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embrace your place

It's a running joke in our family that fall is the WORST season of them all. It's funny now being 20 years removed from childhood, but when my brother and I were kids (I think it's safe to speak for us both) we hated fall. I loathed it. Because before cute booties, blanket scarves and pumpkin spice lattes- there were Saturday's and there were chores. And not just any chores. No, fall had a special chore that so uniquely sucked my soul unparalleled by any other season… the devils play thing of raking. the. leaves.

At my house it wasn't enough to just wake up at an ungodly hour and be ripped away from cartoons to rake leaves. No. You raked leaves into a pile big enough to hide a dead body, just to rerake the pile onto a tarp so you could then drag the 356 pounds of dead forestry to the front yard so a blessed and highly favored street cleaner could come and suck them away. But not each pile would fit the first tarp time. And there was never just one pile. The back yard magically converted to the Sequoia National Park each fall and at the first sign of the season my dread started. But, as we all know eventually fall ended. Winter came with snow and sledding and then soon thereafter spring with new life and then those sweet summer days. Now that I have no leaves to rake fall is one of my favorite seasons. But it's not always been that way. I had to go through a lot of bad falls to realize the beauty of the cycle. I had to rake a lot of dead leaves to really cherish the new life spring brought. I had to let the seasons come as they may. In the timing that was ordained. I have had to learn that each season serves a purpose and to wish a season away is poor stewardship of the presence. I had to learn that where I am can be beautiful or broken but it's where I am and there's much to learn and there's much to do.

Now I don't know what "season" you're in. Maybe it's spring for you. New beginnings. New relationships, new job, new title, new outlook. You're growing and embracing and soaking each precious moment as they come. If that's you, from the deepest sincerest cavern of my heart I rejoice with you! I give thanks with you! I celebrate in your goodness! My challenge and prayer is that you take grasp of each of these days and you store them up. Recounting even now how faithful God has been to bring you here. Do not take this season for granted. Become lost in the goodness of God, the fruit of your labor and be completely present where you are!

Or maybe you're like me.. and you're just not there. Maybe you've lost a loved one. You've ended a relationship. You're stuck in a dead end job. Your family is falling apart. Your kids are fleeing from truth. You've been betrayed. You feel as if all of the walls of your life are caving in and each breath feels more and more shallow and you just don't know how you're going to make it through. Maybe darkness is all your eyes can look up to see. You feel lost. abandoned. crushed. Maybe that's you. And if it is. Please know, you're not alone. Maybe you're just walking into this or maybe you've been in this season for what seems like eternity. You've said the prayers. You've read the scriptures. You've sat through the sermons. You've done all the things and you're still here. Broken. Empty. Crushed. Take heart, family. You will get through this. It most likely won't be immediate and it's more than likely to hurt along the way. But you will get through this. I want to encourage you that brokenness doesn't mean defective. For a long time I believed the lie that if I'm struggling I'm not a believer. If I'm hurting I'm not trusting God. Those things are simply just not true. The enemy would love to make you believe that heartache equals doubt and doubt equals no God and no God equals your right to give up. He'd love for you to believe that because it's a lie and he's in the business of making you run from the truth because even the devil knows the truth can set you free. I want you to know it's okay to hurt. It's okay to feel crushed. It's okay to praise in the pain and say amen and still be in pain. It's okay. What's not okay is when we stop praying, stop seeking, stop believing and stop praising simply because it's "not working." In a season of brokenness it's a season of a lot of work. It's a season of fighting through. It's a season of being thankful despite the circumstances. It's a season of getting up every morning and regardless of where your mind wants to wander and say THIS IS THE DAY MY LORD HAS CREATED I WILL REJOICE AND BE GLAD IN IT. It's a season of praising anyway. I've learned That praise isn't a bandaid. its not a quick fix. It's purpose is not to just cover a wound. Praise is peroxide-it gets in the infected places and purifies them. Sometimes praise brings more pain, but take heart- you're healing. Bandaids cover up -praise heals. Allow yourself the time and space to get in a posture of praise that allows you to say that even though I hurt I believe God is for me. God is with me. God is always on my side. So lift your hands, let the tears roll and know that each breath is a sweet aroma to God. He sees you in your suffering. He is fighting for your freedom. He is cheering you on. He is making a way. But my friends, He does not rush. He takes his time. He allows each lesson to take root and grow into a beautiful story. His ways are higher. His ways are perfect. We may not comprehend it this side of eternity but his ways are good. The goal is not to rush the process and be done with this season. The goal of every season, good or bad, is to soak up every lesson, blessing, revelation, hurt, triumph, defeat and say thank you Jesus. Thank you for loving me so much that you do not want to keep me where I am. And it is at that point, in that posture, that we put those experiences that may have once crushed us and we stand on them. And we use them to see from a higher vantage point. and each new experiential brick we lay elevates us one step closer to the King. You see, with God no pain is done without purpose. Every single thing you experience has been filtered through his fingertips of faithfulness. He is not sitting enthroned worrying how this might affect you. Is she gonna be okay? Will she survive this? NO! He is seated CONFIDENTLY. He has seen your days beginning to end and in this season you are exactly where He needs you. The enemy has not afflicted you without first going through God. The enemy has a plot for your life but God has to say it's okay for anything to happen to you. while the enemy has a plot Jesus has ALWAYS had a plan. So no matter what the enemy throws at you He who is within you is greater than anything that surrounds you. And because of what Jesus did for you on the cross 2000 years ago you are victorious! Even in your brokenness. Even in your hurt. Even now. You. Are. Victorious. You're on the winning team. You're on the other side. You do not sit in defeat. You stand in the victors circle before you ever run the race.

Embrace this season. It won't always be this way. Hear me please: it won't always be this way. Your darkness will turn to morning. Your aching heart will beat strong again. Your brokenness will make you whole. Embrace this season. Embrace the hurt. Embrace the loss. Embrace the ache. Embrace the disappointment. Because embracing the hardest times of your life will cultivate the richest life. The truth is: we don't find our lives til we lay them down.

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