It’s still winter here in Chicago
Still wearing my sleeping bag, still wearing my boots, I’ve forsaken gloves (exceptions exist) and still waking to the heat running full time.
I’ve had it
This has been a looonnng winter, longer than I remember in past years even though it’s probably just perception. It was 37 on Easter Sunday, coldest temps on Easter in over 30 years.
I’ve learned a lot this winter, things I didn’t know about myself
I don’t like viewing winter from the confines of a city apartment. I lost my mojo in February, couldn’t figure out how to find it either. My view was a street or alley, no real foliage to speak of, sky and earth disappear in winter here in the city. I mourned the absence of an attached garage and ground level housing. My back door stairs became my enemy during the snow. The ice was treacherous and I felt trapped. My mid-west winter experiences never ventured this direction before.
I don’t like it
Sunshine has been at a premium this winter which didn’t help. My newsfeed is touting vacation spots and the one that appealed to me? Glamping in restored Airstreams in the mountains, sea and desert…Go figure. I realized it has to do with missing the outdoors in the city. Even though we live across the street from a forest preserve it’s not the same. Even though I didn’t go outside as often as I think I did in the suburbs it’s not the same. Even though camping has never been our vacation go to, it’s not the same. There was something rather rual about our home in the burbs. We had wildlife, foliage, space, colors, views of the sky and an attached garage.
Last year we moved in February on a sunny day that was 75 degrees. One snowstorm hit in March and winter was over. This year we’ve had a real winter and I can tell you, I was looking for any way out of it. Moving was on the table, someplace with hot summers but reasonable winters. It seemed prudent to consider all our options.
One of the things I learned about myself while navigating the season is how much I depend on my own coping skills to make it through. I’m a native Californian, Bay Area to be exact and my seasonal temp bandwidth ranges from about 68-75, this extreme weather is nuts! It’s expanded through the years. I’ve lived away from California longer than I lived in California so while I claim native status (and will until I die), I have to concede some of my native preferences. I can handle the 80’s well in the summer, and I can deal with the mid 30’s in winter, it’s the other side of those that make me nuts.
In the past, I’ve been able to cope by improving the house, reading, crafts, working, gathering with friends and so on. Not so much this year. Everyone I know to gather with is working, the apartment is rented and I’m not about to tamper with it, I’m bored with books, TV and I spent most of November/December making gifts, needed a break. With my main coping habits denied me I fell even further into a funk.
It wasn’t pretty
But something good has come of it. I’ve been challenged to remember all the ways we were brought to the city and why. To look back and take stock in the words spoken to us and how they moved us to this larger than life adventure. Remind myself why we did this, what it’s for and how God is using it to continue the work he started in us from childhood and the things he’s doing among the people we’re affecting. To be thankful and appreciate the new relationships that have grown over the past year, what they’ve brought to our lives and how much they mean to us.
Through a series of providential circumstances our lives are taking on a more defined position of ministry. We are learning that as God asks us to give ourselves, he also provides the vehicle to accomplish it. Bruce’s job has gone in a direction he never saw coming. For the first time in his career he is feeling irrelevant to his company’s future. Ageism is at work though it also protects him. His ego is dented but he sees it as a relief most days. It’s freeing time for him, allowing him to dedicate more of it to ministry. For the first time we had to seriously consider what happens after he stops working. We thought that was many years away but now think it may be nearer than we imagined. That move to a warmer (and more significantly) affordable climate was definitely on the table.
I’m continually in awe of how deeply God cares enough to keep his fingers shaping us at this season of life. As difficult as it’s been it’s also exciting! And though at this moment I dream of a home on some land with sunshine, flowers, trees, ground level living and an attached garage, I’m at peace, it’s all good, even the ugly gray sky and dreary window views. Many years ago I heard a teaching pastor say, “Following Jesus will take care of all your adventure needs”.
It’s sooooo true!
Dipping into my past I was reminded of an old Gospel song by Ira Stamphill, I even found it re recorded, the words are timeless. I hope it speaks to you as it does to me in this current season of life. I beg your indulgence if you’re not a Bluegrass fan, I’m a nut for anything acoustic, how I married a sound man instead of a guitarist is beyond me…
“Many things about tomorrow I don’t seem to understand, but I know who holds tomorrow and I know who holds my hand”
“Brother” Stamphill wrote this in 1950 during a dark place in his own life. Church history is littered with the stories of those who’ve experienced everything we face today, regardless of how we perceive our current cultural, political and economical grievances.
Hebrews 11:3 “By faith we understand that the universe was framed by the word of God, so that things that are seen were not made out of things which are visible.” (MEV)
Knowing God, who spoke the universe into existence simply by the words from his mouth and his imagination, who keeps it suspended in space until he deems it finished, who thinks in millenniums not hours or days, who sees us as eternal people with purpose for his current and future kingdom…
That’s really all that matters