Wednesday, April 10, 2013

coming back to brown

so the truth is, i was able to survive the minnesota winter just fine, but the minnesota spring is what might finally do me in.  everyone has focused on the cold, the snow and the frozen, but what they failed to mention was what happens when it all melts:  the brown.  the gray.  the incredible, incredible mush.

after a full day of travel from florida on friday, we didn't pull into our house until almost midnight.  i could tell the snow had pretty much melted except for the massive plow piles on the cul-de-sac.  i could see that the white was gone, but that's all i could see -- at first.  the next morning, when the sun came up, i sauntered sleepily over to the window and my casual glance outside turned fast into a dramatic gasp of horror.  my yard, the color and consistency of oatmeal, had been transformed from a winter wonderland into a war zone.  brown. gray. dead.  lost mittens and hats strewn about like hapless victims.  (oh, that's where that leather glove went?) odd toys and candy wrappers and tennis balls -- everywhere. but the worst was the dog mess.  apparently we've had horses living in our yard these past 5 months.  i really cannot explain to you the sight of what two gigantic dogs have left behind after many, many months of frozen winter. (and, i assure you, i did not take a single photograph). keep in mind when the weather is negative 5 degrees, one just does not go out after their pooch to clean up his business.  another layer of snow would fall and the foul little leavings would disappear under a clean blanket of white. but that blanket of white had lifted while we were on the beaches of florida last week, and there it all was, waiting and wild for me on this april morning:  one incredible collection of waste right before my freshly vacationed eyes.

i was not ready for this.

i was completely unprepared.

after a week of aquamarine water, cobalt blue skies and white sugar sand beaches, our yard was a terrible sight to behold.

and standing at my back window, gazing dismally out at this dull wasteland, i felt the immediate slump -- everything kind of caved for a minute.  "this isn't spring, this is disgusting," i thought to myself.  all that beachy-rest and relaxation began to ooze right on out of me, like sand through my fingers. oh the white, clean, beautiful sand of the gulf of mexico beaches! (sigh). i gave the yard one more nasty glare and then felt myself slip into project mode.  the general in me would go wake the entire family and send the troops out with shovels.  it was time to forget the brightly colored sand shovels and plastic pails of last week...those were simple vacation things.  it was time now to exchange the toys for tools.  real war time stuff.  no more play and frolic and fluff.  this was battle. this was war. this was our yaaaaard!

and it isn't just in our yard.  it's everywhere.  everywhere i drive and everywhere i look there is some shade of brownish-gray or grayish-brown.  not one single pop of color anywhere.  i walked into the market yesterday morning and they had a few small pots of pansies at the front entrance (indoors, of course). i almost began to cry over the pathetic display of these few blooms.  even the cut tulips in the floral department were closed up tight.  arms crossed and heads bowed, they seemed to shout at me, "no spring for you!"

it is one thing to look at the yuck.   it is another thing to have to deal with it.  because i have boys, the mud has taken on a great, monsterous life.  last night, both boys returned from a bike ride covered slick in a brownish goo.  connor's yellow rain boots caked thick with the slime.  he actually attempted to walk right into the kitchen with his heavy layer of smear. but, i assure you, wild woman was waiting for him and she made it crystal clear there would be no walking into any doorway looking like that.  it was only 30-some degrees out, but i seriously considered hosing both boys down in the driveway before they could enter -- like we used to do in georgia, when they were little.  when it was at least sixty degrees outside.

the mud room takes on a whole different meaning in minnesota.

so where am i going with this post?  i bet you're wondering if i really am going to whine and whimper through an entire piece of writing.  i know you're thinking: she's finally lost it.  given in.  given up.  burned up.  burned out.  look-on-the-bright-side-bessy is finally ready to throw in the towel.  okay, maybe not throw in the towel --we desperately need the towel. but, nonetheless, the silver lining sister has finally lost her shine.

dull. dismal. depressed.

i'll be honest, i felt like that for a few days.

after those aquamarine waters and white sugar sand beaches, you bet i did.

driving to school monday morning, the car was quiet.  drizzling rain and cold added uncalled for emphasis to the brown blah of landscape.  i tried my best to chatter brightly, but it was heavy inside my car.  no one very happy.  no one very excited to be heading back to reality.  i knew we had to pray together before the kids got out of the car. we just had to.  we do that most mornings on the way to school, but this morning it was really, really necessary.  "Lord change our attitudes.  Lord would you help us to embrace where we are and what we have.  Lord, help us to see even this ugly day as a beautiful gift from you."   the kids sighed and climbed out of the car.  my words seemed lost in the rush of wind when the car door opened.  did i really believe we could see something beautiful in this?  really?  in all of this brown? 

have you ever felt that way?  questioning what God can do.  have you ever thought to yourself: i know God can do great things, but surely not with this.  surely not with this thing, this issue, this sin. this problem. this pain. surely not with something this ugly.

but God always has something up His sleeve, doesn't He?

on the way back home i turned on some music.  and driving through the depressing drizzle, the song "beautiful things" came on.  it's been one of our favorites in these past few months,  but it took on a whole different meaning as i drove through this messy minnesota day.

these words drowned out the sound of pounding rain and instead pounded back into my heart the message God had intended me to hear. even now. even in the midst of the mud.

beautiful things  (please click to listen)
 i added some of my minnesota pictures to the song.  
before watching the video, let me suggest 
scrolling down to the bottom of the blog and 
pausing my playlist music below.

All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You    ~ gungor

and that's it, isn't it?  He does make beautiful things out of dust, out of us, even out of mud.  i know this.  i believe this.  i have seen this.  sometimes we are absolutely stuck in the mud of life.  we are caught in the horrible gray monotony of pain or loss or breathtaking disappointment.  it is an ugly place to be.  it is a horrible place to belong.  but what Jesus wants us to know is that we don't really belong there.  it is a temporary thing.  it is a time of transition.  transitioning can sometimes seem hard, even hopeless.  we cannot imagine the beauty of spring or the warmth of sun or the healing of the barren land...the barren woman....the barren life.  but His Word is filled with promises of hope and redemption.  words which promise deliverance from this time of life-stealing gray.

could i possibly look at the landscape with new eyes?  could i, on this muted dull day, see the seeds of bright color just below the surface, preparing their entrance.  perhaps, but not with my own eyes.  maybe with His eyes and His hope,  i could. i can. i did.

and oh dear one, you can too...whatever your landscape.  whatever the problem.  whatever the pain.

because our God does make beautiful things out of dust...out of mud...
                      ...and mostly, mostly He makes beautiful things out of us.

"and He who sits on the throne said, 
"behold, I am making all things new." and He said, "write, for these words are faithful and true."  ~  revelation 21:5

"therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; 
behold, all things are become new." ~  2 corinthians 5:17

"He has made everything beautiful in its time.
 He has also set eternity in the human heart; 
yet no one can fathom 
what God has done from beginning to end." ~ ecclesiastes 3:11

"for behold, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. 'the flowers have already appeared in the land..." 
~ song of solomon 2:11

P.S.   everything really is temporary.  i started this piece in the midst of the tremendous brown, but when i woke this morning to finish it and post, i woke to snow.  the brown is gone, the white has returned...not sure how i feel about this.  perhaps that was just a lull in the winter...a chance to allow us to clean up the yard and find the lost mittens.  but it seems on this april 10th morning, winter has re-entered. gotta love minnesota!

at least it's pretty!


Corri said...

When it turns green though.. There's nothing quite like Minnesota in the summer. And the long winter makes it so much better. And the long summer nights..... Florida (where I live now) has its wonders and beauty but I miss Minnesota.

Aus said...

Hey Jody - live there long enough and you'll get used to some place that really experiences all 4 seasons!! ;) You got it however - underneath all that brown is LIFE - waiting in perfect peace for a signal from our Creator that now is the time - now is the moment to grow and bloom and live...

That's the thing about the seasons - there is a time for every purpose under Heaven...(and our Father knew you needed a little more pretty so He cut you a break!)

hugs - aus and co.

Michelle said...

I laugh because I remember the "no spring" so well. Summer and spring are sort of one there and it lasts from May until August or so. Then you have a 2-3 month fall if you're lucky (which is beautiful there) and back to winter. My kids and I always looked forward to winter again but it gets old in February-April. Hang in there because you really appreciate the summer.

It's such great experience living somewhere like that even for a short time. We have so many wonderful friends and memories of Minnesota. It's almost like a different country sometimes and now we appreciate so much of the south that we took for granted.

But April is a hard month in Minnesota for all the reasons you named. We learned after that first year to pick up the dog poop at least once a week because you pay dearly when the snow melts if not. But on the bright side, at least you don't have pollen yet. We forgot how terrible it is and it is not nearly as bad in MN.

Anonymous said...

I assure you that this particular Winter/Spring is even getting the best of seasoned Minnenesotans (speaking as a 35 year resident.) Hang in there!

Anonymous said...


Lori said...

Thank you SO much for this post!! Moving from the SOUTH only 4 1/2 years ago, this time of year in Wisconsin is SO hard for me. It's feels as though winter will never end and Spring/Summer will never show its Beautiful face! Reading your post has helped me push through all the mud/rain and soon to be snow again and see the beauty God has waiting around the corner!!
You have learned lesson #1 this winter, try and keep up with the dog mess!!


jennifer said...

Oh my goodness! YOu are making me laugh out loud! I can only imagine how hard it must be to have the winter drag on like it does there! I am also laughing at Lori's comment about Rule #1! lol... I would have NEVER even imagined it!!

Paula said...

You, Jody, are an incredible writer! I love dropping by and pondering over your posts. And the pictures? Beautiful!