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seasons

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The work of winter is to hunker down, to brace the cold and dark. I have always cherished winter, its crisp mornings with sparkles covering the ground. Windows edged in frosty patterns of lace. Chilly evenings that beg for candlelight and warmth. Winter beckons me home.

I am reluctant for spring's arrival, for the change that ensues. I prefer the safety and comfort of the familiar, the much narrow focus winter brings.

I struggle with leaving things behind. Seasons. People. Places. Plans. I know what it means to wrestle with leaving a season. To approach a new one with trepidation. Yet God does not leave me to wander the unknown without Him. Though the path forward may be rutted and carved by ice, He points to vibrant green bursting through the still white of the fields.

I can almost touch the sprigs of new life, as I ponder what He has in store.

Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?-Isaiah 43:19





hurt

The pain was deep, raw. As I told a friend, I felt as if I'd been gutted. I knew it wasn't intentional, but this knowledge didn't soften the blow. Because I carried on as usual I knew the other party wasn't aware of my feelings, but that was poor comfort.

I stewed. I grappled with the ugliness of my emotions. I sought counsel from others who were removed from the situation. I asked them to pray. I prayed. I carried the hurt around for a while. Finally, when I was too weary to carry it any longer or any further, I relented and asked God to carry it for me.

And He did.

As He gracefully circumcised my heart (Deut. 10:16), He fixed my gaze on His truth. He showed me that even in this, He is molding me.

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the …

a tale of two paths

Each time I leave my neighborhood - my comfort zone - I am faced with a choice. I cannot go straight ahead. I must choose, left or right.

To the right, and I will be met with rocks, potholes and dust. Yet it is quicker, and I often turn that way when I am in a hurry.

To the left, and I will find sheep grazing and a church that rose from the ashes. The lightning strike is emblazoned on my memory, much like the flames that burst forth and the black smoke that seemed to hover for days. In one brief moment I saw God aim His power to consume a temple constructed by man. He had something greater for His people.

I can reach my destination by either path.

The bumpy road or the smooth one.

The parched earth or the green pasture.

The choice is mine. I wrestle it more often than I should. Most days I instinctively turn to the easy route, but some days I involutarily choose the other. I set my jaw to absorb the jarring, squint against the dust, and pray I'm not causing any permanent damage …

joy

You have put more joy in my heartthan they have when their grain and wine abound. ~Psalm 4:7

I close my day and the second full month since leaving my girl in a strange room. Her eyes danced in a mix of nerves and excitment. Mine were steely blue, unaware that tears would come a few days later.

They still come at the strangest times.

It's been two months in this new normal. It's been more difficult than I imagined, in ways different than I expected. I'm realizing how much of my identity - even, maybe especially, in our home - has been tied to being a mother. The daily demands of motherhood no longer clamor for my attention, a truth that saddens more than it relieves.

Treading this foreign territory frequently requires more balance than I've been able to muster, though I am learning. Learning to find joy, because there is much joy to be found.

Phone calls and text messages from my girl.

Library books that whisk me away to England, France, and New York.

Ella Fitzgeral…

august waning

A school bus passed by my house Friday afternoon. A sure sign that Autumn is on its way. Despite my dreams of cooler weather and pumpkin muffins, summer still burns down hot. It refuses to go without a fight.

As I wait for the seasons to wrestle it out, I am doing some wrestling of my own. Finding this phase of my life a little uncomfortable. Stepping through each day gingerly, learning how to settle in. It will take time.

In the meanwhile I'm adjusting to fewer loads of laundry and dishes, more time for reading and thinking. I'm also cleaning out some clutter, enjoying my library's digital audiobook service, loading up our Netflix and Amazon Prime queues, and looking for a good Bible study.

Adjusting to a household of two will take time. And grace. And I'm thankful for each day that the Lord gives me both.

bittersweet

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Nearly 18 years ago we brought our girl home from the hospital. She disrupted our comfortable life in every way possible. When she leaves for college next week, she'll do so again.

I have waxed poetic about how quickly the time has passed. It's true these are the days of bittersweet. Watching my girl chomping at the bit, so excited about what this next part of her life will hold is incredibly sweet. Understanding that this part of parenting is over and how far I missed the mark is bitter indeed.

Syler Thomas writes, Raising children must be more about growing them as disciples than about our experience as their parents. His words cause me to examine the past 18 years. I cannot keep count of the moments that raising my daughter was about me - my expectations, my plans, my image, my happiness. How often did I earnestly seek God's expectations, God's plans, God's image, God's happiness? I squandered many opportunities. Knowing that pierces my heart.

This is the sa…

an evening ritual

The unbearable, energy-draining heat

The non-stop political banter and back-biting

The rapid pace of online debates

The reality of my girl leaving home in less than four weeks

Unexpected family health issues

The combination of them can be exhausting. Despite my fatigue, my brain sometimes insists on performing mental gymnastics at bedtime. In these instances sleep evades me or, if it comes, is fitful. The next day I am on edge, more weary and more sensitive than the day before.

I have finally put the merry-go-round behind me with the comfort of an evening ritual. I wrap the last 30 minutes of each day in beauty and truth.

I set my Pandora station to Yo-Yo Ma Radio, pick up my stack of books and crawl into bed.

First, I read soothing prose. This is not the time for an exciting, keep-me-on-the-edge-of-my-seat read. I deliberately seek a calming, rhythmic pace.  Wendell Berry is a favorite choice.

Afterwards, I spend a few moments with the wisdom of Elisabeth Elliot's Keep a Quiet Hear…