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Changing of the Leaves


Kathy Swartzfeger - Successful HomeschoolingChanging of the Leaves by Kathy SwartzfegerI love the fall! Summer heat breaks to the cool, crisp air. It necessitates rummaging through closets for sweaters and gloves; at least that is the case in Nebraska where I live. Every autumn we as a family like to visit the local pumpkin patch (two of us try to work there each season!). I bring my camera and take photos of my kids with nature’s brilliant backdrop. Pumpkin orange, cornstalk gold, and violet mums are painted together so beautifully, as in no other season.

I am not sure when I learned it along my educational journey, this idea that the true color of deciduous leaves is not the healthy green of summer- but the assorted hues of autumn.


It sort of boggles my mind when I think about it. The vibrant color of new life, growth and health are not the plant’s true color. The green is a result of the chlorophyll that is produced by the tree in the growing season. The brisk air temperature variables of fall signals the trees to stop this production of chlorophyll, and the revelation of a tree’s true color is revealed.

I don’t know, but to me it seems odd and counter-intuitive that the actual tree color is exposed essentially through a dying process. Of course, the tree isn’t really dead during the winter- just dormant. After all, the course of action following this transformation is leaves being excused from these trees by a gentle breeze or strong gust of wind. Dead, lifeless leaves piled up and jumped in, bagged up, and disposed of in our yard waste.

So, before I belabor this point, it strikes me that this can also be a metaphor for the change and transformation that God is working in the life of the Christian. We often hear of mountain tops and valleys, lush grape vines and dry valleys when we Jesus folk get together and share about where we are in our spiritual lives. There is no problem with these words of illustration.

But here we have one more picture of what God does in our lives. Let’s just say that the summer maple juiced up with chlorophyll is our typical Christian life. That part of our life that is the mundane, barely-changing day-to-day routine that some days just drive us nutty with its monotony and same ole stresses. Our prayers are likely whispered over a meal and our quiet times might resemble a quick “get me through this day, Lord” and a scripture quote like “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” as we rush through the steps of our morning routine. Green- the great equalizer among the trees, right? This life.

Just as summer may never seem to end- a cold wind rushes through one night, and you know that fall is upon us. In the Christian life, it may be a layoff at a spouse’s job of 20 years. It may be the chronic illness of a parent, or the wayward actions of a child. Oh, the fall! As mundane gives way to crisis, tragedy and pain- we are stripped down to our true colors. When “normal” gives way to chaos, depression, anger- how do we cope in the midst?

It is indeed in the fall that we have our true colors exposed. It is this time that can become a season of truth and yes, beauty. God works His magnificent transformations in our weaknesses. As we die to ourselves- taking up that cross daily (yet another tree!)- we gleam our brilliant fiery red. We become attractive to those onlookers strolling through fall searching for unique beauty. Isn’t that what God has asked of us, when He says to be salt and light to our world?

In order to be eye-catching and attractive to the world, we need the transformation of God’s Word. We need to be in direct communication with Him continually through our day. When autumn comes, we will be ready.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kathy Swartzfeger is a mother to four children, AJ, Melody, Sierra & Isaac. She has been an avid reader since her first opening of The Velveteen Rabbit- and a noted writer since winning a short story contest in the 2nd grade. Besides being a homeschool mom, Kathy is a Christian, a breast cancer survivor and a foster parent to several who call her “mom.” Her interests include singing, crossword puzzles, photography, and of course, copious amounts of reading and writing.


  1. Vickie says:

    I really enjoyed reading this and it gave me somethings to ponder about as I am out admiring His beautiful handiwork in the vibrant colors of the trees this year.
    I have always loved the autumn time of the year.
    God has given us many good things for us to be able to relate nature in our everyday lives.
    His wonders are intertwined into our daily lives to draw us to Him through the good times and the bad. He is always there for us.
    He has shown Himself to myself and family so many times through our rough times. He has a plan and a purpose for all of them even if we can’t see them at that moment in time.
    May God bless you and yours

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