10 Things I Learned in Fall '22
Rewind > Reflect > Learn > Grow
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This has been a very, very special season for me.
If you tuned into the podcast this week, A Picture of Thankfulness '22, you know why. Answered prayer is beautiful. This season of engagement is even sweeter because of the waiting.
If you're in a season of waiting, I pray the words I shared can be an offering of hope and encouragement to you.
Without further ado, here are ten things (not all the things but ten things) I've learned this last season.
Life with Will is teaching me many, many things but one of them being - farming. I have learned so much in observing harvest this Fall. My heart was in puddles - puddles, y'all! - in hearing this man give thanks to the Lord when the harvest is great and when it is small.
If I'm doing this, right here, 50 Fall's from now, with this man and these boots beside me, I'll be one happy girl.
Stop by your local Target for this Fall trail mix. It's one I like to stock up on this time of year!
2. Gentleness - A Loss or Gain?
Sometimes we fear "losing" when we lean into gentleness. Haven't I been gentle enough? Isn't it their turn to be gentle towards me this time?
Please tell me I'm not alone with these thoughts. But it's not a matter of taking turns. It's an all or nothing. We are either gentle or we are not.
Scripture teaches us to make allowances for each other's faults, which means we're supposed to come to conversations expecting to give rather than take. This means we must prepare in advance for how we will handle others' careless or pointed comments.
For instance, if the pointed end of a pencil makes a mark outside the lines, we don't respond with the pointed side, do we? This creates a scribble and a noticeable "oops" on the page. Instead, we respond with the gentle side of the pencil. We rub the eraser gently over the mark. Though, the mark cannot be taken back, it can be minimized rather than maximized. I think that is what Holy Spirit does through the work of gentleness in us. Gentleness doesn't take away a careless word but it can minimize the damage it causes to ourselves and the relationship.
This holiday season, as we are gathering with others, we will have lots of opportunities to practice gentleness. When a comment is made - maybe about a family situation, a political matter or something else - and considered "outside the lines" similar to the mark on the page, how will you respond?
As my pastor explained, gentleness is exercising tact and courtesy so others maintain their esteem and dignity.
It may feel like losing in the moment, but swallowing the our need to be right by responding with gentleness they may not deserve in order to help them maintain their dignity is for our gain, too. We gain connection and relationship, and we shine more of the light of Christ through us.
I'll be praying for you in this and would you be praying for me also? May we be intentional to:
Let [our] gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. [May we] not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present [our] requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard [our] hearts and [our] minds in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:5
With scripture guiding us, those harsh words won't slip out ...like a junebug to the screen door on a front porch. Or somethin' like that...
3. Just Like Mama Used to Say
Sorry not sorry for that southern-ism. The opportunity for a southern moment presented itself and I couldn't resist. This Fall, my young adult ladies' small group got away for a weekend together. We rested and laughed and caught up and even soaked in the first glimpse of this year's Christmas lights, but we also played a new card game, called Just Like Mama Used to Say.
Think Apples to Apples, but instead you pair cards together to create your own southern saying. For instance, the main card may say something like, "Faster than a..." and we all lay down cards to complete the phrase. Then the person who is "it" picks their favorite. Mine was "Faster than a stomach bug at a beauty pageant."
So yes, if southern phrases slip out every now and then, I blame the card game.
4. Small rhythms of great impact.
When we ask for help, God is faithful to provide, but it will likely come differently than we expect. This time, the wisdom I needed came to me like individual puzzle pieces needing to be placed together.
First, through my friend, Joy Urlaub, who recently shared on the podcast how balance may not be attainable but we can seek rhythm and course correct as needed. This truth was planted as a seed in my heart, which God used to prepare me for a situation that was coming my way that next week.
Out of busyness, I had missed a few of my morning walks. This seems neither here nor there, but given I work remote, I don't have the commute I used to have to talk with God, so now my morning walks are our time together. I also realized I had been jumping out of bed to get to my to-do list and neglected my "snooze prayer time." You see, I started a habit years ago of pushing "Snooze" on the alarm once, and I use this time to pray over my day and the people God has put in my care. Then, when the second alarm sounds, I'm ready to start the day.
These are small rhythms of great impact. It's no surprise I was overwhelmed by my circumstances when I let busyness unintentionally cut these out. In neglecting these rhythms, I was neglecting prayer. I was trying to do it in my own strength rather than leaning on the arms of heaven.
When you find yourself overwhelmed, learn from my experience and reflect on your rhythms and how you can course correct to get back on track.
5. Overwhelmed with Grace
The second puzzle piece came through another friend of mine, Melanie Redd, who wrote Just Rest, a 90-day devotional journal. I've committed to read it in this season of wedding planning so I can remember to rest and truly enjoy this time. Blink, and it will pass.
In this, Melanie reminded me of 2 Corinthians, where Paul tells us,
Yes, God is more than ready to overwhelm you with every form of grace, so that you will have more than enough of everything - every moment and in every way. He will make you overflow with abundance in every good thing you do. - 2 Corinthians 9:8
We can be overwhelmed by anxiety with our circumstances OR we can be overwhelmed with grace, but we can't have both. Said another way, we can grab for control OR we can surrender and trust God, but we can't do both. We must choose. As Melanie wrote,
That's what God wants for your life. He wants you to be flowing from head to toe with wisdom, joy, hope, and abundance. God wants you to be a mighty woman [or man], able to handle everything that life throws at you today. Overwhelmed with grace. More than enough. Pouring out hope and abundance. - Melanie Redd, Just Rest
As we lean on God and trust Him more than what we see, we will become overwhelmed with grace so we can respond in tones of gentleness and self-control to the circumstances in our midst.
6. Goodness, Selfishness and Conviction
The concept of trusting revealed itself again in a third puzzle piece. This time through a sermon at my church on the fruit of goodness. Here's the CSV - Candace Standard Version - for you:
The fruit of goodness is revealed in how we think about others.
We can't do this if selfishness is present.
So why do we behave selfishly?
Selfishness surfaces when we do not trust God is taking care of our needs.
So in short, the fruit of goodness grows from the tree of trust.
Let's give this truth our reflection. When we recognize times when we are holding back in a spirit of scarcity rather than abundance, let's pray for the Lord to lead us into greater trust with Him. Here's a prayer I've been praying:
Lord, lead me to trust You in all things all ways. I rebuke the spirit of scarcity. Help me to live in the fullness and abundance You have provided for me. Change my heart and make me more like You. Fill me with Your goodness and give me a heart that puts others before myself.
7. Bedlam Punkins
Bringing our favorite parts of Fall - the colors, pumpkins and football - together in a fun bouquet!
Whether you have a house divided or everyone cheers for the same team, check out how you can make a fun Fall bouquet to show your team spirit.
If I can do it, you can too! Whatcha say?... Let's Try That Bedlam Punkin Bouquets!
8. Stop starting. Start finishing.
We were talking about this at work the other day, but it’s as true outside the corporate walls as it is in.
There will always be more to do. When we’re in the thick of a hard project, it can be tempting to switch our attention and energy to something else, something that seems easier and less complex. But, it’s in finishing a project that we are able to create value for our users.
As a teacher, it was the same message but in different words, teaching students how to become “gritty kids” and take responsibility for their own learning. In our personal lives, this can surface in many ways. What is something you’ve neglected to finish? Where do you need to show some “grit”? Let’s start with prayer and ask for wisdom today for what deserves our attention and priority. What needs to be stopped - temporarily or permanently? What needs to be started? What needs to be finished? Then, let’s resist the distractions that come (for we know if we are aligning our hearts and minds to God’s purpose for us today, distractions are expected to try to derail us) and let’s commit to seeing it through.
9. Simple is powerful, too.
As you now know, my tennis shoes are my praying shoes and one morning this Fall, I wasn't sure what or how to pray for another in a new place of transition and another in a long season of waiting, and these are the words that came for both of them:
Lord, allow her to feel Your hand when she cannot see or understand Your plan.
They're simple words but because we know "when a believing person prays, great things happen," (James 5:16) they're powerful.
Sharing in case you need a nudge in how to pray for someone in your life or perhaps pray these words over yourself. Remember simple is powerful, too.
10. It truly is better to give than to receive.
Will's '97 Ford pick-up truck, Ol' Red, was looking for a fun way to serve others this holiday season, so we picked out a few decorations and printed some fliers for free holiday mini sessions, and goodness, how fun it has been!
Thank you for letting us share in your joy this season and help spread joy to those in your circle through a Christmas card. Ol' Red is already itching for his next adventure! Two more sessions in Texas this week! If you're around town, we'd love to see you, hug your neck and take your Christmas photo!
Looking back helps us gain perspective as we look forward.
In our next series, we are preparing for Christmas by looking at the traditions and decorations we love, and how even the most secular of these can point us to the meaning of Christmas.
And I cannot wait! It's going to be 12 days of Christmas fun!
Now, it's your turn. What have you learned through this last season?
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Let's find strength knowing we do not endure these seasons alone. Let's find joy knowing there is purpose for each season we walk. Let's find peace in reflecting on the lessons learned and accepting these circumstances, much like seasons, as temporary. Let's find rest as we cling to the eternal.
The good life, well it starts with a good day. Then another. Then another. Let's choose to live #TheGoodDay one day at a time.
I love hearing from you, so go ahead. Leave a comment. Be brave. Maybe your comment will speak life into someone else!
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