Monday, September 7, 2009

The Flip-Flop Basket

I don't know about your family, but my family pretty much lives in flip-flops during the hot Texas summertime. Since my daughters usually wear out their flip-flops during the previous summer, not to mention they're growing and changing so quickly (along with their shoe sizes!), we starting officially kicking off the summer season by hitting various sales and buying many pairs of different flip-flops, in colorful hues. A few years ago, frustrated by trails of random flip-flops all over the house, I instituted the tradition of "The Flip-Flop Basket".

We adapted a bright lime-green plastic container that we already owned to its new seasonal purpose. The tub was placed in the laundry room (the first stop on the way into the house), filled with our rainbow of new flip-flops, and christened "the flip-flop basket". The girls slowly began to learn that I really meant business about keeping all the casual summer footwear confined to this one spot. All summer long, the flip-flops were retrieved from the basket, and (usually) returned, a little more worn and "full of tales" from all their many adventures.

This weekend, prompted by cooler morning temperatures, the new school year, and my incessant longing for fall, I started packing up all our summery decor. Into storage went the collections of seashells, summer floral displays, bowls of (realistic-looking!) fake cherries... along with our new bits of nature's treasures we'd added from this particular summer...from Walden Pond, Cape Cod National Seashore, Colorado, summer camp, the creek down the street...

In their places, I am ready for mums, for pumpkins, fresh apples, autumn colors, crisp fall mornings and maybe a pumpkin spice latte (or two!) from Starbucks.

God truly knew what He was doing when He created the changing of the seasons. As humans, we have curious simultaneous longings.. both for change and for the familiar, the comforting. C.S. Lewis described this brilliantly in his masterpiece, "The Screwtape Letters". In the various descriptions of how God has designed human beings, he says that "He has balanced the love of change in them by a love of permanence. He has contrived to gratify both tastes together in the very world He has made, by that union of change and permanence which we call Rhythm. He gives them the seasons, each season different yet every year the same, so that spring is always felt as a novelty yet always as the recurrence of an immemorial theme."

With all due respect to C.S. Lewis (one of my all-time favorite Christian authors!), I couldn't help while reading this but think that every year is not quite the same. And oh how well do those of us with children know this. As ready as I am for my favorite season of autumn, it is still bittersweet to pack away the memories from this summer. This particular summer will never come again. We hope to have many more fun family vacations, trips and memories... but we will experience those with girls who are a little older.. a little different.

We do believe with all our hearts that God has very special plans for our lives together as a family. The one thing that will never change is His love for us, and His hopeful future for us. We greet the changes with excitement and anticipation!

But I still couldn't help a wistful Mommy smile as I placed the flip-flop basket into the cabinet... and closed the door.

To everything there is a season, and
a time to every purpose under 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 sow;
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.
--Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (KJV)

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