Tuesday, September 3, 2013

a new season: finding our wings

I didn't even need an alarm clock this morning.  Between a husband's relentless case of "restless leg syndrome" and an anxious heart, I think I was awake to greet the sun this morning before she even arose to kiss me.  Today was the kids first day back to public school.

Most parents have been counting down the hours for this day.  Two years ago, I probably would've been joining them in their happy dance too.  But to be honest, I have been very anxious about their return.  We homeschooled the past year and a half, and as previous posts indicated, just very recently made a decision to send them back to their old school due to the changing life season and needs of our family at this time. I won't lie, part of me felt like I was sending them out unprotected to a pack of hungry wolves.

This has been a month marked by physical and mental exhaustion.  We just moved.  The move was much rougher than I ever imagined physically, and much easier than I had predicted emotionally.  It's the closing of another life chapter.  And as this one closes, I can't help but reflect on it.  So much life, heartache, and hardship packed into a two year span.  Sometimes, it all makes my heart stop for a minute and just fills me with a dull and lingering ache.  But it was also a season of rich spiritual growth, redemption, and discovery on many levels.  This lathering of sweetness covers over the twinges of bitter that sometimes tries to rise to the surface and leave a bad taste in my spirit.  I forge ahead, swallowing quick and hard the bitter that arises, and chasing after the sweet, letting it linger a bit longer on the palate of my heart.

The kids were so excited to go back to school.  While I've spent the past month up to my elbows in boxes and bubble wrap, packing, moving, loading, and unloading (and have the bruises to prove it), they have been running the season wild...soaking in golden rays, friendship, and the ways of summer. Every last minute, every last drop.  Brayden expressed a mixture of excitement and nervousness about going to school.  I shared the same sentiments.  Since we decided to send them back, I have been earnestly praying over so many things.  So many worries that keep me in bed lying awake at night.  Some worries valid, others a bit far-fetched.  Yet, they have threatened to consume me all the same.  Philippians 4:6-7 has been etched upon my heart this season.

Even yesterday, I woke up and the anxiety was stifling.  I knew I just needed to write, release, pray, and let go of some things I have been struggling with.  So many recent hurts and worries.  Both causing me to clam up and harden if left to my own.  I pulled out my prayer journal and just started shedding it all.  Even bullet-pointed the wounds and anxieties and wrote them out, willing myself to leave them right there at the foot of the cross before they took on a heavy, permanent ink and life of their own.

I was a knot of tangled worry.  Worry about the kids return.  Worry about their safety with all that has transpired in the past year with tragedies and scares that have occurred across our country in elementary schools.  Worry about the possible gaps in their academics...asking God to fill in the voids and cover over my areas of weakness in teaching.  Worry about Brayden...his physical health, his illness and future episodes.  Worry about his mental health and his ability to function again in a traditional public school setting.  Worry about peer influence, worldliness, making poor choices outside the values of our home and our family.  Worry about riding the school bus...what they'll see, what they'll hear, what they'll be exposed to outside of my protection and the sheltering of our home.  This worry list goes on and on...The more I poured, the better I felt.  And after a good 4 pages written, I felt God's peace rising within me.

To let go.
To trust.
To give grace.
Even when it's hard.
And even when I really don't want to.

I remind myself that God's the one in control.  And He loves my little ones even more than do I.  So,  I lean into Him and choose to trust Him to protect and provide.  To cover gaps and smooth over rough edges.  And He does.  Grace does.

I've learned that life is about change.  Some change is by choice, some by default, and some is forced upon us against our will.  There will always be chapters closing and new ones beginning.  Changes in circumstances, relationships, family, needs, health, and heart.  It's a challenge to hold loosely to the things of this world.  For as quickly as something becomes hot, it can just as easily grow cold.  Or meander in lukewarm longer than you'd wish.  So, holding loosely to seasons, recognizing that this journey is about constant change, that people and things will fail and disappoint, is a lesson I've learned.  And along with it, I've realized how critical it is to find beauty and grace in the midst of it all, and to live with purpose and intention through these changing seasons. Even when your heart is jaded, torn, weary, or anxious...there is One who remains constant.

Jesus.
Our soul's anchor through life's transitions and storms.
The One who never fails or disappoints.
The One whose love can never be separated from us.
The One who is capable of working all things out for our good.
The One who is our ever-present help in times of need.
Jesus.

Hold tightly to Him.

I've learned that holding loosely to changing seasons doesn't necessarily exempt us from grieving over the closing of them.  Any time a chapter closes, we are bound to feel a sadness with it.  Hope may eclipse it, but there is a mourning that still exists.  I've been caught between the two.

The kids rode the bus to school this morning and I met them there and walked them to their classrooms.  I am amazed at God's faithfulness and provision in aligning all the details for their return.  So late in the season we decided to send them back.  Long into the summer, and long after "teacher requests" were made by all the other students.  Yet, I contacted the principal after our decision and laid out our requests.  There were two beloved teachers I desperately wanted my kids to be placed with.  Teachers who know our family.  Know our circumstance and our story.  Teachers who would ease my anxiety and provide a comfort level that would make it easier for me to place my kids back in public school if they were to have my children in their classroom.  By the grace of God, those requests were honored.

And God did even more than that.  I don't recall if I mentioned before, but the only way we would consider sending Brayden back to public school is if we placed him in 4th grade.  Technically, he should be a 5th grader.  But, he has a late fall birthday and has always struggled socially/emotionally/behaviorally with being so young for his grade.  My husband and I often had wished we would have waited a year before enrolling him in kindergarten.  We even asked his teachers each year if we should hold him back, as we were told he was a bit "socially immature" for his grade.  But, we were always told the same thing, "academically, he is doing fine."

With Brayden's illness being a concern, and the need to keep his stress level at a minimum, we felt the best thing to do was to reenter him into public school as a 4th grader.  He initially did not like this idea, and felt his peers would think he was "dumb."  We reassured him that this was not the case, but rather for his health.  And, because he had actually never been a 4th grader in public school, this would be a "first" for him, not a repeat because of bad grades.  But, a gateway to his success and a smooth transition.  He worried about not knowing anyone in his class since all of his peers would be a grade above him.    But God was gracious in placing two kids from our church into his classroom with him this year.  He entered the school year with at least two friends he knew.  As for Brooke, she was placed in a classroom with three of her best friends (two from church, and her BFF from her previous years in public school).  She even got so "lucky" as to be placed in a desk right next to one of her friends.

After dropping the kids off at their classrooms this morning, and reconnecting with their teachers who offered nothing but hugs, smiles, and encouragement (even unexpected words that pierced right through the anxiety of my heart and brought forth life and reenforced purpose on many levels...I am still pondering), my heart felt lightened.  I left the school and couldn't help but feel that things just felt "good" and "right."  More peace rising.

I came home to a distraught, angry 4 year old who couldn't believe I didn't take her to school with me.  She hugged, clung, and cried on me with her little bare self.  She had gone upstairs to get dressed when I left this morning.  The pure shock that I didn't take her rendered her unable to put on clothes until my return.  After a lot of snuggling and quite a few zurberts I decided to take her back to our old house.  Something was pulling me there...I told myself it was the mail that had been sitting in the mailbox for a few days, or the fish needing to be fed in the aquarium we still have to pick up, but something deeper inside was compelling me to return.  So we journeyed out.

On the way there I listened to a great message on the radio about grace. It was timely as I have been struggling through some personal things on top of this move and the kids transition back to public school.  I felt His presence near, and gentle.  A coming together of new seasons and a closing of old intertwined with ease within me.  A keen sense that He sees me, knows me, understands my heart, and meets me wherever I am was clear and present.  A healing moment of closure was upon me.

Last week when I had gotten everything (besides that darn aquarium) out of the old house and had cleaned and polished it up sparkly and new, I decided to walk through each room and pray.  It was cathartic and therapeutic.  So many moments and so much life lived within the walls of that big ole yellow house.  I walked through each room and thanked God for the moments/children/activity/memories that had permeated that room.  I reflected on His faithfulness and prayed over our family and our future.  I had just about finished my prayer walkthrough when my phone rang and interrupted.  I took the call and then left the house and said goodbye.

It wasn't until later that I realized that there was one room I had missed.  The front piano room.  The place I retreated to every morning to spend some quiet time alone with God.  How could I have missed that room? It was a room that contained much more than furniture.  This was the place God had showed up and met me time and time again over the past two years.  This was a place I hit my knees and poured out my heart through tears, sobs, and prayer.  Prayers over heartache, healing, cancer, and brokenness.  A place where I filled up one too many prayer journals and dove deep into His Word through Bible study.  A place where conversations were held and hearts were unraveled.  A place where I repeatedly found fresh grace, forgiveness, clarity, wisdom, strength, peace, direction, and revelation.  I wanted to say goodbye to this place. To this holy ground.  To this room that had taken up so much room within my heart.  I wanted to be in this place one more time and talk to my God who had met me there on so many occasions.  And thank Him for it.  And so I did.

When packing up my belongings, there were a few things I refused to take until the very last minute. One of those things was my "You Shall See Wonders" print.  I needed the reminder in the midst of life's transitions, that God was still there, still wonder-working behind the scenes, still capable of doing the immeasurably more.  To serve as a reminder to myself to keep believing it.  I left that big ole yellow house today more certain than ever of it.  I seemed to have found that last piece of closure.  And somewhere along the way, my heart didn't feel as restless, but seemed to have found wings.

My 4th grader

My 3rd grader

First day

My "wanna-be" grader

Off they go; letting go

Familiar faces

New graces

Coming home


As I let go of things, give them over to God, trust Him with my children, my circumstances, my heart and my life, the "good" and the "right" and the Peace envelopes and rests.  There is freedom found in letting go.  Embracing change can be difficult, but have hope that there is One who goes before us and walks with us into each new season of this life journey.  Placing my children back into His hands may not have just given my heart wings, perhaps it's giving them a chance to find theirs.



4 comments:

  1. Simply stunning - as always. Your words speak Truth and life, even amidst your own pain, your words speak healing. I love you my friend. SO much!

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    1. thank you becky jo! i love you too, my friend...and that i can always count on you to do pray battle for our family. xoxo

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  2. What memories this post evokes! Our period of transition now is kids graduating college and getting married. Our youngest is a senior in college; the two oldest are now through college, grad school, and are married. So what am I doing? Back in school.

    This was very powerful:
    "I felt God's peace rising within me.
    To let go.
    To trust.
    To give grace.
    Even when it's hard.
    And even when I really don't want to."

    I'm still learning about this.

    Good post.

    wb

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    1. thanks for the encouragement warren...i'm still learning about this as well, and each new day and each new circumstance begs for me to let go in certain areas and extend grace in others. this life is about seasons coming and going...i hope that by the time my little ones are the ages of your children in college, time and experience will make this grace/letting go act easier on my heart. but something tells me this will always be part of our fleshly struggle as we fight toward the road of glory.

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