, I checked) and chat while I warmed.

What a woman! Eighty-five years old, she retired from the police department and works at the sample table so she can travel the world! How cool is that?? Just a few months ago she flew with her daughters to Barcelona and the cruised the Mediterranean. What an inspiration! I want to live fully at 85, continue to chase my dreams, find places to make friends and be useful, like she has.

My new friend Norma had a strong faith that shone as we talked. She told me pieces of her story—and isn’t that what life is really about, how we all live in the big story of life and how your story and mine intersect?

I saw her strength, her joy, her willingness to reach out to me, a perfect stranger, in the midst of some incredibly difficult circumstances.  I saw how she didn’t stop living when hard things came, how she found ways to breathe and celebrate and travel all 50 states and most of Europe.

Warmed in the grace of her smile, Jesus and I headed back home. We didn’t talk much. I was so cold I mostly just wanted to walk fast and get to the heat of my very own house, but that whole freezing two miles I knew Him and His presence.

Sometimes life’s journey freaks me out, makes me mad, disappoints me. But today’s four mile journey in the cold reminded me that even in tough situations cool surprises happen.                  ~ January 12, 2013

Real Time:

I’m glad the Lord is so patient with me! I’ve been mad at him again this week. I really hope I outgrow that someday.

What About You?

How does anger affect weight loss. What do you do when you’re mad?