summer’s end

Before I could properly get my hands around it, summer was gone. Right from the start, it was flying away faster than ever, wildly dashing in a hundred directions, every day leaping from my grasp. And so I settled for making sure there was food and sunscreen and a smiling mama, and did my best to keep up.

And in the busyness, I realize how much life we lived. No, it wasn’t the life of other years, when days stretched long and kiddie pools kept everyone hemmed in and entertained, when young skinny boys didn’t notice mosquitos and forged their way into the woods for hours, when the house paused with the heat of every afternoon for a book and a nap. I had to look that twinge of sadness directly in the face and say Good bye, time for you to head up into the attic of my heart with so many other precious memories.

This summer, with the plates spinning, was the one God was serving up this year, and like my kids faced with the dinner I put on the table (which, generally, is perfectly good eating), I have to decide that I may as well learn to enjoy the flavor of the season because it’s “what’s for dinner,” so to speak. And turns out, the flavor of this new season is wonderful in its own way. It truly is.

Before hurdling along to a full school year, a quick recap:

Flowers at church and flowers at home.


Strawberries with my two big girls.

Visiting Richville many Sundays and getting to lead worship with my two boys on the team.

The first of two visits from my grandparents.

An anniversary get-away to Saratoga Springs.

Summer nights spent playing frisbee (the boys) and playing in the park (the girls and me.)

A wonderful 4th of July with friends.

Ice cream outings.

A trip to Watertown together.

Ten days at Higley Flow, full of swimming and boating and jet skiing and tubing.

Garden gift for a garden party.

A second lovely visit from my grandparents.

A couple of busy weeks culminating in a show and Jameson’s percussion debut.’

A Saturday overflowing with extended family visits.

Beatrice’s tenth birthday party — a wonderfully special evening with friends.

Fiona’s “friend party” and her long-desired Victoria Sandwich.

Two weeks in one of our favorite spots, Trout Lake — where we relaxed, swam every single day no matter the temp, read tons of books, kayaked, paddle boarded, s’mored, fished, celebrated Fiona’s real birthday, and enjoyed an almost non-stop flow of friends and family.

And suddenly, we were home and the page needed to be turned to September. Candles needed to join the morning ritual, books needed to be sorted and pencils sharpened, and we found ourselves diving into a brand new year of school. But that’s a post for another time.

Today’s is simply to look back on three months bursting with beauty, prayer, walking through highs and lows with friends, big events and thousands of moments — rich and wonderful and threaded through with flowers. Because aren’t flowers the best part of summer?

joy in repenting

Following Jesus is choosing a life of repentance. Truly, it is one and the same.

But what does that look like? Maybe you immediately assume that is an ongoing sense of pietistic self-abhorrence. Or, in plain language, walking through life feeling bad about yourself and mumbling, “I’m sorry; forgive me,” under your breath at every turn.

Oh, it’s so much deeper than that. And so much better.

It looks much more like this:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and lean not on your own understanding.;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,

and He shall direct your paths.”

The way our hearts are wired, and the way His Spirit leads — well, those are in direct opposition. And as we simply trust in Him, and acknowledge Him with each step, we are in so doing “repenting” and following. Repent, really, means to turn and walk the other way. The impulses of anxiety, pride, envy, selfishness, anger, jealousy, hatred, malice — those things are repented of, moment by moment, when we continually choose to acknowledge Him instead. A continual turning of our hearts toward Jesus means, of course, turning away from the impulses that seek to rule us.

“What is Your thought on this, Lord?”
“How does Your truth change the way my soul responds right now, Lord?”
“What are the words You are speaking that I can echo?”
“What is important to You in this moment of overwhelm?”

“…because I trust You, Lord.”

Suddenly a life of repentance sounds much less like self-flagellation and much more like turning your face toward the sun on a perfect summer day. It sounds like joy.

June, and making it count.

June is over. This one, anyway — the one where Jameson was 14, Percival a baby, and the others fell somewhere in between. We’ll never get to do that one again, and oh my, isn’t that sobering. You only get to live this day once, and what comes to your mind as you think that? Perhaps, like me, the first mantra is, “…so make it count.” But that can be so ambiguous and so misleading. Make it count for what? You? Me? Them? Warm fuzzies, checklists, Instagram? Run yourself ragged fitting in all the things?

Yesterday morning my wonderful mother, never flagging in her focus on the Kingdom of God, was commenting on just this thing — June being over — and her instant response was to the idea of only getting to live this day once was, “So let’s do it for Jesus!”

Y E S

Yes.

That is clarity, simplicity, and truth. That is a burden I can bear, a yoke I can in.

How can I honor Jesus today?

I read Galatians this morning: “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” If you were brought to life by redemption through the blood of Jesus, and His Spirit breathed into you, then walk every day by that Spirit, following hard after His leading. Don’t go back to futility! It’s His life we are called to, in every moment.

What an amazing invitation. Today. Let’s do it for Jesus.

*****

celebrating NEW

The sun keeps rising and setting, the earth spinning over and over again. Seasons repeat in their familiar pattern, life in its age-old way. You could certainly say, There is nothing new under the sun.

And yet, there is: the mercies of God, fresh, clean, enough, every morning. God is a God of faithfulness, unchanging and certain. And yet, He is a God of new — and one day He will make all things new, but for now, we delight in the glimpses of that “new”. We could miss it, dismiss it, be bored and tired and uncaring, or we can notice and delight and be refreshed.

New: the theme I couldn’t help but see in the recent weeks’ photos.


New bathroom, so close to done.


New shoes needed, and the sweetest note.


New opportunities for a new generation of worshippers.


New babies to love.


New accomplishments.


New discovery in our backyard of new birds.


New blooms.


New toys.


New braces!


New guitar.


New braids.


New bows made by friends.


New treasures for Mama.

“to love their children…”

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how much my heart bursts with love for this baby.

Or any of my babies.

Because isn’t that natural? Regardless of how “good with kids” any one of us may naturally be, don’t we love our own with a fierceness that is unparalleled? I’ll give any Mama Bear a run for her money ANY day in my love for my kids.

So, then, I have to wonder, why is “love their children” listed among the things that younger women are to learn from older, God-fearing women?

Is it possible that God is calling us to love our children in a deeper, more profound, more godly way than we ever could apart from His help and instruction?

Possible that our selfishness, humanism, and general environment of “you’re okay, I’m okay, we’re all okay,” leads us astray? Instead of pressing into greater grace and selfless giving, we decide that if our natural wellspring of maternal love is dry, then either we’re not really cut out for this kid thing after all, or at the very least we deserve a break to commiserate with our girlfriends.

And maybe, too, it’s possible that our love is needing to be refined, submitted, to Jesus? That as Augustine said, we have a case of disordered loves, or idolatry? A Mama Bear identity that leads into all sorts of trouble — the trouble of prioritizing them over Jesus. Taking up offenses, coming up with excuses for sin, moving ancient boundaries in an attempt to keep our kids inside the pasture… oh, it happens so easily.

Yes, my heart bursts with love for these children. The moment my first baby was laid in my arms, I exploded with feelings I didn’t know I could have, and it’s happened seven times over! But we are called to even more than just what may (or may not!) occur naturally. We are called to learn a holy, God-fearing love that ultimately surrenders our hearts, and our children, to the hands of an all-sufficient Father.

joy for a weary world

“A weary world rejoices.”

Doesn’t that sum up what you’re seeing this year? Strings of lights in mid-November, trees up a good week before usual, the population in general chomping at the bit to sing Jingle Bells and spread Christmas cheer — the feeling of “we need a little Christmas right this very minute” has never been so widely shared.

And maybe this is good for us. Maybe it is right to occasionally remember that the Light came into vast and utter darkness. Joy erupted from a place of total despair. A savior was born because we actually needed to be saved. Not helped. Saved.

“A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn”

We have strung lights, too, and our tree beckons spontaneous morning and evening family gatherings. Favorite songs play while the girls color yet another Christmas coloring page. The fragrance of butter and sugar and nutmeg and rum fills the air. We are celebrating, but the best part is that we’re not celebrating the lights or the tree or the music and cookies. Those are the tools we use, but the object of our joy is so much less fleeting and circumstantial.

We sense hope, but it’s not just because we think a new calendar will magically usher in a better year. Fast-tracked vaccinations aren’t filling my soul with peace. Actually, there’s not a whole lot of joy, hope, or peace to be grasped — until you stop fumbling in the dark for something that doesn’t exist and start looking toward the horizon for the glorious morn promised by a Morning Star so many hundreds of years ago.

A thrill of hope, my weary soul rejoices, and more than ever, it’s not just because the sounds of the King’s College choir are magical (though they are).

We are a weary world, and if the tree and lights and Hallmark movies aren’t doing it for you this time around, may I suggest a better hope, a more lasting peace? May I remind us that the angels came to announce a Savior, and He is near, ready to save.