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Posts Tagged ‘fall’

I took a walk last week, on the day after our first snow here in Colorado.  The air was nippy but not wintry yet, fighting its way back to sunny seventies soon.  My boots beat along the sidewalk, until I came beneath a certain tree.  No one had warned it about the snow the night before.  It had been bearing the glorious fruit of autumn only a few days prior – the air a balmy 80 degrees.  Who knew that cold would come?

I picked my way around fallen fruits, darkened by separation from the sap – whether because of the cold hardening the nutrients yesterday or from today when the branch let go, I couldn’t tell.  But what was plain to see was that the tree had surrendered to the surprise.  It didn’t keep on with its job of growing fruit.  Instead it let them splatter the ground, making an ugly mess.

So I pulled my jacket close against the wind, bowed my head beneath the somber scene, and prayed to not be like that tree.  Don’t let me give in to bitterness just because hard things were unexpected.  Please, God, let me be useful to You no matter what, to be drawing near and bearing fruit of love and joy and truth and glory to You.  Give me faith to keep trusting even when things look bleak.

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” ~ John 15:16

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Orion is out tonight, aiming his bow at the rising moon. We reunite each fall and winter, Orion and I. He is my companion in the stars, keeping the same hours as I. It’s chilly out tonight. Clear in that cool dry way that Colorado is known for.

I’ve been through a lot since last Orion and I were out together. My life is definitely patterned in seasons. Some years have had their own theme, but usually the lessons are shorter and more diverse. This year was a scattered year, learning things that built in each other but not in obvious ways. A soldier will learn to march and learn to shoot, and both are related in that they come in handy during battles, but they don’t really build on each other.

Last year when I was almost twenty-four I almost went crazy. I couldn’t believe the life I had; my life seemed inevitable, not chosen. And I didn’t know how to be a twenty-four year old in my situation. Never had my dreams imagined me here. Yet I came to the conclusion that I ought to be myself, trusting God, and not worry about what twenty-four year olds are supposed to be. So I have told myself many times these months.

I don’t miss the soul-searching that comes with autumn. It comes around each year, and I don’t regret it. Nor do I look forward to the restless questioning. My soul never seems satisfied in the fall, the season of Thanksgiving. This November opens with a focus on open-handed gratitude. That’s what I call it. Each day’s blessings are cause to rejoice, never a reason to demand more.

I don’t require more blessings, but I have learned to ask. Such was my summer theme: Hope. Do I have confidence in my Heavenly Father’s goodness, enough to discuss with Him what I want and rejoice that in Him all answers, yes and no, are yea? Will I dare holding out my heart to wait on Him? And when I did this year, oh! how the peace came in. Before, I was silly not to ask for His good gifts.

Spring was hard, an exercise in love. Love hopes all things. It holds on and does not abandon. But it speaks the truth and rejoices in it rather than in evil. Love means sacrifice in the sense of a drop everything to help attitude. It is consuming, on your mind all the time. God never promised love would be painless. Though love has to do with community, it often feels lonely.

This year has brought thoughts about truth and calling and compromise. Faith and that not-tame God have kept popping up. I asked myself what I was willing to suffer for Christ, and for the first time truly doubted that I would rejoice to risk life and happiness and all I’ve worked for. Rejection has been on my mind lately. I’m more honest about reality than I used to be: eyes open to the vanity and hopelessness apart from the work of God to grace us.

And now that I’m facing twenty-five in the next several weeks, I must praise my God that I have a life that I run after. The friends I have are ones I choose. My weeks are spent doing things I believe are important, not just floating through an existence. Though twenty-five seems to have come upon me without my consent, the rest of my life is intentional. That is due only to the grace of God. He has helped me through some hard decisions. Some of my waiting and patience has ended, and other parts remain.

By many standards this year has little to show for it. I still have not written a book or started a successful business. No prince charming has swept me off my feet. Like Orion, I’m back and rising over the same horizon. But those who know astronomy realize that relative to the rest of the firmament, Orion’s position has changed. He will move among the stars and planets like he has not done in my lifetime. And a new year is here: the Hunter is chasing life down.

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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I have been camera crazy this year, filled with intentions of having one of those beautiful blogs filled with artistic pictures that speak effortless, silent poetry. Life has kept me busy, stunned me with its picturesque every day. This is my small sample. Me in one of my creative Christmas outfits. Here in Colorado the weather has scarcely ventured above freezing for two weeks, so I’m a little bored of my usual sweaters, inspiring creative ensembles.

There’s another cause, too. In December, for several reasons, we should cancel laundry: 1. We are buying new clothes for Christmas parties anyway. 2. We are receiving new clothes at Christmas. 3. We are never at home, so laundry is impossible. 4. There’s going to be enough guilt from all the candy and baked goods we eat, and all the New Year’s Resolutions we instantly break. Why add unfinished laundry?

(To be honest, my laundry is all caught up as of about an hour from now. And I really don’t get new clothes at Christmas or make New Year’s Resolutions. Nor do I feel guilty about my sugar intake.)

For my birthday I hosted a party at which we watched the movie, Penelope (starring Christiana Ricci, James McAvoy, and Reese Witherspoon). The bright contrasting colors inspired me. For my parties I usually have either candles or flowers. These were too perfect, and looking exquisite in the daisy vase a friend gave me for my high school graduation.


Aren’t the colors so vibrant?
Fall lingered in Colorado. I’m glad I have pictures to remember it by, not only because it was beautiful, but also because now it’s so cold that I can’t believe the Indian Summer we had.

See. Winter.
For weeks I went around with my camera in the passenger seat of my car so that when I found beautiful colors, driving through the right part of old Denver, I could snap a shot at a stop sign! It turned out great!

This old house was so charming as I drove that I took a picture of it, too. Denver is a lot nicer place when you see the cozy residential areas near downtown.
It can be a frustrating place. There is something nostalgic about railroad crossings, I admit. And I’m glad I had my camera, because otherwise the wait that day would have been intolerable. Trains are such dirty, slow, loud vehicles!
Speaking of waiting, that is one of only two things that I have done this season. The other is enduring impossible stores with gifts impossible to find or afford. I’m ready to stop waiting in lines and in traffic and behind trains and for people to come or go or catch up. My idea of nice waiting is to be curled up in front of the Christmas tree with a book, Nat King Cole and Bing Crosby crooning in the background, a nice plate of fudge and a cinnamon roll handy.

These are some of our family’s signature cookies. Admit it. You never want just one of those regular-sized cookies. So instead of making you go back until you’ve had three or four, we put the whole serving into one cookie. They’re amazing. And my 11 year old sister is a pro at making them, attributed to her procrastinating style.
Mom tried to recreate the salad she likes from Chik-fil-a. It was so bright and pretty that I had to take a picture.
That’s all.
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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Friday was one of those days in one of those weeks from one of those months.  My closest friends are out of the country or on their way out.  One will be gone for a whole semester, to the blissfully romantic Oxford, the Oxford in England, full of history and literature, thought and conversation.  In England there is rain, there is beauty, there is architecture, there are accents!  What’s more, she’s going to study worldviews in a small class of 9 Christian young men and young women, doing life with them.  Already she sends home emails reveling in happiness beyond her expectation. 

On Friday I was feeling rather alone and untraveled.  Autumn is here with an air of adventure, and none has knocked on my door.  But God is quite the gracious Giver of good gifts.  He blessed me with hours of conversation in the evening.  Friends gathered and the casual conversation was whether God changed His mind, and the way He ordains intercessors for us against His wrath.  Then we officially talked about jealousy, but we didn’t say much on that topic.  What actually happened led into a discussion on grace and glory, predestination and the rights of God versus the rights and capabilities of man. 

Even though we didn’t delve into jealousy, our text was 1 Corinthians 13:4: “Charity suffereth long and is kind.  Charity envieth not; Charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.”  Charity, or LOVE, does not envy.  It is not jealous.  Love is the call of all Christians towards their neighbors.  Jealousy prevents us from entering into their happiness in the way Paul describes in Romans 12.  The simple reminder that love is my call was enough to convict me of my attitude towards my friend.  So I decided to rejoice with her.  (I really am absolutely delighted for her experiences, and excited for their impact!) 

But the grace and the lesson didn’t end.  Deciding to rejoice with her, I was yet challenged by my friend’s confession of happiness.  Her email bubbled over with enthusiasm for life and people, and happiness at being where she was.  Once she even wrote she can’t remember the last time she was so happy.  When was the last time I was simply happy?  What did it look like? 

The privilege and delight of seeing a friendly face can light my face with a smile, and untroubled happiness.  Knowing God is in control and He’ll take care of the details is blessed happiness.  Knowing I am blessed is reason to be happy.  And I am so blessed.  So I set out to be happy. 

Saturday I went to Steeling the Mind Bible Conference, put on by Compass Ministries.  I imagined the happy me, which is much easier to live out when brought to mind!  Should I see a friend, I would be happy.  Should I spend the day with my dad alone, I would be blessed.  Should I get encouragement in my walk with God, I would have assurance that He was heeding my days.  And He was.  He let me know. 

For example, the second-to-last speaker was a woman raised as a Muslim.  One of her many points was that Muslims live in fear, not only of non-Muslims, not only of “monsterous” Jews, but even of each other.  Women obviously fear men, who have essentially absolute power over them.  They also fear the envy of others, by which the jealous party would, they superstitiously believe, put a curse on them: the evil eye.  Envy and fear of envy separated the community, leaving no room to trust anyone.  Jealousy is a serious issue. 

In the British Isles, there is rain.  Here the past week we have had rain more days than not.  Friday night it rained.  Saturday night, too.  I’m afraid to sleep for missing some evidence of God’s grace reminding me that “no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”  But even sleep is a peaceful, cozy gift. 

This morning at church we watched part of Beth Moore’s teaching on the Blessing of Asher.  Asher is a Hebrew word translated either Blessed, or Happy.  Leah named the second son of her handmaid Asher, after years envying Jacob’s love of Rachel and jealousy over his affection.  At last she simply named a son “happy,” content and blessed, going forward straight on the way, fruitful.  And Beth Moore taught us not to be responsible for the happiness of others (or of ourselves!);  happiness is a gift by the grace of God, so we ought to seize our happy moments, with gratitude. 

A friend blessed me with a compliment when I needed the encouragement, and her husband even offered to help diagnose my poor car whose Service Engine Soon light has been on and off for over a year (but I haven’t found a good mechanic to fix it).  My day was really too amazing. 

After church I sat in a meeting of youth leaders, pondering the high school girls small group of which I’m a part.  And I realized that I’ve been running around, forgetting to be God’s vessel, forgetting the blessing it is to share life with these ladies, forgetting that when I walk with God, I will want to and be able to connect with the girls in love.  There doesn’t have to be a formula or a schedule.  If I want to see them, this won’t be a burden.  In my life I’ve observed that happiness (and pain at times, and many other things besides) comes through people, through fellowship, through getting deeper into relationships and community.  Do you realize what release I remembered and reclaimed? 

Finally, on my way to visit my aunt in Greeley, CO (and my grandparents and a few cousins, an uncle and another aunt), I was riding in our big, truck-like van, watching light glint off the ring that reminds me of God’s presence and claim on my life.  So often I ask Him for things, but today I thought of the way characters pray sometimes in biblical dramatization novels by the Thoenes: “Blessed are You, O Adonai, who…”  So I started.  God is blessed for being, for doing, for giving.  Blessed is He for knowing the end from the beginning.  Blessed is He for ordaining good works.  Blessed is He for holding my friends in His strong hands.  Blessed is He for being my sure refuge and comfort.  Blessed is He for the blood He shed, and for reminding me of His faithful covenant through the Lord’s Supper this morning.  Blessed is He for the celebration that the Lord’s Supper is and represents, the community of saints waiting for the Beloved.  Blessed is He for hearing my prayers.  Blessed is He for being Almighty. 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Outside the clear glass door comprising one wall of our kitchen, a landscape speaking of the fading embers of autumn diffused its horizon against pale strata of clouds.  No painting I have ever seen captured the ponderous life of such a morning.  Nor would an artist seek to inscribe its beauty, for the attraction is in the air that drifts between undecided worlds of color, texture, light, and rest.  As if worn out by the vital radiance of her early days, the autumn sways along in a stupor, ready for the peaceful hibernation of winter. 

 

Trees mostly bereft of leaves presided over their slain children, today still without a waft of chilling air to stir their brittle stems.  Dun grass furled its verdant banners, blades shriveled to hide in the dust until the birth of spring.  A front might have been gusting through the reaches of heaven, but stalled in its mission, the blown dunes of cloud hung where its power left them, each its own statement on the threadbare blue sky.  Light captured from tangent rays was diverted between the layers, promising the pink of dawn then the subtle gold of dusk, finally covering the whole scene in a vague grey shadow. 

 

Not cheerful or motivating; as George MacDonald would say, not pretty, but beautiful.  Afraid to release the grandeur of its parent mountains, the dwindling hills on which my house is set would rather be slowly consumed by the tedium of the plains, creeping like the slow tide towards our door.  I would sit in the yard, sit and pray, undistracted by irrepressible beauty, for the day is not for walking or doing.  Its lure would capture me. 

 

What cloaks itself in a nature like this?  Quest-calling by its disguise, perhaps the founded waiting is the source of its captivation: in-between-ness, as though retreating to no reality at all in complacent anticipation of crisis and glory.  Perception demands I see that the courage and triumph is born of the staid prudence of these hours.  Seas do not withstand tempests without concealing beneath, their unheeded depths. 

 

JRR Tolkien penned two verses suited by this day, this mood, this verity: “All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost.  The old that is strong does not wither; deep roots are not reached by the frost.  From the ashes a fire shall be woken; a light from the shadows shall spring.  Renewed shall be blade that was broken; the crownless again shall be king.”  Perhaps a day like this speaks of an exiled king.  Tolkien asked of his poem, what king?  George MacDonald took a twin scene from the northwest coast of Scotland and asked, “What chief?”  What epic story do the silent rocks evoke? 

 

If I had joined the tale of the day, would I have glimpsed as the sun rose, the carven head of the fallen king coroneted by prophetic gold-flowered vines, the piercing promise of hope before a bleak pilgrimage? 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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