Apr 5, 2016

Bird's-Eye View

I've been watching  a neighbor's tree all winter long.

It's not incredibly large, but when it fills out in the late Spring, its leaves are a brilliant, glowing red from which I cannot look away. Throughout the winter months, I snag a glance at this tree every time I drive by, hoping to see the red buds sprouting from the tips of the seemingly dead branches. I love this tree. If I drive by at a certain time of the late afternoon, I find myself hoping that the sun will hit it from behind and ignite the fire of color.

Note: this isn't the tree I'm watching, but it looks like this one. I wanted to avoid having to explain to a police officer that I really wasn't being a creep by photographing my neighbor's house.

Living in North Georgia, I have really begun to appreciate having four distinct seasons. I marvelled at them at first, since I really had only known two seasons in South Texas: hot and hotter. We moved here at the end of October almost 14 years ago, and the leaves were changing, the air was crisp, and it lasted for months!

Then was ushered in the longest, coldest, iciest winter I had ever experienced. I was used to two-week-long cold fronts that, although cold because of the wind coming off the Gulf of Mexico and usually rainy, which made for a more complete misery, their short duration made them bearable. Then we would have relief, get close to 80, thaw out, and maybe do it again. I even have memories of a balmy 85 degree Christmas Day in shorts!

But this particular winter, I remember marking two whole weeks where we didn't get above 32 degrees, day or night. When our thermometer read -3 degrees early one dark morning, I knew the DH had moved me to Alaska by mistake.

And now, after having gone several months of cold, mostly gray winter, I begin to notice yellow sunshine pouring through the woods at certain times of the day. Daffodils and irises have begun to make their grand entries into the landscape, and the birds have begun chirping again...it is Spring!  I notice the contrast of the white dogwoods against the darkness of the surrounding pines. The dogwoods have been there all along, but they seem to have just appeared overnight, like a maiden in a fairy tale's forest, weaving through the towering timber.

Spring is upon us - promising warmth, longer days, and new life at every turn.

I once again find myself in a Spring season of my life right now...things are changing, some more drastically than others. My little boys are becoming young men right before my eyes. It is a mystery to me how something can be so welcomed and so terrifying at the exact same time. How does one reconcile this?

There was a Spring season when I had nothing but diapered babies and preschoolers in my care. Everything about all the life was new to me then. Burp cloths and sippy cups and pacis, oh my! Parenting was as much learning as it was doing. Everything from figuring out what to do when they got sick to how to help them sleep to when and how to discipline took a learning curve. I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world, but there was definitely a newness to life that was both exhilarating and exhausting.

It was then a summer season of life when I had all elementary-aged kids to teach and love on. Life was slower, more intentional. The days were long, but it was much easier than when they were younger. They were filling out - developing their skills, their minds, as well as their physique. Instead of diapers and nurseries, it was baseball fields and crawdads in the creek. Discipline was all about consistency rather than finding what works. They understood what was expected by then, and that made all the difference.

Then we moved into a winter of teenage boys. This wasn't as difficult as I had previously feared it might be (thankful to a merciful God in heaven above for that!) but it was a phase I was ready to move through quickly. Hormones are difficult for females (this I knew all too well), but it's just as hard for boys - just in different ways. We were managing aggression rather than drama.

But now, I feel like we have seen the next season begin to emerge from its cocoon.

After this school year is over, I will no longer have an elementary student in my home. They will all be college, high school, and middle school. So bizarre. I can remember feeling so numb at the thought of having one child (excuse me - "student") at the middle school building at our church. This fall, we will not have any at the elementary building at all.

My spiritual life has followed much the same pattern, actually. There was a Spring of new ministry and exploring new and uncharted spiritual lands. Then a summer when much development and rapid growth took place in so many ways. Oh, how I look back on those years with the deepest fondness and gratitude. The last several years have been a fall and winter time for me spiritually. Not that I haven't grown at all or that I've been in the dark the entire time, but the lessons I've learned there were harder. Many of the difficult things I learned of but felt completely unable to do anything about. I felt dormant. These were lessons of waiting. How I have longed to move out of them...into the bright sunshine and fresh, warm air.

Now, I feel I am entering a new spiritual Springtime. My eyes have been opened to a daily, consistent, and impactful ministry that I can do from home that hits every single area of hurt in which I had been broken in the winter. This endeavor is called Trades of Hope. The excitement and anticipation of what God will do with this effort has me on the edge of my seat right now! Newness of life after a somewhat darker spell of longing for it.

The other day, we had our first feels-like-Spring day. On my way home, I noticed a bird on a wire overhead. The image of a bird on a wire has always spoken to something deep inside me, but I never could put my finger on why...until that day. Others might have a different interpretation of the idea, but here's what I discovered it means to me.

The wire is a place of rest. The bird needs neither shelter from inclement weather nor a tree for a nest. It's not caged, it's just enjoying a place of peaceful repose. She feels safe there and catches her breath.

When I get to write, it's the wire for me. I'm passing through; I have places to go and things to do, but I just get to perch here for a bit, enjoy the bird's-eye view, notice things that I otherwise would fly over, and I get to rest. I can even now picture myself on that wire...warm breeze, clear sounds, motions are all beneath me, nothing close. Wide-open view.

I've enjoyed taking a few moments to notice this bird's-eye view of my life. It causes me to appreciate where I've been and where I'm headed. Thanks for taking a rest with me. Time to fly.