My Soul Needs a Pumpkin Spice Latte

Summer has always been my favorite season due to the wider range of possibility she brings. I say she because she is a dear friend, and she is a blast! I always welcome her return. My first few years of post-college jobs were spent working for a high school and university, where work was slower in the summer months, so from childhood to adulthood Summer has given me the gift of a freer schedule. More discretionary hours and warmer weather translates to more options and opportunities for adventure.

One glorious summer I spent a week in Dallas—complete with a Six Flags visit--to be a bridesmaid in a wedding, traveled to Nashville for the Country Music Awards Festival, went on a float trip to Arkansas, threw myself a birthday party, spent two weeks in Alaska hiking, kayaking, and moose-watching, had several job interviews, and also enjoyed my fair share of Summer’s everyday delights—bike rides, game nights, movie nights, Sonic runs, picnics, and laying out by the pool. Did I mention that all these events occurred in just over six weeks? In case you hadn’t noticed, I love to go and do.

When the first cool day happens each autumn, I observe a moment of silence for the passing of Summer, and I’ve been known to shed a tear on this occasion, knowing that my exciting, up-for-anything friend won’t be around again for three quarters of a year, which seems like a very long time. In her place comes Fall, a much more laid-back companion. She’s not as much of a party girl, and I wouldn’t necessarily describe her as “fun to be with,” but if I’m honest, her arrival is a relief.

You see, Summer has me racing from one experience to the next so fast that I can’t catch my breath. Despite the grand time we have, my body and even more so my soul—the very core of myself—begins to feel tired and unbalanced, like something is missing even amidst all the activity.

Though Fall has a busyness of her own, she’s not likely to entice me to the kind of crazy calendar I described to you earlier. Her chilly weather and back-to-normal routines narrow the options for me and encourage me, my soul, to take a deep breath, put on a cozy sweater, get lost in a good book, and sip a pumpkin spice latte. Where Summer urges me to go and do, Fall reminds me to be. To be content. To be myself. To be present. To be quiet. To simply be.

I was created—both soul and body—to both do and be, to work, play, and rest. The concept of Sabbath suggests a regular rhythm for work and rest, as does my body’s need for sleep at the end of every day. I wonder if the seasons of the year were also intended to serve as reminders that I need to engage in many different states of being in order to be a whole, healthy person. I don’t know, but this year I’m allowing Fall to slow me down and to give me the time and space and permission to rest and to reflect…over a pumpkin spice latte.

How will you allow Fall to help you to simply be? Tell me in the comments.

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Green Grass

There’s something about green grass that speaks my language. I’ve always considered green to be the loveliest of colors and the great outdoors the place I want to be. Green grass has been a golden thread in the story of my life, present in a thousand happy memories. From barefoot backyard exploration as a little girl to laying in the yard stargazing with my high school best friends to cheering at a college flag football game to driving through hilly Ozark back roads in the setting sun to falling in love with my husband on a spring evening while we strolled around his family’s farm—green grass has been there in each moment, providing a backdrop for so many scenes of my life.

Green grass—lush and flourishing—hints at something deeper, that there is life here and not only life but abundant, rich life, health, growth, and possibility. I long for that kind of life, and I’d be willing to bet that you do too. I want the kind of life that is full and fruitful not only for me but also for the people whom my life touches. And though my natural desire is for ease and comfort and material abundance, at the end of the day I’d rather have purpose and meaning, to be rich in relationships and full of what matters. I happen to believe that this abundant life is accessible and not only accessible but also intended for each of us by God and made available to us through Jesus. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

No matter what you believe about God, I imagine you’d agree that at times the concept of an abundant life seems slippery in light of present circumstances. If you’re like me, your current season is a mixed bag of joy and sorrow, fulfillment and discouragement. I got married a little over a year ago and moved back to my home state of Kansas. I love being my husband’s wife and living life with him more than I can put into words. I’m enjoying working a traditional job only part-time, which has allowed me to pursue some dreams I hadn’t made time for in the past. This season also has the potential to be very rich in relationships, as we live close to both of our families and have many wonderful new friends. But I left behind a town I loved dearly, precious friends I’d had for nearly ten years, career and volunteer roles I found fulfilling, and in general a life I thought I just might live forever. So I confess that even among all the hope and possibility of this new season of life, among the hundreds of reasons I have to be grateful, at times I’ve felt a little lost and not a little sad, and I’ve been tempted to believe that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.

I’m no expert on living an abundant life, but I’m confident that it won’t happen if I’m not sure that this—my current reality, place, and people—is the life I want. I’m also convinced that this lush life won’t just happen, like winning the lottery. It must be cultivated, tended, watched, waited on, prayed over, cried over, loved. Neil Barringham said, “The grass is greener where you water it,” and these days I’m working on watering my own grass, cultivating a lush life on my own side of the fence.

This philosophical shift will have endless practical applications, but I believe it starts with an attitude change, the choice to believe that the here and now—with its good, bad, and ugly--is the best life for me because it’s the one He gave me, and He is good. This isn’t simply positive thinking or a refusal to acknowledge difficulty; it’s a belief in something, Someone bigger than myself Who is directing my journey. “'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” (Jeremiah 29:11) That sounds like green grass to me.

How is your current season a mixed bag? What's a practical way you can water your own grass? Tell me in the comments!

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