“If I try to force this season to look like my last one, I miss out on the unique beauty of this one and I miss the opportunity to use all that He taught me then, now.” Speaker/encourager Emma Mae Jenkins posted this earlier this month and it struck me deeply because it’s what I’d been missing in appreciating seasons.
God has been teaching me about seasons and the value in rhythm, even during changes. But I was holding on too tightly, trying to replicate previous seasons. God has made each season beautiful and appropriate in its own time. Yes, spring, summer, fall, and winter repeat, but each spring looks different than the one before because God has transformed me. I’m not the same this year. Grieving in the summer seemed unnatural, and now here I am in winter finding myself again. There can be similarities and traditions, but the details change from one season to the next, from one year to the next. That’s both wonderful and terrifying.
Yet here I am at the end of a hard year knowing I’ve been transformed for the better. Here I am saying I’m thankful for seasons.
Nothing in this life stays the same. That almost seems like a threat, but really it’s a promise too. Our God won’t leave us where we were in the winter by the time springs starts blooming new life. Here’s to the seasons we lived in 2019 and the ones to come in 2020.
Some of our favorite Christmas traditions happened in the same weekend at the beginning of December. We went on our annual tree hunt on our property and found a good evergreen to bring into the living room. We did this between the huge extended family brunch and the town’s parade later in the evening. We ended the festive night with Santa at the Murray State basketball game.
Then Sunday of that weekend, Greg and I went to see Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of God concert with three friend couples. We had dinner before the show.
For years, I’ve heard about Behold the Lamb of God. I’ve listened to the music, first on a CD and then imported to iTunes. I knew he invited lots of friends onto stage, but it wasn’t until I sat in the Ryman Auditorium balcony on that Sunday night that I witnessed a community of musicians.
Andrew Peterson wrote these songs and invited others to share them. Together they tell the story of our need for Jesus, a savior’s birth, and our rescue. He could sing these songs alone, but there’s power in letting go and welcoming others in. The voices and instruments came together to make something even more lovely.
Those people who were on stage are talented. Their bios are about writing songs and accompanying and touring with famous names. But they shared the spotlight and gave God the glory. They brought us to the throne and sent us on our way with hearts fuller than they were three hours earlier.
It was such a sweet start to the Christmas season. We also had a day at Greg’s mom’s house with his brothers and their families. Then we spent a few days in Louisville with my family. I was glad to be able to see aunts, uncles, and cousins from both sides of my family.
We came home on Christmas Eve and have enjoyed some slow days together – or mostly together. Cate was quarantined in her room for a few days, thanks to the flu.
Reflect and Refresh — I joined my friend Kayse Pratt from Anchored Women for this eight-day Instagram challenge that prompted me to slow down to look back on 2019 and toward 2020. You can read the posts when you scroll back on Instagram or Facebook.
Middle school basketball — My seventh-grader and two of her middle school friends are playing on our little school’s first-ever middle school girls’ team. They had their first two games this month and they were so fun. There’s a lot to be learned about playing basketball, but I’m so thankful for Cate’s bravery to try something new. Ben is playing with the younger kids and has games starting in January.
Top Nine from 2019 — I love the website that makes a grid of the top nine liked photos from my Instagram account. These days my big kids are way more picky about me taking their picture. Of course I do, and sometimes I post them. Y’all apparently like when I do. My #topnine of the year includes multiple big kid photos.
Other observations: Y’all also we’re excited we got to meet University of Kentucky Coach John Calipari at the Jockey Being Family Gala in Lake Geneva (center photo). We love our Racers and road-trip friends, so I’m glad y’all do too (left center and bottom right). And, yes, Animal Kingdom is still my favorite Disney Park park. Thanks for liking our roaring faces (bottom left). I love capturing memories and am grateful y’all humor me with your likes, comments, and willingness to follow along. I know, it seems impossible this year marked knowing Greg for 21 years and being married for 17 years of those (top left).
From the bookshelf
“The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry” by John Mark Comer — I mentioned this book last month, but it’s worth mentioning again now that I’m finished with it. Written by a fellow Enneagram 1, Type A person, I really appreciated how he shares about living a slower life, which actually leads to a more fulfilled life. I have so much to learn in this area and am inspired by his words and practices. This is one of those books I’ll think back on for a long time to come, especially as I work on developing some healthy habits entering in the new year.
Okay, how about one quote from this book?
“Jesus’ schedule was full. To the brim at times. In a good way. Yet he never came off hurried. This rootedness in the moment and connectedness to God, other people, and himself weren’t the by-products of a laid-back personality or pre-Wi-Fi world; they were the outgrowths of a way of life. A whole new way to be human that Jesus put on display in story after story. … He put on display an unhurried life, where space for God and love for people were the top priorities, and because he said yes to the Father and his kingdom, he constantly said no to countless other invitations. Then he turned around and said, ‘Follow me.’”
“Regretting You” by Colleen Hoover — I wanted to read this the day it came out, but I waited about 10 days because I knew I’d devour it quickly. I did, and I really enjoyed it during this Christmas weekend. It’s a story about complicated grief, first love, and how people are connected. I loved it being told through alternating perspectives of a mom and daughter. I related to being angry with someone when his death revealed secrets and how it’s tricky to remember the good parts. I’ve read seven Colleen Hoover books this year, all since this summer. Discovering her was definitely a favorite part of my year.
On the screen
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” — Greg and I watched the third season of this show. We could do without the cursing and really think in the 1950s people like the characters wouldn’t cuss so much, but otherwise we really love the show.
“Noelle” — This movie streaming on Disney+ was really cute. We watched it as a family one night before Christmas and especially enjoyed all the holiday puns.
“Holiday in the Wild” – Greg and I watched this Christmas movie on Netflix. It has Rob Lowe, Kristin Davis, and a sweet storyline involving elephants in Africa.
Here are #PorchStories from the earlier months this year: January. February. March. April. May. June. July. August. September. October. November.
In an effort to re-adjust priorities in my home and heart, #PorchStories will look different in 2020. I still plan to write and share stories here, but there won’t be a monthly linkup. I’m going to miss that opportunity for community, but I know stepping back for now is the right thing. I do still hope you’ll gather and share at the virtual porch on Facebook.