How Winter Feels Warm

December 5, 2011 | 28 comments

The winter’s first snow fell, as if on tiptoes. It drifted down, like winter sneaking up on the world, silently decorating Earth in white streamers for a surprise party.

I am so glad I got an invitation, a pearly curtain opening to beckon me: Come.

Because here’s the deal: When I’m outdoors, I return to my first Love. I forget myself, and He becomes greater.

Too often, I’m a throne stealer.  I freak out and fret and fuss and fluster. I shoehorn my way into the spot reserved for God. But out here, where flakes fall soundlessly? I sense the Father.

Out here, I can’t hear the zippers slap-tapping against the dryer bin, or the laptop’s steady hum, or the iPhone, beeping an incessant looky-here.

Outside, I find my first Love wooing.

While silent flakes drop from Heaven, I think of the Christ child. I think about how He could have come like a freight train, but he came like a quiet snowfall instead.

On that Bethlehem night, you had to be watching the stars or grazing from a feed-trough to know that God showed up in a manger.

You had to be paying attention.

I come outside to pay attention.

I click frame after frame of tiny miracles, crystals floating on air, white jewels collecting on boughs.

How can something so cold, feel so warm?

I bend my soul to see. And here in the posture of praise and admiration, I see more clearly into the quiet, understated ways of the most humble King to walk the Earth.

Out here, I surrender a throne.


“There can only be two basic loves: the love of God unto the forgetfulness of self, or the love of self unto the forgetfulness … of God.” — St. Augustine

Linking with Michelle…

by | December 5, 2011 | 28 comments


  1. S. Etole

    I was going along in the silence of your snowfall when the quote from St. Augustine smacked me right in the heart like an unsuspected snowball!

    • dukeslee

      Yes, it hit me like that, too. I read that quote last night in a Brennan Manning book, actually, and just knew I needed to use that — to remind myself how I get out-of-whack.

      Thanks for taking a stroll with me this morning, Susan.

  2. Megan Willome

    What you describe is what gets me outside every morning (ostensibly, to walk the dogs, but really, to forget myself and let God be greater). No snow yet, but even the possibility warms my heart.

    • dukeslee

      Hi Megan,

      I really have to force myself out there. We don’t have dogs (even though we’re in the country). And I don’t help with outdoor farm chores, so I could quite easily hole up inside if I really wanted to. I think that part of the reason God gave me two girls is so that they would drag me outside frequently to build forts and make snow angels and pelt each other with snowballs. 🙂

      I always meant to go outside daily for long stretches, a la “God in the Yard,” but have yet to do that on a regular basis.

  3. Nancy

    My mind has been on a similar track lately, though we haven’t had a beautiful snowfall like yours. I’ve been thinking about how much my faith lives inside my head and how I need to pay better attention and start living into the reality of what I believe. You said these things beautifully, Jennifer. And I love the mug 🙂

    • dukeslee

      Thank you, Nancy. This is really, really good: “… how much of my faith lives inside my head.”

      I’m going to chew on those words a while.

      The girls and I had warm mugs of hot cocoa after our snow-adventure the other day. Every warm drink tastes better in that mug. It just does. 🙂 Think of you all when I fill it up each morning.

    • dukeslee

      Oh … Cindy. Those photos are remarkable. Thank you, thank you for sharing!

  4. David Rupert

    I got a blast of freezing wind and snow this morning down the back of my shirt collar. THAT got my attention!

  5. Dea

    Soaking rain, clapping for the Father as it drops off the house onto the rock steps out back. 🙂 I think around five inches in two days and cold to the bone.

    I tell my friends if they see me in my hiking boots, they know that I am needing some “outside” time with God—to send a little prayer up for me. I put them on even when I can’t hit the trail. Isn’t that funny? I think it helps me to remember those times he’s climbed hills with me and taken me to broad places where I can breath deeply his love. Oh, to never forget….

  6. Pattylh

    A few years ago when life pressed in, my mom shared that when she felt like imploding under the weight of the world, she’d step outside, at night, no matter the weather, and star gaze. Then she’d remember the Creator and realize the world wasn’t hers to shoulder. I do that now too.
    Nothing like a little uncontrolable weather to put our own little selves into perspective.

  7. Michelle DeRusha

    It seems we were in a similar place this weekend, outdoors reveling in God’s great creation. My kids cajoled me outside and I was so grateful.

    So much beauty and quiet peace in your post, Jennifer. Thank you for linking this up!

  8. r.ellott

    I love the St. augustine quote and oh…to surrender the throne…great words….
    blessings today…

  9. Glynn

    Coffee tastes better in a Laity Lodge mug. And it’s warmer, too.

  10. Connie@raise your eyes

    “you had to be watching the stars or grazing from a feed-trough to know that God showed up in a manger.”…pondering this (and the Augustine quote) as I truly want to pay better attention while living in Advent.

  11. Renee

    Love this post. It made me feel like I was outside experiencing the walk myself! Blessings, Jennifer!

  12. Linda

    That is a heart-stopping quote Jennifer. I, too, am guilty of forcing my big self on the throne. This speaks so forcefully to me.
    Thank you sweet girl.

  13. Jason Stasyszen

    And just like the feeling as I read this post, when I surrender, there is a peace and a rest that is beyond compare. Love this, Jennifer. Thanks for the quietness and pointing to Him.

  14. Fawn

    I think I may be the only one at the beach in sunny Southern California. Can’t relate to the cold or snow at all but I can relate to surrendering the throne. Thanks!

  15. Sheila

    I needed every word of this today. And the beautiful photos, too–though I will confess I am content to admire your snow from a warm distance.

    And that mug is delightful. I am determined to go and get one for myself.

  16. laura

    Oh, Jennifer. These words. But these pictures especially. How they speak love. And the beauty of this life you lead. Your heart is so beautiful, my friend.

  17. Diana Trautwein

    Lovely, lovely, lovely. Every word, every photo. That image of the soul bending – love it. And the throne surrender bit? Oh yeah, been there, done that, regularly. I don’t envy you the cold and the snow – but I do admire your fortitude and the joy you find in it! It is lovely indeed – to look at from this coast. :>)

  18. leslie

    “Because here’s the deal: When I’m outdoors, I return to my first Love. I forget myself, and He becomes greater.”

    i feel exactly the same way. and i love the st. augustine quote. and i’m just a teeny bit jealous of that lovely lovely snowfall… (we live in florida, but hail originally from the midwest.)

    gorgeous photos 🙂

  19. debra

    Oh my that quote from Augustine. Oh my. Writing it on a card and putting it on my wall. That’s just plain truth. Thanks for sharing it.

  20. Doug Spurling

    my oh my, perfectly painted. I don’t miss the winter snow but it was nice to look out your window, I could taste the flakes of manna.

  21. Shaunie Friday

    Oh Jennifer, your writing is ALWAYS beautiful, but THIS!! This is especially spectacular–you took me there! Thank you so much for the gift this post is to me!! Talk about God-Bumps!!

  22. Christina

    How beautiful! I too feel that way, especially in the mountains (too bad I live in Florida:) There are so many opportunities to see His hand at work. All I have to do is open the door and step outside to see. Great reminder for me to do so.

  23. Dolly

    That is part of what I love about being outside…what you so aptly and beautifully described…the dethronement of self and the reminder of how big God is…love love the St. Augustine quote…Thank you, Jennifer.


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