The Minnesota lake has my heart. Sometimes when we are in or part of something we don’t even know the weight of what it will fully mean to us until years or decades later. Or we discover new meanings, and it unfolds and uncovers new layers over time.
When my parents first built our cabin they could have never have imagined the legacy and foundation of so much more than summers at the lake they would build. All framed by this place year after year. Minnesota. The lake. Faith. Family, Stories shared over campfires. Contentment. Gratitude for simplicity. Small town life and ways. Quiet. Peace. Memories. Being faithful in the small and big things. Hard work to enjoy life. Quality time and building something worth having, over mediocre, lacking depth and integrity, or fast and easy. We may not have that A frame Cabin on Spirit Lake anymore but we always have a beautiful lake we are looking over every summer making memories. A lake that will be the setting for us to slow down together, soak up blessings, each other, our journey, and remember. A lake that has taught me so many lessons of the heart. A lake that speaks to my heart and spirit.
A lot of talking to God and reflection has happened for me looking out on a lake, on a boat, with a fishing line in the water, sipping on coffee on the porch, sitting on a dock, watching the wind bring in waves from the lake on the shore; smiling in the sun. Walking and running the same views and trails in the Minnesota woods. So many hopes and aches of my heart have been whispered, cried, talked or prayed over a lake since I was a little girl. My soul feels at rest and fully awake here all at the same time. I feel the Holy Spirit speaking and working here. The lake has seen me year after year through childhood, young adulthood, friends, marriage, pregnancies, loss, joy, and now this new chapter of reflection, restoration, renewal and redemption. This year I find myself stepping into my story and journey of remembering my roots, standing in my worth, and creating a legacy of integrity, resilience, grit and strength for me and my kids. That legacy was started by my parents, and I get to continue to carry it out with my kids by owning my story. To know what this place means to me is to truly know me and my heart.
My heart is soaking up the ease, joy and reflection here, but there is also bitter sweetness that washes up on the lake shore. The thing about coming back to your roots and the same place year after year for a moment in time; is that it makes you slow down, remember and reflect on who you truly are, where you have been and where you are going. It makes you remember this time last year where you were, what you were praying for, and what your heart was meditating on over the lake. Where was my mind and soul then, and where has it taken me now? How were prayers answered and fulfilled? What do you need to remain faithful in? You realize how far you have come. You see Gods hand in your life looking back and seeing how he worked that prayer you prayed the last time you were running that gravel road, to now finding your way back to it, and you realize everything has changed.
Now memories and joy are being made with my children at the lake year after year. This place will be part of building who they will become and be too now. The Lake has my heart, recharges my heart, and my heart is on this lake with my people. The lake has been where I have connected with my loved ones the most, and when I look out on the lake I see my heart mirrored in the ripples and waves.
Lakes and fresh water are one of the world’s most precious resources, and so is your heart and soul to your Father. Lake water can be still, calm and peaceful, it can glitter in the sun, it can freeze in the winter and it can turn over, swell and crash in the waves and storm. Lake water also turns over every season and the lakes with the most shallow water experience very little lake turnover, while large, deep lakes experiences major changes as waters of different temperatures mix. During the summer the surface layers of water heats up, but the deepest layer is the coldest and the suns radiation does not reach this dark layer. During the fall the warm surface water begins to cool and the changes begin happening. As water cools it becomes more dense causing it to sink, and this dense water forces up the deep low water in the depths to rise “turning over” the layers of water in the lake.
This got me thinking looking out over the lake, that maybe that is much like our heart and lives when we are willing to go a little deeper and dig in with this life and the people around us. When you are willing to dive deep you are going to experience everything more deeply. and feel the shift in temperature with more discernment. We may have more uncomfortable change and turnover, we may have seasons where we are the water in depths and wondering if the light will ever reach us and make us feel warm again. Maybe you, like me, have felt like that dark lower layer of water in the lake. Unseen, lonely, hurting, trying to reach the warmth and light but the season you are in just does not seem like it will ever turn over. One thing I am learning with my walk with God, and being a deeply feeling person, is that when we have more depth and are willing to risk more with our hearts, it is inevitable we are going to feel those risks more deeply, have greater depths to our falls, have more change and “turnover” and maybe live life with more ripples and waves. But friends, we want to be those lakes with the depth. There is substance, faithfulness, hope, authenticity and resilient spirit being developed in us in those depths. Because we know what that dark bottom of the lake feels like, when hope floats and we are the glittering waves on the top layer of the lake soaking up the sun we know how to appreciate the gold. We know better how to ride the waves of the storms that the wind brings. And you may feel alone when you are that water in the depths. You may feel you have been in the depths for too long. The human eye may not be able to see to the bottom of the lake with depth when standing on the shoreline or even when immersed in it, but God sees you and is still at work even in the dark. God does his best work when we let him into the depths of our hearts. Even the parts that may feel stagnant, hurting, or cold.... especially those parts. He wants to you to turn it over to Him so He can turn it over with you. (When you go through deep waters I will be with you Isaiah 43:2)
What I am realizing is that the beauty in this life, is in the rise from that shadowy water. The potential of what can happen after the rise. The lake water keeps flowing and turning over and so will we in this life. We think we want just the glittery shallow top layer, but what refreshes our spirits and inspires us, much like the lake water, is the turn over. The turn over challenges us and changes us, but it is where the refreshing, restoring, renewing magic happens. Just like the water, a change may make your life feel more dense to move through and you may need to refocus, turn inward, simplify, go quiet, recharge, go to the depths like the dense water and work through the pain and do the work. There will be a season for everything; to wait, to flow, to be still, to churn up, to turn over, to be in the depths. But, don’t lose sight of where you have been, the beautiful work in progress you will always be, and don’t lose sight of where you are going. Flow through it. Don’t be afraid of the depths because just like the lake your rise is coming. Be steady, trust the process, and don’t settle for the shallow waters. Don't settle for a stagnant life. Did you know when you look up the word stagnant it is defined as "a body of water having no current or flow and often having an unpleasant smell as a consequence." Keep moving, praying, rising up, digging in, showing up, growing, leaning in, trying, loving, falling, failing, talking, stretching, and taking the next faithful right step friends. Much like the lake water; your heart, spirit and life were not made to grow stagnant.
Do you have a place or space that speaks to you like the lake for me? Are you looking for those reminders and beautiful lessons God has for your heart? Are you willing to turn it over and get in the depths? Are you willing to show up and be in the depths with your people? What will you do to step forward in faith today? Trust that there is more being created in your life, through you, and for your people than the present reality or water you are wading in right now. Your refreshing turnover and rise is coming.
Last year I ran these gravel roads and looked out over the lake with a weary heavy lonely heart surrendering all to Him, and year after year I had found myself praying for change and for help carrying the weight. That change and turnover came. This year, I come to the lake with a heart that has been through and carried a lot in the depths, but continues to be ready to give grace, grit and passion. A heart that wants to show my kids what it means to rise, show up, never settle and stagnate, and never let your light and faith be stifled. A heart that isn’t afraid of the depths.
Trust that God has stood behind, has gone before you and will continue to do the same today, tomorrow and yesterday. Soak in the beautifully simple lessons around you today that are Gods reminders that it is our job to be faithful in the small things (Luke 16:10). He will work and flow it all together for good just like the beautiful glittering lake (Romans 8:28)