Wednesday, April 13, 2011

It Was a Hard Winter

Spring seems to be arriving in small increments this year; a few hours one week, a few more the next. There's so much snow in the mountains this year, and more storms predicted, that there's a serious danger of flooding. Storms that hit Utah seem to arrive from the Pacific, soak Washington and Oregon, dump on Idaho, add to Utah's snow pack, then hurl across the Midwestern states into the Eastern states in the form of hail and tornados. I've never known a winter that I've become more tired of than this one.

With complaints about the snow and cold, it would be easy to overlook how green the lawns have become after each storm, how the early flowers are blooming in spite of the cold, and the green haze indicating new life in the trees. Of course the return of pollen allergies reminds some of us that in spite of the snow, spring is here.

Spring and Easter are linked for most of us and it's not hard to draw a few parallels between real life and the seasons. So many people I know have faced some tough things recently and I too have had my share. I lost a sister to cancer eight months ago. A dear friend just learned she has stage 4 cancer. An older friend and her husband have had to make room for their daughter, her unemployed husband, and their eight children in their home. Among my family and friends these past few months there have been a broken nose, a broken finger, job losses, severe cataracts, relocations, deaths and major illnesses of loved ones, insufficient feed for livestock, hospitalizations, and the list goes on. The world faces seemingly endless natural disasters and the pain of war. I remind myself that these things are winter, and spring is arriving in small increments.

Michelle Bell and I each welcomed a granddaughter this past week into our families. There aren't many things that can compete with a new baby for the spirit of hope and new beginnings that typify Spring and the Easter season. I was able to listen to all four sessions of conference which was certainly uplifting . The flowers in my garden are bursting forth in glorious color. A special friend has joined the ranks of those of us serving at the Oquirrh Mountain Temple. I just finished the first edit on my next book. I have dear friends who bless me with encouragement and a family who support me in all I do. This is Spring.

Sometimes we get so bogged down in the weariness of winter, we lose sight of the subtle signs of spring. We wonder why we have to endure hardships and difficult times. In reality just as the storms of winter provide the essential moisture that makes spring possible, the difficult times in our lifes prepare us to grow and blossom into the best we can be. Overcoming the challenges in our lives strengthens us and gives us greater appreciation for goodness, beauty, and the association of loved ones. Our Savior passed through the darkest winter to give us the promise of the most glorious spring.

When we feel we've spent too much time in a snowbound cabin, it's time to remind ourselves that the Lord needs strong people in the last days and without adversity and testing we won't be strong enough to face the challenges that will come. He strengthens those with the greatest desire to serve him. Without the snow of winter, there is only drought when the days grow warm, then the flowers wither and die. Spring is here; it really is, even if we have to shovel away a little snow to find it. Just as this hard winter will eventually yield lush grass and wonderful tree growth, we can let the difficulties in our lives make us stronger, more compassionate, and more prepared to blossom into people worthy of His spring.

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