September ending

This month breezed in with sweet temperatures that only teased me. A few days of coolness were temporary. Then the heat of summer grasped the heel of September for dear life and would not let go.

I was disappointed.

But as the month comes to an end, fall is in the air, and I am happy as a duck on the pond. Windows were flung open to bring in fresh, gentle breeze. I pulled on my fuzzy socks, my flannel shirt, and have even enjoyed chill bumps on my arms.

Ahh, Autumn. I’ve been waiting for you.

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Maisie and I walk in the early, brisk morning air, and she is excited like I am. The bird sounds are different; some of them have already flown south. The sky has an autumn look about it, and there is just a hint of color beginning in some of the trees. The last of the summer roses bloom, and the goldenrod is tall.

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I am enjoying more sunrises and sunsets since the days are getting shorter. Our walks converge easily with dawn and dusk.

I started leading a Bible study in September, actually two of them. Same study with one in the morning and one in the evening. I know. Call me crazy. Two precious sisters offered their homes for us to gather, and our time is sweet in both groups. When we do Bible study together we challenge and we encourage one another. We need each other. God made us that way.

I had never really studied the book of Hosea in depth until now. He speaks poetically and in contrasting themes. Harsh judgement and tender compassion nestle close in a matter of a few verses. God urges His people to return to Him, the One who has been their strength, their provider and their glory. But they were not satisfied.

Hosea’s wife, Gomer, was not satisfied with her new life either, though her husband rescued her from the pit. He gave her a home, children, safety and a new identity.

I see myself in the stories in Hosea. I have been given so much; yet sometimes I want more or I want something different. How easily we become discontent with our blessings and look for love and satisfaction in all the wrong places. Like sheep, we are led astray and wander from true Love.

Sweet William and I traveled to an adjoining county this month to visit a friend who recently moved to the country. She and her family have acres of ground now after moving from the suburbs. Her hospitality was like a deep cleansing breath to me. While our visit only lasted a few hours, it took my stress level down a few notches.

I’ve been reading The Walk series by Richard Paul Evans this month. I am into the second book, living in this fictional story of Alan Christoffersen, a man whose life suddenly turns upside down. He determines to walk from Washington state to Key West, Florida. Evans describes the experiences and the people Christoffersen meets along the way. The messages in the books are thought provoking.

“I do not know what lies beyond the horizon, only that the road I walk was meant for me. It is enough.” — Richard Paul Evans

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I learned something about communication this month, or perhaps renewed my understanding. Though we quickly send words and messages – texting, facebook, email – there is no substitute for sitting across from another and talking face to face. I want to see the expression of the eyes, hear the inflection in the voice, observe the crinkle of a smile or the gathering of tears. I think we cheat ourselves today in our effort to be efficient and get a lot done. We are missing the deeper places of the soul by not giving attention and focus to those we hold dear and those we want to know better. We miss the connection.

I had the opportunity to give back this month, to help as I have been helped, to offer compassion as God has shown compassion to me. It gave me joy, proving that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

This week I invited a friend for brunch who is a fellow gardener. I was embarrassed for her to see the pathetic shape of my yard and what was supposed to be the gardens. But I knew she loved me and would not judge. What totally surprised me was how, after our meal, she went to her car and retrieved her garden gloves and tools and began to clear out weeds. I joined her and before she left, portions of the yard began to take shape and look more like a garden than a jungle.101_1094

Sometimes friends completely surprise me with their kindness. I see the goodness of God in people. While there are troubles everywhere, we need only look a little bit more to see how God’s love and compassion infiltrate the world.

This month I was reminded of Psalm 73:25-26: Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire beside You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

I had written in my Bible that I wanted this as my 2016 goal. Somehow I forgot and went my own merry – or perhaps more aptly, my unhappy, discontented – way. I focused too much on what I didn’t have than on the numberless blessings and gifts surrounding me at every turn. My heart failed a little and my strength weakened.

How gently God led me back to the place I left. Like Gomer left Hosea and like Israel left their Lord, I am also prone to wander. But God comes for me, always, and takes my hand and brings me back home.

And home is my comfort and the place I most want to be.

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