September brought hurricanes. They dominated the news and much of our thoughts as we watched them whirl into populated areas and then saw the devastation left behind from Harvey and Irma. As we texted about family and friends, what could we do hundreds of miles away except watch and pray and offer charitable contributions in one form or another?
Such disasters cause us to evaluate our lives and what we strive to achieve. More than once I heard people be grateful for loved ones being safe over the loss of house and property. Things can be swiftly swept away. It is our people who are most valuable.
Maisie completed her first obedience class this month, and it was well worth our efforts. We learned the beauty of gentle training with lots of love and treats. Thankfully, she didn’t have to pass a test. All dogs and owners went outside for the last class, and Maisie got a little crazy. She just wanted to play with the other dogs.
I had lunch with three of my high school girl friends. We don’t get together often enough. I recalled us being teenagers, where we were 50 years ago and the roads we have traveled to get where we are now. We’ve all had our hardships, and we’ve grown stronger for it. Our faith has held us, and we’ve learned to trust the strong arm of God who sustains us.
I read Pursuing the Intentional Life and was joined by my friend. We read a chapter a day and then texted to each other the passages that spoke to us. It made the book twice as meaningful. The author, Jean Fleming, wrote to prepare for the rest of her life. In her 70s, she wanted to live out her years with intention. While it might sound depressing initially, her words were thought-provoking and challenging. How do I want to live the rest of my days? No matter the age I am, there is a determined ending.
What time is left should be lived, with purpose and on purpose. Retirement can lull me into thinking my best days are behind me. I don’t believe that is the case. Activities and ministry may take on different forms, but both can still be vital and alive. I want the kind of life that bears much fruit to the Father’s glory all the way to the end. And that takes intention.
My favorite movie this month was The Case for Christ about Lee Strobel, journalist and proclaimed atheist. When his wife became a Christian, Storbel set out to investigate and prove wrong the Bible and the resurrection of Christ. Lest I spoil the ending, I will tell no more. Watch the movie. It’s good.
I started leading a Bible study this month, All Things New by Kelly Minter. Gathering with women each week to explore God’s Word is one of my favorite things to do. I’ve met a lot of women during Bible study. Some of them have deepened into treasured relationships. I’m always excited to see what sweet things the Lord will do as we give Him time and listen to His voice. And I’m looking for that new friend.
The gardens have taken on a wildness as fall begins. I’ve weeded, transplanted, bought bags of mulch on sale at Lowes, and still, it has a mind of its own right now. I planted some little willow trees, put mums on the front porch, and watered everything as summer-like heat remained.
I sat on the deck and listened to the first leaves began to fall. I walked in my little woods and crunched the brown leaves already covering the ground in the dark of the forest. I am watching for the flash of color in trees and bushes, and observing the squirrels run feverishly to plant their acorns.
As the months ends, the coolness I love about this season has finally returned to us, letting me leave the windows open during the day and snuggle under the quilt at night.
The birds’ songs change this time of year. Some have already departed to warmer climes. I still open the window next to my rocker each morning and wait to hear the little wren with the big voice waken the day. As nights are longer, his song is coming later and later.
My neighbors, who lived on this lane as long as we have, removed their mailbox. The depression in the soil marks the place, and I notice it as Maisie and I walk. It reminds me how everything changes. The fire that took their house on a shocking Christmas night altered life for them. They moved to a lovely home in a different location, and I am happy for them. But I miss them being close, being my neighbors.
I wrote down a quote I especially liked from Maria Goff:
“We buy the plates but love sets the table.”
I love that. Gathering at the table is not about paper or china, gourmet or take out. It is about the love we give and receive to those there with us. The ministry of the table has become dear to me. These days I find my most precious moments are when we sit with friends and family and feast on being together. It nourishes my soul like nothing else.
Sweet William and I have visited too many funerals this year, and loss begins to wear down my heart. In the last couple of months two people died who were born the same year as my own son. Recently two others have been closer to my age. It feels personal and painful.
While we mourn, we grieve with hope. Jesus went ahead of us to prepare a place for those who receive Him and His gift of salvation. This is not the last good-bye, but more of an “I’ll see you later.” I look forward to the later.
This season of autumn is one of my favorites. The colors refresh me and the cooling temperatures bring on my flannel shirt. But it also marks a winding down of the year, the beginning of the ending. We put away the garden tools and bring in the tender plants lest they die from frost. It will not be long before the leaves will be gone from trees and the barren landscape will look lifeless.
Yet, I know that after the winter, spring will come just like it does each year.
I feel that same way about the people I love who have died. It seems wintry without them, lost and alone. But there is an eternal spring awaiting us when we know Jesus as Savior. It is what I hold close.
A new season brings a different perspective as I watch the former fade and anticipate the next. Nothing in this world stays the same. People I’ve loved have died, and I’ve had to adjust to living without them. Bodies age and wear down, and what I was able to do in my 20s is only a memory in my 60s. People move away and life changes colors and the hues are so different. And sometimes I smile and sometimes I cry.
One thing remains true. On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand.
When all else is said and done, there is still Jesus.