As I look forward to welcoming Fall, I’m ready to slow down; to savor a good meal with the people I love; to sit in quiet, becoming aware of my own breaths and probably for the first time in months, actually hear what nature surrounding me sounds like. You see, this summer has been filled with challenges that have tested my resolve in so many ways. I consider myself to be a strong woman of God. Still, I am learning that the strongest person is one who acknowledges his or her own weaknesses, and can humble themselves enough to call on God as their source of strength.
2 Corinthians 12:9-11 New International Version
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
It began with me growing tired of dealing with a health issue for more than a year. However, despite my misery, I kept moving through life like a robot; getting up at 5 a.m., going to work, coming home, dealing with family issues, and crashing into bed exhausted, only to do it all over again the next day. Then on top of my health issue, my beautiful parents, who celebrated their 66th wedding anniversay this year, had health issues of their own come to the surface, and I immediately jumped into ‘oldest daughter’ mode and took care of my mom and dad. It’s amazing how an x-ray showing a spot on a lung, can just freeze your world. I can still hear my mom’s words that Thursday morning, as she spoke to me and my sister, Desiree.
“My doctor saw a spot on my right lung and they want to do a CT scan. I need you girls to pray with me, please,” she said in a shaky voice.
You come face to face with your own mortality and think to yourself, “I’m not ready to say goodbye to my parent.”
Through a lot of prayer, we waited three days to get the CT scan test results…the longest three days of my mom’s life. Praise God that we finally received the good news that mom was fine.
Only a month before my mom’s health scare, I finally had my septoplasty surgery to correct a deviated septum that was restricting my breathing and causing me a year of asthma type attacks and severe anxiety. I thought to myself several times during those three days of waiting, “My mom is always there for me, and I am determined to always be here for her.” I immediately started thinking of retiring from the school district and finding a way to supplememnt my income, possible in-home care to help, where would I live, what if this…, what if that…my mind just wouldn’t stop!
Today, things have calmed down a bit. My mom is completely healed! I’m still healing from my surgery and still seeking God for guidance as I prepare myself for partial retirement. As I sat down to write this blog, I asked myself what ‘slowing down’ this Fall looked like for me and for my family. I scrolled through a sea of stock photos and came across the one you see in this blog. It just struck me that whether or not those benches had a person sitting on them, there was a peace, a contentment that didn’t require the company of a single soul. Those benches were perfectly happy to ‘just be.’ They were crafted to give rest to a weary traveler and a seat to lovers looking for a romantic spot. Yet, whether or not they’re being used, they remain content, and their is something so beautiful about that.
Can you and I remain content in our faith, our belief while going through challenges in life? Whether or not we are juggling a million tasks or just trying to keep an anxious parent calm while waiting for a test result, can we hold fast to God’s promises? Can we slow down, just sit, and share a cup of coffee with a friend or family memeber? Maybe go to a park and find an empty bench to sit on and calm our souls. Or maybe slowing down can’t even be considered before the soul-searching task of asking ourselves, “Do I really believe: ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________(it’s up to you to finish this sentence).
If you are feeling overwhelmed with life, family, kids, the job, health issues, I want to encourage you to take a moment, a quiet place, and rediscover your truth; that truth you believe with every fiber of your being, regardless of what life looks like around you. Deep down I knew that my mom and our family were going to get through whatever that test result read. I knew that God’s grace was ever present, even when fear kept trying to invade our minds and our hearts. As I slowed down, took time off work, sat with my mom, prayed with her, went to lunch together, and even cracked a few jokes, my truth, which is by Jesus stripes my mom is healed, kept me, kept us content through that scary time.
So now that you've re-connected with your truth, what does slowing down look like for you? Grab a pen and paper and jot down the first five things that come to your mind.
Below is a list of what I jotted down:
-Spending more time creating my art
-Hopping in the car with my parents and driving to the lake more often
-Bible studies with the family on Sunday evenings
-Getting in the kitchen and making my dad oatmeal raisin cookies
This exercise is as much for me as it is for you. Believe me, it's a journey of allowing myself to mess up, and regroup...daily.
I hope by the end of this blog post, you feel a little lighter. Maybe your shoulders have relaxed a bit and a hopeful expectation is bubbling to the surface. I especially hope and pray that you will honor your list of ‘slowing down’ and even add to it. This life is not without troubles, but we were crafted for resilience, and purpose, to love and to receive love; a little weathered and a bit worn, like those park benches, but still beautiful. Let this new Fall season be an exciting chapter in your life, filled with park benches, trips to the pumpkin patch, warm oatmeal cookies, and quiet momenst with you and God, where you remind yourself of what and who you truly believe in, as He reminds you of how much He loves and believes in you.