Fall Leaves…God Lesson Up Ahead

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the season of fall.  You see, here in Michigan it’s my favorite season.  Baking, cooler weather, sweatshirts, jeans, crunchy leaves, bonfires, and kids back to school.  Except the year is 2020, so some of these things are a bit different.  I find myself turning to my faith to see if I can reconcile the thoughts and feelings swirling around.  The leaves are beginning to change, as they do each year. This year,  I noticed something significant. Actually, my husband said driving one day, “How come some leaves change so quickly, and others take a bit longer?”  At the time I didn’t think much. In fact, I gave him the science answer about photosynthesis I’d learned in one of the many classes I had taken.  Not until days later on a walk did I really look at the trees.  Some had brown leaves, some still had green, some were half changed, some were yellow, some were red…each tree has its own unique characteristics.  I kept thinking about how God creates each of us, uniquely and wonderfully in our mothers’ wombs.  And each leaf is made by Him in the same way-individually.  How awesome is our God that He made you and I and every single leaf on this planet?  Those thoughts alone are mind-boggling and humongous.

Then as only God can, He took me down the path of how we are each transformed.  You see, not long ago I wasn’t sure I believed in this big God – this God that created each of us and everything.   He has a plan for us and He knows when we will come back to Him.  So it’s much like the trees.  Some change a lot, very quickly, some change slowly, some wither and drop their leaves, some stay green for as long as possible.  Some become so vibrant they are hard to look at, almost too beautiful.  Some quietly do their thing, never drawing attention to themselves.  Isn’t this so true of people?  Some of us know God our whole lives, never question Him, some of us take the long way around, some of us will never know His love, some of us dance to our own beat drawing all attention our way, some of us patiently keep learning little by little and finally get it.  And through all of this God remains the same, unwavering in His love and steadfastness.  He allows each tree to do its thing, and in the spring most of them earn new leaves, over and over, year after year.  So if He can do that for a tree…imagine how patient He is with you and me. 

And all the trees will know that it is I, the Lord, who cuts the tall tree down and makes the short tree grow tall. It is I who makes the green tree wither and gives the dead tree new life. I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do what I said!

Ezekiel 17:24 NLT

I’ve wondered many times why God gives me the same hard stuff over and over.  You know the feeling.  You’ve made the same mistake again or walked into a similar situation as your past.  Why?  Why because there is more, more to learn.  The tree gets leaves again every year – she tries again.  She might change differently this year.  Maybe this year she loses her leaves quickly, or maybe she changes color slowly, maybe the wind takes everything away so fast she’s left shaking.  It is so similar to us.  Some lessons bear repeating, some lessons take us a little deeper each time, some lessons get a new spin.  For me, it’s in my work positions that I have had tough lessons over and over.  Hurt happens and I wonder “Why this again?”   This time, as I’ve grown to understand I am a child of God, I am seeing how each time before brought me closer to where/who I am now. I have walked through years with a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder diagnosis after a workplace investigation and even more recently hurts that opened old wounds. In the beginning, I did not know God, we didn’t have a relationship, yet He pursued my heart for years.  Finally showing me that I am His daughter (tales for another day).  He takes us through the changes, just like the trees.  He knows how the season will go for you and for me, and He knows how it looks in the spring.  We’ll be a little taller, have more branches, deeper roots, stronger limbs, a bigger heart, and our leaves will change when He moves us into the next season.  Prepare your heart it may happen over and over. 

I need your input-Please!

It’s been a long while since I posted anything or even had a chance to write. As for many of us, the last 6 months have been strange and my family is returning to a more structured schedule, I finally have the chance to share and write more. I’m curious though-what do you want to read about from me? Help me, help you by taking this short poll. Can’t wait to see where we go next.

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When this is over…

I’ve spent some serious time thinking this past week or so! That’s a lie…I’ve spent a lot of time wandering around my house, picking up, being a tech director, semi-effective teacher, Mom, wife, part-time ministry employee, Jesus follower, laundry doer, and dishwasher, and let us not forget the Peacekeeper! So in all those things, I’ve had a few random thoughts that have begun to string together. And as they’ve come together, I’ve discovered there are some things I really want to keep from this entire experience. As talk of re-opening the country has begun, I had this sinking feeling one day, “no, no…wait there is so much more I wanted to accomplish during this slower paced time”. There are closets to clean, blinds to wash, floors to scrub, windows to wash, a basement to purge, the list goes on and on, right? But that’s not the list that broke my heart, the one that I panicked over was this:

  • My kids laughter
  • Seeing the kids use their imaginations
  • Long walks as a family
  • Dinner seated around the table together
  • Prayer time as a family
  • Time to study my Bible
  • School time starts at 9 am
  • Quiet cups of coffee
  • More home cooked meals
  • Evenings spent as a family
  • Learning more about each of my children
  • Appreciating how hard my husband works

You see these things, I don’t want them to end, or go away or be lost the minute the country is “open”. The task list is just that tasks to complete over time, or never, they aren’t the things life is made up of, they are the expectations we put on ourselves when we compare to one another. I, for one, am going to fight for more. Not in a competitive, tit for tat kind of way, just for my family, what we need, what makes us tick and protect the important to us items on this list. I read the other day, “it’s hard to go back to normal when normal disappeared”, Carey Neiuwhof, this couldn’t be more true. I am not in anyway negating the horror and hardships many of us are facing, I’m proposing for us to be bold, courageous, and strong as communities and create the world we have been craving for a long time. It’s time to bring back genuine connections.

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works–Hebrews 10:24

My daughter, 8 years old on a hike in the state park-March 2020

How will you EMERGE…

Hi friends! As I’d love to help us connect in this time of uncertainty and unrest, I’ve put together a few questions to help you gather those roaming all over the place thoughts.

I mentioned before that this idea has been in my heart for a long time, I’ve wanted to help people connect and find strength in and from their connections. Now is an incredible opportunity to help one another through times of doubt and questioning.

No long post or words from me this time. I’m right there with you all trying to process this and learn from it. Take a look at the questions, comment back or even send me an email-rconnectionsgrowus@gmail.com

Have you had that day yet?

So have you had that day yet? The day it gets really real? The day your husband says-sounds like I get paid until April 6th? The day you want to cry and pray and you need to hold it together because you have kids with you constantly? The day you can see the writing on the wall that you work at a church and you know, that the bottom is or will be falling out of giving? The day you were holding all the beach balls of all the emotions, thoughts, questions and all the things under the water and the pressure is building?

Yes, as a matter of fact I am in the midst of it right this very moment.

There is a large, grey, wrinkly stubborn elephant that has planted himself squarely on the center of my chest. The ring master is coming for him with the whip and chair–and the elephant turns its rump the other way. My logic tells me to try deep breaths, slowly fill my lungs, exhale mouth open, visualize a happy place/moment, take a walk, talk about it, call someone, I check my pill bottle thinking maybe I missed a week of Zoloft–nope, nope that’s not it. Logic is not helping-she seems to be on vacation-the elephant is now laughing at me and squeezing the air out of my lungs. I move to other techniques I’ve used in the past, years of counselors have surely prepared me with an armory. I colored, I texted friends, I cried a little, I baked something, the aresenal is running low.

Next up, scripture-read the ones hanging in my kitchen cupboards. Isaiah 41:10, Proverbs 3:5-8, do not be afraid, its all there–oh wait worship music-yup did some of that too. Prayed over books in my library (aka the corner of my bedroom)–felt led to look at a study I’ve had tucked away. First 2 verses it directs me to–Proverbs 15:30, Proverbs 25:25 are about good news. Really, really–not the day, the week, the current state of affairs I’m living–not much good news is happening.

Needless to say–all of these things happened today or yesterday. They’ve blurred together. All the feelings are happening at once. I’m grateful to have watched my kids be together, play and learn. I’m grateful for the slower mornings, the extra cup of coffee in my comfy pants, the hugs during the day, seeing my husband, I’m grateful I can read scripture, have a roof over my head, have food in the house. I’m grateful for the gorgeous sunrises I’ve noticed this week, I’m happy to leave the dirty dishes until tomorrow (ok, honestly that’s hard the sinkful-and I spilled my red wine down the wall into the carpet). Gratefulness is here, alive and well. I’m grateful for the family drives and walks and my drive yesterday listening and singing out to my God, King of Kings and Waymaker!

Friends-I just want you to know I’ve been all these things in the last 24-36 hours. ALL of them. People are saying “we’re in this together”, yes, yes we are, but I need you to know that I see YOU. YOU with your own unique circumstances, your own history, your own worries from last week that aren’t magically gone, they are magically multiplied. I see YOU trying to do our regular stuff, pay bills, laundry, make dinner, stay fit, drink water, clothes, feed kids, pick-up, take care of everyone.

I know you are there. I don’t have or claim to have answers. I can’t even make them up anymore to my 5 year old who wants to know everything about that coronavirus-when I asked what he wanted to do for science tomorrow. There are no answers only unknowns. And as a person who likes black and white, an extrovert, a person who wants to understand her world-this world is not at all what I was praying for in March of 2020.

I’ve had a calling for quite sometime from God on my heart. Help real people (usually women) connect to share real life. Connect them in small groups. Resource them to walk in their own gifts and callings. I have not known what to do with this. He has tweaked and refined, this plan for years. I don’t know what it looks like, what this all means that is flowing out of me today. These words are a blur to me-but I know someone needs them. So today I write to you out of obedience and a burning desire to leave this world better than I found it. God–I am yours, use me, use these words to reach the right eyes and ears. Let me be there to talk to them, to share my experiences, fear and dreams with others. We are in this together and we are each unique and we will experience this differently. We will leave our kids with their own versions of what has happened. We will be different in the next few weeks. We will crave this slower pace (I have thoughts about the “slowness” of this too). We will desire the small, closeness. Our world will be different and I am here to support the good different that will be coming. It is part of His plan for us and me-specifically–I’ve felt it. And heard it. Let’s embrace this unknown and connect through it.

Romans 8:28-30

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he them his glory.

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