Last week, while my youngest son and I were walking the dogs, I noticed it happening again; the leaves were changing color! I absolutely, hands down, love the fall. The air is crisp, the trees are colorful, and football season is in full swing and they all make me feel vibrant and young again. When the bright sun burns through the cool air of the fall, good memories wash over me of school starting as a young girl and the new friends it would bring, marching in parades as a teen, and going to my grandparents for a Thanksgiving meal. The season of summer has been spent and I am fully ready for a change.
During our walk, after seeing these leaves at eye level, I wanted to get home to grab my camera so I could capture the change that was taking place. The leaves were still green from the glory days of the sun kissed summer, but the cold nights and dewy mornings were beckoning the beauty of the change to come forth.
As I walked a few blocks to our house I started to think of change. Feeling like the last few years of my life has been a season of change, I really had a lot to ponder. Really, all of life is steeped in change, just like when you steep a bag of tea in a hot cup of water you get change; hot water turns into aromatic tea.
God’s wonderful creation testifies to his plan for change. Plants start as seeds and when buried in the earth change from seedlings to plants, flowers, and even glorious trees (I have always been a big fan of trees). Babies, animals and humans, change into adults. We have the rotation of the earth that causes day to turn into night, and then we have rotation of the earth’s orbit that cause our seasons to change.
So if God planned change to happen and it is a good thing, why oh why am I so sullen and grumpy when it happens in my life? For some reason I want the good things, like the good old days to remain the same. My heart longs for the days when I was 10 years old and I would smell my grandma’s perm. I know that sounds strange. The chemical reaction changing my grandma’s hair from straight to curly, and the smell of her house changing from normal to awful stinky somehow warms my heart, a time of family and togetherness. But as time and age would have it, she is no longer alive and I can’t have one of those days back.
When my boys were little I felt so tired and busy with their care. I loved them with every fiber in my being, but would often long for the a few hours of freedom like I had when I was only a wife and not a mother. In two months my first baby with reach his 20th birthday and this is very hard to believe that time raced by and delivered me here. I sat next to him in church about a week and a half ago. He sat on the end of the isle and was trying to get a little baby’s attention by making faces at him. I looked at that little baby, he was about two months old, and his mother had him over her shoulder looking back our way. Seeing this little one’s face brought back a flood of memories and emotions. The young man sitting next to me, larger than me, taller than me, used to look just like this little babe. I had to look away and fight back the tears. I so wanted to go back in time and hold his little body again. But things have changed, and I am 20 years older, and I can never hold him in my arms like that again. Now he could probably pick me up and hold me, talk about a change!
Sometimes I don't want life to change. Sometimes I really want a change. It's a good thing and a bad thing, this changing business.
Plans. Dreams. Vision. I had each of these a few years back. I had an idea of where I was going and who I wanted to be by this point in time. But circumstances changed and God called me to trust him with what he had for me. What He had planned was change. God changed my life in an unexpected way. If life were football, I would say he benched me and took me out of the game. I wanted to be out there playing the game of life, catching the ball, throwing the ball, and in the huddle with my team mates. God sent me home to take care of my youngest son, who has been struggling with childhood complicated migraines. Although I am extremely grateful that I can stay home with him and do school and care for him when he is ill, this was not part of my plan. My plan was more about me, His plan was more about changing me.
I was also benched this past summer due to an injury in my hips and leg. I lived with a lot of pain, and a lot of Advil ran through my body. I could hardly sit and therefore couldn’t do many things that I wanted to, like write and sew. I went to physical therapy and was told to rest throughout the day and ice my low back. I had to reluctantly slow down in so many ways, I wasn't happy about any of it.
In this time of being benched I have watched others get to be in the game of life, going places and doing things. We value that as people, the going and doing. But there is also great value in rest, quiet, and taking care of others and ourselves. These are not the celebrated things of life, but they are essential for living.
I had been in a funk, feeling that I wanted something that I couldn’t have, really a different life. I just wanted to be in the game of life! Then I realized that I was in the game of life, but it was just different than the one others were playing. God was working differently with me. Not because I was special, but because he just does that with everyone, works differently with each of us.
Just today I was talking to my 16-year-old son about a friend of his and how his mom shared that they were really enjoying the family time they had after he played in the weekly varsity football games. These games are on Friday night and the family gets to share down time at the end of a busy week of all going in different directions. His friend's playing on varsity brought on valuable time for his family, My son really wanted to play varsity this year, but he is mostly playing JV. He has really struggled with this, and struggled with his friend getting to be where he really wanted to be too. Then after I shared how his friend was right where he needed to be, and that he, my son, was right where he needed to be. He got that and it speaks to me to.
The world changes constantly. Your world can change for the better, or as I have become so aware of this week, it can change instantly for the worse because of tragedy. The thing is you can’t really control it. Decisions are made by others and they affect us all, good and bad. Some of the time we are allowed joy and we celebrate life. Other times we are hit with grief so hard we can’t even breath. All of it, from one end of the spectrum to the other and everything in between is life. And all of it needs the support, love, and care of the people around you. This truth has become clearly evident in my life the last few months.
Whoever you are reading this, you matter, you are the one needed by your family and friends to be the support, love, and care. I was pretty down this summer and I needed desperately support, love, and care. Just having someone ask how my son with migraines was doing, or acknowledging the pain I was in was much needed. Let me just encourage you to reach out in some way when the people you know are celebrating (like a birth, wedding, birthday, graduation, new job, ect.) and also when the people you know are suffering. A text is nice and a facebook “How are you” is nice, but a card and phone call is so much more personal. Giving food, taking care of someone’s kids, running to the store for someone, checking in on them, or simply going over to their house to keep them company for awhile are all lovely ways to show support, love, and care. Whatever your style and whatever is in your comfort zone, just do it, believe me it will matter.
This summer has changed me. I have realized that life sometimes shuts down. At times you don’t get to play on the team you want to play on. There are seasons of pain. The fun and celebration that happens, that part of life that we perceive as real living, isn’t the only place where real living is happening. Real living is happening in the down times too. Both are needed. Both can be celebrated. It is in the hard times where growth takes place, like a seed grows in the cold pitch black dirt. Even a seed needs water, mineral rich soil, and warm sunlight for it to survive and grow. That is where you come in, you are needed to bring vitality to that friend who is in a low place, to help them survive and grow.
We all love to give a like on Facebook when someone looks nice, accomplished much, or looks like they are having fun, but that is only part of life. Real life is also in the suffering, were there is need of refreshing like a cold cup of water. You are that cup of water, and what you have to give can refresh a soul. Live both sides of life!
So life is like a football team, sometimes you win and are on top of the world, and sometimes you lose and defeat takes you down in the dumps. That team, win or lose, always needs people in the stands, people who love the players, cheering them on and giving the late night pep talks on the ride home. Playing on the winning team is great, but please play on the losing team as well; be the one who brings life back into the one who fumbled the ball, or be the one who helps another up when they were tackled, or even be the one who is the waterboy.
Rejoice with those who rejoice;
mourn with those who mourn.
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you,
for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
I'm first a follower of Jesus, a wife of 25 years, a mom to three boys, a baker/cook, a photographer, a friend, and a writer.