Archives for posts with tag: Seasons of LIfe

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My son called a few weeks ago with some exciting news and all I kept thinking as I sat there smiling on the other end of the phone was that I was thankful for the front row seat to so many cool things. And I told him so.  But as soon as I said it, I thought, well, that sounds pretty presumptuous.  But he agreed and was like “yeah, me too Mom…” And as I thought about wanting that front row seat, I kind of laughed at how things have changed through the years.

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I grew up liking to sit in the middle row. In class. At church. At weddings and public functions, I liked being not too far back, but not too up-close-and personal in the front row either.  Then, when I became a mom of quite a few children, I quickly found a new and great appreciation for the back row…the VERY back row.  It’s close to the door in case there’s a need for a quick get away.  It’s important to have a clear safe straightaway exit if there’s an unexpected (but expected) need for a diaper change, feeding, or disciplinary “pow-wow.” Yep, way back when as the variables in my life increased and my world included lots of unknowns, that’s when I started so appreciating the back row. I could focus on the tasks at hand without feeling the unnecessary strain of doing it in front of lots of onlookers.  So for years, the back rows were where I felt most comfortable because keeping my ‘little ducks in a row’ …or not…was easier there.

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But, how ironic is it that now, I WANT front row seats!  And how ironic that those very ‘children’ who gave me such a grand appreciation for the back row are now the ones who are giving me a front row seat to so many amazing and beautiful things in my life?  ALL of  their journeys and successes, their dilemmas, their failures (or not-yet-successes), their quirks and jokes and laughter, their new arenas and experiences that come with them…ALL of it makes me thankful for the glimpse, the window, this front row seat  that I have into their lives.

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But it’s a window… It’s not a door to bust through and invade and take over. It’s a window. It’s not a camping out spot,…it’s a view, a seat, a place to sit and marvel and watch and experience. It’s a place to be available to these “stars” in my life as they live out the scenes of their every day lives…available to reach out to if they want to, or merely observe if they carry on and don’t. It’s a place to enjoy and weep and pray and laugh and be through it ALL.  All that I see, that is. Am so aware, there’s so much of who we all are and do and be that others don’t see. (Thankful that prayer can reach even there…) But the part I do see makes me so thankful. And it keeps me on the edge of my seat in this thing called life. In a good way, in a hard way, and in a way that keeps me so very alive and vested.

 

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There’s nothing like the joy that comes from watching someone ‘do their thing.’ It’s especially sweet when you’ve had a backstage view of all the rehearsals and practices, attempts and fallings, fears,  and fatigue and risings-up-again, …all of the not-yet moments that were so very necessary to the developing of the moments of doing-one’s-thing. And we all have a ‘thing’. Just gotta find it. And help others find it. Because we were born for “it.”

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Am thinking God knows how we’re wired. He knows “the paths that we should take…”  He knows what makes us tick, or ticked off, what makes us passionate, what makes us feel most alive and in our zone. And when we find that ‘it’, it is a joy. But not just to us. It’s a joy to those who have front row seats, to those who are the beneficiaries of the use of the giftedness, beneficiaries of people using their skills to make an impact can whatever way they can. At different seasons of our lives,  we can lose  our “it” that we were born for by having it take a back seat to the needs of the now, the needs of those in our lives.  Moms can get really good at that…losing (or postponing) their “it” that is. So can husbands and dads who are trying so hard to provide and be there for their families.

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But we’re not meant to always and only have a front row seat to others’ lives. Others in our lives can also have a front row seat to ours. Have been cognizant of that in recent years and am hopeful that in the same way that I laugh out loud and have tears streaming down face with pride watching people do their thing, that those in my life can actually even have moments like that with me. Because we are in this journey together…however short or long it may be. And we impact each other. We do. We inspire or we don’t. We encourage or we don’t. We build up or we don’t. None of us can be all things to all people. We’re not meant to have that place, to fill those kind of voids. But am thinking that our love can point to the God who is and does. Am thinking He is meant to have that place in our lives and does fill the voids. And we can be little windows in people’s lives to remind them of that.

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I love that some people will have arenas filled with people watching them ‘do their thing’. They will be celebrated by tens of thousands of people and will be well known. They will be encouraged by many and applauded. But I equally love watching someone quietly be faithful to their task when there’s no audience, no cheers, no front row seats. That the beauty that shines in the arena, shines in the quiet places that no one sees. Sometimes we’re not even aware of the gifts of the precious lives in our midst. How many are the opportunities daily missed because we fail to see the value of those in our midst and to connect. Who do you have a front row seat to?  Are you glancing at your watch as they share and do their thing or are you engaged, vested, encouraging, applauding even?  And what do people who have a front row seat to me see?   Do I even realize that they are there? Do I know how my actions impact them?

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We only see in part now, for sure, but I’m asking the questions of myself because I’m so aware that we impact each other. And the people in our lives are gifts. Gifts. To be treasured, encouraged, admonished, loved on, even more so when they might not deserve it or feel worthy of it. “People need loving the most when they deserve it the least.”  The world sure can be a harsh and angry place. Although technology  has given rise to the potential for connections, people seem more divided and fragmented than ever. Am thinking that a little encouragement, a little applause and recognition, a little awareness that keeps eyes off me and on someone else, can go a long, long way. For those that are cheered, and those that do the cheering as well.  The cool thing is, in this thing called life, one minute you’re sitting in the front row seat, and the next, someone is sitting in the seat watching  you.  And if we let ourselves, we can be encouraged and moved and drawn in by the beauty of the other person’s story, their script, their life. Humility can be a gateway to inspiration and encouragement and growth on both sides of the ‘stage’.

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Would that we would have a front row seat to applaud and encourage many. In word, in action, in prayer…would that we could get our eyes off of ourselves and our agendas to enjoy the ride, even when it isn’t focused on us. Self-centeredness looks to  me more like a merry-go-round with the ego-centric self going around and around and around and around and getting nowhere. And all the spectators kind of do the same thing. Front row seats to others’ lives can definitely feel like a rollercoaster ride for we experience the ups and downs and comings and goings and failures and victories, and all of the emotions that go with it. But I’m thinking it’s a lot more impactful …and fun. And I’ve learned that whether you’re in the front row seat of the rollercoaster, or the back, you’ll still experience the whole ride. (My kids have encouraged me to do the front row seat on that a time or two…and I’ve encouraged one or two of them to get on the rollercoaster…)  But the merry go round…there’s no front or back, there’s just a point that the whole world of the merry-go-round moves around. Around and around and around.

So, am thinking that front row seats are a good thing. On rollercoasters, in class, and when it comes to having eyes to see the people around us. Yeah, the ride can be a little wild sometimes…up, and down, and up and down, but there’s nothing like a good story unfolding before our eyes…if we have the eyes to see it. Here’s to front row seats and rollercoaster rides, and encouragement that puts our eyes less on ourselves and more on others. Here’s to front row seats and using our gifts and encouraging others to do the same. But let’s not do away with back rows…there are moms out there with young kids who need the back rows…for a season anyway. There’ll be plenty more years for front row seats…

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So there’s a few (more than a few) thoughts on front row seats. Here’s to yours and mine.

Blessings ~

Heather

P.S. I love Zephaniah 3:17 that says the Lord delights in us with singing.. that He is in our midst and delights in us with shouts of joy. He delights in us like a dad on the sidelines or a mom in the stands or a sister or brother in the audience cheering like crazy. He sees. He watches. He delights.  Am thinking His is the ultimate front row seat of it all. That’s pretty cool. And He calls us to know Him and love Him and see what He’s doing…to have a front row seat to His heart as He has a front row seat to ours. And that’s the most amazing story of all.

“The Lord your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Zephaniah 3:17

…”shine among them like stars in the sky  as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. “

Philippians 2:15-16

 

autumnrainIn a little over a week, Autumn will officially become Winter. The leaves are leaving…a few are still hanging on, but most seem to be ending up in places like my sidewalk and yard and deck.  December has come and even though yesterday I was wearing flip flops, now I feel like I should be wearing a parka.  Seasons change, sometimes so quickly.

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Yes, things can change so quickly. I learned tonight that a woman who we used to go to church with has passed.  She was 69. I didn’t know her well at all, but what I did know was that every single time that I saw her, she made a point to smile  a welcoming smile and make my family and I feel invited.  She loved well. That was obvious.  And I’m sure that those who knew her will have a void, an empty space in their lives as the reality of her passing takes hold.  Her love and inviting spirit just filled people up to the brim.  She has left a legacy behind that is so real, but her passing definitely does leave a void.

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Sometimes voids are noticed right away and we can directly attach them to a specific occurrence or event, rather than one that has gradually been built over time.   These voids are the ones that cause our stomachs to rumble, hearts to beat a little faster, voices to scream, and tears to fall. These are the voids that emerge so quickly that we feel as though or worlds have immediately changed. Death. Divorce. Financial Loss. The list goes on and on.  Like a violent wind that sends  leaves flying and branches crashing down, these voids come in like a storm.

But sometimes voids go unnoticed and grow over time. Sometimes voids, those gut-level voids, go unnoticed. Like a slow seep, they gradually become bigger and bigger until we turn around one day and wonder why we’re feeling such a huge sense of emptiness.  The gradual voids of little disappointments, loss, and struggles, add up and chip away at our core, leaving space.  They are kind of like the hollow spaces and gaps underneath the ground that become sink holes later on. Often the source of enormous sink holes that swallow up everything in their path go unnoticed under the surface for a long time, and no one even knows they are there. Sometimes voids are like that.

Either way, voids are voids.  They just are.  And here’s a thought.  Better to have a void, than to have a filler that temporarily fills the space, but ends up creating a bigger void in the long run.

As the Fall turns to winter, the spaces between the trees becomes more visible.

silentsunday2  The voids created by leaves fallen are easily seen.  We know that the leaves were  once there, and that they will come again. We can remember the beauty of the emerging lime shades of Spring, deep greens of Summer, and the multicolored hues of Autumn.  But in this season, they are but a memory, or visible only in the browns that crunch under our feet.

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That gradual process  of beautiful colors which began in the Fall comes to an end until the trees are bare,with naked branches in the cold of winter.journey

It would be a ridiculous thought for someone to try to somehow dress up the barren branches with leaves.  I mean, we know that Spring will come, right?  And with Spring, will come the little teeny, tiny lime green sprouts. grow.jpg

And we know with totally certainty that the naked, bare and grey trees of winter are just in the natural order of things, right?  They are just one season of many. So of course, we wouldn’t try to fill those gaps, those voids, those spaces and empty places with something that was just a mere filler, a counterfeit, artificial filler that wouldn’t last, would we?

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Of course not.

But then again, maybe, just maybe, that’s exactly what we do when we rush the order of things.  Maybe sometimes the voids in our lives are there for a reason….for a season. And if we try to cover them up or fill them in or pretend that somehow they are not supposed to be there and rush to fill the empty space, maybe we’re really missing out on the true beauty of the space between.  Maybe the space between can sometimes tell us a little something.  Maybe the ache, the longing can help us take some steps to change things up a bit in our lives.  Maybe voids kind of help us get us back to basics of what needs to be in that space in the first place.  They are an indicator of sorts.

Life is full, full, full of so much beauty.  But on the flip side, life is filled with so much loss. What we do to fill the aches, the voids in our lives during those times of life is like the rudder of the ship of our lives…it leads us. Forward?  In Circles?  Backward?  All of the above?  Yeah, our responses to voids leads us. Somewhere.the-ride-home

Jesus had 4o days in the desert.  Void of food. Void of interactions. Void of any benefits. It was  a time of prayer, resolve. He knew that His ministry was about to begin and that much would be required of Him.  Everything.  He was tempted at that time but would not give in to any counterfeit.  Satan tried.  Here’s bread.  Nope.  Here’s kingdoms. Nope.  Jesus was fully aware that anything filling up the empty space that was not of God would merely be a temporary fix that would only leave much greater voids later on. Jesus knew the value of letting God  use the void to draw Him in a closer relationship to Him.

So, no, we would never attempt to attach leaves to a barren tree. Never. That’s stupid. We know that Spring will come.  But how often in my life I’ve tried to put temporary fillers and fixes in that only make the void more apparent.   Voids that might just last for a season can become a way  of life, when filled with things that only create bigger vacuums. Diversions can all be a temporary fix to a need, but like the rudder on a ship, they lead me.  How often I’ve forgotten that sometimes things happen for a reason,…for a season.  Even if I don’t understand reasons why, I can know that things last for a time.

And another thought.  During those seasons of need, of void, …I’ve been learning in recent years, that a lot of things that happen just can’t or won’t be explained.  Oh people can try to say this and that and offer explanations, but sometimes questions of “Why?” just go unanswered. They just do.  And a whole lot of wasted time and energy can be wrapped up in trying to find an answer to the question why, when on this side of Heaven, a lot of answers just won’t be found or understood.  Lots of things are beyond our comprehension for sure, so like Elisabeth Elliot so often said, “In acceptance lies peace.”

Acceptance of seasons…that there are some things we can’t control, and acceptance of seasons…that some things just take time…is freeing. It’s saying that we don’t have to be it all. We don’t have to be the blooming tree in the season of winter because it’s a season. We can be right where we are and not have to look to the left or right feeling as though we gotta be in a different season. And we don’t have to put in fillers because we know the real deal is so much more valuable and fillers only create more voids.  And when there’s acceptance of where we are, maybe we have the eyes to see the beauty that IS, rather than the voids and what ISN’T.

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There’s beauty in every season when we have the eyes to see it.  Just a matter of accepting where we are and allowing God to fill the voids in His time.  Funny how needs can draw us to Him.  “His strength is made perfect in my weakness…”  Love that. Because it is.  And here’s an awesome visual.  Light.  Light that fills the spaces, gaps and voids.  FLOODS them, warms them, fills them.  I think that’s what the Lord wants to do in our lives. Fill us up to be poured out.  With light.  With Life.  With Love. With Truth. With Him. Maybe the ache, the season where there are voids and empty spaces are just merely opportunities to be filled to the brim with the power that only comes from Him.

I don’t know what ‘season’ you’re in. Maybe it’s Spring and things are full and awesome and beautiful. Or maybe  it’s summer and steady and fun and sweet.  Maybe it’s winter of Fall or a combination of all of it. But whatever the season, am hoping we can encourage each other with hope, accepting where we are, encouraging us to trust God with where He has us, and have faith to keep pressing on to know Him more no matter what lies behind, or what lies ahead.  Just a few thoughts as the season turns to Winter here and I choose to be thankful for what is…photo 4

…and trust that …Spring…Spring is coming.

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Blessings ~

Heather

P.S.  (You knew it was coming ,didn’t ya?So long winded…)  Just a little reminder that there are people walking through all sorts of seasons around us.  Maybe you have a ‘winter’ who needs a reminder that’s Spring is coming. Or maybe you’re in winter and need to give grace and vicariously enjoy the beauty experienced by the friend who’s in the midst of a ‘spring’.  Whatever the season, am thinking there’s grace that can connect us regardless and only add depth to the season we’re in as we remember past seasons, look forward to future seasons, and accept and make the most of the minute that we’re in… ❤

” So, let us know. Let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn. And He will come, He will come to us like the rain. Like the Spring Rain, watering the earth.”

Hosea 6:3

“Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage;

Yes, wait for the LORD.”Psalm 27:14

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“For behold, the winter is past. The flowers have already appeared in the land; The time has arrived for pruning the vines, And the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land.…”

Song of Solomon 2:11

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It’s been a week of winter grays. The January sky has been whitish gray, colorless and cold. The landscape has been faded, dull, and cold. That’s why it was such a breath of fresh air to see these beautiful winterberries the other day. They were bright red, vibrant, full of life! Red berries in a sea of gray.

Well, to be honest, I’m a little sensitive these days about that bland color. Gray. I’ve never really liked the color, but, I find that I have really disliked it recently. More like intensely disliked. Especially when I look in the mirror in the morning and see more and more of it! Yes, I’m thinking it just might be my year to go gray.

Or…not!

So I’m at a bit of a crossroads. Do I, who have never done anything but add “Sun-in” to my hair at my friend’s house when I was in 6th grade, color my hair? Hmmm. Or do I highlight it to disguise the gray a bit and buy myself a little time to make the decision? If you knew my schedule of visits to the salon, you might be quite amused. The time between visits would allow my gray roots to grow so long that I’d probably have a “wide-striped brunette skunk” kind of look. (Not quite the ‘look’ that I’d be going for!) Or do I concede to just going gray? That is the question.

Or…is it?

So here’s the thing. Maybe, when I’m honest with myself, the dilemma isn’t really about gray hair. Maybe it’s a bit more of realizing that things are changing, and those changes aren’t always things that I’d choose. Maybe the gray is a reminder, that in the seasons of life, winter is coming. And maybe, just maybe, that’s another reason why I smiled from ear to ear when I saw the winter berries.

Because winter isn’t only gray. It is bright blue skies against mountains covered in snow, vibrant red berries on bare branches, children snuggled in snowsuits, then snuggled in blankets with warm hot chocolate and pink cheeks. It is trees with bare branches that stand as beautiful silhouettes against the sky as the sun goes down. Winter is a light blue morning sky brushed with soft pink and periwinkle clouds. Winter is of endings, and of beginnings. It is a time when the growth going on on the inside may not be visible on the outside.

And so it is with our winters to come, my going gray (or not!) friends. I’d like to believe that I’m in the “Autumn” stage of life right now, and I don’t want to fight the inevitable. I want to embrace every season. But I refuse to go gray. Refuse. I’m not saying I’m going to color my hair. (This is about so much more than a few gray strands!) What I am saying is that I want to stay alive, vibrant, excited about each new day, not conceding to days that are more dull and gray. I want my attitude to say Spring even though my outward appearance may say “Winter is on it’s way!” I want to see the winter berries, not the sea of gray. Maybe that’s why, the more gray I see, the more I love the following verse:

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

I think that’s the bottom line for me as a believer in Christ. It’s all about perspective. So in the morning, I’m not going to fix my eyes on the gray. (Actually, yes I will!) But hopefully only ‘momentarily’… Hopefully, I can fix my eyes on the unseen truths of scripture that help me grow in wisdom and grace and hope and joy. The Word of God talks about the life in us is growing and being renewed, and that’s what our time with the Lord does. It renews us so that, we may be like Autumn or Winter on the outside, but growing like Spring on the inside. Spring. Vibrant, Full of Life. Women who have lived and learned and loved and now shine from the inside out with the grace that comes from knowing God in a way that they didn’t know in the early seasons of life.

He does the renewing. We just need to do the accepting, and then look for beauty in the ever changing landscape (or mirror!). And when we least expect it, we might just see (or better yet, be, like) beautiful red winterberries in a sea of gray.

Blessings,
Heather

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