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Archive for November, 2017

When I was a kid, I remember fondly how my mother always decorated our home beautifully for each season. We had fresh flowers and wreaths during spring and summer, fall brought pumpkins, gourds, and a lovely cornucopia arrangement on the kitchen table, and during winter she pulled out all the stops with Christmas decorations. I loved seeing our home transform to reflect the rhythms and movements of the calendar.

As I’ve grown older, I have often lamented that the stores seem to rush through the seasons. Valentine’s is put out as soon as the New Year’s day sales are over. Easter bunnies line the shelves sometimes before Lent has even begun. And Christmas trees are up in every major home goods store along with back to school supplies.

And then a few years ago, I noticed other people started getting into the same patterns as the retail chains. I’m still taking my kids swimming, and on the hunt for beach toys, and someone has a sign up for pumpkin spice everything. Then came the Facebook and Instagram posts of fully decorated Christmas trees the week after Halloween. It truly began to not only puzzle me, but kind of disturb me on many levels.

Well, my usual process when something is really taking up a lot of my thought time, is to start trying to analyze why I am so bothered. Why do I care if an acquaintance I rarely see wants to hang Christmas lights in October? Who is it hurting to watch Home Alone the first week of November? Really, Amy. Get over yourself.

But then I move in to phase 2 of my analytical process. I pray and discuss it with my husband and close friends, and try to see if there’s something for which I need to repent (and who am I kidding, there is always something). Once God gently shows me what lie I’ve been believing, and I figure out where repentance needs to happen, I can then starts to have some empathy for others and what the original issue is.

So, I’ve come through this little self-analysis about the seasonal fast track that America seems to be on, and what I’ve come to believe is that we are struggling with a spirit of discontentment and possibly some envy when we rush through the seasons which God has created, and especially the liturgical calendar that the Church has historically observed .

So this brings me back to my original point, and a question. If you are one who finds yourself wishing that this season would hurry up and be over already (and as a Texan, I of course give ample grace for wishing for a change in temperatures that actually reflect the calendar on the wall), maybe we should ask why. Why do I want summer to be over? Why do I feel the desire to play Christmas movies in September? Why can’t I sit and Be Still and enjoy the delights of this season? What is my motivation for wanting to rush time along even faster than it is going already?

I get it. I do. I love me some Bing Crosby singing White Christmas. I love Advent studies and snuggling with hot chocolate and a stack of books under a mantle covered in garland while lights from the tree twinkle. I love Fall decorations and cooler weather and Halloween costumes. And all of them! But to create a false environment in our home, and therefore, a fabricated atmosphere in which to raise my children, is instilling in them the same exact restlessness that I’ve struggled with in the past. Am I showing them to dismiss the present, to be dissatisfied with the now and to hang all of their hopes on the next, new, shiny thing?

As Christians, we are a forward-looking people. We long for the return of Jesus. We eagerly await the future that He has promised. As Lewis writes, our hearts were made to want more because we are not made for this world. But in this temporal space in which we live, we are also called to trust in the perfect timing of our Lord.

I feel that is where the true repentance needs to occur, in my heart, when I am struggling with the passage of time. I am not trusting my Lord. We sing ” take my moments and my days, let them flow with ceaseless praise.” But what I really mean is take the scrap of time that I give you, Jesus, to do my quiet time or bible study homework so that I can check that off my to-do list and move on about the important business of my day like errands and housework and teaching. Instead of soaking in the Truths that scripture has to teach me, I often turn it into an escape from my responsibilities, yes, those same ones in which I find so much value and worth, instead of sitting at the feet of my Savior and letting him teach and comfort and guide me. Mary chose the better part, and yet my heart is almost always bent towards Martha- towards doing and action and productivity.

Three years ago, Kevin and I were blessed to be led to an amazing little church plant in downtown Temple. It was, hands down, the most effective discipleship that we have ever received. One area we were extremely convicted of was not observing the Sabbath. Previously, we went to church, we took a nap in the afternoon, but we still caught up on chores or laundry or school work. Through the teaching from our pastor and his wife, we really learned the value of finding our rest in God, of trusting Him that the other 6 days of the week were enough to do our work. Oh friends, it is so much harder than I imagined.

After repenting and asking forgiveness (and still walking with that repentant heart years later) for breaking his commandment, for believing that we knew how to order our days and weeks better than God, we had to figure out what our new weeks would look like. We had to be very intentional about meals for Sunday so that I would not have to cook. We pitch in with chores so that the house is clean and laundry is all washed and put away on Saturdays. We found a catechism that we read through with the kids in the afternoons and we have plans to start celebrating communion on Sunday evenings at home now since our current church does not celebrate it each week. We definitely have lots of room left for improvement and I still struggle with slowing down and trusting God on Sundays as I worship him, but the most Beautiful thing happened to us as we started being obedient in this area: God has blessed our efforts. This isn’t some legalistic guilt trip or pat on the back. I’m just trying to share that God has been so faithful to extend our time throughout the week. He’s taught us to slow down and say no to the noise and chatter that can fill up our lives, so that we can soak up and say yes to the good plans that He has for us.

There was a time during my life that lasted for several years, when I only looked forward to the next season. I’m using that word metaphically here, but stick with me. Every thing in my life that was wrong would be better once a personal issue was resolved. Life would get better once my husband graduated from college. All the bad things would be behind us once we lived in a different house. You get the idea.

But here’s the problem with that train of thought: it is a false Eden. Rather than putting my hope and faith in the One who holds all of the seasons of my life, the One who appointed these difficulties and struggles for this time so that I can learn and be molded more in the image of His Son, I wanted to rush through it to the other side. But it turns out that there aren’t any short cuts for sanctification. There is only submission, obedience, amd ultimately, surrender. Then, when I have finally stopped fighting against the Good Father who knows what is best for me, He graciously opens a door into a new chapter for my life.

So where does that leave us? As Jen Wilkin says, motivations matter. I certainly don’t know what yours are, but if you find yourself feeling anxious and restless about the seasons of your life, be they metaphorical or actual, perhaps praying and asking God to show you why is a good place to start. Maybe you don’t struggle with believing the same lies that I do, but if you do, repenting of that and asking God to give you His peace and show you the perfection of His timing can help you to be able to rest and delight in the beauty of each season in each moment, making it far richer than you had ever known it could be.

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