What I Learned this Spring

For those of you who didn’t know, I do a bullet journal and I’ve been keeping track of things that I learned this Spring. They vary from random to useful to spiritual lessons to reminders to myself. I got this idea from Emily P. Freeman, from her podcast “The Next Right Thing.” Definitely check that out if you’re interested in this idea. Her blog post of her list for this spring can be found here. And have fun with my list!


  • I feel so good when I wake up early and exercise. Why has it taken me this long to figure that out? And why do I still struggle so much with doing it?
  • There are beautiful books still being written! For a while I have had a dry spell with finding good fiction books to read. Then one day in the library I was browsing through the teen section and I happened upon this book called “Seraphina” by Rachel Hartman. I picked it up because the blurb on the back interested me (something about a half-dragon who could play music!), and it turned out to be a great read. The romance was very subtle, the world detailed and believable, and the main character felt very real and unique. It really renewed my faith in good books. Anyone have any other books like that to recommend?
  • I need to make time every day to relax. If I don’t, I often wind up cranky or depressed feeling by the end of the day, without knowing why. Listening to The Next Right Thing has been my way of relaxing in this way for the past month or so, and it has become a beautiful spiritual discipline for me.
  • Don’t put off creating when I feel the tug. This one I’m still learning, and probably always will be. I have such a hard time letting myself be creative when other more “important” tasks could be done.


  • I really enjoy creating watercolors, a lot more than I thought I would. I just started getting back into them this spring, and I am hooked! Not sure why I never thought I would be any good at them.
  • Writing is my creative “wildest dream” – I need to make time to do it regularly! Once my piano studio is transitioned into summer mode (after the recital), I plan on focusing on this.
  • (At the beginning of Spring) – man, brush lettering is hard! (Now) – my hand actually remembers and makes pretty consistent letters! 


  • It’s okay to fill up space in my bullet journal. Don’t cram everything into a small space if I’m just going to end up with a ton of blankness at the end of the week because of it.
  • I feel so much less stressed when my husband is not stressed from work. Praise God for a job change for him and his enjoyment of it so far!
  • I feel God’s pleasure when I encourage others with God’s truth. I’ve noticed whenever I say something that is a truth from God’s word to someone else, it makes me so joyful and excited. I believe this is one of those things God has called me to do.


Imagine Spring


On this snowy day in Michigan,
We imagine spring.
Tendrils and damp earth,
Seeds sprouting with the warmth of soft spring sun –
But we don’t just imagine it
As if daydreams could bring winter to an end;
We plan for it, marking rows
Where carrots will dig straight furrows in the soil,
Fennel will sprout pale shoots of joy,
Tomatoes will bud and swell and blush.

Buried under banks of snow,
We tether our minds to Spring.

(Copyright Rachel Ann Hess, 2018)

That Christmas Feeling

It doesn’t feel like Christmas is three days away. Right now the snow is receding into murky puddles on the sidewalk and the ground looks like a flea-bitten dog covered in bare patches. After a week of white blizzards that made me hopeful for a snowy Christmas, the weather has turned warm and wet.

But more than the weather, my heart doesn’t feel Christmas-y. I’m still going about my day-to-day activities, with a few more fun events and background Christmas music thrown in, but nothing major. Nothing that arrests my heart.

I do this to myself every year. I keep waiting for some Christmas magic in the form of a beautiful song or a perfect snow or a meaningful memory made with family. I hope that will jolt my heart into a Christmas feeling. But I don’t think that’s the true answer, as nice as all of those things are.

How can we prepare our hearts for Christmas? To truly feel the magic and special-ness of this season?


Stop and take the time to see Jesus. To think of your life not in terms of to-do lists and cookies to make and events to go to and people to buy for, or even in terms of the “me time” you need or the fun things you’ll do on your break – but in terms of Jesus.

To feel His presence drawing near as you are still, praying and looking up through the blinds at the cloudy sky. To hear His invitation in the songs you sing. To think of Him when you’re tempted to be selfish or overwhelmed or sad during this season.

Put simply, the way to feel like it’s truly Christmas is to be aware of Jesus in each moment. To look for His nearness and hope for His coming. To hold on to the facets of His character that He’s revealing to you right now – as the God who is Near, Light of the World, Humble Man, Lover of your Soul – and seek to see that everywhere, in everything. To see the God who is already here, working in your everyday, normal life.

That will not only make Christmas feel more special, but will infuse every day with wonder – like a beautiful present picked just for you.

November Thoughts (A Poem)


Snowflake dust dots my windshield

Like immigrants from another world

Trickling in through escape hatches

Of dark brooding clouds.


Some trees still cling to their green

though the space around them clears;

Slowly the grey, tired air

Drains color from their bones.


And yet, the sun still shines

And golden leaves dance on blacktop streets.

Why is the air sparkling

As if someone sprinkled glitter on the world?


Here I am, after three days of darkness and dampness, sitting at my living room window dappled with sunlight. A spot of blue sky melts away the clouds, and for the first time today I notice how fast the wind is moving. Everything is churning, turning, murmuring in the gusts that come and go like a woman’s sighs.

The sun almost blinds me now as it bursts forth more gloriously than before. The white gauzy drapes catch the light and glow with their own radiance, a thousand brilliant dots suspended in midair. My body breathes with the sun; deep inhales of joy as the light brightens and slow exhales of dreariness as it darkens and is covered again. And then I wait, questioning, for the air to brighten again with new hope.


Now darker clouds have blown over the sky, and I see the familiar drabness of rain. Since I have seen the light again I wish it would always stay. That my heart could always be lifted. But alas, it cannot be.

Yet my heart instructs me as a last glimmer of light shines through. How much would I appreciate light if I only knew it? Maybe for a time I would glory in it, but soon it would become as drab to me as these dull rainy fall days. If my life was only light or darkness, I wouldn’t know how to cultivate hope.

We are on the edge of a season of close skies and dark days. Yet my hope is already kindled by the light I have come through to get here. I know where these dark days lead. Into more glorious light.

The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.

Isaiah 9:2

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”
made his light shine in our hearts
to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory
displayed in the face of Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:6

Experiencing Beauty

I woke up to the close feeling of darkness. Not middle-of-the-night darkness, but something-is-going-to-happen darkness. As the morning progressed the sky has pressed closer and closer, until it finally pressed out the rain within it. The sky is trembling now as the rain sheets down, catches a breath, sheets down again.


I’m stuck here in half wonder, wishing I could experience this sweet summer rain more fully without getting my clothes dirty. Wishing I could pull back the curtain and the window and the wall and allow the rich smell of earthy steam to penetrate my senses, without getting a ton of bugs and water on my wood floor.

You’d laugh, but you’re probably wishing right along with me. Some part of you would love to dance in the rain, even as another part recoils in horror at the clean-up you’d have to do. Some part of you wishes you could experience that beauty fully without all the mess that inevitably comes with it.

I think this happens in every area of our lives. You don’t want to deal with the crush of rejection, so you say no to that potential first date. You want to see the mountains of Switzerland, but that pile of bills seems too high to even consider it. You’d love to start a family, but you’re too scared from all the pregnancy horror stories you’ve heard.  You share in your husband’s dream of starting a farm, but you’re too skeptical to start making it become a reality.

But don’t you see? When you refuse these opportunities because you’re focused on the mess they’ll make, you miss seeing the beauty they create as well. You miss out on an opportunity to experience beauty – the rush of new love, the jaw-dropping glory of a far-off land, the closeness of a baby in your arms, the pride of living off your own land. Even just the warm summer rain splashing on your face.

I, for one, don’t want to miss any chance I have at experiencing beauty. Why? Because each glimpse of beauty is more than just a great experience or a wonderful feeling; it is a glimpse into the face of God. And that is worth all the stains and pains and tears that stand in the way of my pursuit.