challenge accepted

4 inches of snow fell while we slept the other night. It’s not the first snowfall we’ve seen in this midwestern season of ours, but each one is more delightful than the last.

I love snow. I love cold weather, when every breath spins frost into air and my cheeks and nose tingle with the promise of heat when I walk through a door. But more than that, I love waking up to a world blanketed in fresh snow. Everything is clean, fresh, and cold. Everything is quiet.

“What you look out on is not the snow of Narnia but the snow of home, which is no less shimmering and white as it falls. The earth is covered with it, and it is falling still in silence so deep that you can hear its silence […] It is snow that can awaken memories of things more wonderful than anything you ever knew or dreamed.” (Buechner)

And in the snow-quiet morning that sneaked in to our sleepy town, something else dawned alongside the sun. Snow brings with it a frozen promise – it covers up the dirt, the mud, the long-dead plants from the summer garden. It hides the flaws – the potholes in front of our house, the cracked cement steps that lead up to our front door. And it’s a new beginning.

I’ve been in desperate need of new beginnings lately. Or perhaps, I’ve had too many new beginnings to keep things straight, and I need new mercies. But His mercies are new each morning, and my heart is blanketed with freshly fallen snow.

I am grateful that mercy and grace will never run out. I am grateful that I have the dearest cheerleaders in the whole world – encouraging coworkers, best friends who send letters and packages and emails that are full of wisdom and encouragement and fun, and a husband who always looks like he is about to burst with loving me – and the most when I have run out of love for myself.

I can’t promise I’m done for good with this frowny-downy stage of life. Sometimes I wallow, and I’m measuring these long, cold days with prayers for patience, cups of hot tea, and bubble baths. But I am setting goals for myself, I am pushing through this wall, and I am full of fear and hope.

Screen Shot 2013-02-04 at 8.35.00 PMMy best friend of – oh, what … 14 years? – sent me a present in the mail today. I opened it and laughed. “CHALLENGE ACCEPTED” the t-shirt said, an homage to my coping mechanism of late (How I Met Your Mother, and Barney Stinson in particular). Of course, whether she just knows me this well or it was an accident, my dear friend’s subliminal message through this funny t-shirt was exactly what I needed. In big bold letters, it reminded me that I can do this. I’m always up for a challenge, a new mountain to climb or cake to conquer. I’m a goal-setter, high-achiever, type-A list-maker. Another dear-and-best friend sent me an email the other day to much the same effect, when I had been seeking some much-needed marriage advice as we stress through the internship search of a first-year MBA. “You need to be filled up,” she wrote, in order to support my husband in the most encouraging way. It actually can’t be all about him – I have to focus on me too, to give him a breather and me something else to dwell on. Another challenge. Stop focusing on all the crap around you. Set some goals. Get something done.

So, in a matter of a few days this season has (I hope) been reframed. It is a challenge, not a curse. And I say CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

{I fully expect these pages to change and grow as I do – to reflect a new season, where the Lord is working in my life in a hundred ways every day. His mercies are new and abundant. And I need them more each morning. But I know that He is with me, in the routes that I run, the food that I eat, the people I meet, the books I read.  I’m not sure what that looks like here, but perhaps we will find out together.}


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