Three Reasons Why I Love Snow (and Why You Should Too)

The first snowfall of the season came to my Southwest Michigan home yesterday afternoon.

Like many northern folk, I have a love/hate relationship with snow. I love it around Christmastime, as most people do, but soon thereafter I begin to tire of it as the Michigan winter drags on. Lately, however, I have begun to notice a difference in my attitude toward snow. It seems the scales have tipped in favor of love for the crystal white bounty, and yesterday as I watched it float to earth, I considered three reasons why.

Reason No. 1: Snow Slows

I know that snow itself isn’t always the most practical thing in the world, but I love the subtle message that seems to linger in the air whenever a significant snowfall comes. “Careful now, go slow,” it seems to say. I love to step outside and listen to it whisper. To listen to it fall quiet, peaceful, and gracefully slow.

To me, it’s mesmerizing, and makes it nearly impossible not to follow suit. At the first sight of snow, I want to grab a cup of coffee or hot cocoa, a book, a blanket, and curl into the moment that God is giving.

It is a gift on snowy days to be at home, but even on the days when I have to be out, shopping for groceries, making appointments, fetching this and that, the snow and ice require a slow and careful approach to the activities of the day. Is it convenient? Hardly, but I rather like the excuse to go slow. In today’s hectic world, it’s a welcome change of pace.

Reason No. 2: Snow Keeps Me Young

In a world of wrinkle-free this and age-defying that, snow brings youth and childlike joy. Sledding. Snowmen. Snow angels. Snow ball fights. “Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes…”

Tell me, what else brings youthfulness as instantly and completely as playing in the snow.

In recent years this joy has been heightened by my daughter’s awareness of the fun snow brings. To watch wonder fill her eyes as she gazes out cold window pane at snow piling deep brings wonder to my eyes as well. She is three. I am 31, but when the first snow flurries begin to fall we are made the same, and our giddy hearts cry joy.

Reason No. 3: Snow Is Pure Beauty

It is snow beauty that gets me every time; that I love most. Whether it piles in inches and feet or softly dusts the earth, snow always comes radiant and speaks to me of its creator.

Who but God could make snow? Who but God could create the soft kiss of heaven that composes each unique flake? Who but God could paint a snowy morning and make the most barren landscape shine new?

Living in the north it is all too common to hear people around me commiserate together on how much they hate the snow. I’ve done so myself, many times, especially come March when I’m tired of the cold and long to see something…anything green.

Here’s a little secret that I myself am learning: God is in the snow. His glory, beauty, creativity, and ability to make all things new can be seen in each and every flake. Don’t we miss something wonderful, when all we do is gripe and complain? Don’t we miss the wonder that God is giving, that nature displays? Despite the cold and the length of the season, I don’t want to miss out on God’s special brand of wonder.

It happens every year, when the cold bites hard I am taunted by the love/hate feeling that winter brings.  But my love for snow beats strong, reminding my heart to slow, feel young, feel joy, and relish in His beauty.

After all, the Michigan winters are long and the snow is going to be here for a while, I might as well bundle up, grab my cup of cocoa and enjoy it while it lasts.

Goodness, Provision, and Love

Earlier this year I read a blog posted by Ann Voskamp on her website, In this post she told a story about Maximilian Kolbe.

In 1941 Maximilian Kolbe was a prisoner of Auschwitz, the infamous Nazi concentration camp. Approximately one month before his death he wrote the following quote in a letter to his mother:

“The good God is everywhere and provides for everything with love.”

The story of Maximilian and his concentration camp reality, of his heart belief in God’s goodness and love, of his failure to be warped by evil and darkness, has stayed with me, long after reading this post.

For the past few days I have been at work, writing my family’s Christmas letter. It is a task that falls to me every year, and every year I wonder at how to make it different yet share again the message of Christmas.

This year, as I was thinking, trying to decide what to say, what to write, I remembered the story of Maximilian and immediately wanted to share his quote in our letter. God has faithfully provided for my family this year and Maximilian’s quote seemed the perfect fit.

I started to write of the ways we’ve seen God’s goodness, provision, and love:

The growth of our fledgling business.

The scholarship I was given to attend my first writing conference.

Our girls, healthy, growing, smart, and beautiful.

The joy of being with family for Christmas.

Visits from friends both near and far.

Our nephew Zach, born premature at 24 weeks, now one year old and thriving.

A church community.

My writing group.

Dear friends.

Ten years of marriage.

A roof over our heads and food in our bellies.

The list goes on and on. It’s hard to find a way to express what God has done for us in the nutshell way of a Christmas letter, but I trust that our family and friends will understand if our letter runs long this year.

Even now, as I review this list in the writing of this post, my heart swells, tears rim my eyes, and a smile for God’s love cannot be contained.

When I finished my letter I read it word for word. I read it to see, to make sure I had captured what my heart was trying to say.

Displayed in my letter, in my words, in my telling of what God has done, Maximilian’s quote rang true. But my letter needed an ending, a Christmas wish for those I love.

I stopped for a moment to consider the Christmas story and what it means to me, right here, right now, this day, this year.

Goodness, provision, love. In a moment of knowing, of seeing with my heart, I found the words to end my letter.

Goodness, provision, love. This is what I want my friends and family to know this ChristmasI want my loved ones to know what God has done for us, for my family, but more than that, I want them to know what God has done for US, for all of us in the birth of His son Jesus. For it is in the story of Christmas that God displayed his ultimate gesture of goodness, provision and love through the gift of Jesus Christ.

Jesus, born into our world, is the ultimate expression of God’s goodness.

Jesus, and his death on the cross for my sin, for our sin, is the ultimate expression of God’s provision.

Jesus. Born. Living in skin among us. Dying on a cross to save us. Rising again. Alive. Seeking relationship with you, with me. Naming us His beloved. Coming again to rescue His own.

Jesus, is the ultimate expression of God’s love.

I ended my letter with the following words, and my wish is the same for you:

A good God IS everywhere and provides for everything with love,” just as He did, so many years ago, with the gift of His son Jesus Christ, the ultimate expression of His goodness, provision, and love.

This Christmas, may you see His goodness everywhere.

May you find His provision in everything.

May you know that you are loved.


I have always loved the story of the Nutcracker Prince. I love the music, the costumes, and the fancy, little, wooden men that deck my mantle each Christmas. Confession: I’m a tiny bit obsessed. Over the years I have collected Nutcrackers of all shapes and sizes and have acquired somewhere between fifty and a hundred of the fabulous little statues.

For the past week, my daughter and I have been anticipating the arrival of Christmas by reading the Nutcracker every afternoon before naptime. My cousin recently gave me a new picture book copy of the timeless story. With large colorful pictures, my daughter has fallen in love with this book, and it has been a delight to share it with her.

Today as we finished lunch and started to get ready for naptime, I found myself feeling frazzled and strained. Laundry piled high in the hallway, dishes waited in the sink, my two tired girls fussed (loudly) at the table and poked at the last bites of chicken nuggets and cottage cheese that lingered on their plates.

In my mind, last minute shopping lists weighed heavy, Christmas letters sat stranded on the counter missing the mark of the mailbox for yet another day, and the peaceful joy of Christmas that should be filling heart and home seemed, for the moment, nonexistent.

Ragged and irritable, I tucked my girls in bed and grabbed our storybook. No sooner did I start to read, than my husband Chris walked in the door.

“You got some lunch for me?” He asked.

Urghhh! I thought. Really? The girls and I just finished lunch, and now he’s adding one more thing to my DO RIGHT NOW list.

I opened my mouth as grace flew out the window. I can’t remember everything I said in my moment of graceless frustration, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t helpful or constructive, and it definitely fit the description of whining and complaining.

I decided to let Chris’ lunch wait and returned to Aletheia and our Nutcracker book.

I love it when God speaks into the middle of my day. Sometimes He speaks through His word, or a friend, or a song. Sometimes He speaks through a quiet moment stolen with Him. Today, His voice rang loud and clear through the words of my treasured story.

With Aletheia wrapped beneath my arm I opened our book and read the following:

“What does it all mean?”

He smiled at her very tenderly.

“It means,” he said, “that the spell has been broken. I was a young boy who did not appreciate his good fortune. I had health and friends and work to do but I was so foolish as to be discontented and to complain of this and that all the time. An enchanter deprived me of speech and turned me into a nutcracker so that my mouth would no longer whine, but would serve some kind of purpose until I should learn to be glad of living and being of use. The spell would only be broken when someone realized how much I had changed and believed that I had a new heart under my funny costume of painted iron. It was you, Maria, who broke the enchantment, or rather, completed it. For you see, it was a lucky enchantment, since now I do know that it is good and wonderful to be alive.” ~ From The Nutcracker by E.T.A.Hoffman ~

Hmmm, I thought. That sounds a bit familiar. Okay, God, consider my attitude officially adjusted.

The Nutcracker was made speechless, his mouth put to better use than words, until thanksgiving reclaimed his heart. Isn’t that what I need too, in my moments of gripe and frustration? To be made speechless, not by an enchanted spell but by the awestruck wonder of God and His unspeakable gifts? To do nothing with grumbling or complaining, but in everything give thanks to God. To put my own mouth to better use than ornery and complaining words and make praise the purpose of my tongue.

Here I was complaining and whining about this and that in the midst of so much blessing, and there was God, speaking to me, to the new heart He gave me, sending His joy to break the spell.

Aletheia and I finished our story time, and I left her to her dreams. I returned to the kitchen and fixed Chris some lunch.

The laundry, dishes, shopping lists, and letters still waited, but joy, peace, and Christmas returned to fill my heart and home.

Audience of One

Throughout the month of November I have been typing away at my computer as a first time participant of NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month. For anyone unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, it is a month dedicated to the craft of novel writing, and in celebration of NaNoWriMo, all willing writers are invited and challenged to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

This being my first attempt at the NaNoWriMo challenge, I opted to create my own writing goal of 1-2,000 words a day for a grand total of 30-50,000 words by the end of November.

The first couple weeks went great. My family and writing group cheered me on. Each day, word by word, I watched with excitement as my story took shape. Then, somewhere around 30,000 words, a myriad of doubts and questions began to creep in.

Will I ever finish this novel?

How will I find time to edit a story of this length?

What about book proposals, agents, and publishers?

Will anyone read this but me?

Around this time my mom shoved her iPhone in my hand. “You need to read this,” she said. Perhaps she sensed my need for encouragement, or maybe it was God using her to get to me. Either way, as I scrolled through the blog post she wanted me to read, I knew it was a message that I needed to hear.

The post was about Johann Sebastian Bach. According to the post, Bach sometimes presented entire performances of his music to empty concert halls. Even when no one came to hear his music, he insisted on performing. He believed that the music had been given to him by God, created for a reason, and therefore, needed to be played and performed regardless of the audience.

The author of the post related this story to her own writing. How the need to create is in her bones and that she is learning to persist in her task of writing a novel, regardless of what the end result may be.

As I read this post and considered how it related to me, I remembered one of my favorite scenes from the movie, P.S. I Love You. It may sound silly, but this love story about a husband and wife reminds me a lot of my relationship with God.

In the movie, Gerry, the husband, dies of an illness leaving his wife, Holly, widowed at a young age. Before his death and unbeknownst to Holly, Gerry leaves a series of love letters to help Holly get on with her life after he is gone.

One of the letters challenges Holly to go out with her friends and perform at a karaoke bar that she and Gerry used to enjoy. Holly doesn’t want to do it, but out of her love for Gerry she complies. She takes the stage before a crowded room. The music starts to play and suddenly every face before her fades away. All she can see is Gerry. She sings their song as Gerry sits and watches with the look of deepest love etched across his face.

And so it is with God. When I sit down to write, I sing to Him our love song. It is a song of beauty and truth displayed through words on the page. He is my audience of one, the only ONE who matters, and He watches me with deepest love.

My questions may never have answers. My book may never sit on a bookstore shelf, but I am learning to write regardless. I was born to create, to write, not for editors, agents, or publishers, but for God. Lucky for me, my audience of one is also my number one fan.