Embracing Autumn: Dying to Live Again

Embracing Autumn photo

 

Harvest.  The time is nearly here.  And when you live deep in the heart of an Iowa cornfield, it is especially hard not to notice.  There is a marked chill in the air and the corn stalks wave valiantly in stunning shades of gold.  Change is coming.

Summer colors fade as a majestic show of warm hues settle across the countryside. Heavenly aromas waft from the kitchen: maple syrup, pumpkin spice, and cinnamon.  So many lovely things happen in the fall as the whole world prepares to hibernate for a season.

I am not a country girl by nature, yet somehow my husband convinced me several years ago that buying an acreage in rural Iowa would be a good thing.  And mostly it is.  There is much to be done to ready for the impending cold season.  Firewood must be split and piled. Produce must be canned and frozen.  Pies must be baked and devoured.  And there is a cozy, old farmhouse to be cleaned and decorated as we retreat for a season to the indoors for hot apple ciders, fuzzy socks, and comfort suppers.

And Autumn comes. It is the dying of something good, to make way for something new.  The “autumns” of life may bring sorrow, despair, and loneliness, but there is always hope.  Always.

Even within the throes of an “Autumn” season, God is there, all the while, waiting to be noticed.  I imagine He is saying something like, “Hello?  Remember me?  King of the Universe?  If you would stop hyperventilating for just a second, I would like to invite you to be a part of something bigger than you are.  Bigger than you dreamed.  Bigger because I am God and I can do it if you would just trust me for a moment.”

So we wait.  And pray.  And wait some more.  And pray some more.  And sometimes pretty big, hopeful things fall through, but God knows better.

And the heavenly winds shift, and though physical circumstances may remain unchanged for the moment, the heart softens into a sweet surrender to a compassionate God who knows what He is doing after all.  It is the Lord’s plans that prevail, not ever our own, yet I am prone to forget.

To everything there is a season.  The living and the dying.  Everything.

May we experience the impending winter as a season of rest rather than merely death.  For all that dies become new again.  The seed falls, withers, and dies. Dormant. But in due time lives again, stronger than before.

In the crisp of an autumn breeze tumbling over the horizon, He whispers… “I make all things new.” 

For the one who is tired… “New.”

For the one who feels less-than… “All. New.”

For the one who cries out from an overwhelmed heart… “I. Make. All. Things. New.”

May we seek and find God in every season.  Consider it pure joy, Friends.

 

What have you learned from the “autumns” of your life?  How did God restore in “winter?” Take time to thank God for the “new” things He is preparing for you.

 

“The grass withers, and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:8 (NIV)

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When I Look For Him

KHavemeier - When I Look For Him photo

 

She eagerly approached me on a fresh Sunday morning, arms out-stretched, eyes aglow, with a familiar warm smile. She wanted to hold my baby, and I was happy to oblige her deep-seated tendency to nurture. Although her face was beautifully worn and her gait slightly off-kilter, her nails were perfectly manicured and hair done just-so. Just like every Sunday. Later I would recount our meeting to my husband and longingly remark, “She reminds me of Grandma.”

Upon entering the grocery store, out of pure happenstance, I ran into yet another delightful woman from church, hair silvered, glasses bi-focaled, and smelling of an old-timey, flowery perfume. Yes, that fragrance. She embraced me tightly, complimented my scarf, and we chatted about the weather. As she floated away, in that moment, I found myself deeply longing, “I wish she were mine. I wish she would stay. She reminds me of Grandma.”

And it did not stop there. A former president’s wife. The woman at the farmer’s market. The not-so-clean comedian on the TV. They all remind me of her.  My husband noticed. “Really? Everyone reminds you of Grandma.”

But I cannot help myself. Six years gone and I still miss her. There is a hole left gaping. There are stories I cannot remember. There are melodies that do not sound as full without her throaty alto. There is a heart-attack inducing macaroni cheese dish that I will never get quite right, because the dementia took her before I could perfect her recipe.

And there are certain times where I long so much for her presence, that I seem to find her in just about anyone or anything. I see her everywhere.

And God, too.  The world aches. Humanity groans. Headlines birth turmoil amid fearful hearts.    And I long for Him. More so than Grandma. I pine for His presence amid restlessness. I look for Him. I find Him. The fears that crush, the anxiety that suffocates, the worry that constricts; these things, they fade away in the presence of an almighty God that promises to be found when we only look for Him. Everywhere I turn, there are signs of Him.

There is no joy apart from Him. There is no peace without His presence. There is no rest without His love. Like a bride who dreams of one day being united with her groom, I wait. I press in, seeking.  And where do I find Him?

I find Him here:  In late summer sunrise. The promise of a new day, a secure future, an everlasting love.

I find Him here:  The embrace of my beloved. God’s love modeled, protected, lavished.

I find Him here:  The sacred altar. Remembrance, reverence, a fresh start.

I find Him here:  In the roaring laughter of a child. Life bubbling over, joy unspeakable, infinite beauty.

I even find Him here:  The muddy shoe prints in the hallway. Full lives, happy children, time together.

And so, I invite you to find Him. One only needs to look. He is there. He is here. And He is waiting.

Where do you expect to find Him today?  How did He surprise you?  And where will you look for Him tomorrow?

 

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29.13 (NIV)