Winter Does End

Spring has officially arrived. After months of blah winter, we are entering SPRING! We love to talk about the seasons. Usually, lamenting the current and looking forward to the future. And it’s the same with the various stages of life. We can’t wait to get to the “next” point and too often we miss the best parts of where we are.

Spring. The word itself makes me think of bouncing. Spring is excitement, joy and everything new. The trees are putting on new green growth. The flowers are starting to bloom. The clothes are lighter and just feel more FUN. We do spring cleaning and move into this new season with a bounce in our step. In life, the spring season may be a new love, a new job, a new family member. Everything is new and exciting and still to be explored. And, we just can’t wait for summer to arrive.

Summer. Sun. Vacation. Play. Rest. Summer is FREEDOM. Time to enjoy life and take a break from the hum-drum of the normal routine. It’s a time to look at the beauty that spring provided even as the leaves turn from bright green to a darker more somber shade. School is out and camps are in full swing. Vacations are full speed ahead and we wear ourselves out relaxing. And, summer brings heat. And, we complain. We don’t like the heat. We don’t want to be hot. We just want to have fun. We want to go back to the joy and newness of spring. And we forget to enjoy the summer moments. We look forward to fall.

Fall. Crisp autumn air brings a welcome coolness after the heat of summer. The trees begin to lose their green and turn to yellow, orange and red and finally brown. The pink and red hibiscus of summer are replaced with the yellow and purple of the fall pansies. We pull out the heavier clothing and prepare to bundle up. I think fall is my favorite season. It’s a time to celebrate what we’ve accomplished. Many activities in the fall are preparation for endings, but we celebrate those endings with bright colors and lots of fanfare. Fall is the time of looking back and reflecting and remembering as we enter the winter season.

Winter. Words to describe winter are cold, dead, bleak, gray. Winter is a time of death, a time of struggling to protect what was. We look for protection. We wear heavy coats and keep doors and windows shut. We hurry from place to place to avoid winter. In many ways, we just exist while we are looking forward to the spring. Just as ice and snow can sometimes cover the landscape, I can feel encased and frozen in my personal season. It’s during winter that we prepare for growth. Winter is vital. I have a rosebush in my front yard that I grew from a cutting from a bush at my parents house. The first three or four years that I had this little rosebush I protected it from winter. I covered it in when it was too cold to keep it warm and protect it from freezing. I had no roses. One year I didn’t cover it and let it freeze. It was full of the most beautiful roses in the spring. That rosebush has to freeze to produce roses. It’s important to go thru a full winter cycle in order to bloom. In our lives we have to go through winter. We have to “just exist” for a time in order to fully bloom when spring returns.

Every season in life is important. We need the newness of spring, the full heat of summer, the changes of fall and the barrenness of winter. And, we must learn to live and I mean REALLY live in each season. If we are always looking for the “new and exciting” in life, how can we find the joy that is available to us in the comfort of the ever-changing but familiar parts of life. Instead of dreading the heat that comes with maturing and facing life, maybe it would be better to embrace the challenges as opportunities to grow. I’m not a fan of change, but there is no way to avoid the changes that will come into my life. I have to be able to celebrate the past and move forward. And, during those times that I feel frozen, unnecessary or maybe a little dead inside, I need to embrace the time to be dormant and to rebuild. I don’t just exist in a shell as a faint memory of what once was. The harder the winter, the more beautiful the blooms that will come in the spring.

Interruptions

Don’t you hate getting interrupted? Just when the plot thickens on your favorite show, the phone rings or one of the kids needs you NOW. Does it drive you crazy? It does me! I’m a confessed control freak, so interruptions are NOT something that I look upon with kindness.

My Ladies Bible Study group has just started “Jonah, A Life Interrupted” by Priscilla Shirer. From the onset of this study, we’ve been asked to look at our own interrupted lives. And we’ve all had interruptions. Maybe it was not being noticed by ‘THAT BOY’ that brought your dreams crashing down. Maybe you didn’t get into the college you had dreamed about for years. Or maybe, you did get into that college and it wasn’t what you expected. Maybe your marriage doesn’t look like you dreamed and you are frustrated and upset with the lack of communication. You just want to be “HAPPY”. Maybe your marriage is over and you never expected to live life as a single parent. Maybe death has ended dreams for yourself, your marriage or your family. Maybe you just realized that your close friend is embarrassed to be seen with you in public. All of these things are interruptions. Of course, there are the GOOD interruptions, too. Do you have any of those? The “surprise” baby that has increased your family, a new and budding friendship, a new and challenging job. Even happy events can interrupt our life, our plans. Usually, interruptions or changes to our lives are unwelcome.

Job was a man who had his life interrupted. And yet, these are the words recorded in Job 1:20-21 after he has lost everything:
At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; May the name of the Lord be praised.”

When my life is interrupted I need to stop asking God “Why?” Possibly, I would be better served to ask “Who?” Life’s interruptions may cause pain and sorrow and bring grief and tears. Things I would rather avoid. We’ve all heard it said “No pain, no gain.” So, why do I expect God to give me an easy path and increase my faith and strengthen my spiritual life. I will only grow and get stronger as I work thru the interruptions. I guess I need to change my view and instead of seeing interruptions to MY plans, I need to see opportunities for God to work in my life. I’m not there yet. I still have dreams that are dangling by a thread, plans that may never be fulfilled and lots of tears to shed. But, I’m learning to praise the name of the Lord thru the interruptions. And, I’m learning that I’m to really praise HIM, not just a perfunctory praise whispered under my breath. I need to praise Him with all my strength, to shout that praise from the top of my lungs regardless of what has brought me to my knees.

Celebration

We celebrated this weekend. The focus of the celebration was the Twenty-Fifth anniversary of my pastor and his wife at Westland. But, I celebrated a lot more than that.

I celebrated the children that have grown into wonderful young adults through the years at Westland. Some of them are now raising their own families. I love watching the generations grow.

I celebrated friends. Friends that knew both Terry and I as well as new friends that only know me. I spent time with some very special friends and was reminded how wonderful it is to have them in my life. And, I was a bit ashamed that I don’t spend more time with them “just because.”

I celebrated memories. Memories of the last 17 years at Westland and the people who have passed through the doors. Some as quick blips in my life, others that have made a big impact and then moved on their way.

I celebrated the God Strings that pulled us all together, weaving our lives into a tapestry that is as unique as it is wonderful. The tears, the laughter, the coming and the going are all elements that have shaped my life. I pray that the rest of my life is as full and rich with the treasure of friends and family as it is today.