Tag: fall

God is with us!

I believe you and I are in a new season. And I don’t mean Fall.

Our lives have been so radically changed over the past 2 years that we are finding ourselves in situations we don’t have any reference for, or know how to cope with.  We’re anxious to get on with all the things we’ve put on hold…

The leaves are turning colors and falling off the trees so it seems things should be changing. And yes, we may have added pumpkin spice to our hot drinks, but we’ve been enduring the new “normal” and so many things have stood still, like travel and social plans, while our bodies have continued to age! Wrinkles, aches and pains!  We’ve gotten older, but are we wiser for the time we’ve circled the sun twice?

Covid has had an impact on our jobs, schools, travel, finances, and personal relationships. Some of us have lost loved ones and are dealing with grief, financial strains, or new health challenges. We don’t have solutions to these problems yet … we can’t see an end in sight.

And quite honestly, may not even know how to pray.

But here’s the constant: God

God IS with us, wherever we go. Joshua 1:9

AND He will provide all that we really NEED – spiritual gifts, support, encouragement, direction – if we can remember to look for it.

2 things may confuse us though:

1 – it will be what we NEED, not necessarily what we want.

2 – it will look different than how He’s provided in the past because we are in a different place now.

I’ve been singing the words to a worship song by Jenn Johnson and Ian McIntosh  lately…

winner-4912049_640God I look to You, I won’t be overwhelmed

give me vision, to see things like You do

God I look to You, You’re where my help comes from,

give me wisdom, You know just what to do…

Click HERE to sing along

My prayer for you:

May you sense God’s presence that He has promised, in real and tangible ways.

May God give you vision and wisdom to deal with your life and circumstances.

May you see with clarity all that God brings to you – even if it looks different than you might expect.

And may you accept and act on His direction.  Amen

God Speaks Through a Tree

When was the last time you asked God to speak to you? To give you wisdom?  Direction? Encouragement? Or even correction?

He speaks to me a lot through His Creation. And often trees have played a big part.  This year, this Fall, I’m hearing that it’s time to let go of some things, just like the trees let go of their leaves when the time is right.

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Not that I intend to strip my house bare of items we need to live, but there are some things that we’ve been holding on to that we could do without.

Beyond the physical items, there are more important things I need to let go of:  negative emotions, unmet expectations, anger, regret, hurts, disappointments.  These take up even more space in my life and have a greater impact on it.

How do you let go of past hurts and unmet expectations?  Unproductive attitudes and unresolved anger?

It starts with identifying them. 

smiley-2979107_640Set aside time to think about and write down where your mind goes along those lines and how strong your emotional response is to those things.  Make up a scale 1 – 5 and give each item a number according to how much it bothers you.  These are your leaves.  If you want you can cut them apart so that each issue/leaf has its own slip of paper.

Thinking about it, put a YES or NO by each one indicating whether or not there is something you can realistically do about the issue. 

writing-1149962_640Next write down what action you can take that may lead towards resolving the issue for you.  Praying is sometimes the only thing that comes to mind and is always a good step especially if you’re unsure how to move forward. I realize knowing what you can do and wanting to do it are two different things.   

On a separate paper, start another list.  These will be your branches.  If you indicated a YES, write down any lesson you’ve learned about the issue – like what hasn’t worked in the past and what you’re willing to try or do about the issue now.

female-865110_640If you indicated NO, write down something you’ve learned – a lesson so you don’t make the same mistake again, something you can do that will help you move forward beyond it, a way you can change your perspective so that it’s no longer so emotionally charged or even some unexpected good that has come out of it.

Here’s an example of a Leaf.  My kids moved far away to take a job they needed and it was my expectation they would always live close and I am disappointed, heartbroken.  Because I love them and it affects my ability to be with them there is a very strong emotional cost.  5 out of 5.  No, I cannot change this.

And a Branch.  Lesson learned: always show my love and appreciation while loved ones are near.  And what can I do?  Learn new ways to show my love and stay connected now: FaceTime, Zoom calls, care packages of food or gifts or just small items that say “I care,” cards, actual letters they can read, reading the same book or watching the same movie and then talking about it together, praying for them or even with them over the phone.

If you are the tree, the negative emotional issue is the leaf.  The branch that the leaf is attached to is either something you can do about it, or some lesson you’ve learned in dealing with the issue.

fall-foliage-1740841_640You can let go of the leaf – the hurt, the unmet expectation, the disappointment, the regret.  But you keep the branch – the lesson you learned, or the action you will take.  And the branch will continue to grow and bear fruit in the future.

autumn-212733_640To complete this Leaf exercise, gather your leaves, and taking one leaf at a time, read it out loud asking God to bless you as you name it and the negative response connected to this issue, and then let go of it, dropping it into a leaf bag to dispose of. 

As you drop the leaf, thank God for any lesson you’ve learned from the situation and ask for the strength to take the steps you’ve written on your branch for that leaf. 

Bag up your leaves and put them in the trash!

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Now take a walk. Ask God to speak to you through His Creation. Notice the trees, the wildlife, the sky whatever is around you that He’s made.

Ask him if there’s anything He wants to say to you personally about your life, your circumstances, your relationships, your attitude, or your behavior.

Ask Him to silence all other voices in your head that come from your own thoughts or from the world or from any source other than God.

And then open your eyes and your ears and your spirit to God alone.

When we listen…God speaks!

Fall – a time for Reflection

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

For several years I met with like-minded friends and we studied Torah.  As Christians we hungered to understand the Bible more deeply, especially gaining insight into the Old Testament from a Hebrew frame of reference.

Open_Torah_scrollWe began to read and study the Jewish weekly sections of scripture known as parshas.  Just as some Christians have discovered the One Year Bible where in daily scripture readings you read the entire Bible in a year, practicing Jews read the Torah in one year in weekly scripture readings.

We also found several teachers on line who contributed to our enlightenment as we dove into looking up Hebrew words and cultural references. One particular teacher who calls himself The Rabbi’s Son prepares 5 lessons plus an introduction to each week’s parsha.  His lessons became the framework for many of our weekly discussion sessions. 

In addition, my Precept Ministry Bible Studies had taken me through a deeper understanding of the Feasts of Israel.

Today ends the 10 days of the Jewish celebration of Rosh Hashanah – the New Year.  Rosh means head and hashana means year.  Instead of large parties and staying up till midnight, for practicing Jews it is a time of deep reflection.

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It begins with a trumpet sounding, a blast from the shofar to call us to examine our lives and see if there are broken relationships which need to be mended.  It also calls us to recognize and repent of any sin in our lives so we are right with God, to prepare for the 10th day, Yom Kippur.

In Hebrew yom means day and kippur means to cover or hide, to atone.  In English it is the Day of Atonement.  This is a most holy day in Judaism and Israel.  All business close.  It’s the one day when the High Priest could enter into the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle and then later, the Temple in Jerusalem to make the offering to atone for the sin of the nation and all Israelites. 

All their sin is forgiven and they start the new year with a clean slate.

For Christians and Messianic Jews, who are Jews who believe in Jesus Christ as the Messiah, there is a prophetic meaning in each of the Feasts or Holy Days.  The Feasts held in the Spring, we believe, have already been fulfilled by Jesus coming to earth.  He was the Passover Lamb sacrificed on the cross for the sin of the world.  He was the First Fruit, the first to be resurrected to eternal life. 

shofar-4518107_640The trumpet blown on Rosh Hashana is considered to be the “Last Trumpet.” Historically trumpets or blasts from the shofar, were used to announce that the people were to assemble into the presence of the Lord, or to sound the alarm for war or judgement.  In the New Testament, it is said Jesus will return with a trumpet blast to call believers to Himself and the earth will be gathered for judgement day. 

2020 has been quite a year.  Are you ready for a new start?  A clean slate?

Any time is a good time to come before the Lord in a time of reflection.  Ask Him to search you and know you and show you any sin that needs to be recognized, and ask for forgiveness.  For a guide in this area, click on my blog on confession called When Hearing is Blocked.

pomegranate-4611435_640During this time we eat apples and honey to signify our desire for a sweet new year.  We eat pomegranates as a way to say “may my good deeds multiply like the seeds of a pomegranate.” And round breads denoting the circular cycle of the year.

And speak a blessing: “May your name be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life for a good New Year.”

I also pray, Father, help us make time to be silent to hear Your voice.  Let us hear with open ears and open spirits all You would say to us about this past year.  As we confess any sin You bring to mind, forgive us and turn out hearts back to You.

Father, educate and direct us in this new year.  Empower and enable us to act on all You show us to do or be.  Where we are weak, make us strong.  Where we are fearful, lead us to act boldly in faith.  Cover us with Your protection and let us walk in the truth of Your entire Word, empowered by the Holy Spirit.  Amen

I highly recommend www.precep.org for Bible study and www.biblicallifestylecenter.org/the-rabbis-son to study Torah

 

Is it Fall already?!

20180802_145757.jpegToday, walking out to my car, something yellow on the ground caught my eye. When I bent over to pick it up, I couldn‘t believe it! This couldn’t be a fall leaf. It’s still August! The kids aren’t even back in school yet. We are still in the process of figuring out who needs new notebooks, calculators, mechanical pencils and underwear!

Surely this was out of place – a joke someone was playing on me? So I looked up in the tree, and unbelievably, there were others just like it! – still green in the middle, but mixed with yellowing, and downright brown on the ends. I felt queasy, disoriented, like someone had put my life on fast-forward without my knowledge. I wanted that time back. This felt all wrong.

Why did this little occurrence upset me so?

The seasons change, I know that. It happens every year. And they always occur in the same order, so it’s not like it was totally unexpected. Yes, the days have been getting somewhat shorter, and the nights have been a little cooler to relieve the high temperatures of the day, but the leaves turning already?!

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There’s something to look forward in winter: Christmas break, hot chocolate, snowmen, the chance for a snow day at school, or a lazy, snowy winter day to curl up by a fire.

 

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And when that gets old, we can’t wait for exciting spring! A time when the earth reawakens: Easter, flowers, baby animals, light, hope. Spring is my favorite season: warm sunshiny days with cold nights to snuggle, the whole earth bursting forth with new life.

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And who among us hasn’t dreamed of and waited with excitement for summer? School is out, swimming pools, hot dogs on the grill, no homework, and long, lazy days of watching the clouds in the sky…

 

So how does fall fit in here? I think of songs we usually hear around this season:

Will I See You In September – a worry that fall will bring the end of a love relationship – not a great ode to fall

Wake Up Maggie – about a guy who realizes in the fall he’s been led on and dropped by a girl.

When I was 17 – is about the years of life, but when he gets to the autumn of his years, the days grow short and he thinks of his life as vintage wine from fine old kegs, as he says “from the brim to the dregs it pours sweet and clear…”

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The problem is that this year I’m feeling a bit like I am in the autumn of my years too. The days growing shorter reminds me of so many things I might have done with my life – which I haven’t done. I’m truly feeling there are more days behind me than in front of me.

And it makes me feel a sense of urgency about things yet to accomplish, and a sense of loss about things left undone.

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I don’t see my life as vintage wine. Or in fine old kegs. And dregs definitely do not sound good.

You could say my teens and twenties were “spring-like.” There was lot a lot of growth – things to learn and begin – lots of enthusiasm and energy.

And in my thirties and forties, there was sure a lot of busy-ness – a lot to show for all my efforts: the children growing up, involvement in church, school and community, teaching classes. So much was going on. That’s typical of summer – everything blooming and growing, looking busy.

But fall? That’s a time for the leaves to turn and wither, and blow off the trees, leaving a barren look. It’s a time of coolness turning to coldness, and a gradual darkening of the days. And I don’t think I’m ready to let go of my “leaves “– all that I’ve grown, produced – my children, my projects, my job.

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Fall is a time to gather in the harvest: freeze it, pickle it, jar it, can it up for others to enjoy throughout the next year. Is it really time to gather in my life? Is it time to “store up” all I’ve done? I can’t imagine my life in row after row of bright, pretty jars on shelves.

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And yes, the leaves are beautiful in the fall. The colors are vivid and add to the panoramic grandeur of the view. And yes, you can collect the leaves, make arrangements, even press them between sheets of waxed paper to preserve their glory. But it’s a past glory.

 

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “To everything, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” King Solomon examined everything – nature, man, wisdom, foolishness, wine, women and song. And he concluded his writings with “This applies to every person: Fear God and obey Him.”

If I can say I’ve done that, then it’s all I need to do. Regardless of the season. It’s not about how showy my spring and summer were. It’s not who has more cans on the shelf.

We sang a song Sunday that gives me hope and focus. “You [God] make everything glorious. You make everything glorious and I am yours – what does that make me!” In every season of life, I am glorious! I accept that, and trust the Father is with me always. He will guide me into and through all His seasons.  And I will do all I can to honor and obey Him.

click to hear:  See you in SeptemberWhen I was 17; You make everything glorious