Monday, September 30, 2019

Season


"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven." 
-Ecclesiastes 3:1

I started with the prompt of "season" last week and wrote an entire post about fall.  And then I saw that there was a different prompt for the Hope Writer's challenge coming up that was titled Fall.  So I had to approach season with new eyes; I filed away my "fall" post for this week and started thinking about season.  And today it just all started rushing around in my head, the thoughts about various seasons of our lives and our part in each of them.

I love the verse above because it gives credit to the fact that there is a season for everything. I only included the first verse of Ecclesiastes 3, but listen to the rest of it:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embrace;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
(Ecclesiastes 3:2-8)

I can think back on a lot of different seasons in my life and how, at the time, I felt stuck or like I wanted to get out of that season.  Or maybe how I wanted to dive into that season, despite God telling me it wasn't my time for that season.  The one I remember most clearly was the season of weddings! 2013 was the year I still refer to as the year of nine weddings; it felt like EVERYONE was getting engaged and married right after college.  Living in the Bible belt in the south, this was rather common.  My Facebook feed was filled with shiny rings and beautiful engagement photos.  Scott and I had been dating for 7 years at that point, and I just wanted so badly to be in that season.  I wanted the sparkly ring and to be planning a wedding, to be planning our future life together.  

I dared to hope for it, but God kept asking me to wait. I was in a really low place in March of 2013 while at the bachelorette weekend of one of my good friends.  I was trying to distract myself by keeping busy-- I was training for a half marathon and went for a 7 mile beach run that Saturday morning.  I prayed for God to give me a peace about the season that I was in, to give me a heart to wait for the wedding season, the marriage season.  The next day, I left the beach and went back home.  Scott was coming home from Indiana and had a sunset date planned-- something we did often in our beach town.  That night, Scott asked me to be his wife.  God invited us into the season I'd been standing on the edge of for so long.  He invited us into the season of preparing for a gospel-centered wedding and a God-fearing marriage.  

I'm not saying that when you want something badly enough God will give it to you the next day if you pray about it.  But I have learned that there really is a season for everything.  The season before our wedding and marriage season was a really challenging several years of dating long distance between Indiana and North Carolina.  In many ways, it prepared my heart for the patience and endurance that I would need in my marriage season.  

These days, it seems like Scott and I are on the outside of the baby season.  It sure seems like everyone around me is having babies and starting families; one day not too long ago, I just broke down crying and asked Scott if we were ever going to have babies.  We've been in a different season, ourselves, of course.  And it's not necessarily a bad season, just a different one.  One of home renovations, paying off massive student loan debts, and trying to become established in our careers.  We're in a season of growing in community and meeting friends, of living far from home and trying to find our place and set roots where we are.  It reminds me of the season though, when I so longed to be where everyone else was, when I wondered if I was being left behind.  

Ecclesiastes reminds me that I'm not.  God's Word reminds me that there is a time and a season for everything, and that those seasons can't all happen at the same time.  Can you imagine having a baby crawling around when there are chop saws and drills all around the house? I laugh thinking about it because it's ludicrous.  I hope there will be the baby season for us one day, but for now, I feel God walking with me through the waiting. There is another in the fire.

XO,
C

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Angle


I took a yoga class last year around the first day of fall that was taught by one of my dear friends.  The yoga studio that we were at had beautiful tall windows and giant ceilings, and she had us use the wall for part of the class.  We did all kinds of stretches that involved the wall, looking up at the beautiful ceiling all the while.  My friend invited us to take a look at things from a new perspective as we entered fall, to hold things up and examine them from a different angle.  

I think I'll have that memory stamped in my brain forever; there's some moments in your life that seem mundane and ordinary at the time but turn out to be profound and transformational when you look back on them later.  I found that to be the case with this-- what started out as just a Thursday going to yoga class taught by a friend became such a profound lesson and example to me, and something I am thinking of now as we head into the new season.

The photo above is a photo from my living room in the morning.  I've learned that my house is something that I really enjoy examining from a new perspective, and that perspective is early mornings.  At the end of a long day, my house looks a little messy; it looks like a long to-do list of projects and chores, things that I need to tidy.  But in the early morning after I've put on a pot of coffee, home is my quiet oasis that I sit amidst before beginning my day out in the world.  It's a place where I feel that I belong, a place that is cozy and warm and inviting.  I often straighten things up at night before I go to bed, so I awaken to a fresh house where things are in their place.  I sometimes just sit and drink coffee, but mostly I pray and read Scripture.  I sometimes write.  I do all of this looking at the same home I sat in the night before, but I see it all through a new lens: the morning lens.  The lens that helps me to see hope and comfort instead of stress and things to do.

This is a short essay today-- I'm at the end of one of those long days with work piling up in ways that I feel overwhelmed by. Even reading a book for enjoyment tonight seems beyond me.  But I know in the morning, I will awaken and see things from a different angle-- a new perspective.  A perspective I hope to carry with me throughout my day.  

Love,
C

Monday, September 23, 2019

Start


"Life starts all over again when it's crisp in the fall." -F. Scott Fitzgerald 

It's been a little while again-- that happens when I make resolutions, sometimes.  I hit a busy season or a season where I can't peel myself away from working and cleaning and keeping up my house.  Scott and I have been watching Tiny House Nation lately, and I can't even tell you how much we talk about moving into a tiny house to simplify so I don't have to spend so much of my time off cleaning. Isn't it crazy how much time we spend cleaning our houses?  We live in a home that is much larger than we need, but we did that whole "buy the cheapest house on the block" thing and are putting a lot of sweat equity into it.  That being said, I really only clean the main level of our house regularly since that's the part we live in from day to day, and I feel like I just have to start on one end of the house and make my way to the other week by week.  There's never enough time, and I am too cheap to pay someone to help me clean it, so there's always a mess somewhere (sometimes everywhere). 

Lately, I am overwhelmed by all of the things.  Everything I mentioned above-- cleaning, working, keeping up the house, house projects, cooking, running.  How do women do everything that they do? I am not saying men don't do a lot, but if the sheets don't get changed or the sink is full of dishes, Scott doesn't seem to sweat it too much.  I feel the burden of providing meals for our family and cooking/cleaning, as though I feel a physical weight if I don't accomplish all of the things I need to do (get the meal on the table, switch the laundry, fold the laundry, change the sheets, clean the toilet).  Do other women feel this way? Or other people-- not namely women, I suppose? 

And so this all leads me into why I love fall.  It's not that toilets don't need to be cleaned in the fall, but it's that I can prop open the windows and let a cool breeze in while I do it.  I can light the pumpkin candles all over the house and clean while I smell the very best cozy fall scents-- apple cider, pumpkin spice, apple bourbon.  I bake a lot and bring treats to friends.  I feel a lifting of all of those burdens, those weights.  I don't mind doing the mundane things when it's fall-- I want a clean house because I want to invite people in.  I realized several years ago that fall feels like New Year's to me.  I sit on the edge of fall peering through at all that I hope for ahead.  It feels like a fresh start in so many ways. 

And so that brings me to start.  One of the writing groups I am in has a challenge going this week for daily prompts, and I am jumping back into writing and hoping to keep up with the daily prompts.  Today's prompt? Start.  So here I am.  I am starting again.  On the first day of my very favorite season, I am starting back with something I love.  I am going to start my day with writing (or today ending my day with it), with thoughts about the prompt I'm given while I sip coffee and prepare for the day ahead.  I feel like sometimes I just start and stop and start and stop.  This time, I hope there's just start.  As I settle into my favorite season, I pray for desire and commitment to start again

I'm also starting something else.  In fact, something I have already started.  I am starting to invite people in again.  My word for 2019, IN, is stamped on a necklace made for me by a friend-- a necklace I wear every day.  A lot of people think it stands for Indiana-- that's maybe part of it.  But the bigger part of IN this year that the Lord is asking me is for me to remain in His word and to invite people in.  I have been on a journey through the Old Testament that is taking me an embarrassingly long time-- I started in January and am currently in Leviticus! Yikes.  Nevertheless, I am creating new rhythms and routines with my morning quiet time this year that I hope last a lifetime for me through all of the difficult and challenging seasons ahead--in marriage, work, and (hopefully) motherhood.  

The other part of IN is inviting people in, and that means into my mess of a heart and into my mess of a home.  My messy, half renovated home feels a lot like my heart sometimes; there's clutter everywhere and half finished walls.  There's painter's tape all over our dining room and an exposed wall in our kitchen.  I kept people out for a long time; neighbors would come to the door and we would quickly slip out onto the porch to talk, closing the door so they couldn't see the half finished floors and cans of paint everywhere.  My heart for hospitality felt crushed by this-- I longed to invite people in.  

So I have started.  I give friends the disclaimer that OUR HOUSE IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION, and then I invite them in for tea and a muffin, warning them to be cautious as they step over tools and sit in the midst of our half-painted dining room. And you know what? I think initially, people are shocked-- but after a while, conversation becomes easy and the mood lightens.  They sink into the sectional as they relax and sip their tea.  And it feels very much like it's almost normal in here when that happens, like we're in a nicely decorated and finished home having an evening connecting. 

Hope you have something that you've started this year, or maybe something you want to start in the season or year to come.

Love,
C