Monday, October 31, 2011

Favorite Fall Findings

It's the most wonderful time of the year.  At least it is for me anyway.  I love fall.  Without a doubt, it's always been my favorite season and this year I have found a few new reasons to embrace it even more.

For starters, I love the change in weather.  I welcome the chance to say, "Good-bye" to long, sweltering summer days and "Hello" to cool autumn mornings and perfectly pleasant afternoons.

I love seeing plump, orange pumpkins--whole and round, yet also carved and lit with candles.  My eyes are drawn to the vibrant, yellow chrysanthemums and petite, purple pansies I find all around me.  And there's something about a jolly, straw scarecrow that just makes me smile.

I love watching fall sports, too.  I love to cheer for my daughter and her softball team.  I love being a spectator at an occasional youth or high school football game.  And what kind of Georgia girl would I be if I don't root for the Dawgs as they go to battle each week on the gridiron?

I love the fact that for the most part, bugs have left us alone, weeds are virtually non-existent and our allergies are finally at rest.  We find we truly enjoy being outside this time of year.

I love planning and celebrating my oldest daughter's birthday each October and seeing both of my girls enter the land of make-believe as they dress up as their favorite character on the last day of the month.

I love the abundance of sweet treats (particularly the chocolate ones) I find lining the shelves at every store and supermarket.

And this fall, I've discovered a new love for apple cider, roasted pumpkin seeds, and my most recent favorite find--pumpkin bread.  Why have I avoided these delicious fall treats in the past?  All I can say is my taste buds certainly thank me now.  

Mostly though, I've found how much I love the change in the environment around me.  I love how bright and colorful nature suddenly becomes this time of year.  No more plain green.  In its place, we behold radiant reds, beautiful oranges, stunning yellows, and bright purples painted across the leaves of the trees.

Why is this?  Why do the leaves change?  The answer the girls and I read this past week in our science lesson was incredibly enlightening to me.

Here is my very basic, very elementary synopsis:

Because the days are shorter in the fall, less sunlight shines down on the trees.  This is a signal to the trees to stop producing food for the leaves.  Because the leaves aren't receiving any more food, they begin to die.  The chlorophyll (the stuff that makes the leaves green) ceases to exist and the leaves' true colors shine forth.  Soon they will fall off the tree and leave the branch empty--ready and waiting for new life to bloom forth in the spring. 

But none of this can take place unless the leaf dies.  No beautiful, bright glorious colors for all to enjoy.  No new life in the future.

"I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains [just one grain; it never becomes more but lives] by itself alone. But if it dies, it produces many others and yields a rich harvest."  John 12:24 (Amplified)

I, too, want to be a display of God's beautiful and wonderful handiwork.  I want His true colors to shine forth from my life.  Therefore, I must do what is necessary.  I must die to self, daily.  As hard as it is, I am promised a rich harvest if I do so.

Armed with this new understanding, I love fall all the more.  God is thematic.  He weaves His life and His sacrifice into creation all around us.  We just have to open our eyes to find it. 

With each new season comes the hope of change.  The previous season no longer exists.   Something different is right around the corner, waiting for us to find it.  From time to time, I confess I kind-of like different. Who knows?  Finding different just might become my new favorite thing.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Priceless Thoughts

I opened my eyes and awakened to my true reality.  Not the dream I just had.  Not the horrible nightmare I'd just lived through in the subconscious areas of my mind. 

With a rapidly beating, yet very grateful heart, I gave thanks for the new day and the two little lives who are still mine.  Still here in our home.  Still whole and healthy.  Still in need of my care.

I've heard that sometimes our dreams are manifestations of our daily thoughts, our daily concerns or our daily fears.  That would make perfect sense in this case. 

I think about my daughters constantly.  Nearly every minute of every hour of every day. 

What are they doing?
How are they doing?
Are they safe?
Are they protected?
Are they hungry?
Are they tired?
Are they prepared?
What do they need?
What do they want?
Are they listening?
Do they understand?
Are they learning enough?
Are they playing enough?
Are they hurting?
Are they content?
What are they thinking?
What are they saying?
How are they feeling?
How will this affect them in the future?
What kind of teenagers will they be?
What kind of adults will they be?
What kind of mothers will they be?

The wheels seem to be spinning on a never-ending loop inside my head.

As much as I try to tell myself I'm not really worrying or being anxious about anything, deep down I know I probably am.  As much as I try to convince myself I am trusting the Lord with every detail in my life and theirs, deep down I know I struggle with relinquishing control.  Is it possible you could relate?

As I lay in bed this morning, contemplating my dream, this verse came to mind:

"God, Your thoughts about me are priceless. No one can possibly add them all up. If I could count them, they would be more than the grains of sand." Psalm 139:17-18a (NIrV)

In thinking a multitude of thoughts toward my daughters, I realized I am, in fact, emulating my Father.  My Father, who thinks so many priceless thoughts of His children, that they cannot even be counted.  More than the innumerable grains of sand by the sea.

Unlike me, His thoughts are Divinely incapable of being consumed with worry, anxiety or fear.  He holds His children in the safe, secure palm of His hand.  He is sovereign and in total control.  His thoughts are not my thoughts, nor are His ways like my ways. 

His thoughts are higher than mine. His thoughts are for me, not against me.  His thoughts are full of great love.  He has thoughts only a doting parent could have for His child.

Time to refocus.  Time to think less on the weighty, burdensome questions and thoughts.  But instead, think on that which is "true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy." (Philippians 4:8)

Concerning my girls, I'm choosing to think about such things:

What precious gifts they are...
How adorable...
How delightful...
How insightful...
How brilliant...
How entertaining...
How talented...
How kind-hearted...
How helpful...
How challenging...
How tender...
How perceptive...
How sensitive...
How obedient...
How strong...
How brave...
How bold...
How fun...
How loving...
How grateful and blessed I am they're mine.

These are my priceless thoughts about them. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Broken Things

She walked in my room and stood in front of me with a sweet smile on her face.  Slowly she unclenched her fist.  Displayed in the middle of her tiny palm was a small, pink, broken piece of plastic she'd unearthed while playing downstairs. 

At first glance, her find looked insignificant.  Like a useless piece of trash.  Something to be discarded.  Something to be thrown away. 

So I suggested she do just that.  Toss it.  Throw it away.  Get rid of it.  Especially if it's unnecessary, if it's taking up space, or if it's in the way.  Especially if it seems to have no purpose.

Her response was compassionate and caring as she looked down at her newly-discovered treasure. 

"But Mom ... I collect broken things."

She absolutely does.  I find them scattered in various obscure places around her room--constantly.  Broken hair clips, misplaced necklace beads, lost bird feathers, old shopping receipts, torn ribbons, fragmented sea shells, unattached buttons.  She considers them her treasures.  I consider them trash.

As I opened my mouth to respond to her, I was suddenly rendered speechless by her words.  It was at that moment I heard a gentle whisper in my spirit saying,

"I collect broken things, too."

Yes.  He does.  Just like my little girl.  The Lord sees.  He notices.  He seeks.  He picks up and He holds all which is broken. 

He does not ignore.  He does not discard.  He does not toss to the side.  He does not throw out.

At any given moment on any given day, we might find ourselves in great need of repair.  Our hearts have been broken, crushed by someone or something.  We feel certain our life is just one big pile of rubble, ready and waiting for the waste removal truck to haul it away.  But take heart...

When the pain is the greatest, the Lord is most present.

"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."
Psalm 34:18

Thank you, Lord, for being so very close when we so very need it.  You restore and You heal. 

Thank you for being a collector of broken things.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Who doesn't love a good story?  Everyone does.  Right?  

It's why authors write novels.  It's why producers make movies.  It's why audiences buy tickets to Broadway shows.  It's why one generation recounts the past to the next. 

We all love a good story.  We all yearn to hear one.

Going to the library and returning with a huge stack of new books is one of my favorite things to do with my girls.  I love the feeling of having both of them nestled close to me on the couch or bed, eager to hear the first book read aloud to them.  These few, still moments together are a rich treasure--for them and for me.  As I open the cover and turn to read the first page, the magic unfolds as the story begins.  Characters are introduced.  Conflicts are identified.  The plot thickens.  A solution is found. 

Just last weekend, my husband and I went to see a newly-released movie at the theater.  After picking up the girls from their grandparents, they asked to hear all about the film we saw on the way home.  They clung to every word as I began narrating the details of the film.  Immediately, they were drawn into the characters' lives and the action that ensued.  They couldn't help it.  I was retelling a good story.

From the beginning of time, to the end of time, God has been telling us His story.  And He even used common, ordinary men to pen the words.  To record the details for all to read. 

There is a problem.  There is a villain.  There is conflict.  There is a Hero.  There is a resolution.  There is a final outcome.

Not only are we privileged to get to tell of and celebrate God's story, the unparalleled story of Himself, but we also get to be a part of it.  While He is ultimately the Author, the Director and the Producer, He invites us to be a part of the cast through a relationship with Him.  We get to play a role in the grandest and most famous story of all time, with the greatest themes of all time. 

Of love.  Of restoration.  Of redemption. 

As a result, we have the joy and responsibility to invite others to be a part of the production as well.  We can be storytellers, too.  We can conversate and dialogue, sharing with others the greatest story ever written, by the most renown Author of all time.

Listen, dear friends, to God's truth,
bend your ears to what I tell you.
I'm chewing on the morsel of a proverb;
I'll let you in on the sweet old truths,
Stories we heard from our fathers,
counsel we learned at our mother's knee.
We're not keeping this to ourselves,
we're passing it along to the next generation—
God's fame and fortune,
the marvelous things he has done.
Psalm 78:1-4 (The Message)

In our home, I am the calendar keeper.  The list writer.  The note taker.  The journaler.  The photographer.  The scrapbooker.  The blogger.

I am the one who records the events of our family.  It's my role to preserve what we've done, where we've been, what we've seen and experienced.  In fulfilling this, I create tangible reminders of our life as a family. 

I tell the story of us.  God's story through us.  The good and the bad.  The hard and the easy.  The mountains and the valleys.  The obstacles and the victories.

Wherever we are and whatever we're doing, my husband and I are making the effort to be intentional in seizing opportunities to tell our girls the great story of God and His Son, Jesus.  

Who is He?  What has He done for us?  How can we know Him?  How can we live for Him? 

In the words of our pastor spoken last Sunday, 

"Your life is a story. Whose story are you telling?"

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