Counting My 2018 Blessings…

I am so grateful for this year. I think 2018 has been one of my favorite years, and I cannot thank God enough for the blessings He poured out. “Dreams fulfilled” sums up many moments of this year— to God be the all the glory! I know that many of you had quite the opposite experience, and I am well aware that most years are often not terrific, so I want to take this time to breathe in the goodness. I know hardship can hit at any moment, and I honestly do fear that, but I want to enter 2019 with gratefulness and praise to God who poured out His mercy and kindness more than I deserve. God is still good even in pain and loss, but it is human nature to see it more clearly during the good times. I must confess, I struggle to see in the bad times. So before the rain, before the sorrow, before the next blunt shock of loss, or the devastation of heartache, I am praising Him for the reprieve, a season of joy, a million gifts of blessing, and the moments when I realized, He has given me “more than I could ask or imagine” (Eph. 3:20). To those of you who have had a tough 2018, I pray God sums up 2019 with these three words: redemption, healing, and restoration. Life is fragile and Satan schemes, so may I wear the garment of praise so that I will not forget His faithfulness when the scary shadows of darkness role in.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”

Deuteronomy 6:5-12 NIV

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When you don’t feel “Holly Jolly”…

For all of those who are hurting this holiday season and feel a little less like decking the halls and more like you’re in your own silent night, my heart goes out to you. This week I’ve heard so many heartbreaking stories of many who have lost their loved ones…moms, dads, grandparents… around Christmas. As the world seems to spin merrily on high, some are hunkered down, wrestling with old memories of painful deaths, or new grief of fresh losses. Story after story I’ve heard this week from coworkers, friends, and patients, how Christmas rushes in with not only a whirlwind of preparation but a whirlwind of sadness fraught with the attempts to put the past behind.

As I sat listening to these stories one after another I was struck with 4 things that I reflected to God:

1.) Thank you, Lord, for my beautiful, simple life.

2.) I know life won’t always be this way– next year or 20 years from now it could be me grappling with the loss of a loved one at Christmas–so be grateful for the gift of peace, family, time together, laughter, and the rich goodness that surrounds you at this moment in time.

3.) Lord, I repent for complaining about so many things of such less importance when I have been blessed beyond measure.

4.) Oh Lord God, Christ incarnate, be near to those who are hurting.

It is at times like these that our hearts yearn for the gift of the incarnation. Jesus, Emmanuel…come. God be with us, now, in these moments, when Christmas feels heavy and pain has stolen all holiday cheer. John 1:14 “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” The gift of the incarnation is when the Son of God left Heaven to hurt, to feel, to love, to dwell, to hold, to embrace, to save and to make New a hurting, broken world…this was the joy brought forth on the very first Christmas over 2000 years ago- the joy that collided with the sorrow.

I wonder as Mary held her baby boy, as she grappled with becoming a mother in the most unnatural of means, as she was exiled from home and learning her new husband… did she have sorrow? Did she know that this Divine moment would bring unmatched sorrow 33 years later when her baby would die for a world that hated Him? Did she know that He was the joy and the answer to all those who confront sorrow and loss? The Word, the Cosmos…God, became flesh. Heaven had entered heartache. God indwelled creation. Flesh on flesh, heart to heart– oh Holy night.

Psalms 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

I am thankful for a God who cares and who actually cared so much He couldn’t leave a hurting world, alone. He needed to physically enter in… to hold, to rescue, to wipe tears, to heal, to love on the sick, to conquer death and provide a way to resurrection.

To all those who mourn this Christmas or mourn the loss from a Christmas long ago, may the Incarnate Christ hold your heart and whisper peace over your sorrow.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:27

My Best Decision

27 years ago today, I made a choice to follow Jesus.  It was and still is the best decision of my life.  I know to some people this may sound weird or radical, but I know others understand.  And frankly, public opinion really doesn’t matter– I would rather have a day with Christ in my life, than a minute without Him.  I don’t know where you stand about Christ, Christianity, church…etc. but all I can say is it is so worth the risk, the time, and energy.

Life doesn’t always make sense and sometimes, despite the Bible having a myriad of detailed verses, it doesn’t either.  But sometimes, something comes into your life that’s a game-changer, something collides with your logic, your fears, your apathy, and challenges it…in a good way.  I think many times people have their preconceived labels and opinions about Christians, but I guess my challenge to you, if you’re that person, is don’t let your assumptions and presuppositions keep you from the genuine, authentic truth about God.

IMG-5525I’ve had my struggles and doubts along the way, gotten angry hurling nasty words at a God I wasn’t sure existed, and still fight vices and just plain ugly parts within me, but praise God,  being a Christian doesn’t mean you’re perfect or flawless.  And if for some reason, you think Christianity is about judgmental people who think their right and you’re wrong, their better and you’re worse, their perfect, and you’re not…I’m so sorry.  I’m sorry that’s been your experience–that’s not it at all.  It’s all about forgiveness.  It’s all about the great equalizer– no sin is better or worse than the next guy’s and as I heard someone say the other day so beautifully…”the ground is level at the foot of the cross.”  Jesus did something for me, I could never do myself– something humanity couldn’t do for itself.  I’m thankful for forgiveness so I can have peace with a just and holy God.  I’m thankful, I don’t have to work my tail off to figure out if I get into Heaven.  I’m thankful I can wake up in the morning with purpose and a sense of adventure because God is alive and personally relates to each of us.

There is so much I don’t know, but just as I would feel the excitement and obligation to tell you about a good deal, fun experience, or special announcement…I just have to “shout it” from the “mountain tops” of a computer-typed blog….Jesus is alive, God does exist, and He is so worth it.

Whatever it is, don’t be apathetic.  Just give Jesus a chance. What does that look like?  I don’t know exactly.  It can be different for all sorts of people–maybe it’s talking to a friend about your questions, reading something in the Bible, trying to talk to God in prayer, stepping foot in a church, asking God your questions– maybe it’s just starting by being real with what you love or hate about the church, faith, or even Him.   If you are looking for purpose–give Him a chance. If you are looking for hope–give Him a few minutes of your time.  If you are tired of judgement or hurting in pain…give Him at least the smallest opportunity to speak life and peace into your world.  If you are bored and need adventure, by all means… explore your faith, ask the hard questions, seek Him out like you would a good friend.  All I can say, is whatever you do and whatever your hesitations may be, don’t miss out on the best decision of your life.

 

 

For Freedom’s Sake

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Dear Daughter,

You are tired, dear one.  Rest in me.  You are not perfect, yet you strive so hard, but you cannot be perfect.  That’s what Christ did for you.  We did that for you so you didn’t have to.  You needn’t strive so hard, furrowed brow, heavy heart, nose to the ground because I promised to complete the good work I started in you.  You need to just be– don’t do, don’t perform, don’t strive– press into Me.  You cannot become more perfect because your perfection is not based on what you do and what you don’t do.  It’s based on what I’ve already done for you.   Press into my benevolence, be present with Me, pursue My presence over perfection–let Me reflect My glory on your face.  Then you will shine out of overflow, not depletion.   You will shine with gratitude, not despair.

Love Your Father,

God

The Ocean “Psalm”

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Oh Lord, my Lord,

You are beyond my comprehension.

You know what you are doing– you withhold no good thing.

You know the creatures in the sea– you know every grain of sand.

                                                           You are with me– aware of my going and coming even if I were in the very middle of the deepest ocean.

You count the stars in the sky…to sum You up is impossible.

You are not contained by that cloud or this moment–

You stand above and beyond.

Holy grandeur, immense majesty…You are, Lord, so much greater than me, so much “other than.”

The oceans are but a puddle and the depths of the sea a rain drop– yet here you are with me, caring about me–my needs, my joy, my pain, my hurt, my relationships, my struggle my sin, my victory.

Nothing is beyond You.

You hear me, though I doubt.

You are working, though I fear.

You beckon me to just simply “be” when I strive.

You bring calm from the chaos, life from death, beauty from defilement, fresh starts from discards.

Praise Your glorious name.

Praise You for the magnitude of Your glory in the midst of the intricacy of Your tender care.

Praise You for letting me into Your world.

Praise you for meeting me, right here, right now– personally, intimately, beautifully, profoundly– in the midst of a very vast and wide world.

Surely, I am fearfully and wonderfully made– not by man’s doing, but only because of You.

Let me think of your magnitude when I fear.

Let me dwell on your power when I get angry.

Let me fall to your feet when I strive.

For you are wholly Holy, my Lord, the Lord, God Almighty.

I love you, Amen

How to Write Life to the Fullest

Please enjoy this excellent, thought-provoking guest blog post from, Kyle Jackson.  To connect with Kyle, visit: http://www.GroundstoGlory.com.

Tidal wave of book pages

A man holding a book is surrounded by giant waves of pages.

It’s estimated that 8 of 10 Americans want to write a book. The problem is that out of the 80%, only a small handful ever even attempt to do so. Why? Because writing a book is hard work. It takes long hours of preparation, dedication, and perspiration to pull off.

Another common pitfall is that they’re too timid to allow their voice to be heard in fear of ridicule and rejection. And let’s be honest–those who write aren’t in it for the money alone (or if they are they’re only fooling themselves!)

Many aspiring authors don’t know what to say or how to say what’s on their heart, thus it’s sadly often left unsaid. A lack of conviction then leads to procrastination. Excuses soon follow. And they sadly go to the grave with a wellspring of words buried deep in their souls.

On the surface it seems like everyone is a writer, but in reality writers are the rarest of breed. Let me rephrase that…writers worth reading are the rarest of breed.

These writers seek and savor the truth. They don’t strive to sugarcoat or deceive their readers, but guide them in grasping the wisdom that’s found in the Bible. Let me expand upon what I mean by this….

The True Worth of the Written Word

We live in the great information age of history. With our smart phones, social media statuses, 24/7 news updates, instant text-messaging–everyone has something to say and aren’t shy about saying it.

It’s become a chaotic clutter of communication where the power is in the written word. The problem is that there is little regard for the words themselves. Truth and error are blended in a manner that people accept reality for what they want it to be. What they desire to hear.

Truth has become like a buffet table. Satisfy your cravings, getting full on whatever your heart desires. A little bit of this, a little bit of that.

There is little regard for carefully considering the counsel of what correlates with God’s Word. This in return has caused many to doubt and abandon the authenticity of what the Bible actually says. We shouldn’t be surprised then that world around us has sadly become a lost, confused mess wallowing in despair and meaninglessness.

Everything under the sun in existence from physical objects to abstract ideas have been written about within the archives of history. From avocados to zebras–there are books, articles, blogs on everything under the sun.

But what good is writing about something that holds little to no value in someone’s life? Although self-help books seem like the logical choice, there is another alternative that strikes me as a much more wise choice on what to write about—the person and work of Jesus Christ.

The Gospel is what this world needs to hear. Not on how to make a six-figure income or on how to be happy and successful. Or the latest fad in fashion or new hip trend in technology. Focusing on things that are here today and gone tomorrow.

Writing for His Glory

That’s why I’ve personally chosen to specifically center my writing on a Biblical worldview leading others into a further understanding of what it means to follow Christ. This passion has been stirring up in me for many years and the only logical answer was to reveal what God has laid on my heart.

People need to hear the truth. And the truth is Jesus Christ. This conviction lead to the concept of creating an online movement called Grounds To Glory that seeks to help young Christians grow and mature in their faith through a creative, engaging manner.

It’s exclaiming to the world that while I may be quiet and timid as a person—my God is loud and triumphant!

It’s not about me and never will be. It’s all for His glory and honor. For His truth remains firm solid, constant despite the changing fads and feelings this world may have.

Regardless of popular sentiment, God is who He says He is. His promises remain yesterday, today, and forevermore. My hands are now devoted to bringing Him delight through the words I write because of this truth I testify to.

Writing for the Right Reason

While it’s already a hard enough road to travel in writing for “trivial” topics that have little significance to eternal matters; the road to write Biblical truths correctly, convincingly, and creatively is very tough road to embark upon.

If you do have the passion to write for Christ keep in mind the responsibility you bear. People’s souls are at stake for eternity. Your words carry a great weight to them. This is a calling not to be taken lightly.

Don’t despair in this hard reality, though. God has the power to take your words and use them for His glory. He’ll take His eternal words of life to infuse wisdom that’s worth hearing in what you write. Which is full of wealth and wonder only He’s capable of.

Best-selling Christian fiction writer Karen Kingsbury says this on how God uses our “pen” for His glory:

“You must be His writer. Let Him tell the story. Keep it honest, be hardworking and hopeful, but most of all, be His. Be the pen in His hand. In that way…you will write stories that bring glory to God. And since the gift of writing comes from Him, there really is no other way.”

Many people know me as a man of few words. My identity, though, is rooted not in this reality but in knowing the Son of Man who is the Word.

Striving to become a master wordsmith whose desire is to worship the Word Himself, Jesus Christ with every word I write. God is pleased when He is glorified in what we do. It’s not about writing for fame, fortune, or building a group of followers. Instead writing for Christ is fulfilled when are focused on Him alone. The Audience of One.

Jeff Gerke comments, “So long as you write for any other purpose than to glorify God, you will not be writing for the right reasons. And therefore you will not be fulfilled… God is your audience. He is your target reader. He holds you on His lap while He delights to hear you read the story you wrote for Him.”

Writing a Life Worth Reading About

Writing well is ultimately found in drinking from the well of life found in our Savior. It’s taking delight in His Word–the Bible. So regardless of whether you’re just in high school striving to one day write a book, a minister blogging on the side, or someone whose aspiring to become a full-time writer–writing is a calling that is highly rewarding if it’s found in an intimate romance with its most loyal Reader, Jesus Christ.

I am a writer because of His indescribable gift of amazing grace given to a world lost living for a language of legality that we can’t possibly attain.

That in His love letter of the Bible I have come to know His faithful love found in Christ, the living message of hope to a sinner like me. This truth is captured best when we read John 1:14, which beautifully states:

“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

May everything I put in writing be a testament to this: that His Word is the only Word worth living for. How then can I stay silent when the greatest message of all has been written on my heart?!

How then do you write life to the fullest? By handing over the pen to the Author of life and allowing Him to craft His captivating story in and through your life. God is the master storyteller whose writing a story worth reading—yours! Now go and write for the glory of His awesome, majestic name!

Crumbs

Vices, undesirable habits—we tote these not-so-funny idiosyncrasies around like unwanted crumbs on the floor of a minivan.  For years we strive to pick up these “crumbs” only to realize they are deeply ingrained and not so removable.

Hebrews 12 1 charges us to remove the sin that so easily entangles us.  You think to yourself, “You can do it.  Let go.  Try harder.  Move forward,” but life spins forward without permission and these little entanglements that you try so hard to be freed from, still pile on the bottom of the minivan floor.

There are 3 ways you can turn when your crumbs pile and the minivan speeds up:

  • 1.) You can work your tail off—making new year’s promises, willing yourself to do or not do whatever it is.
  • 2.) You can grow apathetic, step on the crumbs, allow them to become a part of your scenery, your everyday surroundings, symbiotic with your nature.
  • 3.) You can turn to God, gain His strength, call on His help and find victory.

Oftentimes we do pick option 3—we turn to God.  We spend time in prayer with Him, we do our best to not only read the Bible but apply it.  But sometimes you review your historical behavior and realize victory seems close but not fully seized.  It’s like those extra stubborn crumbs you just can’t get out of the fabric flooring of the car.  No matter how hard you vigorously run the vacuum nozzle over the same patch of obliterated waste, it just won’t come off.  After much elbow-grease exertion, you sigh and say to yourself, “Oh well, I guess these are here to stay.”

Paul speaks to the church in Colossae and Laodicea about his efforts to help them become more and more like Christ.  Colossians 1:28-29 says, “We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.  To this end I labor, struggling with all his [Christ’s] energy, which so powerfully works in me.”

And isn’t that just the case?!  We proclaim God, we say it is His power and wisdom and we strive to be perfect in Christ.  We try our best, we want it and work towards fulfilled new year’s resolutions and better behavior, only to feel somewhat worn down and nearly defeated.  But isn’t it encouraging to know that this is a common experience in the Christian walk?  Even Paul, an apostle of Jesus, says, “To this end I labor…STRUGGLING with all HIS energy.”  Such a relief!  Paul, the apostle of Christ, says that he LABORS, STRUGGLES with all of Jesus’ energy.  He is pressing into the Lord Himself, yet Paul still finds himself barely making it.  Striving for perfection and kingdom advances but laboring and struggling the whole time.  It has not been easy for him.  He must pull on every ounce of strength, energy and motivation from the Holy Spirit and even at that, he is barely managing at times.

It is subtle falicy to think that with Christ’s help, everything will be easy, simpler, with virtually no struggle.  It is another discouraging lie to think that just because it is hard to overcome old vices, perhaps you lack faith and are not leaning on the Lord enough.  And although, living a life on your own strength is much more challenging than leaning on God’s strength, we must remember that we may still struggle even if we properly lean on the power of Christ.  How much harder and non-redemptive would it be if we choose to ignore His strength altogether?

Even Christ, with the crucifixion at hand, was sweating drops of blood because He knew all the vile pain He would soon endure.  Did these drops of sweaty blood indicate He wasn’t trusting God?  Not at all.   We know that He, out of all people, was relying on the power of the living God.  But because we know our “struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Eph 6:12),” we can be assured that any form of triumph will not come without a fight.

Just because victory comes with great struggle, effort and labor, it does not mean our faith is weak.  Rather it means the battle is great.  And although it is always necessary to honestly check our faith radar to see if, in fact, we are truly depending on God, energy-zapping-sin-slaying does not always equate to weak faith.

We have this Hope in the tug-a-war of crumb cleaning that God is greater.  We can press in to God with all our might, and it truly may take all of our might and His, to finally defeat our giants.  Even those that trust God completely “labor, struggling with all HIS energy, which so powerfully works in [them]” (Col 1:29).  As you fight your good fight and run your race, as you keep praying about the same personal problem for the fourth year in a row, as you shake your head in frustration when your efforts seem meaningless…grant yourself grace because God sees your heart.  “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything…Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:2-4, 12).

The Lowly Manger Scene

Mary, Joseph and a sweet little baby sleeping on a patch of straw.  There is something so humble, yet inviting, about this scene.  So often our best laid plans are thwarted.  Sometimes the failed expectations can be heartbreaking.  but that is where we must trust that God is behind it.  He is working, and He can bring purpose out of senselessness.  When we find ourselves in our own lowly manger scene, we must recount His goodness and muster up a sacrifice of thanksgiving.

– We thank God for the manger– how utter pure, simple, organic it was, but yet the Son of God was protected, safe and sheltered.  The prophesies of the long awaited Messiah were finally fulfilled.

-We thank God for the journey to the manager– how rough, long and exhausting it was, but it stripped away the pride of the heart and created an interdependence on the Father.

-We thank God for the inhospitable Inn Keeper– his “no” was so harsh, ungenerous, and selfish but yet in his “no,” Mary and Joseph found themselves together with ox and lamb privately and so intimately welcoming the Creator of the Universe into His creation.

This is the Christmas Story– so simple, so unassuming, so raw, so unannounced– but in it we see that God uses all things for His glory and purpose.  In it we find that thwarted plans and ordinary moments are exactly where God likes to place His fingerprint of divinity.  And in it, we see that God does not need the lime light, power, prestige or popularity to make Himself known.  He is not limited by Inn Keeper “no’s” or “Caesar Decrees” or flawed individuals.  His good and perfect will transcends the false, earthly presuppositions because He is faithful, trustworthy and capable of finishing the good work He has begun.

May you find comfort this Christmas in the meek and mild.

May you find peace in ordinary simplicity.

And may you find hope in the One who came over 2000 years ago to save you and love you forever. 

“God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”

2 Corinthians 9:8

Together

What do you pack when you go visit your close friend who just got diagnosed with cancer? This is weird, unnatural. I’m not supposed to be loading the car for this. Maybe when we’re older, when our kids graduated… not now. We are all still getting married, getting established with our lives, having babies. But I have to be there. I need to see her, more than anything right now. I need to just hug her, cry with her, laugh with her, hear her voice and let her know I love her with every bit of me.

It is in these moments when life takes an abrupt pause and the clatter in your head begins to focus a little less on small daily annoyances and more on embracing those in your circle.  In the solemn stillness, we find that life becomes about survival—survival of our dear friend’s life, survival of friendships, survival of our faith and survival of the joys and bonds that tether us uniquely together.

God has granted us special and rich friendships with one another beautifully crafted in such a way that we remain deeply connected despite living miles apart.  It is in these times that we must come together, unite and remember the decades of history we share.  Our friend needs us—I would argue, now more than ever– emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually…she needs us and more importantly, we need her.

Tragedy, hardship, misfortune…these are uncomfortable terms with unfamiliar emotions.  They make us squirm and uncertain how to respond.  What do you say?  What’s right?  What’s wrong?  It’s all so messy.  But I guess that’s the nature of love.  It is messy—full of unknowns, risk, grief and joy.  It is the fullness of being loved and loving well those who are dear.  My dearest friends– the group of girls from kindergarten, middle school and high school—we are so blessed to have each other.  And although, this is unfamiliar territory with this recent diagnosis, we need to messily trod through this scary wasteland together.  It is no consequence that God has put us in each other’s lives for such a time as this.  Each of us brings our uniqueness to the table.  Our group holds so much diversity and each of us shares our strengths in our own way to help in this journey of healing for our friends.   So many personalities– the listener, the empathizer, the wisdom-imparter, the stoic, the joy bringer, the peacemaker, the comic relief, the organizer, the matriarch, the one who can take the night shift, the one available before the crack of dawn—each of us brings their own beautiful God-given gifts.  It is what makes our group the way it is, and we must embrace that more than ever for the sake of our friend and for the sake of each other.

It is easy to not want to enter pain especially given the option, but I believe we must find the healthy tension to grieve with our friend yet be strong in her fight.  I encourage you, do not turn off your heart to a more comfortable portion of emotion.  Embrace the tender twinge, let yourself cry out of love and enter in to the discomfort with her.  But be ready to stand strong, bringing your gifts, talents and beautiful personality to help her fight and heal.  Support her selflessly and be her prayer warrior.  We are in it for the long haul.  We will fight the good fight with her so that she knows she is never alone.

I am so grateful for the gift of each of you and I hope this experience draws us closer.  And to our dear, brave, beautiful friend…You have all of us—pull on us, lean on us, call on us—you have our attention, our time, our strengths, our prayers, and most importantly our love.  That’s what friends are for.

 

This song makes me think of our beautiful group:

Twice As Good by Sara Groves

 

 

Black Raspberries

The kiss of the warm breeze upon my check, the sound of  the chain saw cutting through fallen logs, seven o’clock evening sun slightly sinking with trails of splendent beams, motorcyclists, bonfires, the dog cutting through the green grass…this is summer.  My favorite season.  It is the reminder of birth, life, freshness, growth…hope.  It brings anticipation, excitement and peace.  The drain and darkness of winter is forgotten with the vibrant cacophony of crickets, locusts, children laughing, lawnmowers and birds.

Sometimes we wait for life– the big things, the “one-days” and the next phase. But here it is now– all around you– now.  Most of life is comprised of small moments and simple pleasures.  These are where memories are made, laughter is found and the sweet taste of joy is savored.

Today was nothing special.  It was piled with the ordinary– starting with a tired morning and traffic-jammed commute.  It continued with a troubleshooting shift, late lunch, achy back, sporadic texts, inside jokes, kind strangers, familiar coworkers and an overtime clock- out stamp. There were interruptions, frustrations, annoyances, funny moments, mid morning snacks, and to-do list accomplishments.  And the evening brought nothing more than a sleepy approach to household tasks, tacos and yard work.  But quietly it snuck in, like the sheepish shimmer of a morning sunrise– there in the midst of the ordinary was peaceful gratitude.

This was life, right now–memories, tomorrow’s sentiments, next years’ “remember when”.  Here it was– my man and I working outside cutting up trees in our yard, starting a bonfire to burn the brush, pausing to sneak up on two fawns with their cute little dots, a quick call from Grandma, playing with the dog, riding in the back of the John Deere trailer, the smell of smoke and summer infiltrating our nostrils and a handful of tiny black raspberries, homegrown from our own land.  We were dirty and sweaty, sneezing and smiley, loving and laughing.  What more could I ask for?   These moments are gifts.  A beautiful home, a full tummy, my loving man, the summer sun, grandma’s sweet voice, health to work, peaceful land, and the perfect handful of fresh black raspberries…gift, gift, gift, gift.

Don’t miss it.  Don’t wish for tomorrow or hope for grandeur.  Don’t waste your time comparing your life to others or stressing about the problem you can’t solve. Slow down, remember what you already have.  Breath in peace.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.  Galatians 6:4-6 (The Message)