The chickens refused to leave the comfort of their coop, the goats remained nestled in their freshly-cleaned shed. Not even breakfast could lure them from their comfy roosts and cozy straw beds and out into the cold. The heavy snow and frigid temps deterred all but the most stubborn roosters in their well-protected bachelor pad. We should be busy, adding amendments to the soil, fertilizing, tilling, and digging, getting it just right to receive fresh and new, ambitious seeds and sweet potato slips. I should be able to feel the sun, warming the dirt, as I plot and plan where every plant should go. I want to dream of sun-warmed tomatoes and summer squashes and plump snow peas but here and now instead of sunshine, we are blanketed in cold and ice, covered in the weight of a snowy nor’easter. The first day of spring has passed us by but winter refused to release its icy grip on our little farm. This, this is the winter that just won’t end.

 

Some seasons of life feel that way, like a winter that refuses to go. The bitterness of a lost job, the cold and angst of a lost loved one. The world seems icy and cruel, as the daily grind grinds on and on, and all you want to do is stop and rest and breathe and recover and find the sunshine again. When you wistfully desperately need a new spring and spring just doesn’t want to come. When your energy reserves run as low as the wood pile that burns in the fireplace to keep you warm, and your determination to make it through this wintry season starts to wane. When will this winter of life come to an end? When will the sun break through and bring spring? When will my tired body and my weary heart be ready to grow and bloom again?

The snow falls, piling up gently, quietly. The snow is as peaceful and beautiful as it is cold. Gazing out the window, I still long for spring. I long for relief from the drab and the gray and the never-ending winter. There has never been a year when spring didn’t come. In all the winters I have seen, never once did spring not show it’s beautiful face, bringing warmth and light and newness and hope. I need that fresh new hope. I need that warmth on my face and my bare feet in the clumpy dirt. I do not know when spring might come, I only know that it will. Spring will come.

I take a few vitamins, and take a little rest. I gaze at Johnny’s Seed Catalog and Meyer’s Hatchery catalog and I breathe. Perhaps the ground and I needed some extra breaks this year. A little more time to process and prepare. Space to sip coffee by the fire. Perhaps my faith is being stretched in this time of winter. I cannot see the sun for the snow drifting and falling all around me, but I know that spring is on its way. Seasons come and seasons go and faith is believing, no faith is knowing, that the spring I cannot see is already on its way. Faith is believing, no faith is seeing, that the job we need is just around the bend and the loved one lost is celebrating, celebrated in heaven until we one day arrive. Faith is starting seeds and ordering plants and getting ready and faith is riding out the waves of seasons and the waves of snow. Faith is what is grown in winter time, in the winter that won’t end. Faith is what grows and blooms and bears delicious fruit through snow and wind and waning strength and depleted wood stores. No matter how long the season, no matter how frigid the cold, faith grows and thrives one step, one prayer, one hope at a time. Take a breath and just believe. In your heart, in your life, in your garden, on your farm. Spring will come.

Spring will come.

Psalm 91:1-4, NIV from www.biblegateway.com

 

I never intended to become the crazy chicken lady.

I just wanted a few chickens to run around my yard and lay a few eggs for breakfast. Honest. But somehow I ended up with 24 Silver Laced Wyandotte hens and 1 chicken of a rooster named Captain Jack. And that’s when the ‘addiction’ began.

There is a never ending supply of chicken pics on my Facebook page. I post far more chicken pics than pics of my kids. I sent my poor hubby out to the coop in the middle of a blizzard with cracked corn – because digesting cracked corn makes the chickens warmer. The chickens know my voice. And when I pull my big white van up next to the chicken run, they all come running to see what I’m up to.

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Lucky for us, the rooster mostly crows from inside the coop. But I love seeing my chickens dig around the chicken run, winging flight as high as the hardware cloth allows. I love bringing them my kids’ leftover Mac N Cheese, peanut butter and jelly sand which crusts, and the leafy celery ends that no one wants to nosh. They are happy, well-fed chickens, for sure.

But my chickens are stubborn and they don’t head to safety on their own. Our yard is not a safe haven for chickens – there are hawks soaring overhead, ready to swoop up a wayward chick. There are bobcats, and coyote, foxes, and raccoons, all waiting at edge of the tree line, salivating for a tasty chicken wing. One snowy evening, the wind howling, snow spinning around the yard, and the chickens huddled up against the side of the coop. It wouldn’t take much for them to go in – they could fly, hop, walk, and bob the few steps up the ramp and into the coop to safety. But they refused. They refused to be tempted by treats, by light, and warmth. Those ridiculous chickens just wouldn’t head for safety from the storm and hungry predators. Instead, they waited, cold, scared, and without protection.

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I don’t know what was wrong with those chickens – maybe they’re just stubborn. Like me. I had to pick up each and every chicken in that freezing snow squall and move it inside to the safety and warmth of the coop.  God is our shelter and our safety. He’s waiting to spread his wings over us when He seek our haven in Him. We, stubborn at times, look for safety in all kinds of places – homes, alarm systems, guns, family, church, work. I get it, because I seek comfort and safety in those kinds of things, too. But our ultimate place of shelter is in the loving arms of our Heavenly Father.  This is what I need to remember when the storms come. And they will come, just like they already have come – in the form of snow squalls or hurricanes, financial difficulties or the stormy days of bad health, family dramas, or lost jobs – God is the shelter I need to seek.

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Where are you seeking shelter? Are you huddled up on the outside, getting battered by the winds and the storms, quaking from those that would devour you? God has spread His wings and all you have to do is go in.  I still don’t mean to be the crazy chicken lady, but if it helps me learn about God’s loving kindness for each of us, well, then, just maybe it’s worth it…

Psalm 91