The leaves have begun to let go, drifting lazily onto the table.
Two of the chickens have died - fluffs of feathers and one cracked egg are the only evidence of their existence. A dear friend gives me two of hers - the golden colored one hides in the coop, afraid to come out; displaced and disoriented she calls out for the familiar.
I get it.
We hang the paper leaves on the branches letting go of the last of the season and Lyla, she holds hers in her hands and her voice reads the words above the noise of her brother and sisters, each one, even the baby, wanting a turn to find a place for Life to grace the empty places.
Tony gets ready to leave for work today, holds me in the doorway and prays strength over my head. The sky is heavy with clouds and he walks out into the grey and I touch his face just a bit longer, trying to hold on to the warmth of him - the fear of how brief life is taking over, pushing out any peace and making my thoughts anxious.
It's while the baby naps and the older three are tucked in to watch a movie that I find a moment to sit and breathe. That I open the pages of His Word and my fingers fumble to 1 Thessalonians 5 and the words of verse 16 grab hold:
Rejoice, even in the quiet and obscure - in the mundane and where the only eyes who see me are the four sets who are just children that I too often push too hard to act older than they are.
Rejoice always when I see myself mirrored in the Word of God and my brokenness is displayed and I know - truly know - only He can fix my soul.
Rejoice always, in the uncertainty of what I am called to do, in the questioning and even in the temptation to "bury" the gifts He has placed in me; because the risk of investing them is too frightening.
Rejoice always in the in-between spaces - in the knowing that there is more, but clueless as to what that is.
Rejoice always, turning my whirring, screaming thoughts to prayer. Lifting up these gasping offerings and trusting He will turn them into a sweet and pleasant aroma rising to Him.
Rejoice always, in the middle of daughter/mother wars; when my eyes are opened to the broken places in them and His answer is grace, always grace first, to the heated situation.
Rejoice always, when all I want to do is weep for all the years lost, the memories of this coming season, neglected and hurting children and the never ending temptation to gloss something pretty over it all.
Rejoice always, for God is still in control, His eyes never turn away - and that like Paul, I can say, "And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6).
He isn't through with me, so my soul can rejoice. He has plans for my children, so I can rejoice. He will use my broken family for HIs glory - so rejoice. He is far greater than hard memories...so rejoice.
Rejoice. Pray. Give thanks - this is His will for me...for us.
So I will rejoice and boldly give God glory.