Fall is my favorite time of the year.

Summer is so bright and intense, I wake up feeling obligated to go somewhere and do something. People often ask, “What are your plans for the summer?” There is pressure to have an exciting destination in your back pocket.

Fall is more my style. It gets darker sooner and everything slows down. It’s the perfect time to be outside too, if you ask me. Take hiking. There’s a lot less dust and it's quieter, except for the sound of a crunchy trail blanketed with falling leaves. It’s hard to beat.

Just as Autumn brings the beauty of falling leaves, going outdoors frees us to shed busyness and draw closer to God and each other.

When we take the time to leave the four walls where we make a life, we give ourselves permission to stop and enjoy the life we've been given.

We let our souls breathe.

We say to ourselves: We want to live more-than-functional lives. We want to enjoy God's company and the people we love.

We long for a taste of the life God intended in the Garden of Eden -- moments that are free from distraction, enjoying God's creativity reflected in nature and the hearts of people.

We want to enjoy the simple things in life again.

Secret to Simplicity

Fall is the ideal time to enjoy the simple things in life, because the secret to simplicity comes from our ability to rest.

The breeze is just crisp enough to take our breath away, with the sun reflecting leftover warm summer rays against the amber colors of fall.

Just as Fall brings beauty and comfort, going outdoors frees up pockets of relational opportunity.

We make room for God to speak to us apart from productivity. We remember how great it feels to laugh, smile, or just enjoy some quiet with others.

Being outdoors in the Fall reminds us that we can rest, because God is our rest.

We see God's artistry in the randomness of acorns starting to carpet nature's floor. We hear the soothing sounds of waves that sing to a Creator's rhythm. We look up to drink in an overflowing painted canvas of sky, bringing a breeze of musty leaves mixed with soil and sand.

We can't help but ask ourselves: Can God make beauty out of my life too -- even if the pieces look random?

God's word tells us yes.

“The whole earth is at rest and is quiet; They break forth into shouts of joy.” Isaiah 14:7

Stop and Enjoy

Rest. Isn't that what we really crave down in our tired bodies and over-analytical minds?

We first see God in the Bible working hard for six days. Then, God takes an entire day off to stop and enjoy His work.

Isn't that what we do when we encounter nature? We stand still at a sunset. We freeze our steps as a bird darts across a hiking trail, and somehow our body knows beaches are for lingering.

Rest is the finale of a workweek.

Keeping Things Simple

To keep our bodies and hearts familiar with rest, my family and I have prioritized living a restful life.

One ingredient to a restful lifestyle is spending time together outdoors.

Now, before you picture me in Birkenstocks and imagine only granola bars inside my backpack, I want you to know that simplicity is what underlines our family's outdoor activities.

We are not super adventuresome. With kids so young, there is a limit to how long we can spend outdoors without needing a bathroom or a stroller for a tired toddler.

The key is this:  keep things simple.

My husband and I try to keep things simple, so that we'll want to go outdoors. Make it too complicated, and we'll not want to attempt it again.

We've given our outings a name, so our kids can get excited about them: "Family Adventures." Actually, they are mostly two-to-three-hour outings that have us outside one day of the weekend, in the morning or afternoon.