For the Love of October

This article was originally published in Samantha’s Salt in The Holyoke Enterprise – October 22, 2015 (photos included in this post only).

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when you can wear long sleeves & go barefoot

If there were a month out of the year I couldn’t live without, it would be October. And it’s not just because I was born at the beginning of the month, along with my husband and two oldest children who are late October babies, but I’ve always loved and anticipated this change of season and all of its splendor.

I love the way the wind blows the leaves and they fall patiently to the ground. I love how the trees pop with reds, browns, and golds like a crown of glory. I love the cooler mornings and the warmth of the late afternoon sun. And I don’t think your front porch could ever have too many orange pumpkins or that you could have a shortage of anything pumpkin-spiced.

Just this past weekend while I was at Homesteader’s Park taking some family photos, I was instantly caught up in the beauty of my surroundings – everything from the sun’s golden rays, the shadows, the yellow leaves coming through on the trees, the green landscape, and the slight breeze against my skin. I would’ve planted myself there all morning if I didn’t have responsibilities at home.

In the novel Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne declares: “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it? Look at these maple branches. Don’t they give you a thrill—several thrills? I’m going to decorate my room with them.”

IMG_9848Don’t you just love Anne’s words? “Thrill” couldn’t be a more perfect description of autumn. Each morning I step outside and see the colors changing and notice new trees shining in their brilliance, I sense that thrill and rush. The beauty is revitalizing and inspiring.

On Tuesday, my daughter Rebekah was playing in our front yard and picking the leaves off the tree while she waited for her ride to preschool. “Momma look – a heart-shaped one,” she said as she brought the leaf up to my face. The sun sparkled in her light blue eyes and she smiled while she continued to pick them off one by one. “Look Mom – another one!”

I told her that we needed to keep them on the tree so we could enjoy them. I soaked up the sweetness in our moment together, remembering these were her last few weeks as a four-year-old. It was hard to believe another October had arrived.

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Rebekah’s joy and excitement gave me the opportunity to celebrate the stillness of the moment. It reminded me of God’s goodness in my favorite season and in every season knowing that in no time the multicolored leaves will soon grow brown. They will cover our yards and be thrown into bags. Winter will bring its chill and barrenness and will have us waiting for the spring flowers to bloom.

IMG_0064 (1)No matter the doubts, struggles, anxieties, and fears we have at times­­– even in the midst of such a beautiful time of year, the Lord gently assures us that He is here. His creation, handiwork, and creativity are all around us and they are ours for the keeping to enjoy to the absolute fullest, similar in the way that He desires for all of us to live our lives (John 10:10). May this season of coolness usher in the warmth of God’s nearness to your life.

Well, it appears you are finished with this column. What are you waiting for? Get outside!

 

Summer in Holyoke: A Little Taste of Heaven

I was recently offered the opportunity to write a column for our local newspaper. It has been so much fun! This article was originally published in my column: Samantha’s Salt in The Holyoke Enterprise – September 3, 2015 (photos included in this blog post only).

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Jeremiah caught this rainbow a few weeks ago. Our new church home: First Baptist Church Holyoke (side & back view)

Before my husband began the interview process for his job in Holyoke, we never knew such a town existed on the map. The mountains were all we’d experienced in Colorado so it was a surprise to learn of the Northeastern plains. When we drove in for the first time and saw the cornfields, water tower, parks, elementary school, and nicely manicured lawns, I could sense it was a special place. The serenity is what struck me most.

I didn’t grow up in a small, rural town. I moved twice in my childhood and my dad’s work brought us to medium-sized cities on the east coast. During my summer breaks in college, I traveled overseas and did several out of state publishing internships. After I met my husband at seminary in Virginia, we moved to Dallas for more schooling. The big city has been our life for the past eight years.

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Breaking in our new yard. This will be the year of the John Deer 🙂

In June, when our big yellow Penske truck made its way to our driveway, I felt the baseline stress of the big city falling off my shoulders. The air was clean. The wide-open spaces refreshed my spirit. The slow pace of life was new to me and was what my soul had been craving. The orange, yellow, pink, and red radiant bursts of color in the sky at sundown gave me something to look forward to each evening.

Before we moved out, I wondered how the adjustment would go. Would I go into shock not having access to all the “stuff” and entertainment? Would it be difficult living somewhere more remote?

I miss those conveniences occasionally. But the majority of the time I appreciate fewer choices and less stuff. Less temptation is present to hit the Starbucks and Chick-fil-a drive thru. Amazon Prime has been my best friend. You can’t beat free two day shipping. We have taken a few trips out to the surrounding cities and it’s always nice to return.

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Will in the field of dandelions behind our house

My kids have found joy in exploring new swimming pools, lakes, parks, dirt roads, animals, and farms. My son got to ride on a combine for the first time and learn about harvesting. Our new church family has opened up their arms to us and is becoming the family we couldn’t bring with us.

The ability to hop on our bikes and ride to Subway, Heidi’s (the dirty chai tea latte is my favorite), mail a package without waiting in a long line, or peruse The Oak Tree is something I’ve never had before. And a 1-minute drive to the marketplace… it doesn’t get any better than that when you practically live at the grocery store with four young mouths to feed.

I realize the story I’m writing may be different when the streets are blanketed with ice and snow and all I’ll want to do is hibernate under the covers. Since it’s human nature, I will probably grow familiar with the charm and hidden blessings this little town has to offer. I know it’s not a perfect town- no place is. No people are.

12032349_10102246540751678_1138077519_nBut I pray that my heart will always find something to be grateful for here. Many people would love to live in such a place where you get the kind of “feel” you just don’t have on city streets. Where you meet some really special people who genuinely care for others – whether it’s found in a friendly wave, a genuine conversation, or in a surprise vegetable delivery on your front porch.

I definitely realize your perspective may be different than mine, especially if you’ve lived here all your life. I’m an outsider looking in. I find it amazing that you could stay planted somewhere for so long. But now I understand why. You’re in Holyoke.

As the leaves will soon fall to the ground and the air grows crisp, I will remember and be thankful for what this town meant to our family this summer – a little taste of heaven in the midst of a big transition.

And as the Lord wills, we do plan on staying a while.

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