Lifestyle

FAITHFUL LIVING: Rejoice in season's change

The lifemaps of GOD are right, showing the way to joy.

The directions of GOD are plain and easy on the eyes.

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Psalm 19:7-9 in The Message Bible

Mornings are cooler and filled with dampness, making it necessary for me to slow my getaways ever so slightly as I must reach over to activate the windshield wipers and the defroster, then wait for the windows to clear. I’m also back to waking up at the unearthly hour of 4:45 a.m. to get my morning walk accomplished before heading to work at the local high school.

There are all those lunches that must be packed daily. The family calendar needing continual updating. The house cleaning that must be scheduled on Saturdays, also known as catch-up days — but for weeks have been lazy, sleep-in days, instead.

No longer can I sit on my porch in bare feet and pajamas, lazily contemplating life over a cup of iced coffee. No longer can I decide on a whim to bake banana bread or machine stitch a quilt square, just for the practice. There are fundraising meetings to attend and quick dinners to prepare. E-mails are abbreviated missives and cell phone conversations pared down to simply the facts, for the reminder ring is sounding — signaling to me that I had better get where I am going.

And yet, life is good. The pace has quickened, no doubt. It is darker and there is an undeniable chill in the air. But there are still homegrown tomatoes ripening on the kitchen counter. The bedroom windows remain cracked open, allowing fresh night air to venture in as it did all summer. I love chunky sweaters and I can again wear them in comfort.

Did I mention soup? I only love it during fall and winter. Same thing goes for stoves. Don’t mind stoking them when it’s cold. Neither do I mind wild rice and duck, venison and cider and apple butter when the time is right — like now.

There are also new joys to replace old sorrows. Take the newest member of the Klope family — who arrived with the name Oliver but who has promptly been nicknamed “Mr. O” because he is manly and moves with authority throughout his new home. But the delights that Mr. O now bring us could not have been imagined some weeks ago, when there were only tears. We did not want to bid good-bye to our darling cat called Bonnie Girl, who climbed our Christmas trees each year and wrapped her tiny arms around our necks in the middle of the night when we were far too engaged in dreaming to care.

That terrible day arrived with absolutely no warning. We imagined only an ear infection and some easily administered medication. This was not to be the case this time. Instead, we learned of a cancerous tumor, growing in an inoperable location. We were forced to face an unplanned and unwanted parting.

We were also given the opportunity some weeks later to rescue a shelter cat. We gathered our courage and took a chance, even though we worried initially that he might not like us. He might hide under our beds and not respond to our ways of loving him. We loved Bonnie and now we love Mr. O, but we love him differently. We love his manliness and his youthful energy. We love his orange stripes and his gold eyes that keep a careful watch over the caged birds living in the family room. We his purr that fills the hallway at night and the way he plops on his back for a tummy rub.

Best of all, we love the fact that the truths revealed in the book of Psalms have played out before our eyes. God gives us life maps and when we follow them we reap one of the greatest experiences in life — we reap joy. Far better than happiness, joy is reachable when change happens and we are not asking for it. There is joy when the sun is warming us into our inner depths and there is also joy to cheer hearts saddened by death and change.

Better still is the promise revealed in Psalms 28 that God is with us when it’s warm and when it’s chilly; when we are rejoicing and when our hearts are breaking. When change is welcome and when it’s forced upon us. Look what the Psalms says:

He proved he’s on my side; I’ve thrown my lot in with him.

Now I’m jumping for joy, and shouting and singing my thanks to him.

When we look at God’s faithfulness and make the decision to hand it all to Him — heart and soul, time and resources — there can be joy no matter what our circumstances.

Freeland writer Joan Bay Klope’s e-mail address is jbklope@hotmail.com.

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