This COVID winter is an opportunity to change our attitude and realize that we have a God who blesses us in every season.
A winning team
Tom Brady won one for the old samurais last Sunday! No matter what you think of Tom, you gotta love this!
Tom had a team that helped him win, and so do we here at Whitewater. JT kicked off our new series on the Beatitudes, Blessed(?), in a very powerful way last Sunday as he shared 'Blessed are the Poor in Spirit.' This Sunday, I have invited Jereca Humphries to unpack 'Blessed are those who Mourn.' She will share her story and lessons of grief since the passing of her wonderful husband, Rob. You don't want to miss her testimony.
One additional note on Jereca: pre-COVID, we intended to deploy Jereca as a multi-site campus leader in Lawrenceburg. In recent months, Jereca has been prayerfully considering where God is prompting her focus as a leader in His Kingdom. After many conversations with Jereca and our leadership team, we are excited to share Jereca will now be serving as our Director of Family Ministry and Leadership Development. Please join us as we continue to pray and seek God's leading as we look to equip and come alongside leaders in Lawrenceburg, and throughout the entire tri-state area. God is opening many doors, and we are so excited for what is ahead!
long beautiful winter
As I look out my window typing this, it is snowing and cold! Some time ago, I read a fascinating article from Fast Company magazine by Laura Vanderkam. It was entitled "The Norwegian Secret To Enjoying A Long Winter." As this February is shaping up to be brutal, I thought I would highlight some of the things it said, so you and I could 'give thanks in all circumstances' this winter.
The article said the residents of Norway view their long dark winters as something to celebrate, not grieve. As the days get darker and colder in much of the northern hemisphere, it's easy to indulge in gloom. We shiver, battle, and complain about foul weather (especially on the weekends, if you're a pastor)! How can we cope?
- If you truly want to be happy during winter, changing your mindset can do more than just distract you from the weather. In northern Norway, "people view winter as something to be enjoyed, not something to be endured," and that makes all the difference. To be sure, the article said, there are some aspects of the near-polar culture which might be hard to emulate elsewhere. Small Norwegian communities are tightly knit, and strong social ties increase well-being everywhere. This said, there are lessons that can help anyone think differently about cold weather.
- Norwegians celebrate the things one can only do in winter. Getting outside is a known mood booster, and so Norwegians keep going outside, whatever is happening out there. "There's a saying that there's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing."
- Norwegians also have a word, koselig, which means a sense of coziness. It's like the best parts of Christmas, without all the stress. People light candles, light fires, drink warm beverages, and sit under fuzzy blankets. There's a community aspect to it, too; it's not just an excuse to sit on the couch watching Netflix. Norway also has plenty of festivals and community activities creating the sense everyone is in it together.
- And finally, people are enamored with the sheer beauty of the season. Deep in Norway's winter, when the sun doesn't rise above the horizon, multiple hours a day can still look like sunrise and sunset. Against the snow, "the colors are incredibly beautiful," says Kari Leibowitz, a Stanford student who spent a winter in Norway.
So, Whitewater: I invite you to join me this month with a pledge if you want to be blessed! We will develop a new mindset for this COVID winter in greater Cincinnati. We will NOT complain about it. We may not live in Norway, and we cannot change the cold, but we can change our attitude. "One of the things we do a lot of in the States is we bond by complaining about the winter," says Leibowitz. "It's hard to have a positive wintertime mindset when we make small talk by being negative about the winter."
Let's refuse to participate in the Misery Olympics. Let's celebrate individually and collectively on Sundays - in-person and online! Harbortown reported they had their largest in-person kids' attendance (since COVID) last Sunday. Also, we had an astounding reach from our second service on Sunday. Over 16,000 views (and that's not even counting our Star64 viewers)! To put that in perspective, we average 1,500 views per Sunday! And, people watched literally from all over the world, including California, Germany, and Mexico. Huge thanks to all of you who "share" the things we post on social media. The second service on Sunday is a testament to the kind of impact you could have by a simple act of courage through the Internet.
Something is happening - even in the cold of winter.
Just something good to think about as you watch the snow and temperature fall. We have so much to be grateful for. Don't take it for granted.
See you in-person or online, because we are still on mission with a good God who blesses us in every season.