Sunday, October 4, 2015

Redefining Autumn

"And just like that, summer fell into fall."

I'm not sure who first said that, but I like it, and it's true. Rather suddenly the long, warm shadows of a setting summer sun woke to the short cool morning shadows, casting reflective swirls on the drops of dew on the blades of chilly grass. The warm is gone. The cool has come.

As have the vests, skinny jeans, and riding boots.

Fall is definitely here. It's my favorite color and favorite time of the year. When you walk outside and see your breath levitating before you, the tips of your fingers chilled, but not yet cold, perhaps wrapped gently around a steaming mug. When the tips of the treetops are painted autumn, and the grass will no longer need trimmed.

I understand there are some who do not care for, or rather despise, autumn. Mother Nature putting on its colorful coat, each arm stretching through the firey tapestry one at a time, until the garment of earth is wrapped around each twig, each branch, each leaf, and the stillness of winter buttons up the trees. Many believe this time of year to be such a depressing and bleak time, the knowledge of cold and lonely days ahead. Often when I comment that I love fall, it's met swiftly with, "Oh, not me. It just means winter is coming!"

We've been here a long time. Almost four months. We unpacked our time here in the the peak of Spring, just before it dove into the heat of summer, and we're still here, walking over the sidewalk, and past the new display of mums, corn stalks, and hay bales.

I've struggled lately. The images of fall are beginning to sprout up all over social media. Fields beginning to be harvested. Families enjoying the pumpkin patch. Football games in full swing. Campfires and s'mores.

I've been fighting the enemy of jealousy and envy. I've been so focused on craving normal that I haven't taken the time to consider our abnormal.

Today's message at a local church we attend while here in the city with our girl challenged us to consider the following: If your circumstances changed, would life still be worth living? For example, if you lost your job, or something close to you, if there was something in your life that marked a trial or struggle or suffering, where and who would you turn to?

We were reminded that our happiness, our joy, hinges on what we define life as.

This week I wallowed in self-pity at the fact that we've been cooped up in this tiny room for four months. That we're missing this fall season that is beginning around us. That we're not able to participate in or witness all that this time of year entails. I've struggled with the idea of missing out.

I lost my joy this week. I was disobedient before the Lord upon the calling He has brought us to. I was restless of being here and frustrated with the world moving around us again while we stand still, a stillness that I've felt off and on over the last year.

But today's message really challenged me. What is it I feel I'm missing out on right now? Do I miss the normal life we had before Chloe? Before our days were filled with doctor appointments and hospital stays and our residence relocated to the city? Or am I just craving the "normal" we had while at least home as a family with our Chloe and her nurses? Am I just missing home life? Routine? What is it I'm missing and thus throwing the pity party for?? What am I defining life as right now?

Because if my definition is any of the above, and I'm constantly longing for things as they were, then I wouldn't be allowing Him to change me. I would be saying that the life He is choosing for me isn't enough. I would be questioning His plan. I think I've gotten so wrapped up in defining our current situation as temporary because in my mind I'm so ready for Chloe to get better and for us to all get home, that I'm living in this constant non-constant. Our every day right now hinging on hopefully going home soon. But that hinge has been there for four months. At what point will I realize that He gives us each day. Instead of constantly calling things temporary and treating them as such, I need to soak up each day He's placed us here. Because these days matter too. I tend to think of it one day at a time and that motto of "just get through the day" instead of bask in the day and take it all in. To bask in this season of being a medical family and living it. It's ok to embrace the normal and mundane if that's what He's called you to. But it's also ok to embrace the crazy, roller-coaster, abnormal, undefined life if He's called you to that as well. I'm no longer striving to grasp the last ounce of normal for our family. I'm embracing that He's cast us out of the normal range and thrust us into a life that only He can dictate and wind around and plant my feet upon. Living this life, the life of loving a fragile child through trial after trial and joy for love and length and breath means putting our normal lives in chapters past and waiting and trusting the One who holds the ink that will splash and dance across pages to come.

Because if He didn't lead us here, out of the ordinary and into the beyond-planned-calendar-pages of what so many, us included, call life when it's really just the worship of busyness and worldliness, then my eyes wouldn't have been opened to see all the ways I've yet to know Him. There would be so much left that His hand wouldn't have instructed me. My soul wouldn't have felt if He hadn't touched it in this way. My heart not danced to this beat that He orchestrated.

In redefining this, and pulling myself away from the self-pity of feeling as if we're missing out on so much, I'm seeing it less as a season of "temporary" and more as a season of waiting and trusting. It's still a season of stand-still, but with purpose. Seeing it as temporary means I'm overlooking the present and trying desperately to lunge for the future, when in reality I need to plant my feet in the here and now and wait. And trust that even now He is working all things for the good of those who love Him. Our hearts long...long to bring our baby girl home again. To celebrate the upcoming season and holidays with her. To watch her grow to our amazement. Dreams of her learning to sit, to be held on my chest, to outgrow her tubes, to outgrow her crib. She's already outgrowing all her clothes. She's already successfully outgrown her old shunt and accepted with grace her newly designed heart. Now is a season of waiting patiently for her to outgrow these germ bugs and infections as well. She is working so hard and I need to not sit here in self pity and itchiness to move forward but instead hold her hand and reassure her and us that we're exactly where we all need to be.

As I said earlier, I don't like the replies to my love of autumn hit with "it just means winter is on the way".  Those saying that are completely overlooking an amazing season of stunning warm sunsets in juxtaposition to coolness on the breeze of falling leaves. When foggy mornings allow only orange leaves and red berries to fade through the heavy air. If we were to overlook such an amazing time of year, we'd miss the Master Painter's hand hard at work in this moment. Just as if we were to overlook this hard healing and recovery process for Chloe, we'd miss the part about perseverance and endurance and all it has to teach us.

Autumn is a season of waiting and trusting. Waiting and watching as the leaves float to the earth as the ground begins to frost over, and eventually tiny crystals forming snow, and a blanket of hope laid gently on the world.Trusting in the Spring that is to come again. Romans 5:3~4.


  1. Thank you for so beautifully sharing your heart -- and, in the process, preaching to my soul. I listened to this podcast earlier today with a similar theme and thought you might enjoy it:

    We had a brief (4 week) stay in the NICU last year, and this was the verse I clung to when longing for "normal": "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,'" declares the Lord. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'" Isaiah 55:8,9) I'm praying for you and your family.

  2. Hopefully if I can get a chance I'll look up that podcast! Thanks for sending it on. And the scripture from Isaiah is one of our favorites ever since the beginning of all of this <3 Thank you so much for your prayers for our family.