Goldenrod and a string of golden not-summer days {and to #bethegift with a giveaway}...

I'm home from Canada for less than a week when the goldenrod begins to bloom, and fall teases us with a string of stunning not-summer days.

Yellow orchid blooms dangle from from the oak limbs in the back yard...

...and the alamanda bush by the gate explodes in trumpets of lemon at dawn. If green is the color of August, then shades of yellow belong to October.  

At least here on Pollywog Creek.

The not-summer days wax and wane throughout the month bringing subtle changes that I'll miss if I don't pay attention. 

After months of summer rains that swell the banks of the creek and pond, the knobby knees of the now golden bald cypress bordering the pond's edge emerge as the water levels recede.  

Between the barb-wire fence and creek, clusters of acorns herald more not-summer days ahead. Maybe those pesky squirrels will be less attracted to my bird feeders if they have what looks like an abundance of acorns. 

Under the massive live oak, the staghorn fern thrives in the dappled light and reaches out with foliar fronds that give this tropical epiphyte it's name.

Yes. I know. 

These aren't the breath-taking, glorious reds, oranges, and yellows my friends in the northern less tropical or temperate climates enjoy, but I can't let my mind and heart go there. 

I could easily dwell on what others have or experience and I don't, but that's coveting, isn't it? 

And isn't coveting the root of discontent that says what God gives me isn't good enough? 

I've mentioned before that I'm not fond of bucket lists.  

That hasn't always been true. Just ask my husband. 

But as I experienced growth in gratitude and contentment, I began to recognize that a bucket list was a dwelling on and a counting of opportunities and experiences I don't have and therefore covet rather than a focus on being thankful for what I've already been given. 

I'm slowly making my way through a study of Romans once a week with a small group of  friends I love like sisters when Paul reminds me of the sin of coveting and how easily it tries to slip back into my heart. 

These sister-friends and I have talked about some of the ways to fight sin in our lives: to renew our minds with God's Word, to memorize scripture, to grow in our affections for Christ, and to intentionally {and cheerfully} replace sin with acts of obedience. 

In the chapter, What's Even Better than a Bucket List, The Broken Way, a daring path into the abundant life, Ann Voskamp writes:  
What if instead of sitting in life's waiting room, waiting for a chance for something good enough to happen to check off a bucket list--what if abundant living isn't about what you can expect from life, but what life can expect from you? p. 88 
Why grow the list of what I want to have instead of the list of what I can give?  Why not let the heart grow big with a love large enough that it breaks your heart and gives bits of you away? Does "real life" only happen when you get to pick some balmy destination and a cheap flight itinerary? Or is "real life" when you choose to be bread to all kinds of hungry? And maybe this is how your soul truly gets fed anyway?  p. 89 
Experiencing the whole world will not fill your bucket like experiencing giving yourself, and finding the meaning that will fill your soul.  p. 92
The meaning of being is givenness. Ask Christ.  p. 98
It's truly a very, very small offering in light of all I've been given, but rather than quote the whole chapter {or book}, I'm giving away a copy of The Broken Way to someone who promises to read it and to also #bethegift and #payitforward for someone else. Just leave a comment here {or on a link to this post on my facebook page} by midnight Tuesday, November 1st, and I'll put your name in the hat. 

I must warn you, though: The Broken Way will change you and break you in all the right places.