Monday, October 06, 2014

A Different Type of Preparation for Fall

It's that beautiful and deary time of year when the labors of summer give way to the restfulness of fall. It always invokes in me stirrings of change and memories of washing and putting away window screens, washing curtains and windows, planting mums, clearing the garden in preparation for winter, pulling out the fall decorations and carefully packing away the summer ones. After the busyness and intense labors of summer, nature begins to slow down and prepares itself for a time of rest that's so needed for rejuvenation.

 Just this weekend the boys helped me pull up the orange tub from the basement that has our fall scented candles and decor and we enjoyed the change of spirit it brought to the house. I'm mentally looking forward to cleaning my carpets, washing walls, polishing furniture and having everything fresh and clean for the approaching winter and holidays.

It's a beautiful time of year - one that I have come to appreciate more and more as I get older. But since 2010 it has also meant that there are other preparations that I must make in the fall to take full advantage of this naturally occurring cycle that God has implemented not only in nature but in my internal makeup**. Steps I have to take proactively in order to learn from and enjoy this season that God put in place for my good. (I think my life pretty much can be categorized as pre-2010 and post 2010 - most of living pre 2010 was uncomplicated - I wish I had appreciated it then)

The following post is really for me - because of all the lessons I have learned in the past four years, I have learned that my greatest challenge to internal stability is not allowing myself to become trapped in my own mind. If I listen to myself instead of talking to myself - well....lets just say that I can put myself in a really black hole, really quick.  So periodically I have to "preach myself a sermon" and this has become my standby every year when the days get shorter, it's dreary, cool, rainy,  and very much like today - and I preached it to myself again this morning.

1. Am I aggressively obeying 2 Corinthians 10:5 and reinforcing the fences of God's perimeters for my thought patterns outlined in Philippians 4:8? This is where the majority of my time is spent at the beginning of the fall season.  What am I thinking? Am I dwelling on the truth about this season? Am I inputting good music, sermons, ect. that are going to help me grow during this time?  What are my thoughts about God? Are they true about who God has revealed Himself to be? Am I focusing on how I "feel" instead of what is true? If I lose the battle in my mind - it will not matter what else I do, I have destined myself for failure. This part can be a real fight and I can't do it without God's help and His strength.

2. Exercise - I hate this part - I really do. Because it takes energy for me to make myself, (discipline myself!) do it and I can come up with the most interesting excuses in the book while all the time knowing that after I have exercised, I will feel better. It doesn't matter if it's a walk outside or on the treadmill, a Pilates workout found on Youtube (if my knees hurt), or a T-Tapp DVD (if my back hurts) checked out from the library - there are no adequate excuses Marianne - just do it!

3. Make a "Happy List" - I have a list in my daytimer of things that if I were to do them would bring a smile to my face.

  • Paint the woodwork in the bathroom, 
  • finish the floral arrangement for on the piano, 
  • browse ideas for curtains in the guest room, 
  • do research on the best time to fertilize fruit trees and berry bushes, 
  • rearrange my bedroom, 
  • look for ways to make Philip's home office more comfortable, 
  • look for new window treatments for his school office, 
  • plan an treasure hunt for the boys, 
etc...... I make a new list at the end of every summer/beginning of fall. The funny thing is, I don't typically get more than one or two of those things done on my list - sometimes it's just the thoughts that lighten my spirit and bring a smile. Not major projects but things that would just be happiness to me if they were to happen or get done.

4. Do the next thing - Elisabeth Elliot quoted this years ago on her radio program and I've learned that there are many times that I have to just "do the next" thing that is required in this wonderful life I've been given by God. "Idle hands are the devil's workshop"....there's more truth than I'd like to admit in that bit of wisdom. When I look back on this season of my life in 10 years, I want to see that it was full of labor in God's kingdom - training young men, mentoring young women, a life lived in service to others.

"At an old English parsonage down by the sea, 
there came in the twilight a message to me. 

Its quaint Saxon legend deeply engraven 
that, as it seems to me, teaching from heaven. 
And all through the hours the quiet words ring,
like a low inspiration, 'Do the next thing.'
Many a questioning, many a fear, 
many a doubt hath its quieting here. 

Moment by moment, let down from heaven, 
time, opportunity, guidance are given. 
Fear not tomorrow, child of the King, 
trust that with Jesus, do the next thing.
Do it immediately, do it with prayer, 
do it reliantly, casting all care. 

Do it with reverence, tracing His hand, 
who placed it before thee with earnest command. 
Stayed on omnipotence, safe 'neath His wing, 
leave all resultings, do the next thing.

Looking to Jesus, ever serener, 
working or suffering be thy demeanor, 

in His dear presence, the rest of His calm, 
the light of His countenance, be thy psalm. 
Do the next thing."

This is what I have to do to walk through this season and be a better person when the next season comes. Not everyone struggles this time of year - I know one who struggles in the spring when life picks up pace. All of us have to deal with the effects of the fall on our bodies but I've come to the conclusion that it's better to embrace what God has to teach us in the challenging spots instead of fighting to be "better" (aka. someplace other than where we are). This doesn't mean that I can ever excuse un-Christlikeness in my attitudes or behavior - it's just a reminder that there are times when my weaknesses show up more clearly and my need for Him is more evident.  This means I have room to grow and I'm made more aware of Him and for that I'm very thankful.

Happy Autumn Everyone!

** I've learned to appreciate both the ebb and flows of my life after reading Dr. Ronald Horton's book, Mood Tides- Divine Purpose in the Rhythms of Life .


Charity said...

Excellent thoughts/ideas, Marianne! Love it! How important it is to not live in just a reactionary mode. Thanks for giving me some food for thought!

Aimee said...

I, too, have learned that I have to speak to my soul...not just listen to it.

Crystal Martinez said...

It encourages me when others are brave enough to share their struggles & His solution!

Making Memories 1999 said...

Thank you so much for sharing these excellent thoughts! Blessings!

Jodi said...

I feel like this post was written for me. I so needed to hear it. And there is just something comforting about knowing that I am not alone. Not that I am happy that anyone else has these struggles. Not at all. But you know what I mean. :)

Marianne Brown said...

Charity - Thanks. It's too bad reactionary is so easy and proactive can be so hard!
Aimee - That's an important lesson to learn but so crucial to stability.
Crystal - Being open about emotional struggles isn't easy - mainly because it's complicated by so many factors. But, what I have learned about what God has to say in these areas has been invaluable.
Rebecca - Thank you!
Jodi - Nope - you're not alone but I think sometimes the struggle is so great it makes people unable to reach out and thus, everyone feels isolated. It's always been helpful to me to have 1 or 2 friends who have walked this path that I can contact if I it's been a particularly rough day and I need extra support. Sometimes just admitting that I need extra support helps lighten the load.

Thanks to everyone who commented. I've been busy replacing lies with truth and "doing the next thing" this week. Blessings on each of you!