The History of Yesterday

I feel you reminding me over and over this morning to shake off yesterday and embrace this new day. You tell me the great potential of today is at stake if I keep running in the circles of yesterday.

But it’s difficult to accept such grace and to fathom that you give me a new, clean slate each day.

Just like that. Despite all that was yesterday. But why? Why is it so incredibly difficult to be given something so beautiful?

The reality is that the fleeting, deceitful, human heart is wired to receive love in the only way it understands love – which is, unfortunately, the way that we then love others. We do not love others in the perfect, patient, understanding way that you love us – at least not unconditionally. We love selfishly for the sake of what we get out of it, if we’re honest. We love with ulterior motives. Therefore, when you love me perfectly, I cannot comprehend such a thing because I have not yet attained the capacity to love like that myself.

It baffles me. It takes unlearning wrong habits of loving incorrectly in order to receive your love. And that takes a lot of humility.

The love I know how to give tells me that in order to receive love, particularly on my worst days, I’ve got more to earn back and make up for than what grace can cover.

But that’s a lie. Your love has never been earned by anyone since the beginning of time. Because there was never anything to earn in the first place, just growth to be had.

And growth is hard. It is not something that takes place from understanding something in our heads, but from putting into practice what we learn and understand in our heads. It is so much easier to read an amazing book about love than it is to consider the interest and comfort of another human being more highly than our own.

But that is love. And it is worth it. Because in the mangled, difficult, embarrassingly-humbling-at-times process of growth and love, we are becoming more like you.

It is in this process of learning to be loved by you and showered with your grace that we then are able to love others better. And more importantly, to know you better, love you more deeply, and walk with you more intimately. Which was your plan for humanity from the start – that we may dwell with you.

Thank you that yesterday is now history. Not something to be forgotten, but something to learn from.

{History for humanity is sort of like fire for metal. It refines us. It allows us to leave behind the dross of our character so that we may be edified into a far more beautiful version of ourselves. It removes the impurities that keep us from reaching our goal of knowing and loving you better.}

Yes. Yes, today is new.

 

 

Refuge: A Condition of Being Safe

What a privilege it is to take refuge in you, Lord.

What a blessing – in the deepest meaning of the word – to know that you are fully worthy of my trust. That the act of placing my confidence in you means letting go.

Letting go of worry.

Letting go of insecurity.

Letting go of anxiety.

Letting go of control.

I can do that because the reality is that all of life is experienced with you. You are always present. Though my fickle human heart deceives me at times, you are never far away. Though the voice of shame booms that I’ve crossed the line one too many times, that you’ve finally had enough and have turned your back, you tell me otherwise.

If only I would listen.

You always love. You always hear – and not just hear, but listen.

You know me far better than I know myself. And you are far more worthy of the trust I often place in myself.

Yes, yes you are good, Father.

You are quick to forgive me, always. You never hesitate to gently re-direct my steps back towards your arms of love and away from my own pursuit of destruction and death.

Your desire for me is good. Though the evil of my human heart is still a present reality, one that I fight against daily (sometimes hourly), your goodness still reigns.

Because goodness means knowing your joy and grace wherever I am.

It is because of this constant state of knowing and being with you that I am able to let go of trying to be good enough and accept your promise that you will not turn your back.

Yes, I belong to you. I am yours.

I will take refuge in you.

I will rejoice.

I will ever sing for joy.

 

 

Me and My Daughter, My Daughter and Me

 

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It’s quiet this morning. I see the ocean through the small window from this cozy rocking chair. I breath in, sip my coffee, and exhale, remembering the not-so-quiet giggles and splashes and rigid chill of that same ocean water from yesterday afternoon.

Her tiny, tiny toes cringe every time I lower her enough to touch the wet sand.

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She bends down and decides she wants to feel that muddy sand in her curious, tiny fingertips. She looks up at me, both bewildered and excited at such a thing.

Her relentless “happy” feet and legs are especially “happy” with every wave that approaches and crashes over our ankles – sometimes even our knees, if the waves are big enough.

Me and my daughter. My daughter and me.

For a split second, I lose all sight of the age separation that at times makes me feel more like a babysitter to this one year old than her mother.

For a split second, I catch a heavenly glimpse from God’s lens of perfect reality, of truth.

For a split second, there is no concept of my task-oriented closed-mindedness that often makes the day-to-day seem monotonous or exhausting or frustrating or full of failure, as a mom of an almost toddler.

You see {I write this through wet, glass eyes}, I am simply with my daughter.

Me and my daughter. My daughter and me.

I am in her world, she is in mine. We are together; sharing an experience together; enjoying each other – neither of us wanting it to be over.

No, I am no babysitter today.

I am a mother.

This is life – real, true, life-giving life.

{Which, although sounds redundant, is immensely refreshing. Because if we are honest with ourselves, life is not always life-giving.}

The reality that a de-sanding bath is imminent – for us both – or that her dinner/bedtime routine is rapidly approaching, or that we have no towel to wrap up, dry off, and warm up in is not relevant at all.

To either of us.

We are just two girls having fun.

{We are drenched – and this water is COLD; not to mention the fact that I had no intention of needing a towel at all. I was maybe prepared to dip my toes in the water, but the thought of any more than that stressed me way out. What a mess. That kind of cleanup is too much for my infamously obsessive to-do list. I’m way too good of a planner-aheader for that…

But this is unplanned. It goes against every grain of a to-do list.

This, is beautiful.

Once again in life, unplanned events act as great teachers. And this event, in particular, is a very gracious teacher. This is another life-giving life experience – when we are taught graciously, rather than having to learn the hard way. These are the rare lessons. The fun, undeserved, pleasantly unexpected rare lessons where the Lord lavishes grace for no reason other than love.}

And yet, in the midst of all of this, I am simultaneously overwhelmed with the most intense, protective rush I have experienced in my 13 months and 1 day of being a mama. My subconscious, Mama Bear death grip on her in my arms is the only barrier between me walking her safely back to the house and her getting swept out into the daunting power of that massive – beautiful and majestic, but daunting and powerful, nonetheless – body of water.

Holy Cow. I’m trying to take it all in. It seems impossible. I don’t want this to end, this feeling.

This joy.

This bliss.

This lack of comprehension of all the brokenness that is life, at times, on this side of Heaven.

And it isn’t a feeling of fear, this feeling I feel. More of beautiful, privileged responsibility.

But she has not one speck of comprehension of any of that.

All she can see is the next wave approaching and “I better start kicking now so Mommy swings me in the water again!”

For the hundredth time. And let me tell you, I could do it a thousand more.

And to think that this perspective, this protective love, this enthralling joy, this passion for another, for a child, is God’s constant – not split-second-come-and-go – view of us, makes me speechless.

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Upside Down Power

Of all people, Jesus had every right to not live as a servant, to choose self-righteous living – He was God, for goodness sake.

But he didn’t.

He was (is) the one who deserved to be served and honored, but he took every opportunity to serve and honor others. He used the great power and authority as the one true God of all the earth, in the form of a man, and surrendered it.

He laid it down.

He became humble {not in the sense that he was not already humble-for he was God-but in the sense that he portrayed beautifully what it looks like to correct the misconception of power from self-serving dictatorship into servant-like humility}.

Why would he do such a thing?

We common folk demand more than that in our day to day lives, let alone him. A king. The one true King. King of all Creation.

He lived this way to show the world how to be human-fully human. In every sense of what God intended when he made humans – us – in his image.

[This is what we fail to realize. Humans are not the dominant species. God existed before we did and saw fit that we should exist. So he created us. In doing so, God lowered his form of existence.

Let us baffle at that thought for a moment.. apart from him, we are merely dust.

We are not the kings and queens of the world. We are servants of the Most High. We are advocates of the one true King, loving the things he loves and hating the things he hates to exemplify and usher in his kingdom until he comes back rectify it fully.

And that is an honorable responsibility, if we choose to humble ourselves and accept it.

But society today is appalled at the idea of being servants to anything – and rightfully so. We have corrupted the beautiful privilege of servanthood and the meaning of authority into something negative and demeaning. In our petty human kingdoms that we have created and have so struggled to sustain well, we have forgotten the original intention of God in the garden – where he reigned, and we obeyed.

You see, we humans have forgotten the meaning and beauty of submission because we have taken advantage of and ruined the power we were originally given.

Yes, we were given charge of Creation to rule and reign until he returns to set things right. But every ounce of power we humans are given is to be submitted to the reign of the One who has given us authority over this world that we live in. And friends, if we are honest with ourselves, what is our idea of what it means to reign over anything? Of what it means to obtain power and establish justice? Does it really match that of Jesus? Do we really side with those whom Jesus sided (still sides) with? Do we really look much like him, at all?]

{Sorry. That was a long sidenote. But really.}

Jesus chose servanthood in order to show us, his followers, how to love one another with the love of his Father-of our Father. He willfully chose not to exercise the upper hand at times when it would have gone much better and easier for him to do so.

But he was not concerned with what was easy.

He was concerned with love.

He was concerned with others.

He was concerned with lepers, who never knew love or acceptance before they encountered Jesus.

He was concerned with the poor.

He was concerned with forgiveness (and no, not only those who sought forgiveness. But even, and especially, those who were against him completely. His enemies.)

He was concerned with grace.

He was concerned with empathy, with putting the comfort and benefit of others before our own.

He was concerned with humility.

If we truly stop and take a deep, long look at the life of Jesus – all that he said, did, and interceded on behalf of – we see a different kind of power than what we encourage and seek for our own lives.

In simple terms, Jesus was concerned with the Kingdom of God.

Are we?

 

 

 

Medicine for the Soul

Chicken broth, saltines, lysol, load after load of laundry, cuddles, and lots of coffee have consumed my to-do list the last two days. And by “consumed” I mean “replaced.”

{You guessed it: the dreaded tummy bug. We experienced our first case of sickness with a little one in our household.}

Now, if you know me, you probably know that I panicked – big time – because of my ridiculous phobia of throwing up. I will do just about anything to avoid it at all costs – both, being around it and/or experiencing it myself. So when I saw the body heave make its way up her little body into a gag and witnessed her lunch making a second entrance all over her and her high chair, I knew this was something I had to get over.

Fast.

Not just because I was the mom and was responsible on a practical level, but who was I to think more of my own selfish fear than of my child? I was the one she was looking to, both, for help and for comfort. And she was the sick, helpless, confused little one – the one actually in need of help. She needed her mama, and she needed her to be strong.

After that reality check, I still kept trying to convince myself that the episode was probably just a result of eating too fast or too much, or that maybe she was allergic to something and that she’d be fine as long as she didn’t eat it again. I quickly realized none of that was the case when she couldn’t keep anything down the rest of the day.

Panic continued to seep in.

How would I hydrate her?

At what point do I take her to the emergency room?

Oh no.. she’s crying and there are no tears. SIGN OF DEHYDRATION! My brain was like 10 fire alarms going off at once. The really loud, well, alarming ones.

Google became my best friend that afternoon. I was on it like throw up on Lucy’s carseat.

{Yes, that happened. And yes, it got in every possible crevice and buckle and strap and fold of fabric. And yes, I still go everywhere with Lysol wipes, continuing to clean it like a germaphobe. Even though it’s clean now.}

Finally, realizing she was exhausted and that she seemed fine for hours at a time as long as she wasn’t consuming anything, and that she was acting pretty okay, I gave her a bath and put her to bed.

Despite my anxious anticipation of spending the entire night holding a barf bucket, cleaning linens, and going to the ER with a severely dehydrated baby {worrier, much?}, apparently the worst was actually already over and she slept all night.

“Praise the Lord!” I thought. That wasn’t so bad, after all.

The next morning she had her 12 month check up. I figured that would be perfect because any mom can testify that hearing from a doctor that your child looks well is the most beautiful music to your ears in times of sickness. Especially because {and first time moms specifically can testify to this} our minds have the capacity to turn any sickness, even tiny ones, into deathly diseases.

But the doc wasn’t concerned in the slightest. My mama’s heart beamed with relief.

The only downside to this doctors’ visit was that Lucy was due for her 12 month vaccines.

{Definitely a blessing in the long run; In the big picture, I am so thankful for the wisdom and medical intervention we have today that can enrich the quality of life by preventing terrible life-long and/or life threatening diseases. Diseases much, much worse than the common tummy bug}.

We figured she’d be okay, though. After all, she’d handled all her shots before like a champ. The only side affect she’d ever experienced was sleepiness.

“Well perfect!” I thought. “A little extra rest is the perfect recipe for her continued recovery, anyway.”

Not so much.

That night, she was the fussiest I’d seen her. Nothing could appease her. After I put her to bed, she fussed and fussed all the way until around midnight before finally falling asleep. It was a long night. Even though I was reassured that it was a common side affect of immunizations, my exhaustion had taken over my conscience at this point and had stolen all of my peace of mind.

Even though the tylenol took a while to kick in, Lucy finally ended up falling asleep.

As I reflect this morning over the last couple of days, I feel gratitude slowly overtaking me for the really sweet moments this little rough patch brought our family.

I got to rock my sweet baby and sing to her while she laid completely still in my arms, letting me gently tickle her legs and hold her close. She never does that {the girl loves her bed}.

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I got to watch her and my husband have an absolute ball for hours building George the Cat a house with legos so I could catch up on lysol-ing and laundry. {There were moments when watching them together captivated my attention far more than a clean kitchen or bathroom did.}

I was too tired to get up before 7am this morning, so she haFullSizeRenderd her morning bottle in our bed and I got some extra morning snuggles with her and my hubby.

 

Sure, there were definitely moments of total exhaustion in between and just wanting my routine as I knew it to be back to normal. My task-oriented-self wasn’t too happy about the abolishment of the “to do” list, at first.

But those moments of exhaustion and anxiety were actually a really, really small part of my recollection of it all. My life and perspective on what love truly means was deeply enriched by all those precious, in-between moments. While being “productive” can be helpful and essential, there are also some other essential experiences for the well-being of the soul that we just cannot schedule.

Not being at all in control of the series of events in my household these last couple days have opened my eyes to true fulfillment. The hard parts of life that I constantly try to avoid with my “to do” list are often the very ones that I need to learn from. Difficult situations are not a sign that the world is ending; they are opportunities to love harder, trust Him more, and learn all you can so that when those difficult situations approach next time, your joy is able to grow stronger, not be destroyed. That kind of joy is where fulfillment is found.

 

 

 

The Fifth Season

One of the things I love most about summer is going for a walk in the early hours of the morning as the sun is coming up.

The air is crisp, but not cold. The sky is gorgeous; unique shades of gray, orange, purple, yellow – the color of sunrise. My mind is clear, not yet cluttered by any worries, anxieties, or to-do lists.

But the smells.. the smells are my favorite.

I do the same route every day – through the same neighborhoods, passed the same houses, looking at the same beautiful landscape and flowers that remind me what a brilliant Creator we have. I know this route well, so I can anticipate what smell goes with what house as I pass by.

I walk by one house and I smell wintergreen. Suddenly I’m 9 years old, sitting at my Gigi’s kitchen table on this beautiful sunny morning. I’m sipping coffee (I have her to thank for my love for coffee) out of my favorite of all the coffee mugs in her cupboard. It’s the blue one with balloons that reads “Happy Birthday” in multi-colored font. I’m not sure why that one was always my favorite; probably because my favorite color is blue. She always used french vanilla creamer, so I did too. We are reading the paper together (for me, this means looking at the weather, the movie section, and the two or three words I am able to fill in the cross word before giving up).

I walk by another house and I smell beautiful roses. Just like that, I’m 17 again and it’s my junior year of high school. I walk passed the entry way, where the front door is wide open because my mama opened it when she got home from the gym. Summer mornings were beautifully still and perfect in our neighborhood. This was the year I began getting up 30 minutes earlier than usual so we could drink coffee and catch up before we each started our day, since we didn’t get a chance to do that the night before because dance ran long. To this day, we still text, talk on the phone, or FaceTime almost every single morning at this time.

I walk by another house and somehow, at 6:30am, I smell banana-flavored shaved ice. {I realize this one is probably way off and that what I’m probably smelling is banana bread, or something more appropriate for this time of day.} But nonetheless, my nose has convinced me that I’m 4 years old. My dad and I are getting back to our little house on Calder Court after going out for shaved ice. His was yellow; he got banana. Mine was blue; I got bubble-gum mixed with cotton candy. I remember this time specifically because I dropped mine, so he gave me his. This was something we did often in the summertime.

I know when fall rolls around, I’ll be drooling and babbling about all the beauty I see and love in that season, too. I’ll be realistic and not get caught up in the moment – fall and winter are hands down my favorite seasons.

But there’s something about summer mornings. It’s almost as if they have their very own fifth season.

In my world, they do.

 

 

The Woman in the Purple Hat

Today may have been one of my favorite grocery shopping experiences yet.

My endeavor for this week is to attempt beef stew for the first time. Since I’ve never made it before, my list of ingredients was a bit foreign to me when I headed to the grocery store this morning. But, since Pinterest always knows best, I trusted that items like “dry onion soup mix”  and “beef gravy” would be easy to find if I would just be so bold as to explore new aisles at the grocery store.

Not so much.

After staring at the seasoning section for a few minutes, searching as hard as I could for that dry onion soup mix, a woman turned the corner and started in my direction. If I were to guess, I’d say she was around the age of 60 – older and wiser enough than me to definitely trust that she knew a thing or two about making beef stew. She had on jeans, a purple sweatshirt, a matching purple ball cap, and warm eyes.

She paused when she got to me, glanced down at the can of beef gravy in my hand, tapped it and said, “Now that’s good stuff! That’s what I always use.”

At first I was too startled by her friendliness to think to ask any more questions. So I simply said, “Oh, really? Thank you! Good to know.” We exchanged smiles and she pressed on down the aisle.

Quickly realizing she may have been the perfect person to ask, I thought, “Wait! What about dry onion powder soup?! I should have asked her where to look!”

Frustrated with my forgetfulness, I stood there a few more minutes, determined to find it.

Still nothing.

All of a sudden, I saw bright purple in my peripherals. I looked up quickly, and to my surprise, it was her again! She passed me, making her way back down the aisle.

“Oh, excuse me! I have a question… ” In hindsight, I probably sounded all too eager.

“Oh yes, ask away!”

I was still pleasantly in a bit of shock at her kindness, to be honest.

“So… ” I began.

She glanced at me, down at my shopping cart, and back at me again and grinned.

“You’re a new cook, aren’t you?” she asked me.

“Ha, well.. sort of,” I responded. She read my only-three-years-into-marriage-new-mommy exercise pants and hoodie like an open book.

My have-it-together facade slowly became more and more stripped from me as I looked into her honest, gentle eyes. I felt my heart softening as I became less and less embarrassed that she’d called my bluff. Her comforting, kind spirit was what the Lord used to teach me this ever so beautiful lesson in humility.

God, you’ve done it again. You’ve caught me off guard and completely undone me with grace. And once again, undeserved.

“Oh no, don’t be shy! It’s okay! This is good. What was it you were looking for?”

“Um, dry onion powder soup…?” My eyes met her’s.

“Uhuh!”

She was so patient and genuine.

“Will I find it on this aisle?” I asked.

“Nope. Follow me!”

She kept talking as she walked with her back towards me. I followed, almost without thinking twice.

“You don’t really need that dry onion soup if you have the gravy,” she continued. “You can use both if you want lots of flavor, but either can stand alone, really.”

Ten minutes ago we were strangers. Neither of us knew the other existed. And now she carried on with me as if we’d know each other for years.

As we passed by the people who worked at the store, she chatted with them like they were old friends. It became apparent to me that she’d been a regular here for quite some time.

We finally made it to the correct aisle (which, in case any of you are as clueless when it comes to making stew as I am, would be the soup aisle if you’re looking for dry onion soup mix.. go figure). We stood there a few more minutes as she took the time to explain how to make a basic beef stew, step by step, detail for detail.

When she had finished, she gave me a big, heartfelt grin. I’ll never forget her warmth.

“Have a good day!” she said, turning to walk away. I wanted to hug her.

Oh, how I wish I would have gotten her name.

If there’s one thing we learned from the woman in the purple hat (other than how to make an amazing beef stew), it is that kindness and compassion are never the wrong answer.

I may never see her again, but I hope she knows the difference she made today. She will forever be apart of my story. It’s the smallest moments that have the greatest potential for finding beauty.

 

A Happy Ending: There is such a Thing

The thought that I will get to see your face one day leaves me a bit lost for words.

{It used to scare me. It used to be something I knew I should be excited about, but deep down, I felt guilty about the fact that I didn’t really want life as I knew it to end so that I could go to some foreign palace and sing forever. 

That’s what I thought Heaven was. But Lord, how you have beautifully proven me so wrong.}

How I anxiously now await the coming of the New, Perfect World as you originally intended it to be.

Over time, you have taught me and shown me more and more of you, thus revealing more and more of what Heaven actually is. And although I still have many unanswered questions about Heaven, I now cannot wait for it.

You have taught (and continue to teach) me who you are as a Creator, as a loving Father, as a gentle teacher, as a friend, as a righteous, forgiving judge. As you keep showing me more and more of you, I learn how skewed my shallow vision of “Heaven” actually was. Because although you are a perfect, holy king, worthy of far more praise and glory I have the capacity to give, you are more than that, even still.

You are a Father. Similarly to, and even more so than an earthly father, you are relational. You do not merely demand praise for your greatness (although you would certainly would be rightful in doing so), nor do you require perfection from you servants.

No.

The beautiful truth is that you also call your servants “friends.”

You are after our hearts, not our achievements. You do rejoice in our achievements, but it is because you are the Creator of all that is good in the world. And when we achieve great things, we are furthering the work you have already begun. We are furthering your initial purpose for your good world.

Your good ways lead to the kind of life that allows humans to claim peace and joy that is absolutely constant, aside from brokenness and evil. Your intended order was perfect and perfectly reasonable.

Although evil is the sad, unfortunate reality of our broken world, it is not the final word, Lord Jesus. It need not terrify us, as tempting as it is to allow it to be terrifying. When it is all our physical eyes can see, how can it not be terrifying?

But the end of Your story is drastically different than what our eyes see now. One day, you will bring restoration to all of Creation and dwell with your people.

With that glorious restoration will be the total end and destruction of all destruction.

The end of evil.

The end of pain.

The end of heartache.

But most of all, it will be you. Face to face.

No more grasping.

No more faith; faith will be unnecessary because we will finally be seeing, not just believing.

Oh, what a glorious day.

 

What’s the Point?

Yesterday, I had one of those “What’s the point?” moments. Not in the sense that I wanted to give up, or that I was suddenly turning on my faith, but in the sense that I was hungry to learn and understand with more depth, why.

What is the purpose and message of Christianity? Love.

Why do we love? That’s how people see Christ in us.

How do we love? Service and sacrifice.

Why do we serve and sacrifice for others? That’s how God tells us to love.

Why do we love? Christ first loved us.

So… what now?

As you can see, my mind seemed to be going in circles, and I just couldn’t seem to make any of the gospel make sense in my head.

(On a side note from all of this, it is so humbling when God reminds us that pursuing him is a daily, hourly, moment-by-moment, neverending desperation for his guidance and spirit in our lives. It seems so natural {prideful, really} to assume that after a certain amount of time “being a Christian”, we can take the reigns and understand life on our own. Thanks for the reminder, Lord.)

What is the connection between Christ’s love for us and how we respond? Friends, this is crucial. If we have this twisted, then we may as well give up and oppose the word of God altogether. If we do not connect our lives of sacrifice and service to the vine that is the reason for it all, then we are simply gongs and symbals and goats that will be separated from him on judgement day because we never knew him (1 Corinthians 13:1), (Matthew 25:31-46).

Yeah, whoa.

Romans 12:1 says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

Paul is telling us that when we live sacrificially, in a mindset of constantly thinking of others and counting them as more significant than ourselves (Philippians 2:3), we are worshipping God. Being a “follower of Christ” is not merely a label – it means literally, just that.

We follow in his footsteps.

We do as he did when he walked the earth, and as he still does through the power of the Holy Spirit. And, we don’t just sacrifice when it’s easy or convenient, or when we are feeling motivated, or when we are in the right mood, or when people are acting in such a way that makes us want to help and love them.

That is why it’s called sacrifice.

We love when it’s hard; we give when it hurts the most; we make time when there is no time; we treat others not according to what they “deserve,” but unconditionally so.

We are so prone to slip when religion becomes a routine, and we begin to do things without first knowing and being content with Jesus alone. When our eyes turn from Jesus, the “why,” and onto our own preferences in life, this is when we so easily forget that it’s actually not about us at all. But it’s when we are viewing life through the correct lens that we are able to see that sacrificing on behalf of others is sacrificing on behalf of Jesus – in response to all he endured for our sinful, wretched sake.

And this changes everything.

He doesn’t need anything we could give, and our giving will never earn our salvation or right standing with him.. that was finished on the cross. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Endlessly. But when, by the grace of his spirit, we are able to grasp the truth of the gospel, and the beautiful injustice of a perfect man dying such a torturous death so that such wretched sinners as ourselves could have communion with him at absolutely no cost, what are we then compelled to do?

 

Lifetime > Resolution

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As the New Year approached and last year was coming to a close, I thought and thought, and thought some more, about what I wanted to change in my life. What could I improve about myself? What do I need to be better at?

Several things flooded my mind as I brainstormed for 2015, and then reflected on 2014. But nothing really resonated with the desires of my heart. Some ideas were vain, some not quite the right timing (truly not, that isn’t just a copout), and some made it plain obvious that my brain was just trying to muster something up to scribble down on a “New Years Resolution for 2015” list.

As I prayed and spent some time reading, it occurred to me that my life had more potential for joy. Not because circumstances could be better, or because of something someone else was responsible for, or because I feel I am lacking in anything tangible, but because I don’t spend enough time being thankful. 

That’s when I decided to spend 2015 in gratitude.

And then after spending a year being intentional about it every single day, for 365 days, my hope and prayer is that being thankful would become a habit and a lifestyle – a permanent one. They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. That’s approximately 17.38 times the amount of time I am setting for myself to achieve this goal. I figure that’s reasonable, since old habits such as complaining, or selfishness, or criticizing others will be constant temptations as long as I – we – are humans formed from flesh, blood, and dust. In fact, I am positive that it will not take the year of 2015, but a lifetime and an unending process until I meet Jesus, to be a grateful person.

Gratitude by definition is “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness."It is a state of mind. It is a choice.

Sure, circumstances, Satan, and people will be temptations for me to allow to alter that state of mind, but the Holy Spirit of God inside of me is so much stronger. There will be far more power, and more glory brought to Christ, in my sacrifices of praise (thanking God when it hurts and doesn’t seem like the right response to pain, suffering, and frustrating circumstances in this life), than in my constant focus on what and who needs to change and why.

All of that to say, I’ve still yet to think of a New Years Resolution. And I’ve finally come to peace with the decision that I am not going to make any for 2015, but rather, start this year prayerfully seeking a change of heart and a change of mind. It will take constant prayer, constant correction of perspective, and more perseverance than I have. Thankfully, my hope rests in the grace of a perfect Creator who does not expect perfection, but my dependence on him to complete this work in me. 

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  –1 Thessalonians 5:16-18