Summer is coming to an end. Cool nights, bonfires, Friday night football games, and hoodies are just around the corner. I can hear the high school band play even as I type. The changing of summer to fall evokes in me such an overwhelming melancholy feeling…a feeling that can best be described as homesickness. September always seems more like a new year beginning than January does. I am even more sad to see this summer come to an end. It has been an incredible summer.
Back in the spring I was struggling a bit. I am 45 years old. I have been following Jesus for 29 years. I have been a follower of Jesus who has always tried to live a life of love, faith and risk. I was feeling stuck. I felt stuck because of the decisions I had made early on in ministry (decisions that I know were God’s will for me but the risk involved with these decisions have become more evident as I have gotten older). The older we get, we can tend to fall into a pattern of playing it safe. I have never wanted to play it safe until the early part of this year.
Thirteen years ago God sent me back home to a small town on Lake Erie. To a town I love, a people I love, and a church I love. I have gotten to do amazing things and meet and love extraordinary people. But hitting “mid-life”, I realized that I had nothing for retirement, no house to call my own and I was allowing thoughts and circumstances to get my eyes off of all Jesus has called me to do. God used a book to challenge me. Bob Goff’s Love Does was a “dead reckoning” for me, bringing me back to my true north. I am wired to take risks. I am someone who shrivels up simply maintaining. I thrive on trying new things and new adventures. I am someone who has to have a degree of spontaneity in my life. Playing it safe will kill me. Maybe not physically but the core of who God created me to be.
This all led to some adjustments in my life this summer. I purposed to be more present. When I was somewhere, I was going to be completely there…not thinking about what I needed to do next or where I needed to go. Everyone I was around would get all of me. I purposed to spend more time with people. I have always loved being with people but I found that I had no time for people (or so I thought). I purposed to spend more time outside. I purposed to spend more time with God. I purposed to be more spontaneous. And the result? It has made all the difference in the world. I have joy. I have peace. I hear from God more clearly (sometimes in the oddest of ways). People are no longer an irritant or distraction from what I perceived was “real” work. And I am really enjoying life again.
My circumstances have not changed. I still don’t have anything in retirement or own my own house. But I feel like I’m me again. The me Jesus always created me to be. There are still things that need to change in me, areas Jesus is still working on, but I am happy. More than happy, I am joyful. And excited for all the adventures ahead.
I have a lot of stories from this summer. Memories made. Lessons learned. Here are a couple of the lessons:
- If transporting your kayak by the inside of a car, make sure you wrap the tip of the kayak with a towel. This will save you $250 (the cost of getting a cracked windshield fixed). As I filled out my claim to my insurance company and came to the question “How did it happen?” I couldn’t help but laugh at my answer. “The tip of my kayak ran into the windshield and cracked it.”
- If you’re always worried about being cool, you will never have any fun. (My pep talk to the summer interns at our church before I sent them out to be dancing bananas, Santa Clauses, babies, and elves for our Amazing Race). *I think it can also be said that if you’re always worried about being cool, you will never take risks.
There are a few more stories from this summer I want to share but that would make this an incredibly long blog. And they each need their space. So consider this a “to be continued”….