Monday, November 14, 2011

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Something about the color of the leaves this year just has me completely captivated.  I’ve been taking pictures of them constantly.  We live in a wooded neighborhood surrounded by battlefields and it is just amazing the colors I have seen.  We have 27 trees in our yard and we only live on one half acre!  Cleaning up the leaves after the first hard frost has taken away the beautiful colors is not fun.  We don’t have the right equipment to properly remove the leaves.  It takes days and sometimes weeks for John to rake them, mulch them, and move them out of the yard.  The kids and I try to help, but we are easily distracted by jumping into the piles.  They do the jumping, I do the picture capturing.

I am not a gifted photographer.  It’s difficult for me to capture the beauty of what’s right in front of me, but I try, boy to I try!  So, this post is mostly just some pictures I have taken within our neighborhood of some gorgeous trees.  The kids are LOVING fall.  You will see how much in the photos. 

 I truly do see God using the landscape like a canvas.  I can’t quite say where else the deep hues we see would come from.  I realize there is a biochemical change going on, but even scientists have admitted they can’t quite figure it all out.

It reminds me of the poem by Robert Frost, “Nothing Gold Can Stay.”  If you aren’t familiar with it, here it is:
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down today.
Nothing gold can stay.

Even if you live in a place where you haven’t seen much color besides green this year (my sister in Florida), or you live in a place where snow has already touched the ground (our friends in Wyoming), I hope you enjoyed autumn.  The color is only with us a few short weeks, but it is amazing isn’t it?

Thank you for reading.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I'm Thankful For...

It’s November.  I love this month.  It hosts my birthday, my mother in law’s birthday, and Thanksgiving.  I love Thanksgiving; and it’s not just for the food.  Although my mother in law makes the best Berk’s County Filling I have ever had in my entire life!  

I love November because I enjoy being thankful.  I had a conversation with Elliot and Sydney about the importance of Thanksgiving.  Elliot (who is 7) wanted to know what we are celebrating.  My answer included much more than just the traditional story of Pilgrims and Native Americans.  I told them Thanksgiving is the way in which we say “thank you” for all that we have. 

There is a challenge on Facebook right now to state one thing you are thankful for each day during the month of November.  I loved seeing these statuses last year, so I felt excitement to have the calendar turn to November 1st.  I love how some are so simple and others are complex.  One friend said she was thankful for hot coffee on a cold morning.  Another said she is thankful for another day to love her kids deeper.  Another said she feels thankful for God’s grace; new each morning.  I’ve loved reading them all.

Showing gratitude is such a wonderful way to be connected to the blessings we are given.  There have been various studies done on gratitude.  One study’s results stated that a group, who kept a gratitude journal experienced less depression and stress, were more likely to help others, exercised more regularly, and made greater progress toward achieving personal goals.  The psychologists even went on to state that practicing gratitude can increase happiness levels by around 25%.  That is significant! 

Thanksgiving can easily be squashed by the retail industry.  All the Christmas decorations are already up in the mall…in fact they were up on November 1st!  I was in Kohl’s yesterday and there was Christmas music on!  Christmas is the Cadillac of holidays.  Its symbolism is unmatched, but I don’t want to lose sight of how valuable November is.  I don’t want the opportunity to be thankful for what I already have to slip away.  I don’t want to be forced to charge forward to Christmas gifts, lights, cookies, and the “want” of new things.  I want November to be thankful for colorful leaves, morning snuggles with my kids, a hardworking husband, laughs with great friends, a long walk with my dog, and great phone conversations with my far-away family (among many, many other things).

It’s not that I can’t be grateful at other times of the year.  I’m just finding myself even more thankful for November and its 30 days.  30 days of opportunity to express gratitude for what life has to offer, big and small.  I’m having Elliot and Sydney tell me one thing each day that they are thankful for.  Yesterday Elliot said God, then Sydney said Jesus…then Elliot told Sydney not to copy him.  Today Elliot said he is thankful for our DVR.  Sydney said she is thankful for Honey Nut Cheerios.  I love these kids!

Quite a few years ago my sweet, dear Grandma had me read Psalm 100 before Thanksgiving dinner.  I’m copying it into this post.  I hope it speaks to you and is a reminder of being thankful.  If you are participating in the Facebook challenge, I look forward to reading your posts.  If you aren’t, consider keeping a few notes on what you are thankful for.  And, wherever you are, enjoy November because December is right around the corner.

Thanks for reading.

Psalm 100

A psalm for giving grateful praise.
 1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
 2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
   come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the LORD is God.
   It is he who made us, and we are his;
   we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
   and his courts with praise;
   give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
   his faithfulness continues through all generations.