I listen to the crackle of the campfire in front of me as my husband and I sit and watch the logs slowly burn and sparks fly high into the sky. Fall evenings by the river are ones to slow down in and appreciate together. The nostalgia of past memories are caught inside me as I think back to years when the feet of a little boy sat next to me watching the campfire and roasting marshmallows, anxious to put the toasted marshmallow and Hershey’s chocolate on the Graham cracker, top it off with another Graham, and then take that first bite. That oh-so delicious taste I can taste as the sun descends in the sky across the river from where I sit on this evening. There is always something beautiful that can be found on the other side of change.
Many years later the same feet of the little boy, but all grown now, were taking him off in a different direction as I sat by the warmth of the fire. I reminisced about the campfires of long ago and enjoyed the memories as they tugged quietly within my heart. I sit on my camp chair, look down at the grass and see one small, yellow leaf near my feet, resting from its journey from a nearby tree. I pick it up and hold it in my hand. I think to myself how this is simply the beginning of a new season of vibrancy. It has always felt too soon for me; the change of seasons, that is. I always find myself unready for the season that comes with the falling of the leaves, yet I knew I had to adjust to the redesign in how it colored my world.
Lingering beside the campfire for a few minutes longer, I found myself lost again in the nostalgia of the days when picnics with my 5-year old son were often held by the river and when he would say, “Come swing with me, Mama”, running out the back door for the swing set and wanting me to follow him. Those precious days of carefree life, picnics, and walks by the river to explore and see what we could find are now a distant memory. My walks by the river this year did not include a little boy anymore, but they did include the grown up boy’s dog, Cookie, and his childhood Australian Shepherd dog, Sophie, as they wandered through the edges of their home here and found places to explore. In walking with them I found beauty tucked along the edges of the woods where the wildflowers grew tall by the river’s edge.
I know I am not in control of the seasons as they come and go and realize I am not always ready for, or even want, the eventuality that comes when the leaves begin their falling from the trees in my yard or from the places in my heart. The one small yellow leaf I found is but a reminder of the fall season that is here, bringing with it much more change than just the coloring and falling of the leaves. It has brought with it a different world with the impact of COVID-19 and the reshaping of my life within its reality. The colors of life became different within its realm, and my attitude has had to shift with every day, every news report I read, every uncertain moment, as well as every place of beauty I have intentionally walked toward to fight against a pull of discouragement.
I know there is beauty to be found in every season, even this one. I have experienced three incredible things on the other side of change ~ hope, a heart closer to God, and healing:
Hope on the other side of change
In looking at the beauty of a flower or a sunset and knowing the creation of God was evident in what I set my eyes upon, because God could create this beauty, I knew He would also walk with me through uncertain seasons. I have found the way I walk through the stretching and ever changing times makes a big difference in how I find and hold on to hope.
In the last six years, I have found hope while learning how to live as an empty nester and pray continuously for my son who grew up and left home early. Hope was found in the time of selling the business my husband and I owned for 21 years without knowing all the next steps ahead, including new career changes for both of us. I held on to hope as I sat in a hospital room from time to time in the past year and a half while I watched my husband suffer physical pain and continued to ask God for his healing. I have found hope while living life in the middle of the ongoing pandemic where I have experienced God’s provision for my family. When my husband got sick, our son returned home to live, the unexpected gift of his being here for another season or more is one of the blessings I’m grateful for. I’m also grateful for the good days my husband has and the decrease in his daily pain level throughout this year. Oh, how I have fought against the seasons that came when the leaves would fall and also against the falling pieces left inside my heart! Each time, however, I felt God was saying to me, “I will get you through. Just trust Me. Put your hope in who I am and not in your circumstances.” I did, even when it was hard. I put my hope in Him. “Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.” Hebrews 10:23 NLT
Heart drawn closer to God
A heart drawn closer to God ~ What made the difference for me was choosing to embrace a closer walk with God in the middle of each season. No matter what the situation, when I sat myself down in the middle of His love for me, I drew closer to Him and adjusted my attitude to look to Him for my strength and my hope. “Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you…” James 4:8 NLT
Healing on the other side of change
I began to find healing in seasons where change was rampant and I felt like I was blowing away like the one small yellow leaf held in my hand by the campfire. I started looking for God in something beautiful each day. My heart began to heal as I depended on the Word of God, which says, “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord is the one who goes before you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor forsake you.” Deut. 31:8 NLT.
I let the one small yellow leaf fall to the ground and bring my heart’s attention back to my warm place by the fire. On this side of change, yes, life is different, but I walk with hope, a heart drawn closer to God, and healing inside where God has met me as I wrestle with difficult things. As the transformation of color happens again on the New York hills I set my eyes on, I trust God, knowing there is always something beautiful that can be found on the other side of change.
Noreen Sevret lives on a picturesque river in Upstate New York with her husband and their son. She has a passion for finding beauty in unexpected places from behind the lens of her camera and writing about how God speaks to her heart through that picture. She facilitates journaling classes at her church. Noreen enjoys spending time with family, writing worship songs, playing the piano, reading, participating on book launch teams, going out for coffee with friends, and going to beautiful places in NYS and beaches in NJ with her husband. She also works as an office manager for a local funeral home. www.noreensevret.com IG: @writerbytheriver.
This is just one of the beautiful articles in the Change issue of iola bookazine. Get your copy here.