Dry, brown grass crunches noisily beneath my feet as I walk outside to provide water for our four-week-old Aussiedoodle puppies. Dust blows relentlessly across our land and straight into my mouth, my clothes, and my shoes every single day. Tall, twirling dust devils whirl unpredictably across our property on a regular basis knocking over large structures with their power. Cicadas chirp eerily heralding the heat of each and every day. Snakes slither across the ground easily detected because there is no grass to camouflage their covert activity. Cow patties and animal droppings visually clutter the usually green, beautiful landscape.
Oh, Texas!! It’s truly been a wonderful place to reside for MOST of my fifty-six years of life. Until recently, I’ve had no complaints about Texas at all. I was born in the middle of Houston, Texas and raised about fifteen miles south of downtown near NASA where my dad worked on site for almost fifty years. It was a wonderful childhood that was spent mostly outdoors from birth until my teen years, when school activities dictated my time. Even then, my friends and I attended cheerleading camp and dance camp OUTSIDE in the Texas heat during the summer months. Hours upon hours of practices and performances in the intense summer sun.
The intense heat never even phased me in my younger years. Not at all. Yes, I remember coming in red-faced and sweating after practice, but it was what we did every day and it seemed normal to me back then! Fast forward forty years and BAM!! This tumultuous weather and record-breaking summer heat is wreaking havoc on me. I’m struggling to stay on top of my emotions because there isn’t a time during the day when I can withstand the heat to enjoy even a moment outside. The heat is relentless and unbearable. The days of 100+ temperatures turn into weeks that quickly turn into months. There seems to be no end in sight since we have just now encroached upon the dreaded month of August in Texas. As far as weather is concerned, August and September have always been my least favorite because I am usually DONE with the heat by then, but we still have to endure several more months of it! I do remember a time when late September brought in refreshing cold fronts on a regular basis. I’m sure you remember that time you got dressed for a Friday night football game and realized you didn’t dress warmly enough! Well, it seems that those days are behind us because that rarely, if ever, happens today. Side note: I also specifically remember it being cold in mid-September, 1996 when my daughter, Miss Sunshine, was born and for several years after that because I clearly remember putting both her and her brother in warm pajamas in the days leading up to her birthday!
Well, living on a farm in Texas in times of record heat is pretty dang miserable. Three out of the past six summers have either started with or ended with several intense months of drought. It has been depressing and difficult to navigate. Currently, we are literally waiting until after 8:00 p.m. each night to go outside and feed our animals. Even then, we are both coming inside drenched with sweat and unable to cool down for hours. The hardest part about owning cattle during this intense season of drought is that you have to decide to take a loss either by selling them or by feeding them expensive feed and hay all summer long. We will lose thousands of dollars either way. The local livestock market is currently inundated with ranchers trying to offload their cattle and other animals. The cattle numbers are up so the prices are, consequently, down. The possibility of buyers taking them straight to the butcher is inevitable and making me choose to hold on to as many as I can until this season ends.
Why am I sharing this dismal perspective?
To remind myself and all of you that this season will not last forever. It is, as you know, just a season. It is a tough, not fun, unenjoyable season of the year. Do not let it steal your hope. Do not let it become your focus. Do not believe the lie that it will last forever because it won’t. There has never been a season that lasted forever. There have definitely been unusually long seasons of heat and unusually long seasons of cold recorded in America, but there has never been a continual, never-ending season of any sort recorded in our history. Remember that when you are looking out at the dead grass and dwindling ponds. It will not be this way forever.
There will come a day when we will look out our windows and refreshing rain will be falling over Green Acres. There will come a day when our grass will grow thick and green and lush again. There will come a day when there will be a chill in the air and a spring in the steps of our animals. There will even come a day when we can stop running our a/c unit 24/7 and we can reinstall our cute little electric heaters in every room to heat our drafty little farmhouse.
This inevitable change and relief at the end of each season is how life works for many of us. Seasons of drought. Seasons of stillness. Seasons of busyness. Seasons of loneliness. Seasons of joy. Seasons of sadness. Seasons of abundance. Seasons of want. Seasons of friendship. Seasons of separation. They all end eventually. The hard seasons end without much fanfare. They just drift off into nothingness, it seems. That difficult season seems to drag on for months or even years, but you will look back one day and wonder how you took enough steps to finally leave it behind. Even the wonderfully good seasons end, too, unfortunately. We try to hold on to those a bit longer to bask in the feeling of coziness and warmth they bring to our hearts.
Remember that these moments of life are merely SEASONS of your life. They are not a final verdict. Like seasons of the year, they are meant to cause us to pause and reflect and perhaps change direction. They are meant as waypoints to take stock of our priorities and our thoughts and our choices. They are meant as a test, at times, to see what you and I are truly made of when one season isn’t as enjoyable as the last.
What will you do with this season? Will you allow it to become a permanent state of living or will you view it as a temporary time of reflection that can produce change and growth in your life?
For me, this season has been hot and uncomfortable and, at times, unbearable, but I am reading some amazingly inspiring books and reflecting on the direction of my life, the direction of our family, and the direction of our farm. Even though this brutal summer season of intense drought has been tough, the work it is doing in my heart is like experiencing spring again. I’m not going to lie. I’ve been a whiny complainer for months now, but God is teaching me to persevere through discomfort again. This time the discomfort is taking the form of physical discomfort when, in the past, it has taken the form of emotional discomfort. I have been in tough seasons of life before and, unfortunately, I’m sure I will be in tough seasons of life again. I’m learning to embrace each season of life and make something new and better for myself and my family with the lessons I learn each time.
Take time to reflect on this season of your life and see what God is teaching you.
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up, do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)