This. Is. It!

Ray Of Light

(FreeImages.com/CarterPerrier)

I love it when God removes the “blinders” and reveals truth to me!  The interesting thing is that often it’s truth I have known in my head but somehow didn’t really understand and/or believe it, meaning live it.

Remember, what you believe is what you live.

It’s interesting how “old truth” suddenly becomes “new truth” when you finally really “see” it!

That’s how it was for me when I realized anew the truth of the following insights God was revealing to me — truths I had “known” before but not really knew.

For example, I blogged previously how God showed me that faith isn’t something God quantifies; it’s something we simply need to have, and that it’s the Object of our faith — God Himself — that is the Source of our faith.  We can’t produce authentic, powerful faith through our own ability to muster up faith.  We have faith as a result of knowing our God — Who He is.

Secondly, I have come to treasure prayer and to view it as the amazing privilege it is — the opportunity to partner with God in His work in another person’s life and the incredible privilege it is to communicate with God.

I used to think prayer was me, naming off a bunch of requests to God and hoping He would choose to answer some of them the way I wanted or thought they should be answered.

I grew to understand that prayer involved some worship of God.  I remember trying to “tack on” a few worshipful-sounding words in order to meet a higher level of spirituality, or so I hoped.  Sounds really shallow, doesn’t it?!!  To be honest though, my prayer life was often exactly that — shallow.

My prayer life was shallow though because my understanding and therefore relationship with God was more shallow. 

It’s hard to pray to One that you don’t know that intimately, don’t really grasp that His love is unconditional and not affected by performance, and don’t really trust. 

The power of prayer is the One to Whom we are praying.

The problem is we so often don’t really understand God, or our thoughts about Him are based upon misconceptions, twisted truths, and harmful misrepresentations.

I recently read the following quote in the book, Wonder Struck:

The wonder of prayer is rediscovered in Who we are speaking to.

— Margeret Feinberg

Reminds me what God showed me about faith.  Once again, it’s the recipient of our prayers and His interaction with me because of Who He is that makes prayer so vital and so incredible!  It’s not the words, in themselves, that make prayer so powerful.

Prayer is so incredible because it is the opportunity to speak to God or as the following quote says:

“Prayer is the opportunity to bend the ear of God.” — Margaret Feinberg

It’s a big deal because of Who God is!  He isn’t some conniving, selfish, evil, uncaring God.  He is a God who longs to hear our voices, especially when they are lifted in awareness of Him.

Have you ever sat with someone and experienced their inattention or complacency?  It’s not exactly pleasant or satisfying.

A lot of prayer life consists of mumbled phrases thrown out to appease a false view of a vindictive God.

A prayer life is transformed though when we begin to see the amazing and incredible gift it is — an opportunity to commune with an ever-present, ever-loving, ever-powerful God!!!  It is an opportunity to be heard by God but also to hear from God.

This brings me to a third truth.  I read the following quote recently and loved it:

“Hope is confident expectation.”  (Not sure in which devotional I read it.)

Do you see that?!!!  Hope is confident expectation in Who?  The power of hope is in Who the expectation is!  Hope isn’t lasting or “powerful” because it’s something we just randomly possess or stir up in ourselves.  Hope is a powerful emotion that comes from a powerful Source. 

It’s the Source of the hope — what we are expecting or looking to — that determines the resilience and strength of our hope.

As I was pondering the above truths, I was thinking how all kinds of other emotions I can think of owe their power and passion to their source.  If it’s a good source, it can be a good emotion.  If it’s a negative source — a reaction, fear, or bitterness — it can be an emotion that wreaks great destruction.

I couldn’t help but ponder that the authentic reality of truth, love, peace, joy, grace, wisdom, life, hope, faith, and prayer all owe their power to the object or source of their existence: God Himself.

It really is that simple!

This is why I have experienced the pure, authentic fullness of these characteristics only in the Presence of God Himself.

You can pursue peace, purpose, and joy outside of God, but I can personally tell you, it won’t last, and it is only a shallow representation of the authentic reality of knowing the Divine Source!

The secret therefore to the full life is knowing the God of life.  The secret to the above three characteristics is knowing God — truly knowing God.  In order to do that, it may mean laying aside all the false ideas and harmful representations of God so you can finally meet the reality of God Himself.

Additional Notes: 

As I was contemplating these truths further while washing my dishes, it “struck me.”  We often think that people who don’t believe in God don’t believe in God because they are lacking faith or because they are rebellious.  What shattered that pre-conceived idea for me is that just as I need to understand God is my Source of the abundant life so it is with the “unbeliever.”  Perhaps, the person who doesn’t believe in God isn’t about his/her lack of faith at all but more about his/her lack of understanding or false understanding of God.

In other words, how can you believe in One that you think is angry, harsh, uncaring, vindictive, and selfish?  It’s easier to pretend He doesn’t exist than that He does but could be those things.

It is a wrong view of God that is the biggest hindrance to a person’s ability to trust in God.  How can you trust in One you don’t believe loves you unconditionally, perfectly, and eternally?

Rather than telling people they need to have faith, maybe we need to be telling them and showing them more what our God is truly like — not a man-made version of a god but God Himself.  That may mean, we first need to get to know Him more intimately ourselves.

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A Full Calendar But An Empty Life?

 

 water fall

(FreeImages.com/RebeccaVaughan)

“We learn to praise God not by paying compliments but by paying attention.” — Frederick Buechner.

How many of us actually take the time to pause, reflect, and ponder upon the wonder of our God and allow His love to flow over, through us, and in us?  It is the absence of this that is the prevailing reason why we find ourselves “parched,” despondent, unsure, restless, and longing for something more.

This summer has been very full — full of fun moments, plenty of activities, and many opportunities to engage with friends and to make new friends!  In the middle of all of this “fullness,” I began to feel such emptiness.

A full calendar does not indicate a “full” life.  In fact, the busier my calendar became, the more depleted I felt until I knew I was getting close to a “crash.”

Then God, in His love, intervened.  He created unplanned space within a day — actually two days — for me to be able to pause.

I took the opportunity to dive into satisfying that for which I was starving — time in God’s Word/time with Him.  By this time, I have learned that I am never at greater authentic peace and fully “satisfied” then I am when I spend time with God.  I knew I needed it.  So, I partook, and was it ever satisfying!!!

As I began to open God’s Word, read my devotional, participate in my Bible study book, every word pointed back to the need to pause, rest, reflect, and ponder.  The “words” addressed my need to create boundaries and to be intentional in creating “space” for this to happen.

The words I read also absolved my guilt over the fact that I have noticed when I am too busy, I am less able to handle life with as much grace. I become reactive rather than responsive to God’s voice.  Why?  Because I am unable to hear God’s voice in the deafening cacophony of the chaos.

I would tell myself that I should be able to handle the craziness if I was strong enough…

Do you see it, like I see it now?  How proud and self-reliant that is!  What was I really saying?  Wasn’t I saying that if I was strong enough (in myself — not in God), I could handle this?  Why in myself?  Because I wasn’t taking time to actually gain strength from God.  Therefore, I was drawing or attempting to draw strength from myself and therefore “crashing.”

My “well” will never be full enough to quench all of the winds, fires, and droughts this world sends my way.  And neither will yours.

It humbled me to see that God loved me enough to intervene, to stop me in my head-long race to burn-out.

He created “space” for me and then provided the refreshment I needed to be recharged and resupplied in order to live the “full life.”

It doesn’t make us weak to acknowledge our dependency upon God.  It actually makes us strong!  How so?

This reminds me of a vacuum cleaner.  A vacuum cleaner is a very important machine that helps to keep my house from falling into total disarray.  It’s a product of ingenuity for which I am very thankful!  The vacuum cleaner has a powerful motor that sucks up dirt, pieces of food, dust bunnies, and insects.  Yet, unless I plug the vacuum cleaner into the source of its power — the outlet — it is a useless piece of equipment that takes up unnecessary floor space.

So it is with us!  God has designed us to be used in many amazing, creative, and productive ways!  Yet, when we aren’t “plugged in” to our Source of Power — God Himself — we are incapable of producing that which will have eternal value.

Today, let’s you and I pause and contemplate, reflect upon our God, and allow Him to nurture our souls and fill us once again with His abundant life, true peace (wellness of soul), and true joy.

There is no better place to be!

Let’s pursue the full life rather than the full calendar.

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Sufficiency

nature 1

I awoke this morning and began my day my favorite way: a Bible in my lap, my journal, two devotional books, a pen, and a study book.

I kept it simple this morning: read from the two devotional books, glanced at the study book and closed it back up, read a chapter in II Corinthians, prayed, listened for what God wanted to teach me, and then journaled some thoughts.

These are the simple but profound truths, I believe, He wanted me to hear from Him today  (Journal Entry):

I prayed to surrender myself to God for the start of the day.  Felt the Lord challenging me, “Are you surrendering yourself to me?  Then why are you holding onto your cares?”  (I was stressing over some concerns for my day — wondering how I was going to accomplish everything I need to do today.)

The theme of my life in 2015 seemed to be surrender — learning the profound and beautiful truths of surrendering to God — what that looks like and how it happens.

I try to start my days with a simple prayer, telling God that I surrender myself to Him, to be used by Him, and to be empowered by His Presence as I go about my day.

God, though, this morning was challenging me that when I am worrying, stressing, fearing, I am not surrendered.

To surrender is to let go.

How do I let go of those things that worry me?  The question is, “Why do you feel you need to hold onto those things?”  If you are holding onto something, you are in essence believing that you have to protect that thing, that you can’t trust those things with anyone else — even more importantly, with God.

To surrender is to trust in the all-sufficiency of Christ.

A thought that stood out to me in my one devotional this morning was the idea of contentment and how that relates to trusting in Christ’s sufficiency.

Here’s what I journaled:

At the heart of a lack of contentment [and fear] is not understanding or believing in the sufficiency of God — His provision, protection, presence, power, and peace.

That’s it, isn’t it?!!

Contentment comes from a personal belief in the sufficiency of God — that He is the Great “I Am”!  He revealed Himself to the Israelites as the “I Am,” meaning, “Everything they needed, He is and will provide.”

God directed me to read from the following passage in Scripture:

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I feel this was God’s personal encouragement to me, following a heart cry for Him to deliver us from some present trials.  I knew the lie was coming that God wasn’t powerful enough, didn’t care enough, or my faith wasn’t enough.

Instead, God led me to the truth in this Scripture.  God spoke the following thoughts to my heart:

As I was reading II Cor. 12:9-10, I felt God was showing me that in the areas He answered my requests with a “no” — in regards to my own weaknesses and some personal challenges we are facing — that He was telling me it’s so that in our weaknesses we come to rely on His sufficiency, and we experience the intimacy of the personal reality of it.

Let me restate that…

In our weaknesses, we come to rely on His sufficiency, and we experience the intimacy of the personal reality of it.

Doesn’t that change the entire way we view our struggles, weaknesses, and trials?  It doesn’t minimize our challenges, sorrows, and suffering, but it does give us the hope — that as our bodies grow weaker, our spiritual lives can grow stronger; as our circumstances grow more challenging, our spiritual lives can find greater vitality and fullness; and as earthly sorrows threaten to crush us, the immeasurable glories of the reality of the eternal can produce within us the peace and joy that passes all understanding.

The immeasurable glories of the reality of the eternal God can produce within us the peace and joy that passes all understanding!

The Simplicty About Sin…

(http://www.freeimages.com/photo/checkmate-chess-1181519)

This past Saturday, I was pondering some truths I had read in Scripture, dialoguing with the Lord, and then He gave me this thought…

It was so “simple” and yet so profound in its impact…

Anything independent from God is sin. 

That means any time our wills are not aligned with God’s or simply put, submitted to God, we are in sin.

Understanding this simple truth is changing the way I pray and is changing the way I view my own sin.

It “emblazons” my sin before my eyes so that I no longer can justify or minimize it.

When I understand that I am sinning when I am not aligned with God’s will in ALL AREAS, I realize that I have a decision to make: I either respond to God’s conviction with contrition/repentance, or I rebel and reject His ways and reap the consequences of my own actions.

Thinking about this simple truth means I have been doing a lot of confessing lately — not prompted by fear or pride — but prompted from my own desire to walk in freedom and for greater communication in my relationship with the Lord. 

I don’t want hindered communication in my relationship with the Lord.

Sin hinders communication.  It produces “soul noise” that “drowns out” the voice of God.

Repentance reopens those channels, “unplugs” my ears, and removes the “blockades” in my spiritual life.

True repentance produces unprecedented peace and joy. 

Understanding the profound truth that my will needs to be aligned with God’s will in order to walk in truth, life, freedom, and righteousness means that I now pray the following prayer:

Lord, may your will be done in such and such a situation…”

“Lord, change my will to be yours in such and such a matter…”

So simple and yet so life-changing!

It does not matter that I want certain things.  Unless what I want is in alignment with what God wants for me at that time or in that way, to proceed ahead would be sin.

Yes!  I have been praying a lot of prayers, asking God to change my will in many matters and asking His will to be accomplished in many situations.  It is so exciting and amazing to be a part of His work in the lives of others and to be receptive and responsive to His leading!

May 2016 be a year of amazing revival in my life, my home, my family, and yours as well!

Finding Satisfaction

Further HDR fisheye shots from B�¡rr�¡s. I was crazy enough to carry a full-size tripod there along with my lens arsenal (I'm happy that these shots turned out decent, as the extra weight was really a bitch to carry). B�¡rr��...

(Free stock photo: http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=659478&searchId=6cad826248cd3f4e93da71e7b49928e3&npos=9.)

We are only two weeks into the new year, and my thoughts have been on goals, hopes, and dreams.

A new year frequently spurs people on a new trajectory or encourages new momentum on a recurring goal.

Yet when I pondered all the dreams, hopes, and goals we have as humans, I couldn’t help but think that they all point to the same end…

I remember as a girl, having dreams of being the object of a wonderful man’s love and desire.  A beautiful wedding. Marriage.  Babies.  It all sounded so wonderful!

Being mommy meant chubby cheeks, blowing kisses, hearing “Mama”, and getting slobbery kisses.  I pictured all the cuteness and thought that I would be the “perfect” mom and my kids would be little images of “perfection.”  Why not?  No one dreams about the messes, temper tantrums, and sleepless nights.

We have other hopes and dreams too.  Traveling.  Physical fitness.  A bigger house.  Pretty things.  For women, we might think new additions to our wardrobe will make the difference.

All of these things satisfy for a time so we will often return to the things that satisfied us before in order to keep the sense of euphoria going.

This is the origin of many mid-life crises.  The old is no longer as exciting so we look for a newer, younger, more passionate version.

The old house is no longer as “big” and appealing as it was at first so we look for a bigger, more extravagant home.

Our home town is not the exotic center for excitement so we travel to destinations in distant locations.

Most of these things are fine in themselves.  The problem is when we are chasing after these things in order to either “run from” the things that intimidate us or when we are pursuing these things in order to find a lasting sense of “being”or satisfaction and joy.

As a woman, I have been guilty of ever so often wanting to shop for new additions to my wardrobe or a few new items to decorate my home in order to give me a sense of happiness.  The issue is not with the items; the issue is my desired outcome: happiness from these things.

The truth is beauty fades, strong muscles atrophy into frailty, our health gives out eventually, relationships take work and commitment, clothing wears and so do homes, styles come and go, “familiarity breeds contempt,” the kids grow up and leave the nest, spouses age and eventually die. At some point, it all ends or diminishes.

Nothing in this life is permanent.

It is a grim picture, but it’s not when you find something that is eternal and completely satisfying.

The one thing that remains eternal and transcends the earthly is the supernatural.  This is why there is within us all a desire for something greater, eternal, supernatural.  We all want to know that at some point, we will finally reach a place where we can find “rest,” permanent satisfaction, and joy.

I believe that place is what God promises in the Bible as our eternal and final dwelling: a place with Him.

What comfort it is to know that we can dream, anticipate, and hope for something that is assured to all those who believe and receive this gift.  It is the gift of salvation, the gift of son-ship and daughter-ship, the gift of eternal life, the gift of lasting peace, the gift of victory…

May 2016 be a year where we look not to the temporal to satisfy the eternal longings and needs of our souls.  May it be a year where we discover or persevere in an unshakable faith in an eternal inheritance of life, love, peace, and joy, found in Jesus Christ.

Romans 10:9-11

that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”[a]

Romans 5:21

21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 John 2:25

25 And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life.

1 John 5:11

11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.

1 John 5:13

13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life,[a] and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

Revelation 21:1-6

All Things Made New

21 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John,[a] saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me,[b] “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

And He said to me, “It is done![c] I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.

To Behold

Skye Island, Scotland

(http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=2518178&searchId=6cad826248cd3f4e93da71e7b49928e3&npos=29)

The words seem to spill out of their own volition.  My heart is overflowing.  There is this awareness of so much goodness — overflowing abundance of goodness…

There is this insatiable hunger.  I can’t seem to get enough of Him.

I met Him and became aware of His love for me, and I fell in love with Him… not the passionate selfish kind of one’s youth.  Instead, it’s a love that makes me complete, content, overjoyed, awe-struck, captivated, inspired, strengthened, at rest.

Before seeing His love for me personally, I had a relationship with Him but it was distant, based on what I had heard or read.  It was built on a lot of “theories” and “head” knowledge.

My worship was related to what I knew about Him with my “head.”  It sounded nice with many fancy-sounding words, but it was a worship of knowledge.  Oh, I had my moments when there was some heart to it…

I was His after all.  Yet, something was missing, and I didn’t know what it was.  I didn’t even know really for awhile that something was missing — how can you when you haven’t had it before?

Then life happened, and with it came pain, hardships, and the ever seeking for a new sense of being.  I tried to be something alright.  I tried to be the most “godly” daughter I could be.  I thought I could be more acceptable to Him if I was more.  I thought He wanted my performance.  Later, I would find out He wanted my heart.

I knew I wanted Him.  I wanted His approval, but most of all, what I was really seeking was His love.  I wanted to feel loved.  So I did or tried to do all the right things.  I was the “good girl”.

What I didn’t realize was that my “godliness” was only “godlified-moralism”.  I would discover that godliness isn’t something you can put on or wear.  True godliness is from Him. 

I didn’t realize that every time I tried to be godly I was doing it in my own strength, with my own ideas and perceptions.  I carried a heavy weight of guilt because I just could never be “godly enough” on my own.

I had trusted Him to be my Savior from my sins, and I knew He loved me enough to die.  My love though was based more on a past-tense event then on a present-day awareness of love.  I didn’t fully realize that He didn’t just die for my sins (which was more than enough) but that He also wanted to take the sinner and transform her to become like His Son.  I didn’t realize all my “inheritance” as His daughter — all that I have in Him.

As the years passed, I became more and more hungry to experience fullness of life in Him, but all I knew was this endless struggle of trying to be godly and falling short.

Then came the day when it all changed.

I remember those moments like I am watching a Cinema movie.  I can recall myself trembling as I awoke to God’s Spirit convicting me and telling me what needed to change — that I needed to find my identity in Him.

I remember crying out to Him and begging Him to tell me what He thought of me because I was forever trying to prove myself to Him, trying to win His acceptance — even though I already was His child.

Then, I remember.  I remember standing there singing those beautiful words to the song “I’m Overwhelmed” by Big Daddy Weave and then it was as if He was singing them to me.

I remember getting up and leaving in the middle of the song to go to a private spot where I could pray.  I remember those gut-wrenching sobs as I began to cry out to God.  As I began to cry out to Him, He began to answer me.

I “saw” that I was no longer running after Him, begging Him for His love.  I saw that He was running towards me.

It was then that my heart ran smack into the heart of God, and I truly came home.

I have never been the same again.

I have this sense of completeness, strength because I have experienced His love for me — so perfect, complete, unconditional.  I no longer live to prove something.  Life no longer has to be a struggle.  It is instead a surrender.  As I surrender to a God I know personally and can trust because He loves me completely, I find all of His gifts and resources at my disposal.

Godliness is not something I achieve.  It’s something He gives/bestows on me as I simply abide in Him. 

Godliness comes from being in His Presence.  Godliness isn’t something I produce.  It’s something He produces in me.

He just wants me — me yielded to Him so that He can transform this broken vessel into something out of which His glory can spill.

My heart yearns to forever be in His physical Presence.  I can’t wait to behold His smile and to look into His eyes and to be lost in them.

I can’t wait to dance in the Presence of the One who made me.

I can’t wait to sit at His feet and to simply soak up His Presence.

I can’t wait to walk with Him and talk with Him… to see the nail prints and to know they are an eternal symbol of His eternal love for me.

His love has changed me.

I wish there were adequate words to describe the depth of my gratitude for Him.

I wish I could help all to see and recognize His love for them — for each and every one of His creation.

With every waking breath, I can’t seem to restrain myself from wanting to share the wonder of this with everyone.  Think me strange or something else, but what I know is once I was “blind” but now I “see.”

I personally see His goodness, His glory, His grace, His love, His transforming truth, His life…  I see Him!

Job 42:5

“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear,
But now my eye sees You.

And this…

“Freeze Frames of Thanks”

I recently read a quote that I just love in one of my favorite books, One Thousand Gifts: “…unfolding of a chronicle of grace, our life story in freeze frames of thanks.”  I loved the metaphor! 

Just as a camera zooms and then focuses in on a moment of life and then captures it to preserve for future remembrance, so we too can train our hearts to focus in on each detail of life/those moments of grace and then capture them in “freeze frames of thanks.”

How do we capture these moments when life seems so fleeting?  How do we treasure and “freeze” these moments of grace to recall in future remembrance?

How do we even stop to savor, to touch, to breathe, to listen?

Another quote from the same book I previously referenced said, “…the busyness of your life leaving little room for the source of your life … God gives us time.  And who has time for God? …Getting to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of me.  I cannot think of a single advantage I’ve ever gained from being in a hurry.  But a thousand broken and missed things … lie in the wake of all the rushing…  I thought I was making up time.  It turns out I was throwing it away … in our rushing … we break our own lives.  Haste makes waste … The hurry makes us hurt.  And maybe it is the hurt that drives us on?  …The longer I keep running, the longer the gash, and I drain, bleed away.  Hurry always empties the soul. …The real problem of life is never a lack of time.  The real problem of life — in my life — is lack of thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving creates abundance; and the miracle of multiplying happens when I give thanks — take the just one loaf, say it is enough, and give thanks — and He miraculously makes it more than enough. …I am mother-tired, but when my soul doth magnify, my time doth magnify. …when I swell with thanks and weigh the moment down … it’s giving thanks to God… that multiplies the moments, time made enough.  I am thank-full.   I am time-full.”

So in these moments of real life, I seek to capture/to focus on each picture of grace — moments of grace that only a heart of thanksgiving can fully see.  It is this focus that captures, that magnifies the grace and then helps me to see its Source. 

What about all the pain too?  What about the sin?  What about my own sin?  Do I gloss over the pain, the tragedies, the darkness in my heart?  Again, the book I am reading wrote, “Joy and pain, they are but two arteries of the one heart that pumps through all those who don’t numb themselves to really living. … in the vein and the visceral: life is loss.”  It’s true, isn’t it?!  The more my senses are amplified, the more I see, hear, smell, taste, and feel.  Life isn’t just a “Pollyanna moment.”  It’s pregnant with both joy and pain.  Yet, this life is still a gift.  It is a measurement of my heart.  It is the only legacy I will “write.” 

How do I reconcile the pain with the joy? 

Does the joy negate the pain?  No.  I believe the pain though can be the dark lines that contrast the beauty of the lighter colors.  In photography, it takes the perfect balance of light and darkness/contrasts to produce a replica of a moment in all its fullest beauty.  I feel the pain.  I see the pain.  Yet, to fully live, to fully love, I also see the joy and feel the joy.  I learn to “zoom in” on the minutest details of each moment of grace with a mind-set/heart-set of thanksgiving. 

With the “lens” of grace, I pause/I “weigh down” life’s moments with thanksgiving and feel the joy.  Here are just a few of those moments from me over the past few days:

103. Baby sleeping 8 hours straight

104. Husband letting me sleep in

105. Breakfast in bed

106.  Pattering of little feet across the floor below

107. Warm shower

108.  Baby kisses

109. Laundry tumbling in wash machine

113.  Fellowship with friends

120. Bills paid

125. Jonathan’s love note

127. Playing games with my boys

130. Pristine snow… freshly falling, blanketing the earth

143. Footprints in the snow

157. Warm, tapioca fluff

186. Heart-shaped Dunkin’ Donuts for everyone

191. My kids allowing me to sleep in

196. Dancing and singing with my kids in the driveway last night … doing the unexpected

198. Boys who still ask me to sit with them on Wednesday night song times

199. Boys who jostle me, trying to fit on my lap while I read stories

200. With laughter, watching my boys pull their sister around on a toy truck

202. Playing Checkers with Will

203. Personalized Valentine card from Husband

204. The little ways he romances me, like taking a straw wrapper to form my name

205. Newly-framed pictures of my family on walls

I am learning…  still learning, but this “heart-set” is helping me to see how each breath I take is full of grace!

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