Friday, September 28, 2012

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it..."

I have so looked forward to writing this post. 

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I'm even wearing my orange shirt and my brown autumn shoes. 

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I picked out the pictures that allowed me to smell autumn, as though as I was walking through the woods. The bright colors make my eyes feel lit up and alive.  I picked the quotes that enabled me to feel the brisk air and revel in the flaming brilliance of this, my favorite season.

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In unconscious preparation, I was invited on an impromptu walk through some beautiful, good-smelling woods yesterday afternoon. The weather was perfect, and the children loved it. The dog ran free and exhilarated, as did the kids. I crunched on the leaves, I talked with my friend.

I came out refreshed. Autumn-y woods are a part of my past, a part of who I am. 

I have been feeling a little isolated recently, even though I am frequently surrounded by people. I think I've been starving myself...not enough time with God, too much time trying to fill that hole with other stuff. It's an easy trap to fall into, especially with our culture of technology and easy, all-the-time access.  I have been missing the quiet of talking to God for long periods of time, of spending time in His word every morning. He wants my attention. He loves me. And He is a God of restoration, and He can fill me up again. 

And thus directed, I came out of the woods. Comforted.

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I have so looked forward to writing this post. What I didn't know was that God was waiting on it, too.

Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before.

Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.  ~Elizabeth Lawrence

Oh how we love pumpkin season.  You did know this gourd-ish squash has its own season, right?  Winter, Spring, Summer, Pumpkin.... We anxiously anticipate it every year.  ~Trader Joe's Fearless Flyer

Youth is like spring, an over praised season more remarkable for biting winds than genial breezes.  Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits.  ~Samuel Butler

The days may not be so bright and balmy—yet the quiet and melancholy that linger around them is fraught with glory. Over everything connected with autumn there lingers some golden spell—some unseen influence that penetrates the soul with its mysterious power. ~Northern Advocate

Bittersweet October.  The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause between the opposing miseries of summer and winter.  ~Carol Bishop Hipps

To poke a wood fire is more solid enjoyment than almost anything else in the world.  ~Charles Dudley Warner

It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life.  ~P.D. James

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Into the Deep Woods

"One of the most essential qualities of faith that is to attempt great things for God and expect great things from God, is holy audacity. Where we are dealing with a supernatural Being, and taking from Him things that are humanly impossible, it is easier to take much than little; it is easier to stand in a place of audacious trust than in a place of cautious, timid clinging to the shore. Likewise, seamen in the life of faith, let us launch out into the deep, and find that all things are possible with God, and all things are possible unto him that believeth." ~AB Simpson

The path that Matt and I have shared hasn't always been easy. But it hasn't been a particularly hard one, either. Like most families, we've had our ups and downs and have had to continually cling to God. There have been fantastic, gloriously happy times and then there's been this past year and half, which has been pretty grueling.

We've had a bit of a breather during the past few months months as events and emotions have settled down a little. It felt nice to coast.

But now.

Now it appears that our path is leading us down into the deep, dark woods. It's hard to follow a path that looks scary.

Matt's back surgery is rapidly approaching. He had another surgery (for a dog bite, not his back) over ten years ago and it was surrounded by such trauma that it convinced him to hand his life over to God for the first time. I know that God can use difficulties to make an impact when plain ol' regular life just ain't doin' it.   I understand that God's plans don't always make sense to me at first. And even though I trust God because He has gotten me through many hard, scary, and sad times, I am starting to seize up a little with panic. Inwardly, of course. And deep down. I try not to let it show, but even more importantly, I try not to let it be. I lean heavily on promises like:

Isaiah 43:2
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

Romans 5:3-5

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

I like this, the English Standard Version, most of the time, but in other versions (New American Standard, perhaps?) Romans 5:5 says "and hope does not disappoint..." which I find comforting. 

So when my path looks like this:

...I will try to remind myself to focus on the light farther down, past the dark trees. 

"Oh, when we are journeying through the murky night and the dark woods of affliction and sorrow, it is something to find here and there a spray broken, or a leafy stem bent down with the tread of His foot, and the brush of His hand as He passed; and to remember that the path He trod He has hallowed, and thus to find lingering fragrance and hidden strength in the remembrance of Him as "in all points tempted like as we are," bearing grief for us, bearing grief with us, bearing grief like us." ~Alexander MacLaren image by RichardFreeman


Still, it's not easy for me and I could use some prayers for extra grace and protection during the coming months as we hike down this trail. I'm hoping that when we've made it through to the sunshine, we'll be able to look back at it behind us and realize that it was a fragrant pine forest, and the shade was a shelter, not a fear-inducing gloom. It would be even better if we could realize it while we're still in there.


quotes and path pic found on