The Long Winter~

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Snow. 

For some this word creates a sense of anticipation and excitement. For me dread sets in. I am a lover of all things sunshine. I enjoy spring, I am nuts about summer, I hesitate to embrace fall because I know it ushers in the dreaded winter season.

Melodramatic? Nope, completely true. Winter, for me, is long, cold, and oft-times depressing. If I were a skier then winter would have a different meaning (and my husband would be so happy), but I am not. Having been raised in a beach community I learned that water and sunshine filled my emotional cup. Winter and snow just don’t.

Socially, the summer season is full of outdoor connections with friends and family, picnics on the grass, walks on the river trails, camping near a beautiful lake, and mountain hikes. Winter feels more like a Netflix binge and early nights.

Having lived in Central Oregon for over 20 years I have learned one thing: the sun does come out again, the seasons do change and I receive the change wholeheartedly!!

Life is kind of like that isn’t it. We all experience seasons of joy, celebration, challenge, and opportunity. Some seasons fly by so very fast, some seasons seem to last a very long time. Seasons of challenge can feel dark and overwhelming, even isolating. We ask ourselves, “will this ever end? Where is the light at the end of this tunnel?’

Just like the weather seasons, our life seasons will ebb and flow but it will not always be “winter”, the sun will come out again.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 says,

 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

Oftentimes, we lose heart or during seasons of challenge, because it doesn’t appear anything is happening.  We lose heart. Learning to trust that God will usher in a new season change can be difficult.

However, The Lord created different seasons in our lives to shape us and create us into who He intended us to be. He uses seasons to show us that He is good and can “make everything beautiful for its own time” Seasons (good and bad) are ways for God to capture our hearts and our faith.

If you feel you are in a long winter season take heart today; spring is just around the corner!

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The “Climb”

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As I stood at the base of Smith Rock in Bend, Oregon preparing to embark on a hiking journey up Misery Ridge for the first time this season, I felt a little overwhelmed.  I looked at the rocky path that led to switchbacks that would propel me to the top of the cliff above; I knew that for the next 40 minutes I would be required to continue to put one foot in front of the other even though my lungs would be screaming “STOP”!

As I began to climb I tried to keep my eyes on the path and on the beautiful view around me because I found that whenever I focused on how far I still had to go, I doubted my ability to press on. Step by step, switch back by switch back, I pressed on. As I took my last four steps to the top of the trail I could peek across the horizon and the expansive view ahead of me; it was Beautiful! All the effort it took to get to the top was well worth it!

In thinking about the climb the Lord directed me to remember, again, that whenever I am facing challenges and changes that could overwhelm me I need to remember to keep moving, one wise step after another, I need to take time to enjoy the “view” along the way, and I need to discipline myself to focus on the journey without getting overwhelmed with the destination.  My first time climbing Misery Ridge I had no idea that there was such an incredible view at the end of the challenging hike.  If I had aborted the climb because of weariness I would have missed enjoying an incredible view!

The Word says: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5   , “I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?

Life is full of “climbs” though I much prefer the “green pastures” along the way! However, if there wasn’t a Misery Ridge or two in our lives we would miss the opportunity to see something incredible unfold in front of us that would have been impossible without the climb.  So get your hiking boots on and “let’s go!”  🙂