Loose Ends * 7 Autumn Reflections

Welcome, welcome!  I'm so glad you've joined me today.  

I can't even begin to fathom that the year is careening toward a close ... complete with two holidays that will most likely bear little resemblance to past traditional celebrations.  If you're anything like me, you will be so very glad to hang your fresh, new 2021 calendar on the wall and tuck 2020's pages in the bottom of the deepest drawer you have in your house.

7 realities I'm reflecting on ...

1.  The absolute necessity of lots of pencils & a few very large erasers.

As I flip through the last few months of my calendar, I see that fully 50% of what had been penned in ended up being crossed out, scribbled over with black ink.  Appointments cancelled.  Long-planned visits delayed again and again.  Get-togethers with friends postponed.

I will buy my pencils in bulk from now on.  And keep a couple of these large erasers at the ready.  {As an Amazon associate I may receive a very small financial compensation when you use these links!!}

2.  Hold all plans loosely.  Don't carve anything but the most absolute essentials in stone.

One day at a time is the name of the game.  Keeping our plans held loosely, with trusting hands raised up to our loving Heavenly Father, keeps us from the awful pain of having our hopes and dreams pried away from our grasping fingers.  

There's a reason why Jesus said, 'Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.  God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes' {Matthew 6:34 MSG}.

3.  It pays to listen to the Spirit's nudging.

When I decided to unplug from blogging last month, a kind reader wrote, 'May September be Sabbath for you.'  I was so taken by her benediction that I wrote it on my calendar, glancing at her thoughtful words often. 

Sabbath not only honors God, but inspires us to rest from our seemingly endless labors.  And a time of retreat and re-calibration prepares us for the hard times that announce themselves with an unexpected yet not surprising phone call that changes everything.

4.  Covid, the elderly, & their families.

No family member should have to cool their heels all day in the ER waiting room with a mask on, marking time as they wait on some kind of update after their disabled 90 year old mother takes a particularly nasty fall at home.  No elderly person should be forced to choose which child can stay with her throughout the day as she waits for test results.  No elderly person and her children should have to make the difficult but necessary choice to move her to a care facility right smack dab in the middle of this seemingly endless pandemic.  

No daughter should have to kiss her mother good-bye through a mask right before she is wheeled inside to her new home.  Or watch the door swing closed behind her with a firm lock.  Or sob alone in the beautifully appointed gardens at the entrance as she experiences such deep sorrow, a separation that's surprising in its intensity.  

And it just seems wrong that two sisters only get 30 minutes together with their mom every Thursday afternoon, with one hug a piece.  Generously applying hand sanitizer before and after the hug, faces turned away from each other.  No kisses.  

But the mask.  Always the mask.

This is my family's autumn story. 

I think of several dear friends in recent months who were not able to be with their loved ones at the end of their lives.  None of us should have to face life and death alone without the comfort of family members present.  It goes against everything we value. 

My heart continues to go out to you.  Who would have ever guessed that we would be cut off from those closest to us when they needed us most.

God, thank You that You never left their side for a single moment.

Comfort our unsettled souls with Your lavish peace.

And bless all those who faithfully care for those we love.  May they be kind and gentle with them, please.

5.  Even in the midst of the madness, good things deserve to be celebrated.

You might have to walk around with a magnifying glass to spy them, but all around us there are big answers to prayer that bring a smile and a song of gratitude to our lips.  A granddaughter gets accepted to college.  A house sells for more than expected.  The doctor reports good news.  A beloved presents you with the largest glazed donut ever seen.  Your eyes are opened to opportunities to encourage others with your words, your presence, your silence, your handyman / woman expertise, your culinary skills, your artistic endeavors.

6.  Ah, the insanity of the political fray.

I said all that I needed to say in this post right here.  Maybe it will get you through this exhausting season?  Hope so.

Let's pray the prayer that never fails ... 'Thy will be done.'

7.  The support group.

It's been so rewarding to facilitate a group for women making their way, three steps forward, one step back through the pandemic.  

Led by the Spirit's gentle wooing and direction, courageous participants emerged out of their comfort zones to deeply connect with each other through ongoing conversation and prayer.  Clear guidelines enabled the group to be safe for all ... no interrupting, advising, analyzing, fixing, or preaching at each other.  Weekly, we became more attentive, empathetic listeners as our spirits deeply resonated over shared stories of isolation, abrupt changes in gathering with family and friends, the reality of fear and anxiety and anger, the demise of long-established routines, accumulating losses and build up of grief, the disruption in church life.  We refused to sugarcoat the disappointments and frustrations, fragility and sadness, the lack of meaningful purpose that the pandemic has left in its wake.  
We turned a corner at each meeting, with Philippians 4:4-9 guiding us as we did the hard work of re-framing our challenges and heartaches into opportunities for gratitude and spiritual growth.  We focused on designing unique, Christ-honoring routines and rhythms, emphasizing ongoing devotional encounters with our Savior to grow our faith and meet our deepest needs for relationship, clarify new vision, and discover God's call on our lives going forward.

I'm already anticipating what God will do in our next round.

What's on your heart as October rolls to a close?

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