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Yellow and white blooms wilted under the blood moon. Their papery remnants clung to the vine until autumn’s breeze tore them away. For a day or two, the evidence of fallen beauty littered gardens across the countryside. Within the base of those flowers who had used their season to pollinate beyond their temporary moment of loveliness, something more substantial had developed.

Lacy petal-cardigans slipped away to reveal which ones carried deep-colored treasures. Gourds expanded from the places once held for them by passing flowers. Skins thickened and bubbled with warts and valleys, guarding the prize within. Stout and solid, their weight anchored them more and more in steadfast positions. Each tough vine-dweller grew while patiently awaiting the harvest.

One must look deep to find the gourd’s riches. Beyond the tough, uneven skin lies a wealth of nourishment. At its life’s end, the harvester breaks open the body to feed his family with vitamins, minerals, seed protein, and fiber. Extra seeds and inedible matter provide an entire garden from one individual hull. He wastes nothing from the pollinated vinedweller’s life.

I gaze across the pumpkin patches and butternut squash displays, considering the investments of my time dwelling on Christ’s vine. Have I pollinated the inner station of my soul so it will bear lasting fruit for generations to come? What part of my life will feed the family of God after my body’s earth season has ended? How much have temporary things distracted me from investing in the eternal?

Lord, help me stay focused on things of lasting value instead of the less important matters which pass away. Pollinate my spirit and expand my heart. Let my thoughts grow solid and steadfast in Your Truth, impenetrable to the pestilence of toxic attitudes. Cultivate rich nourishment within me until I am beautiful in Your sight, regardless of how I appear to passers by. Make me gourdgeous to You, Lord. Thank You, for planting me in Your garden.

What about you? Ready to grow gourdgeous on His vine?

 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. . .I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. . .This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:1-8

“I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. . .Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” – Phil.1:20-27

“if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.” – Phil. 2:17

“He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy” (Acts 14:17).

In the dark of September’s final night, orange gourds tumbled into town. They took over church yards and street corners. Some seem to have erupted from library shelves. Crafty mothers perched scarecrows atop the heaps to hold the restless autumn guests in place. As soon as October’s breeze turned the calendar page, pumpkins invaded.

Unlike zombies or killer tomatoes, pumpkins do not swarm our streets to butcher and eat us. These seasonal legends swamp our neighborhoods so we may gobble them. The bumper crop lays itself out before us to provide comfort food, vitamins, and a unique art medium.

Of autumn’s many delights, pumpkins rank among my favorites. I cherish the weeks its flavor graces my beloved latte. Freshly roasted seeds, pie-kissed muffins, and gourd-skin canvases owe their blessings to this symbol of harvest time.

Though my lifestyle buzzes a world away from the farming culture of my roots, the pumpkins remind me how its beautiful rhythm culminates in provision. Enrichment, tilling, and sowing represent partnership with God in His work. Those dependent upon the land face their inability to work alone. They cannot wrangle success from the heavens. God alone provides rain and sunlight to produce healthy crops.

Our spiritual harvest occurs when God blesses the love and kindness we helped Him plant into the acreage He outlined. Our world of love-influence might shrink or grow in size from one year to the next, but the quality of its fruit remains the vital test of a successful harvest. So much grows when we enrich hearts, till minds, and sow spirits with God’s blessings–around and within us.

At spiritual October, I believe we can reap intimacy with the Lord. His presence satisfies me more than a fresh-roasted tray of pumpkin seeds. His embrace lifts my spirit higher than an eight layer tea cake. Will you join me this harvest season for a latte of divine joy?