“But redemption will always be most powerful when we can trace God’s hand along the way.”

Matt Bays~Finding God in the Ruins

March came in meek as a new born lamb. Warmth, sunshine, blooms everywhere. Windows thrown open filling our space with warm breezes.

My heart, my cold body, wanted it stay. I knew it was a teaser. We’ve been here sixteen springs, I’ve learned not to put away the sweaters, flannel, and fuzzy socks.

Warmth left as April arrived, blowing in on the coat tails of a roaring wind, not with just a hint of cold. A downright freezing trend settled in. Blueberry bushes covered. Dogwood blooms lost.

I in my un~flexible~flexible ways. My very own made up word~smile~because…Yes. It. Most. Describes. Me. I have been shivering and grumbling about. Searching the Weather Channel App on my phone, scanning the horizon for promises of warmer weather.

I feel like the treasured icon recently lost to the world of country music, Merle Haggard; “If we make it through December everything’s gonna be alright.” If I can just weather this extended cold snap, warmth will pour over me as liquid honey, seeping into my cranky, aching bones.

I snap on Lola’s leash, wrap up warm, head out the door for our sweet girls morning walk. She’s patient with me, understands the walk will be slow and short. Fighting to stay upright in the howling wind, my toes clench the hard ground. As our fury friend meanders about, I glance around. The covered up blueberry bushes, empty pots begging for flowers, brown patches of grass begging for heat,  I notice a  yellow bloom. A weed.

Here in the wilderness, it’s a thing of beauty and promise. A promise in all things hard, beauty pokes its self through, stands out in color. Blooms. I bring it in, snap a picture. Collect the moment.

“When you collect the moments that matter, it means the moments have passed.” Annie F. Downs from Looking for Lovely

These are the moments where I most see God’s presence. The thread he weaves around me trudging through The Wilderness Marathon. Where I find provision, endurance to weather the hard. Moments to collect.

A bright yellow bloom grows faith in the unseen. A promise of redemption in the pesky and hard things of life. The thistles we are want to avoid, often the place where beauty and strength rise up.

Holy ground lies beneath.

My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees. 

Psalm 119:71~NLT

It’s easy to wallow up in our suffering, miss the moments begging to be collected. Miss the provision. Misplace joy.

I want to stay awakened to these moments, collect them all, hold them close. Write them in my journal. Tuck them in my memory.

“If this is my life, if this is where I am, then this is where God is too.” Choose Joy~Sara Frankl

Finding beauty in the wilderness befuddles the soul. Baffles the heart. Thorns prick. Tangled roots trip us up. A drooping branch smacks the face.

Ann Voskamp said, “Sometimes even hard ground can be holy ground.”

It’s been days since I first lay these words on the page. Long awaited warmth has finally arrived.

Birds sing and whistle their melody. I set in the quiet and take it in. God is in this place. I am swept away by it all. Treetops in the distance lie still, as if they are listening too.

 I like it best just like this.

Feet propped up, warming my purple toes. I watch the sun dry the towels. The stillness here, another moment to collect.

In this moment, God. Is. Here. I sigh into the stillness, let loose of the hard. When I reach long, yellow flowers bloom among the weeds. When I look up, suffering grows dimmer.

Healing comes through the looking up, not in the fading of hard.

Later today, my sweet man will drag out pots of the sleeping geraniums we wintered. Place cushions on the chairs. I’ll drag out my journal and pen, a blanket, a book. Breath deep as day fades to evening glow.

He’ll putter about, tend his blueberry bushes, walk the dog. I’ll scratch words across the page. List the gifts, capture the moments, give thanks. Thanks and praise, He puts holy in the hard. Places beautiful blooms in the weeds.

Gifts of Grace 

Tammy Mashburn

 other places you may find me…