An unusually hot and wet spring this year was followed by an extremely hot and wet summer. Sunny skies were constantly giving way to heavy showers, only to be replaced with more sun and heat. This combination has made for a few changes from our regular summer here, in the mountains of my home. The limbs on the trees are growing twice as fast as usual and their leaves are huge. The Queen Anne's Lace, Daisies, and Black Eye Susan's are growing waist high in the meadows and on the sides of the roads. The bush in my front yard is shooting up as fast as a sunflower. The grass in my yards is thicker and taller than ever. Butterflies and bumble bees are everywhere, as are the yellow jackets and hornets. Mama deer and their babies can be seen coming out of the woods to feast on the abundance of crab apples on the ground. Squirrels with acorns are scurrying up the trees and baby birds are flying out of their nests. Everywhere I look there is an explosion of growth and life. It is incredible to see.

We humans are a little different than the rest of nature, however. Yes, our bodies do grow best in optimal conditions. We grow healthy and strong when we have good food, clean water, fresh air, and plenty of exercise. On the inside, though, it is often during the hardest of times that we grow the most. During the times of death, loss, and suffering is when our souls grow stronger and closer to God. During the bleakest wintertime is when our hearts grow more loving. During the worst times of our lives is when we help each other the most.

Why is it that we grow kinder, stronger, and wiser during the toughest times, as well as the good ones? Why is it that the worst in this world often brings out the best in us? No one knows for sure, but I am happy with the mystery. Live well, then. Love much. Grow strong. Be the person God meant for you to be during the winter nights, as well as the summer days.

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