Friday, May 18, 2012

Appreciating Summer

The summer season is the time to slow down and appreciate the longer, lighter days by spending them with friends and family. So before summer slips away, I want to commit myself to taking advantage of a little extra time I'll have now that some weekly activities are on hiatus.

It's often tempting to set out with ambitious plans for the summer - cleaning, organizing, reading that stack of books by the bed - only to be derailed by relaxing and not doing much of anything with my extra time.

Instead of setting big goals for this summer, I want to focus on learning to be present, as I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. John and I are going to be traveling throughout this summer, so when we are in town, I want to take full advantage of being home. (As a side note, if my blog posts are sporadic this summer, it's because of the fun trips we have planned.)

In front of our new house... soon the screen and awning will be removed, and it will be resided and repainted!
Thanks to Leah for the photo!

Summer is also often spent getting on track for the rest of the year, but this process can leave some people anxious for what lies ahead. To this, I offer the same suggestion: Be present and appreciate the summer season for what it is. Many people receive hope and patience from the verse, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11).

But what is often left out is the context that this verse is in, which I believe adds even more power to the hope it offers. God is speaking to people who have been exiled to live in Babylon. Directly before this verse, God says to them, "Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters... But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare."

Do you see? His plans involve them being present where He has them now. Not where they want to be. Not even where He'll have them in the future. For now they are to be. To plant, grow, and develop through relationships and in community with each other. Now the change - the heart change - can take place.

"Welfare" is "shalom" or peace, and peace will come to the city when we are present there. Live there. Invest our lives there.

This summer, I am excited that John and I will be moving into our new house here in the city of Atlanta. I look forward to being present and getting to know our neighbors. We can't wait to eat dinner out on our porch and invite friends to join us. We're on a journey to be present in the city, and thank you for coming along with us!

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