Silent. Soft swirls encircle the trees. Quietly the flakes drift like wafers on piles of whipped cream. Building without a sound until one by one they heap up softly curved drifts that reach windowpanes and block doorways.
The only sound heard is the whipping wind whistling round the corners of the house and through the gaping meadows. The roaring wind drives gentleness across the landscape. Trees bend white, skies are whisked gray, the visible becomes invisible.
We slide into the warmth of our car scooped out from frozen dollops of creamy white. The silent falls. Now heavier than earlier. Quiet tension fills the car as white swoops across the highway. Yellow stripes covered. Familiar land marks, exits all cloaked in a veil of white The quiet broken by the rhythmic smack of wipers feebly clearing our vision. Words are few. Concern for a passable exit. Be still and know that He is God. He is the God who releases snow from the storehouses of heaven ( Job 38:22).
“He spreads the snow like wool…” Psalm 147:16 NIV
We breathe easier. Warm vapors meet chilled windows. Misty clouds form.
I whisper a prayer of thanks~for all who did not venture out for His sacred presence at the funeral. He is here. In the quiet white. In the protection. In the cousins who carefully carry our lives in their car.
Will this winter white bring a peace? Will I see the sound of gentleness? Feel the play of wonderland? My first White almost Christmas buried in so many feelings. It seems an eternity of slapping wiper sounds, whooshing fan blowing warmth into our car. Then the long awaited exit. The softer mounds, the bowing trees relax our taught muscles. Hope is ahead. Home is close.
Just down the blanketed road. Not far. A shovel. A snowblower. A half hour. The car creeps along this familiar street.
In moments, I’ll hear the silence of snow and watch the wind swirl dusts of white powder round the warm lights becokning welcome.
Tomorrow, I’ll hear the wind-sculpted snow layered beneath the bright sparkling sun.
“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10-11 NIV
A glimpse at our adventure in the Winter Wonderland of Minnesota’s 4th worst blizzard.
Linking up with “Ears of a Photo” at High Calling Focus and Imperfect Prose on Thursday
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|Wind-sculpted snow forms soft heavenly feathers|
“I thank my God every time I remember you.” Philippians 1:3 NIV
Thank you all for your prayers and notes of encouragement as my dear husband and I made arrangements for his sister, Carol’s, funeral in Minnesota. It was an arduous but beautiful journey. We spent time with family, friends, and Carol’s caretakers. And we were pummeled by the worst blizzard to hit Minnesota in more than 10 years. Yet, the Lord was faithful in His care of us and in all that he provided. Below, I’ve shared a little bit of our journey.
As we made our way to the airport, stars twinkled in the dark sky of early morning. That time when people say it’s darkest before the dawn. My sleepy head trying to reckon a nighttime sky with the morning hour of 5 o’clock. Silence filled the car as we traversed a sparsely driven highway, but our thoughts were racing. It seemed only fitting that the stars should twinkle and be the only illumination on this otherwise pitch dark morning as heaven welcomed home its “Angel Unaware.” I had not remembered Hubby’s story of how his sister, Carol, received that term of endearment. A title that Hubby’s brother mentioned when he wrote her obituary. Sitting on the tarmac bound for Minnesota, Hubby began to tell me the story. Words caught as he recaptured family memories from those days. “Do you know where that name came from?” eyes filling, he glanced at me. I shook my head, “No.” He turned away, eyes brimming with distant memories. The words caught again as he spoke, “When we were little, my Mom used to tell us about the story written by Dale Evans…”Angel Unaware.” He looked full on and I reached warm comfort to his hand. “It was the story of the little girl they (Dale Evans and Roy Rogers) lost,” his lips quivered. For Hubby’s family, it was the story of the sister and daughter they had lost to Down Syndrome. When Carol was a toddler, it became evident that the best way to care for her was through services provided by the state. Hubby and his family would visit Carol frequently on weekends and take her for walks and trips to the malt shop in town. But the hole in their family remained. In later years, Carol was able to live in a home with only three other residents and work at a laundry where she performed a repetitive type job. We visited Carol every time we made a trip to Minnesota and continued the usual walks with her. For Hubby, it hurt because there was no recollection in Carol’s hazel eyes of who he was. It was one of the deficits that accompanied this disability for Carol. On this last visit, the emptiness of Carol’s room sucked the breath from us. While the staff displayed their love for Carol in a way that was typical of her care throughout the years, the icy cold of the December winter chilled our bones even within the home. The reality of her loss hit hard. The reason for our journey icy clear. Yet, the winter chill would not prevail. The warmth of the loving, stable, and secure environment that had protected and provided for Carol’s physical and emotional health all these years would set our hearts ablaze with gratitude for their effort and praise to the Lord. The Lord had blanketed her with His care through others hands. While we sat in the small church service for Carol, the snow swirled around mounding high drifts on a blizzardy day in Minnesota. Caretakers and residents who planned to come were shut out by the treacherous roads. Extended family outside of the Twin Cities could only send their regards. But for those of us who were gathered in the church, warmth filled our hearts while tears spilled over at the Lord’s presence. He had lifted her On Eagle’s Wings that she might now run and not grow weary, walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40:31). He had covered her with His feathers, and under His wings had provided a refuge and fortress for Carol (Psalm 91:1-4). What began as a starlit journey for us and ended in a blizzard, marked the end of Carol’s earthly journey but just the beginning of her complete joy and freedom in the Lord’s presence. Hubby’s “Angel Unaware” has made it home.
Postscript: In my heart, I had prayed that the Lord would hold the blizzard off for one more day so that all those who knew and loved Carol would be able to attend the church service. I pondered why this had not transpired according to what I thought would be perfect. Then I came home and read a post by another blogger that said, from a human standpoint, nothing was perfect the night Jesus was born. My heart has settled.
Including this post as part of L.L. Barkat’s On, In, and Around Mondays
Will be posting more of the Minnesota blizzard after Christmas. May your Christmas be filled with the love of our Savior.
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It’s a strange place to be. Wandering between joy and unexpected sorrow. Looking forward to rejoicing at someone’s wedding and suddenly hearing I will need to help plan a family funeral. To be suspended above the two, emotions hovering, not sure where to land. All happening within one of the most joyful, albeit, hectic seasons of the year. My resolve to focus on Jesus and His birth this Christmas, to spend quality time in the presence of family and friends evaporated like misty curls into the hanging space. Priorities shift, schedules change, decorations packed in boxes marked Christmas fill joy in the spare bedroom.
Yet the glow of Advent candles warm the kitchen table and our heart-made Nativity set calls us to focus on what really matters. With a Christmas wreath on our front door and a pumpkin in our entry way, inbetween describes more than our emotions this December. We are somewhat out of kilter this season, though I would never claim to be an early decorator.
It’s as if we’ve been pressed into letting go of the extraneous, finding simpler ways, being present to Him and others. So with my heart half full of joy, half full of perplexed sorrow, I move toward the events. With my arm threaded through youngest’s, I wobble on heels too high through a gazebo-decked garden. Dazzling white chairs in neat rows hold hearts joined in joyful celebration for the soon-arriving bride and groom. An evening of unexpected blessings fell from heaven upon us like stardust on the jubilant couple. What the Lord had ordained for that night formed a strong pillar for my suspended emotions. Only the funeral remains. However, the Lord has already paved the way with blessings. A home to share with cousins, the church service performed by a family friend, and time to be present with family we rarely see.
Caught between emotions, floating in space, has proved to be a place where the Lord can demonstrate His provision and providence to us.
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” Psalm 139:7-10 NIV
I will be taking a short break to spend time resting in His love and peace~and being present to my family.
Linking with “On, In, and Around Mondays” at L.L.’s “Seedlings in Stone”
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Chubby little fingers once wrapped around the knit Nativity pieces plopping them in place as we read about the birth of Jesus. Those toddler fingers that so desperately tried to show reverence while placing Mary and Joseph during the gospel reading would be spotted days later clutching a sheep or donkey while his pudgy legs raced pell mell ’round the living room. Occasionally, even Jesus took off in flight. It was a sight that still lifts the corners of my mouth now while my older, wrinkled hands carefully position the figures into our family Nativity set.
|The errant sheep|
Through the years, oldest and youngest sons have vied for who would place which character in their “proper spot”. But now that they are young men, they quietly listen as we read the account of Jesus’ birth. A familiar tradition in our home.
Our “child friendly”, hand-knit Nativity set has been a treasure in our family since our first year of marriage. It wriggled its way into our hearts at a silent-auction fundraiser for our church. A middle-aged woman dropped off a nondescript brown box filled with gifts from her heart and hands portraying each character from a traditional manger scene. A lined piece of notebook paper laid flat in front of the set awaiting someone’s prized bid. When Hubby noticed that no one had cast a vote for this precious handiwork, he thought he’d start an enthusiastic run with a bid of his own and have someone announce this obvious treasure.
Only a couple of meager bids were made for the hand crafted set. Hubby upped the bid one more time. The treasure became ours. Love held our hands and hearts. Knit together like us. We had a Nativity set that represented our new life together.
When our family grew to include children, we knew we were blessed with a durable, interactive manger set that would put the Word of God in their hands~and, by grace, in their hearts.
Giving thanks this week to the Lord 376) for family traditions that have endured the test of time and change 377) for the Lord’s incredible blessing when He set that Nativity apart for us, knowing how it would be the heart of our Christmas celebration 378) for joy in the sorrow~a wedding filled with abundant blessings; a funeral to come that holds blessings of a a life now free in the Lord 379) for Hubby’s safe return from a business trip 380) for little thoughts from friends like homegrown figs and cookies that brightened my day 381) for the Lord’s work in hearts of loved ones on an unsuspecting canvas 382) for sweet fellowship with friends at the wedding 383) for the song that brought to my attention that I need to buy presents for those in need 384) for health returning to all in our family who have been sick 385) for the love of family and friends 386) for warm clothes 387) for a bed to sleep in 388) for a house that shelters me from the weather 389) for crisp, cold, winter mornings
390) for changing seasons
As we usher in the second week of Advent, the focus is on Christ as our Peace. We gathered ’roundthe candle glow and prayed, “Thank you, Jesus, for coming to give us peace. We don’t have to be troubled or afraid. We can have your peace in our hearts. Help us to experience your peace this Christmas and not to be so rushed or busy that we miss you. May your peace guard our hearts and minds as they are focused on you. Help us be messengers of peace in a world that has difficulty finding peace. Amen”
Our Scripture reading was 2 Peter 3:8-14.
May your Advent be filled with great expectations and worship of our King of Kings.
“And they will live securly, for then His greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.
And He will be their peace.” Micah 5: 4b & 5 NIV (capitals, mine)
Is He your peace today?
Linking with the Gratitude Community at Ann Voskamp’s Holy Experience
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When I worked at a Christian School in California, the teachers had the most delicious recipes that they all shared. I incorporated many of them into my holiday baking, sweet delights and Hors D’Oeuvres‘. This year for Thanksgiving, I made a fruit salad pudding from one of the teachers who is also a friend of mine. I call it Amy’s Fruit Salad Pudding. However, I decided to add an extra touch of heaven that fluffs up the fruit salad. Coconut and mini marshmallows. The light and fruity taste contrasted nicely with the heavier taste of turkey, mashed potatoes, and broccoli crumb casserole. (Next week’s Food on Fridays post.) The guys gobbled it down, so I made another creamy bowl for our fun “Leftover Dinner” with our friends. Again it was a big hit and the recipe has been requested far and wide.
So, I thought some of my readers might also like to have a taste of this whipped up side dish that could brighten your holiday meals.
Amy’s Fruit Salad Pudding with a Twist 1 large pkg. lemon INSTANT pudding 1 large pkg. vanilla INSTANT pudding 20 oz. can of crushed pineapple in its own juice 20 oz cam of chunk pineapple in its own juice small can mandarin oranges (drained) 3 handfuls of Kraft mini marshmallows
Mix puddings, pineapples and juice from both cans plus the drained oranges all together. Let set in refrigerator for one hour. Then place the coconut and marshmallows on top of the salad, folding them in. Then fold in the Cool Whip. Set overnight. Serves a lot. Hope your holidays are filled with the joy of Jesus and the love of family and friends. Linking with Food on Fridays Share: Share what you have enjoyed.
A believer in Christ, my heart is given to Him and shared with my husband, our two adult sons, family, and friends. I’m a people person with a passion to encourage and inspire Christian women and others. I write from my heart, sharing my experiences, goals, and vision for living a life centered in God.
I hope you’ll join me on these adventures and follow along as we discover the Lord’s plans for our lives and His whispers to our hearts.