This morning I learn that the beautiful leaf colors are always there but hidden by the green chlorophyll. When the long nights of autumn begin, the chlorophyll production diminishes and reveals the carotenoids (yellows, oranges, and browns) and anthocyanins (reds and purples) that are always there.
I’m astonished. I think about how change in my own life happens when I let something die within me to reveal the life of Christ that’s there but hidden by my own self-life. I let self diminish and Christ rise within me.
Autumn leaves aren’t a sign of loss or decay like I thought. They more represent identity unmasked.
On the walk to school. . .
The cats love to look out the front glass door. They wait for me to open it, and it becomes a wonderland experience of chipmunks, squirrels, birds, and dogs.
All morning long, they look out together.
They look out together. These are the cats that often do not like each other. These cats can fight and attempt ridiculous displays of dominance. Louie and Merlin torture dear Snowflake and chase her around the house for afternoon fun.
There’s no peace between any of them until they look outward together.
I remember this when I’m in any situation with others that lacks unity. If we look out together towards the Greater Story of what God is doing, our differences and agendas tend to dissolve. We aren’t facing each other any more; we’re looking outward to the wonderland of God’s agenda, not our own.
It’s such a strange adjective! I read it this morning in Ephesians 3:8 where Paul talks about the “unsearchable riches of Christ.” Unsearchable means you cannot find it out; it’s beyond our ability to search for or understand. (It’s a rather long and beautiful Greek word: anexichniastos.)
I’m someone who searches all day long on the internet. I’m a researcher–a knowledge junkie–who loves asking questions and finding answers. I love learning new things and exhausting the information about a certain topic.
But the riches of Christ? They cannot be exhausted, searched out fully, or understood. We can only attempt, and even our best efforts at understanding represent partial examples. The very best I can imagine fails to approach the truth of it.
In a world where we search and find so well, this one concept will always elude us and be greater than our minds can handle. It won’t ever end–the riches of Christ–and I can continue to search it out till my dying days, and even then, there’s so much more to Jesus.
For those of you following the big publishing journey, I thought I’d offer another inside peek at the process. Yesterday was Book Release Day! I had no idea what this would mean, so I’ll tell you.
It means that your friends all text and email to tell you how happy they are for you. It’s a day to celebrate with them!
It means everyone who pre-ordered the book receives it in the mail (and they take pictures of it and send them to you to celebrate!)
It means your editor contacts you to celebrate.
It means people start telling you that your book is in a Barnes and Noble in Cary, NC. You pause and think about what this means for a minute, and you celebrate a dream come true!
It means people talk about your book on social media, and then people email you to tell you people are talking about your book on social media. But you don’t think about this for long because you have to fold a load of laundry.
It means people can start reviewing the book on amazon.com. (hint, hint)
Other than these things, nothing fundamentally changes. You still go about your writing, teaching, and parenting tasks. You still unload the dishwasher, make hamburgers for dinner, and finish your writing for the day. You put children to bed, prepare lesson plans, and grade papers.
But you are smiling a whole lot.
Right around 5:00 PM, the sun sets behinds the trees in my backyard. It’s the most beautiful thing. I could start crying it’s so stunning. The golden light filters through those leaves. Everything looks lit from within like it’s going to catch fire. I often just stand there and bask. I even stop talking it’s that important.
But what’s happening physically to me as this beautiful thing is happening? I’m always at the kitchen sink. I’m always getting something ready for dinner, scrubbing some dish, or filling another child’s glass with water. I’m always feeling the weight of some kind of stress.
But it’s the view through the kitchen sink window that fills me with such wonder and worship.
I pause there, scrubbing something. I had to be here to see this. There’s no other way to see it. I’m serious. Move a little right, and the sun’s angle isn’t right. Move left, and the golden glow dissolves.
So I’m here.
So much of my journey of motherhood and housekeeping involved crying at the kitchen sink, not because of beauty but because of all those dark days I couldn’t beat. But then, as you know, I began to see again. I began to see that wherever God puts me, it’s because it’s here I see beauty–and Him– best. I will trust Him more and more for this, and every day at 5:00 PM, He teaches me the truth of it.
Today on the walk to school, I remember that saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” or the Africa proverb, “A child does not grow up in one home only.” It’s because today, one child has so much to say to another father on the walk to school. Even after listening for nearly 20 minutes, he says to this boy, “Do you have anything else to tell me?” It was precious and wonderful to see their connection.
I remember back in 2011 when my daughter held another mother’s hand on the walk to school. I think of how many mothers they know now that, in years to come, will have been like mothers to them. How many times will they say, “She was like a mother to me”?
Who might say that of me?
My daughter calls one mother her “other mother” and another home her “second home.” It feels like such a blessing to live in a neighborhood like this where all the parents gather and raise the children together. We’re not alone in this task of parenting, and it feels like it’s the way it should be.
One of our favorite fall traditions is creating our simmering spices on the stove that humidify the kitchen while releasing a delicious aroma.
Sarah creates the first recipe:
3 cinnamon sticks
1 sliced lemon with peel
1 Tablespoon whole allspice
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
4 cups water
Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer for as long as you wish.
Other recipes include orange, vanilla, and clove. Enjoy the fragrance and the warmth as the crisp air moves in.
I reluctantly take allergy medicine in case my miserable cold symptoms come from all the ragweed. Just in case, I reason.
Soon, I’m myself again–no sneezing, itching eyes, or running nose.
It’s a simple solution to a predictable problem that I forget about every October! I think about my complex musings about all sorts of problems and how quickly I misinterpret what’s happening.
I‘m miserable! This is terrible! I’ve come under attack!
No, silly. It’s something predictable and manageable and part of this season. Knowing this brings comfort. It’s a good reminder for spiritual matters as well.
I read Isaiah 58:8 where I learn that “righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.”
I remember how the psalmist in Psalm 139 also shares how God “hems us in, behind and before.”
We’re surrounded on all sides; He goes before us and stands behind us, guarding at all times.