Friends and Family Fridays #2

Hey friends,

It’s time for another friends and family update. I’m enjoying these already and hope you are too.

This month, February 2021, will be unforgettable for us and our four children who live in Texas, Arkansas, and Tennessee. Over 10 days Dennis and I experienced a sleet storm followed two days later by a major snowfall followed again two days later by another significant snowstorm. We ended up with nearly 18 inches of fluffy whiteness on the ground and layered on pine boughs and branches!

It was gorgeous! Having grown up just south of Lake Michigan in the then-small town of Crown Point, Indiana, snow was a six-months-every-year part of my childhood and I have never lost my affection for winter’s beauty. Dennis and I love living in Arkansas, which is full of unspoiled natural beauty, but we do miss annual snowfalls. So to get three back-to-back winter storms with temperatures below freezing for 10 days was historic, and for us personally it was a wonderful gift.

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As the first layer fell photographs began to appear online. I was one of the many who couldn’t capture enough images with my smartphone. I was entranced with the miraculous wonder of water becoming tiny ice crystals. It is true no two snowflakes are alike, and we watched as millions of these intricate and delicate beauties floated, spiraled, danced their way to earth.

Their collective growing presence stills noise. The silence. The hush. Like a cathedral of ice with every tree’s branches forming the ribs of its vault reaching toward heaven, inviting our worship of the God who tells us He has “storehouses of snow” (Job 38:22).

We went for many walks in our frozen sparkling cathedral. I wanted to feel the snow, hear the gentle crunch under my boots, watch the transformation of everything it touched.

And I saw. The small rises and falls in the shape of the earth that can’t be seen when all is brown. Little birds quietly flitting and hopping on pillows of white. They let us get closer to them in the silence as if we were experiencing wonder together.

But I realize, of course, that this gift which fed my soul was not everyone’s experience. Two of my brothers, one in Texas and one in south Arkansas, had frozen pipes and therefore lost water. Our friends in Dallas had extensive water damage and lost their heat too. The beautiful snow created tragedies and miserable inconveniences for thousands. Snow that to me was glorious, beautiful and magical to others was the source of power outages, broken water pipes and misery.

How do I make room for my own joy while feeling compassion for those suffering, I wondered? Should I feel guilty for delighting in something that for many was dangerous and difficult?

The answer it seemed was to remember the mystery and majesty of God who orders all. And then to worship Him in glory and in grief. Opposites can coexist in peace.

Somehow, beyond our finite ability to understand, God was and always is working massive low-pressure systems and arctic troughs for His purposes for each one of us tiny individuals. What He gave to me as a gift of joy and delight was to others a gift of pain and loss. Our “Father in Heaven who is working” (present tense) always (John 5:17) has specific plans for the soul of every human on earth.

“God shows no partiality,” I read in Romans 2:11, so I understand that I’m not favored over our friends in Dallas. I do not understand nor can I begin to explain how God works. But I trust Him. I listen to Him. His word tells me He “creates well-being and calamity, and forms light and darkness” (Isaiah 45:7). In His majesty He rules and orders this world in a million ways beyond our comprehension.

The mysterious work of God is bewildering but He gives me hope. 

The huge winter storm also demonstrated that men and women are not exempt from personal responsibility before Almighty God. Harm was done to many in some states because of decisions made by fallible humans. Yet still God is working … invisibly. He is not bound by any man. He has promised “all things work together for good” not for the masses but “to those (individuals) who love God and are called according to His purposes.” For those who belong to Christ, who seek Him and pray in dependence on Him, He promises to be with us, near us, for us, and to never leave or forsake us whether our personal experience today is full of delight or full of pain and loss.

A few other highlights from February:

Earlier this month I spent a day with Ashley, our oldest who lives an hour and a half away. We talked the whole time as we had lunch, did some decorating at her house, and did carpool pick up after school.

Dennis and I drove to my family’s farm February 4-7 to spend the weekend with my brothers and their spouses in honor of the first anniversary of my mom’s homegoing. With all four couples living in different cities we don’t get together very often. We all agreed to make this weekend an annual gathering. It’s a worthy goal. We shall see.

Another highlight of our month was meeting in person with our Art of Parenting group. We began meeting with three couples in October, but since then we’ve had to convene via Zoom which none of us love but it’s better than nothing. Finally this month we got to be together face to face. The dramatically dropping infection rates and both of us getting our second vaccine shots have contributed to this new liberation! We love these couples.

Last, I want to be sure you know that although our Ever Thine Home store will be closing, I am NOT closing the blog.  It’s become clear to me that writing blog posts about what God has taught me and is still teaching me is what He wants me to continue to do. It’s good for me to articulate what I know of God and I really like encouraging all of you.

But we are seriously discussing starting an Etsy store to keep some of the best ETH products available as downloads, so stay tuned to hear more about that!

Once a month I will write in this more personal format, sharing things I won’t be writing anywhere else, including family photos.

Next month we will spend time with several of our kids during spring breaks! We will be gathering at the farm so the kids can play on hay bales, ride four-wheelers and have lots of cousin time. Dennis and I will also continue to collect sap from our maple tree, and in March will boil it down for syrup. Pictures next time. A big first-time project we decided to tackle! We may only get a half cup but we are having fun with the process.

Until next month …

May your heart be Ever His!

Barbara

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