I don’t know about you but I just love the fall season. It really is my most favorite time of the year. I love the crispness in the air, I love the changing colors of the trees, I love pumpkin picking and hayrides and I REALLY love the pumpkin spice lattes…
But what I love the most about this time of year is that I find it to be the season with the most contrast.
Fall offers days warm enough for shorts and tank tops one day and cold enough for fleece jackets and snow boots the next. Everything around me seems more vibrant as leaves change colors and seem to glow against the sky that always looks bluer to me in the Fall than any other time of the year. And something about the back-to-school vibe gives me the feeling of new beginnings much more so than New Years or Spring Time.
And did I mention the pumpkin spice lattes? Thank God for Starbucks!
Ten years ago, on this very day Oct 22, I found myself in the midst of a brand new season, on a mountain top in Guatemala. I was on my second missions trip to this area in the same year. Earlier in the year, I ventured out on my first Global Missions trip to Guatemala partnering with Compassion International and working with children in a very small rural village high atop a mountain overlooking Lake Atitlan. The experience was one of the most moving and life changing Ive ever had. And when, later that same year, the opportunity emerged to return to to this tiny mountain top town, I didn’t hesitate to volunteer.
As our plane departed DCA for Miami, I couldn’t help but stare in awe out the window as we ascended over the shenandoah, marveling at the vastness of changing colors below me. Seeing the changing leaves from 15-20 thousand feet felt alot like viewing a Monet, all the varying species of trees … like little dots below me … comprised this majestic landscape…
a beautifully woven tapestry of color and light. I couldn’t help but praise the Lord and thank him for allowing me, in that very moment, to enjoy his creation along with him.
So the year was 2003, back then, people still took pictures with actual cameras and film and even had hard copies in photo books, as I am sure you can recall.
Ive been blessed to go on many mission trips over the years and one thing that is always a big hit on these trips is sharing personal photographs with the people who we meet in country. They always enjoy seeing pictures of us with our families and friends, at work, at church, and the communities where we live. It was actually a great segue to discuss more personal matters as we were there — ultimately — to share the gospel. My handy photobook always proved to be a helpful tool in making new friends.
On this October 2003 trip to Guatemala, I had some photos in my photobook that I took from the roofdeck on my apartment. At that time, I was living and working on Capitol Hill. I lived in an efficiency apartment that was once a hotel, it is one of the oldest and tallest buildings on the Hill and has this amazing roof top deck where you can look out over the city.
The pictures I had in my photobook were taken earlier that month, and included shots of the bright white US Capitol dome gleaming against the changing fall colors against a deep blue sky dotted with perfect cotton ball clouds. These are still some of my favorite pictures from that season of life, especially because they really capture the contrast of the changing seasons.
So as I proudly showed these photos of my home to my Guatemalan friends I was excited to see their enthusiastic response. I really thought they must have been excited to see the US Capitol building. But that was not what had captured their attention.
They were amazed by the trees changing colors.
Through a translator, they shared that they had never seen a tree change colors. I couldn’t believe it. It never even occurred to me that there were areas of the world where people could live their whole lives without seeing fall foliage, or snow for that matter. This was simply amazing to me. How strange it must have been for them to see what they have only known to be green, changing into yellow, red, orange and brown.
So we started to talk about seasons. I described the four distinct seasons that we regularly enjoy living in the mid-Atlantic. Then they shared about their seasons. I learned that the basically only have two seasons: rainy and dry.
Now, I am no expert in Guatemalan climatology, but this is how they described their seasons. Not much changed temperature wise for them.
They just had the two seasons… one was dark and rainy the other was bright and sunny. Additionally, trees never change color there. The mountains are always lush and green. We were not in the rain forest but it sure did look like it to me.
Suffice it to say, we were both equally fascinated as we learned more about the seasons where we lived on very different parts of the earth.
So you may be thinking, AnnieLaurie, that sure is a nice story but what does this have to do with the Lord?
What I hope to leave you with tonight is the concept of life’s seasons. I am sure you have heard life described as a collection of various seasons. It really is a great visual to the help us remember that life’s circumstances, whether good or bad, always have a beginning and an end and that they look very different from one person to the next. No matter what season of life we may be in, one thing we can count on is that, in time, that season will change.
One of the more famous Bible passages, thanks to 1950’s Rock Band The Byrds, is Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, which reads:
A Time for Everything
3 There is a time(A) for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,(B)
3 a time to kill(C) and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent(D) and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
As mothers of preschoolers we are all in a very unique season of life. Empty-nesters will tell us “the days are short” while we think to ourselves “yeah, but the nights are long.”
Well meaning strangers may pass us in the grocery store, and say loudly, in order to be heard over our toddlers melt down: “enjoy this season, it goes by so fast!” while we pull it together long enough to give a gracious smile as we hurry for the safety and privacy of home.
Whoever came up with the saying: dynamite comes in small packages,” must have had their two year old on their mind when they said it.
The truth of the matter is that yes. As moms, we are in a very special season. It is a honored season, even a coveted season, that has an equal measure of hard work and fun, disappointments and rewards. It is an infinitely meaningful time of life and I know that all of us here understand the weight and depth and breadth of the value placed on this sacred season of life.
Yes, we are in this together, this season of raising up children. But even within this season how we experience the season looks very different from mom to mom.
Just as I sat with my Guatemalan friends as we marveled together at the differences in our own geographically distinct seasons, each of us as we sit around these tables and share our stories have an opportunity to marvel together at our own unique seasons. Some of us are in seasons of drought, where life feels cracked and dry and God seems distant. Others of us are in seasons of refreshing where we are finally getting into a manageable groove, our schedules are in sync with our kids and we are even getting a shower every day for the first time in months! Some of us are dealing with seasons of financial crisis or, perhaps, financial abundance. Others may feel you are in a sleep deprived coma, hanging on by a thread while others may be coming to life after a long season of up all night.
Wherever life may have us, lets continue to prioritize this time with other moms and invest in each other as we move through these various seasons. Linger early and often, ask deeper questions and be willing to give honest answers. Get interested in whats happening in the lives of those sitting next to you week to week. We each have something to offer one another, an encouraging word, an understanding nod, even a warm smile can really be significant as we navigate the ups and downs within the various seasons of motherhood.
Something that God is really hammering home to me right now is that we are not meant to do this alone. He designed us to be in community together like we are here tonight, he wants us to share our seasons and describe them in great detail so that we can help each other, cheer each other on, learn from each other and mostly so we can give God praise for the wonderful ways we see him at work in our lives.
Because no matter what season of life we are in, one thing is certain, a promise we can cling to as seasons begin and end: GOD NEVER CHANGES
Hebrews 13:8 says: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
James 1:17 says: Every good and perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
Romans 8:28 says: God works all things together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose.
Isaiah 40:8 says The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.
We can be certain that our seasons will change. But our God will never change. We sing a song at church called Your Love Never Fails. A line in the chorus goes:
You stay the same through the ages
Your love never changes
There maybe pain in the night but joy comes in the morning
Lets hold tight to that promise and remember that:
God’s word tells us that life will be full of all kinds of seasons
We need to stay in community to help each other as we navigate these changing seasons
Because God never changes, we can trust him and rely on him to carry us through any change a new season may bring.