Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice

Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash

natalie gonzalez

As a native and seventh-generation Floridian, I can honestly say that seasons come and go year after year and Florida has no idea. In fact when my younger girls asked what fall is, I said after a long pause, "It’s a season that most people recognize as a prequel to winter but for us Floridians it is hurricane season.” Every brown leaf they pick up is a “fall leaf”...I roll my eyes and under my breath say, “fell off the tree and died from severe dehydration and sunburn.” The only way I feel like it’s fall is because my local Target changes their decor, Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts come out with all the pumpkin spice flavors and the decoration season begins. To be frank, with or without fall nothing really ever changes here except the dates on a calendar and maybe that ONE cold day.

Whether I roll my eyes at the idea of autumn and all that follows or not, I still find myself loving this season above all others. If asked to put the seasons into order from favorite to least favorite I would start with fall and end with summer. And it’s not just the flavors of fall that entice me.

Raised by agnostics, I was never set to prepare at this time for Christ’s coming. More like anticipatory of my birthday and to the day a month later Christmas. Which in my youth meant presents and as I got older it meant just that...getting older. So as time progressed and my teens rolled to a close I think anticipation for my future was really at a lull.

19-year-old me at this time was trying very hard to ruin myself by means of many avenues. My soul was in danger and I had placed it on the railroad track to damnation. Drugs and alcohol and sex and all the things I could possibly do to absolutely ruin myself. And I was good at it too. No longer looking forward to the next year and almost wishing that another year wouldn’t come, I continued to contribute to my own undoing. I began to unravel.

Until April 1st, 2005. I remember this day above all others because it was the very first time I made a choice and listened to a very tiny voice inside me which inched me towards a different path. On that April Fool's Day I went to Walgreens and picked up a pregnancy test. Knowing I could never take this test at home, I sneaked it into the store’s bathroom and got to work. This was not my first time meeting with EPT I’m ashamed to say but nonetheless I was absolutely certain I was being paranoid. Never a better time to prove myself wrong. Two pink lines and a plus sign later I was running out of Walgreens crying like a girl who fell off her bike and skinned her knee. I was pregnant!

Not even finished being a teenager and I was now faced with a baby. I can’t begin to tell you the thoughts and actions that followed. As a self-proclaimed atheist at that time I made an appointment. Actually I made two appointments; one at an abortion clinic and the other at a high-risk OBGYN. I made both on the same day at the same time so as to give myself “two roads diverged in a yellow wood.”

The morning of the appointments I heard that small voice again. Deep and buried inside me I followed that voice to the OBGYN office and the rest, as they say, is history. Nine months later God gave me a second chance. Gone was the girl who would make horrible choices as a means of self destruction and in walked...a mother. A term with which I wasn’t very familiar. On that late November day an angel was born into my life.

One week later I said goodbye to my teens and entered my 20s with a bang! My baby daughter was the greatest birthday gift. She saved me that day and every day after. She changed the meaning of it all not just including the Fall. Her birth felt like my souls resurrection. Now every Labor Day that draws the summer closed is my very favorite time. I celebrate ON Labor Day my wedding anniversary to my truest (always and all ways) and also the anticipation to celebrate my daughter's birth. Almost 13 years ago I was alone and afraid. I had no path. No hope. And even in the midst of all of it He called me out.

Matthew 18:12-14New International Version (NIV)

12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.”

Because God would leave the 99 for me. How special and amazing is His love and reach?

Be safe, Be great, Be YOU! Amen

Reality Changing Observations:

Q1. What is your favorite season and why?

Q2. What value is there in listening for the Holy Spirit's whisper to you?

Q3. What might you do with a second chance at life?