Leaning in to Rest

Ah, Christmas.  My absolute favorite Holiday.  Lit with sparkles and all things glittery, music playing, the smell of pine and cinnamon and the hustle and bustle of shopping for our loved ones.  And if this wasn’t enough to make it lovely, this season also brings my wedding anniversary.  So much to celebrate.

So why are so many of us so dang stressed out?

Twenty-one years and five kids ago, Amazon Prime didn’t even exist.  Can you imagine?  We actually drove to all the stores and physically carried all the gifts out, across parking lots, to our cars.  And gift cards?  They were a rarity.  We bought actual, you know, STUFF for each other.

Christmas is so convenient now with online shopping and gift cards and all the Christmas-hoarding world (of which I am a “proud” member) at your fingertips with the click of a button.  So wouldn’t it be logical for us to be less harried and more rested?

But we are not.

With all the choices and conveniences has come the impulse to add more and more to our celebrations.  More traditions, more decorations, more fancy trim added to the ribbon on top, more variety of everything.  We have Advent wreaths and Jesse trees.  We have devotional books for young and old and each chapter gives us an act of service AND a craft to do along with the appropriate song to sing.  We have matching PJ’s and progressive dinners and white elephant gift exchanges.  We have it all.  Right here.  Screaming at us:

“Do this.  Do it all.  Your kids’ well-adjusted adulthood depends on it.  They need tradition and memories and to be able to look back on their idyllic childhood with joy and wonder in order to be good parents themselves and pass it on to their children!”

Wait, what?

Did I just write that?  Yes, I did.  Because I bet that thought has crossed your mind at some point.  Somewhere along the way we have bought into the lie that our children need a perfect childhood in order to be happy, healthy adults.  Especially at Christmastime.  We believe Christmas should be fabulous.  It should be wondrous.  It should be…(insert whatever you hope your kids experience here.)

The older I get, the older my KIDS get, I realize how ridiculous and impossible this can be.  This year I put up less as far as decorations are concerned.  I got tired of dreading the take-down come New Year’s.  I was trying to put it ALL out, all the kids old creations, all the trees with all the stuff because it all held memories.  But this year I just couldn’t.  I was tired and just. wanted. Jesus.

And guess what?  The stuff I skipped and left in the attic?  They didn’t miss it.  I have learned what is important to them.  There are a few special traditions that they always mention.  A few.  So I stuck with those and we are all satisfied.  The house feels less cluttery and I didn’t hate Santa by the time the decorations were up.  🙂    I put out our Cradle to Cross Wreath and I’m reading a wonderful devotional with my younger kids almost daily.

Almost.  But we skipped the Jesse Tree and I’m letting them take turns moving the Elf because they like to.  I have a grown-up devotional I’m reading almost daily.

Almost.  Because the reality is that never in the history of parenting have we successfully finished an Advent devotional before Christmas.  We just get busy and lose focus and sometimes travel and its just not realistic for us.

And that’s ok!

Really!

Christmas is not about making lists.  It’s certainly not about checking them twice.  It’s not about fabulous decorating or cooking like those calories will not sit, every one, squarely on my hips.  Its about the Gift.  The baby.  The man that was and is the Messiah.  It’s about the FACT that God came down and a virgin miraculously became pregnant with the Son of God and gave birth to Him amongst no earthly fanfare but surrounded by all the glory of Heaven.  It’s about the fact that, though we have shaken our fists and God and told Him “No, thanks” a million times we were not forgotten and He came for us.  He came and lived the sinless life that was impossible for us and died the tortured death in our place in order to atone forever for our sins.  Christmas is about the fact that we have rest, true eternal rest in the depths of our spirit, because Jesus suffered for us.

Rest.

Now doesn’t that sound better than rushing around and trying to make everything perfect?  Because, no matter what traditions we keep or meals we cook nothing will ever come close to the perfection of Jesus Christ, the only Son of God.

Rest.  Put aside the unnecessary and focus in.  Light a few candles and sit in their light, in the quiet of an early morning or late evening.  Cuddle up with your kids or your husband (or your kids AND your husband) and just BE.  Don’t let the rush of the season cause you to sweep the whole reason for it out the door.  Lean in to one another, lean in to the Savior, and lean in to rest.  Seek it and savor it when you find it.

And have a simply beautiful Christmas.

christmasball

I love Jesus but…

lawWhen my kids were little, I was crazy legalistic about language.  Potty language was a no-no and we sure as…heck…didn’t say “shut up” or anything vile like that.  Sweet words come out of sweet hearts, right?  And woe to the fool who dared throw out the “D” word, the “S” word or, as referred to in “The Christmas Story” as the mother of all cuss words, the “F” word in front of my babies at Wal-Mart!  Oh no.  Just no.

And you know what the result of all that careful filtering was?

Nothing.

My big kids have the same tendencies toward bad language as anyone’s kids.  In fact, I have one in particular who has written the book on how NOT to be respectful to your mama.  And this one used to be the most rule-making AND rule-following of them all. Why is that?

The Bible has the answer.  It is because the law breeds sin.  In Romans 8:9 Paul describes this phenomenon…

“I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died.”

Think about it.  How many times, when you kids were very small, did you use reverse psychology to get them to do what you wanted?

“Hey, don’t you smile.  Don’t you smile at Mommy!  I mean it!  Don’t you even think about it…hey, I see your mouth twitching!  You better stop!” As that sweet one who had been scowling moments earlier dissolved into giggles you patted yourself on the back for your parenting genius.

Well, the same principle applies to when you don’t want your kids to do something.  I have realized after countless failed attempts at sin-preventing parenting that…get this… my parenting cannot prevent sin.

Isn’t that groundbreaking?

“Don’t touch that.”

“Don’t say that.”

“Don’t hit.”

“Don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t steal…”

Has any of my children, or me for that matter, responded to a list like this?  Or are we all like Paul who, “when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died?”  Because I would venture to guess the truth is when we are told “do not” our first reaction is, “Oh, really?  Why shouldn’t I?”

Then what does work?  If a list of rules fails to bring about obedience and godliness, then what make me want to do what is right?

The Bible gives us an answer to that as well.  Romans 2:4 says that “God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.”

Wait, what?

Walking across a busy parking lot with my little boy, I learned that, rather than tell him not to run out in front of cars, I would sweetly request, “Hold mommy’s hand!” with a big smile and he would happily place his little hand in mine and let me lead him safely into the store.

This was easy when they were toddlers, but it is much harder now when the kids are bigger and the sins have more potentially serious consequences.  But if I draw near to them, establishing clear boundaries (after all, we cannot have an “anything goes” mentality or our house would be full of little anarchists) but giving them freedom within those boundaries, maybe the relationship that results will cause them to have a desire for the things that are beneficial to them long-term instead of the short term pleasure the world has to offer.  It doesn’t mean they will not sin.  In fact, the odds are they are going to sin and some of them will probably sin big.  Am I going to scream and rant at them or am I going to look them in the eye and declare my love and commitment to them and their well-being?  Am I going to make a longer list of rules, or offer wise and carefully worded counsel in order to foster trust and build a bridge between us?  I tend toward the lists of rules, if I’m being honest.  I love to tell my tribe what they should and should not do, thinking they will tow the line and march like good little soldiers.  But that is a terribly flawed methodology and, now that they are older, I realize how much time and energy I wasted on battles that just really weren’t worth fighting after all.

God has given me one job as a mom.  One.  Just be kind.  Just love them.  It’s not my job to fix them, only God can fix people.  Show grace, don’t freak out over sin…because that is kind of a common problem in humanity.  Expecting perfection will only result in frustration and broken relationship.  Forcing an outward show of godliness when the heart is not in the game is useless and a complete waste of time.  But zooming in on their heart? Not lecturing every time a kids says “shut up” or teases a sibling?  Realizing that a nearly grown teenager is going to test the waters and be “all over the place” until they truly realize who they are and why they are here will help me to relax a little and just enjoy the good moments.  (And pour a glass of wine after the bad!)

In other words, I love Jesus but…

I’m not Jesus.

 

Enough, already.

I had an epiphany today.

The book, The Broken Way, by Ann Voskamp was in my Amazon shopping cart. Unpurchased.  I was debating several things.  First of all, I have 697 unread books on my nightstand.  (I may or may not be exaggerating.)  Second, after the year we have had, do I want to read another book about brokenness?  (As in, life is hard but God is good…yada yada yada.)

So imagine my surprise when it showed up on my kitchen counter.  My man had bought athletic wear for our oldest and didn’t take the book out of the cart so, there it was.

And here it is.

I spend too much time on social media (confession, here) and often have three or four books going at the same time so it takes me forever to get through a book these days.  But this one kept calling my name, so to speak, and I began to read.

Six chapters in and I am just amazed at the depth in Ann’s words.  I was a huge fan of One Thousand Gifts and have read it twice along with listening to it on Audible.  I have a gratitude journal with entries topping four thousand and I believe with all of my heart in the power of giving thanks in all circumstances. The Broken Way is like a beautiful continuum, putting feet to faith and trusting God when everything within me screams “impossible” or “not enough!”  As I have read her words and resonated with her struggles I realize that, for a very long time, I have believed a lie.

I have written blog posts for over ten years, but so many things I have wanted to share I have kept to myself because I felt that you, my dear reader, would think that I somehow have things figured out.  Because of my struggles and nights of wrestling with God I felt unqualified to share my thoughts with you.  It’s easy to write about kids.  I did that faithfully for a long time and did it well.  But I no longer have cute toddler stories to share, I have young adults who are on social media and are not ok with me using them to score readers.

So what’s left?  Well…me.  And what do I have to offer?  The Liar has told me that I have very little.  That until I have my act together I have no right to tell you anything.  I’m an expert on nothing and an authority on little…or so I believed.

But today the story of Peter penetrated my heart.  He is walking on water with the King of the Universe.  He is standing because his eyes were fixed on his Messiah.  Then his eyes shift…he looks around and doubt creeps in and the next thing he knows he is sucking seawater and screaming for help.  Why?  I always though it was because he didn’t believe in Jesus, but after today I think the problem was deeper.  Peter did not believe in himself.  (Page 85)

That is me.  That is my struggle.  Do I believe God can do great things in and though me? Yes, of course!  But I have also, deep down in my spirit, believed that my flaws have held Him back, limited His power because I am so unfocused and inconsistent.  But what if Ann’s theory is true?  What if God believes…in me?

What if God still uses imperfect, cracked pots?  Did He not choose twelve flawed men to bring about a revolution of Grace?  Hasn’t every great hero of the Faith stumbled and fallen and still been used mightily by the King?  When the voice sneers in my mind, “Who do you think you are?  You are not qualified to do/say/write/teach anything.  You are a mess,” does not God remind me that I am a daughter of the King, chosen to do good works before I was even born, qualified because He has called me and it is HE who qualifies the called?

I am enough.  In and because of JESUS I am enough.  Jesus is in me, therefore I am enough. He never asked me to have it all together.  Like Peter, He simply wants my focus.  If my eyes are on Him, He will keep me afloat.

I am most certainly an imperfect, cracked pot.  But I do, with all that is in me, want to be bold for the Kingdom and make a difference in the sphere of influence in which God has placed me.

One of my favorite quotes is by Leonard Cohen:

There is a crack in everything.  That’s how the light gets in.

Yes and amen.  I am full of cracks so shine away, Lord.  Shine away.

Eucharisteo, cruciform, gratitude, Jesus, Peter, walk on water, enough, Leonard cohen
Thank you, Ann. I’m in.

Autumn

Yesterday I took the garbage down to the curb, as usual on Tuesdays.  In my own world, thoughts and lists swirling, I almost missed it.

Autumn.  

Now, it doesn’t feel like Autumn at all.  Not yet.  It’s hot and sticky and the trees just look so tired.  But this morning I happened to look up at just the right moment when the sun was at just the right angle and the morning mist was just barely hanging on.  The tall trees that line my street took on a sudden magic that caused me to stop and stare.  Subtle oranges and golds overlapped as branches released their bright offerings on the morning breeze.  Dry leaves danced and leapt down the messy road littered with leaf piles and shrub cuttings.  

Autumn in all its glory, clearly evident to anyone with adequate vision…Yet, still, it doesn’t feel like it.  Not at all.

The cold snap is coming, though.  According to the weather experts it should arrive tomorrow.  Not a moment too soon if you ask me.  The brightest colors are yet to come, expected to peak in late October and fade quickly.  

“If you plan to drive around and see the Fall colors you will want to do so early because the season will be short this year,” says the DJ on the radio.

Thanks for that.

Always I anticipate this, my favorite season.  Always it teases and finally arrives only to move into the cold of winter too quickly for my taste.  

And there is not one, single thing that I can do to change it.  No amount of watering or pruning or fertilizing will extend the life of Autumn’s glory.  It comes when it comes and it goes when it goes.  

So I have two choices:  I can complain and wish for what I cannot have or stop, breathe in the sweet scented air, listen for the rustle as my children conquer that “epic” leaf pile, and gaze at the beauty of the colors changing all around me.

Bitterness or gratitude.

Frustration or delight.

Envy or acceptance.

Anger or joy.

Autumn comes, regardless.  The glory is there, whether or not I choose to stop and look.  

I choose to stop and look.

Finding Grace.

fog, foggy, smoky mountains, trees, black lives matter, blue lives matter, darkness

It’s a season of life where it is difficult to see clearly.  I easily feel as if I am walking blind, barely able to make out the shapes ahead and, too often, nearly stumbling over something that I once would have seen coming a mile away.

I nearly succumb to fear, my heart pounding and hands shaking as worry sinks its talons into my mind.  I am raising kids in a world that is so different from the one in which I grew up.  Not only is every tragedy easily broadcast from screen-to-screen and phone-to-phone, but so is every embarrassing moment or stupid teenage failure.  There is no room for grace in a world that judges you by your profile picture and the number of likes on your Instagram post.

Or is there?

Hard news came twice this week.  A baby left motherless due to a terrible car accident, her father struggling to figure out how to do this without the beautiful nurturer by his side.  A young woman widowed because of cancer, a father and mother grieving for their only son.  Once again, it is easy to be brought down and doubt the goodness of God.

Where is the grace?  Where is the hope?  We have to search, sometimes, but if we do it can be found…

It is in overhearing my child tell a heartbroken friend they are praying for them.

It is in the story shared of how he saw angels before he passed away.

It is in the gathering of God’s people to be the hands and feet of Jesus for a daddy who is trying to figure out what is next.

It is in the Bible Study where, instead of a bunch of church ladies who are there to showcase their knowledge, there is a room full of women who beautifully admit their brokenness and need.

It is in the answer to my prayer for help resulting in my precious ones who struggle with learning finding a place where they are celebrated and loved and encouraged but never labeled.

It is in the sweet reminder that this is not my home…and neither is it yours, my friend.

We so quickly forget when the stress clamps down like a vice.  Determined to find our way out, we forget that we have no strength apart from our Father.  He stands with His hands wide open, offering Himself in all His fullness, yet we refuse to reach out.  Sure, we like knowing He is near and “He has a plan” but what if there is more?

What if God is not satisfied with our shopping list of prayer requests and is trying desperately to draw us deep, to allow suffering and tragedy to shape us because death is not the end, sin is not the final state of of His children, and we were never meant to become “Church ladies?”

What if, in brokenness and the admission of our desperate need for grace, is found the pearl of great price, the treasure buried in the hard dirt of a field that must be dug up with blood, sweat and tears in order to be cradled in our hands and gently polished to shining?

We want it easy.  At least I do.  I hate hard and I try everything I can to avoid it.  So often I want to shake my fist at God and yell “I didn’t sign up for this!  You picked the wrong person!  I am not equipped to handle what you are laying on me!”  If I am completely honest, I don’t just want to say those things, I actually do say them.  But God is not deterred nor is He surprised.  In love, He refines and polishes and will not stop until Jesus is reflected in me.  I didn’t sign up for it, but He did.

One of these days, I pray I learn to stop striving and allow Him to be strong for me.  I pray I quit depending on earthly knowledge and let the Holy Spirit teach me from His infinite knowledge.  And I pray that I stop asking Him to help me do what needs to be done and allow HIM to do it.

I pray that I can be like the young widow, who in an act of incredible faith, will not be wearing black to her husband’s funeral.  She has seen the Lord’s mercy in suffering, she has seen the face of her husband as he got his first glimpse of eternity, and she is going to turn her eyes upon Jesus and celebrate through her tears.

Refiner’s fire, my heart’s desire is to be holy…set apart for you, Lord.  ~Bryan Doerksen

 

For the Sake of Our Children.

fog, foggy, smoky mountains, trees, black lives matter, blue lives matter, darkness

I have been hesitant to write.  So much has been said already, thousands of article written, millions of memes and status updates shared that I really didn’t know if I had anything new to add to the discussion.  But over and over words keep forming.  Tears spring to my eyes and my heart aches as I watch this world spin and falter.

But, before I move on, I would like to give you some background:

I grew up in a very small, mostly-white town. The only non-white residents were Hispanic.  I also grew up hearing and, unfortunately, laughing at racial jokes.  I bought into the stereotypes sold to me by my ignorant little town.  Slurs were common and I knew nothing different.  It was the norm and no one ever challenged it.  But when I was a sophomore in High School the first black family in my lifetime moved to our community.

Their oldest daughter was a grade behind me, so I didn’t share classes with her.  But she was nice, smart, and very, very popular.  As the only black kid in the entire school, she was fascinating.  Everyone wanted to be her friend.  But I remember the whispers of the adults around town…you know, the “there goes the neighborhood” discussion.  I wonder if she knew.  I liked her and would have loved to be her friend.  But I was not remotely popular, so that pretty much knocked me out:)

Back then, nearly thirty years ago, if you had told me what kind of life I would be living now I would have thought you were nuts.  I was going to have 3, maybe 4 biological kids.  My wedding would take place under an arch of pink and teal balloons (It WAS the eighties!) and my husband would probably be someone I grew up with, work in our little town and I’d be a teacher.

So here is my reality.  I have five beautiful children, none of whom came from my womb.  I married a handsome son of a Colonel who whisked me a good thirteen hour car ride from my hometown and I love it here.  I homeschool four of our children.  We live in a community that is beautifully adoption-friendly.  Trans-racial adoptive families are incredibly common.  Interracial marriages barely turn heads.  Show Hope and 147 Million Orphans are just around the corner and even the local coffee shops support adoption and orphan care.  I go to a church that is not as diverse as I’d like, but we are working on it.  (If you are reading this and are looking for a church home, please message me!  We need you!)  Our church family loves my kids and my kids have a great variety of friends from every race and socio-economic background.  We have dear friends on the police force and in the Black community…some of them are members of both.  God has blessed us.

So when the horrible events in Baton Rouge, Minnesota, and Dallas took place this past week my stomach knotted up and has stayed that way ever since.  The “either-or” camp keeps yelling but a few of us are trying to overcome with our “both-and” perspective.

What am I talking about?

As the white mother of five children of color, I feel like I have a unique perspective.  Though I never experienced racism or the fear resulting from being targeted for my skin color, I have had to learn to navigate this issue for the sake of my children.  I have had to have the same talks with my 16 year old son who just got his driver’s license as every black parent out there has had.  I have had to pray harder while my son drives his brother to basketball practice…praying he doesn’t break any traffic laws or get stopped by the “wrong officer.”

You see, I have had to face the hard, sickening reality that racism is not dead in our country.  As a family, we have witnessed very little of it in our community but we have had a few incidents.  But now, as my kids near adulthood and are not always with me…don’t always have my “whiteness” to act as a buffer…I have to prepare them, educate them, yet not instill fear.  My goodness, that is so hard.

I have spent their entire lives teaching them about how police officers are their friend.

Which they are.

I have taken my beautiful ebony boys and walked up to the police officer in the bank or at a restaurant just to say hello and shake their hand.  I have worked hard to teach them that police officers are trustworthy and here to help us and protect us.

Which they are.

But what is making me sick these days is that there are a few that are not.  99.9% of them are wonderful people, but all it takes is one with evil intent to ruin or even end someone’s life.

But isn’t this the flaw in all of society?  In any institution there is the potential for corruption.  Most teachers are wonderful people, but there are those who have sex with their students.  Most truck drivers are good family men working hard to provide for their families, but there are a few who participate in human trafficking for their own sick pleasure.  Most people sitting in our church pews are there to learn, to have questions answered, and to serve God.  But not all pew-sitters are Christians, much less mature ones.  As a pastor I once knew used to say, “Sitting in church does not make you a Christian any more than walking into a gym makes you an athlete.”  Our churches have hidden snakes, pedophiles, porn addicts, etc, which is why we have to have background checks on the nursery workers and safety plans in place to protect our children.

The same goes with our police force.  Racism exists, even there.  It lurks, even there.  I have to teach my children that, yes, you must always be respectful to the police.  You do exactly what they say and always answer “yes sir” and keep your hands on the steering wheel.  I teach them the names of our friends who are in the police department.  Why?  Because, though, 99.9% of our bravest men in blue are wonderful, selfless protectors of society, we have absolutely no way of knowing which ones are not.  So am I teaching my kids to assume the worst?  I hope not.  But maybe, just maybe, that is what it boils down to when my firstborn son gets pulled over for a busted tail-light or going 5 over the speed limit.

Launching black children into the world is terrifying.  If not for the promises of God and the words spoken over their lives from the time He brought them into our family, fear might just take hold of me.  But it will not.  I trust God.  I trust Him with them.  I trust that He does, in fact, have plans for good and not harm.  And I trust that any suffering they may endure is filtered through His loving fingers, serving to chip away anything that does not look like Jesus in order to conform them into his image.

And one more thing:

To my precious, priceless black friends…

I need you now more than ever.  I need your wisdom, your experiences, your stories.  I need you to tell me what to do, how to say what needs to be said, and pray for my kids as I pray for yours.  The house of the black community is on fire, and I want to join in the crowd of friends running with buckets of water…running into the fire, pulling out the survivors, comforting those who grieve.  I want to hold your hand and kiss your babies and see our kids figure out who they are and what is their role in this diverse community that is comprised of every nation, tribe and tongue.  I don’t want to see the news and think “how sad that this is happening to them.”  I choose to believe this is happening to “US.”  Because in Christ we are one family.  Your house is right next door to mine and if yours is burning I will not sit and watch through my window.  I will pray for and demand justice.  I will speak out in defense of those who are unfairly targeted and, though I cannot understand from the perspective of experience, I will listen and learn and try my very best to pass on to my black children what you are teaching me.

kids, black kids, black lives matter, protecting, field, flowers, spring
An oldie but a goodie. My babies.

 

Blackberry Winter

It’s the kind of weather that I’m convinced will be the norm in Heaven:  Cool evenings accented by a warm fire and just-warm-enough days that allow us to wear a light jacket when the skies are overcast and shorts when the sun is out.  The pansies still bloom happily, peeking their cheerful heads over the rims of pots and dancing brightly around the hanging basket on the shepherd’s hook.

Though the tomato harvest will likely start later because of these cool temperatures, I can’t complain.  This is my weather.  This cool breeze as I sit alone on the porch swing is what makes me absolutely love life here in Tennessee.

Today I drove out to the farm where my middle daughter has spent the last twelve Wednesdays doing what she loves:  Art, sewing, and playing with the colt and the chickens and the lamb.  The farmer’s big dog appears to be pregnant and lumbers about in the tall grass as the children run wild and play “Tree.”  It was bittersweet for me, as I love the drive out there every week and today is her final day on the farm.  Next year she enters the 6th grade and we have found a wonderful tutorial for her and the younger two.  It is also out in the country.  There are chickens and a garden to dabble in while the children take breaks from learning.  They will love it.  They would start tomorrow, if they could, but it is always hard to say goodbye to something that has been a blessing.

Change.

God is always moving us towards the next thing, isn’t He?  I tell my kids He loves us too much to let us stay put, and I believe it.  Contentment is good, complacency is not. Change keeps us on our toes and reminds us of our dependency on Him if we will allow it.  Change is a good teacher.

Though I am enjoying this Blackberry Winter with all that is in me…this cold snap that I didn’t expect yet am relishing while it lasts…change is inevitable.   I know the heat of summer will come soon and we will all be sweating and jumping in the pool for relief from the sun.  The trees’ bright green will grow tired and the grass will trade it’s delightful lime hue for a deeper shade in order to toughen up and survive the August that is to come. Some change we expect, some is thrown at us.  But, again, if we are teachable we can see the purpose in it.

Am I teachable?  As I prepare for this next season, homeschooling 4 of my 5 children (one in HIGH SCHOOL) and diving into a tutorial with the three younger ones for the first time, what is God going to want me to learn?  As the seasons of life pass by and my teenagers prepare to grow up and drive away, can I appreciate the good and pick it out from amongst the thorns of the hard?

I struggle, sometimes, to enjoy now.  I look back on the years when we were younger and life was simpler and I miss those long, sweet days.  Then I remember Paul’s admonition in Philippians 3:13…to forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead.  I think I sometimes make an idol out of the past, especially the good parts.  I want that sweet time to last forever, but it didn’t.  It can’t.  Like this Blackberry Winter, it was a beautiful season of respite and joy.  But the season ahead, though heated and full of struggles and growing pains, is beautiful as well.  I have to look up, stop and breathe and take in the sunrises and sunsets of each day and remember that God is on his throne and every part of this season of life is being used to bring about His will, not mine.

Goodness, that is so hard.

So today I did what I have said I would do all throughout this spring but never had.  I stopped and pulled over into the parking lot of a little country church and took a photo of my girl with her handmade quilt with a field of wildflowers behind her.  I breathed in the scent of spring and didn’t hurry to drive home.  Then I planted that white rose by the mailbox and stuck my nose into a magnolia blossom, nearly fainting from the beautiful perfume that filled it.  And then I sat here, on my porch swing, to write because I just haven’t taken the time to do much writing lately and tomorrow is our last day of school for this year.  There are leftovers in the fridge and my son drove his little brother to basketball practice, giving me this time to do what my heart needed.

My boys, alone in a car.  What I wouldn’t give to be privy to their conversations.

Yes, there is sweetness in every season.