WINTER BEAUTY WINTER BEAUTY Isaiah 61:3, "To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified ." I look up from reading the Word of God in my morning Quiet Time. Oh what a glorious sight meets my eyes. A beautiful sunrise of brilliant salmon pink glows through the bare leafless branches of the winter trees. It is glorious. I am awe-inspired. Why haven't I seen these beautiful skies before? I realize that I hadn't noticed them before because they were hidden from my view by the thick foliage of the tall trees that surround us here in the Tennessee woods. Wintertime is stark and barren, but it is in these bare times that we see beauty that we don't normally see. As I drive the country roads in the winter, I often exclaim, "Oh, I haven't noticed that home before." Or, "I've never seen that barn." The lovely leafy laden trees had blocked them from view. Perhaps you are going through a winter season in your life. Your heart is cold. The outlook seems ugly. You feel stripped of all that you hold dear. Can I remind you to lift up your head? Look up. As you do, you will see things in a new light. You will see God in a new way. You will see different facets of His beauty that you hadn't noticed before. You will see things that God has been waiting to show you that He couldn't reveal to you with all the foliage around your life. Often God has to strip us of all our trappings and the things we daily rely upon, so He can reveal Himself to us. We don't need Him when we have everything else around us to rely on. We don't see Him clearly when our sights and senses are filled with other things. I used to think the bare trees of winter were rather ugly, but I have now come to appreciate their own uniqueness. I love their intriguing beauty as they silhouette against the differing moods of the sky. I delight to see the tiny thin branches of the trees, which show up like lace in the sun-setting sky. There is nothing more striking than the moon shining down through the bare trees. What could bring more pleasure to the eyes than seeing the hoar frost or a fresh snowfall balancing on their bare outstretched limbs? And of course I now see the sunrises that I don't see in the other seasons. There was also a time in my life when I didn't like going through hard times. I'd rather not have to face them at all. But I have learned to find beauty in these times too. This is when God does His deepest work in our hearts. This is when we really grow. This is when God is able to conform us to the image of His Son. Don't despise these winter seasons. Don't let your heart get bitter. Fling off that self-pity. Don't cower in the dungeon of despair. Open your spiritual eyes. Look up. Unless I had looked up from my reading to see the sunrise, I would have missed it. You won't see unless you look up. There are beautiful things to behold that you haven't seen before, which you cannot see in any other season. God will reveal Himself to you in a deeper way. And you will see a new sunrise in your life. Love from NANCY CAMPBELL PRAYER: "Father, I have been shivering in this winter experience. I feel bare and stripped of everything. Lord, I am sorry, that I have been looking at the ugliness of it all. I have been consumed with self-pity. I confess this to you. Lord, I look up to you. I want to behold your beauty. I look to see your goodness in the land of the living. Show me glimpses of the precious work you are doing in me in this winter season. I thank you for the good work you are doing in me." AFFIRMATION: I will look for God's beauty even in the barren times.