So I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of some robins near my home. As far as I am concerned, they are the harbingers of spring; although I have been told the arrival of red-winged blackbirds is likely a more reliable indicator that spring is here. I don't care about that, robins come home first, so I always start watching for them near the end of February.
Says the California girl.
Have you heard that saying, “You can take the girl out of California, but you can’t take the California out of the girl?” To a certain extent I find it to be true about me. I grew up in Southern California and moved to Michigan over twenty-three years ago. After that first winter, I never would have dreamed I would still be here twenty-three years later. That first winter was culture shock at its finest. As a California girl, never before in my life had I felt such vicious, biting cold. I had never felt much cold at all, in fact. My sisters and I were the only kids in the elementary school whose grandmother (she lived in Illinois) crocheted winter hats for them - and whose mom actually made them wear them to school. It seriously was never cold enough for those hats with the little bumps all over them grandma made - and as for me, as soon as I knew Mom couldn't see me walking to school anymore, the hat came off.
As a child, I had many misconceptions about winter. For instance, my mom loved Bing Crosby and at Christmastime she played “White Christmas” over and over again. I would listen to the words of the song and think about the fact Bing was an old man and I drew the conclusion white Christmases and snow were from long ago days. We lived in a suburb of Los Angeles in the San Gabriel valley and the only snow I saw was that which occasionally blanketed the San Gabriel mountains. I never actually observed snow falling, so I guess it is understandable in a way. I seriously thought White Christmases were not real.
Then I grew up and moved to Michigan. Of course, by the time I was an adult I understood snowfall really happened, depending on where one lived, so I knew what I was getting into when I moved.
Well, sort of. I actually discovered I do not particularly like snow. I mean, it wouldn't be so bad if it weren't so cold. And slippery to drive on. I have found many of my fellow Michiganders are of the mindset snow is just fine as long as it only appears on Christmas day. I tend to agree with that. Most of my friends would tell you I am not a fan of winter and they would be right. They might even say I hate winter, but actually, that would only be partially right. I USED to hate winter, but not anymore.
I find that most things I hate actually have a lot to teach me if I allow them to. So what have I learned from winter? I learned that I can drive in very challenging weather on seriously slippery roads. I have learned there is a quiet beauty on the day after a heavy snowstorm, when the trees and ground are coated in glimmering white. I learned snow-bows are real and amazing to behold! But I think the thing I have learned to appreciate most about winter is that it comes to an end. Every year, the bitter, cold hardness of it comes to an end and what is next?
Beautiful, flowery, green Spring!
“So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever” (The Message).
Winter does not last forever and neither do hard times, although both sometimes feel eternal! It seems like every single time we had a huge, icy snowstorm this year, I had to work at my night job. So at the end of a 12 - 15 hour workday I found myself dealing with a treacherous and slow drive home. And I found myself wishing winter away on more than one occasion. The hope and promise of beautiful days and easily traveled roads, although they may only last for a season or two, keeps me going in the worst driving weather. The hope and promise of a better future and a celebration with my Heavenly Father keeps me going through the most painful life experiences. I was recently asked how I keep such a positive outlook on my life despite the difficult and challenging circumstances I find myself faced with. My answer is Hope. I hold so tightly to hope for the future and I try to learn what I can from the experiences of my life, good, bad, joyful or devastating.
Spring is going to be here very soon. It will definitely come. As will the robins and red-winged blackbirds and flowers galore! And it comes faithfully every year. It is nature’s Hope. Tough times will pass. Things will get better. They always turn around - as surely as Spring is in the air!