Summertime and the Livin’ is…

shutterstock_125617796It’s hard to believe we are already heading into the traditional months of summer, yet here we are!   As a singer, I can’t help but think of the song “Summertime” when we reach this time of the year, though I’m not always sure we can all say the livin’ is easy.  Regardless of what actual season we are in, we have seasons to our lives as well.  Sometimes those seasons bring great times of abundance, and sometimes the seasons bring times of want/need.   In spite of this reality, we actually can live above our circumstances or in spite of our “seasons.”

Summertime is traditionally viewed as a time filled with fun and relaxation.  The daylight lasts longer, people take vacations, kids are out of school and there is an abundance of activities in which we can engage and enjoy.  Aside from the heat in some places, there’s not much to keep us from doing anything we want.  Wintertime, on the other hand, often prevents us from feeling quite as free to enjoy life.  shutterstock_182019791The weather is cold or wet, and it gets dark early so there’s less time for being outside, even if you can stand the elements.  Life is much the same way.  When the “weather” of life’s circumstances turns dark and cold, we have a choice in how we react to it.  We can bundle up and trudge out into it, determined to get where we are going, or we can snuggle up inside our homes and ride out the storm.  What we do NOT need to do is run out into the elements without any protection!  As children of God, we have the ability to lay back and rest in His arms and trust Him to take care of us no matter how the circumstances may appear.  He is our protection and has promised to work everything out for our good.  Sometimes the winters of our lives exist to help us reduce the frenetic pace of our lives and slow down.  In the “winter” of life, we are faced with difficulties that remind us our true power lies in letting go of our need to control everything.  Winter takes us down, sometimes against our will, but it sets the stage for the eventual summer that is just around the corner.

shutterstock_116510107Summer is, in fact, a wonderful time for most people.  I actually prefer the dreariness of storms and winter, but I love the longer days of summer and all that comes with them.  That being said, just because summer is here doesn’t guarantee the “livin’ is easy.”   When things are going well in our lives, we tend to be happier, more peaceful and even more content.  We are quick to praise God for His blessings and our faith seems to be stronger than ever, but as time goes on it becomes easier and easier to forget that all we have is a blessing from our Heavenly Father.  We start relying on our own abilities and strengths and even forfeit our time with God because we feel less and less need for Him.  After all, things are going great, right?  I don’t say this to pass judgment but to point out that we are ALL human and we ALL fall into these same patterns as believers.  And when we reach the point where we begin to think more highly of ourselves than we ought (Romans 12:3), we will quickly find ourselves in the midst of another storm that brings us back to our knees.

Like the apostle Paul, we need to learn how to live in times of plenty and abundance just as much (or even more so) than living in times of need.  In our times of need, we cling to God.  We refocus our priorities and get back to what is important.  We simplify our world as much as possible because we don’t have much of a choice.  Times of need have a tendency to bring us back to our true center much more than times of plenty.  In times of abundance, our human nature is to become complacent and comfortable.  We rely on our own self-sufficiency and lean less and less on God.  We are blessed with material gain but that gain soon becomes the reason we don’t have time to spend in study and prayer with the One who created us.  There is nothing wrong with material gain and it is not bad to abound!  God WANTS us to have a truly abundant life but that abundance comes through our faith and trust in Him and not in ourselves.   It comes in the peace and joy of knowing God is in control and is working everything out for our good, whether our circumstances seem “good” or “bad” to us.  If we can learn, like the apostle Paul, how to be constant and stable whether in times of plenty or of need, THAT is when our lives become filled with abundance.

shutterstock_150252494The actual season of summer is upon us and I pray it is a beautiful time for everyone.  But more than that, I pray it becomes a reminder that just because the sun is shining, doesn’t mean we should forget the storms we have weathered or the “winter” storms those around us may be trudging through.  Let us open our hearts and allow the summertime to remind us that even when the livin’ seems easy, the difficulties and pain our Heavenly Father endured for us to enjoy the warmth of the good times in life, cost Him more than we can comprehend.


The Perfect Gift at the Perfect Time

 Desertion...whether real or perceived...whether intentional or not...feels just the same.

Last week I posted a picture I had painted and added the following caption: “Desertion – whether real or perceived…whether intentional or not…feels just the same.”  That may sound like I’m about to start whining but I’m not.  If you’ve read the “About Me” page, you know I am not wired like most of the people around me.  My brain chemistry allows me to experience wonderful moments of great creativity and passion and gives me both the desire and ability to express what is contained in the depths of my soul.   It also has the potential for dragging me into places from which it is very difficult to crawl out.  I spent the past couple of weeks trying to walk uphill on a slippery slope until I finally gave in and tumbled down into the dark.  It didn’t matter that I knew I had support from those who love me because my wiring, coupled with my circumstances, had overshadowed my knowledge with a feeling of loneliness I couldn’t seem to escape.

So often we get stuck in the midst of our difficulties.  It is human nature for us to falter and stumble in spite of what we know to be true.  For me, I know God is in control but when it comes down to it, I often don’t truly trust Him to take care of me.  We don’t have the ability to see down the road so we scramble, plan and try to rely on our own strength to work things out.  We can’t see ahead and know what God has in store for our lives but HE knows.  He knows the blessings He has in store for us even though we can’t imagine them.  He knows what exciting things He is going to bring to us down the road even though today our life may seem overshadowed with difficulty or depressive days.

As I reflected on these things, I was struck with the image of a father who has an incredible gift for his child and can’t wait for the child to unwrap it.

Giving gift

We can all relate to times when we can hardly wait to give something to someone because we know it is just the “perfect” gift.  It’s hard for us to have it in our possession and not give it to them prematurely because we know how much it will mean to them.  It’s hard to watch them have to wait and possibly even be sad as they think we have forgotten to get them something. Then I think of our Heavenly Father knowing the journey of our lives before we even take our first breath and knowing all He has in store for us.  As He watches the ebb and flow of our lives as His children, He sees the struggles we face but He knows what’s coming.  He feels our tears but He knows what’s coming.  In spite of how hard it may be to watch us succeed and fail, or learn the lessons we must, He knows what’s coming and He knows it is GREAT!  He has an incredible gift in store for us and can hardly wait for us to be able to unwrap it…when the time is right.  I imagine Him looking at us and thinking, “I know it’s difficult right now but if you could just see what is about to come into your world, you would be SO excited.  It is going to amaze you!”  And yet we spend so many of our days trying to just get through the things in our lives.  We struggle with our faith and often have difficulty believing God is even aware of how terrible we feel.  We forget He is always with us, guiding us to a place where He can share incredible blessings with us.  We think He has forgotten.  We forget how much He truly loves us.

And then it happens.


We find ourselves with a blessing so great it seems almost miraculous.  We are stunned.  Our lives are changed.  We are thankful beyond words.  We are amazed.  We realize the struggles we have been dealing with were nothing more than layers of paper we had to unwrap in order to have such an incredible gift revealed to us.  What a wonderful moment for our Father when the time finally comes for us to receive what He had in store for us all along.  He gets to experience our sincere excitement and amazement at what He has done.  I can see Him sitting there, with love in His eyes asking “When are you going to understand that I am not only working everything together for your good, but to bring you to a place where I can give you amazing things?”  These are the moments when most of us are brought to our knees in gratitude, which causes us to realize how weak our faith has become, which then brings us to a place of humility where we remember again that God really IS control and will stop at nothing to give us an abundant life…no matter what it takes.

Sometimes I think that is the greater gift.