Tag Archives: seasons

Over and Next

At age 93, when asked what his best thinking was about life, TV legend Norman Lear replied, “It can be summed up in two words: Over and Next. If there were a hammock hung between those two words, that would be living in the moment.”

His words were a gift to me. I write and speak often about embracing the season we are in and not trying to rush too quickly to the next season. I’ve compared us to Hobby Lobby the way we start decorating for Fourth of July before Easter even thought about arriving, especially in our real life seasons.

Norman Lear gave me a new concept to think about though. It is equally important, when a season of life is done, to let it be Over. This applies to Empty Nests, Career Changes, Some Relationships, Closet Cleaning and a few hundred other things.

Piece of clothing, too small jeans you have served me well and now your time with me is Over. Season of rearing children in the home: Over. I can miss it. I can want it back. I can look fondly at what was with nostalgia and maybe regret but mostly I need to say, “This is over.” Only then, can I see what is Next.

The prophet Isaiah, tells the people on behalf of God, Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? Isaiah 16:18-20 The Message 

I’ve let go of a few relationships along the way, either by choice or by circumstances: Over. I have new people in my life to treasure: Next.  I used to be 20, now I’m not: Over. I’m wiser, have laugh lines and cry lines and a wealth of treasured memories: Next.

Much of Next, we cannot and probably should not know. That’s why that part about the hammock hung in the middle of Over and Next is so delicious. Living in the moment. Noticing. Being present.

This morning, as I walked, I noticed creation’s new green color mixed with purple, pink and yellow. I noticed everything fresh from last night’s rain. The air smelled clean. I saw the longest earthworm I’ve ever seen. I saw a daffodil growing alone in the brown crunchy leaves of winter. The caption was clearly, “Over and Next.”

I wonder what it is for you? What needs to be pronounced Over? What might be Next? And how about that hammock in the middle?

Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, Mimosa to Keller, breast cancer survivor, walker and embracer of seasons.  


The Counter Pose

I’ve now been practicing yoga for one year. This new year I even added another class each week. I’m hooked. I pictured that one year out, I would have a really lean, healthy yoga body but as these things go, I still have my same body which can now do yoga.

I’ve mentioned before that one thing I love in addition to the stretching, balancing, core strengthening and deep relaxing are the teachings. Every time I practice yoga,I learn something that applies to life.

I’ve discovered the art of the counter pose.  Yoga is about balance, alignment and focus. Our teacher leads us through a pose and then a counter pose, the opposite of what we’ve just done. Picture bending forward arms down, rounding the back, then leaning back with arms extended, arching the back-that is a counter pose.

I’m learning to honor the counter pose. I spent a majority of my life not doing this. A busy, overfilled day was followed by an equally full night and then another overfilled day and on and on. When vacation time came, I was running on fumes, never really winding down. You know how it goes.

We were created to counter pose. The wisdom literature of scripture reminds us in Ecclesiastes 3, There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens. The text even spells out activities and counter poses, “A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot….” Fourteen different poses and counter poses are listed for us. The writer of Ecclesiastes knew we needed it spelled out I guess.

It seems so simple like pure common sense. Thirst, then quenching thirst. Work, then rest. Winter, then spring. Feasting, then fasting. Lent, then Easter. Pose, counter pose.

We just don’t seem to be that good at honoring the counter pose. We push. We ignore our season. We seldom stop to ask ourselves what do I need for balance? Is it time to stretch the other direction now?

Jesus had the counter pose perfected. He worked, then rested. He took naps. He ate. He drank. He immersed himself in crowds and then intentionally pulled away. He saw people’s pain and heard their cries and then separated from it. In one particularly stressful time, he withdrew only a little bit (a stone’s throw way) to gather his thoughts, counter pose and pray. Luke 22:41-44.

Where are you right now? Which way have you been bending and stretching lately? What counter pose do you need in order to honor your body, your life or your season? There is a time for everything….

Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, Mimosa to Keller, a breast cancer survivor and yoga novice. She especially enjoys wearing yoga clothes when not wearing yoga.

The Fine Art of Embracing

Our nest is now empty. I know in an earlier blog I wrote about not calling it empty. I wrote bravely about calling it a wider nest that stretches practically all over Texas. But, right now, I’d like to retract that thought because the reality is, it is empty here.

We have three empty bedrooms…all still and quiet. Our laundry has decreased by 97% and I’m not even enjoying that. Our clocks tick more loudly…it’s weird.  At the grocery store, I nearly melted because I wasn’t buying the same things without a 19-year-old son eating here.

No one is waking me up in the middle of the night to tell me he’s home. His bed stays made. His room is sunny because I opened his black out curtains. It used to bug me that he left the shower curtain open all the time. It’s shut now 24/7, I should be gleeful.

He’s currently going through a rigorous ten-day tough boot camp environment preparing to be a part of the Corps of Cadets and Aggie Band at Texas A&M. My dad, his dad, his brother-in-law, brother and cousin all did the same thing before him. We all believe the Corps makes great leaders and we all know how hard it is.

We talked to our son a few days ago and he said it was harder than he thought it would be but that a text from his big brother had  helped him. I asked what the text said and he said essentially, “…to embrace the misery.” (Ok, it really said “Embrace the Suck” but I felt the need to make it sound better for my faith-based blog). Either way you get the idea. “Embrace the suck” seems somehow more aptly put and can really stick with you as a slogan.  As I was writing this, I realized there’s even a book with that title and hoodies you can get. Who knew?

Later, our older son explained his big brother text to me, “In short, it means you can’t think about all the things you could be doing; that will make you miserable. You are in a time where you’re going to be tired, stressed and getting yelled at. Embrace it and believe it’s going to make you better.  Be where your feet are.”

Sometimes I find it difficult to embrace where I am. That has been true in times of illness and recovery. It has certainly been true in seasons of grief. Sometimes I rail against a season of busyness or times where it seems my husband and I are working too hard or giving too much to everyone besides ourselves.

Sometimes it is when we need to make a decision but no clarity comes. I hate times of indecision, not knowing or waiting, don’t you?

Sometimes it is true in a season of emptiness, when the clocks are ticking too loudly and there is no laundry to do.

Could it be that there really is an art to embracing the place where our feet are right now? I wonder where you are and what needs your embrace?





When I was a little girl the church we attended had a children’s church. It was not at all like children’s ministry today with colorful murals, indoor playgrounds, kid-friendly music and cool video based Bible lessons. It was called “Little Church” and it was literally a tiny child-sized sanctuary with little pews, a little pulpit and little hymnals. I remember attending Little Church when my legs were too short to allow my feet to touch the floor. I was too little to find the hymn number before the song was over so I just had to remember the words. I doubt I could even read yet. We sang songs like “Come to the Church in the Wildwood” and “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.” We didn’t do the leaning motion during that song in Little Church. We were a little too formal for that. I learned that later at church camp. As we sang, we’d actually lean…as far as we could lean without falling.

All my life I’ve been practicing leaning: leaning on friends and family for help sometimes; leaning into tough challenges; leaning into school and study; leaning into marriage and parenting. I talk a lot about leaning into seasons because it took me so long to figure out how to not fight a season rather to lean into it. I’m not talking about actual seasons of the year but those are fun to embrace too. I’m talking about realizing the season you are in and leaning into it. Maybe it is a season of grief or a season of parenting.  Maybe it is a season of illness or a time of healing. Maybe you are in season of caring for a loved one or a tiny baby. Maybe it is a season of intense work or major projects. Don’t fight it.  Lean into it. Declare to yourself “this is a season of ….” and lean.

I once heard a therapist say “We must lean into that which is difficult.”  That’s a new idea, isn’t it? Instead of running from that which is hard for us, lean into it. Have that tough conversation. Bring up the subject no one talks about. Lean into facing what is hard to face. Do that thing that terrifies you. Lean into it.

This morning, my favorite devotional book, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young had a line that jumped out at me. “Go gently through this day, leaning on Me and enjoying My presence.”  I guess we had it right way back at Little Church, our little voices singing about leaning.



Yesterday in Texas the temperature was pushing 80 degrees.  It was a humid 80 too.  We turned our air conditioning back on.  Today, there is a strong north wind and it is currently in the mid-30s.  The problem with this whole weather thing is the lack of transition.  It is tough to go from shorts and flip-flops to sweatshirts and gloves with no transitional weather in between.

I feel the same kind of abruptness with Thanksgiving to Christmas.  We barely finished our Thanksgiving meal and drove home from out of town; only to discover all our neighbors out hanging Christmas lights and installing their holiday yard displays.  (I can’t even speak about the Christmas-decorations-before-Thanksgiving people). So we rolled into the driveway, hopelessly behind in the changing of the seasons.

Life seems filled with both subtle and abrupt transitions.  When our kids were little, the transitions came so fast: milk to solid food, crawling to walking, diapers to potty trained, preschool to elementary. But truthfully, they’ve never stopped transitioning.  Our daughter married with a home and career of her own; our middle son about to graduate from college this month, then home for a transitional few months before he’s out in the real world; our high school son transitioning from football season to off season sports; driving now, oh my!

I see people all around me adjusting to transitions of health, job issues, marital status, empty nests that get full again for a season…even from life to death.  Ralph Waldo Emerson said it this way, “Nothing is secure but life, the transition, the energizing spirit.”

It’s true.  Life seems to be mostly a series of transitions.  Some I handle better than others; some I face grumbling and bitter; some I welcome with open arms; some I fervently argue with, to no avail.  So today, as I adjust to 30 degree weather and the Christmas season upon me, I pray for God’s soothing spirit to ease today’s transitions.