I Love the Fall

The Lighter Side

fall-pixabay-valiunic

I love to see the trees clothed in orange, red and yellow, and watch the leaves gently float to the ground, offering a delightful swish when I walk through them.

I love the return of fleecy sweatshirts and fuzzy sweaters and the weight of an extra blanket on my bed.

I love fall’s crisp air, crisp apples and apple crisp. I love homemade applesauce, apple cider, and apples covered with caramel.

I love orange pumpkins sitting on front porches, all friendly and bright; toasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin breads, and pumpkin pies with real whipped cream (but not pumpkin lattes, thank you.)

I love the warm glow of windows in the early darkness, allowing me stolen glimpses into homes of strangers.

I love mums of yellow, purple and burnt orange (my favorite); showy cabbages flaunting curly leaves of white or purple; and colorful gourds, round or elongated, bumpy or striped.

I love the way fall rouses my heart and inspires me and fills me with gratitude, as if preparing me for its crescendo at Thanksgiving.

I love the seasonal reminder that God is faithful and oversees everything. And that the Creator of fall and winter, spring and summer is good—and, like His creation, He is very, very beautiful.

Photo courtesy of valiunic@pixabay.com 

 

Easing in—Seasonal Change

four_seasons_by_nalmesChange is not always abrupt and unannounced. Sometimes we sense it coming and even anticipate it. Seasonal changes seem easier to accept—they are predictable and transitory. They give us time to prepare and even appreciate the phase of change, comforted by the knowledge that this will pass, like the seasons of nature.

Spring, summer, fall, and winter are descriptors of life’s stages—spring symbolizing birth and childhood; summer, a time of growth and young adulthood; fall characterizes maturation and middle age; winter depicts the slower, deliberate pace of senior years. And within each season are additional seasons.

Each phase of life holds areas of change that require our acceptance and cooperation—marriage or sudden singleness, new job or no job, recovered health or unwelcome diagnoses, parenthood or grand-parenthood, productivity or postponement, certain faith or questioning doubt, anticipation or angst.

What’s your season?

Whatever your answer, I am sure of this. The Lord is near—not only near to His return, but near to you. So don’t be anxious, but pray. Search for the blessings and be thankful, and God’s peace will guard your heart and mind (paraphrased from Philippians 4:4-7).

What are the joys of your current season? There is a beauty and rhythm to each chapter, blessings within the burdens. Let them be the focus of your heart and be at peace.

Artwork by Nalmes

How Do I Stretch? Let Me Count the Ways.

stretch-freelyphotos-DinoReichmuth

 

This is our third discussion about change and I trust we agree that though change is inevitable, growth is optional. To stop resisting change and accept its challenge, is a choice for growth. It says we want to get better, be more, rise higher! But as soon as the growth process begins, we feel the stretch.

We stretch our attitudes, preconceived notions, traditions, and personal peeves and preferences. We stretch our intellect, emotions, patterns, and assumptions. We stretch our feelings, habits, comfort levels and personal space. We stretch our I-never-did-it-that-way-before stances.

Stretching may tax our endurance, strain our muscles, and challenge our brain, but it also prepares us to go further, reach higher and become fuller. In the process of stretching we find ourselves expanding and learning—becoming more, greater, better.

Stretching extends us beyond our preconceived limits, expands our world, opens our hearts, enlarges our lives—which is exactly what God wants for us!

Jesus said He came to give us life that’s abundant (John 10:10).

Resisting change causes the opposite of abundance—it leads to decrease. These synonyms are not what we want: shrink, wither, shrivel, minimize, dry up, decline, diminish, lessen. They’re not what God wants either.

In Isaiah 53 the prophet describes all that Jesus would suffer to release us from sin. Then he calls out to us, as God’s redeemed people:

Enlarge the place of your tent,

stretch your tent curtains wide,

do not hold back;

lengthen your cords,

strengthen your stakes.

For you will spread out to the right and to the left…”*

God wants to make us more. Do you hear His heart cry in Isaiah’s words?

Let’s stretch high to receive His blessings. Stretch wide to touch lives we’ve not yet met. Stretch out to seize new possibilities and stretch deep to fulfill God’s purposes.

*Isaiah 54:2-3

Photo credit: Dino Reichmuth/freelyphotos.com

Change = Growth. Maybe.

Change=growthChange presents fertile conditions for growth, but growth cannot be assumed.

Change arrives and alters our lives, things are different than before. The opportunity for growth looms before us, but so does the potential for disappointment and bitterness. The unpleasant truth is, it’s our choice—resist or grow?

Any change is a challenge, but when it is unanticipated, takes something from us, and doesn’t reveal what’s ahead, it’s what I referred to last week as ugly change. That criteria describes the situation of a young woman who could never have anticipated the change that came to her. It took her reputation and left her misunderstood. She didn’t know what to expect as her plans fell around her feet. Yet, she responded with humble grace and her words are still repeated with reverence:

“I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38).

We may reason that if an angel delivered a message of change we would have the same grace. I can’t be sure of that, but I am sure that a response similar to Mary’s will serve us well whenever and however change comes our way. When we put faith before fear we can say, “I am yours. Have your way in my life.”

I can choose this response only with God’s help because I do like the comfort of what’s familiar. But when I let go and embrace the challenge of change, I grow. And what’s the alternative—bitterness, anger, rebellion? That most certainly will stifle growth, cement me in place, and cause atrophy. That’s not the life I want.

The familiar may be comfortable, but it’s also restrictive and God’s desire for us is higher and better than we imagine. He purposes for us to have hope and a future (Jer. 29:11). To that end, He prunes us through change, enabling us to produce fruit, more fruit, and much fruit (John 15:1-5).

Let’s trust Him along the path and watch His grace unfold.

Change—the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

change

What feelings rouse when you read the word change? Excitement or dread? Anticipation or fear? Challenge of comfort? Hope or skepticism? Do you love it or hate it?

If change leads to something better I embrace it, but if it leads to the unknown… well, I don’t think any of us are comfortable then. However, change is an unavoidable part of life so I’m dedicating four or five posts to CHANGE.

Change seems ugliest when:

  • It’s unanticipated
  • It takes something from us
  • It doesn’t reveal what’s ahead

We regard change as bad when:

  • It diminishes us, makes us less
  • It overwhelms with fear and uncertainty
  • It threatens what we understand as good and true and healthy

Change appears good when:

  • It brings us to a better place
  • It adds value to our life
  • It points to a bright future

I hear your agreement, but each of those attitudes is deficient. Each one minimizes, or even ignores, the God factor.

Life’s changes are not without purpose or oversight. Even changes planned by us are under God’s control. Proverbs tells us, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” (16:9).

Let’s revise our observations about the good, bad and ugly aspects of change. Through the lens of faith we know…

  • There is no change unanticipated by God (Ps. 139:2-3)
  • Even change that seems bad is worked out for our blessing (Rom. 8:28)
  • The unknown is known by the only One who needs to know (Isa. 40:27-28)
  • God’s plans for us are good and will be completed (Phil. 1:6)
  • We have a firm Rock to stand on when life seems uncertain (Ps. 18:2)
  • Our understanding is limited and our vision short-sighted (Isa. 55:8)
  • God is our safe place, our strength, and our help (Ps. 46:1)
  • Our value is found in fulfilling God’s purposes for us (Ps. 145:13)
  • In God alone do we have a future and hope (Jer. 29:11)

Even though I’m in the “Ugly Change” category right now, I confidently attest to the truth of Philippians 4:7—

My limited understanding is transcended by God’s peace because I’m trusting Him.