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Seasons of Life

The Voice of Zion November 2022 - Home and Family Articles --

The seasons of life are rich with pleasure and pain for all of humankind. Yet, through it all our heavenly Father never leaves us. He hears our prayers and answers with His peace. In each season, there is cause to contemplate the roses and thorns; what God knew we needed might not align with what we planned or wanted. This Home and Family feature looks at diverse seasons of life, asking writers from across the continent to reflect on the fullness of God’s providence.

Life Teaches Us

Kylie Skoog | The Voice of Zion November 2022 - Home and Family Article --

Seasons cycle through. Knowing a hard season makes the next challenge easier and the good seasons appreciated.

It was 2018 and I had just had my first child. I was lonely, unsure about my new role as a mother and really yearning for my own mother’s guidance. I wished we lived closer to my parents. That season of life, adjusting to my first baby, felt difficult. My life was filled with new and scary things that I had never done before.

Then, just last week I stumbled across a picture of me in front of the wood stove, my firstborn cuddled in my arms. I now yearn for that exact time when he was so little; we looked so cozy. Now that our family has grown, I wish I had more chances to sit for an hour with one child. I wish I could go back and tell my younger self to enjoy the peacefulness.

At the time I tended to view this peacefulness as boredom. I felt pressure and daunting responsibility having someone completely dependent on me, but I needed to pause and take in the innocence of that little bundle. Very soon he will be up and running with his friends and he will not have time to cuddle with his mother. At a point when I saw the distance between my mother and me as an inconvenient hurdle to the instant help and answers I wanted, it may have been useful to my growth, because I was forced to face hard lessons I may have otherwise disregarded. Those past seasons that were so difficult to navigate we can now view with new eyes, realizing God was helping us gain the skills and experience for future hardships we may face.

Dear friend, maybe you think you can’t endure a current hardship much longer, but know that today you are being given the tools and lessons necessary for a future challenge. You will be sufficiently equipped, and that season will pass much more smoothly. “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Eccl. 3:1).

A Time of Learning

Kayla Wuollet | The Voice of Zion November 2022 - Home and Family Article --

Life has had its fair share of changes over the past year. My family moved from Minnesota to Arizona, and I moved out of my childhood home and into an apartment with friends. I was completing my final year of graduate school, studying Communication Sciences and Disorders.

It was hard being away from family and having to spend much of my time on campus either in class or with clients. I had heard from others that graduate school can consume your life if you let it, and there was a point where my schedule didn’t allow me to make it to Wednesday evening church. When I was able to have more control over my schedule, I felt I needed to keep that night free and hold church a priority.

There was also a temptation of becoming too close with my school friends. Several times I was invited to join them at a social gathering. When I was given the strength to share about my faith and why I do not participate in drinking or parties, my school friends respected me and stopped inviting me to join them in partying. This made my school life easier and more enjoyable.

During this busy time of my professional studies, I relied heavily on my sister who lived nearby with her husband and baby. Visiting almost weekly, we became much closer. Both of us missed our parents and siblings. We felt blessed to have each other here to lean on when life became overwhelming. This time was one of learning, professionally as I completed my degree, and personally as I began to understand the importance of trusted friends with whom I could share my daily experiences, concerns and hopes.

Throughout this season of changes, God knew what I needed.

Future and Hope

Lisa Haataja | The Voice of Zion November 2022 - Home and Family Article --

What happened? I look around and see my friends’ children getting married and having babies, promoting my friends to the status of grandma or grandpa. For them, it is an exciting time, a new stage in life.

My life doesn’t have those solid markers of time. The years of working and traveling all blend together. How is it possible that so much time has passed?

Since I don’t have a family to care for I have a flexible schedule, allowing for activities that I enjoy. If I get invited to go on a trip or to someone’s home for a visit, I try to make it work even when life is busy. I know there will be times of quietness as well.

I live in a beautiful area of the country that people enjoy visiting. I’ve been able to host many friends and family over the years. These visits are special for me, a time to show them highlights of the area.

I deeply love the outdoors. I’ve been fortunate to be able to connect with all ages through hiking. I’ve been on multiple hikes over the years with the younger single girls in Montana. I’ve also been on hiking trips with my mom and her friends. These hikes have brought opportunities to connect with other believers and discuss many different topics.

At times thoughts come to mind and I wonder what my future holds. How will I fill my free time in the future? Other single friends have shared the same concern with me. Although we wonder and worry, we also marvel that God has taken care of us to this point – we can trust that He will do the same tomorrow, and all our future days.

Building Our Relationship During a Time of Pandemic

Kyle and Cassie Seppala | The Voice of Zion November 2022 - Home and Family Article --

Couples who are establishing a serious relationship may experience blessings and challenges and learn many lessons. So it was for us during the recent pandemic.

One of the major challenges was being in a long- distance relationship when long stretches of time passed without us seeing each other. Added to that, we were in different time zones and, for part of it, on different sides of the world. We had to figure out how to shift our priorities – to make time to call often. On those calls, we had deep discussions. After all, staying up all night to just talk about the weather isn’t worth it!

As we were going together, the COVID-19 pandemic brought hardships into our lives. With the U.S.-Canada border closed for many months, we couldn’t see each other as much as we would have liked. Also, we were uncertain when we could next spend time together.

When Kyle was finally able to come visit in Saskatchewan, the two-week quarantine measures were in effect. This meant he came and spent that time at my parents’ farm, with my family. That quality time together helped my family and Kyle get to know each other so much better than they might have otherwise.

With those hardships and lessons were many, many blessings. One that stands out to us as we reflect is how special it was when we finally got to spend time together in person.

Looking back, being apart from each other for long periods of time was a blessing, though difficult at the time. It helped us grow closer together, although we were far apart in distance.

We Pray for Even One

Andy and Denise Loukusa | The Voice of Zion November 2022 - Home and Family Article --

Our minds are swift to compare and reason. The human condition is easily discontent. We often require answers for the unfair things in life and in the world.

Sometimes I launch into a season of unrest over my life circumstances. The heavenly Potter has richly blessed me: I have my faith, spouse, home and career, just to name a few. God has not gifted my spouse and me with children.

My mind battles this. I think of children born in unfortunate circumstances, perhaps living on the streets while we, able to provide food and shelter, pray for even one of God’s little blessings.

Questions and doubts fill our minds. At times we are advised childlessness is the better blessing. Some even scoff when they hear that childlessness may be a trial for couples.

Still, when evening comes, the quiet stillness in our home grows into an enormous storm in our hearts. I often long for the chaos I knew as a child in a large family; to be surrounded by loved ones again. Though I struggle to accept it, I desire to believe that God promises no trial we cannot bear. And although reminders of our condition are everywhere, we find seasons of peace amongst the grief.

In all things, isn’t it easier to find contentment when we meditate around our blessings with gratitude? That’s how I have found it to be. When gratitude is joined with the living gospel and believing escorts, my heart and mind can rest.

Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us there is a time to weep; sometimes we do. As weeks have turned into months and years, my husband and I have felt the season of mourning. When escorts, either by empathy or experience, can share our load and enclose us in their family circles, we experience the time of building up, love and laughter. We also desire to support our escorts in their trials. Through Jesus’ name and blood, we can be freed from our earthly portion and reassured of the heavenly goal. There, the season of laughter and joy lasts forever.

Finding Joy, Blessings, and Contentment

Mitchell and Deanna Simonson | The Voice of Zion November 2022 - Home and Family Article --

Deanna: My motto is: “Do what I love so that I can love what I do.” For each of us, this adage can take on a different meaning. For me, it means taking time to do what I love – exercising, being outdoors, playing the piano and singing. Singing in the church choir and attending camps to be with believers and enjoying nature have been highlights of my free time.

Mitchell and Deanna: As we pass through the different seasons of life, we find that supporting each other as husband and wife is important. We wish to ensure our temporal and spiritual needs are being taken care of. If things aren’t going well in our relationship, making time for each other becomes a priority to reconnect. Expressing gratitude really helps shift perspective on the tough days, and in turn it helps us become more thankful for the good days. Song of Zion 351 comes to mind: “Thanks for joys and thanks for tears.”

Creating a joyful environment at home for our ten children is something we strive to do; this helps foster the joy, blessings and contentment of life we hope we all can experience. We pray to the heavenly Father for contentment in this season of life, trusting in God that He knows our needs and guides us. The power of the gospel strengthens and guides us no matter the season. It restores our focus on heaven; we want to be ready when our time is called.

Empty Nesters

Bruce and Patricia Raisanen | The Voice of Zion November 2022 - Home and Family Article --

Patricia: Bruce’s Aunt Sylvia’s advice rings clear, “Embrace each new stage.” We have navigated through one year of being empty nesters. After 43 years of marriage and 42 years of raising children to adulthood, I am excited to experience a new life with just the two of us. Now it is time to embrace this new season. As my Grandpa Walt would say, “All thanks go to God.”

Bruce: To me, it’s a huge change having no children at home. Although the change came on gradually, I wonder where the time went. Yes, I tell people, it feels like I have a flat tire once our youngest moved away – I just don’t have the drive. Now Patti and I are learning how to entertain ourselves. We really treasure our believing escorts more than ever.

Each Day Is Grace Anew

Luella Grangroth | The Voice of Zion November 2022 - Home and Family Article --

The words of David in Psalms 31:25 come to mind. “I have been young and now am old, yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, not his seed begging bread.”

The season of old age in life comes with many moods and feelings: fear and apprehension of the days ahead, and warm and comforting thoughts and memories of life past. For the present, for each day, the righteous are not forsaken even though doubts and sin abound, God’s mercy never fails. Each day is grace anew; the gospel is in the mouths of believers to assure the needy that sins are forgiven in the name and blood of Jesus.

The joy of an aged parent is to see the growth of the family. My husband and I, two aged grandparents, are blessed with children born into the fifth generation. God has blessed them all with abundant bread, lacking nothing. Prayers rise to the heavenly Father: “Preserve them and us in Your grace kingdom all the days of life.”

Home Hospice for Isä

Tarja Brown | The Voice of Zion November 2022 - Home and Family Article --

My father – Isä as we called him – reached his eternal rest in 2021. One of his wishes was that he would not have to live in a nursing home at the end of his life. My husband Joe and I assured him that we would care for him. Isä spent seven months on hospice in our home.

Yet today tears of joy and longing are close as I contemplate those months. It was a joy to be able to care for him. We are thankful God gave us the heart to serve, and we are thankful that we were given this time to spend with Isä.

There were difficult times, and at other times it was such a blessing. Isä was able to impart many lessons of faith as we sat at the table and visited about matters. He lamented that he felt he was such a burden. We assured him that he was not a burden and that we were happy he could be with us.

Seasons of life are such that he lovingly cared for me until I came of age, and then it was my turn to love and care for him until God called him home.

Discussion Questions:

  1. “To every thing there is a season.” What season are you in right now?

  2. What might be particular trials and joys for each season of life?

  3. How is God’s plan evident in the phases of our lives?

  4. Our lives don’t necessarily go as we thought they would. How have you learned in your life that God knew what you needed?

  5. In what ways do we support each season in our congregations?

  6. Discuss additional supports we might consider for showing love and care for those in their season of life.

2022_11_Pub_NovVZ_HF_Seasons of Life
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