I love fall.
I love the turn of the leaves, from summer's green to autumn's vibrancy, I want to sit outside all day every day. I want to stroll through the paths and sidewalks, soaking in the crisp air and crunchy leaves and bright colors.
The transition from summer to fall is my absolute favorite seasonal transition, but it lasts less than a quarter of the year. I often catch myself wishing it could be fall all year long — why do the beautiful, vibrant leaves have to fall to the ground and turn moldy and brown? Why do the days have to be so short, daylight decreasing and the sky dark? Why does winter need to come, and with it the very real battle of Seasonal Affective Disorder?
But just like the seasons of our life, there is always transition. The leaves continue to turn, our lives and hearts (hopefully) continue to evolve and grow, and our vibrant seasons do transition into dark seasons. But through the dark season, there is always the promise of spring to cling to.
If there is anything I have learned about the dark seasons—the winters of life—it is that the most radical and transforming growth can happen through them. If we allow ourselves to be moldable, soft, and available to Him...He will completely rebuild us and remake us into something even more beautiful after the season of darkness has undone us.
Another reason I love fall is because it gives me all sorts of excuses to do fun art with the boys. Do I care that these are not pinterest-perfect? No. Do I care if they end up on a pinterest-fail photo? I'd love it.
But these aren't fails at all...they are marks of memories, of toddlerhood, of our little life right now.
We usually have pretty slow mornings from around 5 am to 9 am, unless we have a therapy appointment of some sort. Somewhere in there we eat breakfast and get dressed. Usually between 9 and 10 am we end up going on a walk, meeting up with a friend, or heading to library story time at one of our many local libraries.
Last week instead of going out after breakfast, I pulled out the paints and paper and canvases and we got to work.
I left the boys strapped into their high chairs and painted their little feet and hands to create these little crafts:
I wasn't sure how Sage would do with the paint on his hands and feet. He was very wary and refused to touch the paint until Ira did it multiple times and was clearly enjoying himself. I let Sage touch just a bit of it to see if it was uncomfortable and he ended up giggling though the whole thing.
I also love fall because we usually go to the farmer's market more often than we do in the summer. It's not as hot and sweaty! We are on WIC during this time and we hadn't used any of our WIC coupons at the farmer's market yet...so we went last weekend and used them all up! We bought $36 worth of fresh fruits and vegetables.
With fresh fruits and veggies, I cannot help but make yummy things. Since we moved into this bigger home, I have finally felt I could get back into the groove of cooking and baking. It sounds trivial and is most definitely a privileged, first world problem, but I really struggled to cook and bake like I love at our old place. There was about a foot of counter space, it was dark and grimy, and the cupboards were filthy and old. I felt gross just being in there, let alone eating food. Wimpy much? My goodness. But it's the truth, so here I am.
I have absolutely loved being able to bake and cook freely again, with space and light to do so.
Sunday evening I made a really yummy stir fry with egg plant, carrots, bell peppers, kale, onion, and chicken. I threw in garlic and salt and chili powder and ginger. We cooked some rice noodles and it was delicious.
Monday (tonight!) I dumped some organic chicken broth, chopped potatoes + carrots + spinach + kale, chicken base, butter, cooked chicken, and salt and pepper into our dutch oven pot. I turned it on high and it was ready within the hour! IT IS SO TASTY.
We had a weekend with some really low downs and some really precious highs.
Friday I felt like I had ruined my writing career and was sure we would be set even further back financially than we currently find ourselves in...which is painful to swallow. We'll call this the Friday Fiasco. Loren came home from work early, I cried really hard—harder than I have in quite some time—and we pulled our zoo memberships out and visited the elephants and tigers. I love letting the boys run around the zoo, ooing and aaing with curiosity.
Saturday morning we went to the Portland Saturday Market to watch people and let our boys explore the big wild world of downtown and crunchy leaves. I felt the weight of Friday's Fiasco confrontation but was working hard to instead dwell on the current moments of memories being created. I wanted to be present and not allow someone else's thoughts of me have power over me. Why is that so hard?
It's easy for me to dwell on things...to over analyze and attempt to see how I could have fixed the past. I withhold the grace from myself that I so desperately want the world to encounter. I hold this ridiculous standard for myself that I wouldn't dare to hold for anyone else...and today in counseling I asked Carrie (after the lights flickered and I said, "they're here" and we bonded over Stranger Things), "Why do I think I'm so special that I set this standard for myself? Why do I think I am I so different that I cannot allow myself honest mistakes and the grace I'm so quick to offer others?"
These are the things I'm processing right now, working and praying through.
Sunday we were supposed to go down to my dad's for our annual pumpkin carving + chili and baked potato bar with all my siblings, grandparents, and aunt and uncle. Ira threw up all morning so we didn't make it to our family gathering which was a bummer, because I think we missed the spring gathering of planting flowers due to Sage's scarlet fever.
I took Sage to church while daddy and Ira stayed home. Church was so good to my soul, worshiping with the gospel choir and meeting Jesus face to face, laying down all my hurts and mistakes. I love to close my eyes during worship and imagine I am sitting or bowing at His feet.
I want so deeply to walk in the Truth of Jesus as my identity. As my worth. As my reputation and dignity. He is my dignity.
I want to handle myself well in the face of my mistakes and through confrontations.
I don't want to dwell on things I cannot control or change, but I do want to be honest and own where I could have done better, then pick myself back up and keep moving.
Until we own our mistakes and note where we could do better next time, I don't know how much we can really evolve into more of His heart. And if I am not growing more into His likeness, why would I even want to be follow Him?
This weekend was full of heavy tears, long phone calls, delicious food, and precious memories with my boys. After posting this and this, I was so humbled to have so many people reach out and let me know they were praying for me. Community, both in person and virtually, is something necessary and something important.
I continually find it is always through the tears and the pain I find the most growth. It's always through the transition from vibrant days to in-my-face confrontation that I evolve and relearn what it means to be humble. I never want to lash out and hurt others, as a defensive reaction. I never want to choose my comfort and protection of my heart over truly seeing a human for who they are and what they're crying out about.
I always want to choose radical submission to Jesus, even if it hurts.
It sometimes hurts because it's raw and demands I look at my failures. Even if my failures were not intentional.
In choosing Him, I get to be reminded that Jesus really is truly enough for me. If I lose my reputation, if I lose our money, if I lose dear relationships, if I lose anything...He will still be enough. He is enough.
Lastly, my friend Seth was telling me he's been chewing on this piece of scripture today. It is so much my heart through this Friday Fiasco I've found myself in. God is able to save me, fix the situation, and protect me/our family/my jobs/etc through it...but even if He doesn't...I will still trust Him.
"If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. 18 But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up." Daniel 3:17-18