Faith • Health • Marriage  • Parenting • Personal Growth •  Sisterhood


Signs of Life | by Catherine McNiel

Look, the winter is past, and the rains are over and gone. The flowers are springing up, the season of singing birds has come, and the cooing of turtledoves fills the air. (Song of Songs 2:11-12, NLT)

Crayons lie strewn across the kitchen table when my kids invite me to join in the fun. Crafts aren’t exactly my forte, but I pull up a chair anyway. As they chatter and color I stare at my blank white paper. With green and brown markers in hand but no real artistic goal in mind, my chicken-scratchings begin to resemble the picture my soul yearns for these day: a garden, covered in dead brown leaves…with tiny sprigs of new-green life pushing through last year’s decay.

Maybe it’s the eminent arrival of spring, or maybe it’s the particular season of my soul right now, but I can’t get this image out of my head. Everything outside seems covered in death: dead leaves, bare branches, brown grass. Everything inside my spirit feels the same: old resentments, insistent anxieties, impossible choices. Both inside and out, I’m searching for signs of life, for that surge of green that means hope and future.

The arc of God’s story is creation, redemption, eternal hope and a love that defeats the darkness. Yet, here in the middle chapters where we find ourselves, it’s easy to lose the plot. Buried under so many layers of discouragement and struggle, I get bogged down. Is there redemption buried under all this rubble?

In these final weeks of winter and first days of spring, He haunts me with a picture each time I close my eyes to pray: God, the creator, stepping into the garden of my life, His feet all but buried among old, dead leaves. He reaches down, gathering all this decay up into His arms. Underneath, the ground is fresh and new, and tiny green shoots peek through the earth.

So much that is dead, He carries away. He is making all things new.

Are you in this season too? Is your spirit buried under layers of old death? Could it be that He is calling you to join Him and courageously, gently, lift the past up and out of the way, for a redemption readying itself to grow?

On this spring day, sister, come with me, and let’s find the courage to step outside to lift our faces to the sky. Let’s walk bravely across the muddy ground and invite our Creator to show us His hand.

When we finished our crayon masterpieces, I glanced out the window—then grabbed my kids and ran out the door. There, in the flower garden beneath the walnut tree, three tiny green leaves have jubilantly pushed through the cold ground. I started whooping and hollering for joy.

It’s true, friend. He is making all things new.

~ ~ ~

Author Bio: Catherine McNiel writes to open eyes to God’s creative, redemptive work in each day—while caring for three kids, two jobs, and one enormous garden. Catherine is the author of Long Days of Small Things: Motherhood as a Spiritual Discipline (NavPress 2017). Her second book (NavPress, 2019) is about finding God’s presence in the seasons of Creation. Catherine loves to connect on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or at

  1. […] “meeting” author Catherine McNiel some months ago when she wrote a timely piece for the Open Door Sisterhood blog, where I was serving as editor. From the start, I was impressed with not only her writerly savvy […]

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