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And Summer fell to Fall

Here it is, the change of a season. You see it in the tips of the leaves, leaves which weeks before were deep and vibrant, are now yellowing and fading. Cooler temperatures arrive and somehow a slower pace is acceptable, nay desirable. It soothes and calls out for spicy apple drinks and pumpkins lining the porch.

As my own life ebbs into fall, I relate to the seasonal change as parts of me begin to fade and slow. For years, I dreaded the coming of this season and worked to keep it at bay, (multiple visits to the hair salon could only last so long…). Yet, hard as I worked to avert the apparent, the season arrived. Instead of being disheartened by this reality, it was time for some introspection, for a deeper consideration of what truly matters. Here were some options:

Worry about the long dark days of approaching winter.

Withdraw and isolate out of fear of the unknown weather.

Complain about days of summer not turning out as I had hoped.

Or I could consider the scripture in Ecclesiastes 3:11 and remember, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

God made everything from beginning to end and seasons do change. This perspective helps me grasp reality. Or is it rather, reality helps me grasp perspective? Either way, eternity is at the core, it is a concept God has placed in each of us. Though I struggle to comprehend eternity, I cling to it, though feebly at times.

My life and seasons are in his hands. For me, my choice today is to not be swayed by age or flaw. This choosing must be done again and again, because some days my fears of winter win out. Other days I complain and fret about the seasons which have passed me by. But today, I can make the right choice, the choice to embrace the amazing places God has brought me. Certainly, we all know many who have not survived into the autumn of their life, and while this sobers us, it also prompts us to embrace each day we have with gratitude and dignity. So, here I find myself in the season of slowing and easing into winter, striving to keep eternity in the forefront of my mind.

My eternity has been impacted by so many. I look back on my life and can name women and men who have molded and shaped me for the better. How eternally grateful I am for those people. (Have I told them so?) On the other hand, it’s uplifting to think of the lives God has allowed me to influence. Few have enough voice to impact the entire world, but to impact someone right in front of us is no insignificant thing. When we reach out with love to someone in pain, offer sincerity or kindness, and hold out truth to those in our path, we make an impact. I find it meaningful to ask myself, whose life is better for knowing me, and how have I served and helped others? These are the kinds of things I can continue for all my days. Seasons come and seasons go, but eternity is real. Actions I take today can make an eternal difference.

Share in comments section about those who have made an impact on seasons of your life.

Move On 2020

This is the picture of a sign at Times Square in NYC, December 31, 2020. It’s how many feel about the tumultuous year we’ve experienced.  Please, just move on and go away!  We are tired of the drama and are ready for a new year.

It’s been a year fraught with difficulty and challenges. I don’t know if you were devastated by the year or only inconvenienced. Maybe you’re someone who thought COVID19 was a conspiracy drummed up to “throw” the US election or you may be one who accepted it simply as a virus to be avoided at all costs. Regardless of how you view the virus and this year, you will benefit by taking time to stop and reflect on lessons learned.

What has benefited you? Can you find the good? For example, I know of a family (parents with adult kids living in 4 different states) who have “zoomed” weekly and connected like they hadn’t in years of seeing each other only once or twice a year at a holiday. Another family, also spread across the country, do a virtual monthly “catch-up”, cousins, uncles, parents, grandkids all join the call. Together on the video chat they sing and pray; they laugh and tell funny stories. What a delight for them to join in and be connected in ways they didn’t before 2020.

What did you do this year you hadn’t before? Maybe you’ve taken up bread baking or propagating houseplants. If you have school aged kids at home, maybe you’ve brushed up on long-division. Sure, there’ve been tough parts, but it’s nice to remember some of the good as well. In what ways has God has shown his faithfulness to you? Have you walked more closely with him this year?

“…for a little while you have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire may be proved genuine…” I Peter 1:5-7

You’ve faced trials and difficulties. It’s important (and okay) to face these challenges and evaluate what you’ve accomplished. It may help to write out what made you sad or areas you hoped for that were not realized. Take time to remember people lost to the virus. Consider the loved ones you are missing deeply right now. It helps to acknowledge the pain you’ve walked through and give yourself a pat on the back of how you came through it.

But as the sign says, “Move On 2020”.  It’s time. Gauge how you did this past year in particular areas, and then make plans for a fresh start for 2021. Here are some areas to think about:

Spiritual walk with God – goals to grow, what to read, walk with others on similar path, allow help, keep as a priority.

Relationships – plans to deepen, forgiveness where needed, set priorities, start fresh, rekindle.

Finances – have a plan/work the plan, think about discontentment or greed, deal with bad habits, debt reduction, perhaps meet with financial expert.

Physical health – workout regimen (something new?), nutrition, regular checkups (medical, dental, vision).

Mental health – any issues with anger, bitterness, worry or depression? (Pursue help if needed). What books might be helpful?

Career or Education – what is end goal? Steps to reach this, new dreams, time management (not procrastinate, watch behaviors that distract such as social networking, tv, hobbies…)

The list isn’t conclusive, but simply a springboard to begin the thoughts. What matters is to take the time today or this week to write out ways you will move forward into a victorious new year. Make progress. This is the goal, not to attain perfection, just small steps forward.

This is one of my favorite quotes:

“A year from now, you’ll wish you had started today.” (Karen Lamb)

Time to move on.

Three Black Crows

From my favorite writing spot at my kitchen table, I hear an awful racket outside and see three large black crows have descended on our pecan trees. The tough green husks of the pecans are opening as the nuts ripen and the tree readies for winter. The crows are certainly excited about this “opening” which enables them to release the pecan shell from the husk, carry it with their beak to the ground, peck it open and revel in the sweet nut inside. What a feast! And what a racket! Not sure exactly if I should be doing something to put a stop to it? It suggests a whole new meaning to the word “scarecrow”, and I wonder if such a thing might work? Has anyone ever placed a scarecrow in a tree?

The trees are tall, I certainly can’t reach all the pecans. I mean, how many pecans can they eat? Yet, with all the racket, every crow across the county will be in my trees shortly. I honestly don’t know what to do about them. So, I sit here, bemused by their antics.

“Openings”. It’s worth considering a deeper dive. What openings lay before us, from which we might find benefit? Maybe a chance to share your personal faith with someone who is seeking? An opportunity to encourage or serve someone in a tough spot? What openings has God put in your life? Is there a chance to resolve a conflict or to forgive someone? Have a vital conversation? Is there a promotion opening at your job, could you apply? Is there a needed change, could you make a start? I’m convinced we have many opportunities regularly coming into our life, but they are easy to miss if we don’t pay attention or if we allow our fears to reign and hold us back.

I have a friend who frequently encourages me to “listen” for God, to hear his prompts and pay closer attention to his guidance in my life. Doing so requires me to be still, be silent and demands me to take time to wait, to allow him to work. Not always easy, yet the more I do this, the more I feel confident in my choices, and more ready to take advantage of the openings provided. And then what a sweet feast of security I enjoy – and what opportunities come my way!

How about you? What “openings” have been given to you today? Take a minute to consider them and the blessing that may come if you reach out to take ahold of it.