All of us recognize when summer is coming to an end. I don't mean the actual calendar date of when we are to claim fall over summer. I mean when the start of school occurs.
Some people know it comes by the turning of the calendar pages to August. Others know by the tax-free weekend sales and school supply displays at grocery stores. Many recognize the close of summer by the influx of school activity calendars -- that have dates beginning before school starts?
In my house, there are three activities indicating summer is coming to a close. The first -- a big work activity that happens mid-August every year. The second -- coaches school, freshman football camp and two-a-days. The third -- Chris goes back to college.
This summer, we've had the bucket list, we've had family game nights and we've been to the beach twice. We've watched plenty of Netflix (Caroline has a goal to watch all that are in the kids' queue. Today, was Pee Wee's Big Adventure) and eaten more popsicles than I can count.
Yet, it's coming to an end.
It's hot. Really hot. Hot as how my grandmother would describe the placement of Devine, TX, on this Earth -- either straight over hell or directly below the hole in the ozone layer hot. It's so hot, you don't want to be outside except when you are neck deep in a swimming pool. Or at the beach. (Oh, how I wish we could squeeze in one more trip.)
And, because it is so fire hot, we limit late afternoon activities. But, when we do have the need to get out of the house, we run those errands and get ourselves to the places where we need getting faster than well, someone trying to get out of the fire. It's hot. So hot.
This afternoon, after a day full of planning and organizing and re-planning and re-organizing my big work thing, I volunteered to pick up Camille from gymnastics. I knew I still had to do some work once I arrived home, but I needed to do a quick run to Sephora. It's in the mall. It requires parking in a parking lot that is out in the heat.
I had to go today because I had used every last drop of my foundation -- it weeps off my skin in this heat so I was able to stretch it because I don't use too much in these summer months -- and had a stub of an eyebrow pencil left. I couldn't even sharpen my pencil anymore because it was too short.
Apparently, Sephora was the place to be on a Wednesday afternoon.Air conditioning, maybe? All I needed was the foundation and eyebrow pencil. Everyone else in that store wanted to talk returns and product allergies and girlfriend gifts. My little gymnast and I navigated the tight product-laden aisles and waited in line. While it went faster than expected, it was still drawn out. Like my eyebrows will be tomorrow.
I'm not so hip that I blend two or three colors, use the liquid setting gel or even get a good brush in most days, but I do have a pencil. Maybe because I have those bald spots in my brows. Or those gray hairs.
These last few weeks have had atypical fourth parts. I've watched plenty of Party of Five on Netflix (oh, the fashions!) and played many card games with the family, but I've also been searching Pinterest for pink hair ideas. You see, while my brows are balding as I age, I have a dear, dear friend in the midst of chemo for her breast cancer and her hair will fall out and no stinking eyebrow pencil can help. The fourth parts of doing what I want to do have been that but it's also been praying for my friend and trying to figure out gifts and casseroles to take to my friend.
It all seems just not right. This friend also works with me and is very involved in the big work thing I mentioned above. I have told her countless times I don't need anything from her for work, I just need her. But, it's so nice to have her at work because she's a part of my band.
It doesn't seem right to be shopping at Sephora, watching crappy TV and thinking about backpack ordering and school supply shopping when my friend is . . . her life is forever changed.
It doesn't seem right to be thinking about my stinking selfish fourth parts when I need to be thinking of meals and care calendars and inspirational sayings to share with her.
It doesn't seem right that I'm frustrated I have to make homemade cornbread to go with the beans G made for dinner tonight rather than pop open a box of Jiffy cornbread mix when I should be frustrated my friend has to think about all the foods she can and cannot eat.
It doesn't seem right for me to be picking out just the right color of eyebrow pencil when she's looking at her new hairstyle in the mirror and wondering how it will grow back after her treatments are done.
It doesn't seem right that I'm continuing to claim the scripture that God works for good and that he has the peace that passes all understanding and we can cast our anxieties on Him.
That is right. I should do that.
I should be deep, deep in God's word as I pray for my friend. I should be even deeper as I speak to her about all that I know my mighty God can do. I should go way deep when we cry and pray together.
Yes, our summers are coming to a close and we all have different indicators. My friend is in a whole other season right now. It's not simply defined by a date on a calendar or the placement of the moon or sun in the sky. It's a season no one wants to be in, and yet she and her family are just starting to plan for it, shop for it and live in it.
Ecclesiastes 3 runs through the time for everything and a 'season for every activity under heaven.' You can hear Simon and Garfunkel singing now . . .'to everything turn, turn, turn, there is a season turn, turn, turn.' Right?
When you spend time in Ecclesiastes after you've read Psalms and Proverbs, you see it's the author (King Solomon?) trying to explain life. He's taking stock and looking around to then share that God controls and orders all things. In those moments of study, you want to get a little peeved because if you are in a season that is far from enjoyable or is extremely difficult to endure, you don't want to read that we just punt to God and all is for His purpose.
But it is. And when you sit and marinate in that and you really go deep, that's all we can think. We can't figure it out. We can't understand. We can't know why something bad happens to someone so good. My friend is really good. She's so good, she's great. We don't call her Wonder Woman for nothing.
We can recognize that God does provide, He does work for good and He makes everything beautiful in his time. He sets up this desire for eternal life in our hearts and soul wanting us to have him fill that -- where we ask Him for eternal life because he sent his son to die on the cross for us to save us.
He doesn't need eyebrow pencils. He doesn't need a good cornbread recipe.
He just needs our hearts.