What Is Saving Your Life This Winter?

At the end of each podcast episode, Jen Hatmaker asks her guests the same question: “What is saving your life right now?” And even though I know that coffee or good books are not literally saving anybody’s life, and I want to accuse her of being too dramatic with the way that question is worded, I have to acknowledge that something inside us can be saved, a little at a time, with small comforts and pleasures. That is nothing to be taken lightly.

I was thinking about this as I went for a walk the other day. It was late afternoon, the air was crisp and cold, and the sky was pink. As I walked along in that winter sunset, I saw a row of trees, their leafless branches silhouetted against the sky. And I thought to myself, “Winter sunsets are saving my life this winter.”

I felt overly dramatic myself, for a moment, and then I remembered all those winters I struggled with Seasonal Affected Disorder, and how horrible, dark, and heavy those winters felt. I looked at those trees against the pink sky, and felt the thrill of beauty and joy shoot right through me, and I decided to stick with my original thought – it is not too dramatic to say winter sunsets are saving my life this winter.

There are many ways to feel fully alive, and many ways to be saved from darkness, and I learned a long time ago that the secret often lies in learning to pay attention to the little things.

So I started to make a list of all the little things brightening up my winter – saving my life right now, if we want to lean into the drama. Here’s what I came up with:

Getting outside every day that I can. This can feel very hard on the extra cold days, but it is always, always worth it.

Good, warm, comfy boots. I used my birthday money to splurge on these boots, and we are living happily ever after. They are wonderful. I have foot issues, and these boots are incredibly comfortable. They keep my feet so toasty warm, my daily walks are so much more pleasurable with these boots in my life. I wish I had learned years ago that warm feet in winter make everything better.

Tea, in cute mugs. Both are important. I bought myself a mug I love, and it makes hot drinks even better. So we bought our kids their own special mugs too, and now they beg for tea every time they’ve been playing outside. Chocolate chai is their favourite.

Fiction. It’s been years since I’ve let myself read fiction, because I don’t have much self-control in that area. Reading fiction makes me want to avoid housework, cooking, parenting, sleeping at night – all the things I’m supposed to be doing, and it makes me grumpy when people disturb me. But I’ve found this winter that if I choose very carefully when to start a new book, and don’t read fiction very often, I can get away with enjoying one here and there. And it is so enjoyable.

Plants. I used to have a whole houseful of plants, but when we moved to camp, our house was so dark, they all died. It’s always felt like a frivolous expense to buy new plants, but when I thought about how much joy green, living things give me, I decided I needed to get some plants. We visited a greenhouse on Boxing Day, and all the plants were 50% off, so I got two – a China Doll and a Shady Lady, the choice based 90% on their names, and 10% on them being the prettiest plants I could find in my price range. They make me smile.

Twinkle lights around my kitchen window. I wanted lights that stayed up after Christmas, because it’s so empty and dark when all the decorations are put away. Turning these lights on every dark winter morning makes me feel warm inside.

Our new bird feeder. Kaylia is studying birds for science this year, and her science book recommended getting a bird feeder. I have never understood the thrill of birdwatching before, but I’m changing my mind this winter. It’s extremely interesting to see who shows up at our feeder, and how many birds stick around during the winter. I’ve never paid attention before! Now I’m seeing and hearing birds all over the place, and it is lovely.

These are little things, but each little thing makes this winter feel a little bit nicer, and a little bit brighter.

What is saving your life this winter?

Weekend Favorites

What a beautiful day we had yesterday! The weather was amazing.

My family let me choose what we would do for Mother’s Day, so we went to a park in Winnipeg, spent some time at the conservatory, and then came home to Niverville where things were less crowded!

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I hope you had a beautiful weekend, as well! Did you do anything exciting?

What a Plant Taught Me About My Relationship With Jesus

When I was in collage, I had a big, beautiful plant named Dave.

He was a dieffenbachia plant, so my roommate and I wanted to give him a name that started with a “D” – Dave, the Dieffenbachia.

He grew to be large and very leafy, and we loved having that fresh burst of green in our room. We heard somewhere that coffee grinds could fertilize plants, and fortunately for Dave, my roommate LOVED coffee. Dave got a lot of coffee grinds that year….

Anyway, Dave did so well in dorm that I brought him back the next year, too. He grew to be as tall as me, big, beautiful and green.

One day, I was sitting in my room doing homework, when I heard a strange rustling sound. I turned around just in time to see Dave fall to the floor and die. It was kind of shocking.

I hurried over to his pot, and pulled a little at his thick stem, trying to figure out what had happened. To my surprise, it came right out of the dirt, just like that.

Dave had no roots.

From the outside, everything looked perfectly fine. There was no indication that anything was wrong, but underneath the dirt, his roots were not growing. But Dave needed deep roots under the surface to support what was growing above the surface.

photo © 2010 Ian nasikoman | more info (via: Wylio)

And I’ve been thinking about how easy it is for my relationship with Jesus to slip into “Dave-mode” – what you see on the outside is really all that there is. Roots start to suffer pretty quickly if they are not getting what they need to grow.

Oswald Chambers writes, “My worth to God in public is what I am in private.” (My Utmost For His Highest, March 17 devotional)

Another quote I love is what Jon Acuff’s dad said to him:

“My primary prayer is for your private, interior life to keep growing so that it can support your growing public life.

Sometimes it scares me how easy it is to fake the public part while completely neglecting the private part. Not that our fake attempts come anything close to a spirit-filled life, but it’s funny how often we try.

But I feel depleted very quickly when I’m giving to a lot of people without getting filled up myself. My giving to others should spill out from the overflow of a heart filled with Jesus – I want so much of Him in me that I can’t run dry. I want Him to pour through me to others.

Healthy roots are required for all of those desires! Deep, private roots.

Moral of the story: Don’t be like Dave!

Dig down deep into Jesus, so that nothing in this world will be able to knock you over.