Finding God in the Fall – Part Two: Rest and Rhythm

Rhythm is such an important part of our lives.  Almost everyone’s lives eventually fall into some kind of rhythm.  We generally wake up at a certain time, eat lunch and dinner at a certain time, and have some sort of routine we do before bed.  Even week to week our lives generally have rhythm.  We work five days (most of us) and then have Saturday and Sunday off and back to work Monday.  For children, this is even more ingrained with their daily school schedules.

On the outside, this constant predictable rhythm can seem mundane and banal.   However, I believe that it is also comforting and reassuring to have that rhythm.  I think that living our lives in a rhythm is very important.  It’s one of the reasons that working night shift or working a changing work schedule is so difficult.  Our minds and bodies never get set into the kind of relaxing rhythm we need.

That’s kind of the problem with summer.  Don’t get me wrong.  Summer is my favorite time of year.  I love the heat, the sunshine, the long days, everything.  However, summer also has a way of throwing us off our rhythm. For many people, summer is a time of constant movement.

Life picks up speed in the summer and the rhythm of life that we found over the last 8 months is completely thrown off.  There are always things to do and places to go. There are family reunions, weddings, vacations (that always seem to be more tiring that relaxing), and graduation parties. There is grass to mow, hedges to trim, and flowerbeds to keep.  The kids are playing three sports at the same time while also doing the summer reading program at the library and taking swim lessons.  Friends come to visit.  We stay up late for fireworks.  Our rhythm is completely thrown off in the constant busyness.

Fall is a time to slow down.  The work and busyness of summer is over.  Life goes back to a steady rhythm. Although this can seem monotonous, it can also be peaceful.  Our lives need rhythm and consistency.  Within that rhythm and consistency, we can plan for more meaningful time spent with God.   We know exactly when we need to wake up and can plan on doing that a little bit earlier to center our day on God before we start.  We know when we need to go to sleep so we can pause to reflect on the day a little bit before that and refocus on God.  This rhythm, rest, and consistency enables us to better center our lives and perspective on our relationship with our God.  Connection with God in the fall continues with focusing on rhythm and rest.

With that refocus on God, I find that a lot of the depression, anxiety, and all around malaise of life kind of disappears.  Refocusing on something and someone bigger than myself reminds me that my problems are not as big as they seem and that there is always someone caring about me.  I can find this through finding God in the fall.

 

This is part two of a three part series.  If you would like to get an email letting you know when I post the third part and new series, just click on the link in the lower right corner of your screen to subscribe.  Thanks for reading.

Finding God in the Fall – Part One

If I’m being completely open and honest, I’ve always struggled in the fall.  Depression hits pretty hard for me starting about middle of October and then comes and goes until April-ish.  It’s a tricky thing for me.  For those of you who know me, I’m a person of faith.  I rely pretty heavily on my relationship with God to get me through difficult times.  However, the funny thing is that as my depression gets bigger and closer, God seems to get smaller and farther away.  So it’s a downward spiral generally.  The weather turns, I get depressed, then I lose my connection with God, and it makes me more depressed.

So, this year, I decided to try to shift my perspective on the fall.  Usually, I see fall as a time of death and decay as plants are going dormant for winter.  I see fall as a time when the vivid colors of spring and summer morph and fade into dull browns and grays.  The fun filled activities of summer lull into a slow drawn-out trudging monotony.  However, over the next three posts, I’m going to show how to shift perspective to redeem all these things and to use them to keep my connection with God.

Let’s start with the first, death and decay.  It’s true.  During the fall, many plants die.  The beautiful flowers that are planted in the spring whither and die, the vibrant green grass goes dormant into a grayish brown, and the trees stand lifelessly still.

However, I think the way to change perspective on this issue is to look at fall not as a season of death and decay, but also as a season of harvest.  Yes it is true that plants are dying, but that death is part of the harvest.  It is the completion of what was begun in the spring with the planting.

We can connect with God through this by remembering that He is a god of completion.  God finishes what He starts. This is true in plants but it is also true in us.  Every one of us was put on Earth for a reason.  We are not accidents.  We have purpose for being here and God will bring about that purpose in our lives.  He is going to finish what He started in our lives.  Focusing on that and dwelling on the harvest is the first way that I am shifting my perspective this year.  God is not a god of death and decay.  He is a god of harvest and completion.  I choose to trust in that.

As always, thank you for reading.  If you want to receive and email notification whenever I post something new, click on the “follow” tab in the lower right hand corner of your screen.  Tune in next week for the continuation of how to shift focus in the fall.

 

(This is an abridged version of a piece that I wrote for my church, Northside Christian Church’s, website.  If you want to read the original piece, head to www.northsideweb.org/blog)

 

Apple Cider Chili in a Crock Pot (Vegan Option Included)

I don’t know why I’ve been so into experimenting with new and different chili recipes this fall but I have. This weekend, I decided to try to blend two fall classics, chili and apple cider. I actually really liked it.  The two flavors blended really well into a sweet and spicy mix.  I didn’t top it with cheese or anything this time, but in the future I might.  Cheddar cheese actually goes really well with apples.  So, if you enjoy recipes and flavors that are a little bit different than what you’re used to, read on.

Ingredients

1 lb ground turkey (For the vegan option, substitute I can of red kidney beans

2 bell peppers

1 onion

3 cups apple cider

3 cups water

3 cups unsweetened applesauce

1 can  dark red kidney beans

1 can pinto beans

1 can light red kidney beans

2 cans of diced tomatoes with green chiles

1 tbsp chili powder

2 tbsp cumin

3 tbsp brown sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp salt

Step One

The first thing you’ll want to do is get the water, cider, applesauce, peppers, and onion into the crock pot to start warming and getting soft.  Start by mixing the first three ingredients (water, cider, applesauce) and then dicing the peppers and onion and getting them in. 20181112_092543.jpg

(He’s four now, so I feel it’s a good time to teach kitchen knife skills)

Step Two

The next thing to do is get all the spices into the mix.  Add the chili powder, cumin, brown sugar, cinnamon, onion powder, and salt to the mix.  If you like your chili a little more spicy, feel free to add more chili powder than is in the recipe.  I would, but most people that eat my chili prefer foods not as spicy as I do.

Step Three

Brown the turkey in a skillet and add it to the mix. (Obviously if you’re doing the vegan version, skip this step)

Step Four

Add the beans and tomatoes to the chili and mix it all together.  Leave it sitting on high for at least 4 hours.  This will make sure that the onions and peppers get soft enough and that their natural flavors get into the chili.

 

Well, that’s all there really is to it.  It’s a pretty simple recipe.  Not too many ingredients except for a lot of spices.  If you wanted to simplify it, you could simply use one type of beans (probably the dark red kidney beans).  I just add different ones for variety.  Thanks for reading.  As always, if you enjoyed this recipe and want more, please follow the blog by clicking on the link in the lower right hand corner of your screen.

Crockpot Pumpkin Chili (Vegan Option Included)

I really got into the whole “Fall” thing with this one.  We had a surplus of pie pumpkins at the house and I decided that, rather than let them all go to waste, I’d experiment with making a pumpkin based chili.  Pumpkin is also really really healthy. It turned out really good.  There’s definitely a sweet pumpkin flavor but it’s still chili so it has a bit of a kick to it as well.  As usual, I let the kiddos help out with it.  Enjoy

Ingredients

4 cups fresh cooked pumpkin or 2 15oz cans pumpkin puree.

4 cups water

2 green bell peppers diced

1 onion diced

1 lb ground turkey

1 tbsp each of cumin, chili powder, onion powder, and garlic salt

3 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp each of pumpkin pie spice, black pepper, and salt

1 can each of pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans, diced tomatoes with chilis.

 

So the first thing you need to decide is whether you’re going to use fresh cooked pumpkin, or canned pumpkin puree.  If you’re using canned pumpkin puree, skip to step 3.

Step One

You probably only need one pie pumpkin to get 4 cups of fresh pumpkin.  I cooked up 2 and froze the leftovers to use in bread, pie, or pancakes later.  So start by cutting your pumpkin in half and scooping out the innards.  Set them aside in a separate bowl.

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Step Two

Placed the hollowed out pumpkin in a glass baking dish filled about 1/2 in with water.  Cook at 400*F for about an hour.  The pumpkins are done when the outside is soft and squishy to the touch.  While they are cooking, do steps 3, 4, and 5.20181029_122932.jpg

Once they are done cooking, let them sit for about 15 minutes and flip them over to cool faster.20181029_134543.jpg

Step 3

Brown the ground turkey in a skillet and add it to the crockpot.

Step 4

Drain the beans but not the tomatoes, and add them to the crockpot as well.  20181029_123144.jpg

Step 5

Add the cumin, chili powder, onion powder, garlic salt, pepper, salt, and brown sugar to the crock pot.  Stir together and set on high.20181029_123253.jpg

Step 6

Dice the green peppers and the onion and add them to the pot.20181029_130527.jpg

Step 7

Once the pumpkins are cool enough to work with without burning your hands, scoop the pumpkin out from the shell and place into a large mixing bowl.  Add the 4 cups of water to the pumpkin and whisk together.  If you’re using the pureed pumpkin do the same thing.  Then add this mix to the crockpot and stir it all together.

Step 8

Cook on high for about 4 hours.  Add cheese or sour cream or anything else you like on chili to top it off and enjoy.

*This recipe can be made vegan very easily.  Simply take out the ground turkey and add another can of kidney beans.  It won’t really change the flavor or consistency that much.

 

So, right now, you have the innards of the pumpkin sitting in a bowl to the side.  What should you do with that.  Well, click here for a second recipe for roasted pumpkin seeds.  It’s one of my family’s favorites.

As always, thanks so much for reading.  If you enjoyed the blog, please take the time to follow it by clicking on the link in the lower right hand corner of your screen.  Happy Fall!