“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
This morning we woke up to a snowy world! This is a rarity and a treat in the Piedmont Region of Georgia. Our schools were canceled and we all crept into the day. Well, I say, "we all crept," but Eisley and Evangeline were up with the Sun and ready to get in the snow! The rest of us crept. After coffee and a fruit smoothie, lovingly made by JoAlison, we all ventured out into the snow for a brisk and eventually wet-toed walk around the property. The horses were lively and quick, bucking to and fro across the fields. Our dog, Nugget, was just as fast running around and around in circles. Eyes were bright and smiles, big!
As we crunched across the land I thought about the freshness of new-fallen snow and how it just seems to cleanse the earth. I got to thinking about what Isaiah once had to say about the snow. In Isaiah 1:18-20, the prophet speaks of God's desire for Israel to be made clean by living obediently to the law. Sadly this was not to be the case. Isaiah also speaks of the One who would come to cleanse us! Christ's blood cleanses us from all unrighteousness, washing us whiter than snow and keeping the law where we could not! This is not a pass on holy living though. We are still called to be obedient to the Lord's commands. Over and over Christ speaks this truth. In John 14:15 Jesus says, "You are my friends if you do what I command you." Then, in John 15:14 He says something similar: "If you love me you will keep my commandments." This is the heart of what God was getting at in Isaiah 1, that Israel's love for Him was evident in their obedience to the law.
Christ has also commanded us to keep the law. In the Gospel of Matthew, Christ says, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt. 22:37-40) To undergird these commands John records Jesus saying, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35) Here, Christ is saying that if we are to be known as His followers then we must love others as He does. It's all about selflessness - living for our God and our neighbor rather than ourselves. This is part of what it means to live obediently. It is a lesson I am personally learning and learning to practice even now. I'm thankful that the snow has reminded me of this truth today.
Good Winter: A Smallish Guide to Making the Most of a Bleak Season
Available Now! Amazon | B&N | BAM!
This is a book about looking at the brighter side of the winter months. From the stars in the sky to the warmth in our homes. The heart of this guide is Spiritual Formation and learning to focus on the things that add true joy to our lives like God, Family, and Community. In a way, this little book is a memoir of how my family cultivates life in the wintry months.
This footage is from our summer living at what we affectionately dubbed Turtle Hollow in Peachtree City, Georgia. We lived there with some of our best friends. The Hollow was small, crowded and oppressively humid. But it was there that JoAlison and I learned a deeper sense of what community is - sharing meals, bathrooms and walks to work. It's also where Sleepy Turtles wrote most of its songs - some that were never recorded, unfortunately - and it's where we recorded our second album right in the living room. The images really sum up all my memories from this period of my life: young children, a tight knit community, adventurous spirits, and lots of songwriting! The track on the video is our earliest recording of "Dear to Her." It's very raw - just a phone set up and recording in the middle of the band. When we recorded this we were still working out parts and words.
The hearth has a serious contender for the best thing about our house now. It's this little faerie door that magically appeared on Winter Solstice morning. We have three young girls...we need a door for the faerie folk, right?
Something I enjoy when visiting Savannah is looking for the tiny faerie doors at the bases of ancient oaks scattered throughout the many city squares. I thought it would be fun to bring this magic home and so with the help of a good friend and his workshop I was able to bring my idea to life and surprise the littles (my children...not the faeries) with this little door. Eisley, my eldest daughter made this tiny wreath so the Fae could celebrate Christmas with us.
This is a little book I've been working on for a few years and it seemed liked the relaunch of Hill Hårow's website was the perfect time to publish it!
Christmas ends. All the festive gatherings and outings cease. We take down the stockings and ornaments and remove the trees. Suddenly, our home seems bleak in contrast to the celebratory month that has just passed. Much of the world views winter as an adversary, and for good reasons. But this little work is not about the bad of winter. It’s about the good in it. As the winter birds arrive with the new year, so too, we can arrive at new focuses and partake in new festivities that embrace the offerings of winter - a Good Winter.
Good Winter is a primer for several subjects - from stars in the night sky to minimalism to spiritual formation - all nestled perfectly into the wintery months!
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” — J.R.R. Tolkien
Thorin Oakenshield was on to something when he spoke these dying words to Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. There is something magical about sharing a meal with those that you love — whether it be with family, friends, or community.
From the foragers bringing back their findings to the Agrarians bringing in the harvests, the practice of gathering to share food is something we humans have done since the beginning. What is it about food, on a table, surrounded by people that can produce such childlike mirth within us all?
People loosen up at the table - they get real. In the rush of daily life we are quick to tell our friends that we’re doing okay even if we really aren’t. But when our community shares a meal together the, “everything is awesome” mask tends to be set aside. The genuine side of person comes out. It is a beautiful thing to behold because when people are honest with one another relationships are strengthened, lives are mended and can be made whole in Christ. It is a part of the process of edification that is only found in fellowship with one another. At table, confession often happens, iron sharpens iron, lives are changed. Nowhere is this more clearly seen than at the end of the second chapter of Acts:
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had a need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42–47)
Scripture paints this inspiring picture of the early church sharing meals together, daily. From this passage, it would seem that the believer’s lifestyle of sharing in Christian-fellowship led to the favor of the community at large. Perhaps the people of Jerusalem (where this particular church was located) saw how sincere, how honest, how loving the Christian family was toward each other? Perhaps this then caused the spectators to want what the Christians had. Whatever the reason for “the people’s favor,” Luke clearly shows that this close-knit community led people to faith in Christ: “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:47)
May we learn the lesson of valuing food and cheer and song more than worldly riches, as Tolkien suggested via a dying dwarf. I am sure that even Thorin Oakenshield saw beyond the food and song to the heart of the matter: mankind sharing in the true riches of life, being loved by God and loving Him and neighbor in return. These are the gifts that have been so freely and abundantly given to us through Christ. It is our ability to share His love with others at table and elsewhere that is the true magic of the world.
Each new year gives us a small foretaste of our future glory with Christ, where all is made right. Revelation 21:5 says, "And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” I'm so thankful that the Bible gives us a clear picture of what's coming! The followers of Christ are being made new! Happy New Year from the Higgins Family at Hill Hårow!