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.

Lessons from the Past

Recently, I came across some interesting old family records. They were genealogies, tracing my mothers’ family name Forney, (“Fahrni” at that time), back to the mid-1600’s in a small village in Switzerland. It mesmerized me to read the names of family from whom I descend; a written record of births, marriages and deaths of people I know little about. There were numerous sets of twins, sadly many infant deaths, a country doctor, a slew of preachers and a fiery senator from Kansas.

It made me consider how swiftly one lifetime goes by. Each of these long-lost relatives woke up each day knowing their life mattered, they were significant and they would do what needed to be done that day. They, like us faced conflicts and misunderstandings, they experienced love and joy, sickness and death. Certainly, there was laughter, jokes, hard work and play in their days. They decided what to prepare for dinner and how to get all the daily tasks accomplished. They, like us, could see only the “here and now”, what was right in front of their noses. The problems they faced were huge, (like ours), the decisions they made were fraught with questions and uncertainty, (as ours are).

I laughed to myself as I wondered who first posed the question, “Shall we move to America?” Whose crazy idea was that and how was it received by parents, relatives and the townspeople? (I can just picture people at the market whispering behind their hands about those “daring Fahrni’s). Because, in 1721, this was no small feat! But someone posed such a question and made the decision to do it! Imagine what was involved in the planning, the timing, and the funding of such a notion? How many hours of discussion and prayer must have been included? Saying goodbye to loved ones they would never see again must have been excruciating.

It is hard to conceive of a distant relative thinking about me, a descendant from 300 years later, let alone them imagining their life having an impact on me, but here is what I’ve learned from their story: These people were not different than we are. As I think back on multiple generations of Forney’s, I’m reminded I can brave an uncertain future, I can overcome daunting loss and grief. If knocked down, I can get back up and start again. Future generations will thank me for it.

Right now, life in 2020 is hard. We face a confusing virus filled with uncertainty. Questions spin asking what will happen with the economy, who is to blame for this calamity and how shall we re-open the country? We worry about our children and financial woes; we fight off health issues and boredom, face loneliness and painful loss. Yes, challenges abound, but instead of allowing these obstacles to consume us what if instead, we place our focus on what we do know and what we can accomplish?

Certainly, no one knows what lies before us, (tomorrow or in 300 years), but we have today. And today is good! Today, we know what we have, and we know what to do, today. So, we make it good. We choose to be grateful; we find the good in the middle of chaos and we treat those around us with care and kindness. And tomorrow, we’ll do it all over again.

Here’s a picture of John Forney, (ca 1816), father of the Senator AG Forney. He has kind eyes but determined at the same time. He’s my great-great-great grandfather, (I think).