Autumn is officially "just around the corner," and it's already begun to make an appearance. There are some leaves turning here .. those on sumac bushes and our black gum tree out near the mailbox.
The photo here was taken of some dogwood trees last fall in the mountains of Tennessee. We had gone for a little retreat of our own and went to Fairhaven, a peaceful getaway for anyone, but particularly built for and reaching out to those in ministry.
It certainly is a quiet, lovely place with wonderful chalets and a rustic, welcoming lodge. Even the drive up the mountain to the lodge is a feast for the eyes.
While there, we took time to reflect on the busy months of the earlier part of that year -- as a couple, as parents, as pastor and wife in the ministry, and as grandparents (we'd just received news of our daughter's pregnancy at the time.)
That trip was a blessing in so many ways. The staff at Fairhaven were so kind and accomodating. A nice-sized library of games, books and puzzles were on loan to anyone who wished to use them. A roaring fireplace was in the main lobby with plenty of rocking chairs waiting for visitors to sit and chat.
The chalets had one master bedroom, a full kitchen, nice-sized livingroom/dining combo and an upper level with twin beds. The sofa made out into a bed, too, so it was possible to sleep six people comfortably.
Our chalet was literally backed up to a mountainside. Before us, outside the picture window, we could see the glorious hills -- their peaks and valleys taking on various hues at differnt times of the day or evening.
Early mornings, we would take a cup of hot cappuccino or tea out on the deck and listen to the birds greet the day. Below us, a pond beckoned with a cheery red rowboat tethered to the bank. A duck family floated, waddled and quacked, claiming their rightful territory. Streams and creeks were abundant in the area and made a musical backdrop as they dabbled or dashed over moss-covered stones.
Autumn is a wonderful time for retreats and mini-vacations. Even a short drive through the countryside refreshes the body, mind and spirit. God's creation is all around us, and when He adorns it with the colors of autumn, we need to take notice!
Take your little ones outdoors to collect pretty leaves and save some well-ribbed ones for crayon rubbings. Introduce the art (and work) of raking leaves by promising your children a chance to jump in the pile after it gets "this high." Even adults can hardly resist the urge to revisit childhood and romp a bit.
Our two older ones loved to bury their brother in a pile and then come get me. "Mom, have you seen Kevin anywhere?" I'd stall a bit, giving our 3-year old time to bolt upright and holler, "Here I am!"
Autumn is also a great time for hikes, bike rides, roasting marshmallows and cozying up to a fire on the hearth -- or sitting around a snapping bonfire outdoors. The smells and sights in autumn are gifts from our Lord.
It is His reminder to us that even though life on this earth is temporary, it is full of beautiful moments. As we lift our hearts and voices in praise to Him, we are refreshed and He is glorified. Autumn reminds us to slow down and enjoy the last few weeks of beauty and wonder before the trees are stripped of color.
I hope you and your loved ones have a blessed autumn!