I've been thinking again about seasons lately.
Partly because we're in one of my least favorite ones: late summer.
I love summer. And early on in it, I don't even really mind the heat. It's a welcome change. An excuse to spend more time at the beach or swimming in the pool, or to explore a new (air-conditioned) place to play. But then it starts to wear on. The family stops visiting and settles back in to their own routines, and then the school year starts back up. And those feelings of leisure and vacation are over, but the unbearable heat is not.
This is our locked-in winter time, since winter here is generally so pleasant.
I've also been thinking a lot about this season of life that I'm in.
There is a time for birth and another for death, A time to plant and another to reap, A time to kill and another to heal, A time to destroy and another to construct, A time to cry and another to laugh, A time to lament and another to cheer, A time to make love and another to abstain, A time to embrace and another to part, A time to search and another to count your losses, A time to hold on and another to let go, A time to rip out and another to mend, A time to shut up and another to speak, A time to love and a another to hate, A time to wage war and another to make peace. ( Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 Message)
I have such a hard time finding balance in my life. Deep down, I know it would be just as much a trial if I did not work, but being a working mother has muddied the complications.
I long for day to day friendship with other young mothers, and, in stops and starts, have sought them out, but in this season, with my schedule, I often find myself only lonelier and more exhausted than when I began.
And it was just Tuesday, that I had an epiphany: this just isn't the season for that.
This is a season of potty training, and teaching fine motor skills, and playing monster truck games, and cleaning marker off the walls.
A season of non-stop cleaning and organizing on my days off, and never really making head way.
It is a season of counseling mothers on how to feed their babies who can't form any suction because of cleft palates.
A season of respectfully wading through the mental wanderings of the elderly.
This is a season when moments of personal time with God have to be planned, and also stolen.
It's a season in which it's hard to make firm plans outside of work. Because JT's work schedule will probably change, or somebody will end up sick, or we'll finally have 30 minutes just to spend together, and we'll want to drop everything and be a family.
This a season when relationships outside of my family probably cannot be intricately planned, and will instead need to simply be experienced as they come.
And like Elijah, being fed by the ravens in his moment of despair and exhaustion, God reinforced this to me on Tuesday night. Making the 30 minute drive home from my parents' with the boys, we decided to stop off the park and the beach so that they could burn off some energy, and so that I could sniff that healing and renewing salt air that God has so graciously allowed as a constant in my life.
As we walked down to the beach, I was greeted by vigorous and excited waving by a woman I didn't recognize, who was there with her children. Come to find out, her son was on Aquaman's t-ball team. The boys spent the next half hour running up and down the beach together, and I got a few quiet moments to speak to another mom who is knee deep in trying to teach her active son to write his name, without his younger sibling kidnapping the markers and writing all over something irreplaceable.
It was just the sort of thing that is virtually impossible to plan when you are a working mother of young children.
And it doesn't sound like much, but it was the reassurance that I needed. And God knew that.
She told me where she lived and asked me to "pop in any time", and I don't know if our lives will ever cross paths again (unless maybe they end up in the same kindergarten class!), but what I realized is...that doesn't really matter.
Every moment and every interaction we are given. That is what matters.
Most of what we are doing right now in our lives is planting. Hoping we'll reap sometime in the future, but we have only to put that in the hands of God.
The most we can do now is trust His Spirit to teach our chidren, and everyone with whom we come in contact, in each seemingly innocuous moment. The most we can do now is not take any one moment for granted.
This is the time to kill the sin inside of me that threatens to pull me out of season through discontent and wandering. A time of healing for these feet which have been kicking so hard against the goads. Of destroying old modes of living, and finding new paths. Of seeing a new thing, God's things, instead of constructing imaginary castles in the air.
So many tears, and many more yet to come, but mostly this is a time of laughter.
A time of cheering each other on, and making a lot of love. It is a season of embracing as often as we can, and in the very smallest of baby steps teaching our children the way to leave, while holding them as close as we can today.
The boys have been back to watching Barney again lately. I love their innocence. I love that all the "cool" shows and movies are "scary" to Aquaman, because his sensitive nature cannot fathom the idea of animated cars not talking nicely to each other. But every time I hear a particular Barney song, I am unashamed to admit that I get tears in my eyes:
"When we lose something we love,
It can be hard to let it go.
But learning how to say goodbye
is another way we grow."
This is a time of learning how to say goodbye to a lot of the way that things have been. It's a time of growing. Together as a family, and individually as children of God.
A time of teaching independence to my current youngest: remembering to use the potty consistently, slowly learning to fall asleep on his own. And to my oldest: through the world-opening experience of learning to read and write.
It is an incredible season. New and exciting days for the boys to develop outside the shelter of parents and grandparents, but still lovingly sheltered by a member of our church family.
It's an in between preschool and kindergarten year of opportunity to "home school" Aquaman (between 2 part-time jobs). To grow and change in our relationship through the trials of that.
An opportunity to grow and develop in my career, and encounter more of my favorite kind of people. The helpless, the sick, the smallest of children, and the most confused of adults.
Perhaps the most vital thing is not actually what particular season we are in, because one is no better than the other. Perhaps it is simply recognizing and accepting the season that we are in.
Yes, the mosquitos are pretty bad here in Florida right now. The heat is stifling, especially when you're cheap like us and leave your thermostat at 80 degrees.
But the water is warm and inviting.
And the electricity of hurricane waves will be coming around soon.
It's not really the time of year for a long mid-day walk.
But it's the perfect time of year to stop off at the beach on the way home from a long day inside a freezing cold office building.
I was never one for paying attention to those: "no white shoes after labor day" fashion rules.
But I do have sense enough to know that fruits and vegetables in season not only cost a lot less, but taste a lot better too.
And so I am looking to live fully in the season that I am in today.
It's a lot less work to live in season.
And it's so much sweeter.