Have you heard Christy Nockels' new Christmas album Thrill of Hope? If not, go out and get it. It is beautiful! It's got some lovely renditions of old Christmas classics and some deep, new songs that will soon become classics. I spent four hours listening to it in the car this last week. So.good.
Most of the time I had the song Amaryllis on repeat. It was as if she had been looking right in at my life when she wrote that second verse: So here I am, waiting, in a winter of my own. If it's gonna be this cold here, why couldn't it just snow. Well at least I could say through the pain that it's somehow beautiful. Everybody knows that the time to bloom is spring, yet You're asking me to break through the hardness of this freeze. And You say that You're with me and I can make it through anything...When everything is cold and dark Your love breaks through and I shine, oh I shine for you, with the brilliance of summer, right in the middle of winter. Somehow, surprising the night like a Christmas amaryllis.
Wow! This is how so much of the last nine months have felt. Like I am sitting in the middle of winter just waiting. Waiting for life to start again. Waiting for joy to resurface. Waiting for passion for anything to return. Waiting for grief to take a hike. Waiting for spring, when I feel like I am growing, doing something productive, and I can see good things coming out of this hard, cold, dark time.
At the same time, God has used this song for so much healing in my life, just in the last week. You know, even in the darkest times, there has been "snow" amidst the cold. Little sprinkles of grace in the midst of the waiting and dark and cold: #tablesitters, friends and family, bills that others are paying, a part-time job to help support my family, two beautiful kids who make me laugh and smile and give me more hugs than I can handle each time they see the tears starting to form in my eyes, a beautiful church family whose love to my family has restored faith and hope in others who had given up on the church. Somehow, God has used this dark, cold time in my life to shine brightly (like summer in the middle of winter) in the lives of more people than I will ever know. Oh, how I want to be that amaryllis! I want to fill my house with amaryllis plants now. Ok, not really. But, really. (Except that I am a plant killer.)
Oh, Father, keep shining! Keep sending the snowy flakes of grace into our winter. Teach me how to break through the freeze to bloom even in the darkest night. Oh, Father, use this darkness to make my son's heart tender toward You and to open his eyes to his need for Your salvation. Use this darkness to make Sophie overflow with the gifts of Your Spirit living in her. Use this darkness to make all three of us more sensitive to the needs of others. Use this darkness to increase our love for You and our love for others.
***Do yourself a favor and listen to this podcast that shares the story behind this beautiful song. I listened to it tonight while I was working out and I cried so hard! You have to get a little way into it before she gets to the story, but it's totally worth the listen: Glorious in the Mundane Podcast 15: Amaryllis