IMG_0680Days have passed, weeks have passed, and now months have passed since I last penned a post. I’d like to say I’ve been on a book tour or on an extended vacation  or on a sabbatical or perhaps diligently working on my next book, but the truth is I’ve simply been caught up in the waves and busyness of a difficult season and my heart has been at a loss for words.

But the past few weeks have brought a lull in the waves and wind and my heart’s well has been slowly refilling as I enjoy the quiet serenity of beautiful morning walks and peaceful summer evenings. And these summer mornings and quiet evenings have been made even more beautiful by the abundant rains of spring and summer. IMG_0780

After five years of drought, rain finally returned to the Texas Panhandle last summer, but in May it fell in excess as more than seventeen inches were recorded in our area where the average rainfall for May is less than three.  And although the rains subsided  as summer arrived and June days dawned warm and pretty, enough rain has continued to fall at regular intervals to keep pastures, fields, roadsides, and yards, lush and green.

One morning not long ago I paused to watch a full moon cast its reflection on the water that still covered a large portion of our pasture as it sank low in the Western sky just as the morning twilight began to light the East. The beautiful scene seemed a little eerie and out-of-place and I was reminded that it has been a long time since this area has had such abundant rain. We desperately needed the moisture and we are extremely grateful for it. As I stood there gazing at the moon I was again reminded how much we need rain and water if anything is to grow. IMG_2185

This week we have again been blessed with rain and as I walk around my yard and property, I admire the beauty and new growth that has long been absent through the drought and once again I thank God for the rain. However, while I am thankful for the rain, it is those moments after the rain I enjoy the most. When the rains pass and the sun shines through the clouds, the air smells fresh and pure and everywhere I look trees, grass, and flowers and all other vegetation seem to grow almost before my eyes even while the rain still hangs in damp droplets on leaves and petals.

Sitting outside on this unusually cool July morning and once more taking time to enjoy the damp quietness, I find myself reflecting – not on those stormy seasons of my life, but on those seasons of peaceful respite that often followed the storms. This past year I have often found myself looking back on those years when all seemed peaceful and well within my family despite the hardships and losses we had suffered. Looking back today I realize it wasn’t just the rain that brought growth and maturity to my life. Yes, my faith may have been strengthened as I clung desperately to the anchor that held me fast while my life was buffeted with hardships, trials, and grief, but it was when the waves subsided that I realized it wasn’t my strength that held me to the anchor – the anchor held onto me. It was often after the storms passed that I was able to see God’s goodness and grace. It has only been when I look back that I see the ‘footprints in the sand’ and realize that I have been carried through the storm. And so I realize that I have needed both the rain and the sun – both seasons of hardship and seasons of peace – to grow.

Now the rain in my life has fallen a little differently in each season. I have seen the hard storms of death and grief, the relentless and unremitting rains of hardship that fell during My Journey With Justin, and the brief but vicious cyclones and hail storms that threatened to destroy my family as my children grew into teens and young adults, but this past year has brought a long, quiet, steady rain of difficulties – problems that may not seem so difficult to surmount if not heaped one upon the other. However, a long stream of financial stresses, family stresses, difficulties from burdens I have providentially chosen to carry as I struggle to raise children I did not raise, as well as the adjustments of a changing season as grown children marry and leave and signs of age begin to show up in my mirror have all rained down together in a continuous downpour. Added to this has been the extreme busyness of trying to balance ‘too many irons in the fire’ as my mother would say.  And though at times I have felt I was drowning and unable to catch my breath, I have also found grace in this storm as I remember the lessons learned in other storms. Nevertheless, it has been here in the lull that I have really been able to steady my heart, to feel the secure weight of the anchor that holds me to solid ground, and to glimpse for a moment the trivial brevity of the storms of this life when they are viewed in light of eternity.

Summer may simply bring a lull in this stormy season, but as I pause to catch my breath I am reminded that it is also opportunity to give thanks for the rain and so I once more pause to praise the one who sends the Son and is master of every storm. May you be blessed in whatever season life may find you today.