When fall feels violent

Fall is normally my favorite but this year I sense it coming with a vengeance. Coming to take me under its smothering wing and drown me with the violence of schedules, must-dos, and a pumpkin latte.

Summer seems laden with options, with things we could do and places we could go

Fall is starting to feel like summer’s big sister – all demanding and bossy, with sports schedules and school schedules and deadlines and mandatory meetings tramping their way in.

Violent. Bossy. Demanding.

I’m refusing to be overwhelmed. Over and over again, I refuse to be hostage to that feeling and I’m adding this prayer:

Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy,

That we may rejoice and be glad all our days!

Psalm 90:14

And I may have just now realized something as I typed that verse: it’s the mornings that I feel I’m losing with fall’s onset.

If you know me, you know mornings are my favorite. You know I’ve let my kids sleep-in all summer. You know that I’m irritated and irrational if you mess with my mornings. And you know that fall means alarm clocks for the kids and that struggle I have with keeping them on schedule and losing the slow mornings.

I’ve told myself I need that long runway to the day, and fall is violently pulling me up short. I should probably change my thinking.

Satisfy us early with Your mercy. Give us enough and even more than enough to fulfill all our longings through all our days,and especially through this day – however it starts and whenever it ends.

IMG_5596 I’m praying this for all the mamas fighting overwhelm before it even starts.

The ones who didn’t cross enough things off their summer lists, who didn’t go to the berry patch or the fruit stand one single time, who missed the free day at the zoo, the pool, the fair, and the museum – all those wonderful things set-up to take advantage of summer, all those things that you missed.

For all the moms fighting the violence of fall schedules and the threats on your peace – the end of summer may feel like a door closing on a million missed opportunities, but you didn’t miss out. 

We work summer up to be the darling of the seasons. We expect so much and that always leaves us short and when fall comes, disillusionment follows close behind – because we weren’t done summering and what happened to our plans and why did summer seem so long as a child, yet so short as an adult?

You didn’t miss out on summer and all the undone things are not the most important things.

The important thing is that you are satisfied with His mercy and that is enough for you to rejoice in, even in the face of changing times.

Hard things are our way through. Preaching the gospel to ourselves when the season ends reminds us that another one is beginning, with new mercies. Fresh starts.

To all the mamas preparing for back-to-school, with rejoicing or regret or excitement or just plain fear, I raise my latte to you. It’s time for this new season, ready or not.

Let Your work appear to Your servants, and Your glory to their children. And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, And establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands.

Psalm 90:16-17

 

When you think you’re alone {A Five Minute Friday post}

This post is a writing exercise where we spend just five minutes writing, unedited, on a given prompt. This week the prompt is alone. 

It’s writing practice, but it’s also a little soul-journaling as the randomly selected prompts always dig something up. You should try it.

*****

A man lays all alone in a hospital room far away from family.

He’s not alone really but he’s unaware and unwilling to notice, maybe. Unbelieving in a world he can’t see while inside him, where he also can’t see, something is bleeding and no one knows yet why or what or when, but he can’t see.

He can’t see.

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A probe will poke around inside him later and find the source, we hope.

A probe pokes us all at some point and we hope or we don’t but we’ll see and alone  is not a state of being but a falsehood in our minds – a place we create ourselves.

Alone is a place we put ourselves.

But he’s not alone really and reality funnels us all to a time of recognition, a day of revelation, a good, sharp look at inside. Funneled, funneling, trickling down time to The Time.

No one can see but we’re not alone. 

I’ll keep the fresh-cut flowers alive and the kids alive and I’ll stop the bleeding at the tips of my fingers and all the while he’s alone, but he’s not.

I hope he sees that he’s not.

*****

My dad is in the hospital again. It’s been a long recovery after his miracle/transplant at the beginning of the year and we knew it would be touch and go. He wouldn’t want me to say any more than that, but I saw the writing prompt for this week’s Five Minute Friday was alone and I just got off the phone with him, so there ya go.

And the bleeding fingers? Really. I sliced the tips of my fingers opening a container of yogurt this morning and they won’t stop bleeding. That makes the 2nd time this week that I’ve cut myself doing something stupid.

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.

Ernest Hemingway

That’s slightly dramatic.

But how appropriate for a day when my dad is literally bleeding inside and I’m bleeding outside and my computer keys and everything else I touch is tinged with red.

 

The Simple List {8.22.15}

The Simple List is my way of pointing you to something redeeming on the webs, something thought provoking or eye-catching or soul-refreshing. I can’t keep up with all the good words out there but I try to curate a few things every now and then that might be of help.

I hope these links are reminders of the simplest things that make a good life: truth, goodness, beauty.

TheSimple list (4)

Truth ||

What’s your unfair advantage? @ Modern Mrs. Darcy

We all have something that gives us an advantage. What’s yours?

In A Digital Chapter, Paper Notebooks Are As Relevant As Ever @ NPR

If you listen to sermons or lectures, go to meetings, counsel others, have kids in school, or want to remember anything, ever, you need to read this. There were too many nuggets to quote here.

Can you tell I’m a dedicated analog fan? Love me some apps, but paper planning is my jam.

Goodness ||

We are Dust and He is Rest @ Sayable

“It is work to remember and work to rest, this I know and you do too. No one can live in this world as we’ve made it and not have to work to rest. Remove notifications, turn off the phone, walk away from the planner, light candles at dinner and hold the hand of your husband and marvel at the gift of simply living. Rest.”

I can’t quite decide where to categorize this one, because it’s Truth and Goodness and Beauty. I’m putting it here because it’s always good to be reminded of the rhythm of rest in our lives.

Beauty ||

Kids Were Here

“A group of photographers documenting details of evidence that kids were here”. That’s the tagline for the blog Kids Were Here, and you should check it out. All pictures. All familiar evidence.

 

Thoughts on Creating Controversy as a Blogger by Shauna Niequist @ Storyline Blog

A manifesto for what to say online, and what to keep for real-life conversations. Good, good stuff.

“I’ve never regretting loving or encouraging or celebrating something. I have often regretted slamming or dismissing or criticizing something, because when I do that online, it’s outside of relationship, outside of shared understanding, outside of context.”

 

 

Find {A return to Five Minute Friday}

I’m working through a devotional right now that has a lot of writing prompts in it. It’s not specifically for writers – it’s based on the premise that we are all created to be creators, and it uses a lot of poetry and imagery to probe deeper.

I’m not entirely sure what I think of it yet so I won’t tell you the name of it, but the writing prompts have reminded me of something: I used to participate in Five Minute Friday on a fairly regular basis.

A given prompt, a timer set to 5 minutes, and no pressure to edit and produce. 

I don’t know why I stop doing things that are valuable – I’ve been playing lots of those broken records over in my mind lately. Today, I’m returning to a good habit with “no expectation of a recurring ritual” as my friend Beth says.

Back to a single word, five minutes, and whatever happens.

IMG_5620 IMG_5622

We are so big to think we “find” God. Diggers in a desert find gods buried in billions of grains of time which that god has no hold on, time sifted over a buried deity like so much sand.

We try to find God and discern His thoughts while we bathe children and prepare meals for living, being, hungry souls carrying Forever in themselves. We wash the laundry that clothes the temples, and read books to minds that are always thinking God’s thoughts after Him.

All the clanging of dishes and buying of food, sustaining life in the midst of a search for God – a treasure buried in us.

In the quiet times we think hard to conjure up an image of God, or god, because when the light cracks through and the day begins, all our time for finding Him will dissipate into dust motes running under the furniture and checklists driving us on.

We find God, alright. One day we all turn around and there He is, in the trail of a life we lived. There He is, in the dirty face and the empty fridge and the shoes by the door again and smack in the center of life.

Turn around.

When you forget what God is like

It’s simply the presence of certain people that puts you at ease. It’s the fact that they are there and you know they say the unspoken to God on your behalf.

I have those people in my life.

It’s enough for me to know that these people know to pray, whether they know what exactly to ask God for or not. The hands and thoughts and texts of people I love all serve to comfort me even when their actual, physical presence or their real, spoken words are not available.

rails-1 rails-2 rails-3

When my husband is gone for an extended time he will sometimes send me a picture he knows I’ll appreciate – like a wildflower growing crazy out of the rocky ground. No words are necessary. I know he’s thinking about me and that’s enough.

Why can’t it be so with God, Who puts so many amazing and wild reminders in my path?

Why is it enough to be in the thoughts of those people I love, but not enough to be enumerated in the thoughts of God?

I expect more from God than I do the people in my life, which is right and wrong all at once. It’s confusing, but it’s as if God has to prove Himself to me over and over, whereas the people I love simply need to be.

Be there. Be available. Be supportive. And tell me what you think God means by His silence?

God is nothing less and so much more, and still I desire damp fleeces and voices of angels and concrete examples. I expect Him to constantly renew His commitment to me, like an insecure girlfriend. Remind me again. 

Tozer says that the most important thing about us is what we think about God, so let’s be honest. There are times when I think of God as the pilot of my plane and I hope He’s doing His job well, hope He’s rested and alert and knows where we’re going.

I hope He’ll send a stewardess to announce our destination and the weather, so I can be sure I’m on the right flight and that I’ve packed correctly.

I hope I’ll be able to sit by the right person – someone quiet if I want to read, someone interesting if I want to talk, someone sleepy if I’m sleepy. In My Analogy the pilot chooses my seat neighbors, so I have him to blame for the people who are all wrong at the right time and right at the wrong time. Keep up with my moods, people.

I don’t think right about God most of the time.

His ways are past finding out yet He spurs us to try. I grope about and cling to assumptions about the nature of God, but they change. My ‘knowledge’ of God changes according to my mood and the season and the circumstances and I am so fickle in this pursuit – resting on park benches when I ought to be searching Him out; running after Him when I should be walking in step.

Here’s something I know: He is not annoyed. My attempts and your attempts and all of our flailing about in honest pursuit of Him is not irritating to Him. I need to remember that I know that.

The presence of God is comforting me in those people who are nearby. I know His voice is true to His Word, true to His nature, and true to the work of His Spirit, and I am comforted by flesh and blood people who share His voice with me.

It’s the greatness of community and I have to see it as His gift, not His replacement.

 

The Simple List {8.14.15}

The Simple List is my way of pointing you to something redeeming on the webs, something thought provoking or eye-catching or soul-refreshing. I can’t keep up with all the good words out there but I try to curate a few things every now and then that might be of help.

I hope these links are reminders of the simplest things that make a good life: truth, goodness, beauty.

TheSimple list (4)

Truth ||

Self-Care and Self-Denial @ The Gospel Coalition

“I avoided self-care because it looked dangerously close to self-indulgence. But avoiding self-care actually fed my sinful appetite to live self-sufficiently and to seek fulfillment in my own abilities.”

The alternative to controlling my children @ The Art of Simple

Ooohhh parenting. Oh children. This stretching away is painfully exciting and some days I want to dictate every decision because I know what you should do  and I know how you should do it.  But Ed is right in this article – control is a wedge and not a bond.

“Now, as a father to young children, I feel smaller gaps emerging each time I try to control them beyond the bounds of reason: “Drink your water now!” “Share with your brother!” “Stop nagging me!” I can relate to my parents a little bit more each day as I navigate conflict and my own control issues with our boys. I want to dictate what’s best, rather than starting where they are.”

Goodness ||

Compared to… from Seth Godin

“Just because a thing can be noticed, or compared, or fretted over doesn’t mean it’s important, or even relevant.”

Why We Fail at Family Devotions @ Challies.com

If you’ve ever started and stopped, bitten off more than you can chew, or been discouraged by your family’s response to family devotions, read this.

Beauty ||

The Danger of a Single Story, a TED Talk from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“Show a people as one thing, as only one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become.”

You just need to watch this. With your kids. We are so often guilty of hearing only one story and making an easy assumption based on that stereotype.  poppies-1

Have a wonderful weekend, and please share in the comments any truth, goodness or beauty you’ve found this week. We all need more of that, right?

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