Monday, April 22, 2013


apparently the mcnatts moved to minnesota just in time to take part in weather history.  DNR officials are declaring this winter one of the longest ever. up in these parts, winter is kind of measured by the thawing of water -- i suppose that's fitting for the state of 10,000 lakes. each year when spring hits and lake minnetonka begins to thaw there's one specific date chosen which declares "ice-out!"  ice-out is determined when the first boat can navigate the thawing lake waters without encountering ice.   in past years, ice-out has occurred somewhere in middle to late march.  well, we passed that date up a month ago, and we are now closing on the end of april, there is little evidence that we are still anywhere near the great ice-out.  truth be told, we are still very much "ice-in." only a couple of times in all of history has lake minnetonka been ice covered in the merry month of may.  but this year, it is looking very likely.  1965 was the last year to have an ice-out in may. i wasn't even born in 1965...

what a foot of snow looks like in april!
and here we are in the final week of april, still looking at an enormous amount of snow and a frozen lake behind our house. just last week we had a winter storm hit which dumped 14 inches of snow in one night.  school was delayed the next morning.  minnesota never delays or cancels anything due to weather, that alone tells you how incredible the storm.  this is  far from normal -- even for minnesota.  how do i know this?  because everyone (and i do mean everyone) makes a point to tell us.  anyone who hears this is our first winter is quick to explain how abnormal this they are certain we've already started packing to return south.  it's actually kind of funny, except that it's not.  no one is laughing very much about the weather in minnesota.  even our pastor started his sermon this past sunday saying, "it's no longer funny."  so here we are in our strange month of spring where temperatures continue to plummet low and snow piles continue to loom high. and the lake out back...well, that's a toss up between antarctica and alaska. as i mentioned in my last post, there is a small slice of open water running along the shoreline now, but that's it.  when my friend, leslie, first sent me a link to the "ice-out" stuff on lake minnetonka, i found it incredibly interesting.  people place bets on the date, they throw parties and celebrate the end of winter when ice-out is finally and officially declared.  because we live in a lake community, it's a big deal out here, especially for those who make their livelihood on the lake.   everyone is just itching to go.  boats are being primed and cleaned and ready to hit water. no one wants to think about how last year at this time, docks and boats were well into the water and spring was in full swing. this year...not a chance. tomorrow's forecast:  6 to 10 inches of snow!  actually as i sit here typing...guess what it's doing outside...yep.

cbs reporter, colin smith, contributed the following article last week: 
Lake Minnetonka Could Face Historically Late Ice-Out   
"The ice is 20 inches thick in some spots, and with more cold weather in the forecast, some wonder if we could be on our way to a not-so-desirable record.

“I don’t think we’re within days of the ice-out. We may be more within weeks of it,” said Pat Sweeney with the Freshwater Society, the Excelsior group that has tracked dates back to 1855. “It is conceivable that we could still have ice on the lake in May.”     

of course i love the expression "ice-out."  it makes me think not only about the ice-out on the lake, but also the ice that settles sometimes in my heart.  i don't know about you, but i've definitely had that frozen feeling deep inside of me at times.  i've experienced the hardening of my heart when i've been angry, disappointed, betrayed.  it's not a fun place to be.  it creates a cold, numbing callous which seems almost impossible to break through,  impossible to navigate around.   when i am in the middle of an ice-in, it affects all parts of my life.  when the ice is thick, the winter is long.  the woman is bitter.

and just like the many factors which contribute to the thawing of lake minnetonka each spring, there are many things which help in the thawing of our hearts.  we can stand there with arms crossed and head bowed low, telling ourselves we're safer frozen.  we don't want to melt.  melting, as we know, brings vulnerability. melting means we have to do something, feel something, be something. but Jesus never created us to be frozen, He wants nothing more than to navigate through the ice of our souls.  and only He can accomplish this.  all of the little attempts we make on our own, really don't amount to much, do they?  not when we're contending with something so big, so solid, so set. did you read what that piece above said?  even in april, the ice is still 20 inches thick! and that's nothing compared to the hardness of our hearts.  only Jesus can come in and begin the cracking which needs to take place. the cracking of numb to bring in the living of new.  and just like this silly old lake still frozen out back, the timing is His alone.

i watched the boys standing down at the lake last week throwing big stones and rocks out onto the ice.  is that a boy thing or what?  i know they were trying to assist with the breaking up of the massive ice.  two young boys on the shoreline tossing rocks, hardly making a dent...that's kind of like us, isn't it?  we sometimes try to chisel away at the frozen pieces inside of us.  and really we are no more than young boys with a handful of pebbles in our pockets.  but if you're at all like me, we still feel the need to help God out.  because He needs us, right?  the King, the Creator of the universe, the Maker of all ice, He needs us. (not).
even minne wonders... when?

but still we wonder.  the kids and rick and me, we look out at this 14,500 acre lake, and we can't fathom how it will all one day be open water again. we can't imagine how that just happens all of a sudden.  lake minnetonka boasts 125 miles of shoreline is enormous and  it seems too thick, too massive, too frozen.  from my perch up here at the house, a great thaw seems beyond the realm of possibility.  kind of how we sometimes see our own sin: too awful, too much, too massive...but that's exactly the kind of heart God wants to begin breaking.

and, oh, that breaking...oh, that isn't always very pretty.  it doesn't always feel particularly good, in fact, it can actually be somewhat painful.  God uses lots of things in our lives to make us melt.  but what He is doing is melting us right back into Him and into His Spirit.  He tells us to put down our tiny chisels and our small rocks and lean into His warmth.  only His arms of love carry the heat needed to crack our hard hearts. we just can't do it ourselves.

and flowing, wild lives is what He wants for those He loves wildly and deep:

"and I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh." ~  ezekiel 26:36

when God removes that heart of stone, that heart full of heavy ice, it is nothing short of amazing.  only He can take out what seems so stubbornly set.  maybe you've never lived on a lake like this, but perhaps you've had the chance to experience God's massaging thaw of your own heart.  when He navigates right through us, the results are remarkable and freeing. they are life-bringing.

when things thaw, life thrives.  and it's a beautiful thing.

“Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion!… He gives snow like wool; He scatters the frost like ashes. He casts forth His ice as fragments, Who can stand before His cold? He sends forth His word and melts them He causes His wind to blow and the waters to flow.” ~Psalm 147:12-18

* postscript....
one part that makes this slow thawing lake especially sad is that we aren't here much longer.  i'm afraid with our move date fast approaching, we won't get to witness the great ice-breaking in our backyard.  next week, the mcnatts will be moving from minnetrista to eden prairie.  it's about 25 minutes closer in to our schools and work and church.  this lake living was only temporary--we knew that from the beginning.  this awesome, old house on the lake was already rented for this coming summer and so it's time for the mcnatt family to move on to something different.  a new chapter.  of course we're sad to be leaving the water behind. we've treasured up some great memories in our short time here.  living on water has been an incredible treat for all of us.  and who knows, we might do it again someday!  


Aus said...

Great stuff here - love the prayer - and happy / sad about the moving too - what a great old house you are in!! (and might this move be smoother!!)

hugs - aus and co.

Wibakers said...

I soooo feel your pain! We moved years ago and have braved many winters and Southern Living magazines arriving in Feb and March with beautiful portrayals of our beloved South! I am afraid that this spring has done me in and I just want to go home! Hang in there!!

Love your blog

Jennifer said...

Oh, I will miss your beautiful "life on the water" pictures! Enjoy these last days on the lake.


Chantel said...

I stumbled on your blog a few months back and have felt horrible that you have had to deal with this crazy winter. I, too, want to tell you how unique it is. Last year I met a woman who moved here from Florida, excited for the snow, and we got none that year. None. And summer hit in March.She was wishing for snow and i kept telling her to be careful what she wished for! Now this year, record long winter she wasn't so thrilled with the snow! Our springs are usually so beautiful. Enjoy the 70 degrees this weekend!

jodymcnatt said...

thanks for your encouragement chantel. i fully realize we are a people living steeped in the grass-is-always-greener mentality. always longing for what we don't have. i think back to our wild exuberance at the first snowfall in november... children running outside coatless and crazy in their joy to see snow. to feel it on their taste it on their was thanksgiving and my kids were giving thanks. needless to say, it has felt different in april. perhaps this longing for the next thing...the other in all of us no matter who we are or where we live. contentment. that is the elusive word we toss around a lot in our house. "i have learned to be content in all things..." i have learned. i am learning. always learning.
and let me just say, we will be perfectly content with this 70 degree weekend ahead of us! =) blessings!

jodymcnatt said...

thanks jennifer -- we will. and we, too, will miss the water. oh, i can't tell you how much!

jodymcnatt said...

thanks friend! we're almost there, aren't we? i just yesterday boxed up the hats and scarves and mittens and gloves and boots and coats...happily, happily boxed them up! regardless of what happens outside my window, i am officially declaring the end of winter!

jodymcnatt said...

thanks aus! we're sad too...but know this is the right thing. the right time. we've dearly loved this great old house. but it's time.