Hope for the Heavy Seasons

When we adopted Lilly—14 years ago last week—she was 9 months old and weighed about 17 pounds.

lois-randy-lilly-chinaThat might not seem like much, but she was a chunk of a little girl—so much so that people we met in elevators and restaurants in China often mistook her for a 2-year-old.

I had worked on my cardiovascular fitness in the months leading up to our adoption trip, and my regular runs on the treadmill prepared me to traverse the Great Wall with relative ease. My upper body strength, however, was a different story entirely.

My arms and back were so weak that I could hold Lilly for only a few minutes at a time before passing her off to Randy. As a result, when we were out and about in China, she spent most of her time chewing on the strap of the Snugli that held her close to his chest.

Amid the excitement and stress of becoming parents halfway across the globe, I sometimes worried about my ability to care for her when we returned home.

What am I going to do when Randy goes back to work and I have to take Lilly somewhere, I asked myself. How am I going to carry her around when I can hardly hold her now?

What happened, of course, was that the more I carried her, the stronger I got. And as she grew, so did my strength.

lois-molly-chinaThree years later, we returned to China to adopt Molly. Though older than Lilly had been by four months, she also weighed 17 pounds. But because we were used to picking up 4-year-old Lilly, who was small by American standards but made up of solid muscle, little Molly seemed as light as a feather.

I’ve been thinking about this lately as I navigate circumstances in my life that are requiring a bit more emotional and mental energy than usual. When I was a new mom, 17 pounds was almost more than I could manage, while carrying the same weight three years later—in the same unfamiliar setting, no less—was pretty easy.

In the same way, it occurs to me that different seasons of life weigh differently than others. Some are heavier, some are lighter. That’s just the way it is.

It might be that the difference lies in the actual weight, or burden, that we’re carrying. A 100-pound load is tougher to lug around than one that weighs 25 pounds, after all. It doesn’t matter if the burden is internal or caused by situations outside our control—heavy is heavy, regardless of the source.

Our preparedness or current state of mind also plays a role. When we adopted Molly, she seemed light to me, even though she weighed exactly the same as Lilly when we got her. But I was different. I was stronger, a bit more experienced and confident in my ability to be her mama. It was just easier.

Sometimes, it’s the gravity of the season we’re in that can make it seem like we are walking around with a ton of bricks on our chest. Certain phases in our live simply hold more significance than others—there’s more at stake and more rides on the outcome.

External circumstances affect the weight of a season too. A level path doesn’t require as much energy as a steep incline, and it’s much easier to carry that 100-pound burden when it’s 50 degrees outside than it is when the thermometer reaches 95 in the shade. In the same way, what’s going on around us can sometimes make what’s happening within us all the more difficult.

My reality right now, and probably yours too, is this: I’m dealing with different seasons of life simultaneously.

Some are heavy; others are light. When the weight of a heavy piece overwhelms me, I’m often at a loss for what to do. I want an answer, a solution, a three-step plan for how to make the burden lighter—or better yet, disappear.

But life doesn’t work like that. There are no bows, no pat answers, no quick fixes. As helpful as they can be, there are no Bible studies or books that can fast-forward us through the weightier times.

But there is truth. There are promises to cling to, if we chose to do so.

Scripture encourages us to cast our every care on the same sovereign God who hung the stars in the sky and orchestrates the four seasons. Nothing is too big or too small for His loving attention.

When we walk through the fire, the desert, the deep waters, the rocky mountains—He is with us.

No matter the season, He knows what we need. He knows what our loved ones need. And He will provide exactly that.

Wisdom for the wondering. Love for the lonely. Comfort for the grieving. Water for the thirsty. Boldness for the timid. Peace for the anxious. Rest for the weary.

And, yes, strength for the weak.

Lois Flowers

P.S. Linking up this week with Kelly Balarie at Purposeful Faith, Crystal Storms at Intentional Tuesday, Jennifer Dukes Lee at #TellHisStory, Holley Gerth at Coffee for Your Heart, Lyli Dunbar at ThoughtProvokingThursday, Crystal Twaddell at FreshMarketFriday and Dawn Klinge at Grace & Truth.



When Someone Says, “This is Awkward”

Just recently, I had a couple of conversations that included someone expressing to me, “This is awkward.”

awkward

In each case, I understood why these friends felt that twinge of discomfort. But each time, my internal reaction was the same.

Please, don’t feel awkward. That’s just life.  It’s totally OK.

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When the Response You Want Hasn’t Come Yet

I’ve been thinking about crickets lately.

Not the black, six-legged, insect kind. The kind that show up when you pour out your heart to someone and get nothing in response.

When the response you want hasn't come yet

Crickets.

They say silence is deafening, and sometimes, I think they are right. In this case, crickets are louder than cicadas on a humid August evening in Kansas.

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Song of the Month: “King of the World”

SOM header

It’s the first day of September, and all is well. At least, it is in my little corner of the world.

My girls are adjusting nicely to their new schools and schedules. I’ve adjusted to not having them around all day, and to the much-faster pace of life after 3 p.m.

Life is good.

But then again, it is September, and in a few months, it will be November. And I don’t even have to bring up certain dates and national happenings to remind us that good and well can turn into bad and scary in the blink of an eye.

That might be why Natalie Grant’s “King of the World” is really resonating with me right now. Here it is, the Song of the Month for September.

Lois Flowers



What I Learned This Summer

In early August, we packed up the family minivan and headed north.

After stopping at Wall Drug (if you’ve ever driven through South Dakota, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about), we continued west through the Badlands and the Black Hills, swung by Mount Rushmore, trekked around Devil’s Tower in Wyoming and then headed east across North Dakota to visit the dear ones we affectionately refer to as “The Northern Flowers.”

Wall Drug

About 2,400 miles later, we arrived safely back in Kansas. And it was only then that the belt that drives the air conditioner, alternator and water pump in our 2004 vehicle decided to snap in half. (See how a major annoyance suddenly morphs into a praise report? It’s all about perspective, even when you’re without AC and it’s 95 degrees outside.)

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