Snow road rage


It was Sunday morning, and it had been snowing all night. When I drove home from my sister’s the evening before, it had been snowing for hours and the roads were already hazardous.

So you can understand why an unbridled rage came over me as I approached the highway on Sunday morning, in Minnesota where it snows in the winter, and the highway hadn’t been plowed.

Not at all.

(I say “not at all” and mean that there was no evidence of any plowing. The road roughly resembled a plate of mashed potatoes. I have no proof other than my word.)

So here I am, in my lightweight little fishtailer of a car, trying to get to church, cursing myself for moving more than five minutes away, cursing MnDOT for not plowing (they have 1 JOB in the winter. 1 JOB), and cursing the universe that I got up earlier than normal, left my apartment earlier than normal, and I still wasn’t going to make it to the choir warm-up. I was driving safely, with the caution that would get me there alive. But none of it would pay off in the ways I wanted it to, the way I’m planned it.

I do not kid you with the words “unbridled rage.” If you know me very well, you can probably picture that. If you do not, you may not be able to imagine the growling.

I tried to calm down. I brought Jesus into it. “Jesus, be a snowplow,” I said, as another truck with 4-Wheel Drive zoomed past me without any caution at all. Jesus was not a snowplow in that moment.

Oh, yes, another object of my rage: people who drive like there is no snow and tail you for going 40 because if you go any faster (and believe me, I’ve tried), you will spin out and die.

There was a lot of rage. It wasn’t really a great start for a Sunday morning. Headed to worship with these wonderful sentiments on my lips, “STAY BACK. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU. WHERE ARE THE DARN PLOWS?”

Winter is a good time for me to remember how little is in my control. That I can’t make the traffic behave. I can’t get the highways plowed. Sometimes, even allowing way more than enough time… isn’t actually enough. I can’t control other people’s driving (OH THAT I COULD). I can’t control the temperatures or when the wind blows and how cold it is when it does blow. I can’t make my car heat up any faster than it does. I cannot stop it from snowing when I have to drive somewhere.

Will winter teach me to be laid back? Will she show me the insanity of my ways, always thinking that I can fix things?

Possibly.

Most likely not.

I think I might just try to drive in snow less.

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When spring stays


It snowed today. We’ve had such a mild winter that we thought we might be in the clear after those last few inches in February. Then it warmed up and the sun came out and melted the huge piles of gray slush in the parking lots, so we really thought it was gone.

Winter’s still hanging on for dear life. It’s singing its sad, desperate ballads about unrequited love, and we are thrusting it away with angry shovels that we thought we could put away for good a month ago.

Let me just say, the shovels are never put far away in Minnesota.

How do you know when it’s spring? When it comes and stays? Or could it really be spring now, only winter is just paying a short visit but will be leaving soon (if only we could boot it out the door).

That’s something I’m wondering. The arbitrary season change dates never seem to mark the real event of any new season, so I don’t know when to call it spring.

For longer than we’ve had winter weather in Minnesota (much longer, if anything could be longer than Minnesota winters) I’ve been on a journey of forgiveness, and I say journey because some days it still snows anger or frustration and I have to get out the shovel and figure out what’s underneath that.

How do you now when you’ve forgiven someone? Is it when you speak of them and realize you feel whole and holy when you do? Is it when you can look forward to a future where they are present? I’m not sure. There are some markers on the path, like the first time I realized I needed to forgive and each subsequent time after that when I’ve felt prodded to continue forgiving.

How do you know when you’re in the free and clear? I imagine it looks different in every situation. Each season and type of hurt requires different healing and reconciliation, so perhaps there are no indicators across all scenarios.

But I do think of those days when I really know winter has gone, when the ground is dry and feels warmer and the sun shines and there’s a breeze instead of a wind. And I imagine there are similar days when you’ve forgiven someone.

I’m looking for warmth in a couple ways. Come soon, spring, and stay.

Naps and bears


I tried so hard to keep myself from napping today, because I typically don’t sleep well if I nap – especially at 5:00 pm. However, there’s a special quality about snowy, gloomy, frigid winter days that lulls you to sleep even when you’re reading Willa Cather – who is far from boring.

Well, I fell asleep while reading My Åntonia on the couch, appearing to be chock full of Minnesota sports’ pride in my Wild t-shirt and my dad’s Vikings’ snuggie. I woke up at 5:30 as the skies began to tint to darker gray hues, feeling guilty for half an hour of snoozing and wondering if my hair was going to look funny now.

Bears have something right about winter: that whole hibernation deal? I could do with a few months of sleep in a warm cave I think. I know some people who are crabby enough about winter that I might recommend the practice for. You are unbearable. Stop complaining or go sleep in a cave.

On the days when winter seems particularly windy and icy and frustratingly long, I try to imagine why winter is a good thing. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

1.  Sledding, skiing, snow forts, snow angels, twinkly light under the snow, hot chocolate. Duh. 

2. Not that I know squat about agriculture, but I know the ground gets a break in winter. That’s gotta be good. Everyone needs a break.

3.Sometimes we have to stop or slow down. You can’t drive as fast on icy roads, so people learn to be okay with having a slower pace because it keeps them out of ditches.

4. Sweaters, mittens, hats, gloves. This is only a plus as long as you aren’t sick of your clothes, but it can be fun for a little while.

5. Any restaurant that delivers probably gets a enormous business boom this time of year. Who wants to cook when they’ve been shivering their rear off all day and are just hungry for something warm? There’s a business idea: soup delivery.

6. Spring seems like the best season we’ve had (that is, if we actually get spring).

If you have any more, leave them in the comments. I think I’ve reached my complaint threshold about how cold it is, so I could use as much positive spin as possible.

Cheers to winter!

Coldness


In case you were wondering, it’s still winter here in Minnesota. And apparently we aren’t the only ones with negative temperatures. My only advice to folks in cold areas: keep your toes and ears warm, for without them you will have no balance. It’s getting warmer by the day here – headed to positive temperatures tomorrow and Friday – but definitely still has a bite to the wind.

These are the days when I wish I lived in a sunny, coastal city. Wouldn’t some nice ocean air be refreshing right about now? I could walk outside without four layers on.

But then I remember how much pride I take in being a Minnesotan. Right, some of us say our vowels weird. But we also brave very negative temperatures to go places. On Monday, the insides of my nose froze when I got outside, instantly, and my car wouldn’t start, and the cold air made my lungs seize up, but it could have been worse.

30 degrees will feel like sunbathing weather when we finally get there. And I can tell all the relatives who came in for the wedding from the south and think it’s cold here, “Oh, it was so much colder earlier this week. You don’t even know!” And they’ll be amazed at how tough we are.

It’s all comparative, right? When you’ve got -20 without windchill, 30 sounds great. When you’ve got 30, you miss 60. When you have 60, you put on a sweatshirt and wait for 70 to come back. If you’ve got 70, you wish it wasn’t humid or wish it was 80.

Contentment is hard, isn’t it?

Cheers to winter


We got our first snow of the season in Chicago last night, and to my surprise, nothing died within me. I didn’t feel like crying (except that the wind was blowing right in my face and on my un-scarfed neck) or like punching anyone.

I think I’m coming to terms with winters’ existence. I mean, you may have to check up on me come January when winter’s still around, but I think I’m okay with it. At least for now.

Winter means a lot of things for me. I have to wear tights on skirt days, have to get used to being pretty much brunette, have to beware of my hair freezing when I go outside, and I have that awkward problem of not knowing if I should take my coat off when I go inside for short meetings. I mean, I don’t want them to think I’m about to run out the door, but is it worth it to take off the scarf and coat for just 15 minutes? No, thanks. I’ll just sit here and sweat until our conversation is over.

And this winter means going home for wedding planning, which is just about as exciting as it could possibly be. My sister and her fiancé are going to have the most sparkly wedding you’ve ever seen.

Winter also means that Christmas is coming, and that’s yet another reason to be okay with the season changes. Sure, I may freeze my nose off a couple times (regenerative powers, you know), but overall, it should be a good season.

It’s best that I come to terms with winter, because there isn’t a thing I can do to delay or stop its coming. The way I see it, the best thing to do is wear a really thick down coat and welcome the next 6 months of cold weather with open arms. Maybe you should do this, too. It might make us both tougher and more resilient, not to mention more appreciative of summer.

Cheers to winter.

Goals.


It’s one of those sleety days where you thank God for string cheese and that sleet is outside.  Or, perhaps that’s just my response to the gloom.  It’s goal time, folks.  I’ve got 8 weeks left of my freshman year, and I need some goals.

Goal #1 – Stay connected to people who are far away in body but close in heart.  It’s easy to say, “Oh, I’ll be back home in two months.  We’ll catch up then.”  But you really can’t catch up on two months.

Goal #2 – Don’t get sick.  I’ve already had three colds (maybe four) and a sinus infection since September.  Operation: Stay Healthy is in effect.  My plan to eradicate illness includes eating more protein (since apparently that boosts your immune system), eating more spinach, and protecting my 10:30 bedtime with all that is within me.  If I start saying that coffee is a substitute for sleep, someone please slap me (cyber-ly).

Goal #3 – Use all my Groupons.  Particularly since they expire at the end of May.

Goal #4 – Appreciate every day, even when spring and summer seem far off and I have to take biology.

Goal #5 – To (as my pastor exhorted us yesterday) take up my cross everyday and rely on the God who daily bears my burdens.

Do you set goals?  Do you keep them?  I have a hard time remembering mine.  I need to have sticky notes all over the place to keep my mind fresh.  Remember that time where I said I wasn’t going to complain about the cold?  I’m pretty sure I haven’t kept that consistently, particularly as winter keeps dragging on.  (that wasn’t a complaint. that was a fact.)

Here’s to keeping goals and to finishing Monday with as much strength as I can muster on the Monday after spring break ends.

Snowy day.


It’s one of those days where everyone walks around with their hoods up (if they are so fortunate as to have one) and their faces facing down, away from the pelting, abnormally piercing snowflakes that are flying sideways today.  It’s one of those days where most people are inside.  Actually, unless you’re one of those people unfortunate enough to be in the pelting snowflakes, you are most definitely inside.

You’re probably praying that your shift at work will be cancelled tonight, too.

Maybe you’re also trying to convince yourself that when you say, “DANG, it’s cold outside,” it’s not really complaining.  And yes, the snowflakes ARE piercing.

There’s a pretty fine line between complaining and stating the facts, but I think there’s a place for both.  In my estimation, complaining includes a little bit of a whiny tone.  You may look a little wistful or disgusted.  Or perhaps you rant for a bit.  Rants are always complaining.

Then there are comments, often said in a surprised tone: “Look, the snow is coming down really hard on that car outside.  I bet it will be unpleasant when we leave this warm building.”  Or in a resigned tone, “Well, I need to go brave the snow now.”

Today it’s cold outside, but it’s warm in the library.  I have a paper to write, but I’d rather write that than be forced to stand outside for more then half an hour while the snow continues to pester the world.

Oh Jesus, if you just wanted to bring spring…  Not that I’m complaining.  Winter kills the bugs.

 

Patterns.


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Sometimes you defy social and seasonal norms by wearing a wraparound skirt (definitely summer wear) with shiny zebra print flats.  It’s the combination of a lifetime, and you discover that the wraparound really limits your movement when you walk.  But the Bible says to not conform to the patterns of this world, so you wear bright green with zebra on a snowy day.

Or maybe that wasn’t what that verse was talking about.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by wearing a green wraparound skirt with non-matching shoes in January.  Yeah, it doesn’t really sound familiar.

Today’s a more appropriate day for sweatpants.  And some days you have to sacrifice a little bit of individuality for warmth.  So you only make it through half of the day with the colorful stuff on.  Then you get cold and change.

It doesn’t mean you’re not unique.  It just means you get cold, just like everyone else.

Maybe I need to look more closely at Romans 12.

 

 

Quotably cold.


I’m trying to not complain about the cold, really I am.  But when it’s 3 degrees outside (and you’re fully aware that the windchill makes things worse), and you have to walk to class (granted, it’s not far), sometimes the only way to make is to walk with friends and yell “IT’S REALLY COLD!!!” all the way there.  This also applies to walking to dinner, to the gym, and the end of the brown line of the L.

Sometimes, you need to state the obvious.  It’s validating.

In case you were hoping for this, I also officially grant you permission to wear your socially-unacceptable fuzzy socks in public.  Even if they don’t match your shoes.  When it’s this cold it’s more important to keep all your toes than to be chic.

I was thinking this morning about how often I hear/see/read people quoting other people.  It’s in probably 50% of the tweets and Facebook posts I see, which isn’t necessarily bad.  I have some favorite quotes myself:

Shawn Spencer, Psych – “Gus… don’t be a gooey chocolate chip cookie.”

John Mark McMillan, musician – “Give yourself to the process. Shortcuts spin you in circles. If it were easy someone else would already be doing it. Embrace the long haul.”

Dave Barnes, musician – “I need a vacation. And when I say “need” I mean “want”, and when I say “vacation”, I mean “chocolate milkshake.””

Miroslav Volf, theologian – “It’s hard to figure out which of the things we could do truly matter; it’s even harder to summon the courage to actually do them.”

These quotes are great, really.  And I’m glad that I can credit these wonderful people with being so clever, witty, thoughtful, etc.

I’ve had some gems myself though, too. Check these out:

“The sooner you finish, the sooner you’ll get done.”  I shared this profound wisdom with my boyfriend.  He was amazed (but not really).

“Pretty sure every kiss does NOT begin with Kay… ohh… wait.  ‘Kiss’ begins with ‘k’!  Ohhh, I get it!” (Thank you to my friends who only made fun of me a little bit for that.)

I was just thinking about how we’ve sort of lost our originality.  Or maybe you haven’t, but I sometimes feel like I’m being swallowed up by a world that loves everyone else’s ideas but fails to validate their own.  We get so caught up by other people’s cleverness that we forget that we have brains and imaginations that are meant to do more than appreciate everyone else.

This might just be a post intended to make me feel better for wearing pink striped socks with flannel today.  Hey, I’m original.
And so are you.

Frigid Christmas.


It’s hard to me to imagine the stable in Bethlehem minus the snow.  But I’m pretty sure that the Mediterranean (yep, just looked it up on wikipedia. no shame in that) climate would make that highly unlikely.  Good for Mary.  A stable would be enough of a discomfort while having a baby, without frigid temperatures and frozen precipitation.

This morning, I was going to keep reading in Psalms as I have been, but when I initially opened my Bible, it was to Esther chapter 3.  I normally would keep flipping til I got to my ribbon bookmark, but today I was drawn to that story.  Quick recap: Esther is Jewish.  Esther becomes the queen of Persia when King Xerxes decides to marry her (she’s gorgeous, apparently).  Haman is a highly ranked palace official, and Mordecai is Esther’s cousin-turned-adoptive-father who also “sits at the king’s gates” by occupation.

Since Mordecai is Jewish and worships God alone, he won’t bow to Haman.  Haman gets mad and decides to kill all the Jews. (little overreaction, huh?)  So he sets up a decree with the King.  Mordecai hears about this and convinces Esther that she needs to intervene.  So – long story short – Esther risks her life to convince the King to issue a decree that reverses the Jews’ fate.  Then Haman is killed instead of all of the Jews. (Questions?  read the book of Esther.)

There was a point to telling you all of that.  I promise.

That was a story of redemption.  It was a story of God using Esther to save His chosen people from destruction.  He used royalty and decrees to save His people from being killed – and to give them an opportunity to clear out the Amalekites (it’s in the story, not the recap).

What a stark contrast to the biggest redemption plan of them all!  Queen Esther, Baby Jesus… born in a cattle stall… to an unwed couple… with shepherds as the first visitors (apparently a lot of shepherds in that day were ex-cons, also very low in the social ladder)… and almost as soon as He is born, Herod tried to kill Him.

It’s a humble beginning for Jesus. Every human element in this story is about as humble as it can be.  Young girl, with really nothing to recommend her to be Jesus’ mother other than the fact that she was obedient when asked.  An undoubtedly dingy and smelly stable where animals witnessed the birth.  No room in the inn for the King of the world.  Shepherds come with nothing to offer – and the wise men come late since they had such a long distance to travel.

The angels are really the only thing to jazz this event up.  They’re definitely not a human element, and they serve to guide the lowly shepherds to meet the baby.

I bet that totally changed the shepherds’ lives.  Talk about an encounter with God.

Why come so humbly?  Just to shake things up?  I suppose if He’d come as people expected, as a king with power and an army, anyone could recognize that He was Lord.  If he comes as a baby and is known for preaching the kingdom of God and living it out as he gets older and begins his ministry, it takes a real seeker to acknowledge Him as Lord.  Maybe that’s not God’s reasoning.  All I know is that it shows great love for the God of the universe to step down from the throne in the perfectness of Heaven to be born in a stable.

What wondrous love is this.