Snow Daze

By Velma Amundson

Most of us in the colder areas of the United States understand winter, I mean with a capital W and bold, you know WINTER. By this time of year we are so sick of being cold and looking out our windows and seeing nothing but white. White ground, white skies, sometimes I think even the air is white. We’re tired of having to bundle up in our coats and walk on “eggshells” to keep from slipping on the ice.

I know you get it. Today I was sitting in a restaurant silently grousing about at least two more months of winter, regardless of what the calendar says. I know we probably won’t get spring before the end of April. Anyway, as I sat there silently grousing, a Bible verse popped into my head. Now, I know when I give it to you, you’re going to say I’m using it strangely. And, you’re right. But you will see it works. The verse is from Genesis 2:6, “and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground”, ESV.

It dawned on me. I had written a book for my granddaughter about the life cycle of a tree, from spring through winter and back to spring again. I had told her that God knew that even the plants needed to rest, so He made them to “sleep” in the winter. If it rained now, while the plants were dormant, they couldn’t use the water, they’re “sleeping”. Not only that but that blanket of snow on the ground acts exactly like a blanket, insulating the roots of the trees and the dormant plants, protecting them through winter. Then when spring approaches and the land begins to warm up and the snow melts there is water available for the reemerging plants. Without this cycle, it just wouldn’t work.

The Bible verse reminded me that God cares for His creation. In His wisdom, He knew how to make things just right. My grousing turned right then into praise. I praise God that He has the wisdom. I know that He will care for the world, for me and all of His children.

 

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A Slippery Spring

by Jonni Sliver

I apologize to all of those with sore backs, aching shoulders or just plain blues because of our extended winter; I’m afraid it might be my fault!

I am pretty sure you all understand that leaving Brazil caused a lot of mixed emotions. Two years isn’t very long to be on the field and in some ways it feels like I just got in the groove and it was time to request a new visa. It was hard leaving the children in the Miriam Home, especially knowing that many (or all) of them could be gone by the time I get back. The Miriam Home team is small in numbers and I feel I left them shorthanded. On the other hand, it is wonderful to be home, it is a treat to visit as many of the AFLC families as possible, and the WMF women who have so richly embraced the Miriam Home. AND to make those visits in a beautiful Minnesota spring – what could be better!

I love the idea of escaping a Minnesota winter – not the cold (a good Norwegian sweater and some wool socks and you’re set), and certainly not the incredible fairy land scenery of coated trees, but the roads. I hate driving on slippery, slushy roads. And when you arrive the beginning of April, you expect showers, not flakes. But not this year!

The first three weeks of April have looked an awful lot like January, and though my visits to churches and WMF Rallies have nicely fallen between snowstorms last Thursday I was not so fortunate. Returning to the Twin Cities I started out in an icy rain, turning into sleet. Heading down Interstate 694 the sleet turned to slush. I found car after car passing me; they obviously felt more confident than I did. Then, just past Maple Grove we saw the first car on the shoulder of the road. Within the next three miles there were five more cars on the sides, facing in the wrong directions – suddenly I wasn’t the only car driving 50 mph on the freeway!

I made it safe and sound to Bloomington, arriving with a  reminder of a couple of things I already knew. First, we were not made for fear. There are moments when fear is a real blessing – it keeps us from petting lions or walking in the middle of the street. But in general, making decisions based on fear will keep us from hearing God’s voice and following it. Second, God knows our weak points and He is loving enough to put us in places where we can choose to trust Him. Like on I-694 in the “Spring”.

Thoughts on Expectations and Following Jesus

by Sarah Langness

I was pretty excited this past weekend to have a named winter storm headed our way. Gandalf was coming, and supposedly he was bringing a significant amount of snow, lots of strong winds, and some frigid temperatures. Since Gandalf was going to be so intense, I expected to hunker down inside: no morning walks with my baby boy, an increased consumption of hot beverages, dozens of cookies baked as the wind howled and snow fell; maybe even having my husband trapped inside and unable to go to work. No such luck: we only got a couple inches of snow and the wind didn’t seem extraordinarily fierce. I was able to walk on Friday morning after all. I didn’t drink more coffee than usual; I didn’t even make hot cocoa. I didn’t bake cookies. And Jordan still had to go to work. My expectations sure weren’t met.

I’ve been thinking a lot this past week about my expectations in regards to my service to Jesus. If you would have asked me ten years ago how I would be serving Jesus today as a 24-year-old, I don’t know what I would have said. Probably something lofty, obviously important, and amazing. Like living in Africa serving in an orphanage. Or working in a children’s ministry at a church alongside my youth-director husband. Or missionary service at a homeless shelter. Emily Freeman sums up my thoughts in her book Grace for the Good Girl:

“I am struck by how I have lived in a constant state of high expectation. I compared my current life to the one I thought I would be living. I compared my Jesus walk to the way it seemed it ought to be. I had clear ideas about what important Jesus work was supposed to look like, and it had nothing to do with cleaning the toilet.”

This past week, I’ve been challenged to change my thinking on what it means to follow Jesus. All too often, it is easy for me to focus on the big things, the obvious things, that people do to serve the Lord. But there are ways in which we are to serve the Lord that may go completely unnoticed by others. Like clamping our mouth shut when we want to participate in gossip. Like putting others’ needs before my own. Like bringing a meal to someone in need. Like getting to know my neighbor across the street and sharing Jesus’ love with them. Like giving more than I’m receiving. Like telling the truth instead of lying. Like not envying that couple’s house or those girls’ friendships. Like being the best mom I can be to my little Ezekiel and the best wife I can be to Jordan.

Jesus’ call to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily and follow Him probably includes those huge, mountain-moving acts of faithful service like serving as a missionary in a foreign country. But I think, more applicable to the average Joe like me, it has to do with our daily living right here in HomeTown, USA. It might not seem as exciting or as important for the Kingdom – but it is.

However we serve, however we live, I pray that we would be working to hear these glorious words:

“‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.'” – Matthew 25:21

Dead of Winter

by Velma Amundson

My mother has been visiting us over Christmas. We were talking the other day about being in the “dead of winter”. You know, that time of year when Christmas is over, it’s too cold to go out and “do” anything, it’s dark, and seemingly hopeless. I will admit that I have problems with winter. It’s too long and cold for me, and I end up feeling restless and a little lost. OK, sad might work. I look at the snow covering the green grass, the trees, and everywhere and I feel just as blanketed as the world outside.

But, we’ve just entered the season of Epiphany in the church year. For me it’s when we look at how Christ’s light shines in the world. We see how He is God, our Savior,His beauty and glory light up a world darkened by sin. January’s “The Lutheran Ambassador” showed various ways that Christ’s light shines. For me it shines in the “dead of winter” with the promise that God made:

“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22, ESV).

I know I can make it through winter, or hard times, or anything else because of Christ’s promise of resurrection, both His and ours at the last days. No matter how dark and bleak winter might get, Christ’s light is never extinguished. I pray that Christ’s light will illuminate your walk and your life. God bless you.

Editor’s note:  You can also connect with the Ambassador Magazine on Facebook.