Winter is normally people's least favorite season, as YouGov states that only 7% of the population would say that Winter is their favorite season (especially if you live in the North where temps can drop lower than -30, YUCK!). I know that during the winter all I want to do is stay inside and cozy up with a hot cup of tea or hot chocolate and stay warm. Whether that be with a loved one, a book, or with my favorite tv show, I enjoy that part of winter.
However, this year has felt like winter on repeat - minus the cozy fire and warm drinks. So much time settling in our houses and having “quiet time” or if you have kids hiding in the closet ‘quiet time’”. A quote that I find to be true is, "Winter reminds us that everyone and everything needs some quiet time." - Katrina Mayer. Winter does have that reflective quality; it causes us to take time to enjoy those around us and the quiet moments of sitting by the fire or watching the Christmas lights glimmer. It captivates. There can be beauty found in the silence of winter.
Even the Bible reminds us that the season of winter was planned for a purpose (not just to make us cherish summer more). In Gen. 8:22, "As long as the earth endures, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease," and also in Psalm 74:17, "It was you who set all the boundaries of earth; you made both summer and winter." Often we can find the winter silence to be uncomfortable or depressing. As an extrovert and someone that drives off of sunlight -- winter is a hard season for me. It is hard because of its limits in socializing (especially in a COVID year), the slowness of things to do, the cold air that makes you want to not go anywhere or do anything, and the darkness that comes out right when you get out of work. So how are you doing this winter? Are you enjoying the quiet? Has this year taken so much out of you that winter seems even more depressing? Are you finding the joy in another changing season? How are you really doing?
January is a new month, the start of new year, new possibilities, and a new hope. If you are feeling down, depressed, trying to find the light... Make it your goal this January to reach out to someone. If you don’t feel like you have a place to go, contact us at Shepherd of the Hills -- we are here for you and willing to listen. If you are living the dream and loving this season, find time to spread some joy to those around you -- maybe with a card, phone call, or even a hot meal dropped off at their door-step. Winter is the perfect time to replenish and renew ourselves and to focus more on the Lord. Though the world may seem bleak and gray outside, we always have the love of Jesus to warm our hearts and homes and help us see the light in the darkness. I pray that however your new year is starting, that you are able to continue to grow in trust, love, patience, and hope that can only be found in the Lord.
Blessings to you this new year!
Unhurried Holiday Season
"How did it get so late so soon? Its night before its afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?" - Dr. Seuss
It may only seem natural that my mind feels like it is in warp speed mode lately. So many things to think about, to plan about, to figure out… and it feels like time is just flying by. The other day, I sat thinking about how I am coming up on being here for an entire year! What a year it has been, right? Just like time has flown by at the same time it feels like it has been a lot longer with all of the changes, adaptations, new ways of doing ministry, and trying to navigate the un-navigable of a pandemic.
Time is a funny thing -- either we feel that it is going to slow or it is speeding past us. The holidays can be just that, speeding right past us and before we know it we are in a ThanksChristmas blur. Does this holiday season feel differently for you? Maybe you are feeling that this may be the most unhurried holiday season that you have ever had -- with canceled in-person Christmas’, holiday parties, and rearranged activities -- it seems to be turning out to be a very unhurried season. It may even make us long for the time that it was filled with all the plans and running around from here to there (I don’t think anyone thought they would miss that…).
I was reading a devotion about the un-hurriedness of the holiday season and how to achieve it -- granted this was before a pandemic hit. However, in this article, one part really hit me. The author was talking about the first Christmas and what the shepherds probably thought. They may have been in a hurry to probably see the baby that was born -- the savior, but when they arrived, I am sure like many of us when we see a newborn -- they settled down, they stood in awe, they marveled at the baby, and they stopped hurrying.
What if we stopped hurrying? What if we took time during this crazy COVID situation that we are in and gave thanks for the unhurriedness? What if we slowed down and enjoyed the moments around us? What if we stopped to take it all in? A quote from the Proverbs 31 devotion, “As a result we just might discover an unhurried holiday: a season that will strengthen us spiritually instead of sapping our energy and joy. How about it? Will we pause and purpose to hurry into His presence instead of rushing from task to task? Dare we linger long enough to be refreshed by the company of the One whom the holiday is really about? The tasks will wait while we do.” I think about this as the next several months pass by even without the holiday stress and hussle -- how will I stop and enjoy the moments instead of getting caught up in all the “have-to’s” and just settling in his presence each day?
I pray that God slows down my thoughts and tasks to truly bask in the presence of the blessings He has given around me, the miracle that He is creating inside me, and the miracle that He created so long ago in Jesus! May you truly be reflecting on the most precious thing of this holiday season -- Jesus' birth and the birth of Salvation. May you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
In His Love,
Jessica Tibben was installed as Director of Family Life at SHLC in December 2019. She was previously working in Denison, IA as Director of Youth and Family Ministry for the past 5 years. She loves being able to serve both youth and families and bringing them to know more about Jesus.