There was a time when a busy day involved chasing toddlers around, juggling a nap in between spelling and math and read-alouds, getting laundry washed and maybe folded, and somehow putting a meal on the table before my husband walked in the door. They were long days, busy days… but good days. I could use a checklist to tally my productivity and keep track of the do’s and to-do’s with a little regularity.
This time of year was full of field trips and nature walks and art journals; enjoying the changing of the seasons while swaying with the counting of time by the falling of the leaves and the temperature. I’ve written about how it is my favorite time of year, even though it is a time I have also often struggled through. The stress of being a homeschooling mom, my own insecurities that seem to surface this time of year, and the overwhelming weight of always feeling like I am not enough would sometimes rob the explosion of beauty autumn displays.
I actually miss those early days, at times. The busy seemed predictable but manageable. Now, the commotion of teens and practices, wrestling with rhetoric and checking that attitude at the door, (sometimes mine not theirs), feels a lot more complicated. And still, I love these days, and the memories we make together. It is a different kind of exhausting and checklist counting. I can still give in to the stress, allow insecurity a chair at my table, and forget to kick ‘not-enough’ to the curb. But…
I am learning to take notice of the seasons and their purposes. Because every season is flanked by a celebration of beauty; God’s whisper of, “I AM”, all around us invites us to wonder.
Echoes of His sovereign goodness remind me that praise and wonder are the song of the redeemed. There is something about the hushed silence the morning’s refrain of sunrise plays upon the waiting soul, the gentle whisper of grace heard in the wind-rustled leaves, and the wonder of His silent reverie in crisp illumination that seem to mark the ending of summer and beginning of fall.
I think this time is a reminder to fall in love with wonder because it makes us remember and revisit those spaces where sacred meets holy and fixes the pieces of our hearts cracked and baked by overexposure to the world’s brightness.
When I settled in for a time of quiet reflection this morning, I thought of one of those wonder verses. Praise seemed to flow as I realized these rememberings are a confirmation of His gentle heart touching my broken clay mold. They are an invitation to choose goodness, to display mercy, to dwell in His presence a while.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside the still waters. Psalm 23:1-2
The pause in these fall mornings makes space for me to wade gently into that time of prayer…though it wasn’t always like that because the busy was different and I had yet to learn the skill of counting graces.
And today I took note of the blessing it is that He gives us in the slow of morning moments. The gentle reprieve that fasting the busy can prepare us for when we coax grace into our starting places…they are His favor and His embrace together. They are the way He speaks to the still raw and unmended pieces that He is faithfully working out.
The wounded raw parts are not meant to lead us into despondency but complete dependence. And I can honestly say, I didn’t know that before, not like I do now. I didn’t know that the gentle rain that comes with the transition of the season, the storms that blow in and out of our days, the heavy wind that blows us nearly over are all a part of the removing of the chaff that His presence exposes and heals.
And like the calendar days that move on with the orbit around the celestial time-keeper, we progress in stages… not all at once… into the beauty of experiencing the seasons of His love.
A love so pure that the healing becomes a growing which allows us to keep going on. An invitation to restoration and a relationship so complete that what was wounded no longer buries us in pain, but instead is a story that tells of hope. And I wonder if these scars we wear, the ones that we hide, are not what we see them as, but instead, are the fingerprint of God’s faithfulness as evidence of His existence in our living?
He restores my soul; he leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yes though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff they comfort me. Psalm 23:3-4
Autumn holds a precious space of joy in my heart and still it is bittersweet. It is ironic to me, as I think of it now… the way that plant of the same name grows rampant and beautifully bursts with the color on the fence posts and nearby trees that right now, radiating His glory…showing off for God . The light that reflects out as the trees are releasing an explosion of color onto the landscape of our horizon never fails to amaze me. Yet, this season was one that is abundantly full of memories. Memories now even more dear with the passing of days because as the years count by people we love tend to be absent. The loves we knew, the hearts that bled grace into us, are missing and the season feels awkwardly unfamiliar.
But because of mercy…because of goodness…because of that costly love that was sacrificially poured out we can still embrace hope when we remember them. And maybe, just maybe we begin to comprehend the power that time plays in our mending.
Yesterday would have been my grandmother’s 92nd birthday. She left an imprint of love on my soul like no other. The funny thing is that I didn’t dread this day as I have before. Missing her has not changed. The pain of her separation has not waned. Longing to hear her voice has not diminished. But the grieving has not continued to rob joy from the beauty of this season.
And I realized a generous truth she taught me shortly before she died.
Mercy and Truth follow us, as we seek Him.
She reminded me why she loved these words in Psalms that she believed about her Shepherd. She reminded why no matter what life hands us, we sing. We sing about our rescuer, our healer, our defender, our mender. We keep moving and counting days and looking for grace because it is there, if we really believe His Word. It says it right here… Surely, goodness and mercy follow us. Surely, our dwelling place is crowded by grace.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. Psalm 23:5-6
And I started to count back the days when I stopped dreading the coming of the hard and busy that consumed me, and instead started to embrace the adventure of living. I recognized that the depression that once clouded my concept of joy, no longer held me in an iron-tight grip. I discovered these verses were more than words. They have become a song of affirmation, a cadence of hope that plays a refrain of glory in each season we find ourselves dwelling in.
The dwelling … the house He gives us to hold communion with His Spirit… is a forever and all our days kind of existence that is surely filled with mercy and goodness.
Like she told me once, if the Bible says it… I believe it. I can still hear the smile in her voice and see the hands that taught me so much, “the B.I.B.L.E … it tells me true; if it says it then it surely must be.”
She taught me to rejoice in every sorrow, to sing joy in the face of every trial, to embrace laughter in the face of every critique, and to always look for goodness because it is there. And autumn will always remind me to savor the beauty of the season, the visible manifestation of His faithfulness because His mercy is always close behind us.
How are you counting #gracemoments, friends, as you look for the sure mercy and goodness of God in your days?
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