30 Days of Thanksgiving: Autumn’s Transformation

While summer is my favorite season, there are things to enjoy about each season.  There’s something breathtaking about the change that leaves go through, turning from the vast array of greens to a large variety of colors.  It amazes me that they can be that simple green for so long and then change colors for just a few weeks at most before all the leaves drop.  This year it seemed like it was very late in the season when I really started to see a change in colors, about a month ago I saw a couple of trees changed, but it was only this past week that the color explosion happened.

I can remember as a child traveling in the Northeast USA during the autumn, partly because of wanting to see the colors change.  The past few years have been very interesting with regard to the season change because it hasn’t always gone as it’s expected to.  Last September I remember starting the month with sweaters, and we’ve worn them already this year, but just yesterday I was in sandals and short sleeves.  So while the beauty of autumn leaves was finally before me, the weather had changed yet again to be warmer.  Today we’re back to the cooler weather, and it looks like that may be the way it stays for the rest of the season.

Today I’m thankful that the leaves did change colors, that some things are predictable, and that even though the temperature may be warm and the date may be late the trees are displaying their autumn beauty.  Each of the seasons brings a little blessing with it, so that even if it’s not a favorite season there’s still something to look forward to.  What do you love most about autumn?

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An Autumn of Bounty

This week I’ve been meditating on a couple of verses from Psalm 13:

“But I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because [the Lord] has dealt bountifully with me.” Psalm 13:5-6

The first reason this verse caught my attention was that it didn’t sound like a verse I remembered reading, and I’ve read the book of Psalms several times. This version of Psalm 13 came in one of the many newsletters I’ve signed up for and I can’t find the answer that I’m sure you’re asking: what translation is it? While I wish they would clearly post that information so we would both know, they didn’t, and so we’re left to guess. And with over 100 versions of the Bible in English alone, there are lots of possibilities of the translation it could be.

The second reason these verses caught my attention was a word in the second sentence: “I will sing to the Lord, because [the Lord] has dealt bountifully with me.” Right now we’re in the final push of the harvest season. Summer is winding down and the crops are all being gathered before the frost and winter arrive. In the US we’ve got the holiday of Thanksgiving coming up which began as a celebration of and thanksgiving for bounty for the Pilgrims. But how often do we use the word ‘bounty’ in our lives today? We tend to use words more like abundance, affluence, prosperity, or thriving today. Bounty is a word that isn’t used as often but I feel it paints a better visual picture of what it means than some of the other similar words do.

Lately I feel like all I’m hearing about is loss and fear, not to mention hate and anger, between all the hurricanes, politics and violence that have been happening recently. I’m concerned that we’re not talking about or looking for the bounty in our lives. No, we shouldn’t ignore the bad stuff that goes on, the sooner we learn to deal with and move through it the better. So this week my encouragement to you would be to look for the bounty, accept the abundance and be open to the blessings God can send your way.

Reality Reflection: Faithful to Myself

I was thinking about sharing about fall this week, but when it came time to sit down and write I hit one of those awesome writer’s blocks. Nothing wanted to come out and so I took a break. As I had my tea, watched the finches and thought about it some more, I realized that I wasn’t ready to think about fall and what happens next in depth quite yet. I’ve been thinking about it a little, but not in the sense of being prepared for it to happen even though that’s what I’m seeing a little more evidently each day outside my window.

This realization was really important because it really fits in with something we all struggle with at one point in time or another: faithfulness. By choosing to not write about fall even though it’s what I planned on writing about, I’m being faithful to who I am as a creative genius. Yes, it’s OK to celebrate when you listen to the wisdom in your heart and mind. I’m not into bragging but it’s good to pat yourself on the back when you do something right and make notes to correct yourself in the future the next time you feel that one thing is right but you do another.

Being faithful to yourself means that you’ve chosen to do what works for you, not what would make other people like you or make them happy, unless it would make you happy as well. Sometimes we make decisions because we know it’s for the good of all, like compromising on the restaurant for a night out with friends or not buying that extra special something at the store this month because your kids had something to do at school that would require a little money. It’s not easy to sacrifice, but we know it’s the right thing to do.

This week, be faithful to yourself. Choose what’s right for you if you’re not in the habit of doing it. If you’re all about you though, I would challenge you to think about what would be best for all of you this week.

Enjoying the Simple and the Complicated

As I’ve been thinking about the simple things of life and about taking a break, I’ve been realizing how not simple life really is. Some of the not simple things are awesome like washers and dryers and roller coasters, but some of the not simple things aren’t so great like all the chemicals that have been added to products we use and consume in our daily lives. And while over the past few years it has been slowly changing with technology, the number of people who used to be involved with bringing one product or service to fruition was quite large. The fact is we’ve done a really good job of including complications in our lives, and sometimes that’s not a bad thing.

I’m not interested in going back to a life that’s overly simple. I like being able to call half way around the world and talk with someone in moments. I like to collaborate with people in Australia and Africa as well as just a few blocks away. I like that the internet works when I need it to without me knowing the ins-and-outs of how it works. I like that I don’t have to be responsible for creating all the food I eat or the products I use. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not important to make time for the simple things.

There’s incredible value to be found in taking time for the simple things. Whether you take time to pick up and enjoy the color of an autumn leaf, you dance around in the first snow flurries of the year, you sit down beside the fire with a good book or coloring page or knitting project, or you enjoy a meal of locally grown products, they’re opportunities to slow down and to appreciate the individuality of life.

As we roll through these last weeks of summer I encourage you to take time to discover exactly how complicated life is, how many parts make up the whole, and how awesome those little parts are.

Reality Reflections: do your best

Today I have a simple message for you: do the best you can and be the best you can. I said it was a simple message, I didn’t say it was necessarily an easy one. The best you can doesn’t mean you’ll be perfect, that everyone will like you or that you’ll always be satisfied with yourself at the end of the day. Doing your best means that you don’t give up when the going gets tough, you don’t let the criticisms beat you down, and you choose to do the right thing rather than the easy one.

Doing your best means that you get up each and every day with the thought in mind that you’re going to give this new day your best effort, that you’re not going to give up on it, just like the sun doesn’t give up on us (it’s always behind the clouds or on the other side of the world). It means that you’re committed to being aware of what’s going on around you in the world, to have an attitude of love, care and helping others, and to believe in standing up for yourself and others.

It makes finishing a day that didn’t go so well a little easier. It makes it a little easier to sleep at night knowing that you’ll try to solve tomorrow’s problems then and that you’ve done as well as you could with today’s. It won’t “fix” other people or their problems, but it will help you find the patience to deal with them and reach peace easier when something or someone is completely outside of your control or influence.

I encourage you to choose today to be the best person you can be for your partner, your coworkers, your kids, your boss, your employees, your customers and/or yourself.

A Little Anticipation

Happy Autumn!  The new season has arrived, how are you feeling?  Are you looking forward to what is to come this season, or are you more apprehensive of the changes that are coming?  I’ve been thinking about what this season means to me and the potential it could hold.  Some of those thoughts are pretty overwhelming, and often when it comes to change it does seem overwhelming.  That could be the reason why you’ve been hesitating with changes that you’re considering in your life.

As I was thinking about autumn I was reminded of the season and events that are upcoming: winter and Christmas.  We look to Christmas (or Hanukkah) with a big sense of anticipation, even as adults.  We look forward to gatherings of family and friends.  We look forward to seeing what the stores come up with as window displays.  We look forward to our kids’ gleeful cheers and crazy antics with gift giving.  We look forward to cookies, things we let ourselves eat once a year and even leftovers seem to taste better because it’s the holidays.

Sure some of us anticipate pumpkin spice lattes, apple pie and apple and pumpkin everything that shows up this time of year. Some of us really enjoy Halloween and others really enjoy the falling leaves and autumn activities.  But do we really look forward to it as a season or are we so busy getting back into things, or missing the summer that we almost dismiss fall?  Would we adjust better and enjoy ourselves more if we lived life with anticipation rather than dread or just trying to get by?  I know that Christmas isn’t the perfect holiday, most of us can remember at least one bad one that we had (I can remember a couple that I was really sick for).  So it’s not about having the feeling of Christmas all year long, or having Christmas all year long, but about looking forward to what life sends us.

I encourage you to choose an attitude of anticipation for the rest of this month and season, rather than dread or apathy and see what awesome things come your way.

The Hope of Autumn

This week is the beginning of Autumn here in the US.  I’m not a big fan of the cold winter nights which follow autumn, but there is something awe insipring about the colors and what the trees go through every year during this season.  As a summer person I always struggle a bit with letting the summer go and moving into autumn.  Don’t get me wrong, I love curling up in a sweatshirt and with blankets in front of a fire with a cup of tea or coffee, a good book or a snuggle with my partner.  But the freedom that we have with the summer and late nights and relaxed schedules plus the warm days and lack of necessary clothing are super appealing and make it much easier to plan what to wear each day.

So every year when fall rolls around I seek out encouragement to help me get through it with a good attitude and maybe even enjoy it a bit.  As I was contemplating it today I read Genesis 8:22 which says: “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”  

This verse reminds me that God has a plan for our lives and the world, one that is often very orderly and regular. One of those things that we can really count on is the change of the seasons.  While we talk about the seasons as things ending or starting, God sees it as all part of His cycle of life, and a reason for us to keep hope alive.  This verse says that the change of seasons is very much like seeing the rainbow in the sky.  It’s a reminder that God hasn’t forgotten us, that He still has great plans for our lives and that there is still hope for the world to become a better and more faith-filled place.

What hope does this autumn bring you?