Once a month, on the third Tuesday, you can stop here and gain some wisdom from a featured writer. Today, I am welcoming Joanne Viola to share her story. The beautiful part of this process is the chance you all have to get to know the featured writer on a deeper level as well as to see Jesus in new ways. Join me in welcoming Joanne …
The tree sits on our boundary line. We didn’t even know it was there until our neighbor began moving our stone wall. Suddenly, it was there and had my attention.
It was small, frail looking if I had to describe it. I had my doubts if it even was a tree. It’s smallness tugged at my heart and I desired to “save it”, protect it, so as to see how it would grow.
It’s been several years now and the tree still demands my focus. Each time I go in and out of the driveway, my eyes are drawn to look in its direction and smile at its growth.
Winter. The dictionary defines it as “the cold season” and “cold weather”. But it’s more than this …
Winter. Just saying the word makes a whistling sound much like the sound of the wind blowing through the trees on our woods.
Winter speaks to me of bare trees, icy patches, cold temps, soft falling snow, and a stillness.
It may be my favorite season, truth be known. The darkness settles in earlier, inviting me to light a candle and get comfortable under a warm blanket. Warm tea often fills my insides as well as soups and stews.
Winter draws me into deeper thought as the snow falls and deepens over time. And winter draws me to the tree and I am amazed once again.
The tree holds onto its leaves, which turned fully brown during autumn. They will drop slowly over the course of the winter, often hanging on until the new buds finally push the brown leaves off its branches.
There in the middle of winter, in the short and colder days, the little tree begins to bring its message to my soul:
- We can hold onto the promises of God.Though the winds blow and the snow falls, the leaves hold on. “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise” (Hebrews 10:23, NLT). It would surely be easier to let go, give in and move on but the leaves remain, doing the hard thing. They stay in the harsh weather, finding strength and comfort knowing they are not alone. They remind me to hold on because God is faithful to His promises. Hard seasons, much like winter, do not last forever.
- Spring will bring new life.As the winter moves on, the leaves will begin to drop, a few at a time until the tree is bare. But the dropping only signifies new growth will soon come. There is new life coming forth as the trunk comes to life after its dormant rest. “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland” (Isaiah 43:19, NLT).
In the cold and dark of winter, God’s promises and love breaks through, warming our hearts. We need not let the harshness harden our hearts, much the way the deep freeze ices and hardens the earth.
In the middle of winter, even when it is coldest, the sun shines reminding us these days will pass.
In the dead of winter, when all is asleep, God is ever at work and He is making all things new again. When all is dark and bleak, He causes the sun to shine and bring warmth and growth.
In the middle of winter, He reminds us to hold onto His promises,
for spring will surely come!
Joanne’s words blessed me today. The willingness to share and point us back to Jesus is what makes this community the blessing that it is.
May we all find ourselves willing to share Jesus in a way that shines a light on Him in all we do.
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I love winter!!!! We just had a beautiful snow storm. When I see the pretty white blanket, it reminds me of what an amazing God we have. Loved reading your words about the tree.
Another lover of winter. Snow can be very beautiful but the cold and gray weighs on me. Thanks for stopping by.
Mary, I love that you will be having a guest post the 3rd Thursday of the month! That is awesome and I love reading Joanne’s post. What a powerful person to have kick off your first one.
Joanne, I love your words and reminder that we need to hold onto the promises in the midst of winter because Spring will surely come! Love it.
What I love is how God is showing me how to share this space with others. And I agree that Joanne has begun this journey with such a beautiful, thought-filled post.
I love learning life lessons from a tree! I didn’t realize I was such a tree-lover until several big trees were torn down near me. God can use many things to teach us. Thanks for sharing, Joanne.
I love every season – and winter with SNOW – just WOW! Thank you, Joanne for the hope post! Just right for the season God is walking with me through right now. I am going to keep this close to my heart: “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland” (Isaiah 43:19, NLT). I have great hopes for that pathway!
Even though I struggle a bit through January and February, I do appreciate what you’re saying. There’s a beauty in waiting for what God is going to bring about! Love this!
It’s good to see you here today, Amy. I agree that there is beauty in waiting for God and the story He is still writing.
I love seeing winter in this light. It’s probably my favorite season too and this makes me love it more! laurensparks.net
I love knowing that winter is a favorite season of yours and Joanne’s. Your positive thoughts about this season have hoped me to see it in a new light.
I love these hope-filled reflections, Joanne. We have a tree that is holding onto a handful of brown leaves this year, so now I have another comforting spiritual lesson to consider as I look at it – a reminder to hold onto the promises of God. 🙂 Usually what comforts me in the winter is to know that even though the tree looks dead, its roots are growing deeper and stronger. Thank you for this additional encouragement for these cold, dreary months. Yes, spring will come! 🙂 Love and blessings to both of you, Mary and Joanne!
Wow, I love these words: “God is ever at work and He is making all things new again.” I enjoy winter too, Joanne. I have to confess the gray skies over Austin have made me long for Texas sun, BUT I love the fact that I rest more in winter, just by virtue of the fact that it’s dark longer!
This is a beautiful post, Joanne, and I love how God spoke to you through that tree. It is so encouraging to remember that we can always hold onto God’s promises, even during the hard seasons, and we can know that he is absolutely faithful!
I love winter too, Joanne. And those puny trees and plants that seem so insignificant but are so worth saving … I think of them as my little garden children. 🙂 “God is ever at work and He is making all things new again.” What a wonderful promise! So nice to read your words here!
Joanne is a favorite of mine and her words are always a soothing balm.
JoAnn, it was so fun to see you here today. Your words are a gift. Winter in North Dakota can get awfully long and cold. But your post today reminds me of the gifts found in winter. Thanks!
Joanne’s words are a gift. You know winter well too, don’t you Tara?
Thank you for these precious thoughts, Joanne, and thank you Mary for opening this space to share heart-stories! Winter has always been hard for me, feeling the greyness and cold so heavily. But in the last few years He has been showing me the necessary growth that can only happen in the quietness and stillness of winter. Thank you for the confirmation of that in the picture of your tree! Blessings to you!
Bettie, I pray that the remainder of this winter will not be so difficult for you. May God’s light and joy fill you as you wait for the warmer days of spring. Blessings!
We are always better together and sharing Joanne’s words is a blessing to me and others. Blessed to have you here, Bettie!
I love the lessons you learned from your little tree, Joanne! I love all lessons I learn from nature :).
Anita, nature always brings a beautiful lesson. The photos you take always bless me when they appear in my feed!
Thanks for being here, Anita.
Beautiful, Joanne. Winter is not my favorite season, but the time spent indoors does force me to slow down and breathe. Thank you for the reminder to look for the hope God promises us at the end of a cold dark season!
Laurie, I’m glad you admitted winter is not your favorite season. How wonderful of our God to give us four seasons to pick from 🙂 Each one speaks its own message into our hearts yet each always points us back to Him.
Hope in God’s promises certainly gets me through the cold, gray days of winter.
This is beautiful Joanne! Winter is now a favorite season of mine for some of the very reasons you express. It seems to quiet the world in January after the hustle and bustle of Christmas and New Year’s. I love when we have enough snow that it muffles all outdoor sounds of cars on the road, etc. I love fires in the fireplace, time to read and reflect, cups of hot tea or coffee. I also tend to leave up some of my indoor Christmas twinkling lights to add to the atmosphere.
Pam, a fresh blanket of snow not only brings a sense of awe but of comfort to me. The stillness refreshes my soul and gets me ready for comes forth in spring. Blessings!
I like winter so much more after reading Joanne’s words and now yours. Between the two of you, I think I might actually enjoy winter a bit more.
I needed this message, Joanne! I’ve been hit by a recent struggle in my life and it’s good to be reminded that there is hope just beyond this cold season. Thank you and Mary for bringing us these encouraging words and pointing us to hold tight to God! Pinning and tweeting!
Beth, I am sorry that you are in a struggle at this time. I’m grateful if these thoughts have brought you encouragement. May you hold on tightly to God for He has always been holding tightly onto you! Praying for you this afternoon.
I am praying for you, Beth as you face whatever struggles you are experiencing. Love and hugs to you.
God uses nature to show us His ways, and remind us of His promises, doesn’t He? Thanks for showing us what God tells us through a tree in winter.
Lynn, I am always amazed at how God speaks His promises into my heart. I pray He would give us eyes to see and ears to hear. That’s all we need to see Him in our world. Blessings!
Being a fellow nature girl, I can wrap my head and heart around how Joanne describes winter. Blessings and thanks for being here.
Thanks for these thoughts! Winter used to be my least favorite season due to the darkness, cold, and colorlessness of the landscape. But lately I’ve come to appreciate January as a time of rest – and the cold and dark directly contribute to making it a restful time. And then noticing that restful time is built into the rhythm of God’s creation helped me appreciate it even more. I love the cozy blankets and hot coffee, too. I’m so thankful God has beauty and purpose in every season.
Barbara, I am not sure when the stark beauty of winter captured my heart. A fresh blanket of snow always moves me to tears. I’m glad you reminded me to be thankful and appreciate the beauty and purpose of every season. Blessings!
I am joining you in looking at January as a time of rest. Thank you for being here.
Ahhh, Joanne. What a breath of fresh air your words are. The winter of the soul can be a difficult season to walk through. But God is still working, even when we can’t see evidence of that.
Like you, I love the chance to slow down, think more deeply, eat soup, and cuddle under warm blankets during this season of the year. And yes, winter always yields to spring!
Jeanne, I am sitting right now wrapped in a blanket and a hot cup of coffee beside me 🙂 I am grateful for the work God does from the inside out. His life always springs forth, in His time!
I want to join you and Joanne as we sit by the fire, with our comfy clothes on, warm blankets wrapped around us and our favorite hot beverage in our hands!
What a gorgeous depiction of our cold season. And it IS COLD right now, but we also know that winter is a promissory slumber, and underneath the six inches of snow–and inside your sweet little tree–there is already life stirring. When my life feels like winter, I want to do a better job of remembering the pattern of the seasons and God’s ability to pull life out of death.
Michele, I so appreciate your words. I am so grateful for this little tree which constantly reminds me to do a better job of remembering how God always brings hope and life. Blessings to you, sweet friend!
I love your description of winter as a promissory slumber.Prefect! Thank you for stopping by!
You’ve captured winter in all its mystery, hope, and wonder, Joanne …
I truly think winter is my favorite season as it holds so much mystery and promise. Thank you, Linda, for always encouraging me. Blessings!
Joanne provided such beautiful word pictures, didn’t she?
Mary, thank you for opening your space to myself, and others in the weeks ahead. Your warmth and hospitality makes this a most endearing community and a wonderful place for us to Tell His Story. Blessings!
It was my pleasure to provide a space for you to share your beautiful words. I will look at winter differently from now on after reading your words.