Friday, September 12, 2008

goodbye sea shells .... hello pumpkins

Fall is truly my very favorite time of year - for all the same reasons it seems to be popular with so many others! Just having a change in season is such a blessing, and when it comes with bright blue skies, orange, red and yellow leaves and the wonderful scent of a wood fire - well, I'd say it's pretty close to perfect.

I enjoy the cooler nights for sleeping and the warm days - peeling off my cozy sweater mid morning to enjoy the warm sunshine. I love the beginning of the new home school year - so many plans and so much to learn together - it's exciting. I like getting back into routine and tweaking our schedule until it works into a pleasant rhythm. I'm happy to put the garden to bed and leave the weeding for the spring. Planting bulbs gives me enormous hope for beauty next year, and the smell of burning leaves simply makes me giddy.

Long walks through crisp leaves, huge displays of humble mums putting on a show, and pumpkins - ripe with possibilities! Pies, cakes, bars and breads. Cookies and tarts too! All served with steaming cups of sweetly spiced cider or marshmallow strewn hot chocolate to ward off 'the chill'.

Our hearts fill with joy each fall as we celebrate the birth of our darling Dreamer and give thanks for her young life, and soon after, our wedding anniversary and Canadian Thanksgiving - which often fall at the same time. American Thanksgiving gives us another reason to count our blessings, focus on this great land's spiritual heritage and enjoy the bounty of the harvest.

All in all, there is very little to dislike about fall. Even the rains are gratefully welcomed, instantly cleansing and so refreshing. In my mind, the one and only blight of the season comes on the 31st of October, but you've heard my voice on that issue before. We can hold two opinions and still be friends, I'm sure. That's why they call us the grown ups, right? Now, if I had to rake all the leaves from the 20+ trees on our almost acre of yard, there might just be two blights, but thankfully we have hired help - two willing children!

So, why isn't my home sparkling with cleanliness and resplendent with fall's bounty in keeping with my love for autumn? I could say I've been too busy, or tired out by the post vacation 'jump in to school routine' and that would be partly true, but the truth of the matter is that I have been thoughtfully struggling - a woman divided between two courses of action.

I keep thinking about that Scripture verse in James.

James 1:8

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

I surely don't want to be double minded, but I have had a small dilemma to prayerfully work my way through. On one hand, I am so incredibly inspired by those wonderful, talented women who are bedecking their homes in celebration of all things fall-ish and then sharing their autumn inspirations on their blogs. On the other hand, I greatly admire my friend who doesn't decorate for fall at all in her lovely home, but saves her resources to tastefully decorate in a Christ centered celebration of The Savior - during the Christmas season.

In my humble opinion, Christmas is a season we need to be heart ready for every single day of our lives, because while Christ's first coming was well prophesied and anticipated, it was certainly not on man's timetable - and while we may differ in our eschatology (and still love one another), the Word of God clearly says that His second coming will catch many off guard as well. So, we need to be ready - everyday!

Did I get off track there? As usual! Well, I thought for a bit that perhaps I just need to cleanse my home decorating 'pallet'. I mean - I've just recently reluctantly put away the pretty sea shells, soft green mossy things and summer berries and now our home looks a bit bare and sparse. I'm thinking it's not a bad thing. Easier to dust - for sure! Still, I should get busy, right? But, I don't want to decorate because I feel like I must, or to keep up with the Jones' - in this case other blogging friends. I want to bless our home with reminders of the splendor of God's breathtaking creation just for the sheer joy of it - and that somehow doesn't include feeling pressured or harried.

My solution to this dilemma came when I concluded that this is just another baby step in the ongoing process of learning to clarify my priorities and balance my resources. It's like the common preacher's illustration about the rocks in the jar. If you put the pebbles and sand in first, there's just no way to fit in the big rocks. They have to go in the jar first, followed by the pebbles and lastly the sand. The rocks are compared to the important things of life, the pebbles are of less import, the sand is all of the extras and the jar represents our lives.


Right now, in this season, decorating for fall simply amounts to sand in my jar.

The 'big rocks' that have to go in my life jar first are faith - starting with my own relationship with God, my Father. Have I mentioned how much I love the ladies Bible Study I am involved with during the school year? I'm so excited to be back at it because I am privileged to be with a group of ladies who love the Lord and His Word each week. Family comes next and the first priority there is to continue building on the solid, Christ-centered foundation of our marriage. Or it should be - we're working on that! It's hard to carve out time for ourselves. Parenting intentionally is naturally next in my family category and a huge part of that is homeschooling. Homekeeping falls in the category of family care as well, as I am everyday reminded that my attitude sets the atmosphere in our home. Since I am currently just keeping my head above water in this area, I know our home is not as peaceful and harmonious as I long it to be. I have work to do in that area, for sure. Other 'rocks' include our ministry commitments and personal relationships. Friendships are valued and require nurturing as well.

Some of my personal 'pebbles' include my passion for creativity. I am not well balanced and contented when I am not employing my creativity. My health concerns are also taking up some of my time and energy. Exercising hospitality has been a bigger part of our lives in the past, but in this current season it has become a pebble sized priority - my goal for this school year is to have one weekend a month where we have a family or two for a meal. We'll see how it goes.

I think making our home warm, inviting and comfortable and keeping it clean are very important, but they sometimes have taken too high a priority in my thoughts, and taken their toll on my time and energy. It's an area I am trying to find balance in. When I am able to go beyond the basics and make something lovely for our home, that's just a bonus. What used to be a pebble in other seasons of my life is now becoming sand - I'll fit it in when and if I have time and desire.

So, if you are expecting to see some fabulous fall ideas here, well, you're going to be disappointed ... for now! I hope we'll get to unearthing the bins of fall decorations from the attic this weekend, but well see. In the meantime, I'm burning my pumpkin spice candle and sifting through everyone's great fall project pictures, and taking notes. By and by, I'm sure I'll take some of those great ideas and make them my own - within the scope of my resources and in tune with my personal set of priorities for this wonderful season of our lives.

It feels so good to have that all thought out and prayed through now. If I get all in a panic about this again, will you remind me? I'd appreciate it!


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11 comments:

  1. Hi Heather,
    If you forget I will send you a link to this post!!!

    I must say that I favour Autumn more than any other season and I have never been able to put it into words. You did it perfectly for me.

    This is one of the best written posts I have read yet, it's just lovely and close to how I feel about lots of things.

    Here in Ireland nobody decorates for the coming of Autumn, but last year I decided to do something small...

    As I went for walks I took home ivy and other things I found on my travels and make a wreath for the front of the house. Then every week while walking, I gathered more and added it to the wreath to keep it looking fresh.

    I have just been thinking of doing it again this year and your post has spured me on! We have had a terrible and wet Summer but today it is beautiful so I may go out soon and start.

    Hope all is well with you and our family and that Dreamer will enjoy her birthday when ever that is.

    Ruth

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  2. Hello again,

    just want you to know that I have had a very tough couple of days and spent most of yesterday in a bit of shock, weeping on and off. (not like me) and after reading through some of your latest posts I feel really refreshed and read for the day ahead.

    I am off for a nature walk with Sean in the sunshine!!!

    God bless sister, and thanks...

    Ruth

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  3. I started decorating for the fall, my favorite time of year! I will decorate outstide as soon as hurricane Ike goes away! Getting some high winds this morning and just trying to get comments out before I lose power! Much Love

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  4. You have such a sweet heart, Heather. I think your heart is decorated for fall! :-)
    Mrs. H.

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  5. We love you even if you don't decorate for fall very much. :)

    Actually, my fall decorations fit into two rather small Rubbermaid type containers. They are a few items I've accumulated over the years and a variety of silk autumn leaves and flowers. I also have a few silk flower fall "arrangements" that I put on coffee tables and such.

    My favorite decorations are two or three mum plants and some pumpkins and gourds which I have on the porch. Nature's beautiful reminder of the season!

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  6. I love fall too-- I was just thinking how much better I feel I can cook Fall food than summer food. :) Maybe it's just all the comfort food that we love... It would be good for all of us to have our priorities straight and it sounds like you certainly do!

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  7. Heather you are so dear to me. I enjoy reading your blog to keep up on what is going on in your family. I know that the thoughts in this blog are a big step for you. I know well your health struggles, so this is something I have been praying for you.

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  8. Profound !
    A wonderfully refreshing glimpse into your heart Heather.

    Ruth in Ireland could be considered the rolling stone which gathers mosses, leaves, ivy etc. h m m m

    Went to see Judy and Paul today . . she has put down a ton of jars of veggies in their cold cellar. Paul is busy cutting their firewood - the big stuff for their heat, the smaller for their cooking and hot water. Their garden is coming down, lots of turnip, no corn, some sweet peas, and a few marvelous tomatoes. Made a great Toasted tomato sandwich for supper, and a very small treat of tomato sprinkled with sugar, and a touch of vinegar. Reminded me of my mother. A lot.

    Love your post honey . . . big "Heffalump" hugs for all

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  9. Hi Heather,

    Your descriptions of fall are perfect. Not to mention you deepest desire for balance. I understand the analogy of rocks and sand and glad that your brought through your own searching and prayers, a gentle reminder for us who serve our sweet Lord, to keep our priorities where they need to be.
    This is the first year I have decorated for fall, and since I am one who can't stand clutter, the decorations are pretty sparce! That is ok, it is going to be that outdoor time with my children and husband that will be remembered, the hot cups of cocoa on a cold day with smiles and giggles around the table. The snuggles under the quilt to brush off the chill, the bonfires and roasted marshmallows! I just love how the Lord cools down our planet and allows such lovely changes to take place in the trees.
    Have a wonderful day!

    Sincerely ~ Tricia Anne

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  10. Love the blog, its so calm and peaceful and full of God's beautiful Word. Nice to meet another Christian mom too. You should put the follow button on your page, which is in your 'add a gadget" section and I'd be more than happy to follow you. You'd probably get other followers as well to showcase. Well, hope you survived Ok those crazy winds. Its crazy how we take things for granted like the power, until it goes out. God bless and please stop over and say hello too.

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  11. Your comments have just blessed my heart so much - thank you all!!!

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