when the light shines differently here

For two hours I sat by the pool in the shade and still came home with a tan line. That’s how it is in the South – even when you sit in the shade, the summer sun still finds you there, hiding in the shadows.


We moved to Detroit from South Carolina the summer after I turned 17. I worked at a kids camp that year, earning $80 a week. Well, at least I’ll get a tan working outside all day.

But I didn’t. Not like I expected.

Turns out the sun hits at a little different angle in Michigan than it does in South Carolina. And time spent outside that would have caused a sunburn in the South turns a barely-there brown in the Midwest.

That’s one of my first memories of Detroit – how the sun shines differently there.

I think of some girl friends in Ethiopia right now, there on the east side of Africa so near the equator. Haley at The Tiny Twig and Shannan at Flower Patch Farmgirl are traveling along with a whole team of women to see what The Mocha Club and FashionAble are doing for Ethiopian women – rehabilitation from the sex trade and employing them in the sustainable trade of weaving. I’m following their trip and you can, too.

They walk under this sun today, the same light landing on shoulders at a different angle during a different time zone.

But the same light, nonetheless.

My kids start school two weeks from today. I feel myself grieving the closing of the season. It seems impossible since they are still little tiny infant babies, but my twin girls will start fourth grade and our son will start first grade and then it will just be John and me home during the days.

In a month or so we’ll begin to notice the light fading earlier in the evening and rising up later in the morning. We’ll all adjust to this new kind of rhythm that comes around this time every year.


This sweet couple had their wedding ceremony in the bride’s grandmother’s front yard, white chairs on grass, programs fashioned into fans to fight off the still air of early August. John officiated the wedding, one of his favorite jobs as a pastor.

But technically he’s not a pastor anymore as today marks six weeks since he left his pastoral position. This will be our first fall as a married couple without the bustle of welcoming a new class into the youth group.

We are a strange mix of thankful and thoughtful.

As we continue to wait, we also move forward into what comes next: a new school year to start, a new book to launch, a new season to embrace.

For now, though, we still have two weeks left of the summer sun and all the ways she casts her light.

What kinds of changes or transitions are you anticipating this fall? How is your soul adjusting to the idea of it?


  1. says

    Great to find this in my inbox as I’m spending some desk time before the big school rush tomorrow!

    I’m finding myself hopeful and excited about the change in seasons and routines. So many ideas in my heart have yet to form words, but they’re full of hope and grace and I’m excited to lean into them.

  2. says

    I moved from NY to SC, and the sun is different! We just moved to Bangkok a month ago. The sun here is a whole lot different than it was in the states…..so is everything else! This is definitely a season of change for us. We are excited to see what the Lord will do here!

  3. says

    I am anticipating the back-to-school routine, but since I work outside the home, it won’t be as big a transition. I am getting ready to teach a small art class to some friends who have requested it. Hoping to teach them how to see the different ways the light shines in different places! Excitement and fear are hanging together as those preparations continue…I think they are fighting over who gets to ride in the front seat (like me and my sisters growing up…)

  4. says

    This post (as all your posts seem to do) caused me to take a deep breath and relax. My kids are starting K, 2nd & 4th next week. I feel like this is our last week to hurry up and enjoy the last week. A mix of savoring the last bits of summer with this harried feeling of “how do we cram it all in?” With my youngest off to school full time, I’m also wondering how to answer the “What will you do?” question I keep getting, since I’ve been a stay at home mom for nine years. I’m trying to be ok with the fact that I don’t have an answer to that question, yet.

  5. says

    Starting right about now, we’re moving into my favorite time of year around here (in Albuquerque). We’re inching toward fall, which means green chiles roasting on street corners and hot air balloons in the morning. Being back in my childhood home, this time of year feels rips with anticipation and creativity. Love it!

  6. says

    Yes…the end of a season, the beginning of a new one. We, too, are thoughtful going into the fall. Stepping into new things, unknown things. Leaning on different doors, wondering which ones will open. Discerning our role in the body of Christ, and catching glimpses of our destiny. It’s all so fun and terrifying and peaceful, all at the same time! Trying to hear the voice of the Lord in it all. Thinking of you, Emily, and all my blogging sisters who share the same heart! I’m excited to see what God has in store for you and your family. :) xoxo

  7. says

    This post makes me nostalgic but also fills me with anticipation for the season ahead. So to some this may seem small but this coming season I am going to be more involved with my boyfriend’s relatives. His parents and relatives have been so welcoming and I am in love with them. But this season I get to meet the boyfriend’s kids. And while I am nervous, I am also full of excitement because something tells me this is where God wants me to be at this point in my life. That my boyfriend has been a a good friend for 15 years makes it more sweet.

  8. says

    Instead of a frantic panic to get ready for homeschooling, this year I’m taking it slow and easy. Our youngest begins his middle school years next week and I want to savor it. Here’s to your new season of different. Enjoy it.

  9. says

    August always means new school year, new notebooks, clean pages, fresh start, HOPE… even more so for those women learning to “weave” for a new life. Prayers for THAT !

  10. says

    My own itty bitty infant just made the transformation to toddler. All of a sudden she is running and talking and tantrum-ing. So there’s that transition, for all of us. And God has given me new work outside of my paying job, a new passion to encourage fellow Christian working moms. I did not see this coming and while I am excited to stretch my writing muscle more and help my fellow mamas, I am overwhelmed at the thought of adding one more thing to the mix between work, child, husband, animals, house, etc. It feels as though just as I get used to one season, it ends.

  11. says

    Emily, Just last week we moved our 22-year-old son to Seattle to begin his new job. Yes, the sun definitely shines differently there than it does here in the deep south west. But it is also shining differently in our home…as the nest slowly empties and our lives change, not so subtly, but drastically. I’m thrilled for my son; he is where God has meant for him to be. I know this without the shadow of doubt. But I miss him terribly. We are close. His presence in our home was big. We have done life together for 22 years, and now he must do it alone, with only his God to lean on. This is good…but oh so different. And hard.

  12. Katherine says

    Emily, I have read your blog for a while, and have received immense encouragement through you. This post comes at such a trying time for me. As the new school year starts, so do I start a new teaching job – my first real job after graduating college. There are sooooo many new things and feelings in this new season of my life. I have some tough kids, and so I am so nervously-sick-to-my stomach as I think about my new job. I’m falling into the Lord’s arms everyday. May the peace which surpasses all understanding, guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus as we all begin new seasons in life.

  13. says

    I love this, Emily.
    I’ve been thinking a lot about fall coming, and why, although it is a herald of death in some ways, I love it so much. I’m looking forward to the transition, perhaps because I’m realizing that fall is proof that death is not forever. Spring comes again, bringing a different light along.

  14. says

    Oh, how I love this. I’ve been thinking about sunlight in much the same way, especially having just returned from 4-weeks-less-1-day on the island of Kauai, where the light is simply remarkable. I love what is happening in you and in John during this in-between time (as much as it is possible to love anything through cyberspace). And here’s something true I’ve learned deep-down since retiring from the pastorate 2 1/2 years ago: John is now and always will be a pastor. It doesn’t matter if he’s getting paid for it or not – he is a pastor in his center-most self. And that is a gift, a joy and a responsibility, too. I’m so glad he did this wedding. It’s a great reminder of that truth to step into the more formal pieces of the role from time to time. Many blessings as you continue through this time together.

    • says

      Thank you for these kind words, Diana. I have been saying that to people who have asked me about what John will do next – that he really is and always will be pastoring. Just maybe not the way we tend to think of it.

      Your words are encouraging this morning.

  15. says

    My husband and I are following you on this path. After 6 years of working with the youth ministry, we have felt the call of God to stop. It’s a strange feeling, esp. when we are stopped by friends to report how the summer camp went! So many good stories and blessings, yet this sadness of leaving it. We were late in finding God’s call to youth group. I am 57 and my hubby is 60. We had awesome 6 years in ministry with the fantastic kids. But now we are wondering, what next?

  16. Nicole says

    Emily, it has been so encouraging to follow your journey this summer as my family walks a very similar path. My husband,John, is leaving his ministry as a worship pastor for the past 10 years to teach at a small college. We have 2 young children with one on the way in Nov. WE are saying our final goodbye at church this Sunday and moving 800 miles away in a couple of weeks. Your words about change and transition have been very encouraging to us during this process. So good to know we are not alone and eagerly anticipating God’s guidance in this next season…thank you!!!

  17. says

    I am a twisted mix of grievous and numb at the transitions in this season which lies ahead for me. Why would I be when I have known nothing but his faithfulness in these times of shifting gears. The gears grind, but he oils them with grace. His balms keeps us moving forward, mercifully. Beautiful write my friend.

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