Friday, September 27, 2013

The Seasons Change

I've got a cozy blanket wrapped around my shoulders and my beat up zebra print slippers have made their debut this year.  I left the windows open last night and this morning the house is 65 degrees.  The sounds of crickets, beetles, and locust are only a faint sound in the distance, no longer the loud boasting symphony of the past few months.  The dogs don't quite stay out as long in the morning.  Kenney hits his snooze button a little bit more these days. 

It's a fair assessment to say Summer is on it's way out and Fall is here.

Amazingly thought each new season for me is bittersweet. 

The garden, with it's messy rows and warm-sun kissed tomatoes, the beaches and pools and water toys, the local fair, sweet corn straight from our own garden this year, charcoal grills, staying up late- because it's not dark enough to go to bed, margaritas and mojitos, sweat dripping from the brows of my kids after running down the hill pulling their siblings in a wagon behind them. I could go on and on about summer, I love the summer.

The electric bill, the boys stinky clothes, no running the oven (cause there is no exhaust fan and this house gets HOT) the un-predictability of the garden, it seems there is always too little or way, way, way too much
(too many days this summer were spent with tables filling my kitchen with work to be done) fruit flies, I really could go on and on about summer, I dis-like the summer.

But Fall, seems to be just the same...
Crisp mornings, apple cider, pumpkin patches, a double tall pumpkin-spice latte, sweatshirts and sweaters, watching the kids create leaf piles, earlier bedtimes, roasts and baked casseroles, the glorious display of leaves changing colors, thanksgiving-oh wonderful brined turkey and all the fixin's-oh how I love thanksgiving! Campfires, no cutting the grass, I could go on and on about fall.   I love the fall.

The kids have school (and I am their teacher-praying for myself right now) leaf clean up, schedules and routines are enforced, lazy days seem over, the smell of campfire smoke the next day on the kids clothes, kitchen cooking is way more clean up than grilling, the days get darker, the garden is over, no more fresh watermelon, blueberries, cantaloupe, juicy peaches, fresh picked greens, sweet tomatoes with a dash of salt, oh the fruits of summer that fall doesn't have.... I could go on and on about fall, I do dis-like the fall.

That's Life. (insert awesome Frank Sinatra song here)

What an (insert the sarcasm) epiphany!  But that's the crazy part for me.  I know life changes, it changes every single day.  I know friends come and go, jobs change, houses change, kids grow up and life moves and creaks and groans and some changes are hard and some are easy some I fight and kick and scream and others I welcome. 

I'm standing on the edge of changes.  We have to put one of our dogs down on Monday, I've become a home-schooling mama with six kids, my last sibling is getting married this very weekend, my sister is having her first baby, and I am kicking and screaming and fighting these changes just the same as a monumental three-year old temper tantrum melt down!

Somewhere deep in the recesses of my sinful heart I'm thinking this isn't how I thought it would be.  I would get married, once the kids were back in school, I'd work part time, and things (including all friendships, family and pets) would stay the same... sure I knew life would "change".... but it would change according to what worked best for me.  Bad things that weren't working out, well, of course they could change, but the good stuff- no thanks, no change, they were supposed to stay the same.

I was going to be a "cool" mom (oh just typing that statement makes me roll my eyes and die a little at my pre-mama ignorance) I was going to stay up on fashion, get my nails done not too much, but just enough to make my husband think I was still young and vibrant, I'd run three times a week, early in the morning, and of course with my dogs.  I'd have a cool part time job.  Maybe work at the gym, or volunteer for a great non-profit.  I'd decorate the house (pinterest would be my best friend) Meals would be gourmet and chef quality, I'd bake treats and goodies for the kids.  I'd take the kids fun places and not make them only listen to oldies radio or Christian music.  What a joke- really- WHAT A JOKE!!!!  Stay up on fashion??? If my sisters old college sorority T-shirts count then maybe I'd be good, but until the cover of Vogue shows up with the model in a dress made from an old T-shirt, I am pretty sure that fashion is out.  Nails done???  Trying to plan a time that works to just squeeze that in for my sisters wedding is a nightmare, pretty sure - it ain't happening throughout the year.  Running with the dogs?  If chasing them down the trail or out of the pond to get the rabbit out of their mouth counts, then maybe I'm good...but otherwise....

So I am feeling a bit bitter and angry. I went to a shower on Sunday and saw some of the other ladies.  They had their nails done.  Some had part time jobs, one of them had a baby and even ran a 5K that morning!!  Discontentment sets in really easy at the edge of comparison.

My littlest sister- the one who had all the time in the world- still in college, no real job.  She could come and visit whenever, she could be the "cool" aunt.  I could go do things with her and live my younger free life vicariously though her.  Things were easier when she was single, aunt Mary (for me at least) No really hard topics to talk about, no kids, no job, no marriage.  No additional person to put into the equation of getting together.  I could call her say "hey Mary, what are you doing this weekend, and she could say nothing lets get together" but now she has to say "let me check with my hubby."  Even more complicated now though is this- we are both married- and we are going to "do" our marriages differently, I am sure, and we'll disagree on how to handle things and say things and do things, and we'll each think our way is the right way, before I was married and she wasn't- of course things were different, and it was okay, cause they were!

So I am feeling anxiety and sadness.  I do not know how things are going to work out.  I do not know if we'll ever see eye to eye again.  I do no know if we'll share the same friendship anymore. Fear of the unknown- it's crippling.

My sister is having a baby.  Last summer we got together almost every week, Kenney and I and she and her husband.  We would try the new beer at Three Floyds on a Friday night after the kids were in bed and sit on our deck and chat.  The warm summer air, the frothy beer, the wildlife at night, We'd laugh and talk about funny you-tube videos, we'd talk about real stuff, marriage, money, dying to ourselves, the sermon last Sunday.  We had real and meaningful fellowship, the kind the bible talks about, the kind of friendship, where anything can be put on the table, and where we share it and work through it together.  We laugh and cry and commune together.  She is one of the few people I can leave all my kids with.  She helps me cook and make dinners, she helps with the kids, she can run errands for me, mostly- she has the ability to work around our schedule.  Those late summer nights, and babysitting, and errand running, and help with the kids worked because it was just her and her husband, no crying baby with an early bedtime, no tired mamma up every two hours to nurse a baby.

So I am feeling lonely. Feeling maybe a little bit less loved.  Feeling like things are going to be just a bit harder. (I did this summer's canning season without her- the smell of salsa made her want to puke- I missed her, and her help.) I know babies change things. I know things will be different.  I liked the way it was, and I don't want that to go away.  It worked, the pattern was good, the relationship was fine just the way it was!

From all these thoughts, just putting them on paper, getting them out in the open, exposing them- it makes me breath a little easier this morning.  Mostly though, there are three things I need to learn/remember.

1.  Feelings are normal.  I believe it's been said that the Psalms alone have at least 23 different emotions described in the verses.  We were created to have emotions and feelings.  Pain, Anger, Peace, Grief, Broken-heartedness and Delight- all real emotions, felt by real people. Pretending the emotions don't exist isn't helpful... something alone the lines of honesty is the best policy...

2.  The first thing that I think of, and I think most would think of after reading my words, after seeing my emotions spilled on a page- don't be selfish.  Count your blessings.  Change isn't always bad.  As it seems my life verse- Philippians 2:3 "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind, let each esteem others better than himself."  Clearly, if I applied this verse my thinking would/should change.  Really, if my kids acted like I was acting, I'd probably lecture them, so I've been lecturing myself. 

Laura, you have so much.  School will be okay.  You have all you need in Jesus.  He will equip you.  You have friends that homeschool.  You know others who homeschool.  You are working yourself up into a panic.  Get yourself a simple schedule and good routine, and things will be okay.  Start small- baby steps- look at the progress you've made!  Tommy is reading wonderfully and the others are picking up on it too!  As far as your littlest sister Laura, you are being selfish.  You love your husband right?  Wouldn't you want your sister to enjoy the same blessings of being married as you?  Life isn't about you.  She'll get married and things may be different but you'll enjoy new experiences together and share in new blessings.  Your other sister Laura, seriously Laura???  You really are that selfish??  You really think her goal in life is to serve you?  You're really upset because she won't be around as much to cater to you??  Pathetic!! You should be ashamed of yourself!  You are going to have a new niece or nephew!!!  Think of how awesome that will be.  You and your sister can share and talk about mommy-hood together.  You'll have a new joy, and a new dynamic to your relationship that you should cherish!

Number one and number two seem to be the places I've been bouncing around for almost six weeks now.  I'm not moving past it.  The lecturing isn't seeming to "do" anything.  My schedule and routine isn't accomplishing anything, the feelings aren't going away, and I still feel crappy!  I just end up feeling ashamed of myself and my feelings and thoughts, and I make a goal for myself, for the next day, to wake up, do my devotions, try harder, think better thoughts, write more things down in my thankful journal.... but I just seem to be getting more upset. 

3.  Number one and number two are both true.  My lecture to myself is true.  Sometimes I need that.  Sometimes I need the "law."  I need to be brought to my knees, I need to be reminded of my sin, my sinful thoughts, my selfish nature, but, the law was never intended to change me.  That's the job of the gospel.

Only the Spirit of God, Christ himself can change me, my thoughts, my sinful heart.  So I spend some time focusing on some of Christ's attributes. 

His unfailing love.  Psalm 52:8 "I trust in God's unfailing love forever and ever." 
He's always there. Romans 8:39 "Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." 
He's the same, and doesn't change. Hebrews 13:8 "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday; today; and tomorrow." 

These are all verses I've heard a million times, but have I meditated on them?  Thought about what they really means? 
Jesus isn't going to one day find someone HE loves more than me. 
He isn't going to spend less time with me. 
He isn't going to be unavailable because I'm not a priority in HIS life anymore. 
He's not going to be busy. 
He's not going to be too tired. 
He isn't going to be too far away to visit. 
He doesn't have to go home early even thought I want Him to stay because He has other things to do.  Anytime I need something from him, boom- HE'S there- help with school, help with the kids, help with my messy house, help running errands- HE'S there for every single thing I need. 
If I call Him, I won't get a busy signal or his voice mail. 
He'll return my emails immediately. 
If I need a shoulder to cry on, He will always be there. 

And that's what I needed.  It's a good thing that life changes, because it makes Christ's un-changing love that much more awesome.  Sweet is sweeter when you've tasted sour first.  It's okay that things in this world change.  Christ hold's me in the palm of His hand and I can't be plucked from it.  What a glorious feeling.  I was looking for love in the wrong places.  Just like the joy and pain in the changing of the seasons -my life and my relationships will change, maybe for the better, maybe some not.... but it's okay because the friendship I need, the time, the stability, the always available, always on time, never tired friend has me as His own daughter and that will never ever ever change.  It's HIS love, HIS grace that changes me.  It gives me joy and peace.  No goals or lectures, no amount of trying harder is going to give me what I need. 

I need daily to be dazzled, enamored, enthralled, and reminded of Christ's unfailing love.  That's what I need.   Because I need a little soul in my life- Arethra perfectly reminded me today of that:

        What a Friend we have in Jesus,
        all our sins and griefs to bear!
        What a privilege to carry
        everything to God in prayer!
        O what peace we often forfeit,
        O what needless pain we bear,

        All because we do not carry
        everything to God in prayer.

       Have we trials and temptations?
       Is there trouble anywhere?
      We should never be discouraged;
      take it to the Lord in prayer.
      Can we find a friend so faithful
      who will all our sorrows share?

So I can watch my sister walk down the aisle on Saturday and smile and be happy, because I have everything I need in Christ already.
So I can wake up on Monday morning and do school with the kids and smile and be okay, because I have everything I need in Christ already.
So I can watch the birth of my sisters first baby, and I can watch the dynamic of her family and our relationship change, and be at peace, because I have everything I need in Christ already.
Oh What a friend I have in Jesus!