I came upon this glorious yellow iris while walking in my neighborhood park. What a treat to see a spring flower blooming during October!
This reblooming flower variety made me think that midlife feels a bit like this iris; we can experience a second — different — growth before winter.
I spent the early part of my life preparing for and then growing into a career, family, community, and faith. I saw much of that grow and bloom.
Now I’m in a new phase of growth that’s beginning to blossom.
- A deepening faith because of witnessing God’s faithfulness through hardships.
- A new sort of family with grown up children and more time for my husband.
- A new community — a new neighborhood and church family to grow into while celebrating the joy of sustained friendships through the years.
- A renewal of vocation, returning to writing and editing after setting it aside to homeschool my children.
This listing of opportunities for change and growth makes this season of life sound so easy.
It hasn’t been.
Hardships include watching my dad’s life and health change dramatically, and then being with him when he passed away. I felt like I had the wind kicked out of me and couldn’t suck in air for nearly five years.
Releasing my children to make their way in the world has been difficult: I sobbed when they moved off to college. I prayed for them. Worried over them. And hovered over them too much.
Selling my favorite house where we raised our children brought many tears.
And there have been a few twists in the road after returning to work.
I see my friends navigating their own changes, too. Each story is unique.
And I look forward to the beautiful bouquet we will all be when we bloom again.
“The Angelus” by Jean-Francois Millet, 1859, oil on canvas, location: Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France
I have always loved two of Jean-Francois Millet’s paintings: The Angelus (above) and The Gleaners (shared here). Perhaps my rural roots draw me to these portraits of people working the land. Also, I have always associated these paintings with the story of Ruth — she worked as a gleaner and later Boaz noticed her working in his field.
The Angelus depicts a couple pausing to pray during their potato harvest as the church bells ring from the steeple painted in the background.
This scene reminded me of author Lysa TerKeurst’s advice in chapter fifteen of Uninvited: When we pray “Thy will be done,” we trust God to redeem the pain and guide us to the help we need.
Today I listened to a rebroadcast of journalist David Brooks addressing the Aspen Ideas Festival. His thoughts fit so well into what I’m reading, so I thought you might enjoy listening to him as well.
In her book Giddy Up, Eunice, author Sophie Hudson describes the story of two widows, Naomi and Ruth, as an account of seemingly unimportant people during insignificant times.1 Yet, these women’s lives were a necessary part of God’s plan for a savior: Ruth is an ancestor of King David (Ruth 4:22) and counted in the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:1-17).
“The Gleaners” by Jean-Francois Millet, 1857, oil on canvas, location: Musée d’Orsay, Paris
Are you familiar with the Bible story of Ruth and Naomi? If you’d like a refresher, you can read it here on Bible Gateway.
In my next blog post, I’ll share what Sophie Hudson observed about the relationship of these two women and what we can learn from them.
About six years ago I took my son shopping for a new dress shirt while he was in college. On our way to the checkout lane, I spotted a pair of cotton floral pajamas, paused, and raised the price tag for a look.
Clearly horrified, my son interjected, “No, Mom! Just NO! Those say you’ve given up on life and moved to Florida!”
Truly this happened.
I’m thankful for many people who have served as a mentor to me, even though we never called it mentoring. I can name pastors, teachers, professors, Bible study leaders, homeschool support group leaders, relatives, neighbors, and friends who have spoken truth and modeled godly living to me. Usually it was in a group setting — occasionally one on one.
I believe God placed those men and women in my life not only for my benefit, but also with the plan that I would pass along the insight and encouragement that was invested in me.
A few days ago I mentioned that in the book Giddy Up, Eunice author Sophie Hudson chose the story of Elizabeth and Mary (Luke 1:5-56) as one illustration of women needing other women to listen, to encourage, and to pray for each other. And sometimes that woman doesn’t look at all like what we’d expect.