“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” Ephesians 3:20
Fall has arrived, arraying the trees with reds, yellows, and oranges, while fields turn golden as harvest is nearing completion. My favorite farmer’s markets are filled with pumpkins, squash, and apples. Ingredients for soups and chili fill my pantry shelves. My heart echoes the same sentiments of Anne in L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
Although I appreciate all the seasons, autumn is my absolute favorite. I have fond memories of going to Waldo Apple Orchard as a child and eating a caramel apple. I love hiking, hearing the crunch as I step joyously through the leaves. I love wearing warm, cozy clothing and sipping mulled apple cider. It stands to reason that I also love to decorate my home for fall.
My fall decorating started off very humbly. Having a limited budget, I started with a homemade leaf garland. My husband and I cut out hundreds of leaves in different fall shades of construction paper. We then misted them with water, crumpled them and let them dry. After attaching them to twine, the leaf garlands graced our home. For years, this was our only fall decoration.
Then I discovered Hobby Lobby. As I had more disposable income, slowly I started adding to my fall decorations. This included a more elaborate leaf garland, some fall signs and even a few critters. I continued to make some of my own decorations, including a thankful tree and a short acorn garland to hang above my kitchen sink. My fall décor collection now fills two large storage crates. Every year, shortly after Labor Day, my home transitions into autumn while “Punky Pumpkin” by Rosemary Clooney plays. When its all done, I sigh deeply, ready to embrace the cooler weather and my fall traditions.
For the past few years, I have attempted, unsuccessfully, to decorate my front porch. To be honest, my “porch” is not really a porch at all but just a small slab of cement in front of my door, lacking any curb appeal. In summer, I typically have a few flowerpots greeting guests as they enter my home. As the weather cools, I place a few pumpkins and mums on my front porch to create a fall ambience. For some reason, my fall ambience seems to fall flat. Being a bit spatially challenged, my pumpkins and gourds are either too small or too few and my mums are too low or wither quickly because I forget to water them.
This year, I decided to go big. Instead of grocery store mums, I went out to a local Mennonite market and purchased two large pots of bright yellow and wine-colored mums. I then went to my favorite farm stand for pumpkins. It is such a great time to be alive, where we are no longer limited to only traditional orange pumpkins! Now, they come in all shades, including white, green, gray and my favorite “warty pink”! I gathered a few pumpkins and gourds and headed home. As I started decorating the porch with my treasures, I realized something was still missing. A week later, I made a second trip, purchasing more pumpkins along with a small hay bale. As I loaded them in the car, I realized I might have gone a tad bit overboard. In jest, I sent my husband a text saying, “Remember how much you love me.” After unloading the stash and rearranging my porch, I realized I needed one more small orange pumpkin to make it complete. So, I made one more trip, grabbing the last pumpkin (or two), to complete my porch display.
When all was said and done, I somehow ended up with thirteen pumpkins and gourds on my small porch. I won’t tell you how many fake pumpkins are inside my home or you might start to think I have a problem. Now, I know the current philosophy is “less is more”. There are books written about the concept of minimalism along with new vocabulary like “Konmari Method” and “Capsule wardrobe”, encouraging us to be mindful of how much stuff we have. In fact, the opposite of minimalism is looked down upon. We have reality shows depicting the shocking lives of hoarders! Thrift, resale, and vintage stores abound, helping us to get rid of our excess “stuff”. Even restaurant menus and food labels are embracing the concept of simplicity with emphasis on fewer but better ingredients.
Even as a Christian, we are encouraged to live in moderation. Paul challenges Christians in Philippians 4:5 by saying, “Let your moderation be known unto all men.” He also says in Galatians 5:23 that temperance is one of the fruits of the spirit. Temperance is defined as self-control, and no one could argue that a hoarder is modeling that fruit of the spirit. In 1 Timothy 6:6, God also encourages us to live in contentment by linking it to godliness, concluding that we will have great gain. The scripture continues in verse seven with Paul’s words, “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” This implies that we must be careful not to attach ourselves to “stuff”. God clearly wants us to avoid materialism!
For the Christian, the contrast to materialism is living an abundant life. Jesus told a crowd of Pharisees in John 10:10, “…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly”. Paul reiterates Jesus’ words in Ephesians 3:20, “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” Jesus came so that we can live an abundant life. This life is not measured in possessions or status, but rather an abundance of love, peace, joy, and hope. We can show unconditional love to others, not because we are self-righteous, but because God has shown us love. We can have abundant peace in our relationships, not through the absence of conflict, but because we know that God will work it all out for our good. We can have joy overflowing in all situations, not through a lack of sadness, but joy in knowing that God has it all under control. We can have abundant hope in desperate situations, not by being eternal optimists, but because our hope is not in this world but in heaven to come.
My sweet mother-in-law had a dismal view of fall, she saw it as a season of dying. She dreaded the cold Illinois winters, and saw the changing of leaves as the first indication that winter was on its way. I always found her perspective a little sad and depressing. From my perspective, fall is the opposite of dying. It is the time to celebrate the abundance of our natural world though harvest and the plethora of colors on display. The fruit of the harvest spilling from the cornucopia, the horn of plenty, depicts the season so well! Furthermore, fall climaxes with Thanksgiving when we acknowledge all of God’s blessings at a meal with family and friends. I may have gone a little overboard with my pumpkins this year, but maybe, just maybe, it is a reminder to us all of God’s desire for us to live in abundance!