"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner

31 January 2011

Snowflakes & People

The entire East Coast has had so much snow this winter that everyone's complaining -- even the north-easterners. But we have had our share of sunny days, too, and those are my favorite in the wintertime. There's something beautiful about sunshine and blue skies against all the crisp, white snow.

And when people whine, I just say, "Well, then move." That usually makes it stop.

Or they go into a million reasons why they can't move, which is all just very silly. We all have a choice to be where we are.

This is why I have "learn God's grace" on the display of my phone. My greatest weakness is lacking grace for His people. He keeps saying to me, "If you have known my grace, you will show it to others." I know He has shown me abundant grace; I'm just terrible at giving it naturally, especially toward people I don't particularly like.

My friend Stephanie lives in Scotland with her husband Wes, who is attending seminary there. Recently, she posted a "Things We've Learned in Scotland" list, and one of them was about "getting on with it." She said, "We are often challenged and compelled by the strength and stamina that we see in Scottish people, especially in hard times. Rarely do you observe people wallowing in fear and misery, unable to do anything. Rather, they ‘get on with it.’ While there is certainly an extreme here to avoid (i.e. never reflecting, just pushing through things without properly dealing with it), we are generally refreshed by this pragmatic approach, which challenges us to do the same." I admire that determination and stamina, probably because this is how I was raised by my parents. You don't let circumstances discourage you and dictate how your day/week/month is going to go, much less your life. Saying something "ruined" you day is utterly ridiculous when it's as trivial as who won the Super Bowl or the weather. I hear that sort of negativity a lot around here, and I find it bothersome. But even if I don't agree, I'm slowly beginning to understand.

You see, on a snowy night a couple weeks ago, I was sitting in the car at the gas station while Nich was filling it up with fuel. We were on our way home from a dinner date out, and I had turned around in the seat to smile at him.  When I turned back, I was seeing stars (this had happened to me once before that week already, and the doctor said that as long as my blood pressure was normal -- which it always is -- I was fine). I closed my eyes to allow my vision to readjust, and when I opened them, I focused on the snowflakes falling gently onto the windows. And I realized that they were so big, I could see the perfect beauty of their crystalline shape for a brief moment before they melted against the warmer glass.

I got to thinking about how each snowflake is supposed to be unique. I said to Nich that I would almost find it more believable that every snowflake was exactly the same than to think that all these billions of snowflakes we see are different from one another. He brought up the point that the billions of people who have lived on this earth are supposed to be unique in that way, too.

What I need, then, is to be able to catch those glimpses of beauty in each person, glimpses of God. I need to look for them, because that is what will remind me of His grace.


  1. OK, I am one of those "winter complainers." And I would absolutely love to move someplace warmer---think the Caribbean, where we could do the aquaponics things without a greenhouse and the astronomical expense of heating the stupid thing all winter. We have a policy of doing whatever God says, and therein lies the problem. He is not cooperating with my "let's move somewhere warm" program. He has not said to move anywhere at all, in fact (yet). So we are very much here, even though neither of us feel like we fit. Oh well...God promised that the seasons would change, as long as the earth endures. I'm banking on that---both in the natural world and otherwise :)

  2. Oh, Carol. :~) My point wasn't that everyone who complains should just up and move, but I think you know that. It's just that it doesn't help anyone to hear the constant whining all the time. And I'm pretty sure you're not one to go around spreading negativity to whoever will (or won't) listen. And you make a good point -- doing what God says. Neither Nich (who grew up in humid Houston) nor I (who grew up in tropical Africa) love this upstate NY winter weather in the slightest, nor do we fit in either, but this is where God has us for now. We don't love it, but we also feel that griping about it just shows what are hearts are like toward Him. We're learning to be fully present here, and part of that is accepting that winter comes every year. But so does spring, and I'm positive those of us who live through winter appreciate flowers, sunshine, and green so much more than those who don't.