The old school house at Safe Haven Farm covered in snow, Haven, KS

Complaining about the weather is silly

For the first time in my memory, the rest of the United States is getting to experience what we here in Kansas call normal weather. Outrageous snow followed by warm temperatures or vice versa. Crazy storms followed by outrageous snows. Or no snow when you’re supposed to have it. Anyone who said living in Kansas is boring has never lived here or isn’t paying enough attention.

Some people don’t care for the crazy ups and downs of central plains weather, but I like it. And I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m so excited for the coming weekend. South-central Kansas has been in the deep freeze for a while, and by the weekend we should have temperatures near 60. Crazy. Because the high Monday didn’t even hit 20. But that’s Kansas weather, and that’s the way it’s always been here.

I don’t do this very often. I should. But today I just wanted to take a brief moment and thank God for the way He created the weather. I’m sure it’s nice living in a stable climate. I’m sure it has it’s good points. That was something I laughed about with my best friend when she moved to England. Nutty weather was something she missed.

But how often do we just take a moment and thank God for the weather? Snowy or warm, bitter or mild, sunny or cloudy?

The old school house at Safe Haven Farm covered in snow, Haven, KS

The old school house at Safe Haven Farm covered in snow, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Nehemiah 9:6.

You alone are the Lord. You made the skies and the heavens and all the stars. You made the earth and the seas and everything in them. You preserve them all, and the angels of heaven worship you.

It may seem like weather is random, but there’s nothing random in our world. There’s nothing coincidental, and God has control of everything. So if that’s the case, weather falls under God’s purview too. Have you ever thought about it that way?

Admittedly, when I’m struggling to get to my car in snow drifts taller than my knees and preparing myself for a drive that is twice as long as normal because of icy conditions, praising God for the snow isn’t on the top of my list. But you know what? It should be. Weather has its purpose just like any other part of life. If it doesn’t freeze and get cold here, we’re overrun with bugs in summer. If it doesn’t snow, the wheat doesn’t get enough moisture while it’s waiting for the growing season to begin. Conversely, if it doesn’t get hotter than blue blazes outside in summer, the wheat won’t dry out and be ready for harvest.

Everything is connected, and nothing is an accident. And God is behind all of it.

So many people see the weather and complain, and that’s understandable. It can be irritating and exhausting, and I will say I’m totally ready for a change in the weather. But that’s what great about Kansas: The weather is always changing.

Weather is part of God’s creation, and God has a plan for everything He does. So why sit around and complain when the weather doesn’t suit our opinion of what it should be? It’s part of a bigger plan. And how miraculous is God’s plan for weather? What creativity to design the world so that we have weather! I mean think about that!

So the next time you’re angry about the weather, stop. I mean, come on, people, what’s the point of being angry at the weather anyway? Do you realize how silly that is? I was angry about backing into a tree; at least that’s something I can change in the future. There’s nothing we can change about the weather. It’s going to do what God tells it to do. So stop wasting energy and focusing on the things you don’t like. It’s a waste of time and it poisons your perspective.

Instead, think about the marvel of weather. Think about how everything has to work in perfect synchronization to give us weather at all, whether it’s snow or rain or hail or wind or clouds. And be thankful for it. Honestly, I think weather is one of the miracles God gives us every day that we never say thank you for.

So, thanks, God, for our nutty weather. Thank you that it’s been cold and snowy, and thank you it’s going to be warm again!

The next time you don’t like the weather where you’re at, take a step back and think about what it takes to make that weather. And if you look at it that way, surely you’ve got to see the design behind it. And if God designed it, we’d better not complain about it. I mean, you can if you want to. But you’re going to sound pretty silly. Just saying.

God’s faithfulness endures even though the seasons change

Summer is a fun time of year when you’re a little kid. There’s no school. You can run around outside and play. You can go to the zoo. You can eat ice cream and Popsicles and snow cones. Picnics in the park and swimming at the pool.

Summer as an adult isn’t as much fun because work doesn’t let out for the summer . . . well, if you’re a teacher it does. So maybe teachers feel differently about summer than I do. Summer for me is honestly a hassle, but I’m not a hot weather person so that probably adds to my general dislike of the season. And if we’re talking about this summer? This summer in Kansas was the hottest summer in history–50+ days over 100. And not just 102 or 103 . . . 113. So my electric bills for cooling have been ridiculous, even though I leave the house set on 85 or 90 most of the time. The only part of summer I really enjoy is that I can take my shoes off . . . when I’m not at work.

It’s funny because winter is the same way, although I like winter better than summer. When you’re a kid, winter is a magical time of year when you can see your breath and you can rejoice when it snows. And sometimes if it snows enough, school will close and you stay home and drink hot chocolate all day long.

Winter as an adult lost its allure for me the first time I had to dig my car out of a snow bank on the way to work . . . . and then it became a hassle when I had to drive my normal 45 mile drive to work on black ice, which took me two hours one way, and I had to do it at 5:30 in the morning to get to work on time . . . twice. Winter as an adult means snow removal, expensive clothes, shoes, and propane bills that skyrocket.

Granted, winter means Christmas, and that makes me happy. And I enjoy the snow when it first starts to fall. And if it snows on a day that I don’t have to go anywhere, I’ll turn right into a little kid.

But I think there are seasons in our lives that are like summer and winter. Long. Uncomfortable. Expensive. Too much to handle. Overwhelming, when life just saps all the strength you have and you’re too weak to stand up. Barren, when life drains out of all your efforts and it’s all you can do to believe that something is going to grow again.

But I believe God gives us seasons in our lives just as He gives us seasons on our planet.

Today’s verse is Joel 2:23.

23 Rejoice, you people of Jerusalem!
      Rejoice in the Lord your God!
   For the rain he sends demonstrates his faithfulness.
      Once more the autumn rains will come,
      as well as the rains of spring.

Spring can be hot and muggy, but there’s something spectacular about watching the world come back to life again. It always helps me remember that winter doesn’t last forever.

But by far, my favorite season is fall. It saddens some people because the trees turn brown and lose their leaves, but to me, it’s a reminder that everything changes. And it reminds me that no matter what stage of life I’m in, autumn is always going to come–regular as clockwork. And although I don’t really like change, I love autumn. There’s a chill in the air and the smell of pumpkin in all the stores I go into. It’s a time to bake and it’s a time to be with family. It’s not too cold, and it’s not too hot. I can still go barefoot, but sometimes I need a jacket.

For me, with every change of the season comes a time to rejoice. Because the one constant in life is that everything changes, except God. Though every part of our lives may turn upside down and all the way around, God remains the same. He is faithful.

No matter what season of life you’re in, God is there. If you’re in the spring and everything is new and exciting and fresh, He’ll walk beside you and show you new things you’ve never seen before.

If you’re in the summer and you’re tired of being tired and worn down and exhausted, He’ll carry you.

If you’re in the autumn and life is about to change, He’ll be with you, preparing you to face the challenges to come . . . without you knowing it for the most part.

And if you’re in the winter and you’re discouraged because your life feels bleak and barren, He’ll be there reminding you that life goes on. And trusting Him will give you strength to face the cold until spring comes again.

But no matter what part of life you’re in, He’s faithful. He never leaves us. He never abandons us. And He sends little reminders to help us see Him when we forget to look for Him. Like rain. Like sunshine. Like a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks . . . . =) . . . . Well, to each his own.

So rejoice. Today is a new day, and God will show Himself to you if you let Him.

Spring in Kansas (a.k.a. Bipolar weather in a state where the only constant is the wind)

Autumn is my favorite season, if I had to pick one. And I enjoy cold weather (although I’ve lost my fondness for it by this point). But there is something remarkable about spring. There’s something magical about watching the world coming back to life after it’s been sleeping for so long.

Spring is a beautiful reminder of how God works, I think. After a long season of struggling and discouragement, He renews everything and everything gets another chance to live again. It’s hard to remember though because winter can seem so very long. But spring always comes one way or another (although in Kansas, it seems to hang on longer every year . . . . blizzards in April?).

I guess to someone who has never lived in a bipolar place like Kansas, our winters might surprise them. We aren’t known for getting intense amounts of snow like New England. We aren’t known for consistent artic temperatures like Alaska. If we’re known for anything, it’s for our weather’s confusion. It’s not unusual in a Kansas winter to have the temperature vary 60 degrees in a day. This past winter, we had a 95-degree difference in less than a week. One day the high temperature was around -20 (without figuring in the wind) and less than a week later, it was like 75.

To someone who has never experienced Kansas weather, I think this state might confuse and frustrate them. Because when you’re ready for snow and ice, Kansas gives you fog and rain. And when you’re ready for rain, Kansas gives you a drought. And when you’re expecting a drought, you get tornadoes and hail the size of soft balls. In the winter, especially, the weather never does what it’s “supposed” to do. The only constant in Kansas weather is the wind (unless a tornado is on the way; then when it gets quiet, you need to run for your basement).

So I can imagine how frustrating it might be to someone who has experienced winter in other more consistent places. For example, if you live in New England, you know you’re going to get snow. And you know it’s going to be cold. Oppositely, if you live in California, you know the weather is going to stay in the 70s and be dry and beautiful.

Here? We freeze our butts off for a week and then we see the sun and can run around without a jacket on. It’s like the weather loves to show us a glimpse of warmth and then revels in dashing our hopes with a blizzard that leaves us buried in snow, topped with ice and finished off with freezing fog. And if you didn’t know that that’s just the way Kansas weather is, I could see that it might discourage you.

Life is kind of like that, though. Don’t you think? James 1:12 says this:

 12 God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

 Those of us who’ve lived in Kansas for a long time know that if you don’t like the weather, all you have to do is wait it out. Because our winters might be frigid and artic and frustrating, but our summers are hot and humid and fierce. If you’re not a winter person, just wait for summer because it will come.

I’ve found my relationship with God to be very much like Kansas weather. He never changes, of course. He always stays the same, and it’s me who does the changing. But there are times when stuff comes into my life that I don’t like. And it’s not necessarily because of anything I’ve done (although sometimes it is, and I’m just dealing with personal consequences). But most of the time, life just happens. Kind of like the weather. And at that point, I have two choices in how to respond to it — I can pout and be difficult and blue and unhappy; or I can just press on, doing the best I can, knowing that the weather will improve if I just give it time.

Trials and testing in our lives as Christians give us an amazing opportunity to put God to the test. If we are able to keep trusting Him even when nothing seems like it’s going right, we will be blessed. Now . . . notice that this particular verse doesn’t exactly imply that we’ll be blessed while we’re struggling. It actually seems to focus more on the fact that we’ll receive a reward when the trials/testing are over (this specific reward, the Crown of Life, is something we’ll be given when we get to heaven). But in any case, patiently enduring trouble that comes our way gives us the chance to know God for who He really is.

It’s kind of like stargazing. The best time to stargaze is in the winter. The night is clear and the stars are brighter. The only trouble is you go numb if you spend too much time outside looking up at the stars. But it’s worth it because you can see the stars and planets better than any other time. And if you wait until you’re comfortable outside, you won’t get as good a view.

If you wait until you’re comfortable in your life, you won’t get to know God very well because you don’t “need” Him as much as you do when you’re struggling.

I enjoy winter. I like snow (when I don’t have to drive on it), but by the end of the season I’m ready for it to go away. I’m ready for spring. I’m ready to watch the world come back to life, and there is something so wonderful about seeing flowers burst out all over trees, seeing grass climb out of the ground, seeing wheat growing in the field across from my home. It’s wonderful because it reminds me that God has kept His promise to return life to the Earth, and it encourages me because it reminds me that God will keep His promise to me.

Trials and testing don’t last forever. Just like Kansas weather, if you don’t like it, just be patient and try to make the best of it. Because it’s guaranteed to change.

The best security system there is

Gracious. It’s cold this morning. At present it’s 2 degrees here without the wind chill, and it’s about 25 degrees in my unheated upstairs. I’ve got my little heater cranking in my office corner, so it’s about forty in here. Maybe. Also, I’ve got about five inches of snow I have to plow through to get to work this morning. So this will be brief. Fortunately, encouragement doesn’t have to be long-winded.

Actually, the verse this morning pretty much speaks for itself anyway, and I have to tell you, I needed it today.

Psalm 118:5-6

5 In my distress I prayed to the Lord,
      and the Lord answered me and set me free.
 6 The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear.
      What can mere people do to me?

Doing what I do for a living, I often run into circumstances or situations where I have to make some pretty big decisions. Or I have to act in situations that I don’t know what the outcome will be. I work with a lot of different kinds of people, most of whom are older, more experienced, and (at least on paper) wiser than I am.

What I forget (quite constantly) is that the Person who gave me the opportunities I have — and who put these people in my life — is always with me, waiting, watching, eagerly anticipating the moment He knows is coming when I remember who He is and ask for His help. God wants to help us. He loves to help us. All we have to do is ask. Ha! Sometimes, we don’t even have to ask, but it helps if we do.

With God standing right beside me, offering His assistance in whatever I do, how can I go wrong? I mean, He wrote the Bible . . . so surely He can help me write a few plumbing articles. He created snow and ice and winter . . . so I know He’ll help me get through all of it piled up in my driveway this morning. . . . . He created everything. So there’s nothing He can’t help me overcome, even the awful Wichita drivers on the roads this morning.

If you’ve never experienced what it’s like to be safe, knowing that nothing can hurt you no matter what the circumstances, ask God for help and then trust that He will help you. He’s waiting for us to call on Him. So why don’t we?