Seasons

So, needless to say that I am simply, overwhelmingly, obsessed with the leaves right now. I have truly never experience the leaves changing like they are and they are just taking my breath away daily. Honestly, I find them to be very distracting and because I just want to stare at them and take in the beautiful colors. Recently, a friend and I went on a hike at Oak Mountain State Park. I barely wanted to watched where my feet met the ground because I just wanted to observe the world around me. 

I understand that the trees will not remain this way. I know that a day will come, most likely sooner than I would like that the leaves will fall off the trees. A good friend of mine joked with me recently about how I have truly never experienced seasons. In southwest Florida everything remains green all year round. In jest he shared with me that I should not cry over the trees with no leaves because they are not dead. He jokingly assured me that the leaves would come again in this glorious season of spring. Like the vibrant colors of fall, this too amazes me. 

 

This reminds me of the passage in Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

“For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
2 A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
3 A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.
4 A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance.
5 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
    A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
6 A time to search and a time to quit searching.
    A time to keep and a time to throw away.
7 A time to tear and a time to mend.
    A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
8 A time to love and a time to hate.
    A time for war and a time for peace.”

 

 

I love that God creates seasons. There have been times in my life where I have felt dead. There have been times when I have felt hopeless and beaten down. There have been times that I have felt like a tree in winter. However, God is the God of seasons. He is the God that paints the brilliant colors on the trees and He is also the God that allows a time for all of the leaves to fall off, and for the tree to appear dead. The amazing thing though is that the leaves emerge at the end of the season! Winter does not last forever! (remind me of this mid- January….) 

 

There have been times in my life that have been bleak. There have been times when I wanted to throw my hands up (and oftentimes did) and scream at God with all that is within me and plead with Him for the season to end. It felt like an endless winter. Most of the time it did not end when I wanted it to. But It always ended. Spring has always come. 

I am so thankful to serve and love a God that does not allow me to sit in pain and suffering forever. I am so thankful that He is a God that has created seasons. I don’t know what season of life you find yourself in. Maybe your life is wonderfully, and blissfully happy. Perhaps, you are in a dark season. Or most likely, like myself you are somewhere in the middle. No matter what season you are in, I think that we are to remember that god is a God of seasons. That each day, no matter the season is a blessing. I more often then I would like lose sight of that fact. That each day, no matter the season is a blessing. 

 

For now though, I am going to enjoy the current season that I am in. I am going to marvel at the leaves and the beautiful creation that surrounds me. What a blessing that is! And, when all of the beautiful leaves fall off, I will then remember that they will emerge again. That even though the trees appear dead, that is just for a season. 

 

Image

 

Autumn

Autumn

Can we just for a moment recognize how beautiful this tree is? I am certainly enjoying autumn in Alabama. How can you not smile when looking at these colors? I love that God gives us color. It has no purpose really, other than to be enjoyed. I love it.

Home

Let me just start off by posting a disclaimer. This is in no way a discredit to either place that I call “home” and the sweet people that I love there.

That being said….

 

This week I have battled what most people would call homesickness. It is strange and honestly has hit me like lightening. I didn’t see it coming, it came out of nowhere and has left me feeling completely shaken. It’s difficult because after prayer and reflection I have been able to identify that I am not sick for Florida home. In a certain sense, Florida will forever be my home. It is where my family still resides. It is where I grew up. It’s what I know. But, the crazy thing is that Birmingham is slowly (and I mean slowly) becoming home. I will have been here 4 months on the 5th. But as Birmingham slowly becomes home I still ache. I can go through my days and rejoice in not having to use my GPS, or being able to give directions, or simply knowing what someone is talking about when they make a reference. But then, out of nowhere lightening strikes and I am reminded ever so quickly that I don’t belong. I can’t say that I can even pinpoint the moment that this happened within the last week. It was not a particular interaction, or situation….I just all of a sudden was overwhelmed with a feeling of displacement.

 

In a lot of ways I am beginning to feel like a sojourner. I must remind myself that near the end of my time in Florida that I began to feel that I did not belong. I began to grow a strong discomfort in places that had always given me a safe, and peaceful bliss. I think that that discomfort was a push to continue on my journey, to not stay, to move on.  A sojourner spends a short period of time in one place and then moves onto the next. It’s a painful process to not feel at peace within an environment. I know that even Jesus felt that way that I feel while on earth. In many ways, I am like the scribe that speak to Him in Matthew 8 saying, “Teacher, I will follow you no matter where you go! But Jesus said, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but I, the Messiah, have no home of my own—no place to lay my head.” In the message translation Jesus says to the scribe, “Are you up for it?” I so desire to be up for the job. I long to follow Him, knowing that this means that there may come a day that I literally or figuratively have no place to lay my head. I am blessed now to have been welcomed by a very sweet congregation in Alabama who in their generosity has literally given me a wonderful place to lay my head at night. However, my heart wanders at times. This week it has wandered.

 

I am reminded that no place, person, or time will give you peace. True peace, even for the wanderer comes from Jesus Christ. So, as a sojourner I cling to Him. I cling to the Prince of Peace. He is my home. But for now, now I embrace this sweet journey that He has me on.

 

October

So, it has been a while since I last wrote. It’s October now and most people here have told me that October is the most beautiful month of the year in Alabama. I have to agree that the beginning of this month has been wonderful. Although now, I find myself to just be cold (like, it feels like Christmas outside so today I am sipping apple cider and watching a Christmas movie). It makes me nervous for January. I think by then I will be longing for McGregor Blvd and the palm trees that line the streets of home. I know that winter in Alabama is nothing like the blustery winters of up north and that it may seem to be silly to complain about this kind of cold….but I am a full blooded Florida girl.

October also brought sweet opportunities for friends to visit two weekends in a row. It made my heart fill with happiness to be with some of my closest friends. I have found that it has felt that my life in Florida has been completely detached from my life here in Alabama and it was so nice to be able to see them merge. I know that most people love their friends, but I can honestly say that they are one of the biggest blessings in my life. They challenge me in ways that I need to be challenged and love me even when I am difficult to love. So it was so wonderful to be able to share some of my life here with them. It was so affirming to have them here and for them to notice and vocalize so many things that I had been thinking. They observed my happiness that comes from both working in my passion and studying what I love. They also affirmed that this is the place where the Lord has called me, and that I fit. I was reminded when my friends were here of how the Lord loves for us to have a community around us. Even when Jesus walked on this earth, He could have done so alone but rather he walked with disciples. He walked with his friends. even though right now, I am not physically with those friends that have walked alongside of me up until now, I am thankful for their continued love and support. October was a reminder about that.

October also brought my 27th birthday. 27 is a funny age for me. 26 brought a lot of change. At 27, I feel like I am beginning to settle into my own skin. I feel that I am beginning to discover a little more of who I am, which is pretty exciting. 

 

So October has been full of some very nice adventures so far. We’ll see what else is in store….. 

Sweet home Alabama

Well, it is really hard to believe that I have now lived in Alabama for two and a half months. Some days it feels as if I just got here; things are foreign, and I am just starting to feel like I am beginning to get a handle on things. Other days, it seems like it has been forever since I was “home” and felt like I knew what was going on. In reality, it has been 71 days today.

How did I get here? Well, here you go….

Almost two years ago I began to pray a prayer that is dangerous. As I prayed I knew that The Lord heard my cry, even when it felt like He didn’t. I knew He knew my heart. I began to pray that I would be uncomfortable. Have you ever felt like you could close your eyes and go through your life as normal? Like your life was so routine that you could maneuver through this life without much thought? Have you ever just watched months pass and just think to yourself, “well, I guess this is it.” That is where I was. I hated it. My heart craved more. I ached for adventure. So I began to pray that I would not be comfortable in that life anymore, that He would send me on a grand adventure.

My prayer journal began reading like some of the psalms, “Hear my prayer O Lord”. I took comfort in verses like Psalm 66:19-20 “…but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. Praise be to God who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!” (NIV) I pleaded with God that He would send me.  I begged that He interrupt my routine.

He heard my prayer. He answered it.

In what now seems like a whirlwind of God’s provision, I found a graduate program through the Center for Youth Ministry Training and applied for one of their graduate resident positions in early fall of 2012. As I worked I prayed that if this was to be my adventure He would get me accepted, and I would go. Fast forward to Christmas, and I was accepted.

Then I realized that this adventure was real.  I prepared to move. I resigned both of my jobs. If you ever want to see some crazy looks; quit a job and cancel your lease; and when people ask where you’re going say, “I don’t know”.

A couple of months later, I packed up a moving truck and drove north to my new home in Alabama.

It has not been easy. It has not been without tears and doubt. But following what God has in store never is easy.

In my short time here though I have learned so much. I have discovered that The South does not encompass SW Florida at all. I have learned that when someone asks, “who ya for?” They mean, Auburn or Alabama. I have learned that replying, “Florida State” to the previous question will get you some strange looks and they will once again ask, “but who ya for?” I have learned that barbecue is part of culture here almost as much as football and Jesus.  I have learned what it means to truly be loved by people who barely know you, yet welcome you into their homes and their lives. I have learned to eat a meal by myself. I have learned about the Lord’s faithfulness and his unchanging nature. When everything else in my life has changed in 71 days, He has been stable. I have learned about myself.

So, today is day number 71 in Alabama. Today is a new day filled with the unknown. In some ways this is terrifying, but more than that it is exciting. Now I can say, “…but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. Praise be to God who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!” Psalm 66:19-20  (NIV)

 

 

 

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing” -Helen Keller