Sitting on my back deck, summer, coffee, flowers and color.
I am a huge fan of summer.
Even on the hottest days, I find something comforting about it.
Here in the Midwest, summer means you see your neighbors outside more.
Local scenery includes vibrant flowerpots on display, dozens of folks happily strolling around with iced coffee and animated conversations, kiddie pools in front yards waiting for the sun to warm the water, downtown dotted with outdoor diners.
Easy wardrobes – no layering or bundling.
Aaaahhh…I am so grateful for summer. EVERY. YEAR.
If I’m not sitting on my deck during downtime, then I’m swinging underneath the deck in a hammock chair.
Decompressing from the school year, and the busy-ness of the fall through spring season.
I wonder what this will feel like when I no longer have kids in school….?
Sometimes though, there really is no break from the intensity of life during the summer.
Summer just provides a different backdrop.
The hard of life persists, the grief still lingers, tears still fall, prayer war is still required.
I am processing a lifestyle change ahead (more details in a couple weeks).
I am processing how difficult the month of May has been the past few years with blindsiding losses, that even if they didn’t affect me directly (some did), I rub shoulders with others who were impacted and grieve with and for them.
I am processing the reality of friends and ministry partners who’ve bravely taken up the mantle of adoption and need to daily wade through the muck of their child’s trauma and it’s wide-ranging effects alongside their children. It is (for me) a deeply convicting picture of just how God wades through our deep muck along with us on the road of our sanctification.
I am processing how weak I am at faithfully praying for these dear friends, at warring in prayer for the souls of my own kids and the spiritual/relational health of our family.
I am processing the role of my writing, my book, my art in the midst of all of it.
So yes – I am beyond happy for this summer! But not because summer makes life easier.
If no season makes life “easier”, then what is the ambition of any season?
I call this place on or under my deck in the summer “my happy place”.
Yet…I feel the nudge of God’s Spirit drawing me to a more mature “happy place”.
Philippians 4:11-13 (the critical context for verse 13):
I am not saying this because I am in need,
for I have learned to be CONTENT whatever the circumstances.
I know what it is to be in need,
and I know what it is to have plenty.
I have learned the secret to being CONTENT in any and every situation,
whether well fed or hungry,
whether living in plenty or living in want.
I can do ALL THIS
who gives me strength.
So my friends, whether experiencing relational joy or tragic loss, whether enjoying parental ease or parental turmoil, whether living in plenty or living in less plenty, whether knowing what’s ahead or tip-toing into unknowns, I am learning that my happy place is not a physical place (though I’m sure I’ll never tire of my deck in the summer time surrounded by flowers).
My happy place needs to be a surrendered, peaceful posture in the presence of God trusting Him enough to BE content. No matter what.
Contentment needs to be my consistent happy place.
As Ann Voskamp says in her book “Waymaker”, our screens lie to us every minute about where contentment lies (paraphrase).
Screens are ever present and hold our daily calendars and critical info, so our wrestle against the superfluous messages trying to grab our attention from around the corners of our needed data is constant.
Wrestling against the lure of what our peers chase after, and appear to be successful in obtaining for happiness, is always in our faces.
This summer’s challenge for me is bring into alignment my heart and mind into the never-changing love and trustworthiness of God.
Just as we train our bodies during meditation to “let go” of the stress in our muscles – starting with our head and ending at our toe tips – I must bring myself into GOD’s presence, and “let go” of my doubt, my perceived conflicts with His truth, and my inner turbulence by naming and casting each anxiety (I Peter 5:7) before Him.
Then allow His Spirit to infuse my heart and mind with the fact that He is unalterably loving and all of this world’s and my life’s apparent injustices will one day be reconciled to His absolute goodness.
That can be hard to say on some days, during some weeks, even years.
However, I won’t ever be disappointed (long term) in the discipline of such a practice in order to carry with me, in ANY place or circumstance, my happy place of contentment.