Abiding in the Vine, New England Living

Extreme Weather/Life Conditions

It was -15 degrees Fahrenheit when I woke up yesterday.

Last Tuesday I read an article in the Boston Globe that started like this: “Unless you’re 100 years old, after tomorrow you’ll be able to say you lived through the longest stretch of sub-20-degree days since records started in Boston in 1872.”

I don’t live in Boston, but I’m close enough to claim my (unwanted) spot in history.

From Thursday evening until Sunday morning I did not leave my house. Truth be told, I did not leave my pj’s either. It was partly the weather, and partly the exciting adventure Kayla and I had on Thursday afternoon that drove me to days of loungewear.

We decided to make the trip to West Dover, VT (Mt. Snow Ski Resort) for the first week of our annual ski school program despite the winter storm warning and the school cancellations in at least three New England states – including Massachusetts and Vermont. (Don’t ask.There was slight pressure to do this – loss of money and a week of lessons – but my own choosing in the end.) The early-morning trip there wasn’t too bad, but the trip home was pretty crazy. Here’s the recap I gave Kory via text when he asked me how the “bomb cyclone” was going:

We left right after lessons and lunch. (didn’t free ski until 2/3pm like usual)

It took over 3 hours. (usually a 1.25/.50 hour trip)

Heavy snow. 17 degrees. Stripes on road not visible. Drove by braille/rumble strip all the way to I-91. (thankfully my friend Sarah was with me, and a great driving/ice chipping partner)

Hogback Mountain was a total white out. Visibility less than 2 feet in front of me.

Had to stop three times to chip ice off the windshield and wipers. Windshield cracked all the way across.

Arrived home to 10+ inches of snow in driveway. Got stuck pulling in. Pulled out and drove around town wondering what to do, where to park. Came back and just plowed the van as far as I could into the driveway, so I wouldn’t stick out in the road.

Kayla and I shoveled a path to the garage and under the van tires. Pulled van into garage.

Shoveled a path to the mudroom door. Wondered what the huge, snow-covered package on the doorstep was (very exciting). Discovered it was the roof over the mudroom entrance which had collapsed under the weight of the snow (very disheartening). 

Clearing the snow from the roof and moving it caused the mailbox to fall off the house. (thankfully I remembered that before mail delivery the next day)

His response: Oh my word.


Last stretch – Rt. 116 near the UMass exit.
A semi-clear path to the garage!
Amherst had 12 inches when it was all over around 9pm.
Hmmm…wonder what that huge package waiting on the doorstep is? A piece of artwork? A basketball hoop?
Oh, it’s the roof. And it eventually took the mailbox with it.

Somehow Robert seems to miss these extreme weather situations often (he’s in TX/OK), and Cooper was out of town, too, so it was all (2) girls on deck again. Fortunately, Kayla knows how to make a roaring fire in the fire place, a lovely snack supper, and cue up a couple of good movies on Netflix. I think she knew I had reached a limit of some sort.

Anyway, that’s when the snow pants came off and the pj’s went on, and they stayed on until Sunday morning, because I didn’t think them appropriate attire for the pastor’s wife (though I considered it). A shower also seemed like a pretty good idea.

The weather-induced downtime was actually just what I needed. It gave me time to go back through the twelve notes (for the twelve days of Christmas) Robert always gives me and write down the reflection questions he included in each one. I was really determined to do this, because I am really bad at reflection.

Plowing ahead (like I did in my driveway)? Not a problem.

Looking back, pondering, and gleaning insight? Not so natural for me.

But I did it. I wrote down all twelve questions (or prompts) in my journal on Saturday. Then I re-read my entire journal from 2017 and made a list of significant events. Then I categorized that list of events into smaller lists: personal, marriage/home, parenting/kids, friends, extended family, cultural/political, and ministry (the longest list of all). And Sunday afternoon after church (back in pj’s) I wrote out answers/reflections to all twelve questions.

Robert and I had a nice dinner out before the frenzy of Christmas and fundraising trips. He brought his list of significant events so that we could reflect a little bit together. He asked me what word came to mind as a descriptor of the year. I couldn’t think of one word.

My answer: Roller coaster? Very high highs and very low lows?

His answer: Intense.

Yep. That it was.

Today is my birthday. I kind of like it being exactly one week into the new year and exactly two weeks after Christmas. It feels like a double dose of a fresh start, and I think the discipline of reflection marked it even better than ever.

Reflecting on a year reminded me of a day that the Lord led me to read Psalm 39. It during a situation in which I was really struggling with whether to say something or not. Whether to share a frustration or just let it go. It was one of those let-me-just-flip-open-the-PsaIms-and-see-what-happens, and I was pretty tickled by God’s sense of humor as I read…

I said, “I will guard my ways
That I may not sin with my tongue;
I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle
While the wicked are in my presence.”

I was mute and silent,
I refrained even from good,
And my sorrow grew worse.

 My heart was hot within me,
While I was musing the fire burned; (v. 1-3)

Ha. Ok, Lord. That was fairly clear.

I was pretty upset, just as David seemed to be, and not speaking felt like it was only making it worse. But then I kept reading and found that David does speak after all.

He speaks a prayer, and a humble one at that…

Then I spoke with my tongue:
Lord, make me to know my end
And what is the extent of my days;
Let me know how transient I am.

“Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths,
And my lifetime as nothing in Your sight;
Surely every man at his best is a mere breath. Selah.

“Surely every man walks about as a phantom;
Surely they make an uproar for nothing;
He amasses riches and does not know who will gather them.

 “And now, Lord, for what do I wait?

My hope is in You. (v. 3-7)

David didn’t use words to give vent to his anger, but he did use words to pray for new eyes. Not only did reading his words break the chains of the anger I was experiencing (I’m glad I didn’t “make an uproar for nothing”), but it caused me to reflect again on both the transient and transcendent nature of life in Christ. And that helped put into perspective my frustrations.

transient: lasting only for a short time; impermanent

transcendent: beyond the range of mere human existence; exceptional

Those seem to be the extremes of the Christian’s reality.

Our lives are quickly passing by (and are soon forgotten), yet we are encouraged to pour them out on behalf of others. And it’s in the pouring out that they are made profound, transcendent while still transitory.

Passing and poured out, yet profound.

Transient, yet transcendent.

(Meaningful muffin-making?)

Compatible extremes, made possible by Christ. And adding wisdom to everyday decisions, too.

Extreme weather. Extreme frustrations. An extremely swift life made significant by Christ.

My hope is in Him.

And I’m hoping for the worst of the weather to be over very soon!

(And I’ll come back here in a couple of days to post Robert’s reflection questions, because they are really great.)