We have just survived THREE snow days in a row as life in our small town came to a near standstill after Old Man Winter emerged with fury on Tuesday. Over a foot of snow and raging winds left us housebound- all seven of us- as the post-harvest colors of autumn were swallowed up by a ruthless assault of white. In a matter of hours, our neighborhood was transformed into a winter wonderland reminiscent of the magical winters of my youth. Our normally flat yard grew bumpy white mountain ranges overnight and the drifts that bordered the road once the snow plow had passed through begged the bundled neighborhood children to just TRY to tunnel through and find the other side!
On Tuesday, we excavated the sleds from the attic and savored the excitement of snow play (okay, at least the KIDS enjoyed the excitement of snow play). I have to admit, my own excitement waned as mounds of dripping snow pants, hats, scarves and murky puddles of melting snow invaded my home and kept the dryer running on overtime. My winter-delight was tempered a bit with each futile attempt to fit tiny fingers into itchy gloves that never failed to fall off on the first sled run down the hill. By Wednesday, the windchill had dipped below zero, my counter had disappeared under a layer of used hot cocoa mugs, and my registers were all covered with limp gloves and fuzzy mittens. Dangerous winds and white-out driving conditions left us prisoners in our own home while the prospect of adding a snowman to the front yard snow creations dissolved with the plunging temperature. By Thursday the creative juices that had inspired play doh bakeries and hand-crafted children's books just a day before had all dried up. My day began with a simple prayer (or should I admit- a desperate plea), "Lord, give me patience! And a little direction... what ARE we going to do all day?" Thankfully, my faithful Father answered with the rumble of a snow plow and the appearance of the sun! By midday we were able to drive slowly and carefully to the commuity gym where my clan ran off three days' worth of pent-up energy and I collapsed with a handful of other shell-shocked moms on the gymnastic mats.
Today, the bright yellow school bus will rumble up the hill, my dryer will take a much needed rest from wet socks and gloves and resume the business of drying baby bibs and t-shirts, and the hot cocoa mugs will be stashed in the corner cupboard for at least one day. And this morning, as I've had a quiet moment to ponder the past few days, God has brought to mind another set of snow days that I once weathered... a time when He taught me a lesson about the blessings of blizzards :) As I've chuckled over the memory, I've also found myself reminded of God's faithfulness in all the storms of life!
This article appeared in P31 Woman magazine a few years ago and still remains branded on the pages of my heart. God is good- in all kinds of weather.
I went walking in a blizzard tonight. I’ll admit, the weather conditions were not ideal for a leisurely stroll, but the wind was an effective muffler of my cries as I shuffled around the neighborhood and provoked curious stares from the few vehicles that were brave enough to skate along the icy streets.
My sensible husband had not asked questions when clad in snow boots, I’d met him at the door and placed our crying infant in his arms. If he had wondered why our toddler was still in her princess pajamas at six P.M. or why our five-year-old had finger paint all through her hair, he kept his inquiries to himself. Wisely, he did not demand explanations when he noticed that our son was playing video games instead of practicing piano, and he kindly refrained from commenting on the missing aroma of a hot cooked meal. He gave me a quick hug instead and said with convincing sincerity, “Have a good walk.”
The whole outing sounds rather ridiculous now that my youngsters are tucked into bed and I am settled into my favorite chair. But the truth is, four brief hours ago the white out conditions outside of my home were more attractive than the chaos that reigned within my own four walls. Perhaps playing the role of sibling referee during our surprise April snow day had drained my normally positive outlook on motherhood. Or maybe the thirteenth game of Candy Land combined with the baby’s colicky cries finally just put me over the edge.
Alibis aside, I left the house without a second thought and grumbled to God with every crunchy step. “Why is being a mom so hard? And why do you feel so far away when I’m pacing the floor all night with a fitful baby?” Icy snowflakes slapped my cheeks, but their Creator remained still. Undaunted, I continued, “Did you have to make my children so different from one another? Maybe they would stop fighting if they could find some common ground. Don’t you want my family to live in harmony? After all, Your Son is the Prince of Peace. (Oh, and speaking of peace, I could use some of that- peace and quiet, to be specific. I haven’t even gone to the bathroom alone in years…”)
No voice boomed from Heaven. “Does God really care?” I wondered as I slipped along the sidewalk. “Does the Creator of Eternity truly have time for a discouraged mom traipsing through the snow in affluent America?” Pictures from evening newscasts reeled through my mind: starving babies, violated children, war-torn families. Surely my cries seem miniscule to the One whose eyes roam the earth.
I hadn’t expected a response to my ponderings, but as I turned the corner, I stumbled on an unlikely sight. Beneath the icy branches of a tall oak tree, a solitary robin stood, two feet planted firmly in the snow. Its bold orange belly looked oddly out of place on nature’s white canvas, but stranger still was the sound of the little bird’s singing. The steady chorus of muffled chirps sifted past my disgruntled soul like a whisper from my Maker.
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Jesus had asked his closest friend one day as he tried to explain God’s great love. Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father…Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:29-31). Yes, I care, God seemed to say as I watched the tiny bird. I care about robins misplaced in the snow. I care about babies crying in the night. I care about moms wearied and discouraged. I care about YOU.
The sky was growing dark as I turned to leave, but when I glanced back I noticed the robin’s posture. Perhaps he was imagining green treetops or listening to the unusual symphony that howled through the bare branches above. For whatever reason, in the midst of the blowing snow and raging wind, the little bird tilted his head towards the sky and offered me one final message: Look up!
With renewed hope, I peeled my eyes off of my own discouraged heart and looked heavenward. Then, inspired by the small feathered messenger, I attempted my own song of praise. I thanked God for the promise of spring and the hope of new life hovering just below the dormant landscape. I thanked him for robins in the snow and the unlikely work He was doing in my heart. Finally, as I approached the house that I had fled in frustration a mere hour before, I thanked the Lord for the four noisy children and one incredibly patient husband who waited beneath my roof.
The dynamics of my home seemed unchanged as I snuck in through the back door. The baby was still screaming. Supper was still unmade, and the muffled mayhem of the television still cluttered the air. But the cries of my heart were quiet. So before I pulled off my snowy boots, I turned heavenward once more and offered a final gift of praise. “Thank you, Lord, for blizzards.” Because sometimes it takes a white out to help a clouded heart to see clearly!