Children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children born in one's youth. Blessed are they whose quivers are full. They will never be shamed contending with foes at the gate. ~Psalm 127:3-5

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sunshine After The Rain

It's amazing what the sunshine can do to a melancholy heart!

I always seem to have more of a tendency toward sadness but the winter blues definitely hit me hard every single year. It's bad enough for the few months of gray chill which sinks into my bones and doesn't let go, making the winter seem like an eternity. But then there's the rain we've had over the last month or so- the dreary start to Spring- which has really taken its toll, and I have just been unusually down. Of course, life's difficult circumstances that flood in and out at times are just icing on that emotional cake. Sometimes, I wonder how Noah felt on his ark with his family and all those animals. How difficult it must have been! How his hope must have dwindled some as time went on. And I think about how my hope has dwindled at times, especially lately. But, as yesterday was the first day in quite awhile with no rain, the sun poked through the haze of the overcast sky and I felt it warming my heart and stirring hope within me.

Today the sun is shining full blast; a slight breeze whispers through the trees and there is life everywhere. My vegetables are growing quite nicely, safely planted in the raised garden box we built around Mother's Day. The container garden I pulled together a few weeks ago is overflowing with color and texture; an uplifting sight as I was unsure it would make it through all the rain we've had. Red and purple salvia and persian shield, as well as other beautiful plants are in full bloom in their happy containers on our newly-built patio. The birds are busy flying around gathering bits of grass and twigs for their nests. Bees are buzzing about doing their bee-thing!
I've gotten into the habit of having the windows open at this time of year, despite how hot it may get and despite the pollen count. It lets the sunshine in and the clean air filter through the house. It makes my heart dance with joy to see the sun's rays, feel their warmth, feel the breezes sweeping through the house, knowing they are gifts from God. The kids have been picking flowers from our wild hill garden which I've tucked into small glass jars and bud vases. The mixture of purples and yellows and pinky whites are so pretty grouped together with mint and other greens. I picked a bunch myself a few days ago, arranging them into a decorative tin pitcher, and placed it in the middle of our dining room table.
The joy of Spring has really been a blessing, despite all the rain we've had. It's not just the tangible gifts it brings like flowers and sunshine, but the timing of these things, especially this year. Over the past few months, God has really been working in my heart to cultivate contentment. I have prayed for it practically every day; to learn to grow where I'm planted and be content where I am, knowing He has a purpose for each moment and season of my life. As Joe and I have been anxious over the last year to move on to the next stage of our home and business life, I've been really convicted of the fact that we are rushing things, not living in the moment, not seeing the blessings and gifts our heavenly Father is giving us where we are right now.

We have felt like we are quickly outgrowing our small house and yard but have been realizing lately that it's not really as bad as we feel. When the kids are happily tumbling around in the yard, swinging on the swing set, creating pretend meals of grass and dirt and weeds and picking flowers to bring in to their mama, it touches my heart in a humbling way and makes me feel content. When I hear them playing nicely in their rooms and helping each other do simple tasks, I'm delighted at the fact that in these moments, they don't feel annoyed by the limited space and are actually content to be with- and often serving- their siblings. When family and friends make comments about how beautiful the backyard is or how nice the house looks or even how spacious it seems, I get a new perspective on a once-depressing subject. The doors in my mind creak open a crack and then a little more each time I get someone else's take on the way things are around here. I feel a tingle in my heart, like God is pulling on its strings saying "see, you are exactly where you are supposed to be right now and even if it's a little difficult, there are many blessings to be found here."

The truth is, I don't want a big fancy house and a lot of stuff to keep me and the kids occupied. I'd like to live more simply, actually. I just want a slightly bigger home where we aren't falling all over each other and the noise can be contained (sometimes) in an area where it won't disturb a working husband on the phone with a client in the office which is right next to the playroom, or a sleeping 21 month old in the bedroom down the short hall. We want land to build our business on and to have a few farm animals. I want chickens! I want our children to be content playing with each other and our animals and doing work around our home instead of wanting to be out and about, always on the go, doing things and needing new gadgets and toys. I want to get back to the basics, like planting a larger garden, and teaching my children about simple living despite a materialistic world. I am content to drink out of glass jars when our "fancy" glasses are all broken instead of wasting money on new ones, and composting my kitchen scraps instead of wasting them in the trash (which we haven't done yet because we have no room for a compost pile), and cloth diapering (which I've done for the last 3 years) to save us from spending money and not contributing to the chemicals in the landfills.

I guess part of me wants to get to that simplicity of living so badly that being where we are right now, which hinders the ability to do some of the stuff I want to do, makes me feel anxious and depressed. But I know the intent is there, the desire to do what God wants us to do, in His perfect timing. The frigid temps of winter, where everything seemed lifeless and gray, always magnified my depression and the thoughts that things will never be different. The flooding rains we've had after the winter, when the sun is held captive behind black clouds pregnant with more and more rain, seem to drown out that hope for the next season of life. It's hard for a small flower to be content in a garden that hardly sees the sun and is constantly drowning in murky water.

I think about Noah on that ark, floating around with his family while darkness and rain persisted, drowning the world around them. I compare it to my floating through life, sometimes drowning in the dark and rain. But just like after the time of flooding and darkness that Noah and his family endured, there's always the sun - a giant source of warmth and hope. It must have encouraged Noah as he drifted for 150 days on the flooded world after the rain had stopped. He knew it would dry the waters and fulfill God's promise to him. Just like Noah, I take this beautiful gift from God- high in the sky shining down on me- as a tangible reminder of His love for me and the promises He not only makes but always keeps.

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