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Parable of the Pumpkins

My daughter, Sarah, gave me a beautiful wooden pumpkin and I was just waiting for the change of season to display it properly.  For 2 days now we’ve awakened to brisk mornings and I’ve just reveled in it. Windows open all day, all night. (There is nothing better than sleeping in a cool room with the blankets pulled up.) The first taste of Fall, this second week of September. 
I was so excited, that I decided it was fall cleaning and decorating day and I had a special place for little wooden pumpkin to sit! I pulled out the tub with the rest of pumpkins that have been collected over the years, grabbed my dust cloth, put on some praise music and soaked up the time. Just slowed everything down and enjoyed every moment. Took the time to thank God as I dusted off memories.
Because it was late in the day by the time I got going, I was only able to finish the dining room. (This is serious business preparing for my favorite season.) I was so looking forward to another day of what I consider playing that I planned to start right after coffee to finish the rest of the house.  God had other plans for the morning and I’m so grateful! So it was lunchtime before I picked up the dust cloth and turned the music up. Placing pumpkins, packing away summer. Bidding farewell to the hot days and welcoming the crispness of fall. Dave was moving his workbench to the patio, and I decided it was a good time to close the windows and keep the dust outside

Pumpkins here, pumpkins there. Wooden, ceramic, velvet. Big ones, little ones. Orange and white and green and gold. Oh, so many options of where the pumpkins should go. I have a whole wall of built-in bookcase to sprinkle with fall and I was so absorbed in getting it “just so” that I lost track of time. 
Three-thirty! I hadn’t even thought about what to make for dinner! I quickly packed up the last of the things displaced to make room for fall and in the tub they went. Now, to think about dinner. I headed to the fridge to see what I could find and only then, remembered that we had a potluck to go to that night! Oh, a store run was now on the agenda. I made a quick list and headed for the door. 

It’s a strange thing when time seems to slow down as you are trying to make sense of what is happening. I was distracted by the need-at-hand as I opened the front door. A tsunami wave of blast furnace heat hit me full force and took my breath away. I stood there for a minute righting myself from the shock. I had to remind myself that we live in Southern California and summer was stubborn and resisted change. Those 2 sweet, cool, days were just a teaser and I had fallen for it. The 104 degree, blazing SoCal heat was a rude and unwanted wakeup-dose of reality. I almost cried, but I didn’t have time.

Isn’t life like that sometimes? We’re going along in what seems to be a sweet season the, BAM! Outa nowhere we’re hit with a reminder that we live in the last days and it catches our breath and we stagger to stay standing. Blindsided by death, divorce, sickness, brokenness, sin… They encroach and invade and threaten our sense of peace. We’re shocked when it comes and threatens to shatter the life we’ve been setting up for ourselves. 

"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you." 1Pe 4:12 

We’ve been instructed not to be surprised. So why are we? Me? I let myself get distracted by my hopes, my desires. Some may be in denial that suffering is a reality in the lives of Christ followers. Believing the pervasive and lying gospel of prosperity. Some, distracted by self, focus on  the temporal, losing sight of the eternal. And some value comfort and draw the shades to the world outside. But yet trials come, and we are aghast.

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." Jm 1:2-4

Count it joy that my plans of easy summer days filled with grand-babies were thwarted and instead spent the majority of our summer sick with Mono? Count it all joy that the heat wears me out within minutes?  Count it all joy that some days I still struggle with basic thousekeeping? Yes, count it all joy that that I have shared in a tiny portion of suffering that some of my dear friends face daily, I have gained new empathy. Yes, count it all joy that having to sit for almost 2 months helped me learn to be still and be ok with it. Yes, count it all joy that His ways are greater, and better, than I will ever understand. 
I love how God is uses ordinary moments to train us up, if we are willing. Are we willing? Willing to pay attention to the little lessons that have huge implication? Those seemingly ordinary, everyday stories that hold great eternal significance. Our lives, living parables… Oh, oh…
May my parable of pumpkins remind you to be embrace the season you’re in and not long for the next. To enjoy the sunny days and not pack them away before they are done. Glean the fullness of where you are and every lesson in it. Even today, step back and see what God has been trying to tell you so that you are not blindsided. And be not dismayed when the fiery trials come, for they will, but stand firm in the knowledge that your faithfulness will produce steadfastness and God is working toward your completeness, that you be lacking in nothing. Peace and grace to you as you live.
As I finish these last words, at 9:45 AM, the air conditioner has kicked on and I smile and am oh, so very grateful!  I will count it all joy that the sizzling days of summer have been extended and embrace the season I'm in.  And laugh that it’s is full of pumpkins!


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