I love fall – cozy-cool weather, comfort food, quilts and sweaters, flannel pajamas. Fall is a time of turning inward, spending those quiet evenings at home feeling content and thoughtful.

Fall is also the time to prepare for the winter months ahead.

When I was a single mom, life became more complicated in winter. Cars wouldn’t start. Snow drifted over driveways. Getting up in the morning to go to work or school felt more difficult and treacherous. But over the years, I learned there were a few things I could do to prepare for the approaching winter.

I got my car’s oil changed, rotated the tires, had the battery and fluids checked. I provided the best maintenance I could to ensure my car would start on that first cold morning.

I stocked the car with shovel, blankets, ice melt, a phone charger; just in case it didn’t start somewhere and I had to wait a while for a tow truck to arrive.

I put away toys from the yard and chairs from the patio before they became covered in the first unexpected snowfall of the season.

I stocked my kitchen with storable food: peanut butter and crackers, macaroni and cheese, frozen pizzas and powdered milk; because after skidding home from work through a snow storm, I didn’t want to have to go back out to buy groceries for dinner. I tried to always keep extra food in my home for those nights I didn’t want to venture out into the cold.

Likewise, I stored up soap, shampoo, and laundry detergent, extra boxes of tissues, cough medicine, and children’s fever reducer; because in bitterly cold conditions, I didn’t want to have to drag a sick child to the pharmacy to buy cough medicine.

I tried to buy my daughter’s winter coats, snow pants and boots (in a size too large) on sale the previous spring. Then in the fall, all I had to do was pull winter clothes, hats, and gloves out of storage bins.

I squirreled away entertainment for cozy nights at home: books, magazines, movies, puzzles, coloring books. I reminded myself that winter is the time to enjoy and appreciate spending quiet evenings around the table together.

I love the quiet comforts of fall: early sunsets, time to read and talk, time to consider the present and contemplate the future. Fall is the season to prepare for months of winter rest before the happy new activity of spring.

What do you do to prepare for each season? What can you do this fall to prepare for the coming winter?

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My daughter and I created our own “On the Edge” masterpieces at one of those “paint your own” places, where a young instructor in paint-spattered sneakers patiently prompted us through the steps. I dried the surface with a hairdryer, then carefully carried the canvas home and hung it on my office wall. It reminds me that when darkness looms and storm winds blow, God remains unmoved. It is by faith that we cling to him and his promises.

When tempests howl and threaten to throw us down from our foundations, there are a few things we can do to stand strong on our faith in God.

Pray. Sometimes it is difficult to praise God in the midst of our troubles, but the Bible says we should thank God for our challenges because hard times increase our strength. Trials produce patience and prepare us for greater work to come.

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (I Thessalonians 5:18).

Help others. When it seems hardest for us to move forward, it is time to reach out and lift up another person who is struggling. When we know we have people counting on our help, we are given new purpose and reason to forge ahead.

“Through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13).

Trust God. When we feel burdened with worry and uncertainty, we can know that God holds every outcome in his hands. We can choose to believe that everything happens for a reason and every circumstance offers us a lesson to be learned.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Believe we are loved. Despite the concerns and struggles of our lives, God’s word declares his unending love and compassion for all people. No matter the depth of the problems we face, we know we cannot be separated from the love of God.

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:38-39).

Throughout the storms that batter our lives; through death, divorce, disaster, or crushing disappointment; through every time and season of tempest or turmoil, God is ever-present. His love is always promised, and his faithfulness never fails.

Today I pray you hold tightly to the faith that holds us in return.

What helps you hold onto your faith in God? How do you know you have a firm foundation in him?

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Today I pray that you greet each changing season of your life with grace and hope for the future.

May you know that God is with you through warm and sunny days or dark and chilly nights.

May you always reveal your best and brightest colors.

May you feel the comfort and warmth of God’s presence and the support of people you love.

This autumn season, I pray that you move forward into a rich and rewarding time of fulfillment and joy.

What are your prayers for this fall? How do you display your colors to the world?

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“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

Today may you possess the confidence that comes from knowing you are valuable to God.

May you feel the certainty that God is watching over you always.

May you believe you are capable of all things through Christ who gives you strength.

May you daily be aware of the God who holds you lovingly in his care.

Today I pray you know the peace of God’s presence and feel his unwavering love. Know that you are the cherished child of our Father in Heaven.

Amen.

What are you praying for today? How do you recognize the peace that faith in God gives?

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2

The bell jingled when we opened the door. We walked through narrow aisles, between shelves piled high with teacups and toy tractors. We passed towering stacks of cookbooks and photographs, angled through crooked passageways to rooms overflowing with tools and jewelry.

I love shopping for antiques in quiet corners of dusty shops. I collect pitchers, and I love to discover a unique and valuable treasure that someone else has left behind. I pluck my prize from the dust and disorder of the cluttered shelf, clean the piece carefully in my kitchen sink, and proudly display it atop my kitchen cabinet. I enjoy the unique beauty of each piece I bring home, and I am grateful I can give each one a new place and new beginning in my possession.

It occurs to me that God performs a similar function in our lives. He sees each of us as useful and valuable, an original piece of unique beauty. He lifts us from the disarray and uncertainty of our lives and cleans us carefully in his loving hands. God sets us where he can enjoy our presence and appreciate us as his cherished treasure. He gives each follower a new life in a new home, where we begin again with new place and purpose.

I enjoy antique shopping because I love to find the pieces other people leave behind. I am grateful because I know God has seen my value and he has claimed me for his own.

Do you know your own unique worth? Do you realize how God treasures you?

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I have been back at the sewing machine. The hum of the needle feels peaceful and relaxing. I am rewarded when the pieces I’ve patiently cut from old pajama pants come together to form a new and original finished piece.

My pattern of choice is usually boxy squares. The straight lines are easy to sew, and my projects fly together quickly. I realize my preference for squares indicates a need to fill my life with neatly arranged corners and angles. Random sizes and shapes of material are cut down into manageable blocks that neatly stack and form straight corridors. My masterpiece of quiltwork included old sweatshirts and nightgowns and now covers the daybed in my office.

God does similar work within our lives. He disassembles the worn and ragged areas, cuts away the excess borders that no longer work or fit. He rearranges the pieces to form a new and original pattern, then he carefully stitches us together again to form a greater and more colorful whole. God uses the scraps that would be discarded by others, and recreates our lives into something useful, new, and beautiful.

When we allow God to shape the fabric of our existence, he makes our lives more manageable. He forms the straight lights and corridors that lead us where he wants us to go. Under God’s constructive hands, everyone can be remade with a new purpose: to warm, embrace and comfort others, to cover with softness the others in our care.

We are all like quilts, and God is our Creator. He cuts the pattern and places the pieces into his great and masterful design.

 

How has your life been remade in God’s hands? How have you become a new and useful masterpiece?

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Father’s Day can be a difficult time for many single moms. We may be dealing with conflict and drama with our children’s fathers, or we may hold unresolved issues with our own father figures.

But one Father is always present and always cares for his children. He is always loving, concerned, comforting, and compassionate. One father never fails, never leaves, never turns his back. He always listens, always responds, always helps.

“He chose us . . . before the foundation of the world . . . having predestined us to adoption as [children] by Jesus Christ to himself” (Ephesians 1:4-5).

It does not matter where we were born or who raised us. God adopts us as his children and welcomes us into his loving family. We can know we are accepted as his cherished children because he loves us all.

This Father’s Day, I am thanking God the Father who cares for all his children. I am grateful for the Father who loves us every day.

How have you thanked God this Father’s Day? How do you feel about being one of God’s cherished children?

 

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