a world where there are octobers.

1 Oct

Octobers

Last night was spent like a lot of other nights here in Gainesville – gathered around a table made out of a door with friends at a house nicknamed “The House with the Yellow Door” (so named not for the table, but for its actual entryway.) We’re pretty good at finding any reason to celebrate, and last night was no exception… we were welcoming Autumn with a night of “Pumpkin Mania” – carving pumpkins while we indulged in pumpkin treats – pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin beer, even pumpkin martinis. It was pretty fabulous.

pumpkin mania

Tonight on my run I stopped for probably a solid four minutes to stand and stare at the way the light was hitting a maple tree whose leaves are already brilliantly red.

Some of you might have noticed my Facebook status today:

fb status

Yep, I LOVE the season of fall. And judging by all of the other posts out there on the interwebs, it’s safe to say many of you do as well. It’s a season that’s easy to be excited about: football, outdoor fun, special pumpkin flavored food and drinks, a break from the heat, the clothes… oh, don’t even get me started on the whimsy of scarves and boots and hats and layers.

When fall comes there’s just this magic in the air that’s hard to pinpoint or put into words. And today as I was basking in the goodness that is the first day of October I started rolling around in my mind, what exactly is it that makes fall so special? Aside from the pumpkin spice lattes and watching SEC football every Saturday, what is it that really stirs my spirit in the fall? Why is it that something in my heart comes alive as the leaves begin to turn?

I think it’s because fall reflects some of the innermost places of our hearts. Our deep longings and desires, the things that we were meant to know and want and walk in. Here’s what I mean…

Fall is a season of abundance. 

It’s not a coincidence that fall comes with laden tables and feasts. It’s the harvest season, which traditionally means that food is plentiful, and as harvest winds down, so does work… which means there’s more time to enjoy the fruits of your labor – literally. In older times, people enjoyed the abundance of available fresh food before preserving, storing and rationing it for the winter. I think that even though we now enjoy the blessings of modern agriculture, technology and transportation, there’s still something about the harvest season – the season of abundance – that resonates with us. I think that the way we gather around the table in the fall to enjoy good food and great company hints at the abundance that we were designed to long for.

feast

Everything is richer in the fall. 

Colors are deep and saturated- burgundy, burnt orange, sienna. Flavors are full of spices and things that are toasted and roasted to bring out the fullness. Textures are exaggerated and extreme – plush blankets, fuzzy flannel, scratchy burlap. We experience this season with all of our senses. Nothing is half-way, and it speaks to the richness we long for in every area of our lives.

fall collage

The splendor of fall is uncomparable. 

Nature is just spectacular. I mean, come on. Our souls leap as creation bursts forth and brags about the One who created it.

leaves

Fall reminds us of the promise of Life.

Yeah, fall can be bittersweet because we all know what’s coming after the excitement of the newly crisp air and the pumpkin lattes grow stale… The cold, dormant season where life gets sucked out of beach lovers and annual flowers. But I think that deep down we appreciate fall because it reflects the rhythm of life. We know that things have to die down so that new life can come. That’s just how it works. It’s how it has always worked. And the most beautiful part is the promise that lies ahead. That life is coming. That Resurrection will happen. And so as the air and the colors change, I think our hearts leap a little with the reminder: seasons change. Death happens. But life comes. It always comes.

throwing leaves

So yeah, me too, Anne of Green Gables. I’m also so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.

Happy fall, y’all.

pumpkins

From Below the Mountain Top

26 Sep

A few weeks ago I sat around the dinner table with a wine glass in hand toasting to the past and the present. These friends and I had reason to celebrate – we’d been back from the World Race for one exactly one year. As we clinked glasses, broke bread and reminisced about the best and worst of times traveling around the world I looked around and marveled at how different life is this year.

That night I sat at the table across from a friend who the year before I was starting a brand new relationship with. This year though, we’re just friends. It seemed like yesterday our African diet consisted of the most simple carbohydrates and we lifted cans of just ok african beer. On this night the food was rich, abundant, and nutritious and the wine flowed freely. Just over a year ago we were dirty and disconnected from the world as we were having crazy adventures in Africa, but that evening we were freshly showered, our cell phones by our plates so we could Instagram at any moment, sitting around a dinner table in small town Georgia. Yep, life is different.

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I sat at that table with friends that have become like family reflecting on the incredible year of transformation we experienced overseas together as well as the year that’s passed since then.

This was a year of transformation too, but not the same kind. Not the mountaintop, snap a pic and tell the story without saying a word kind of transformation. This year has been different. It’s been the gritty, subtle, in the trenches kind. The looking for Jesus in the middle of the muck kind. The kind that in the center of it you don’t think anything is happening and then suddenly you look up and are astonished at all the Lord has done while you were busy searching for Him.

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In some ways I think maybe I’m still in the middle of that. Maybe that’s why it’s been so hard to write lately – to tell the story of this year (you may have noticed the lack of posts.) Because the last year has been gritty. And subtle. And different than I ever expected it to be. Everything has been filled with nuance – my relationship with the Lord, the way I’m growing, the decisions I’m making. It doesn’t feel glamorous and to be honest, sometimes it doesn’t seem significant. And so it’s been hard to share the story.

But I think that it’s been in this place of nuance that I’ve started to encounter God in a new way. That I’ve started to see Him for the actual Constant that He is. Because the truth is He’s not just a Top of the Mountain God. He’s in the dirt and the grit and the grime too. He’s in the mundane. It was easy to see and feel and hear the Lord when I was preaching at a different revival every afternoon in Africa. Or when my life was being turned upside down every time I encountered another broken child.

But what about those days that I just sit and stare at the ceiling and wonder where God is and what the hell He’s doing in my life? This year has had a lot of those moments. And I think it’s actually moving me more toward maturity and fullness and intimacy. Because I’ve learned to meet Him there, too.

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It’s not that this year hasn’t been good. Oh, there have been some sweet moments. Lots of joy and laughter and feeling so grateful and filled up. It’s been a good year. But it’s just been different.

I’m thankful for the year that’s passed since coming home from the Race. I’m thankful that the Lord has become more real in the every day. That he’s spoken to me in whispers and small ways. That even when I was in the trenches, He was there.

So here’s to that kind of transformation. The kind that happens when we aren’t looking and when we can’t see it. The kind that happens in the subtlety of everyday life and the grit and the trenches. It’s different than the mountaintop, but it’s just as good, for its own reasons.

Cheers, and happy (late) anniversary, B Squad.

highest hopes

13 Jul

Today starts my first Adventures in Missions training camp as a staff member. Today, 250 young people converge on a college campus to begin preparing their hearts and their minds to launch as missionaries to the nations. Sixty of them are college students who will go on a nine month trip called Passport: Immersion. And get this – I’m in charge of them. For training camp as well as the whole time they’re on the field. It’s crazy. And exciting. And exactly what I’ve been looking forward to.

As I type this I’m watching car fulls world racers and passporters roll up. They are decked out head to toe in their squad’s color – either red, orange, blue, green or purple. Their packs stuffed to the brim with everything they might need, and the look in their eyes is one that I love seeing… a little uncertain, but full of excitement, expectation, and most of all… hope.

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I love this day – the first day of training camp. There is an awareness that is swirling in the air – something tangible that speaks of the new season that is about to break open for these people. And everyone here who has gone before them knows that once that season begins, nothing will ever be the same.

It seems especially fitting because the same thing is swirling in my life. The same excitement, a tiny bit of uncertainty, abundant expectation and most of all… hope. Lots of hope.

If fact, as this new season begins, the Lord has asked me not just to hope, but to dust off my highest hopes. To pull them back off of the shelf that I put them on and open them up and live in the middle of them.

And so that’s what I’m doing.

And this week, training camp offers me the perfect setting to live in the hope. Surrounded by 250 people who are leaking it everywhere, how can I not?

moving for a bit

7 Oct

While I’m on the World Race I’ll only be blogging from my official WR blog. Follow me there. And when I return, I’ll be back here. Until then…

http://reneedurham.theworldrace.org

Peace.

Living the Questions

2 Jun

i beg you… to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. and the point is, to live everything. live the questions now. perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer…

(rainer maria rilke)

Live the questions – it’s better that way.

(i’m working on it.)

-R