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5 Ways to Warm Up Your Soul on The Dark Days of Winter

Sierra Exif JPEG The bleakness of Winter often leaves me with feelings of depression and discontent. It’s always unsettling. I find the seasons are  so powerful in the way they express my heart and emotions. I can see my self mirrored in the natural landscape. The flow and changes that are before me outside are so much like the rhythms of my soul, showing in the blades of grass, the blossoms and dancing leaves, the wet earth and tucking in of snow.

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Winter, if nothing else, reflects a cold and lonely quiet, that in the middle of January threatens to never let go. I've found myself wondering if  March will ever come, wondering if we all might be stuck in a perpetual freeze. It is in Winter’s cold silence that I find my own desparity is revealed, when the bleakness of my own sin seems big. And so, the dark days of winter stir up in me a desperate longing for Spring: for the new, the life that is revealed in the crocus, in sunshine extending the days, and in bursts of color to discover! I can imagine the warmth of the sun adding pink to my cheeks and the merry feeling of stepping outside without a wool jacket and my mind can think of nothing else.

In Spring I know I will sing and rejoice not only in the natural changes freeing me from the barren landscape outside, but also through the remembrance of Christ's work to bring new life through the Cross.

While I wait, I must choose to bring the warmth of Spring into the hearts and souls of my home...especially on these cold dark days! We all need help seeing through and holding firm to the hope that is in us. We need to laugh and feast and bring life to our homes. As mothers we can shine a light into the blah, down days, bolster the faith of those we love, demonstrate beauty and remind them that Spring will come!

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Here are Five Ways to Warm Up Your Soul on The Dark Days of Winter:

1.  Take in a museum tour across the world, even from your living room by visiting  The  Musee' du Louvre's Online tour or using their free ipad or iphone app.  Our family has listened in English and in French to the wonderful descriptions of works of art and felt like we had truly been there, without the plan trip.

2.  Serve something that warms your heart and brings life to your table. Light a candle, pull out a lace table cloth and help those you love know you delight in them. Sally's Tortellini Sausage Soup is a great recipe to try if you need a nudge toward something delicious. My girls and I love baking bread using this recipe on dark days. The dough can be stored in your fridge for up two weeks and pulled out to bake at a moment's notice.

3. Write a love letter. Encourage your husband, your children, an old friend, a new mama or someone who goes unseen most days with a handwritten note. Use a fancy pen, write in cursive, share a few stories, a poem,or a passage of Scripture that has nudged at your heart lately and tuck it in the mail. Sweet gifts often come in such a simple form and warm both the hearts of the recipient and the sender.

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4. Create. And help your children create! It is life-giving indeed to be a part of producing something lovely rather than just consuming it. Knit, embroider, make friendship bracelets, hang doilies to resemble snowflakes on the window, paint a chest of drawers, sketch, write a sonnet or a limmerick...just begin and enjoy!

5. Pour in thoughts that spark new ideas.Journal them, share them and talk about them over yummy soup and candlelight at the dinner table. Some of my favorites this season: Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry, Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson, God's Smuggler by Brother Andrew and Every Good Endeavor by Timothy Keller.

And don't neglect this with your children either! We're snuggling up under blankets and with hot cocoa and enjoying these titles as a family this winter: School of the Woods by William J. Long, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers (From the Sound of Music) by Maria Augusta Trapp, Ten Boys Who Changed the World by Howat Irene,  and Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare for Children by Edith Nesbit.

Blessings, Kristen Kill

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