In the rest of America, the saying is "April showers bring May flowers," but here at 7200 ft in Laramie, Wyoming, it's more like "April blizzards bring more May storms." I've had my worst fight with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) this year. I didn't struggle with this at all for the first couple years after the twins were born, but last year it came back with a vengeance and this year has been even worse.
We don't seem to get as many breaks in the bad weather as we used to, and March and April are particularly hard because I know every where else there are signs of spring, but we just get more and more winter.
Nevertheless, God continues to give me little gifts, and I write them down on my calendar and give praise back to Him. 1000 gifts is an idea from Ann Voskamp's book and her blog, A Holy Experience.
256. Woodstove fires.
Blaze is our "fire-girl." (I guess I chose her nickname well!) She has gotten so good at building fires in our wood stove, it's become her official job.
257. Bumper stickers.
This one made me look twice: "An eye for an eye makes the whole world go blind."
258. Advanced reader copies
I received my first "ARC" in the mail, or Advanced Reader Copy. Now that I have an established writing and book-review blog, I am eligible to receive ARCS (for free!) from publishers - months before they are available for sale. In return, all they ask is promotion on my blog. I already raved/reviewed Possession, a futuristic young adult novel by Elana Johnson, on my writing blog, but I'll mention it here, too. If you liked mind benders (like the movie Inception) you might like Possession. Inception blows your mind with dreams within dreams; Possession blows your mind with mind control and trying to guess who is controlling who.
259. Baby cars
You know that great Disney movie, Cars, where there are no humans at all and the people are cars and trucks and the livestock are tractors? Lightning McQueen falls in love with a Porsche. Well, they never showed any baby cars in that movie. I wonder if they have kid cars and baby cars in the sequel movie? I had fun imagining that scenario!
260. The potter and the clay.
From my Beth Moore study, Breaking Free, I found these powerful verses, Jeremiah 18:1-12, about the potter and the clay; I wonder if this is where the famous verses in Romans 9:19-21 come from. The Lord has Jeremiah visit a potter and watch him make clay vessels to illustrate his point.
261. Crazy ideas.
Character idea (probably already taken, but it's still fun): a character for a book who's special gift is seeing every person's "inner animal". This is different than saying "he's like a fox" or "she's like a tiger." This is more like your hidden personality, or potential, not your most apparent one.
262. Fun things your daughters say.
Dreamer tells me: "I am powerful and flexible." I ask her if she heard that at school. She says, "Nobody taught me this. I figured it out myself."
263. How important children are to God.
Another important lesson from Beth Moore's study: Matt 18:1-8. She shares some of experience of how she was abused as a child, and yet still God used this terrible thing for many great purposes.
264. Morning walks.
Now that it is lighter in the mornings, I am starting to get out and walk more, which helps the winter blues. At the end of my walk I always visit our horses and spend some time rubbing their faces and "talking to them."
265. The Bible is relevant, at any time, at any age. Stars called me and told me about this wonderful book she'd read, "Heaven is for Real." (This book deserves a post all to itself). Anyway, Stars said the book reaffirmed her faith in God, though she said she struggles with the Bible - is it really relevant? I told her it was, more than any other book in the world, because it is how God speaks to us, and it gives a blue print for living a fulfilling life.
266. Happy medicine.
B.'s brother and his family came to visit for a weekend and the girls had so much fun with their cousins Br., T and D. . R.B. and J.B. had us busting up laughing several times, it was like an instant shot of happy medicine.
267. Old horses that never give up.
We got the horses out for the kids to ride and I was delighted to see that Rebel was still full of energy, still "leading the pack" at 29 years old!
268. Prayer beads.
At my women's Bible study (which I'm now hosting at my house) we talked about the importance of prayer, how to make it more of a priority and how to stay concentrated during prayer instead of wandering off to plan the grocery list or other things. Heather shared that she uses prayer beads (not a rosary) but a bead each a different color for each family member and close friends and it helps her remember to pray for everyone.
269. Sharing parenting tips.
Also from the Bible study, another friend, Tuesday, shared some advice on parenting, on dealing with attitude (which I'm getting a lot from Blaze, lately) - it's such good advice I'm going to write a whole post on it. The basic gist: many times your kids don't even realize how their attitude appears to others.
270. Not being afraid to fall off.
Lunch with Heather. She told me to look up Francis Chan's videos on YouTube (he's the author of Crazy Love, another must read). This video called the Balance Beam is something every Christian should watch. The basic premise is that it's easy to get caught up in accumulating things and then hanging on to them, that we aren't willing to take risks anymore for God. If life is like a balance beam, we hug it close and creep across carefully so we won't fall off. Then at the very end of our safe little lives we "dismount" the beam and stand up and look to God to see if he liked our "performance." Very convicting!
B. got a promotion at work, and he's only been working there for 4 months. He has better hours now, too, no longer has to work through the night plowing when there is a blizzard. He works four 10 hour days, and has Fridays off, so we really like that too. (Now the new position has it own set of issues and challenges, things we are praying about - issues with his foreman).
272. Morning notes.With his new hours, B. has to be at work at 6:30, so when he's running late he doesn't have time to feed Rebel in the morning (our old horse). So then he leaves me these adorable notes on the kitchen counter: "Please feed Rebel the debel, the old crafty one" and another time: "Please feed the other handsome man."
273. Good can come from cancer.
Heather was diagnosed with breast cancer in April and had a double mastectomy in May. I visited her a couple days after her surgery (she was only in the hospital one night!) and she was a little groggy from pain pills but very optimistic. She said her reconstructed breasts were actually an improvement over the old pair! Other good news: the surgeon felt confidant that he got all the cancer and that it hadn't spread. She may not even need to have chemo, but still too soon to tell. Heather amazes me with her strong faith since finding out this scary news. She's sure that the Lord will use this to help her reach many more people and share her faith.
274: Worship songs
I have a new favorite song at church. Well, I have lots of favorites. But this one moved me to tears recently: "All I have is Christ" (I even emailed Karen the lyrics).
I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave
I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still
Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life
But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross
And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace
Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life
Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me
Oh Father, use my ransomed life
In any way You choose
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You