Traditions. They are the things, no matter how small, that become rituals. The very strings woven together in the fabric of families are the traditions they hold dear.
One such tradition beloved at our household is saying good-bye to a previous year. No, we are not raucous revelers. Neither are we ball-drop watchers. In fact this year I had to do a little creative researching because the teenagers had a big bash at the school, leaving three adults with a party crowd of four kids ten and under. My quest was to find where in the world would it be midnight when it is 9:30 PM at my house. ( I really wanted to throw in “is Carmen Sandiego?” in that last sentence, but that would just be silly.)
Newfoundland was my answer! So with kid’s wine (sparkling cider) we said good-bye to 2013 by celebrating some of its best memories and by sharing our hopes and dreams for the upcoming year. Hey! They might be little in the eyes of the world but the two families present that night have endured some big struggles, and out of the mouths of babes were some prophetic words. A little tinkling of glasses and good night kisses, all done in pjs and slippers, would not be considered a remarkable party by some, but it was to all of us.
Partying like Newfoundlanders is not our end of the year tradition. Usually it is just the members of Team Stevens, but we are a more the merrier bunch. So anyone is welcome to join us as we watch the last sunset of the year. We usually have to bundle up and head out in the blustery cold to watch, but it is always worth it.
Checking the Almanac, we discovered that sunset for our hometown was 4:55 PM. Isn’t that dreadfully sad? Such little sunshine in the winter months can be draining on the spirits. We bundled up and headed out into unholy negative temperatures to try to follow the sun into tomorrow.
As the driver, I feared it was too late. We left the house right at the sunset time and headed west with our young men and women. As we drove closer to our viewing destination, Camden State Park, (one of Minnesota’s finest), the sky simply got darker, and our windows more frosted. My heart felt so sad. Why didn’t we leave sooner? I really wanted so much more for our kids.
We did see some deer feeding on our drive there and back, but that was small beans compared one of God’s sky paintings (as Reed used to call them).
With sad hearts and tired (already) children, we turned around and headed back for home. I don’t know what made me look back on the drive, but I am certainly glad that I did.
I let a “whoop” and swung that minivan into the next subdivision entrance. We whipped open the doors because by then the windows were completely frosted from the bitterly cold temperatures. We all sat in awe of God’s perfect use of pinks, purples, yellows, and oranges, such ordinary colors blended in one of his finest masterpieces. It was our own private art showing in the gallery of the sky. A reverent hush overcame the vehicle, replacing the jokes and silly songs. I was overjoyed by God’s provision.
I was reminded of that experience this morning when my daughter and I shared oohs and aahs over one of his finest sunrises. How often do I give up on my request because God doesn’t give me the answer I wanted right away? I walk away thinking I guess it wasn’t God’s will after all. Beleaguered and trodden down, I walk away. But then some time down the road, God gives what I thought I needed immediately. Only to discover, that it was so much sweeter after the wait. The only difference is sometimes I don’t look back and see what God was orchestrating the whole time I walked away.
God knows the desires of our hearts, and he wants us to dream BIG. His LOVE is much grander than the tidy, little package we try to place it in. More importantly, his TIMING is perfect – whether we acknowledge that or not.
So today, wherever you are, dream big with God and know that a little way down the road you might see the most amazing masterpiece out of your ordinary colors. Just know some unofficial Newfoundlanders are dreaming with you.