“The grass withers and the flowers fail, but the word of our God endures forever.” Isaiah 40:8
It is the beginning of November with peak fall colors painting the landscape in southern PA. The brisk air invigorates me as I go about my daily walk, pausing occasionally to pick up a perfect leaf flaming in red and orange. I share Emily Bronte’s sentiment that “Every leaf speaks bliss to me/ Fluttering from the autumn tree.” This has always been, and will always be, my favorite season. The colors, smells, tastes and textures of autumn create this atmosphere of energy coupled with a sense of coziness that is hard to describe. It’s the time of the year when I wish life was a musical and I could sing about pumpkins, bonfires, and sweaters. As long as I live, I will never stop extolling the virtues of fall.
In looking back at previous blogs, I realized that I have written opposing perspectives relating to fall. In 2019, I wrote To Everything there is a Season about learning to let things go. In 2020, I wrote about Autumn Abundance to remind myself of the importance of living an abundant life. In many ways, I think autumn is the season where we handle dichotomies with the most ease in our natural rhythms. The temperatures are dipping, as we welcome cozy sweaters and warm blankets. Trees drop their leaves, while squirrels dash to preserve seeds that may become future trees. The final days of harvest fill bins at the markets, while fields have become barren wastelands. The flowers on my patio slowly wither and die back while forests create the most magical displays of colors that I could ever hope to put in a vase!
The deeper significance of these dichotomies is in remembering that even as things die, there is still beauty to be found somewhere. I’ve seen this play out in my life repeatedly. This summer was a hard season due to some medical issues we faced. Vacations were cancelled, some dreams were put on hold, and goals had to be redefined. Yet, in the middle of the hardship, my husband and I managed to pick blueberries at Yellow Hill Farm, a local business that is as delightful as its name. I also made some syrup and froze some berries to be used later.
Last week, we again faced some hard situations we have little control over. I admit, I was feeling stressed and a bit hopeless. As we ran some errands last Saturday, my mind was whirling around, analyzing the situations. and coming up with worst-case scenarios in my head. One of these errands including picking up a variety of apples at a local orchard. I went to bed that night, desperate for a sign that God was hearing my heartache.
That Sunday, God ministered to me in a deep way in my Life Group, the small groups our church uses to foster community and spiritual growth. After asking my friends to pray with me, I felt God was comforting me and reminding me that He was orchestrating things behind the scenes. Although nothing has changed and the situations remain uncertain, I have a peace that God IS working!
Monday morning, I took the blueberries of my hard summer and the apples of my challenging Autumn weekend and made what I call a taste from heaven: Blueberry Vanilla Applesauce. I have been known to hide bags of this in the freezer and pull them out in secret, hoping my family won’t know it’s available. It takes what was a boring childhood staple and, elevates it to a decadent treat for adults. As I was stirring the pot, the beautiful bluish-purple sauce bubbled, creating a combination of flavors only God could imagine. I then realized that my two hard seasons had made something beautiful.
Below I am sharing this simple recipe. I hope as you make this recipe, it reminds you of some of the hard moments in your life that God has made beautiful. And if, like me, you are still facing hard moments, that it reminds you that God is still working. Lysa Terkeurst wrote this thought in “Forgiving What You Can’t Forget”: “What things look like from an earthly perspective God sees differently.” I see hard situations, but God sees growth and beauty!
Blueberry Vanilla Apple Sauce
4 lbs. of apples, I use a variety of sweet and tart apples, peeled, cored, and diced (around 12 cups); 2 c. blueberries, fresh or frozen; 1 T. fresh lemon juice; 1/2 c. unsweetened apple cider; 1T. vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Bring liquid in bottom of pot to a boil over medium high heat. After it comes to a boil, lower to medium heat and cover, cooking for 45-60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes until apples are soft. If you want a smooth apple sauce blend in batches in a food processor. I prefer mine a little chunky. Freezes well for a year.