For When the Season You’re in seems Desolate and Void of Love

Winter 8While reading the other day I came across this quote by Celia Thaxter:

“There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart.”

Liking it, I texted it to my friend with the following question: Can I have an eternal fall and winter in mine?

I’m sure she rolled her eyes. She knows how much I adore the fall with its pretty leaves, rosy-cheek breezes, and pumpkin spiced everything. But winter? She, and pretty much everyone else I know, can’t understand the crazy obsession I have for this cold, dreary, never-ending season.

 Our conversation continued:

Her: Not winter!

Me: But I love it!

Her: But it’s desolate and void of love. 

Green LeavesI get it! Winter is hard especially here in Michigan. Winter means you can’t go outside without pain. It means you (and your kiddos) are stuck inside for months on end. It means constant shoveling, tedious driving, and dealing with ice and snow.

Winter means days and days on end when sunshine is scarce and pretty much everything you look at is colorless, dead, and gray. 

And for my friend, the season of life she’s in is kind of like winter too. Hard things are happening in her work and her family. People she loves have betrayed her. Right now there’s no end in sight.

Despite all of this when I read her response something in me snapped. I had this sudden conviction, this knowing with all my heart that her words, no matter how right they seemed, simply weren’t true. 

Lake MIWhich is why I wrote: Oh no! Winter is full of love and far from desolate. Think of all those bulbs in the ground, in the dark just waiting to bloom. I was thinking about it this morning, how beauty and transformation and miracles always start in a dark place. So is winter desolate? I don’t think so. It’s full of life just waiting to happen. And as for love? Think of “Jen” snow! Of icicles shining in sunshine. Of how good coffee tastes and feels on a cold winter morning and how snuggly warm your most favorite blanket feels at night. Each of these and millions more are God saying, “I love you” all winter long.

Jen snow? Yes, I love the falling flakes so much my friends have coined a name for it.

At any rate, this was my knee jerk response to her comment, but I can’t stop thinking about it. About the life and the love that happens even in desolate seasons.

Snowy PumpkinIn seasons that seem like they’re void of warmth and all things good.

In seasons when life is hard, and cold, and dark. When we’re forced to wait for sunshine, to wait for spring to come.

In seasons when we feel all alone as though the ones we love…as though the One we love…has abandoned us.

I’ve lived these winters. I’m watching my friend live one now and I hope she can know what I know. I hope she can see and feel and experience the life and the love that’s still there. That’s happening all around her.

In the dark, in the hard, in the terribly lonely, life IS waiting to bloom. Love IS calling your name.

AmarilysOn my kitchen windowsill an amaryllis bulb my family was given for Christmas reaches just a little bit more for the sun each day, a reminder that spring is coming.

A perfect gift for those in the middle of winter.

For When That Best Part of You Feels Lost

Computer DreamSo I did it! This week on a snowy Tuesday afternoon I sat at my desk and typed the finishing keystrokes of the second draft of my novel. 

Finishing the first draft was a major milestone, but this draft? This milestone? It feels even bigger. I pretty much knew without a doubt I would go to my grave before finishing this draft. It seemed to take for-e-v-e-r. And yet, somehow, I did it. I saw it through. I reached the end.

Finishing this draft has that down hill slope sort of feel to it. It’s like running a race, a long, long race and cresting the next to last hill. I’m not done yet; I’ve got one more to go (publishing…yikes!). But I can see the finish line. I’m almost there.

To be honest, I’m not exactly sure what’s next. Draft number three? Professional edits? Book proposal, agent, publisher…holding my book in my hands? These are the steps that must fall into place and I have no idea how or when that will happen but there’s one thing I do know. This dream, it’s given me life. 

I recently had a chance to sit with a friend as she shared her vision for ministry. I wish I could convey in words the passion that poured out of her as she spoke about her dream. 

For months she wrestled depression, depression that stole so much. But as she shared her plans for helping women she couldn’t have been more alive. In her words, her movements, her eyes…all signs of depression were gone.

And I know, (oh, I know!) how she feels, her story so much like mine. 

How you feel like you’re losing that part of you. That beautiful, important best part of you and you don’t know how to get it back. How you feel this close to crazy.

And then He comes. There you are in the pit, and He comes and tosses a rope. He tosses you a dream and that dream…it pulls you out.

It pulls you out of the crazy, the dark, the sad, and suddenly you see. You see Him and His kingdom and people and places and this work He needs you to do.

This work only you can do.

I’ve been in that pit and He tossed the rope and I latched my heart to that dream. And now that dream is two drafts closer to reality.

There’s so much about this writing journey I have yet to learn. So much I may never grasp completely. But as I write my story, the writing itself becomes my story. Becomes my lifeline to joy and the person He created me to be.

With two drafts down and the finish line before me perhaps the one thing this journey has taught me the most is this: Sometimes we need the dream just as much as the dream needs us. 

And isn’t it just like Him to know this?  

And to love us like dreams coming true.