October 15, 2014

In All Seasons

In All Seasons Devotional

Where I live here in the States, fall is in full swing now. Cooler temperatures make way for cozy sweaters, mugs filled to the brim with apple cider, apple dumplings, apple pie, apple crisp (in case you hadn't caught on, we're big on apples here… don't get me started on all the desserts we make with pumpkin as well), and the trees are shimmering in hues of red, orange, and yellow.

I have this "thing" for seasons, and I don't just mean the literal weather type ones, but the various seasons of our faith, or as one pastor put it "soul seasons." Autumn is normally seen as a time of harvest; the seeds and labor put forth finally coming to abundant fruition. We too have soul seasons kind of like autumn... but we also have seasons like spring, summer, and (the usually dreaded) winter. Maybe you're like me, and an autumnal soul season is not where you find yourself in but in a season of barrenness; a season with a little harvest.

But I've learned that God is just as active in the times of harvest as He is in the times of dormancy--alive, but not active at the moment... temporarily slowed. In John chapter 15, Jesus says, "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, it is he that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing" (verses 4 & 5). Jesus is talking about remaining connected to Him, the true vine... to live near to Him in all seasons. Grapevines, and for that matter any type of fruit, have life cycles... clusters of grapes don't just appear overnight: In the winter, the vinedresser predetermines how many buds he wants on each shoot of the vine. During spring, buds come forth, turning into flowers, and then into berries. In late summer and early fall, the fruit is harvested, to be enjoyed by others. The leaves fall from the vine and the vinedresser prepares the soil for winter so that the process can start all over again. Such it is with us.

We all have those times of barrenness, planting, swelling (slow, continual growth), and gleaning. The important thing though is to remain close to Christ... to trust in His timing and His role as THE vinedresser of our hearts, for in all, and through all, He is faithful to accomplish His work in you and I. "Barrenness," as the prince of preachers, Charles H. Spurgeon said, "is the platform for his fruit-creating power." It's not permanent, but a platform to lead to greater things. 

Let this be an encouragement to you if you find yourself in such a place. God has not forgotten you, and the dormancy will pass into vibrant, fresh fruit once again. The work in the winter is just as important as the crop gathering of autumn. But remain connected to Him, the true vine. 
Living near to Jesus, thou art covered with the wings of God, and underneath thee are the everlasting arms. Let nothing keep thee from that hallowed intercourse, which is the choice privilege of a soul wedded to THE WELL-BELOVED. Be not content with an interview now and then, but seek always to retain his company, for only in his presence hast thou either comfort or safety. Jesus should not be unto us a friend who calls upon us now and then, but one with whom we walk evermore. ~C.H. Spurgeon

~This post was originally written and shared on Darling Companion, 2013, by Natalie Grimm~

October 13, 2014

Autumnal Joys

Shauna Niequist Fall Quote
The scents and scenes of autumn are finally being welcomed here, and it's my favorite season of them all. But it's all short-lived in this area, so I have to relish it while I can.

Autumn is what ushers in that steady rhythm of work and play for me. August and September are always crazy busy, and I wear a stress level to match it. But by the time October shows its lovely face, I've settled into my work routine with a new group of kiddos, and finally, have gotten around to planning get-togethers with friends and family that I put off temporarily. 

Everything about this season speaks joy to me.

I love how the weather finally hits that perfect temperature; it's cool enough to wear jeans and comfy tops without having to wear a parka on top of everything. It's the start of all things cozy: fuzzy socks, sweaters, blankets, and sleeping under down comforters. If you've never slept underneath a down comforter on a crisp, cool, breezy night, you've missed out friend. I want to perpetually live in the state of cozy.

Weekends are spent hitting the trails to enjoy the scenic views and taking trips to local pumpkin patches and apple orchards. Evenings in front of the occasional campfire or snuggled in bed watching old black and white movies--because that Cary Grant... he's charming and classy folks. I like to steal away to bookstores with a cider or chai in hand, because this is also the season I tend to romanticize, and books--words--are one of the love languages I speak so well. I've always thought this would be the perfect time of year to fall in love... 

And can we just talk about the food for a moment? Personally, this is prime baking season: apple dumplings, apple crisp, apple crumble top pie, pumpkin bread, cinnamon rolls, cranberry hand-pies, and maple scones. Pretty much just all things apple, pumpkin, cinnamon, maple, and cranberry. Let's not fail to mention the hearty stews and soups either. Or kettle corn. Or butternut squash. Or sweet potatoes. Or turkey. Just comfort food galore.

Autumnal Joy List

Enough about my fall favorites though, share with me some of yours!
© Natalie Grimm. Made with love by The Dutch Lady Designs.