Happy New Year dear friend!

I pray you had a very happy and blessed Christmas and New Year.

Our family was very blessed to spend Christmas in Canada this year where it was very cold and snowy. I want to encourage you at the start of this new year with a little story from our trip.

We were at a ski resort in Canada, where the temperatures, even by Canadian standards, were unusually cold. Day time temperatures were averaging around (minus) -20 degrees Celsius (-4F).

We found it very difficult to ski in temperatures so cold and would have to stop after 1-2 hours of skiing to come inside, have a hot chocolate, some food, warm up and then go again.

There was one day that we were skiing and we only had an hour or so left before we had to pick up our youngest son from ski school. My husband and older son had been skiing on the far side of the mountain where I had not been and suggested that we had enough time to have a quick ski over there before we had to be back.

The only problem was that as we headed off, as so quickly happens in the mountains, the weather started to turn. Dark, angry clouds came over, it became windy and the visibility became very poor.

It was a very long, cold run down to the chairlift that we needed to get on to get back. After skiing for what felt like a very long time, travelling at speeds in icy cold -20c winds, I was freezing by the time we got to the chairlift.

I really needed to stop at the lodge at the bottom of the chairlift and warm up before we continued but there wasn’t time. We had to get back to get our son from ski school and we had to make it to 2 chairlifts before they closed.

So we got on the longest, slowest chairlift I have ever been on and elevated up above the ground in icy cold winds, began to shake with cold. The cold was almost unbearable. By the time we got to the top of the mountain I was nearly crying because of the cold.

As we got off the chairlift it felt like we had arrived in the Arctic or even Narnia. It was dark, freezing, the wind was howling, it was icy and was very deserted. It had also become so foggy that we could not see more than about 1-2 metres in front of us. It is the worst possible conditions to have to ski in.

The combination of the snow, wind and the fogginess had a very disorientating effect on me. And as we started to head towards the next chairlift, I started to feel very out of control on my ski’s and not being able to see where I was going, started to panic.

We came to a part of the mountain that we need to ski down and all I could see was a very narrow, very steep and very icy pathway. I literally froze with panic and started to cry and said to my husband, “I can’t do it; I can’t go down there”.

My husband was a little bit in front of me and tried to calmly coax me down but something had snapped inside me and the fact that I physically was feeling the effects of the cold and had no strength or reserves to continue.

I stood there crying and I mean ugly crying for a long time. My husband sent my older son (who knew the way and was a much more confident skier) on ahead to collect his brother while I stood there crying and promising that I would never ski ever again. “I can’t do this. I give up. I am never going to ski again”.

Eventually I had enough sense of mind to know that I really did have to make my way off this mountain. So I began to side-slide my way down in the most (painstakingly) slowest, most controlled manner that I could manage.

I am actually quite a good skier but in that moment I could not ski at all – my whole body had locked up with cold and fear and I literally could not ski.

In any other situation and conditions, this run would have been easy for me. It’s amazing the power the mind has when it gets into a state and fear gets in.

My husband had to ski ahead to get to the next chairlift to ask them not to close it until I got there. We eventually made our way down the mountain as it was getting dark and I think we were the last ones off the mountain that day. I was never more relieved in my life!

There were two lessons that I learnt from that experience. Well, actually there were more, but I am going to share two of them here.

One was, as I already mentioned – the state of our mind; how powerful it is and how it often does not reflect reality. Once fear sets in, it has the power to debilitate you and convince you of things that are not true.

Our state of mind is directly connected to the second lesson that I was reminded of – and that is the importance of stopping, resting and refuelling.

I have no doubt that had I been able to stop at that first chairlift, warm up, rest and refuel I would have been in a much better state of mind and physically more able to endure what was ahead of me.

The next morning in my meditation time I felt the Holy Spirit say to me that it was a good lesson for learning when it is time to stop, rest and refuel, not just on my ski run but this year. I am not good at learning to look ahead and learning to plan ahead to rest and refuel and so I feel that the theme God has given me personally for this year is “Learning to Rest”.

So to finish the story – I went to bed that night feeling defeated and decided that my skiing life was over. “I can’t do this anymore – I haven’t got what it takes” I told myself.

But… the next morning, I woke up to this

It is amazing what a good rest and a magnificent blue-sky-day does for your soul. I looked out the window and saw this magnificent blue sky and told my family I have to break my promise to never ski again and that very day I was back out on the slopes again.

After a few beautiful days like this and on our last day of our holiday I decided I had to go back and conquer the mountain, well at least that ski run. So I set out with my husband and we skied down the very long run (it must have been at least 5kms) to the far side of the mountain and yes it was cold again but this time we stopped in the lodge and I had a hot chocolate and some lunch to fuel-up before I took on my challenge.

Well, of course, I did it easy – not only that, but my 6 year old son did it with me. It was amazing what a difference better conditions and being rested and ready for it made.

As I reflected on that, one final thought from that experience came to me… and this is my prophecy for you this year – It never stays grey and miserable forever. It might feel like it sometimes but eventually the sun comes out and it is magnificent. 2017 may not have been a great year for you but your blue-sky-day is coming. And I just want to encourage you to get ready for it – rest and refuel regularly in God’s presence because when your blue-sky day comes – you are going to conquer that mountain!

Praying blessings, favour, rest, renewal and many blue-sky-days for you in 2018.

Leah  ♥♥