A Cure For the Winter Blahs

 

snow pic 2Today I woke to a gray sky. Most of the leaves had long since blown off the trees exposing dark limbs. Snow covered the lifeless ground. Depression knocked on my wreathless door. Uninspiring and unmoving, this winter day felt bleak. I wondered why unlike bears that hibernate or caterpillars that cocoon, God made humans so we continued cognizant through the long winter. I reached for the old reliable cure that has worked through the ages. Even King David, in the book of 1 Samuel 30:6 is said to have “strengthened himself in the Lord.” I wonder if his personal quiet time looked a little bit like mine today.

Prayer journaling~ This morning my faith felt weak. I needed strength. As I took up my prayer journal, I confessed this weakness to God. I sat in my blue recliner, pouring out my heart to God on the page. I wrote, “I feel like a wilted brown leaf blowing in the winter winds. I need your touch. I need your sunlight. I need your love and comfort.” Somehow the physical process of writing, seeing the ink fill the empty void and watching the pen move across the page felt so validating. There were some things I needed to tell God and get off my chest. I shared them honestly. I then wrote praises to God and some things for which I felt thankful.

Bible studying~ I paused for a moment and tried to figure out what passage of the Bible to study. This morning, I felt so uninspired. Nothing seemed to jump out at me. My husband said he studied from 1 Kings. I flipped to 1 Kings then paged over to chapter 18 starting at verse 16. In my mind’s eye, I was up on Mt. Carmel and watched as Elijah set up a contest between the true God and the false gods the people were worshiping. There was an altar and a sacrifice. “The god who answers by fire-he is God” (v. 24). It was almost 1,000 false prophets against Elijah. As all the people from the nation looked on, I watched the prophets of Baal dance and wail and even cut themselves. This went on all day. No answer. Elijah’s turn came. He called the people near. He drenched the altar with water three times. Then he prayed, “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God…” I then watched God answer with fire so hot it devoured the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, the soil, and the water. God spoke to my heart about having the quality of faith that places God on a stage to let him work. On my journal page, I scrawled a prayer for God to let my testimony cause people to shout as they did on Mt. Carmel, “The Lord- he is God! The Lord- he is God!” (v. 39).

Singing~ As I moved into intercession for others, I took up my guitar and sang, “Great is Thy Faithfulness”. I thought of how faithful God was, through every season. Even winter.

Praying for others~ I took out my prayer list and started praying. It helped focus my eyes on others needs. I emerged from my quiet time refreshed.

If you have the winter blahs take time to write a prayer to God. Study a favorite story from the Bible. Sing a song to God. Pray for others. This time-tested cure has worked for centuries. Likely, it will work for you.

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Time to Mend

Sewing NeedleI sat on my white embroidered bedspread and opened my sewing kit. It was so easy to put off mending. It took time out of my busy schedule to sit and piece something back together. But I wanted to wear this particular piece of clothing so there I sat. Stringing thread from the spool, I cut off the length I needed. I squinted with one eye, threading the thin white strand through the eye of the needle. As I began sewing, my mind lingered on Mary and Joseph’s relationship. I pushed and pulled my sharp needle through the fabric pondering the tumultuous start to their lives together.

How did Mary feel when she found out about her betrothal to Joseph? Did her eyes sparkle beneath her veil? Out of all the young women in the village, Joseph was chosen for her! I imagined her as she hummed wedding tunes, walking with a spring in her step as she went to the village well. Perhaps she helped her mother make bread. Maybe she assisted her Mother in altering an heirloom bridal gown and veil for the wedding. As was the custom, the family of the bride anticipated the moment of surprise when the bridegroom, Joseph, would show up at their house, wedding party in tow, to make Mary fully his own. Betrothal was much more binding than our modern engagement. Mary and Joseph were considered husband and wife in practically every sense except the physical act of marriage. But before Joseph came with the wedding party to make Mary fully his (to have and to hold) Mary was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit. I imagined the quiet whispers and lies spread around the village like fire on a match stick. “Did you hear the news? Shame on Joseph! What a disgrace— both of them are from such good families—”

I imagined Joseph’s reaction when he heard. He knew it was not his child. Was it his fellow carpenter? How about that farmer’s son? To quietly release Mary from their betrothal was the only option; he was planning a divorce.

As I pulled the needle through the fabric, the needle poked my thumb. I thought about the humble elation Mary felt when the angel Gabriel told her she was to carry the Son of God. She wrote a song “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices—” (Luke 1:46-47). Now everywhere she went did she see that disappointed look in Joseph’s eyes. I’m quite sure it haunted her. Did Mary toss and turn on her bed, weeping in quiet anguish before her Lord— “I am a virgin! Yet how can I convince Joseph? You said nothing was impossible for You. God I need your help.”

As I finished my mending, I remembered an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. The Bible doesn’t record the time of mending between Joseph and Mary, but between the lines I could see them taking long walks in the starlight, perhaps learning to hold one another’s hand again. I think it took time for Mary to forgive Joseph for misjudging her character. I’m quite sure Joseph had to get over his shock and accept the situation.

Our minds often take time to unlearn misunderstandings, even though the evidence is clear as a wedding Saturday in June. Sometimes in our marriages, we can think we know something yet misunderstanding clouds our eyes. If this sounds all too familiar, maybe it’s time to take time— to mend.

Listen To My Song “Just For Tonight” 

Letting go of expectations to hold on to happily ever after.