Turning over new leaves
Nothing rivals the new beginning that Spring represents. This season never ceases to amaze me when the crocuses, snow drops and hellebores push through the earth faithfully, a mere glimpse of the awakening to come. Spring reminds me every year why it is my favorite as it bursts forth with color and glory that only the Creator of the Universe could possibly have imagined. And this year — more than ever — I want the winter to end.
Since January first, I've been trying to come up with my word for the year. I saw the idea on Instagram and immediately decided I needed to be like all the other cool people who do this. At first I wanted to make my word for the year "comfort food," but 1. that's two words, and 2. probably not in line with the practice. So I chose my runner up, which is "release." God has been challenging me to hold loosely to the things in this world. So in 2023, I'm standing on a beach covered in snow, but the warm sun is breaking up over the horizon. Under the cold flakes at my feet, there are sand, shells, and the sign of warmth to come. I've unearthed some of it, scooped it up, and have my palms open, asking God to sift what I hold. Meanwhile, as some beautiful things inevitably escape through my fingertips, my arms remain outstretched, ready to receive manna from Heaven. If God is removing something from my life, He will either replace it with something better or fill the empty space that it leaves with Himself.
My life has been a paradox for so many months now. It's been a constant juxtaposition of brokenness and beauty, of heartache and joy, of decay alongside bloom. And there's so much of it I simply can't share.
The difficult season began in 2021, long before December when my son fell in our kitchen. I thought he might have permanent brain damage and the worst kind of fear gripped me. It turned out that the fall only concussed him and broke his jaw on both sides. (There's some of that manna.) In September 2022, my youngest gashed his hand open and then broke his wrist two weeks later. I got in two car accidents three months apart last year, neither my fault nor hurting anyone (more manna), but causing a whole lot of headaches and costing time and money. Of course, there's also my BMW M5, still sitting unfixed from its track mishap five months ago. When its engine stopped working a mile away from the Pit, I figured it was just the battery and it would start right back up. The good news is I didn't money shift and what happened is not really my fault. But the engine must have gotten oil starved, as the eventual diagnosis found that the rear-most main crankshaft bearing seized onto the crankshaft and dragged the engine to a halt. I'm still trying to get it fixed, but wow, do I miss driving it. My parents have both faced serious health issues in the past nine months, but at the moment things appear stable. Again, manna (at least for now).
But there are more issues in my life for which there are no fixes, no mechanics, and no doctors. If I had all the money in the world, I couldn't make them go away. These are the ones I can't write about. I don't think I have any enemies, so I'll simply say I wouldn't even wish them on Christian Laettner.
So many things happen in our lives that aren't what we want, but what we get. When you're a person of faith, this is where the rubber meets the road, so-to-speak. Can we believe that God is still good even when our world seems to crumble around us? Even when what we want is so very far from what we get? My pastor, Mike Kelsey, challenged us as spring began to live in such a way that we trade in our vision for our lives for Jesus' vision for our lives. And I can wholeheartedly say that I trust that God has something better. I believe this because, as Mike said, when you read through Scripture, you realize there's really no trade off at all.
So as I sat typing this on the first day of spring, wanting to stuff my face with Five Guys, I could see the bare trees outside my window. I reminded myself that they will turn over new leaves soon. The proof is all around: the grass that's already turned greener, the daffodils in full bloom now, and the pansies and even poppies available at the local nursery. Like the second book I've started writing, and the part-time publishing job that I'm beginning, so, too, will be my life as I blossom. This is my absolute favorite season, and especially this year, I welcome it with relief, with release, with open arms, and yes, some comfort food.