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.
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!