Growing up in the woods of Minnesota meant spending a lot of time traipsing through cold wet snow.
And even though I was born and bred in those harsh winters, I hated every minute of it.
It could have been my cold-induced asthma, or my wildly under-qualified outdoor attire. Either way, all I knew is that the least amount of time I had to be outside the better.
For those who have not had to opportunity to experience a Minnesota winter, they may not realize that it typically extends from late October to late March, far too long for anyone’s sanity.
As an adult, I now love winter. I have the proper clothes, the best boots (seriously, the fur trim rocks!), and the cutest hat. I even consider myself quite the snowshoer (pretty much walking with tennis rackets on your feet).
But what I didn’t realize as a kid was that all those nasty winters I experienced as a child contributed to my love of winter now. Each one helped to thicken my blood, making me more immune to the frigid temperatures.
This is not so different to the winter seasons I’ve experienced in life as well. Abuse, loss, depression, neglect and abandonment were all horrible seasons. They were the worst blizzards that life could have thrown at me. I never would have said, “Man, I could really go for a season of loss right now!”
But through each of those seasons, I’ve learned more about God, and more about myself. I’ve learned that God is always there, whether I acknowledge Him or not. Plus, I’ve also learned that I’m a big wuss when it comes to winter weather.
To make things interesting, life has been pretty Minnesotan and has thrown many long and nasty winters my way. My current seasons of financial stress, health problems, children’s health problems and more have been some of the worst winter weather I’ve experienced.
Yes, I’ve still had to go through those winter seasons, but I haven’t walked through them alone!
God has been there, helping me to keep my faith from faltering. He’s even placed people around me to remind me of the unseen things that God has done in these seasons; a church family to help financially, a donated car, friends to help with advice for our children and so much more!
And despite how bad each blizzard has been, the snow has always cleared, spring has always come and my hope has been restored.
Now, when winter starts coming, and I see the first signs of frost in the air, I don’t run and hide indoors with the shades down. Instead, I strap on my snowshoes, put on my fanciest warm coat, throw on my tasseled fleece hat and head out to endure the blizzard head on.
Great visual!!!! My “word” for next year is TRUST….in spite of what winter may bring!
That is such a great word Karen! I haven’t come up with my 2014 word yet, but that should totally make the short list 🙂
Crystal Walton says
I was just mulling over something very similar yesterday during a walk. I certainly don’t want to relive the pain I’ve gone through. And I’d be lying if I said I had constant joy throughout it–or even a morsel at times. But, looking back, I’m thankful for those seasons. Because those places of brokenness become places of identification with others. My desire to see others walk in healing and freedom isn’t simply an abstract thought; it’s a yearning from those tear-stained-floor-moments that have connected my heart with theirs. And in that connection, there is joy to face future winters.
I would have a hard time choosing to go through those seasons myself (if there was a choice that is), but that connection is something quite beautiful.
Wendy Lavender says
Thank you for your beautiful words. Surely a reminder that even though we go through dark times, the light is at the end of the tunnel, and one day, with the help of God, we will see our way clear. For Jesus is the Light Of The World!!!
God bless you and Happy New Year!!
Thanks Wendy! Same to you 🙂
Hopefully that reminder will help in your New Year’s planning, I know it will help in mine!
Esther, loved the imagery here. Reminded me of Narnia, always winter and never Christmas until the resurrection of Aslan ushers in the hope of spring.
This year I have found myself seeking God more and more just for more of Him. Last year I had a major stroke and spent the year totally depending on Him. It was amazing. Such intimacy and all initiated by Him. This year the Lord has healed me but I struggle far more to be so close to Him. I’ve even caught myself thinking I was in a better place when I was so very ill.
I want to learn that “all is grace” in practice in my life.
Bless you for your writing, sorry for my not quite thought through response.
Love Ruth x
I love your response Ruth! It can be odd to think of yourself as having been in a better place while in the midst of struggle, all because it is so easy to fall into the routine of being self dependent rather than God dependent during the easier times.
Thank you for this word about winter. And thank you for not being a Southerner writing about winter! They really just don’t get it. As a Minnesotan, you absolutely do. I have a love-hate relationship with Alaska winters (snow from September to April), but there is nothing like new-fallen snow for beauty. Wishing you a Happy New Year!
Yes. There is a difference! (I say this as it is -20 degrees outside)
I think the same is true in our lives though. Like the difference between 1st world and 3rd world problems. We can’t fully understand unless we’ve been there.
Shelly Hendricks (@Renewed_Daily) says
Love this!! Your winter attire is like putting on the whole armor of God! I can relate, as I live with chronic illness and disability. We have to grow to sterner stuff, and God never leaves us lacking in supply of provision! Heart Hugs, Shelly <3
Thank goodness he gives us plenty! 🙂
As a Minnesotan, I hope I can also get to the point where I can strap on some snowshoes and enjoy the winter. But I absolutely agree, those who endure the long months of darkness and cold, appreciate Spring the most. God always comes through.
I wouldn’t want to wish the darkness and cold on anyone, but I think even coming alongside someone in that season can be enough to help you really understand the difference.
Being a person who thrives on organization and easy living…I am passionate (too strong?) about containers! Here is what I am getting for my studio. Very cool personalized boxes, retro, vintage… check out my nephew’s latest offering on etsy.
Love your sharing topped with a picture that speaks a thousand words. God is in it – in all seasons of our lives. Even though coming from Brisbane, Australia (previously from Singapore), where we don’t see snow nor experience the harshness if it, Esther, your sharing has given me a glimpse of God’s goodness in our different parts of the world. He promised to never leave us nor forsake us – we just have to cling on to Him and will find Him there pursuing us and comforting us. God was there, is there and will be there for you and me this year and forevermore . Happy New Year … from Australia to America – He is the same God for us all.
Happy New Year to you as well Laura!
Teresa Kuhl says
Esther- you have walked through some winters in your life- and there will likely be more to come! As a Minnesota girl who has walked through her share of winters as well, even in the middle of July, I admire you greatly for the beautiful woman of God you have become!
Thanks so much Teresa! 🙂
Diane Skeldon says
Beautiful imagery and photography. Absolutely loved the post too. Our winter has been more like I remember from 1974 when I first moved here and winter from when Hannah and Esther were kids. Before moving here I lived out East and never believed people and cars could function in these kind of winters. Now I laugh out loud when those who live out East think 18 above is bitterly cold.
Thanks Diane! It’s funny when I think about comparing winters over past winters. Maybe it’s the Minnesotan in me that can’t help but compare everything to weather, but this is so true even in those seasons of life.
What a great analogy coupled with an insightful truth. Thank you for posting this!
Thanks for reading! 🙂
Beth WIlliams says
Love the analogy Esther.
I’ve had my share of “winters” also and it does strengthen you and turns you back toward God. I’ve also realized that going through some of those winters allows you to help others when they encounter the same winter.
Imagine one day we will get to see God and never ever have to go through a winter again! Praise God! 🙂
Totally Beth! I’m looking forward to that eternal ‘summer’! 🙂
Don’t die in the winter for spring is coming and will bring new life Shalom.
Thank God for Spring! 🙂
I’m in Minnesota too and it does toughen you up. Makes the hard seasons of life a little more manageable.
That’s kind of funny. I had been on a missions trip to Panama this summer and people were talking about the group of women from ‘Minnesota’ as being the tough hard working gals! lol
Becky C says
A huge discovery for me, just yesterday! After losing my husband then my job a couple of years ago ( and then realizing what anxiety was) I found myself having to move my life in with a friend a little over an hour away. I love the new area and am saving to buy a home here and I have some work here…I’m seeing progress.
Weekends, however, become so full and busy since I head back to the town I grew up In and near where I raised the kids…and my hairdresser (stylist now!) is. Aren’t we supposed to enjoy the weekends after working so hard during the week? Well, I had such anxiety over that list of 13 steps that nothing went right, I left with no time to spare so when I got the call that we need more of that fabric that is only in that shop near me, I had to cancel my loooonggg awaited haircut so I could get it. We are working on a quilt for a wedding gift, as a family…that trumps. ANXIETY set in and didn’t leave me until night fall. Nothing was accomplished and the sewing was called off, for this week.
Me, the analyzer, finally realizes I’ve got to do something different, I can’t expect to get that list of 13, mostly scheduled, events done and I can’t find peace that way. I have decided to reevaluate what I can do here and there. While I love my hairdresser, I’ll have to go through the pain of finding another one “just right” for me here..one step at a time..