Fall Notes

Fall is traditionally my favorite season. Its crisp leaves and cool air combine to make it a time I want to linger on indefinitely. This one is half-gone and I’ve kind of missed it.

At least that’s what I thought before I took a look back.

I haven’t missed anything. There’s been life and learning, grace and every kind of good gift. I just needed to turn around and open my eyes. A regular recounting of the gifts and graces, the lessons and the stuff of life keeps me a little more light-hearted and grateful than when I move through life on autopilot.

A quick look back often clears the way for good forward movement. Care to join me? (I’d love to hear what you see.)

Gifts and Graces:
  • Long evenings. Because candles.
  • Wood heat. Because the ambiance of fire.
  • Daylight savings. Sunlight in the morning—or lack thereof—impacts the whole day.
  • Fleece sheets. They instantly transform the bed from a place I have to warm up to one that warms me.
  • Grace, both from God and from people.
  • Boots. The pretty kind.
  • Boots. The warm kind.
  • Doctors, dentists, emergency rooms and insurance. Between the concussions, weird stomach ailments, and sudden jaw displacement we’ve experienced this fall, I am grateful—again—for the many means God uses to heal us.
  • Farmers and the work they do that produces the food that ends up on my table every day.
Learning:
  • Those things that stress me out? Generally, they resolve themselves within a month. It’s true. I’ve been using Lara Casey’s Power Sheets for the past couple of years to set my goals and fine tune the actions steps. (And, incidentally, making more progress on them than I have in the past.) One step in the process is to make a quick list of all the stressors, worries, and concerns that are taking up brain space. Recently, I realized that the list was completely different every time. All those things that felt like they might be the end of me had come to some kind of resolution over the course of a month. Seeing this on paper has helped me take a better perspective on them and made them sit a little less heavily on my shoulders.
  • The only way to keep a fire going is through regular attention. Like a person, a relationship, a project, or a practice that we want to grow and thrive, it needs to be encouraged and fed.
  • People in the Christian writing community are generous. I attended my first writers’ conference in fifteen years at the end of September. The people I met have been helpful and encouraging in all kinds of ways that I would never have expected.
  • I am not a Charles Dickens fan. When I read David Copperfield, I thought it was just me, that I didn’t have the emotional fortitude for Dickens and the depressing lives of so many of his characters–especially poor David. When I forced my way through A Tale of Two Cities this fall, I acknowledged the truth: I don’t like Dickens. If I hadn’t wanted to read that particular book so badly, I would have quit. I persevered and am glad both to have done it and have it done. (To my Dickens-loving friends, I’m sorry. I feel a bit like a failure, but I’ll be putting my reading time in other places.)
Liking:
  • Living the Season Well: Reclaiming Christmas, by Jody Collins. Jody’s book is an encouragement to bring our Christmas seasons back from the brink of chaos through a shift of mind and heart. An evangelical who’s benefitted from learning about the church year and the liturgy surrounding the Christmas season, Jody provides a little education along with practical advice to take steps to reclaim Christmas, one small step at a time.
  • Tresta Payne. Something about her voice, her perspective, her earnest faith makes me wish we could chat. She’s currently my favorite writer on the internet.
Listening:

Show tunes. Lots of show tunes. My girls have discovered musicals and now the soundtrack of our life is a medley of Newsies!, Hello Dolly, The King and I, Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera and a variety of others. Up next: Christmas music.

Looking:

Scripts, flames, and fairy lights. It’s the season for choosing the spring play, fire in the wood burner, and the companionable glow of white lights in my small, indoor forest.

Again, if you’d like to join me in recounting of the gifts and graces, the lessons and the stuff of life, I’d love to hear from you, either in the comments or via email. (And I’m really a better emailer than commenter, so don’t be shy. Use the contact tab on the navigation bar or the mail icon in the top right corner.)

 

Joining Emily P. Freeman and lots of other writers from around the web to share what we learned last fall. 

 

 

Gifts and Graces: Spring Edition

Spring on the Square

Yesterday I hurried into Walmart for a few things and emerged–much more slowly–pushing a cart. Right outside the door I caught the fragrance of something I’d seen but not stopped to appreciate on the way in: flowers for sale. It was the scent of spring.

I try, with varying degrees of success, not to focus so much on the difficulties of a season  that I miss out on the good. This winter, with its perpetual grey skies that delivered more rain than snow, proved hard not to wish away.

Already the best gift and amazing grace of spring is that it arrived, just in time to remind me that seasons were God’s idea, and that as long as there are lights in the heavens to govern them, seasons—no matter how long or weird or uncomfortable—will end.

So I’m thankful for spring, for days that can be counted on to get a little longer as they pass, for green that marches across the grass and through the treetops toward my doorstep, for teasing, balmy air. What I’m grateful for this Spring Which Followed the Greyest of Winters is that no matter the nature of that cold season, spring always comes again.

Gifts of Spring: A Short List of Things to Count On.
  1. Evening light. Glory.
  2. Rain. Even though it brings clouds.
  3. Growth: Even when it brings growing pains.
  4. Girls that want to go outside. During school. A lot.
  5. Change. Even though I never like it. At first, anyway.
  6. Buds on the branches. Calves frolicking in the pasture. Mama cats looking for place to shelter tiny kittens.

And you? What gifts, graces, and even glitches is this season bringing your way?

Sharing at Lyli and Barbie’s .

Winter’s Good Graces {and Why to Keep Track}

Winter Gifts and Graces

The bleak midwinter, Christina Rossetti called it. And while her poem is lovely, living with continual strings of short, cold, sunless days is not.

I believe that there is a time for everything, even bleak days. And yet. It’s at such times when my practice of pausing occasionally to ponder the path, to take stock of each season’s gifts and graces saves me from giving in to cabin fever and its ilk. Winter’s good graces are less obvious than those of the more temperate seasons. I find it’s possible to uncover them, though, when I’m intentional about looking.

Here, at winter’s midpoint, is a list of some of the gifts and graces currently keeping me sane, reminding me to be grateful, saving my life in the little ways that matter.

  1. Fire, as in, that it’s not a mystery and I can build one:  Whether atop a candle or tucked into our wood burner, it warms our home and lifts my spirits.
  2. Down: Over the past few years I’ve turned into one of those cold people. Down makes winter survivable.
  3. Unseasonable weather: A reminder that even in the deepest winter, autumn existed and spring is on its way.
  4. The sun: No matter how rare its appearance, it reminds me of fresh starts and new mercies.
  5. Tea: Because cold, dark mornings.
  6. Coffee shops: Even though I’ve never taken to coffee, I like people and people like coffee.
  7. Boot weather: Because boots just don’t work in the summer.
  8. Cast Iron: Because the crock pot doesn’t cut it for The Pioneer Woman’s Spicy Shredded Pork and this beef stew. (I adapt these recipes to make them friendly to a lower-glycemic way of eating by cutting the brown sugar out of the pork, and skipping the flour and substituting radishes for the potatoes in the stew. The family didn’t notice when I axed the sugar even though I’ve been making the pork according to the recipe for years. Also, I won’t eat radishes raw, but roasted or cooked in a stew, they’re mild and lovely.)
  9. Fleece Sheets. (See #2) Sleep comes faster when I’m warm.
  10. The sky: Even during a winter that’s given up precious little sunshine, the sky often puts on a quiet show as the sun sets. Somehow, this gives me hope.
  11. The days following winter solstice: The longest nights give way more quickly than I’d realized to increasing daylight. It’s noticeable by early January.
  12. Home: After lots of days running here and there with extracurriculars, I’m grateful for a landing-place.
  13. Rhythms: That abundance precedes want.
  14. Bedtime reading: Because sometimes there just isn’t enough time during the day. This winter’s favorites (so far): Jane Austen’s Persuasion (a regular reread) and Michelle DeRusha’s  Katharina and Martin Luther: The Radical Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk.

What gifts and graces are are making a difference in your life this winter? 

 

Joining the conversations at Modern Mrs. Darcy and 3-D Lessons for Life.