Small Acts, Great Love


Feb_HollyThe house is quiet now.

All day there has been this swirling of vagrant leaves and fluttering of bare branches and it has been enough to make me wonder if all of heaven and earth might just be on the cusp of some arcing change. Perhaps winter’s icy fingers are beginning to crack and splinter in the hidden places. Perhaps there might just be a Spring after all.

It’s in the hushed evening that I remember what I read once about frost seeding. How a farmer can scatter a pasture with seeds while the ground is still frozen. Then, as the soil freezes and thaws, space is opened up and the seeds fall into the space that is created. All throughout the winter, with each new round of bitter cold, the process continues and the seeds become more and more a part of the soil. After each storm, each seed is better positioned to germinate once the temperatures rebound and stay consistent.

It is in this remembering that I think about my fall and winter. I think about how my life has been flipped on its head, how I am mothering an infant once again, how those dear to me are sick and in need of attention and how, right in the middle of it all, I am earnestly practicing the sacred art of balance.

I feel as if each day that passes is one grand pas de deux, a freezing and thawing, a hemming and hawing from crisis to wonder, emergency to calm. One day, my feet are laced with hoarfrost. The next, they right dance from warmth.

Sometimes it feels like this season wants to get the better of me. There have been days strung upon days where the cold has seeped in and around even my tightest corners. Days when, no matter my fortitude, I’m close to being numb and I might well crack wide open.

But then another string of days dawns and the sun seems to swell with fiery longing and I can’t help but catch a whiff of moist soil as it rises up to kiss the fickle zephyrs.

Clearly, this winter is not yet over.

Tomorrow the forecast is for overcast skies. I will wake up and there will be steely clouds hanging low and the mercury will be stuck in a downward trajectory, once again. But I will turn on the kitchen lamp and I will brew some coffee and I will make raisin toast. Then I will settle deep into the sofa cushions and I will nurse my chubby little baby while running my fingers through the hair of one of my older boys. I will take my mom’s temperature and cook her soup as she fights back from the horror that is chemo. I will joke with my dad so I can see the crinkles at the corner of his eyes and I will try and breathe deep in the middle of it all.

Because I am learning, like the farmer, that it is possible to plant seeds in the middle of winter. Each of these small tasks, done in love, are my seeds. It is how I cast my hope upon the tundra. And even if I don’t see any noticeable difference in the wind chill, the choice to sow love through these minor acts of everyday worship is to carry the hope of Spring into the dark places.

Then I remember the most amazing thing about frost seeding. The pastures that are most likely to flourish from this approach are the ones that have been overgrazed, shorn clear to the dirt. They are the ones that are worse for the wear and have nothing more to offer come Spring.

I understand what it means to feel overgrazed, to want to rest, to long for the opportunity to grow and flourish, once again. I know what it is like to feel unable to produce tangible evidence of a greater work happening down deep. Yet these very fields? They are the fields that will become greener pastures. These are the places where life can and will return.

It has been a long winter and it is not over yet.

But I am in the business of planting seeds. Each day finds me leaving a trail of them. And, come Spring, I just might be able to find my way home again.


Image credit: Magic Madzik

Holly Grantham
Holly is a wife, very relaxed homeschooling mom of three boys, snapper of photos, coming of age writer and a soul drowning in grace. After years in Atlanta where she attended college, married the love of her life and lived in an intentional community, she found her way back to her home state of Missouri. She now lives in an antebellum stone house, raises chickens (sometimes) and pretends that she lives in the country.
Holly Grantham

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  • Erin Wilson

    “Because I am learning, like the farmer, that it is possible to plant seeds in the middle of winter.” Hope for me today. Thank you for this. xoxo

    • Holly

      Oh, that Hope, yes, Erin. It is ours. Let us receive it.

  • A stunning write, Holly. Your imagery and prose are pure loveliness, especially as I wake to face neither day hung with those steely winter clouds. I’m thinking of seeds buried, waiting with hope for them to spring forth from the dark.

    Love your heart, lady. Xo

    • Holly

      Thank you, Kris. This is the long winter, is it not? Let’s grab hold of each others’ hands and warm them with the promise of Spring.

  • This reminds me of Narnia, with glimpses of the eternal winter breaking. Beautiful post, thank you.

    • Holly

      Oh Rachel, yes…Narnia, where the eternal winter cracks and groans. Yes.

  • Something burns behind my eyes and I can’t swallow right. You, speaking YOUR truth as you live YOUR story? Somehow translates into the birthplace of hope for ME in MINE.

    Oh, how we need each other. Thank you, Holly.

    • Holly

      Thank you, dear Kelli. And yes, we need each other to continue to speak into each others’ lives. It’s how we keep hope alive, I believe.

  • Laura Shook

    I have never heard of frost seeding before. What a beautiful picture of life. Thank you for sharing. I am praying for you and your mother and family.

    • Holly

      Thank you for your prayers, Laura. You can’t know how much comfort that brings me.

  • A great, vulnerable post! I claim Missouri as my home state as well. Until God moved me to Michigan. Where we have a bee colony and plans for chickens. Keep the faith!

    • Holly

      I love that you are a fellow Missouri native!!! I would love to know from what part of the state you hail.
      Thank you for your kind words here. They help me to not feel so alone.

      • Born and raised in Chillicothe. College in Springfield. Young professional in St. Louis. 🙂

  • Anne-Marie

    “I will joke with my dad so I can see the crinkles at the corner of his eyes…each of these small tasks, done in love, are my seeds.” Oh sooo beautiful Holly. “Unless a grain of wheat falls…” Love your image, and your courage. Healing prayers for your mom. A very fine word for me today too in the context of some hard ground and bleak landscapes. We are seeking and standing for hope, awaiting soft rains.

    • Holly

      Oh Anne-Marie, I hear you. You’ve been on my heart this week as you’ve been navigating difficult paths. Praying for billowing, warming winds, my friend–ones that might carry you along and lighten your load.

      • Anne-Marie

        Thank you Holly.

  • pastordt

    My soul literally sings when I see your name in the by-line, Holly. This is loveliness and truth personified – thank you so much. And I’d never heard about seeding a field during frosty weather – what a gorgeous word picture that is for life!

    • Holly

      Oh Diana, thank you. It means so much to know that your are reading. And the frost seeding…isn’t that so incredibly profound?! Talk about a soul singing…that’s what mine did when I first grabbed hold of this glorious concept.

  • Roos Woller

    Beautiful words as always.

    • Holly

      Thank you, Roos. For your love and your vision and your presence.

  • Megan Gahan

    The snow is falling outside my window, and your post marries just perfectly with the scene. Winter seems to bring out some of your most stunning prose my friend. This is beyond beautiful and beyond heartwrenching. Proud of you for going to that vulnerable place . . . holding your hand across countries today.

    • Holly

      Megan, I am able to walk these paths, in large part, because of the love and support from you and all the other SheLovelys. One cannot travel alone in this world. Thank you for walking alongside of me.

  • This is so beautiful, all of it. It resonates so deeply with me. How you feel as though you are cracking wide open, but then the dawn….? Oh, tears come to my eyes. This is a fine piece of work Holly.

    • Holly

      I know you know this, friend. Thank you for standing with me.

      • I don’t know you, Holly and I read a bit of Michaela’s story, but I feel like I want to hug both of you. Your words are beautiful seeds of hope being sown into the hearts of many people. It doesn’t even matter if we live halfway across the world in places without snow… Spring will come and the beautiful flowers will be worth the wait 🙂

        • Holly

          You are so right, Dorette. It doesn’t matter that we live halfway across the world from each other. Hope travels long and wide and does not return empty.

  • this is breathtaking. I am located where the winter is refusing to leave, and has been absolutely suffocating for months and months and months. this gave me such a different perspective on his horrid time of year.

    thank you for this. <3

    • Holly

      Rachel, I am grateful that you have something new with which to face your difficult winter. May you find hope and peace among the darkness.

  • Elizabeth

    Beautiful you. Thank you for bringing your life onto the page. We are touched, changed, refined and more human when you do. You take us on a human journey, always every time with your prose.

    • Holly

      Elizabeth, I can feel you here, friend, walking alongside me, whispering hope and joy down deep. Thank you, always.

  • Oh my, I’m not sure I can add any more to the breathe of comments here that already say it so well. This is exquisite, you’ve taken us all on a beautiful journey Holly. Beautiful you.

    • Holly

      Shelly, thank you. I am so thankful to have such lovely souls along for the journey.

  • cjdeboer

    Wow, Holly. Just wow. Such beautiful tender words that define the ebb and flow of life and the seasons we must all endure. There is such hope in this piece. Hold on tight – Spring isn’t far away. xo

    • Holly

      Claire, your presence in my life, the words that you speak into my heart, the gifts you shower so generously–that is what wraps my heart in hope, friend. Thank you, for everything.

  • Nicole A. Joshua

    Wow! These are holy words. Thank you Holly.

    • Holly

      Thank you, Nicole, for your words here. They are like honey from the comb.

  • Bev Murrill

    PHENOMENAL HOPE in this! Phenomenal! I love that your feet can one day be laced with hoarfrost and then next, they can right dance!

    I don’t really know what you are going through, Holly, but whenever I read your posts, there is HOPE! Not just for you but for me also.

    • Holly

      Oh Bev,
      Your comment just illustrates how God uses all things for good. I am so thankful that what God has been whispering to my heart can resonate so deeply with yours, as well.

  • Karen

    Amazing writing Holly. Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow. Much love and prayers xx

    • Holly

      Karen, Yes!

      Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow
      Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside

      One of my favorite hymns in all the world. Great is his faithfulness!

  • Your words are so rich … the images so vivid. Beautiful + painful all at once. Love you, poet-friend. xoxo

    • Holly

      Beautiful + painful = Life this side of heaven.
      I am so grateful to have you as a fellow pilgrim, friend.
      Thank you for always being love to me.

  • thelifeartist

    This metaphor is going to haunt me for a lifetime of days. And you better believe I’m throwing winter seeds alongside you… Such beauty, Holly. <3

    • Holly

      Erika, let us be seed sowers together. Always.

  • Amy Hunt

    Mmm. . . sweet friend . . . this is just so, so, SO right, and good, and pure, and lovely. And I so get this.

    God has brought me to the front porch where I sit with my hands cupped around a warm mug and abide in peace AS life *whirls and twirls* in front of me, as if what I see is a horrendous tornado that just might sweep me up with it. He has stilled me to rest there. To abide in the peace He gives, even AS life is

    (I’m not reading blogs these days and yet, somehow I found this . . . I’m so glad for the space He provided for me to sip and savor the glory found right here.)

    {hugs} and much love to you, sweet friend. More than words.

    • Holly

      Amy, rejoicing with you that God would bring you the words you need to hear, right when you need them. The fact that God would speak through me? Proof of his incredible grace and mercy.
      Thank you for being here.

  • Mercy, this is beautiful. Thank you for the small unseen seeds you are sowing, and for the richness you plant in giving your words away here. Such a gift.

    • Holly

      Thank you, friend, for your generous words. It can sometimes be tempting to scoff at all of those unseen seeds, to write them off as chaff and look the other way. I am so thankful for the hands of a loving God who so gently takes my chin and redirects my gaze. Spring is coming. God has promised.

  • mkholmberg

    I learned something, felt something, reading this. It emboldens me to persevere even in the darkest days, where nothing seems to be a fruitful effort. Thanks for sharing your gift with us!

    • Holly

      It IS so hard to push forward when all seems dark, doesn’t it? Grateful that we can both shine a light into that dark night, even if it only illuminates one small step at a time.

  • Lynne H

    I love this, Holly.

    • Holly

      Thank you, Lynne. It means so much to have you here.

  • Love the imagery in this post. The snow is still falling here, in Maine, this winter. It’s just mirroring the length of winter in my soul, too. The only hope in darkness is purpose, that there is growth by some miracle. Thank you for sharing!