99 Days Left Until Christmas

 

There are 99 days, 0 hours, 31 minutes, and 47 seconds left until Christmas, as of a few seconds ago. That means that there are 106 days left in 2017. Time’s a-flyin’.

I’d settle for that fall weather to make a comeback. Today was not a friend to my sweat glands, which seem to work overtime when the weather gets hot and sticky. Also, it seems wrong to have 85 degree heat and pumpkin spice at the same time.

But I’m already looking forward to the season of dusting off my astounding Christmas movie and music collection and revisiting all my old favorites. I’m anticipating my first cup of cheg nog (which is chai + egg nog for the uninformed).

As always, I’m still on the hunt for the ultimate tacky Christmas sweater, so if you see one that makes sounds or lights up, let me know.

In the mean time, I’ll be the one sitting in the shade with my iced beverage, trying not to sweat to death.

PS The countdown is down to 99 days, 0 hours, 24 minutes, and 44 seconds in the time it took me to write all this.

I’m Ready for Fall (Again)

It’s still summer, or as I prefer to call it, the sweaty stinky weather season. I think I started sweating profusely on June 21 and have not stopped since.

I’m ready for fall.

There will be people who say that summer weather is best, and that 95 degrees with 110% humidity makes for a perfect day. Do not trust these people.

Also don’t trust the people who wear sweaters or jackets when it’s over 85 outside. I sweat even more even being around these people. Don’t they know it’s hot? Don’t they know that I’m about to have a heat stroke?

I love fall not only for the cooler temperatures. For me, autumn has a way of conjuring so many happy memories from my past. It has a way of bringing up faces and places that I hadn’t thought of in years.

Plus, there’s the added benefit of all things pumpkin spice, bonfires, hot tea, hayrides, s’mores, crisp breezes, leaves changing colors, and flannel (which I’ve always felt was like wearing an extended hug).

Sometimes I think I’d like to reverse hibernate. I could take an extended nap during the hotter months and wake up when the cool weather and crispness returns.

For those who are curious, there are 33 days, 16 hours, and 2 minutes left until the official start of fall season. Not that I’m counting or anything.

Monday Surprises

“Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity” (Henri Nouwen).

Even Mondays can hold a few good surprises if you know where (and how) to look.

Life is like that. Some of the most memorable blessings often come in disguise and the best joys can come in the guise of heartbreak. Even the most mundane moments can contain the best surprises.

Here are a few of the surprises I encountered on this Monday, October 10, 2016.

  1. If I had to pick and ideal weather climate, I think I’d pick a place where the temperature and  wind and everything else was just like today. It was picture perfect.
  2. A friend of mine forsook our normal Starbucks meeting place in favor of some fantastic Thai food at Siam Pad Thai in Cool Springs. I can’t recommend their pad thai highly enough.
  3. We went for a walk as the sun was setting. I don’t know what it is about twilight and dusk, but they are my favorite part of the day, especially on crisp autumn days,
  4. One of my favorite simple pleasures is sitting in my Jeep with the windows rolled down at any time of year other than the hottest part of summer and the coldest part of winter.
  5. Even as an adult, nothing beats good chocolate milk. Well, very few things, anyway.
  6. Even now, I’m counting down the days to the start of Advent and all things Christmas, not forgetting Halloween and Thanksgiving (which too often gets the retail shaft but is one of my personal favorites).

The old hymn gets it right when it tells us to count our many blessings and name them one by one. It’s the counting of blessings which makes gratitude possible and it’s the naming of them that releases the joy.

I almost forgot one. Soft beds with warm covers to huddle under with the ceiling fan on high even in the dead of winter. That’s also one of my favorites.

October 5, 2016

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower” (Albert Camus).

Is it really October? I still have a hard time wrapping my head around that little tidbit, especially when it got up to 88 today. To me, that’s not October weather.

I have to remember this is Tennessee, where if you don’t like the weather, you can stick around for a week and see all the other seasons so you can pick the one you like.

Still, my ideal October weather is in the low to mid-60’s during the day and crisp nights with an autumnal breeze. That makes for good bonfires and for good pumpkin spice everything. It also makes comfortable flannel wearing possible (and I have missed all my flannel).

Most of all, I just want to enjoy my life and not miss any of it for worrying about what’s been and what’s yet to come. I can’t control either one of those, so why obsess over them?

So there you have it. My ideal fall day involves hot frothy beverages, flannel, bonfires, s’mores, and a chill in the air with just the tiniest hint of frost. Oh, and maybe some color in the leaves before they flutter to the ground.

You can keep your sweaty summers with all the mosquitos. I’ll take fall, thank you very much.

“There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky, which through the summer is not heard or seen, as if it could not be, as if it had not been!” (Percy Bysshe Shelley)

 

October

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers” (L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables).

“I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house [Notebook, Oct. 10, 1842]” (Nathaniel Hawthorne, The American Notebook).

“Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love – that makes life and nature harmonise. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one’s very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. [Letter to Miss Lewis, Oct. 1, 1841]” (George Eliot, George Eliot’s Life, as Related in Her Letters and Journals – Volume 1).

I love October. It means the real beginning of Autumn.

I know that fall started officially on September 21, but it still felt like heat stroke weather in Tennessee. Now, it feels like fall.

Fall to me means temps with a high in the mid-60’s and a slightly overcast sky. It means the faintest smell of bonfires and hayrides and decaying leaves. It means nights that err on the chilly side with a brisk breeze blowing.

Hopefully, it will stay fall for a while and not rush on to winter or revert back to summer for a bit. I get the most nostalgic for places and people long gone during this season, but it’s also when my soul feels most calm and at ease.

I still have yet to partake of that pumpkin spice, but that will very soon be remedied. Stay tuned for more details.

 

 

Autumn Has Arrived

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Autumn is here.

I realize that Fall officially started a week ago, but the last two days have really felt like true Autumn. The cooler temperatures with the crisp breezes and just the faintest hint of the coming winter.

I have yet to partake of the pumpkin spice, but that will soon be remedied. I look forward to flannel, bonfires, s’mores, and a riot of colors on all the trees. I most look forward to not sweating profusely when I go walking on my lunch break.

For me, Fall is the season where I get nostalgic the most, where memories of my childhood come rushing back. I don’t really know why that is, but I like it.

I hope it lasts. I hope I get multiple chances to drive home with the windows down and good music playing. I hope to have many frothy beverages.

Most of all, I hope that all of us can learn to savor and not simply survive the days we are given. Learn to enjoy the small pleasures and the simple gifts.

Happy Fall, everyone!

 

Fall Preview? Almost

As I sat on the patio at Athens Family Restaurant, eating my delightful lamb bacon burger, I noticed that for a few brief moments it almost felt like fall. Almost.

It was still too warm to really be fall-ish weather, but when the sun hid behind the clouds and a friendly breeze was blowing, I could almost imagine leaves changing colors and bonfires blazing somewhere in the distance.

As eager as I am to get to Autumn, I am not as eager to throw away the last days of summer. I know that there are no rewind or pause buttons on the remote control of life. Once a part of your life is over, you can never go back.

That’s why I am learning to cherish each and every day. Even the ones in August where the heat and humidity leave me feeling like I stepped into a sauna every time I step outside. I don’t do hot weather as well as I used to, or maybe the humidity is worse than I remember. Either way, I’m not a fan.

Still, I know that I can find the hidden joys even on the hottest days and that giving thanks still unlocks the miracles even in the midst of the humidity. After all, any day that you’re still breathing and full of purpose is a good day, regardless of circumstances or the weather.

So as I type this, I have a snoring geriatric cat on the pillow next to me. It’s just another reminder to take time to enjoy the simple pleasures of this life, the little God-winks of each day.

Thank You, God, for the day and all it holds. Thank You that no matter what comes my way, You are more than sufficient to handle it and no matter how much I hold in my hands at the end of the day, You will always be enough. Amen.

 

I’m Dreaming of a Crisp Autumn

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I think I have been sweating non-stop since June. It’s been that hot. I believe that I am less tolerant of the heat than before, if that’s even possible.

What that means is this. I am officially ready for fall. I am officially and categorically and emphatically over summer. At least the 90+ degree weather part. And the 90% humidity.

I am ready for flannel and caramel apple spice. I’m ready for jackets and hot chocolate. I’m ready for crisp autumn breezes and leaves changing colors on the trees. I am ready to not sweat so much all the time. I’m ready for autumn.

I realize that I can’t realistically expect autumn temperatures until probably at least mid-October. I can dream of an early cool spell in August or September where the highs are in the 80’s instead of the 90’s. Maybe even the 70’s.

I suppose in the meantime I can watch movies like When Harry Met Sally that are set primarily during the autumn season. I can pray without ceasing that the air conditioning never goes out.

Only 65 more days until autumn (for those who are counting). Like me.

 

Hey Y’all, It’s Fall!

“There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! “(Romans 5:3-4, MSG)”

Today, September 23, is officially the first day of fall, or as those who prefer the pronunciation po-tah-to call it, “autumn.”

Whatever you call it, I love it. I love the brisk air and the leaves changing colors. I love bonfires, hayrides, and all things pumpkin spice.

Even more than that, I love that fall signifies change before winter comes. Change can be scary, but in God’s economy all change eventually leads to something good, due to the fact that He works all these things together for good for those who love Him.

I personally can’t wait to see what God will do next in my life.  I can’t wait to see what God will do next in the life of The Church at Avenue South. I can’t wait to see how He will stir up His Church all over the world to even greater deeds of love and sacrifice.

Even when the circumstances look as bleak as the tree limbs barren of leaves, we do not lose hope. We know that the same God who kept His promises throughout the history of the Bible and through the centuries won’t fail to keep them now. That’s a fact.

So bring on the mid-60’s temps. I’m ready. I’m also ready for flannel and jackets. I’m ready for hot dogs and s’mores over an open fire.

Bring it all on.

 

Hot Chicken on a Friday Night in Franklin

I had another first tonight.

I ate my very first hot chicken. Technically, it was medium hot and it was listed as “crybaby,” but I’ve discovered that was as hot as I want to go. I was sweating and dabbing myself with a napkin and saying things like, “Lawd, have mercy.” I felt like Madea in one of those Tyler Perry movies.

FYI: They have four levels of hot chicken, with the hottest requiring a signed waiver before you eat it. I kid you not. As the famous philosopher Paris Hilton said, “That’s hot.”

I somehow managed to get diverted on my walk back to Five Points on Main Street. I ended up walking through an area that was a little sketchier than I normally like, but I kept walking until I saw something familiar– good ol’ 11th Ave N.

From there, I was good. Maybe there’s a life lesson in that? I’ll leave it for you to decide.

I worked my way over to Fair Street, my favorite place to walk in all of Franklin, and even looked for the friendly cat that I saw a few weeks back. Alas, he wasn’t there.

I spent time in the dark in my favorite church building– St. Paul’s. After all that hot chicken and all that walking and sweating, it was probably best that I was alone.

I got my iced beverage from Frothy Monkey– I wanted pumpkin spice or something else fall-ish, but I settled for hazelnut. Still, I had my Harper Lee book, so it was all good.

If I ever win the lottery (or some rich distant relative leaves all his dough to me), I’d love nothing better than to live in one of the old houses either on Main Street or one of the nearby roads. I’d be super-trendy in my red Mini-Cooper with my Mac Book Pro and my downtown Franklin cottage. Someone should definitely make that happen.

But for now, I’ll just continue to live in the moment and count my blessings and give thanks for another day to be alive and celebrate the God who always knows how to give the best gifts to His children.