Fall is my absolute favorite time of the year. I love the cool, crisp mornings with the bright blue skies, no longer tainted by the humidity that permeates the air all summer long. I love the deep colors of the changing leaves and the Saturday football games (especially since I’m an Alabama fan and we are known for winning :). I love driving through Starbucks and getting a Pumpkin Spice Latte and heading out for a walk with a light sweater on and a comfy pair of jeans. And of course there is Halloween, which I know is controversial for many, but for me it just means lots of laughter, carving pumpkins with the family, eating chili, and handing out candy to the princesses and Power Rangers that show up at the door.
I love Fall.
I knew last year would be my last year to fully enjoy the benefits of fall, at least for a while. And enjoy them I did! I savored every sip of each Pumpkin Spice Latte so much so that I can almost—almost—still taste it now. We took a support trip up to Buffalo, New York during that season last year and I can still picture the beautiful leaves of the changing trees and if I sit still and close my eyes, I get very close to being able to feel the crisp breeze on my skin.
But this year is different. This year, my fall was interrupted by an extended summer that will last well into the year ahead. In fact, I don’t see an end in sight until Lord willing we get to spend the winter holidays with the family in 2013.
Things are different. And just like the seasons change during the year, life is that way, too.
The seasons change and if you’re not very, very careful, you start to wish for last season or next season and you forget that this season—this one right here—is just as beautiful, just as enjoyable as the one you miss.
I’m trying to learn that—really, truly learn that. But I’m just going to be honest and let you know that it’s hard. It’s hard when you are in a life-season of learning and stretching and growing faster than any life-season you can remember.
It’s a season of mental exhaustion as your brain works to understand even the most basic of conversations in a language that you really thought you had a better grasp on. You find yourself hoping no one else is on the elevator or in line at the store so they won’t ask you a question you won’t know the answer to. Sometimes, you just smile and nod and laugh when everyone else laughs so it looks like you have a clue. You put yourself out there anyway because you know that’s the only way to learn. But mentally it’s exhausting.
It’s a season of physical exhaustion as you approach the due date of your second child and your firstborn is at an age of discovery and testing and trying. It’s a stage of independence and he’s already an independent child! It’s a stage of, “Mama, watch this!” as he climbs to the top of the sofa and jumps as high as he can into the pile of pillows stacked on the tile floor right in front of the end table all before you can even realize that he had piled the pillows and your heart nearly stops as you think how this dare-devil child in front of you was a little sweet baby just yesterday, wasn’t it? It’s a season of temper tantrums and tears and even hitting as he tries to push his boundaries and test the waters of disobedience over and over again. And sometimes I go to bed at night thinking, “I am a terrible parent” because it seems that I’ll I’ve done is said “no” and lectured on how “Jesus wants us to obey but only He can help us obey because we can’t on our own” as he stares back with a furrowed brow and a will as strong as steel and I’ve spanked and timed-out ‘til I want to give up and say, “Fine, you don’t have to eat real food. You can eat cookies and drink chocolate milk all day. And you can throw the play-doh and you don’t have to have a bath or brush your teeth and you can stay up as late as you want because Mama is tired.” But instead I stay consistent because I know that’s what he needs. But physically, it’s exhausting.
And it’s a season of emotional exhaustion as the days are often unbearably lonely as we adjust to this new culture and the lack of friends and family and familiarity. It’s emotional when you have no communication with the outside world because there’s no internet or telephone or TV. You look forward to taking a taxi to the mall, not to purchase anything but just to be around people, even if you can’t communicate with them completely! It’s emotional when you Skype with your family and they are all eating dinner together or going for a walk and you are thousands of miles away. It’s emotionally exhausting when you can’t sleep because of a squirmy baby in your belly and blaring music outside your apartment from a party going on at 2am. Emotionally, it’s exhausting.
And if I’m not careful, I find myself longing, begging God even, for the seasons of the past. Those seasons seem so easy now. I miss our house and our car and our family and our church and our friends and Target and Starbucks and, and, and…..
And God stops me right there.
And He wakes me up one morning at sunrise (which is 5am here) with a tap, tap, tap at our bedroom window. I get up to see what the noise is and I am breathless as I open the window to see the most beautiful sunrise over the ocean I think I’ve ever seen. And suddenly I feel very small and very humble because the God of the Universe woke little me up to show me that He’s still in the business of beautiful. He’s still in the business of creating memories and teaching and changing and helping and leading. And He took the time to wake me to show me that even in this exhausting season of change that we are in, He is still God. He still makes the sun rise and set. He still gives rest to my soul. He still comforts when the tears won’t stop. He still listens when I’m discontent and He still gently rebukes me because I am a child that He loves and cherishes.
And He reminds me that this is, in fact, a season. And it will change just like the last one and I better be careful to enjoy it because I don’t know what the next one looks like but I do know that there is beauty in every season. Sometimes we just have to look a little harder and be still a little longer to see it and hear it.
So as I sit here on our little sofa in our little apartment and sip on the awesome Cinnamon Apple Spice tea that I found at the supermarket that gives me the sweetest little taste of fall, I look out at the view of the ocean from our window and I enjoy the beauty of this life-season and I’m thankful for the beauty of past life-seasons.
Because I serve the God of the beautiful here and now.
This picture doesn\’t do justice!
(sunrise from our bedroom window, Recife, Brazil)