Talks Relationships

Bridges in Winter

For any of you outside of the Midwest, I applaud your choice of city, state or country, but for the rest of us can I just say…


I don’t know if ya’ll watch the nightly news but here in Chicago the weather is making headlines. We’ve got snowfall predictors, windchill estimations, cloud formation maps, freezing rain warnings, repeated videos of people falling on the ice, the polar vortex has been tossed around and we’re bracing for another week of deep, deep, deep cold.

When we first moved to IL in ’99, coming from Phoenix AZ we were scared of winter. We didn’t even own warm weather coats! I spent the month of September cruising used clothing stores looking to build up our supply of jackets for all types of weather. Then, the minute TJ Maxx put out their winter coats we all bought one. It wasn’t the worst winter on record, but it got cold and it snowed. We loved it. We used to joke in Phoenix that we could only take off so many pieces of clothing to cool down.

Not here! In the Midwest we can add as many pieces as we like to warm up. Blankets, flannel pjs, hats, gloves, scarves…all the accessories for winter showed up in our closets. We had special things for sledding, some for weekend fashion wear, others for everyday errands. It was a fantastical stash of yarn and fleece.

As a native Californian my temperature band width went from 65-78 degrees. Living in Phoenix extended the warm side to about 95 but after that I was toast. Moving to Illinois recalibrated my range and I can say with ease that I tolerate winters in the 20’s and summers in the 80’s but outside of that I start looking for an escape hatch. Right now I’d take anyplace south of Birmingham….ANY PLACE! 

The cold brings its own hiccups, this year for us it’s…

A dead car battery

A non functioning garage door

An unplowed alley

A ridge of ice against the garage door that the car couldn’t breech

Treacherously icy stairs that have to be continually salted so we don’t break our bones

And lastly, frozen doggy gifts that have to be unearthed with a spade

You gotta be determined to live in Chicago in winter. Arizona always increased by about a million travelers during the winter months, I didn’t fully understand why till we lived here. Arizona was far too sunny, dry and barren for me. I had to learn to find beauty there. To me, it was inconceivable that people wanted to live there for half the year. I’m more empathetic these days.

I hate to admit it but we’ve looked at leaving the area because of winter. That and a corrupt government with outrageous property and income taxes. In January it’s about the weather, in June it’s about the taxes and during election season it’s all about the government…

With the idea of retirement in the nearish future, we think about what we’ll need or want to do. Finding a home with one level living in a warmer climate with minimal tax rates is certainly tempting. Those articles touting the “Best Places for Retirees” are seared in our minds. With the ease of internet research we can view house porn and dream of warmer climates where our fixed income will stretch farther. HGTV shows aren’t much help, and marathoning shows like “Escape to the Continent” only leave us with more choices to contemplate.

One of the things that keeps returning to our minds is the idea of callings. Bruce and I know that we’ve been called to live here, it helps to endure the deep freeze life. Recently Bruce articulated another calling, 

Building bridges

Bridges are amazing things. They take time to build. They have to be strong to be useful. They need to be safe for everyone. They have to be strategically situated in areas where they’re most effective. And if all those things are in place – they’re heavily trafficked. 

One of our bridge building calls is to be a connection between young and older adults. Remembering the old while embracing the new requires flexibility. Speaking to different generations in language they can comprehend, knowing what to say and how to say it. We are like the filling in an Oreo cookie, holding both side together so its complete. It requires us to keep current while still sifting through the past. We can’t stagnate.

Another way we’ve experienced bridge building is between cultures. We’ve met people from various countries, cities, and cultures that you don’t find as often in suburban churches. Knowing that we share an eternal culture even if our natural one is different, is a rich experience. I wish everyone could know it without having to head to another country to find it. It keeps us sensitive to others’ American life experiences in ways we’ve not known. It’s a privilege to be folded into other cultures as we navigate Kingdom life together. 

Another bridge we find ourselves building is socio-economic. Both Bruce and I grew up with working class parents. His dad wore a white collar and my dad’s was blue, but both had working class sensibilities. Bruce and I carried much of it into our home even when we lived in neighborhoods more affluent than our upbringing. In our current area we have every kind of socio economic status and we can speak with all of them. It’s a humbling thing, teaching us so much about contentment and gratitude. 

So while we cozy up at home, doing our best to avoid frostbite and broken hips, we’ll keep pursuing our calls. We’ll delay our more physical callings till the June thaw… (yes, that’s correct, June people) but who cares as long as Instacart, Doordash and Grubhub stay in business!

It won’t be long before KWA stitching begins again, until then my new machine is working it’s way through some personal projects and my yarn stash is dwindling enough that I’ll need to buy more.

Isn’t that what Amazon Prime is for?!









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