(picture courtesy of guardianlv.com)
It was our turn to host the small group from church. Even though I wanted to keep the evening simple, the occasion was a motivator to be creative with food preparations, decor and planning a theme to discuss and pray around.
Fall, naturally, would be my focus for our November 1st evening. I searched through familiar recipes for old time favorites and perused Pinterest as nonchalantly as I could-trying to avoid this cyber idea-giant's power to suck me under a creative stupor-for some new and exciting way to use pumpkin. A pan of lasagna in the freezer would save time, so I would add interesting side dishes to keep the meal from being too just-like-any-other-Italian menu. The choices were made: homemade bread from New York Times with a dipping oil spices mix from a Carrabba's copycat recipe, fresh green salad with strawberries, walnuts and cranraisins, and my mom's apple salad recipe. The Pinterest savory pumpkin dip with crackers became the appetizer and an apple cake filled in for dessert.(Not the grand finale I had hoped for so will be booting out that recipe!)
I love decorating for the seasons but not enough to stash a huge closet full of stuff or to plan well enough ahead so I'm not just getting around to the bedecking as the season is expiring. Since this event was on the front end of autumn I could try out some of those stored away Pinterest board ideas and bedazzle the neighborhood with my Fall show.
This working gal needed to start early in the week for the shopping and gathering sessions --a stop at Aldi's over lunch on Tues., Kroger's after work on Wed, as much food prep as possible spread over any free evenings before the day of, and a woods walk scheduled to select splashes of color in leaf fronds and sprigs of berry clusters. In the midst of the busyness I prayed for calmness, creativity and sensibility, for I know how my ideas can mushroom to be bigger than my capabilities.
My husband came up with a topic for discussion, of letting go of not just the things that "easily beset us", but the good things that may need to change or be lopped off. Scripture that seemed fitting for that topic was Philippians 3:10-14:
10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Change might look like death, just as the leaves die and fall from the trees and everything turns brown. But in reality, much of living plants are actually just hibernating and will again become green and fertile in the new season of spring. In the Father's plan even this dying off process has it's beauty as we admire the bright colors of Fall. It can be the same in our lives. His beauty will shine through our times of change even though it may be an unpleasant, and unwelcomed interval in the journey.
Now the fun part of putting it all together. Here's what the front porch looked like:
And the table centerpiece:
I don't have a picture of the spread of food or the happy faces of our friends as they enjoyed the evening, butit was a great time of growing deeper in our relationships and considering where each of us is at in the seasons of our lives. One couple is facing a fight with cancer while Kevin and I are adjusting to our daughter, Amanda, and her family moving to Virginia. The sting of letting her go is especially hard for Dad. We ended the evening praying for each other and for our nation in its own season of change.
What about you? Any hard changes being forced on you, or choices you're making that require hard sacrifices? Keep on your smile and wear that colorful coat of God's love, patchworked with grace, strength and hope. How about this for some helpful advice?
1 Peter 4:8
The Message (MSG)
7-11 Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!