With every coming season or every change in the weather, we feel something new.
When nature speaks, the sun can make us feel better, the clouds can make us feel like taking a nap, or the snow can make us feel like getting out the hot chocolate.
Nature tells us that fall is coming when the weather turns crisp and the leaves change colors.
The whispers of Christmas begin when the first snowflakes fall from the sky.
Just the smell of lilacs in spring brings a sense of homey wonder, sparking memories of grass and sunshine.
Our surroundings tell us something about where we are, what time of year it is or what holiday is around the corner.
But, as women living overseas, we know that the seasons and the coinciding feelings change depending on where we are in the world.
Our family lives in West Africa where the watermelons come out just in time for Christmas. We sweat on Thanksgiving and fight dust wars for Valentine’s Day. Flowers bloom all year and the only change in the weather is dependent on rainy season or dry season. There are actually moments that I don’t even know what month it is because the weather is always the same.
For me, the feelings I get from the great outdoors don’t always match the date on the calendar. The weather patterns and scenes of Africa are so different from how I grew up or what I’m used to seeing out my window at a certain time of year.
Yet, for someone else, the constant weather changes of where I grew up might be completely foreign and confusing. Maybe for them, Christmas wouldn’t feel like Christmas without sunshine, sand and palm trees!
As cross-cultural women, we all experience this in some way or another. It adds to the culture shock during the first holiday season overseas and in the years after, makes us work harder to capture the feelings of home.
We have to adapt, change and do things differently when the nature around us is speaking in confusing, funny ways.
For some of us, we do whatever we have to do. We hang up snowflakes or put out pine scented candles even if it is 100 degrees. We spend an exorbitant amount on a frozen turkey, pack bins of decorations or hoard cans of pumpkin just to make sure we have what we need on hand. We hunt all the stores for just one box of sparklers to wave in the dusk of the desert.
For others, it’s a relief to not have to do all the things that our friends back home are running around doing during the holidays. We love the freedom to keep things simple, stick to the basics or ignore a holiday all together. We don’t even know it’s July 4th until we see our friends enjoying fireworks back home through Facebook!
But regardless of where you are, your surroundings have an impact on you and effect how you feel about your current season.
There is something incredible about seeing snow falling in America.
There is also something beautiful about the palm trees and desert flowers in Africa.
Although those two scenes are very different, I’m learning that I can appreciate them both equally. I can rejoice with our neighbors in Africa as the first rains fall after the months of dry season. I can also celebrate over Instagram with my friend in America when her tulips bloom in spring.
The seasons are different. The great outdoors is different. The changes in the weather mean different things. Yet, I have the amazing gift of being able to enjoy it all through the perspective of living and working overseas.
What a fun blessing to be able to travel the world, experience new places, new views, new seasons.
I’ve been given the chance to enjoy the differences around me, hearing nature speak completely new things!
The truth is that no matter where I am in the world, I can give praise to the God who created it all.
I’m learning that, regardless of the things around me, nature speaks of our Maker, not the holiday or the date of a certain month.
The world is telling His story. The heavens are declaring His wonder. All the differences of the trees or the placement of the sun or the varying temperatures speak to his creativity and attention to detail.
Whether in the desert, in the mountains, in the plains, in the oceans, we listen with a newly tuned ear as nature speaks of His handiwork.
As the psalmist expressed multiple times:
“Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.” Psalm 96:11-12
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Psalm 19:1
“This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
God is teaching us to hear, feel, smell and understand nature in beautiful new ways. He is helping us see him in it all from all corners of this amazing world.
We can daily give thanks, offer praise and sing for joy as we celebrate him in our surroundings.
What in your current home doesn’t feel like it matches the day on the calendar? What is something you’ve learned to enjoy about what you see out your window?
We invite you to share in The Grove. You can link up your blog post, or share your practices, ponderings, wisdom, questions, ideas, and creative expressions with us in the comments below.
Share your images on this week’s theme with #VelvetAshesTheGreatOutdoors. You can add yours!