Sunday, September 2, 2012

Summer in a (long) Nutshell

It’s hard to believe that summer is coming to an end since the temps today are still more than pleasantly warm, but we’re in September now, schools are in sessions, and Labor Day weekend traditionally marks the end of summer bliss.

I came across this quote and thought it perfectly sums up this last season for us:

“Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it!” 
-R. Baker

And that’s also the “nutshell” of this post. Because of the length, the rest of this post might not be considered much of a summary, especially if you’re not into reading someone else’s journal.

This was our first summer here since our move. In a sense we’re still getting accustomed to a new lifestyle-- new friends, new church, new places to discover, new things to do, and, well, much more. It’s a lifestyle we're very much enjoying, and our thankfulness hasn’t begun to wear off. I do hope we will always be mindful of our blessings, and even grow in our thankfulness.

But the heat! I’ve not always been thankful for the heat in our house, particularly in the kitchen at the end of the day! Without AC, windows that open, or even a BBQ where at least the cooking heat would be outside, our little room-kitchen was rather an unpleasant place for me! Ah, but the beach! For the beach I have been ever so thankful! This picture sums up our sentiment nicely.

The ocean temperature in August was so nice; just this week the kids and I finished up our work in good time and spent several hours cooling down in the water. I played in the waves and boogie boarded with my kids on a nearly empty beach. Olivia said we need to get me my own boogie board. Agreed.

We spent plenty of time at our community pool, too, but somehow that doesn’t compare to the ocean. A couple times on a Friday evening, when Jon still had meetings, the kids and I would head out from our cookery of a house to the refreshment of the evening sea breeze.

My back problems in July prevented much activity, and I am thankful for easy going kids who contented themselves with games and puzzles, and with helping their mother survive the day. Overall, July stands out as a month for Jon and I. We celebrate our birthdays a week apart (plus a year!), and this year marked Jon’s 35th. I was able to line up a couple sweet families to watch our kids, and we took a 24-hour getaway. Just us.

Oh it was nice! Man and wife, not mom and dad. We hardly talked about the kids, and truth be told, I was reassured to know we still have plenty to talk about! I have no doubt we will be very happy together after the kids are gone! We’re gonna be that sweet old couple, unabashedly lovers! My only regret was not taking pictures of us together... I don’t have a single picture of the two of us all summer!

August 1st was our 14th anniversary. For that special day we were able to spontaneously sneak away for lunch, only after helping an inebriated man from the bushes. Initially we thought he might have been hit by a car; I called 911 and Jon prayed with him as the police arrived to arrest him. On the same day, we put an offer on a house which may finally put an end to the constant moving and unsettled feeling that has marked our 14 years of marriage. It’s been 14 years of unpredictable adventure, though, and I’m thankful to have an exciting story to retell. Our anniversary day this year was a small picture of our married life... together, living all sorts of random things in rapid succession.

Just before our anniversary, I snapped this picture of a necklace Jon bought for me on our honey moon. We found it in a little shop that sold French peasant clothing in Quebec City. It cost a mere $14 and has become one of my most treasured pieces. It reminds me that it’s the simple things, sometimes unexpected, that often become the most precious.

Friends. Summer is for friends. Sleepovers, swimming, BBQ’s, and play. So many of my ministry friends who have relocated to new churches have expressed a period of loneliness that I have never experienced here. The Lord takes us through trials for His good reasons; though loneliness is one I have been well acquainted with at other times, I have been thankful for new friendships here. In another sense, I was well prepared through trials in former years and learned to view my relationship with Jon as being enough. He's my companion.

But other friendships are wonderful, too! We have some great family friends, and each of my kids have formed new friendships that I am so pleased about!

There’s another part of summer that I want to remember, the part that doesn’t have to do with people or activities or heat. I feel like most of my life is lived on the inside, in the part of me where I am in communication with God. I’ve spent much time thinking, questioning, searching, evaluating, and waiting on the Lord. Transformation for me comes slowly; it’s the very gradually peeling away of self. Ultimately, it is the decision to follow Jesus more fully.

I suppose what I'm about to write will be rather vague to most who happen to read; a few close friends might be able to guess at what I'm referring to, and fewer still will actually be right. Obviously I will not disclose every nook and cranny of my life in a public format such as this blog, but I am certain that in the years to come there will be no confusion on my part about the subject matter. Either way, the process is of value regardless of the subject. (Confused? That's OK, it my journal.)

I've had two strong desires for the better part of my adult life. One has been a common wish, the other a persistent dream. Both did not have the possibility of coming to fruition until recently, and in some ways they have been in competition within my heart all summer long, if not longer. The result has been a deep questioning of my priorities-- how do I want to live my life, and to what degree am I willing to lay down my life to follow Jesus? What is it am I living for?

I've asked myself why I am longing for these things. Is it to build myself up, to build up trophies in my honor? Regardless of what I say, is the pursuit of my life truly only comfort and happiness? What if the outcome of these longings is not as I expect or hope? Am I prepared for that? Am I prepared to stand before the Lord my whole life long and fully say, "Have your way with me, Lord?" If in the end my desires only lead to long dark days, or years, am I satisfied knowing that the Lord took me through it just to draw me to Himself in complete brokenness and dependency? Do I want to really know Him like that?

What if I have to choose one desire over the other? How would I respond if after all these years, the doors close permanently? In the pretense of doing good, have I made idols for myself?

I've not arrived-- because that won't happen in this lifetime-- but I can confidently say that my commitment to the Lord has grown deeper, and my understanding of living for Him has matured. At the very least I feel that the desires in question have become less selfish. I give them up to Him to use for His glory and my good.



  1. this post just reminds me of how much i love your blog. so much that i was wondering if you would guest blog for me :) can i please have your email address?

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  3. These are beautiful pictures and words. Thank you for sharing. May I ask, how close are you guys to the beach? It is a wonderful way to cool off!

  4. Nelly~ Thanks for you comment. We're currently 15 or so minutes away-- we sure can't complain about that!

    Much love to you and your sweet family! I love reading your blog updates and seeing your crew grow up! Miss you!

  5. Ha! Look at that, Melia! I called you by my friend Nelly's name! I have long thought that Nelly reminds me of you... I hope the two of you will meet someday! xox


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