Finding Hope in the Winter

I’ve decided it’s definitely a good thing that I live in Texas instead of the Midwest or Canada because I do not do well in the cold. Okay, let me rephrase. I do not do well OUTSIDE in the cold. I love the cold when I can stay bundled in my flannel pajama pants and hoodie and fuzzy socks under a blanket with a cup of something warm in my hand. Sometimes I think the bears have it right: load up on all kinds of food and then sleep all winter. Sounds good to me. I despise leaving the house in anything below 40º. Especially if it’s windy. And even more especially if I have to get both kids out of the car. So far, in the past two weeks since a cold front hit us, I have ordered groceries online twice and gone far out of my way to find a drive-through Starbucks. I would absolutely positively not survive a Chicago winter. I think I’d just hole up and exist solely on delivery Chinese and hot tea. Luckily, here, the cold doesn’t last long, and sometimes the weather goes from 30º one day to 60º the next; for this I am grateful.

In this season, it’s so easy to let the bitter cold creep into not only the air but our hearts as well. Winter is a hard time on many; illness is prolonged, holidays are stressful, bones and joints ache, and I fully believe that constant cloud cover and dreariness have the power to wear us down emotionally. But also, the winter can be painfully beautiful. The smell of wood fires burning, patterns of frost on the windows, bare trees standing stoic. My favorite winter days are the sunny ones; clear and crisp, no breeze in sight, cold as ever. Those days in the midst of winter act like a beacon of hope, saying hang on! spring is coming! Because the winter doesn’t last forever.

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When I was teaching 4th grade, one of our science objectives had something to do with the effect of heat on matter. I’d have the kids act like molecules and pretend I was turning the heat up. They knew that the hotter it got, the faster they moved. But as we cooled down, everyone moved more slowly. There just isn’t enough energy in the cold. Turns out, this is a great gift for us. Constantly being on the run or rushing around to do all the things all the time eventually takes its toll, on our physical and mental health. But in the cold, we’re almost forced to slow, actually think before we act, take care of ourselves, experience some much needed restoration.

And winter, in nature, serves a great purpose: it allows things to reset, to slow down, to rest. Don’t make me check the science, because science isn’t really my thing, but I like to think that growth almost can’t even happen without that wintery period first. As spring approaches, winter is a time of preparation. It becomes necessary for survival, that resetting. That slowing down. That rest.

So it is in life. Winter offers a unique opportunity for us, in the slow, in the waiting. It gives us a chance to reflect, figure out what’s really important, make plans and goals for when it’s warmer and we feel like we can actually move. It lets us take time to find our passion, relight a long-forgotten fire, leave old things and habits and vices behind. Renew our true sense of self.

So, whether your “winter” is actually the winter, or it’s in the waiting for a new job or the chance to grow your family, or it’s in a time of grief or frustration or chaos or illness or just plain fatigue, find the promise of spring in your winter, my friend, it’s coming. And know in the meantime that the winter is preparing you for great things, for you to emerge, much like a butterfly from its cocoon, bright and beautiful and full of life.

Currently Cooking: Taco Soup (perfect for the cold!)

DD66764F-5BFA-42B1-A374-051DA4B18B05Ingredients:

  • 1-2 lbs ground beef (depending on how meaty you want it)
  • 1 can each: black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cans original Ro-tel
  • 1 package frozen corn
  • 3 tbsp taco seasoning, homemade or store bought
  • 1 package ranch seasoning mix
  • 1-2 cups of water (depending on how soupy you want it)

Directions:

  1. In stock pot or dutch oven, brown meat and drain excess fat.
  2. Add rest of ingredients, including water to your preference.
  3. Bring to boil, then cover and turn to lowest setting. Simmer for an hour or so.
  4. Serve with Fritos and shredded cheese. Or tortillas. Or cornbread. Whatever.

5AAE2B38-1616-4936-BE63-0160737ADE77Currently Reading: Essentialism by Greg McKeown. This is the absolute perfect book to start off my year of reading. It is perfect for the winter and new year as well, all about discovering your priorities, what your passion is, what you were meant to do. It’s about empowering you to say “no” to the right things and really thrive in this one life you have; “do less, but better.”

Currently Singing: “Seasons” by Hillsong. Give it a listen here. I’d be lying if I said this post wasn’t inspired by this beautiful song, which I’ve played over and over since hearing it on Christmas Eve. Here are some of the first words:

Like the frost on a rose
Winter comes for us all
Oh how nature acquaints us
With the nature of patience
Like a seed in the snow
I’ve been buried to grow
For Your promise is loyal
From seed to sequoia

I know

Though the winter is long even richer
The harvest it brings
Though my waiting prolongs even greater
Your promise for me like a seed
I believe that my season will come

Happy New Year, thanks for reading, and until next time, peace and love from my household to yours. Katie

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