Thursday, September 20, 2012

Storing September

September is such a great month. It's often sunny and still warm enough to be outside, but there's a crispness in the air that reminds us that fall and winter will be upon us soon. It's a good month for savoring the last bits of summer and storing up goodness to get us through the cold months ahead. This little poem about September sums it up well.

You ask me what I did today,
I could pretend and say
“I don’t remember.”
But, no, I’ll tell you what I did today--
I stored September.
Sat in the sun and let the sun sink in,
Let all the warmth of it caress my skin.
When winter comes, my skin will still remember
The day I stored September.
And then, my eyes--
I filled them with the deepest, bluest skies
and all the traceries of wasps and butterflies.
When winter comes, my eyes will still remember
The day they stored September.
And then there was cricket song to fill my ears!
And the taste of grapes
And the deep purple of them!
And asters, like small clumps of sky. . .
You know how much I love them.
That’s what I did today
And I know why.
Just simply for the love of it,
I stored September.

-Elizabeth Rooney

This particular September we took a trip back up to the lake house in Michigan to grasp at the last bits of our wonderful summer. We had glorious weather, wonderful food, and precious playtime. What a great way to store up September.

But reality struck when we got home--trials little and big, as I wrote about a few days ago. And it's got me thinking. We never know what's coming up ahead. We might sail along great for a long time, or we might be faced with terrible things tomorrow. Financial disaster. The breakup of a family. A medical diagnosis with life-changing consequences. The death of someone near and dear. If we can store up the wonderful moments of September to get us through the winter, can we also use times of calm to store up something to help us through the storms of life?

I think we can. We can store up relationships, caring for them in the day to day so that in times of stress or busyness they can stand up to a bit of neglect. We can store up Scripture and blessings in a journal to open and read down the road. We can store up happy moments, taking a weekend off to enjoy our lives instead of always trying to do, do, do. We can store up tidbits of knowledge that we don't need yet, but may need soon. We can store up the feel of our child's hand in ours and the smoothness of their skin when they are little. The sound of their mayhem and laughter. The joy of sharing a sunset with someone we love. We can store up all our little glimpses of heaven.

So as I go about these weeks when a dark cloud hangs over me as I watch loved ones struggle and persevere, I don't want to waste these moments. I want to store up things I'll need when I have an opportunity to encourage them, the same things I'll need when my turn in the fire comes. I want to store up all the Septembers of life to get me through the snowstorms of January and the dark sludge of February, until glorious June comes again with its promise of sunny days ahead.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Rule of Threes

The rule of three in literature tells us that things are more interesting when they come in threes. That's why there are three little pigs, Goldilocks and the three bears, and three blind mice. That's all well and good in the imaginary world of fairy tales, but it also seems to apply to real life in unfortunate ways, at least to me.

In my experience things never break on their own, it's always in a group of three--car/computer/washing machine or microwave/dishwasher/dehumidifier--to mention two examples from our house in the last few years.

This week it's felt like bad news has hit in a group of ten. Things have been going along swimmingly, with only tiny little bumps like a mouse invasion (okay, I'll admit that one was a big enough deal to me that my screams woke the children--but in the grand scheme I realize it's small potatoes) and broken appliances and a schedule that's packed a little too full . . . and then suddenly I've been blindsided with a lot of bad news in one week. Big, life-changing stuff. None of it directly impacts me, but it still weighs on me and gets me down.

Sometimes I have a hard time processing bad news. I want to do something. To fix what's broken. To mend hurting hearts. To make everything all right. The problem is that I can't do that. These things are out of my control, and in this world there's a lot that's broken.

Here's all I have to offer, the plain and simple truth: Jesus can fix anything, and He is in the process of fixing everything. It may not be how we want or when we want, but someday everything that has been broken by sin will be made right. What terrific news! In my better moments I share this news, like the little kid who goes around saying, "don't worry about that broken toy. My dad can fix it!" Sharing that hope makes me more hopeful and sometimes spreads it to others.

So now I share it with you--what I think are the most encouraging words in the whole Bible, and the ones I need to hear today as I go about my day with these heavy burdens on my heart. Maybe they'll encourage you too:

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.' And he who was seated on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new. . . . It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.'" (Rev. 21:1-6)

I sure hope your week is going better than mine is, but if not, I hope these words help you refocus your heart like they've helped me refocus mine.