Autumn Autopsy

Autumn leaves are shocking.  Trees that are RED or YELLOW or BOTH? This is crazy.  The sky is blue and trees are green…at least they have been my whole life. Now here I am in my first year as a northerner and I can tell you I have been completely and utterly in awe of all of the beautiful fall colors.  

I have spent lots of time taking “nature walks” and taking as many photos as I can to try and capture these unbelievably vivid leaves.  And I started thinking about WHY leaves change colors ( I’m sure I knew this at some point in elementary school but I did not really remember). The science of this is a whole other very cool story in and of itself but the summary is that the trees KNOW winter is coming and they KNOW it is time for the leaves to die.  So they start storing up their nutrients which in turn means the leaves change color without those nutrients. And I kept looking at all these trees saying
  “How can something that is dying be so beautiful?”
And then this occurred to me:

Is that an incredible parallel or what?! Oh that we would see the death of Christ as beautiful as we see the autumn leaves. 

So then this whole stream of thoughts came to my mind...All the leaves have begun to fall off the trees.  I look around now and see empty trees and bare branches and find myself kinda sad about it.

Empty trees....like the empty cross.
"who Himself bore our sins in his body on the tree" -1Peter 2:24 
This makes the empty trees not so sad! In fact, what a great reminder of the cross right?

  So then the barren trees usher in winter, a season of cold hibernation with no signs of life. Winter that is gray and dreary and in a snapshot view some might very well say “hopeless”. I imagine this is somewhat how the disciples felt to see their Lord “dead” and “buried” in a tomb.


But after winter comes spring…and new life!  "But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep”-1Cor 15:20 

I don't know about you but I find this correlation to be incredible.  What an amazing and beautiful picture God has given us of the story of grace and how sweet that we have reminders all around us! I've always associated Spring with the resurrection...but connecting autumn and winter to his death just really makes the picture complete for me.

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven...He has made everything beautiful in its time. (Eccl. 3:1,11)

Happy Fall!


Faith Training: Blessing Bag Challenge

The metaphor of running a race is often used in Scripture (Heb 12:1, 1Cor 9:24) and I think the comparison makes a lot of sense.  Being healthy and in shape takes effort and commitment. Building muscles requires working out to strengthen those muscles.  I’d like to push myself, and any of you that are interested, to make efforts to work out our “faith muscles” that in doing so our faith might be strengthened.  How often in our comfy American lives do we really find ourselves in a situation that NEEDS God? In the midst of the everyday, seemingly we work to bring home our OWN money to buy WHATEVER we want, cook our OWN food and “independently” take care of ourselves.  If we have a problem, we Google it. If we’re sick, we take medicine. If we want something, we can pretty much find a way to get it. Of our own actions, we leave very little room to experience God.  Behind the scenes of course EVERYthing comes from God, but we very rarely have moments where we live by faith. Faith says it is hoping in things we cannot see. (Heb 11:1) But where does faith come in if everything we want is right in front of us?

 All that to say, I thought I would share different things God uses to stretch my faith and perhaps you will join me in these experiences.  So for today, I give you the “Blessing Bag Challenge”. (I got this idea from Kids With A Vision kwav.blogspot.com) Fill a large ziplock bag with non-perishable food items, toiletries, etc. and perhaps an encouraging note. I put some crackers, a protein bar, a comb, band-Aids, etc. Then as KWAV said it “store in your car for a moment of providence.” So easy. So awesome.

I will share that there are homeless people pretty much every day out in Minneapolis and I always feel so helpless and overwhelmed driving by. So I loved the blessing bag idea and got to work on it right away.  Putting the bag together was truly a joyful act of love, for a stranger, and I really prayed that God would make clear who to give the bag to. 

A couple days ago I drove by a man that had a sign that said “Homeless for 15 years” and my initial thoughts were “Gosh, how has he not been able to get his life together for 15 years?! He must not really be trying” Quick to judge. Dismissive. I am not proud of it.

Then the next day I saw the same man, with the same sign, and I read the second part of his sign “Homeless for 15 years. I NEED food” and my heart was pierced by this thought…
 “When have I EVER been in a situation where I NEEDED food that I could not get?”

Sure, there have been times where I didn’t have money with me or was driving in the middle of nowhere and hungry but I’ve always known food would be there-if not now but soon. This man has no food, and does not know if it will come. He NEEDS food. I was so ashamed of my judgment and assured that this was the man for my blessing bag.  I felt so bad that he was so hungry I actually picked him up some lunch in addition to the blessing bag.  It was a very humble joy. God taught me a lot through this experience.  It was probably about $10 worth of items in the bag (mostly from my pantry) and about 10 minutes of my time to assemble and write a note. I hope you will make a blessing bag of your own.  I know you will learn much through the experience and it will bring hope and practical blessings to someone who needs it.  May your grace and faith abound always. Go make a Blessing Bag!!