My husband, Scott, and I love taking hikes in the woods behind our house in the White Mountains, which, if you know me at all, is kind of funny.
My not-so-secret secret? I’m terrified of nature.
I don’t know if I was born this way. But I do know that when I was a teenager, a squirrel my father had been hand-feeding Oreos all summer once chased me from our back door all the way into our pool shed. I ran screaming through the yard and into the tiny cabana, shutting myself in just as the squirrel hurled itself onto the building’s small window screen — and stayed stuck there. I spent what felt like an absolute eternity staring at its eye-level, matted, and dirty underbelly until someone came home and shooed the furry tyrant away.
I’ve had an adversarial relationship with Mother Nature ever since.
The squirrel misadventure prompted me to strike a very one-sided covenant with her. I would stay in my suburbian (paved) lane — and she would do her best to keep any outdoors-only creatures as far away from me as possible.
And it worked, mostly, save the occasional errant field mouse or overly confident chipmunk.
But life is funny, and God has an amazing sense of humor, so after decades of city living, I thought it would make perfect sense to build a house amid the White Mountain wilderness. Perfect sense.
So far, Scott’s come face-to-face with a giant moose, and he and our oldest son have seen five bears between them. But, after almost four years, I still haven’t seen much more than an errant field mouse or an overly confident chipmunk in our yard, so I kind of feel like Mother Nature is somewhat holding up her end of our imaginary bargain.
And not even the threat of bumping into a New Hampshire black bear is enough to keep me out of those woods. I love the crisp fresh air, the seasonal scenery, and finding God in the mountains’ thin spaces.
I especially love watching just how quickly God can do a work — both on the terrain and in our hearts.
Last year, Scott and I went on our usual loop. It was early March, right after a storm. We meandered along at our own pace, taking in the long, fluffy, white stretches. There’s a stream behind the house that we’ve designated as our favorite prayer spot. It was frozen solid on this particular day, but we held hands, bowed our heads, and prayed anyway, marveling at how still and silent the freshly fallen snow made everything.
Less than a week later, we took to those same woods again. Only this time it was after a random stretch of 40-60 degree days, because this is New Hampshire, and New Hampshire weather refuses to be confined by things as trifling as calendars or seasons.
Now, the grounds were bare, without a speck of snow to be found anywhere. When we made it to our prayer spot, the stream was fully thawed and the air was heavy with the sound of rushing waters. It was only six days since our last visit — but we were in entirely new terrain.
As we prayed near the moving stream, I realized that this is exactly how God does a work in us as well. We all have those prolonged stretches in our lives where we feel immobilized, stuck, or frozen solid. It’s hard to imagine that the snow will ever melt or that the winter will ever end. Then, instantly and without warning, God can completely change the landscape in our hearts, minds, and spirits.
In the blink of an eye, God can breathe entirely new life into us, restoring our wounded hearts and rejuvenating our bone-weary souls.
With a wave of His hand, He can convince a stubborn city girl to put aside decades-old fears to explore new frontiers and fresh mountain air.
At a moment’s notice, He can thaw even the most impossibly frozen winters, delivering us gently into the fully rushing waters of a new Spring.
About the Author:
Cortney Farmer is a believer, writer, storyteller, and business owner. In 2020, she and her husband, Scott, co-founded The Soft Never, an online community dedicated to celebrating the gifts and blessings that come when we eliminate the “never mindset” in our lives. When not developing original content at The Soft Never, she works as a VP of Content at a digital growth agency and a freelance writer. A lifelong New Englander, Cortney lives in Seacoast New Hampshire with Scott and their two sons.
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