Thursday, January 30, 2014

lessons from the weather

"don't knock the weather; nine-tenths of the people couldn't start a conversation if it didn't change once in a while."  ~  hubbard 

there's been a lot of talk this month about it.

seems no one in the country has completely escaped its effects.

winter has hit january hard and, of course, we've all got something to say regarding the weather. and because we're people and human and sinful, we're doing our share of both grumbling and judging.

the north has had several "cold days" this month. everyone up here is walking around in a bit of daze, mumbling things like, "this never happens ... this has never happened." it's like a stripping of some kind of pioneer pride. i can't tell you the number of people who have tried to explain to me that in 50 years of living in minnesota, they can't ever remember school closing because of cold weather. "we just don't do that in minnesota," they say. but folks, it's been minus 20 degrees off and on this month. holy moly --- it's okay to let the pioneering rules bend just a bit. no one, i assure you, is questioning our hardiness.

well, on second thought, i did run into a nice older man at the gym this week. he was parked next to me and when i was getting into my car he noticed i had a sticker from our childrens' elementary school. he said he was a grandpa to a couple of students there and asked if school was cancelled yet for tomorrow. i told him it was possible. he humphed and then went on in an indignant voice to say, "that's crazy, i was raised a farm boy in minnesota and we never missed a day of school for the weather!"
but because it was -15 degrees as we were standing there in the parking lot chatting, and death by freezing was imminent, i wasn't able to explore this conversation any further with him. my feet, clad only in a pair of nikes, were beginning to go numb and my sweaty head was beginning to frost over, so i did my best to cut him off, save my life and hop into the car.

the north isn't the only one getting some extreme weather this month, the south was slammed with an incredible storm this week as well. a storm which in a matter of hours went from fun and frolick to grief and gridlock. tuesday night, via facebook and some texts, i was hearing story after story of the utter craziness occurring in our old town. i was also privy to countless stories of wonderful people helping out those stranded and in need. one friend took in several strangers for the night. another friend walked several miles to bring home someone else's children from school. it sounded like a nightmare, but many took it as an opportunity to serve others and to rise up and above the weather. i love that angle. southern hospitality at its finest!

but unfortunately, there's another angle that often shows up when it comes to bad weather. north or south, people are doing what they do when hard times happen  -- they are pointing fingers and finding blame. they are asking why it wasn't handled better or why someone in charge didn't do something faster.

and i feel for the south, especially this week.

they sorta can't win.

i lived there for almost 15 years. it's kind of a strange place to be when winter weather comes calling.

had the authorities called off school and closed down the town too early, then people would have poked fun at them for their extreme pre-caution and southern-kind of panic.
believe me, i've heard all of the jokes.

in the situation this week, they let it go too long (not a typical reaction) and got themselves into a real fine mess. and of course there's all sorts of criticism for that, too.

it's easy to sit somewhere else ... cast the stones, make the calls, issue the "they-should-haves." it's always easy to judge from a distance. just as it's easy for us in the north who deal every day with several feet of snow and temperatures in the negatives to feel kind of smug. we shake our heads at the south and think to ourselves, "well, they should try out minnesota for a few days. they'd die! you betcha!"

i'm totally laughing as i type right now. just outside my window the gusting snow is creating some kind of wild hurricane of white!

it's true, the south can overreact a bit -- i lived there ... i know.
but it's also true, the north can be a wee bit judgmental -- i live here ... i know.

{i fully realize i am probably losing friends in both regions as i pound out these thoughts -- but, please, let me continue}.

the thing is, i do understand both reactions. the south isn't prepared to deal with snow and ice and so they have to be extra cautious. no one should blame them. the north is prepared and able to tough out winter (because, hello! winter lasts 6 months and we have no other choice), but it's still hard for people up here to understand the panic down there.

just this morning i sent my teenagers off to school in slippery,white-out conditions, with a kiss, a "be careful," and, of course, a prayer.

our family is all mixed up. we were northerners living in the south and now we're southerners living in the north. (you can only imagine our accents)! so we really do understand both sides of the great mason dixon line weather controversy. and maybe that's what makes me tolerant of all the opinions, jokes and editorial comments.

but it was something my dad said to me on the phone yesterday that got me wanting to write this post. (he, by the way, lives in ohio). he said, "jod, you're doing pretty well in minnesota. i think it's just in your DNA." meaning i come from tough stock, i guess. nice to know. he then went on to offer his observation on the weather:

"hey, here's the deal, i can be miserable up north in the extreme winter cold or i can be miserable down south in the extreme summer heat. i can  --- it's easy to complain about it either way." 

and then he let out a big "OR..."
 --- and i knew there was more coming from my dad. (there usually is).

 "OR," he said, "i can be content up north in the extreme winter cold and content down south in the extreme summer heat."

you know what my dad was saying -- it's a choice. it's what we make it. it's how we look at it. because life has hardship, we will always have something to complain about or something to be judgmental over. always. there's no shortage of fuel for the fire of our discontent or our discredit of others because we are broken people living in a broken world.

north or south or east or west it just comes with the territory of our humanity.

and we can sit and grumble and gripe about the temperatures being too high or too low. we can complain about what comes forth from the sky:  too little sun, too much snow, too little rain, too much wind ... sure, we can. that doesn't take any special skill or any extra effort.

OR ... we can learn a couple of lessons from the weather:

LESSON #1: we can't be in control of how the weather reacts.
and i honestly think that's one of the reasons people get so bent out of shape over it. we can't do a single thing about it. we have no control -- and we don't exactly like how that works. we can plan the perfect outdoor wedding in junw and it can rain. we can plan a trip to the beach and it can be unseasonably cold. we can even head to the mountains to ski and find the powder a little bit lacking. we aren't in control and i think that's what makes most of us the most crazy.

LESSON #2: we can be in control of how we react. 
weather comes from God. i know scientists have all their amazing science stuff to explain it ... and that's good and pretty cool. but truly, it is God who sends the storms, holds back the waters, strikes the lightning, showers the rain, blows the wind, dries up the deserts, and releases the snow flurries ... it's Him. it's His deal. He's the one in control. and if we believe "every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights..." (james 1:17), than we have to believe that the weather is also from Him above ... and that it is good and perfect -- in HIS opinion, not ours.

but i get it. i wouldn't want rain on my wedding day either. i write this, but honestly, i have my moments of grumbling and complaining too. of course i do! i am throwing this out there to whoever wants to read it ... but, as is usually the case, i am writing it mostly to myself. my dad said i had good DNA ... and yeah, i have a little bit of his "tough it out" kind of attitude, but really, more than good DNA or thick blood, i just want to be grateful for what God gives. even when it rains (or snows) a little on my parade.
i want to learn to look at the weather, whatever it might be, and see God -- see His beauty, His creation, His control ... and give thanks even in the stormy parts of life for His good and perfect gifts.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.
 I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,
whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
                                                                                                  ~ philippians 4:12

by the way, you have my permission to remind me of those words if you happen to hear me grumbling in the next blizzard!
no complaints from these two -- they LOVE the snow!
can't deny it, snow gives a nice backdrop for photos! =) but then again, so does the beach. 
these two bring me JOY whatever the weather!

1 comment:

Paula said...

Words of wisdom as per usual and gorgeous photos! I have missed your photography! Simply beautiful!!!