Pumpkin Spice and Jesus

On September 1st I made my students look at me with questioning eyes because of my excitement over it being the first day of the first month of fall. I’m pretty sure they questioned my being an adult because of how excited I got. I love fall. I love the leaves changing colors and falling to blanket the ground. I love the smells of bonfires and the cheers of football games. I love a good cup (or two) of hot apple cider. I even love the storms. The fall festivals that have too many people and too many delicious calories. The extra layers of clothes that cause one to feel comforted. The windows open on a windy day and laying on the couch with a blanket has been the source of some of the best naps I’ve ever experienced. The pumpkin pies and family gatherings. The corn mazes. I love the color pallet of fall, the deep hues, rich in color. Seriously, it’s all just wonderful.

Most of all though, I love how my life happens in fall. As a teacher, summer is my time of adventure, I get to go anywhere, do anything, try everything I want, without worrying about my students and the lessons I need to plan. But summer is not my season of rest. Don’t get me wrong, my spirit feels rejuvenated and relaxed after a good summer. However, fall is the time when everything slows down. The students get into the routine of school again; all the beginning of the year, school craziness, calms down, and I get to live in this beautiful life God has called me to. In the fall I’m surrounded by responsibilites, lesson planning, church events, and spending time with family and friends on the weekend – a very scheduled life. There is something very sacred about this time of year though. A time when everything quiets down with a hum of life around it. It is easy to feel mundane when you see yourself doing the same things over and over again, if you’re not looking for the joy. There’s joy in doing the same things over and over again because you become consistent, well-practiced in what you do. There’s joy in the quiet moments you sip on pumpkin spice lattes with a friend. There’s joy in the crowded fall festivals and letting yourself eat a goodie you usually would refrain from. There’s joy in cheering your students or children on in their favorite sport. There’s joy in the marshmallows and bonfires, sitting surrounded by people you care about.

God created us to live a life here on Earth and while we are to live with eternity in mind, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t enjoy this life. There is a tactic that the enemy sends our way. The enemy wants us to believe that we cannot enjoy this life because it will mess with our eternity. This enemy wants us to be so consumed with worry over eternity and what we can do for it that we forget the simple things.

I struggled with this for such a long time. I was not secure in my place in Christ. This insecurity caused such turmoil when I realized I had been enjoying life in things that were temporal. Ephesians 2:8-9 says that we are saved by God’s grace. God’s grace is not something that just stops. it is renewed every morning (Lamentations 3:23). My friend, if you have given your life to Christ and have accepted Him as your Savior, you’re living eternity already. You are already living a life for Jesus, using your time to worship Him through the tasks that even seem mundane.

There are seasons when God will call you to adventurous things, things that are scary and maybe even life-threatening, but fall reminds us that God also calls us to seasons of rest and enjoying this life He created. God created us to live, to show joy in our everyday lives. To live with the peace that we are saved. That peace and joy will shed light into the people around you. They will ask why you can enjoy life so easily. And God’s love is the answer. Living everyday life with the joy of Christ, with the peace of salvation, is a great testimony for the people around you to see.

Ecclesiastes 3:1

“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.”

Realize that Christ is your security. He has created you to love through the things you do each day. You can worship Him through your actions: having coffee with a friend, giving your best at work, loving the people around you. You are in this season for a reason, and it is a chance for you to grow.

Here’s The Truth

With everything going on around the world, I feel the need to speak life. I know we each have our personal hurts and problems we face in our day to day lives. With everything going on, I know a lot of people are hurting and feel vulnerable because their hurt is out for everyone to see. The hurt is amplified all around us. No matter what you are going through, let this life be spoken into you. These are truths.

  • Your cries are heard

I Peter 5:7

“Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

1 John 5:14-15

“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”

  • You are seen, your good parts, the parts that hurt, all of it.

Proverbs 15:3

The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.”

Job 34:21

“For His eyes are on the ways of man, and He sees all his steps.”

Psalms 33:13-15

The Lord looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.”

  • You are not alone

Deuteronomy 31:6

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”

1 Samuel 12:22

“For the Lord will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you His people.”

  • You are loved

John 15:9

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.”

Ephesians 2:4-6

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raise us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places with Christ Jesus.”

1 John 4:7-8

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

Here is the thing, my friend, you are loved, you are seen, you are heard, and you are not alone. I know life hurts. I know some nights you cry yourself to sleep. I know you fight and sometimes you cannot fight anymore. I know because I do too.

I felt the need to write all of this in mainly scriptures, because my words can encourage, but His Word can heal. His Word is what can provide peace. His Word is love. If you skipped over all of the scriptures, I ask you to read this last one. Know that you are precious in His eyes.

Psalms 139:13-16

“For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were not of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!”

 

My Crazy Bathroom Solution

For as long as I can remember, I knew I was supposed to read my Bible and pray every day… I’m sure you’re wondering what the title and reading my Bible has to do with each other, but just wait; you will see the connection here in a bit.

The struggle with these disciplines – reading my Bible and praying – has been going on for just as long as I have known of them. As I have grown, I have realized that reading my Bible and praying is not to be a habit but to be a part of an on-going relationship with Jesus. I love Jesus, I really do. However, a lot of the time, I love the idea of Him, more than I truly love Him. I hate admitting that, but it’s true. I want to love Him more, but my actions remind me that my heart still has a long way to go. You can see the lack of love in my heart in the mornings I push snooze instead of waking up to pray, the times I spend on Facebook when I could be reading His Word.

The last five years or so, I have tried harder than ever to build my relationship with Jesus; waking up early to give Him my mornings, praying a little extra here and there. I remember when I started really trying how I wished to live in my own house. How much easier would it be to dedicate time to Him if I could give a room over to being a personal “Me and Jesus” room? The room’s walls could be covered in prayers, and the floor with pillows, it would be without distractions, quiet and inviting. However, living on my own just hasn’t happened yet. I spent many times using this as an excuse.

“Oh I cannot focus; I’ll do better when I live on my own.”

“I cannot lay here on my bed and do devotions without falling asleep, God understands…”

And while all of this may have some legitimacy, it does not really have a weight against how Good God is and how I really need that time with Him.

When The War Room came out, that plea for a personal room for Me and Jesus really flooded my heart again. I sat on my bed, wishing for my own place so I could have a room with no distractions. Then it hit me, like a brick, the realization that I had a room with little to no distractions. I fought the idea, wrestling with how silly it seemed. I had to choose, though. Was my relationship with God worth all the silliness that others may see? (He is always worth it. ALWAYS)

I’m sure like many of my fellow adult friends still living with their parents, I love my home, it’s home. Yet, while it is the home I grew up in, it doesn’t really feel like mine. It’s my mom and dad’s house. I don’t go rearranging the furniture whenever I want, I don’t repaint a room when I decide I don’t like the color, it’s my parents’ house. I have two designated areas of the house that are mine to do with as I please, my bedroom and my bathroom. So I sat thinking about my future house and how one day I would have room that I could really focus on my devotions in. While I do not want to ever take hearing God’s voice lightly, I think that day He was the one to put an idea in my head. It was one of those moments when an idea so simple fixes an issue and you feel almost stupid for not thinking about it before.

My bathroom… How had I not given this one a thought before? My bathroom is small, doesn’t have a lot of distractions, and I could put up prayers and I could bring a pillow to sit on the floor! No, it isn’t the room I pictured in my future house, but do I really want to wait that long to spend time truly focused on God? Do I have that time to waste?

I did it. I made my bathroom into my War Room. I taped scriptures and prayers on the wall. And I bring my pillow in there when I go to pray and read the Bible.

I’m not sharing this so that you think I have finally conquered not getting up in the mornings and not spending time on Facebook instead of reading scripture. I’m sharing this because it took me forever it seemed to find a simple solution to my distraction problem. If me writing this helps you solve an issue like that or help bring you to a closer walk with Jesus, then I’ll share it. Maybe a bathroom isn’t your answer. Maybe you need a closet, or a corner in a room. Find what works for you. You don’t need to wait for a different chapter in life to be in a closer relationship with Jesus. Really, it is worth it.

I realized after a while that anyone who went to use my bathroom could see my personal prayers I had hung on the wall, but you know what? That is okay. God, many times, has called His people to a place vulnerability. Who am I to hide my needs behind a wall of confidence and “put-togetherness”? I do not know what you need to be closer to God, everyone is different. But whatever it is that you feel God nudging you to do, to give up, to rearrange, to draw closer to Him, it can only bring you more joy. I have felt God more in my small bathroom than I ever did sitting on my bed or somewhere else in the house. It helps me focus on Him. This is my journey. Now I ask that you seek and see what God has for you.