I’ve been meaning to blog, really I have. I’ve had lots of thoughts, but of course now that I have a minute to sit down and write something, they’re nowhere to be found.
I’m in a new season of life. The word that keeps coming to mind when I try to describe it is “distracted.” We’re trying to stay on track with homeschooling. I decided this week to begin potty training our 20 month-old. There’s some training to do with the two older girls–new jobs I want to teach them, ways they need to be encouraged more in Godly behavior as they interact with one another. Managing the home has to happen. And then there’s the baby!
My husband and children brought in a half-dozen pumpkins last Sunday evening, because they had some soft spots and weren’t going to make it any longer on the vine. I set out Monday morning (Labor day) to cook, mash and freeze those six little pumpkins. It was about 8:30 in the morning when I started.
I think I finished at about 5:30 in the afternoon.
Why? Because I set the water to boil and put in the pumpkins. Then got distracted. We had company and so of course the children needed adequate supervision and encouragement. I wanted to put on a cup of coffee for my friend. The baby needed to nurse. Then, I wondered, how long has that pumpkin been boiling, anyway?! Pricked it with a fork and it seemed more than done. So I took it off the stove and started scraping the flesh out and dumping it into my blender.
Then I got distracted. I think it was the baby again. And then the kids wanted to go swimming, so I needed to be outside by the pool. While outside, my husband (who had been painting our garage) wondered if I had made the hamburger patties, since it was almost lunch time. Of course I hadn’t. So, leaving the other mom to police the pool, in I went to make some patties, set the table, and put out the rest of the food. Sure would have been nice if the kids had been around to help.
So the pumpkin sat on the counter until after lunch. I got the girls down for a nap, but then the baby woke up wanting to nurse. At least I got to sit down…
Managed to do about three-quarters of the pumpkin by the time the girls woke up from nap. Realized our company would still be around for dinner. Tried to figure out what I was going to put on the table. Made some cookies for the kids and the guys outside (thankfully, I had plenty of frozen balls of cookie dough in the freezer for just such on occasion!).
It goes on…but let’s just say I did not finish the pumpkin until some time after dinner. Praise God it wasn’t also a school day!
It was a good day, but a busy day. It seems every day lately is like that (though not all of them “good…”). But God is good, and God is faithful. We’re pressing on.
Seems a good time to re-post an article that I wrote almost a year ago, called “Weathering the Seasons of Life.” A lot of it is resonating with me right now, though I have to admit I’m doing better (in terms of my spiritual “being”) now than I did then. Praise the Lord for progress. 🙂
Anyway, here it is…
Weathering the Seasons of Life
By Cynthia Carrier
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven”
Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV)
Ecclesiastes 3:1 is probably familiar to most of us; it’s not uncommon to hear talk of “seasons” in Christian circles. Seasons are those times of life when we face change, trial, unusual circumstances, or even special grace and blessing. Whenever I’ve heard people talk about being in a particular “season” of life, I get the feeling that things aren’t as they’d like, or that they’re just waiting for this “season” to pass.
We’ve recently weathered one of those seasons which, I think, has almost come to its end. It all started in August of this year when we knew we’d soon be moving from Connecticut to Indiana. Even while I began going through our houseful of belongings—sorting, giving away, throwing away, and boxing up—I was trying to get a head start on our school year, knowing that as the move became more imminent we’d be forced to take a prolonged vacation.
During this time, the baby seemed extra fussy, always wanting to be held. Our toddler was in the process of being potty-trained, with irregular success. And suddenly our three year-old daughter became incredibly whiny. I will say that I did try very hard to keep everything on an even keel, both for myself and particularly for the children. I wanted the transition to be as seamless as possible. Admittedly, however, I had a hard time distinguishing between those things that “needed” to get done and what I simply felt pressured to accomplish. As a result, I was easily frustrated. This did not help to keep the tone of our home what it should have been.
As it so often does, God’s grace evidenced itself at many critical moments. There were quite a few times I had to confess my irritability to my husband or my children and ask for forgiveness and prayer. All in all, though, the process of packing, and even driving halfway across the country, went fairly well and I began to congratulate myself on having weathered this season of life.
I was to find out, however, that it was only the beginning. Once we moved into our new home, the unpacking was another challenge of its own. Yet, we’d been on homeschool “vacation” for almost three whole weeks and I wanted to get back to the books, in one form or another. Trouble was, all the school things were still in boxes and I had no place to put them, as the rec room where they would be stored had woefully inadequate shelving. Add to this feeling pressured to attack all of the other areas of the house (both cleaning and unpacking), and not even knowing where the local grocery store was! Being one who does not deal well with change in the first place, I was reaching the limits of my ability to cope.
To top it all off, after having been in Indiana for only a few days (and thinking that things could only go up from here!), our nine-month-old baby suddenly stopped nursing and my hormones went a little berserk. I’d like to think that I only had a few bad days, but my husband lovingly insists that it was the better part of a week. I was not pleasant to be around. Not only did I make most of the family miserable, but I made myself miserable with self-condemnation. By week’s end, I was asking God to just give me the grace to “start over.” And finally, He did. On Saturday I awoke and truly felt like I had experienced the mercies of God that are “new every morning” (see Lamentations 3:22-24
But the season itself was still not over. I began homeschooling again that Monday with what few materials I could muster, all while continuing to unpack and make our new house a home and struggling to get to know a new community and integrate in a new church. There were still many things that remained much too unsettled. Thankfully, however, my emotional state had stabilized.
As I write this reflection, I finally feel like this season has run its course. There are only a handful of boxes that remain to be unpacked. Our house feels like home. School has resumed successfully for these past few weeks. We’ve learned the area a bit and gotten to know some wonderful brothers and sisters in the Lord. I’ve asked the Lord throughout this season just what it was He wanted to show me, and now that it’s nearing its end, I believe He’s finally brought it all together. As He always does, He’s worked all things for good and given me some lessons that will hopefully carry me through the next difficult season of life with a bit more joy and stability.
The Word that God gave me to put it all together is found in Ecclesiastes 8:4-6:
“For the word of a king is authority and power, and who can say to him, What are you doing? Whoever observes the [king’s] command will experience no harm, and a wise man’s mind will know both when and what to do. For every purpose and matter has its [right] time and judgment, although the misery and wickedness of man lies heavily upon him [who rebels against the king].” (Ecclesiastes 8:4-6, AMP)
The New Living Translation puts it this way:
“His command is backed by great power. No one can resist or question it. Those who obey him will not be punished. Those who are wise will find a time and a way to do what is right, for there is a time and a way for everything, even when a person is in trouble.”
With this Scripture, God brought some conviction to my spirit that I had focused more, in this season, on the doing than on my being. Yes, everything that needed to get accomplished was accomplished—but there was an unnecessary expense to myself and to my family. I believe that one of the reasons things began to turn around was because, during my bad week, I realized that I didn’t know what to do, and I didn’t even know what to pray—so I just asked God for wisdom. I also asked Him to help me to obey Him and live according to His Word, first and foremost, trusting that everything else would fall into place in His time. When I read the verses above, these truths seem to resonate there.
When we’re going through one of life’s seasons, we can’t just give up. We must look to the Lord and to His Word and seek wisdom for each moment. We have to be willing to do hard things, if that’s what God asks of us. Sometimes simply obeying God is hard enough in itself (for example, responding gently and patiently to a child’s repeated questions, when really we’d like to snap at them, “Would you just be quiet?!”) At other times, we may have to give up on our own preconceived ideas about how things “should” be, and go with what God wants them to be.
A season of life may come about because of a pregnancy or the birth of a new baby, an illness or death in the family, a job change or move, or any number of life transitions. As managers of our homes and daughters of the King, we have to persevere through these trials knowing that they will result in greater maturity (James 1:2-4).
In practical terms this may mean that for a while our homes are “neat” rather than “clean.” If we homeschool, we may rely on oral drill and practice rather than workbooks, or focus on the basics of the “three R’s” rather than a more formal curriculum.
If we want to continue to fulfill the Scriptural injunction to “practice hospitality
” during a challenging season, we simply have to remember that there is a difference between hospitality and entertaining. We don’t have to offer a four-course meal on fine china with our best silver and choice of drinks and dessert. Instead, our guests will feel most welcome and most blessed when we seek to serve in love. Proverbs 17:1 may speak to this when it says, “Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.” At the same time, we do need to seek Godly wisdom for those activities that can reasonably be refused—even “church” functions!
It is always wise to have some freezer meals on hand for those unexpected trying times. If you don’t, ask some of the women in your fellowship or family if they would be willing to cook a meal for your family. God created us as the body of Christ to support and uplift one another; if you have particular needs in a trying season, be honest about sharing them and asking for what you need. First and foremost, lift your concerns to God in prayer and He will provide help, oftentimes in unexpected ways.
James 1:2-8 is a good Scripture to remember as you face the storms of life:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” (James 1:2-8, NIV)
Granted, it’s not easy to remain joyful in the face of adversity—but it should encourage us to know that God is working all things for good and that we’ll get done exactly what God means for us to accomplish. That’s where it’s important to pray for wisdom—because all too often, our frustrations arise simply because our ideas and God’s plans are at odds. We must commit to living in a way that honors God, even when life throws us a curveball. As we do so, God is faithful and will bring the appointed season to an end when He’s sure that we’ve learned whatever lesson He intended to teach us.