Have you entered the storehouses of the snow...Job 38:22

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Crocus Are Up

It’s been quite a while since I wrote here. I have not been in South Dakota now for nearly two weeks. My attempts at acclimation were abruptly interrupted. A brother of my husband was returning to their native Pakistan. Symptoms of an illness that took their mother and sister were showing. He wanted to return home. He wanted to be near what was familiar and comfortable for him, his wife, his siblings, his hometown, and his children.

Just in case, my husband felt an urgency to say good-bye in person. We threw things in our suitcases. We drove halfway to Tennessee. In my beloved Columbia Missouri we rested. The next day saw us to Tennessee. I rested. My husband lapped up the last few moments with his brother before he left.

Saturday, he started his journey back home. He arrived safely. For the last week, my mother has been taking a journey home as well. My mother didn’t go back to Waynesboro her childhood home. She did not go back to Brooklyn NY where her children were born and raised.  She returned to her heavenly home. I have written about it on Sounds of Hope.

I am “home” right now in Tennessee. I will leave tomorrow to complete my mother’s final wishes and arrangements in Columbia Missouri. I suppose I have many homes. Brooklyn is home. In an odd way, Waynesboro feels like home. Connecticut is home. Tennessee is now home. Columbia is beloved the most. My father rests there and now my mother.

What about South Dakota?

I don’t think it will ever be home. I could be wrong. There were times I never thought Tennessee would be home, and now it is where I long the most to be.  As I scanned the condolences and comments on Facebook, I realize there are some people from South Dakota whose warm words are giving me great comfort and support.  I’ve received emails from the Seminary community. Most are heartfelt and personal. There is a professor in the midst of his own serious trials who I met by chance before his sabbatical. He sends warm condolences and I know he has prayed for me.

Could it be that there is a life for me to return to in South Dakota? The daffodils are almost up here. Although unlikely, I might get to see one before I go. I have seen crocus and heard birds singing. When I do return to South Dakota I realize that I do have some people there that I care about and that seem to care about me. 

You can easily overlook the tiny crocus just as I have overlooked those glimmers of beauty and hope in South Dakota. I am going to go back looking with fresh eyes for the beauty that might be there. I am almost anxious to return.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Footprints in the Snow

The snow is gone here in Tennessee, at least where I am. There is still a scroll on the television of some snow closings. Small patches of snow dot the yard. Here in Kingston Springs the sun is shining, the birds are chirping and my window is open.

Something happens to me when I come home. Tennessee wasn't always home. Connecticut was home before it. For several years after we moved to Tennessee, I missed Connecticut. After we moved to Connecticut, I didn't miss Missouri. Life was more of an adventure then. Now I long for Tennessee when I am in South Dakota. I have resisted for nearly two years settling in to life in South Dakota. It means my life has been on hold for two years while I try to figure out how to survive in the Storehouses of Snow.

When I come home to home to Tennessee, I breathe. I breathe deep and easy. I can feel the tension leave my body. I feel alive. I can get in my car and go to familiar places. I have friend to see. There are so many of them that I can't see them all. Most of them aren't what I would call very close friends or best friends. They are friends though. People whom I care about and who care about me. People who pop up on Facebook and give me support and comfort. People who though you haven't seen them in a while, you pick up where you left off. There are coffee shops with friendly people. There is a Target close by. There are great places to eat.

In Tennessee, I hear the two children still living at home come and go. Our little dog Pebbles greets me when I walk in the door. When I am sad, Pebbles knows, she attempts to kiss me. She gives me that silent support of unconditional love. In return for her love, she begs for my food.

When I am here, life just falls into a familiar pattern. It is like sinking deep into your most comfortable chair with your PJ's on. It is warm and comforting. It is predictable. The rhythms of life seem consistent. I like it too much here.

I find it difficult to say I live in South Dakota. In fact, I usually don't say it. I say we have an apartment in South Dakota. Or, I am in South Dakota because my husband has a job there. When I am here, I say I live in Kingston Springs but I am most of the time with my husband in South Dakota. The denial of the truth continues because of my semantic gymnastics.

I won't return to South Dakota until the last day of this month. Half of this month, I will have been home. I wish I could say it charges my battery so that I can go back. However, it just reminds me that my life is in limbo.

I really don't live in Kingston Springs. I feel alive here, but my husband isn't here. He has embraced life in South Dakota. He is making a difference in his job. He has passion for people and a place to be. Nearly thirty-two years ago God joined our lives together. The preacher pronounced that no one should divide us. That includes me. I cannot choose to be divided from him by living in Tennessee.

I will dread going back to South Dakota. I might even cry on the way back. I often do. Deep inside I will then remember that I am there for love. I honor and love my husband so I will go.

Even deeper inside, it is also love for God that will send me back to South Dakota. If the steps of the righteous are ordered of the Lord, then He has ordered that I will leave footprints in the snow. There is a reason for me to be in South Dakota. As I go back in a week and a half, ultimately it will be this hope, that God has a purpose for me that will take me back to Brookings.

The snow is gone in Tennessee. I cannot leave footprints here any longer. New snow awaits me.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Burst of Yellow

I’m waiting and hoping. I am hoping that I get to see the daffodils in my front yard this year. I didn’t get to see them last year. In fact, I don’t think I saw daffodils growing anywhere last year. I bought a few at the Brookings Hy-Vee.

I absolutely love daffodils or as some southerners mistakenly call them, Butter Cups. I had a friend who passed away recently who could really drag out her sounds. I think every time I think of daffodils I will think of her saying buuuhtur-Kuups.  You’d have to hear her to appreciate it. She had this deep guttural southern accent. I miss her. She was always funny, direct and yet sensitive. I thought of her as a “steel magnolia.” Joined with her Mama and Sissy, they were a trinity of fierce strength and intimidation.

We didn’t have many flowers in our backyard in Brooklyn. A blue hydrangea bush and some roses were all I remember clearly. The roses were over a pergola as I recall. Our Italian neighbor had a beautiful flower garden. Its beauty rivaled the famous botanical garden in Brooklyn. I remember as a child being under strictest of orders to look and not touch. I do remember that our neighbor once gave me an exquisite rose.

It wasn’t in a yard that I saw my first daffodil. It was a Sunday afternoon in early spring in Brooklyn. I must have been around ten. If I had seen a daffodil before, I don’t remember. I turned a corner on a residential street and there stood this vendor of beauty. I encountered a man with a huge bouquet of daffodils. It astounded me. I had never seen anything so beautiful. I wanted those flowers.

I remember I had some money. I asked him how much he wanted. He told me and I bought some. I don’t remember how many, but I do remember I justified my purchase by giving the flower to my mother. While appreciative, I don’t think she fully appreciated that I would forever be in love with the color yellow and with daffodils.

The daffodils are out of the ground in my front yard in Tennessee but I do not know if I will see them bloom. I suspect that I will miss them again this year.  They are late because of the snow. 

Like me, they are resilient. I will push through this snow and bloom, even in South Dakota. I have resisted being planted in South Dakota. Perhaps though, this period of dormancy will soon be over. Then, like the daffodil bulb, I will burst open, even in the snow. 

It seems the storehouse of snow is unrelenting this year. It has followed me to middle Tennessee.  I want a break from the snow and cold. I want to see daffodils. I want to be astonished by a burst of yellow.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Navigating Obstacles

I’ve escaped the snow. At least I thought I did. It is snowing today in Tennessee. However, it isn’t cold. It is a balmy 33 degree Fahrenheit. It is 12 degrees in Brookings with a wind chill of minus 4. I even have a window opened so I can hear the birds. I miss hearing birds in South Dakota.

Schools are closed because of President’s Day or the snow. I know that is laughable to those of you who have snow all the time. Snow is an event here in the south. Like everywhere this winter, Tennessee has gotten a lot of snow.

This is the snow in our backyard here in Tennessee:

This is the view from the front of the house:

Yes, that's it. That's all the snow we have right now that is causing everything to close down here. Sometimes a small amount of snow when you aren't prepared or have the equipment for it, can be just as paralyzing and 12 inches somewhere else.

My husband is struggling to fulfill his responsibilities to the people and the state of South Dakota. He flew to Omaha last night. He is driving a crazy route to get back to Brookings as the interstate in Iowa is still closed. He spent the night in Ames Iowa. Tomorrow will find him in Pierre provided he makes it through blowing icy conditions today.

Life is full of obstacles. Sometimes they are physical. Sometimes they are emotional. Sometimes it’s the weather. Sometimes it is the storms of life.  I have so many obstacles. It seems each time I turn around there is another one.

I am here in Nashville because I feel I am maneuvering an obstacle. I have a dream. I have a goal. I have a desire. I want to have a doctoral degree. I am here to interview for a doctoral program at my alma mater, Trevecca Nazarene University.

It seems that so many of my dreams become abandoned because of obstacles. I am still clinging to this dream. The Seminary’s door is not as open as I thought it was, so this is plan G? or is it M? I’m long past plans A, B or C.

Plan A was to go into a Master of Sociology program right after I finished my B.S. at Mizzou (University of Missouri-Columbia). I had promise. I had finished a degree in 3 ½ years with 3 children as a single mom.  My first obstacle was not a storm or a hardship. It was falling in love with the love of my life, my husband. It was carrying our first child. It was helping him achieve his goals and dreams of a doctoral degree.

I thought I’d go back much sooner. I thought he’d get his degree. We’d make lots of money, live in a really nice house and I’d go back to school. Life rarely works out the way you plan.

I hesitate to call them obstacles, because each child was wanted, loved, cherished and a delight. I had a good profession in spite of my lack of advanced education. I was more happy to have a wonderful family.

Now I’m racing the clock. I was detoured to South Dakota. I am facing more obstacles to this dream. I’m still traveling though. I guess that is all that is important.

Just like my husband, all that is important is that he reaches Brookings SD today. That he arrives safely in spite of all the obstacles of bad weather and a detour hundreds of miles out of the way.   

So it is for me too. I can’t imagine it will be smooth or obstacle free. Nothing in life is free of obstacles. I have to keep moving. I have to keep moving toward my dream.

For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord… All things work together for good… God will make a way where there seems to be no way…  I Surrender All… building myself up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep myself in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus ChristFixing my thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. I think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Fitting In Is Optional - Being Yourself Is Not

The other day another transplanted woman and I had lunch. She has lived in the Dakotas for over ten years. Much of what I knew about her led me to believe that she would be well connected with South Dakota by now. That wasn't the case. But her story is not mine to talk about.

This woman, someone I hope will be a good friend, has a sense of the Dakotas that I needed to understand. After we shared our lives she said something very interesting to me. I wish I could remember her exact words. I remember the essence. She said,
 Joyce, there is nothing that you have told me about yourself that would make me think you'd ever fit in up here.
Now that put a new spin on life in the Dakotas. She was not being harsh nor was I offended. It was like the lightbulb went on over my head. Suddenly, other things that people had said to me now made sense.

Many times I had been told that life is just different here. People aren't as welcoming. They take a long time to accept you. They want to know if you are going to stay. If you aren't related you don't fit.

I responded with a smile to her. I replied: I know one thing. I know one thing that might help me fit.

I'm Norwegian!  

We laughed. She said: yes, that might do it. It hasn't.

As a child we had several Sons of Norway lodges within walking distance in Brooklyn. The biggest one on 8th Avenue (AKA Lapskaus Blvd). None of my family or any of our peer group were members. They had a bar and a dance floor. We along with the conservative Lutheran Brethren did not engage in such sinful activities. The Evangelical Free Norwegians didn't either. Several of us were always excused from the sinful activity of folk dance in gym class at PS 220.

In April of each year, I would jealously look at the pictures of the candidates for Miss Norway in our local Norwegian newspaper, Nordisk Tidende.  The newspaper was always in our home by Friday afternoon. The chosen queen would ride in her bunad on the back of convertible waving to the crowds gathered for the Syttende Mai parade.  I was too young to be a Miss Norway. However, I knew I would never be one since we were not worldly enough to be part of a lodge.

Here in SD the lodges are different. They don't seem to drink at meetings, have bars or even have their own buildings. I joined Sons of Norway for the first time. I thought it would be a good way to get to know people, find a place and make connections.

My Norwegian credentials are quite impressive. My father was born in Norway. I grew up as Norwegian as one can be outside of Norway. I went to a church where everyone other than the children had an accent. The Pastor never said Jesus, it was always Yesus... I was not Joyce but Yoyce.

Issues have prevented me from going to many lodge meetings here in Brookings. They seem like a nice group of people. Most are quite advanced in age. I have offered several times to do a program on Growing Up Norwegian in Brooklyn. So far, they haven't been interested. However, like everywhere I go here in SD, people look at me like - who is she and why is she here?

I'd like to tell them that I don't know why I am here. I do know who I am though. I am child of God, born into the family of God through faith in Jesus Christ. I have many gifts to offer if people would give me the chance. I am probably too energetic for many here. I am also Norwegian.

I am definitely too open for most. Often since coming to SD local folk have commented on my "openness." It shocks them. It shocks me that they say it.  I think now I understand. I don't fit.

In the sense of changing who I am, I don't want to fit. I will continue to be me. The person who will candidly and willingly share her life, her struggles, her pain, her joys, her gifts and her concerns. I can do that in South Dakota. There is room for me in South Dakota even if I don't fit.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


It seems that even the locals are getting tired of this snow. I heard on the television yesterday that this is a much worse than "normal" winter. I heard that last year and it wasn't as bad as this one so I am suspicious of this statement. Today at the local McDonald's I overheard local folk lamenting the snow and wishing it would not return.

It is a beautiful day here today, that is by South Dakota winter standards. The sun is shining very brightly. It is 7 degrees. I am acclimating I suppose because it doesn't feel that cold to me today. Our former home, Cromwell Connecticut is getting more snow today. I don't know if they have off school as Connecticut has lots of snow equipment so they are not fast to cancel things.

Today is also my granddaughter Iliana's 9th birthday. She is in Cromwell. I wish I were in Cromwell. Rarely do I get to see my grandchildren. I've never celebrated a birthday with Iliana. She is a delicate looking child with the most engaging smile. She reminds me of her mother when she was young. She is a middle child in her family with all the characteristics that make up a middle child.

I was their Nana-sitter for a couple of week a several summers ago. I loved being with them. I sometimes wonder if they will have much concept of their Nana since they never see me. So today, I am not homesick for Tennessee but homesick for Connecticut.

The other day I was thinking about Connecticut. I have a very dear and special friend in Connecticut. She quite advanced in years. She is the sister of Normal Lear the producer and probably some of the inspiration for his hit television show "All in the Family." There is so much I can say about my friend Claire. Every one should know someone like Claire. I am so blessed that I have known her.

When I was working as the Director of the Newington (CT) Senior and Disabled Center, she was a member. She decided to put on a fundraiser for the facility. In fact we did two. I had a lead role in both of them. Oh, that was so much fun! And WORK!

The theme of the first one was "Connecticut Welcomes You!" A friend of hers named Libby Richmond had written a song she wanted to be the state song. It never was but Claire also would never give up promoting the song. Good friends are like that, they never give up on you or your dreams.

The lyrics were:

Oh the state of Connecticut, the state of Connecticut
Where people greet you with a smile and everyone is so in style 
Connecticut WELCOMES YOU!

I wish you could have been to those fundraisers. They were FUN! Laughter, music, and good people. The second one was like as the first -- FUN! I was the seamstress in The Gypsy Steals The Maid, an original mystery dinner theater play written by the late Kenneth Larsen.

I remember moving to Connecticut - Connecticut did welcome us. People did greet me with a smile. I was telling someone yesterday that in Connecticut if you sneeze in the grocery store, perfect strangers will say God Bless You. Here, I don't think they even say bless you to their friends. Here in the grocery store, I rarely hear an excuse me or see a smile of acknowledgement.

You don't think of Connecticut as particularly "Christian." To me the "least" Christian place I've lived had this characteristic the most. I find myself humming an odd little church handshake ditty from my childhood:

There's a welcome here, there's a welcome here, there's a Christian welcome here!

There is something about being welcomed. There is something about someone opening up a piece of their world and their life to you. This week I am seeing a very slight glimmer of life opening up to me.

Maybe it is because spring is around the corner - maybe it is because I am more open to life. I just know today with the sun shining. Even though I'd rather not be here today or tomorrow, I feel a slight bit of hope for tomorrow.

I may never feel welcome in South Dakota but I am beginning to welcome South Dakota in my life, slowly, tentatively. That is all I can do.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


In one short week, I am now behind in school. Nonetheless, I took a few hours for a lunch. It wasn’t that the food was good. It was okay. An overpriced but tasty Panini at a local coffee shop.  I thought about my coffee shop. I missed my coffee shop.

I had a dream to have a coffee shop. A woman, with my name and my dream opened a coffee shop. I prayed for her success through my disappointment. The day came when due to her health she closed. We opened the second generation of Joyce’s Coffee Shop in the same place using her same sign. This is not a story for here though.

Today as I sat in a coffee shop eating a Panini, I missed my coffee shop. I missed friendly faces. I missed fixing food for people who knew my name, who cared that I existed. I missed hearing the latest news of the town. I missed feeding the Alderman, the county commissioner and the Director of schools. I make coffee for some of the top songwriters in the country. They come to entertain at my shop but they come to check their myspace, facebook, emails and such. Visit our old myspace to see pictures of it. See a video of a bluegrass music night.

Look at our breakfast items:

I knew their names. I knew their concerns. I knew their favorite coffee drink or smoothie and exactly how they liked it. Often I would see them in the parking lot and have it done by the time they got to the counter.

A hot seller was my private blend Chai:

There is something nice about knowing people and being known. That is one of my biggest struggles in South Dakota. It seems I am invisible here.

When I go to Wal-Mart, I don’t run into one friendly face. Even the faces of the strangers don’t smile, don’t say excuse me, I seem to be invisible.

I was not invisible today. I met a new friend. I think she will be a friend. She brightened my day. It was a gift. The virtual stranger who inspired this blog arranged our meeting.

As we began to share our stories and our lives, we began to know each other. It was a start. It gave me a measure of hope that life will eventually have some brightness.

I suppose one doesn’t need a lot of friends. I just don't want to be invisible. Today I wasn’t invisible.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Whose Driving?

The snow seems endless this year in South Dakota. I am too new to South Dakota to know if this is normal or even what is normal. Of course, I don’t find much normal in South Dakota. People misunderstand me when I say that.

We are now back from Rapid City. Light snow fell throughout the day. The sun is shining this morning and my day is already brightened by its presence. During the trip to Rapid City, I was filled with anxiety. I was anticipating the weather.

I just knew it would be bad.  It wasn’t when we left Brookings, just rain and cold. It wasn’t when we got to Sioux Falls.  I was sure that by the time we got to Mitchell the weather will start. We got there and it was uneventful. The next emotional milestone was Chamberlain. I anticipated slipping into the Missouri River as we crossed it at Chamberlain.

We crossed the frozen Missouri uneventfully. I wasn’t driving. My husband is fearless in weather. Nevertheless, I was anxious.  As we came to Murdo, the weather started.  Slipping in the slushy mix of ice, water and snow validated my anxiety.  Unaffected, my husband continued. I kept thinking that maybe we should stop for the night. No meeting was this important.

The locals who arrived in Rapid City said oh, the road wasn’t too bad. I silent thought they were very wrong.  As the weekend progressed, the anxiety lifted and I considered that they might be right. Nevertheless, I chose not to leave the hotel.

The trip back to Brookings was the mirror image of the trip there. No weather when we left. The sky was the same color as snow. You couldn’t find the horizon.  Dreariness covered the sky and the ground. It was a visual expression of my emotions.

The bad weather started past Mitchell this time. The closer we got to Sioux Falls, the worse it got. As we took the last turn onto I-29, we slid. Vehicles overturned, upside down in the ditch. It reminded me of a treacherous trip to Vermont in January. Terror gripped my heart as I wondered if we’d be safe.

The locals would say, oh it wasn’t that bad, just drive slow. Some of these locals weren’t even driving slow. I wonder if they got home safe? I wonder if they were the next car in the ditch.

I have been on hold since first coming to South Dakota. I am waiting to hit the bad weather. I am sure I am going to run off the road. I am sure that I should stop, spend the night somewhere until it is safe. I wait for the next calamity, sorrow and disappointment, not willing to take any risks.

The locals understand something. They know the weather is bad. They know it is treacherous. Life is treacherous. Life is full of dangers. You can slip off the road. I have slipped off the road several times in my life. I may have been injured but I survived.

I hesitate to engage in life. I hesitate to live my life here, where I am, because I might slip off the road. If I drive, we likely will slip off the road. Like the road, life is treacherous. It is time to slide over and let Jesus drive. It is time to engage in life. It is time to stop wondering when the weather will start because it will. Life has lots of storms and slippery roads. If you stop you’ll never get to your destination. You’ll miss living.

My husband was the confident driver who brought us safely to our destinations this weekend. Jesus is the driver who will bring me to my destination, my destiny here in South Dakota. I do have a purpose to be here.

Today I am thinking there is life in South Dakota. It may not be normal. It may not be easy. The sun, brightly shining today, is beckoning me to engage in life.

Friday, February 5, 2010


After all my waiting yesterday, we went. We left for Rapid City. Normally I would jump at the chance to go Rapid City. I like it. It has people, stores, and a completely different feel from much of the rest of the state.  When I come to Rapid City I realize that the west is alive and well.

As I look at large men with large Stetsons and cowboy boots, I think of my own childhood. I grew up in the days of Wagon Train, Gunsmoke, The Lone Ranger, Wyatt Earp, Roy Rodgers, Bonanza, Rawhide and Annie Oakley. I dreamed of being a cowgirl like Annie Oakley. 

I had a full red skirt with pompom fringe my mother had made for me. With my matching red vest, red cowgirl hat and my pistol in its holster, I would go in my backyard to practice twirling my pistol. I could twirl the cap gun, but never would my jump rope twirl. All the jump rope would do is wrap around my legs.

What did a Brooklyn NY cowgirl do for a horse? She had a stick horse of course! Very appropriate for riding in a backyard.

I road a real horse once when I was in the third grade. Believe it or not, there are stables in NYC.  From Brooklyn, I ventured with my best friend Barbara (read more about her here) to rural Staten Island. Compared to Brooklyn, Staten Island was like going to the country.

I have never been coordinated. I had difficulty getting on the horse. I was terrified. All my aspirations to be a bareback rider were gone. I had brown corduroy pants with a paisley print on that day. Maybe if I had my red skirt and cowgirl hat on, I would have been brave.

The horse they gave me to ride was new to their stable. I think that meant it wasn’t fully broke in. They hadn’t named it yet. I suggested Rawhide after the TV show and they agreed. I wonder if they told that to all the little girls. I think they took pleasure in my greenhorned-ness. Crusty wranglers and scared little girls often don't mix.

I clutched the reins as we walked through the woods. I don’t think I did anything wrong, but then again, I’d never been on a horse before. Without warning, the horse left the trail. At what seemed like a gallop the horse tore through the woods; of course, I don’t know a gallop from a trot.

My pants, I think a favorite, ripped as branches cut into my knees. My face was badly scraped. A wrangler eventually subdued the horse. As a child, I was sure I was to blame. The wrangler agreed. I was defeated, hurt, embarrassed and vowed never to go on a horse again. I never have.

I still have a fantasy about riding a horse. I think I would still like to be a cowgirl. I think I would like some time alone with just the horse, God’s creation, and me.

I am alone. I am so alone in South Dakota. So how can more time alone be good for me? I think I’ve been missing the point. The alone time I need is not really to be alone. It is time with God; a time to let Him speak and for my ears to be expectantly open.

Today someone told me to find time alone with God. I hear and want to obey but my mind wants to wander. Just like the horse that decided to go off the path, risking my life; my mind likes to go far off the path. 

The wrangler that day rescued me. While he was not kind, he still rescued me. He grabbed the reins and led the horse back to safety. Today I am trusting the Holy Spirit to take hold of the reins and lead me to safety.  Maybe this is why the hymn Trust and Obey has been floating around in my head for days.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


I am waiting for more snow. I am waiting for my husband to decide whether we are traveling to the other end of the state. I am waiting for an interview for an EdD program. There will come a point when this waiting will be over.

I am waiting for direction from God. I am waiting for a vowel. (See here to understand why a vowel.) I despair that I will ever get that vowel.

I wait a lot. It seems that one of the words that describe my life is wait. No this isn’t the spiritual waiting upon the Lord so my strength is renewed. Nor is it a quiet expectation like when one waits for the birth of a child. With the birth of a child, you know you are pregnant. You know that a life is inside of you. You know it will come out and give you great joy. You know that the waiting has purpose.

Today a dear friend told me that I need to wait. She confessed that waiting is hard for her as well. I wanted to hear her candid advice. I trust her. When a good friend speaks, one that you know has your best interest at heart, one that also loves the Lord, you need to listen. Often the voice of God comes through these words.
I wanted to nicely remind my friend that she is young and I am not. She is not so young that she is immature; she is old enough to have wise advice. It is just that I know that what I thought in my 30’s is not what I think now. I feel an urgency. When I was younger, I thought I had time. I am tired of waiting.

Ten years ago, I felt like the girl who was all ready for prom, she has the dress, she has the shoes, her hair done, make-up perfect and she is sitting on the couch wondering if her date will ever come. I’m still on the couch. My appearance older, my dress wrinkled and tears stain my perfect make-up.

This morning I am waiting. I am waiting for spring. There is always a spring to follow a winter. If I were a gardener, I would be looking at seed catalogs getting ready to plant. I’d go to the store to buy peat pots and soil. I’d take little tiny seeds, plant them, water, then watch for tiny flecks of green to come out of the black soil. I’d be anticipating the taste of a tomato, or sweet corn.

In the second grade they taught us about planting. In our used milk cartons, we’d plant marigolds.  With great expectation we’d look each day for that first fleck of green. It always came. They always grew. The buds appeared. With luck, a burst of orange or yellow would exclaim Happy Mother’s Day just in time.

I’ve been looking at a seed catalog. I was planting my seeds in the soil of the seminary. They aren’t growing well.  I’m considering a different place to plant my seeds. I can’t do anything else but plant and wait.

I don’t know when my spring will come. I guess I don’t know if my spring will really come. Nevertheless, spring does always follow winter. Today on this day as I await more snow, I am waiting for spring. This waiting is based on hope.  While I see nothing, I know I have planted. I know I have watered. My hope is that something green will appear. It is that unseen hope in the God who is faithful.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Beginning...

What do you think God has in mind for you in the "storehouse of the snow"?

I could say a lot about the man who asked me this question the other night on Facebook. I have only met him once and even that was a bit by chance. In the short time I've known of him, my brief interactions with him, have been meaningful and a blessing. 

I am so glad I had even a brief encounter with him. Some people are like that, their Christ-likeness shows immediately. They are like a piece of Godiva chocolate. You don't have to eat a large piece to know that you have experienced something wonderful.

There was something about the phrase "storehouse of snow."  I now abide in South Dakota. I try never to say I live in South Dakota because I don't feel alive here. I say I don't like snow but it isn't the snow that I don't like, it is the complications that it causes in my life. I can't get around like I would like. I am terrified of the ice that forms that makes walking treacherous.  

It's like that with South Dakota. It isn't really that I dislike South Dakota. South Dakota is just geography. An arbitrary designation by a government to classify a land mass. Like snow, there are places that have some beauty. It's an odd sort of beauty, never quite peaceful, sometimes eerie, but like all deserts, it has a harsh beauty.  A beauty not easily discovered under its harshness. Only an expectant eye and open heart will see its beauty.

It's been the disruption of my life; the confinement. South Dakota complicated my life. My life was so close to being settled until a fateful phone call from South Dakota. South Dakota broke in with its harshness. South Dakota was to become for me a sort of crucible. 

A friend in Nashville recommended a book to me. It is a good book about South Dakota. Many of the locals don't like the book. Perhaps because it is too true. I liked it. 

The book is written by a woman who like me found herself in South Dakota. Unlike me, it was her choice to come to South Dakota and she had roots to the land and the soil and the people. I have none. It was not my choice.

Nevertheless, in Dakota: A Spiritual Geography by Kathleen Norris I thought I found a little hope. She also found South Dakota like a crucible. She found herself in the silence of the snow. I have not.

I am not Kathleen, nor is she me.  Our journeys are not the same. She came willingly, I am still kicking and screaming. 

Nevertheless, the God who led her on her journey through the crucible of South Dakota is the same God that brought me here.  I am here.

It is time to answer the question. What does God have for me in the storehouses of snow?

As I journey, as I look, as I ponder, as I discover and as I suffer, I will share with you my view from the storehouses of snow.  There is a treasure here somewhere.  

I am opening my eyes and heart to find beauty in the storehouses of snow. My prayer is that as I do, I will be able to answer this difficult question. 

Join me.