BY A DIFFERENT ROAD
I shared in my autumn newsletter that things have been especially challenging for me the past year plus. I’d like to say a bit more about that and one day I will maybe share the full story.
In a somewhat gradual progression over the past 7 years, the ministry and work I was involved in with our church congregation grew challenging and then came to a screeching halt. The past 2-year struggle to press on in the hope that this work could one day be revived has been incredibly difficult. I really believed I would just stay in the same place doing the same things I was doing for a lifetime. The whole complicated ordeal has caused me a fair amount of self-doubt and questioning and there have been some significant disappointments and hurts as well. If you have ever gone through such a struggle related to your gifts and calling, you understand how it cuts to the core of who you are.
I can say with assurance at this moment, God is showing me a different road. Our family presently worships in a small house church, something I’d never even imagined I’d one day be doing. The past year has not been the familiar work. It's been new work, challenging work:
- I’ve committed to creating daily.
- I've put myself out in the public eye like I've never done before.
- I've made a concerted effort to sell artwork and create products.
- I've even had to work with numbers, of all things!
Perhaps the biggest gift to come to me through this life event is the confidence in God’s call on my life. I have not doubted His guidance through everything. I feel as though I have such an incredible clarity right now in how I can use my talents — this has been amazing. Opportunities to do good Kingdom work outside the walls of a church keep appearing along with affirmations and encouragement from those engaging my artwork and writing. It’s all a bit more like walking into a small house in Nazareth and finding a newborn king and having an angel tell you to travel home by a different road.
THE EPIPHANY SEASON
— LET’S HYGGE
2015 Christmas card art for Colin Hofer Family
According to the Christian church calendar, the season following Advent and Christmas is known as Epiphany. It begins on January 6th and will end this year on Ash Wednesday, March 6, 2019. The Day of Epiphany, always January 6th, has been called by many names and celebrates the visit of the Magi to the Christ-child: Three Kings Day, Adoration of the Magi, The Day of Lights. The word epiphany is defined as “a new revelation or insight” or “an illuminating discovery.” Thus, Epiphany is the celebration of the “light coming into the world” and the “light and life of all men” through the coming of Jesus Christ into the world.
Now all this talk about light during Epiphany combined with the fact that for many of us this season occurs during the dead and darkness of winter brings me to another subject I’d like to leave you with…it’s called HYGGE (pronounced HOO-guh) and it is known as the Danish art of contentment, comfort and connection. Have you heard of this? The cool thing for me is that I am one quarter Danish ancestry so having discovered this feels a bit like returning to my heritage.
Here in South Dakota we are experiencing winter and all its many facets, and we need some hygge like you wouldn’t believe. I don’t need to explain to any of you who live in this climate how depressing, wearying, sad, cold and long this season is. “I hate winter” is a common sentiment. So how is it that folks who live in even colder and darker regions of the earth, like the Danes, can be so happy and content during winter? Somehow these folks have learned to accept and even love this portion of the year, and I am all in for learning this for myself, my family and my friends. It’s time.
I’ve picked up 2 excellent books on the subject (some of my friends can look forward to receiving copies from me to peruse and enjoy for themselves because we are totally doing this together):
The Book of Hygge by Louisa Thomson Brits
The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking
Hygge is used as noun, verb and adjective by the Danish. It describes all aspects of winter survival. It is winter survival. I like the Hygge Manifesto shared in Wiking’s book:
- Atmosphere - turn down the lights
- Presence - be here now
- Pleasure - coffee, chocolate, cookies, cakes, candy
- Equality - “we” over “me”
- Gratitude - take it in
- Harmony - it’s not a competition
- Comfort - get comfy and cozy
- Truce - no drama, save the politics
- Togetherness - build relationships and narratives, reminisce
- Shelter - this is your tribe, this is a place of peace and security
Community and gathering with family and friends often is a big part of hygge — this applies to both work and home lives. Nothing could be worse to the Danish than spending long winter days and nights alone.
And for those who need immediate hygge, Wiking suggests the following in his Hygge Emergency Kit:
- Some good-quality chocolate
- Your favorite tea
- Your favorite book
- Your favorite film or TV series
- A good pair of woolen socks (Remeber, there is no bad weather, only bad clothing.)
- A selection of your favorite letters
- A warm sweater
- A notebook
- A nice blanket
- Paper and pen
- A photo album
With that said, I will wrap up this newsletter with a simple Shakespeare inspired word of blessing.
Now may this winter of discontent be made glorious summer by the coming of God’s Son.
Thank you all for your warmth and love (which you often express to me), may you find it in you to continue extending such grace and hope to others that the whole earth may be filled.
Madeline, Colin, Claire, and Michelle needing a vacation from their vacation - summer 2018