Wednesday, November 6, 2013

gold leaves on the ground {grace words wednesday}

so here we are, almost a week into this month named november.

leaves falling quickly from their trees.
temperatures dropping fast.
and the sky sliding into that winter shade of grey.

you know the season -- the days when it seems all color fades, everything mutes, and life takes on the appropriate tone for winter's imminent hush.

and november just makes it easy for our spirit to fall and fade, to mute and to hush a tiny bit too, right?

just last week, the tree outside my window blazed in pure gold ... and today it seems only a few hardy leaves hang on for dear life.

another one falls ...

bare brown left behind with the background of a metal sky. days closing up shop early. by dinner it's dark. squirrels scurry around in their cold-weather business: gathering. digging. burying.

we've pulled out fleece and hats and, even this weekend, tried on the kids' snow boots. (sigh).

we are preparing.

this month reminds me of everything tucking in, hunkering down, storing up -- readying for what's coming. in minnesota, my friends call it "winterizing." that wasn't a word we tossed around much in the south. but with one minnesota winter now under our belt -- i understand this winterizing. i understand winter. and i know what's coming. oh good grief, i know....

the trees empty.
more gold on the ground ...

and i can feel that small seed of disappointment start to take root deep inside. how fast the warm days of summer sun are gone ...  how brief the heat --- have i mentioned i live in minnesota?

our winter will stretch six, maybe even seven months, across the year. and what am i supposed to do with that? how am i supposed to begin this november in a spirit of thankfulness when i'm facing a land which will very soon feel empty ... turn frozen.

what are we supposed to do with a season which seems to be all about shutting down? staying in? closing up? emptying out?

funny that this is the month for thanksgiving. a part of me wonders why we don't celebrate this holiday in july. why don't we do our great giving of thanks when we are dancing along the shoreline barefoot and fancy free? and warm ... and tan ... and easy.

wouldn't we be more prone to praise under a perfect summer sun?

wouldn't we have more thanks to give with our toes dangling in a lake somewhere?

we could have ice cream cones and ripe slices of watermelon and boat rides  ... fireworks and flags under the bright blue of a july sky. i could give an awful lot of thanks for those summer things. those sweet things.

instead, thanksgiving comes when color fades and the leaves fall and all things become bare.

but ...

is it possible to suggest today that this is the perfect month for praise? when life feels dismal and bleak and just plain blah ... isn't this exactly the time when we should dig deep and look hard at what we have ... at what we hold. even in november.

i know it doesn't seem natural.

perhaps your life feels a lot like a tree in november. things falling off. every day more. dreams and plans falling apart. maybe right now your future feels kind of dim. you're discouraged. possibly even walking a line of despair. you see nothing but a long winter out ahead and you're not sure how you'll do it. handle it. endure it.

maybe it's not the everything, but maybe it's that one thing. that one hard thing. that one piece of your future which seems to be falling apart ... on it's way to numb and frozen.

i don't know what it is, but i know we've all got some bare places.

and strange as it might sound, the one thing i know to do in the november kind of days is to give thanks. someone else might tell you ..."it's okay ... go ahead and hurt ... be mad ... you deserve to be angry ... life stinks ... it's not fair!"  but what if instead of wallowing in that dark place, you begin to give thanks? what if even as the trees lose their leaves and you lose your dreams ... what if even then and there you begin to say those two little words: thank you.

i know it seems contrary to everything our world wants us to believe.

but guess what? --- Jesus is contrary to everything our world wants us to believe.

and, trust me, i know it sometimes feels good to just cross our arms, stomp our foot and become bitter. some disappointments feel too large. some days feel too heavy. some things just too hard. and instead of raising holy arms in thanksgiving we want to hunker down with arms crossed in the thanks for nothing.

i get it.

i've felt that way too.

but if you've lived in this bitter, thankless place, you know it doesn't do anything good. it can't heal. it can't help. it can only make us hurt more.

a couple of blog posts ago, i wrote:

"giving thanks doesn't always change our circumstances, but it changes us."

it does. somehow, that works. when we open our hands to offer up praise, our hearts open up a little bit too. there's some crazy connection. don't take my word for it, go try it. one simply cannot express gratitude and grumbling at the same time. it's one or it's the other. and i'm suggesting today that we have a choice.

even in this first week of november.

even when things fall off or life falls apart.

even when the world tells us we are allowed to be mad ... angry ... hurt ...hardened ... hateful.

i'm writing today to tell you --- you have a choice. don't go for the world's way. it leads only to further destruction. go for God's way and give thanks. give thanks and get life.

the leaves will continue to fall ... and the color will, of course, fade. but you will endure in the warmth of Christ's love when you lift up your arms and open your heart.

The unthankful heart... discovers no mercies;
but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and,
as the magnet finds the iron,
so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!
Henry Ward Beecher

and that's why november is the perfect month for thanksgiving.
and that's why hardship is the perfect time for thanksgiving.
and that's why pain is the perfect chance for thanksgiving.

another gold leaf falls ...

and we (choose to} give thanks.

no matter what happens, always be thankful, 
for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. ~ 1 thessalonians 5:18

my version of "winterizing!"  =)

{grace words: fall * praise * thanksgiving * november}

Jesus, you know the bare spots in my life. you see the empty places -- the parts hurting and hard.  Father, would you help me to choose thanks and fill these holes with your praise? i want to see you even in the falling apart places of life -- especially in those places. Jesus help us to give thanks for all of it ... everything ... even the things which we don't understand or don't like. fill our days with your praise and fill our hearts with your presence. a-men

don't forget to check out BECKY CRENSHAW'S {grace-words} over at THE WORD OF GOD AND A CUP OF JOE. becky's in the middle of a marriage series this month -- maybe another "november-ish" kind of thing in our lives? her series is called "more than fine." her words on marriage are filled with truth, honesty and encouragement!  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for all your amazing, moving posts. I feel like you wrote this post for me.
Looking forward to reading them every day! xo