When we first moved to Sheboygan, 16 years ago, we were in a winter season of life. A desire for relationships lay dormant within us. The branches of our life were barren. Life, by our choice, was not particularly filled with sun and warmth.
But deep inside, we were “wick”. (According to what’s-his-name in The Secret Garden…that’s the Yorkshire way of saying there is still life at the core). God knew that. And He knew exactly the atmosphere and the pruning that were needed for our growth and healthy development.
After a few years, in the care and keeping of the Body of Christ, spring arrived. Friendships and ministry began budding in our lives. The hope and vision of warmer days was here! We began to truly invest in the friendships that God had given us. We wanted to serve Him in whatever way He chose.
Soon, spring turned into summer. Enjoying those beautiful relationships. Giving and taking. Living life together. Praying. Crying. Laughing. Digging into God’s Word. Encouraging. Counseling. Serving. Listening and learning from godly mentors. Persevering.
Life was like a summer picnic~sweet watermelon and corn on the cob, yummy potato salad (for me…without the onions), sitting on a blanket in the grass down by North Point, with a beautiful blue sky overhead. Friends laughing and talking. A few pesky flies and ants, maybe the threat of a rain cloud. And probably a few worries about the kids falling into the lake.
But it was from God, and it was good. We had friends and a church family that we were committed to, and that were committed to us. We had sweet times of fellowship. Yes, there were the difficulties to deal with-life is not perfect, after all. But knowing and trusting that God wouldn’t give us what we couldn’t handle was deeply assuring. I loved my life.
And then the winds of change began to blow.
When the air first starts getting brisk, there are times that I get excited about the upcoming “hunker-down and get cozy” season. I love wearing sweaters and drinking hot cocoa. I love “snow globe” snowfalls. The scheduled routine of the school year gets me excited. And then, there are the moments when I remember what a pain the upcoming season can be. Scraping snow off the car…all the back breaking work of shoveling…filling the gas tank in frigid weather~and I get an “ugh” feeling in the pit of my stomach (especially as I get older).
Several months ago, that’s where I was. I had times that I was excited about the upcoming changes in our life. And then, moments of dread as I realized that we would be leaving the warmth of our life here. The “picnic lunch” with our dear ones.
But here I am. Last night, in a room filled with beautiful people and the love of Christ, I realize that my heart is going through the last days of autumn. Every person in my life is like a beautiful autumn leaf. And with every hug I gave, and every goodbye I said, I felt like the leaves were slowly falling off my tree. My heart aches, but as I ponder the change in my season of friendships, I know that this is part of His plan. And I have decided that I am going to start a “leaf” collection. I will treasure each and every precious, beautiful person that God has put into my life. For truly, my life is most definitely richer because of each of them!
Winter will soon be here. A time when life will change for me. Scraping all the superficial off of new relationships…doing the work (which, I’ll be honest, is often difficult for me) of opening myself up to new friends. Probably some bitter cold, lonely winds.
I don’t know what the future holds. I am not sure how He wants us to serve Him. I am, however, praying that this “winter season” of my life is shorter than our winter seasons here in Wisconsin. I love green, leafy trees. I love looking up into the sky and seeing them reaching toward the heavens…. But regardless of how long this season lasts, I know that He is the Creator, the Sustainer, the Gardener….and I will trust Him and His perfect seasons for me.