Faith begins in the privacy of our hearts, and it is cultivated by grace through adversity.
The weather was always perfect there. The mornings burst with a rainbow of bright colors… violet, white, and pink honeysuckle flowers hung from emerald-green vines that lined the wooden fences that separated the houses from the woods. The fields cascading down from the edge of the college property ignited in the spring and summer with, deep yellow sunflowers, rich blue wildflowers, pink, yellow, and orange dandelions that yawned and basked in the warm rays of the sun. On windy days the tall grass would bend with each gentle breeze casting dandelion seedlings all over the land. We spent days hunting for beetles, butterflies, and moths just to watch them as they busied themselves throughout the day. We sought after chances to hold friendly ladybugs, and when we finished, we lifted them up above our heads watching them fly into the wind.
“…See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.” (Matthew 6:28)
It was as if angels attended to each of us as we started our day. The morning sun gently touched my face with its warm, soothing fingertips awakening me to the sounds of birds chirping, hummingbirds hovering over the honeysuckle vines, and bumblebees flying from flowers and plants in the garden, around the houses, and the surrounding fields. We all busied ourselves tending to the garden with our grandmother. After completing our chores, the meadows, the properties surrounding the college and the houses were our playground. Each day we played until time for dinner. Chasing June bugs during the late afternoons and in the evenings during the warm spring and summer months was our favorite pastime. Capturing fireflies in jars and sitting in the dark each night, fascinated by their illuminating ability to light up a dark room was intriguing.
Winters were indoors near Uncle Robert’s enchanted fireplace, or at grandmother’s feet waiting for hot chocolate, made with real chocolate and fresh milk. The atmosphere of our existence atop Branner Street hill at grandmother’s house was serene. It was a haven for our family, a summertime retreat from the storms of life, and a place we went to rejuvenate from exhausting troubles of life.
How great is Your goodness, Which You have stored up for those who fear You, Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You, before the sons of men! You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man; You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife from the strife of tongues. Blessed be the LORD, For He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me.
When the snow came it either crept in during the silence of night or as a blistering winter storm. No matter how it happened, the effects were always the same. It lay a thick, soft blanket of pure white snow over the houses and the meadow. Every blemish on the landscape became a perfect ice menagerie. The old houses turned into warm, cozy lodges. The college became an immaculate ice palace. The broken down “outhouse” became a place of nostalgic beauty. The rusted car hidden behind my uncle’s house became a perfect remodeled ice mobile. The scrap wood piles, the rugged rocky hillside and everything that was unsightly became beautiful. It was smooth, pure white, glistening and reflecting the light of God. It was a glorious redemptive sight that transformed our existence into paradise. However, when the sun raised the temperatures, it converted the snow and ice into nutrient-laden water that nourished the land and made the garden grow. The surplus of water that came from the melted snow replenished the ponds, streams, and the local Mayes Lake reservoir.