Open windows.

Tonight, as I was putting my daughter to sleep in a second-floor bedroom, the one that belonged to {a younger} me for 17 years, I heard church bells chiming.  Their deep, warm resonance traveled as the crow flies from downtown, over quiet homes lit from within and yards humming with crickets, moments later floating into my room through screened windows cranked open to invite in the sounds of the night...choruses of tree frogs croaking back and forth, children calling each others' names at a front yard barbecue around the corner, the crack of a bat and men's animated voices at the softball game across the street.

Those church bells, they stirred something deep within me.  As I lay there under the open window on an achingly perfect night, with a cool summer breeze blowing across my legs, I couldn't help but feel that this is exactly what I need right now.

I know that "to everything there is a season," and there is certainly a season that calls for tightly sealed windows, holding loved ones close under toasty blankets, shutting out the cold.  But for me, this is a season for open windows, both literally and figuratively. 

Being away in New Jersey for this last month of summer has been an actual breath of fresh air in my life.  Summer should mean open windows, slightly cool breezes at night, living outside, or at least inviting the outside in, and I've gotten to experience all of those things.  More importantly, it's been a time to slow down, to soul-search, to shed some heavy baggage and embrace the lightness that comes with handing over your burdens to the only One who can handle them anyway.

Tomorrow, I'll return to Texas into the arms of my husband and the home I love, knowing there will be heat and humidity and that fall weather is still a way's off.  My fervent hope is to return with a greater desire to live "outside in" instead of insularly.  To live proactively instead of reactively.  To live more relationally instead of closed off.

I'll start small, with shedding the dark chocolate brown on my living room walls for a light smoky blue on three walls and bright coral on the fourth.   I'll learn to knit and needle felt.  I'll open my life to new people - strangers - through a fall Bible study and by making meals for new moms in my neighborhood.

These are just the small things.  But they have a common theme: letting go of fear, embracing life.

It won't be easy for an introvert like me to change and invite in new people and experiences, but it's time.  The winds of change only flow easily through open windows.  Even better, windows that are thrown open with abandon.