Between the Pictures

summer

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Someone has said that the change of the seasons in a year presents us with a mental image by which we can view the entirety of a life. For instance, spring is represented in our lives from conception/birth through adolescence; young adulthood is the summer of our lives; when we reach middle age, autumn begins; and our old age brings the winter of our lives.

We also use the seasons to serve as analogies of the experiences in our lives, despite our age. Spring is the season of life when we consider new growth. We enthusiastically clear out the old to make way for the new. It is a time when we create new beginnings for ourselves and find all the reasons to hope. Summer is also a welcomed season. We experience life at its best. We wake up with the bright sunshine streaming in. It’s the season we reap the rewards of pressing through the winter days.
And just like life, autumn is about changes. Cooler breezes start to blow in, reminding us that the lazy days are coming to an end. We have to adjust to a new schedule, typically more routine. As the leaves change color and fall to the ground, we know that these changes are inevitable.
And then, even though we know it’s coming, the winter of our lives usually hits hard. It is the season of challenges and difficulties when the darkness is long and heavy. We may isolate ourselves thinking we can hide from the cold. The vibrant life we felt in spring feels distant. These are the days and weeks of our lives which often create the most fear and anxiety.

Based on these, I think I’d pick to live in a constant state of summer.  Who doesn’t want to be forever in the health of young adulthood, living our days on an eternal perfect vacation?!

So, here we are. On June 20.
Summer has officially begun in the US. Where I live, school has been out for weeks. Friends are already vacationing. The locals head to the beautiful surrounding lakes with their boats and water toys. The trails are filled with bikes and scooters and walkers with their beloved pets. The crowd at the city parks and pools signal that warm days have arrived.
Very soon we will have family here with us. In my usual fashion, I’ve already created a summer album to share our adventures. I’ll post pictures of smiles and suntanned faces, of picnics and late night games, and of grand-kids who we’ve posed (after a thousand takes) to possibly look like the cover of a postcard or magazine.
Because social media.

When everyone gets together, I take and post pictures.
And I love to look back and remember. Pictures can tell a story.

But what about between the pictures? Before and after. You know, the version of life before the edits. What about the moments we captured in the deleted photos. Or the mornings at breakfast when no camera was allowed at all. Those moments without the spin. Yes, it’s summer. But when people gather together, even in a close-knit family where we strive to love each other well, there are times it feels a little like winter. Or spring. Or autumn. In the moments behind the scripted photographed scenes, our tribe has to manage the winter of hurt feelings, and tired kids, and impatient parents, and overwhelmed grandparents. In between laughter and games, there are moments of deeper discussions that sometimes bring out strong emotions. We love being together, but we also recognize that we are all growing and changing just like the seasons.
Real.Life.

In these next few weeks of summer, I’m probably going to put the good stuff out there. But even as I do, I hope that people realize it is just a season. A summer season. In the background of our family gatherings this summer are some much sadder and darker times. In the last couple of years, our family has experienced some of the most difficult days I’ve ever known in my life. I haven’t tried to cover them up or pretend, but neither have I had the freedom to write a “tell all” on social media for inquiring minds that just like to know. So in case I need to clarify, the Reeves clan is a group of regular folks. Regular, imperfect folks. In between the pictures and posts, we are a bunch of people who need the good grace of Jesus. We have nothing in ourselves worth boasting.
No gifts. No power. No wisdom.
All the smiles and all the laughter and all the hugs are given to us from the generous heart of a kind Father. We can celebrate summer all year long only because of the abiding joy of our salvation in Christ. When I think about God’s goodness to us, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. This life is brief. And in it we can expect sorrow and happiness to walk side by side most of the days. But underlying every moment in every season is a greater reality: He made my mind and heart; and wove me together in my mother’s womb. His deeds are awesome and amazing. He knew me thoroughly; His eyes saw me when I was inside the womb. All the days ordained for me were recorded in His scroll before one of them came into existence.

In between the pictures is real life. Real people on hard days walking through seasons with broken hearts. But not one day goes by without God seeing and knowing and caring and loving and saving us.

Why should I gain from His reward? I cannot give an answer;
But this I know with all my heart – His wounds have paid my ransom.

Happy Summer, y’all!

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