In Search of Inspiration

I have needed some inspiration.  I have been through some dry spells when it comes to my writing before but this last spell has been a rough one.  I usually could come up with something to write Inspirationabout even if it was basically a repeat of something I had written about before.  Not this time… I could not bring myself to even type a word.

No words… no ideas… nothing to say.

I have to ask myself, “Is it time to close the book and pack this blog away with the other million or so blogs that are not being read by anyone?”

I wanted to make it last… I wanted to reach 500,000 visitors.  I am roughly 14,000 visitors short as of this writing. That sounds so self-centered… so… self-serving. But if you honestly know me, you know that I do not write to get recognition. I have turned down opportunities to try to promote my blog on different media sites.  That was not why I started writing in the first place.

I started writing again to fill a place in my life that was empty.  A place that was emptied by the choices I made in life and I needed to fill that place with inspiration and thought. With life running so fast, there’Young man reading small Bibles little time and energy left to try a muster up some inspiration to write.  To be honest with the truth, I long to have another opportunity to teach from the Bible again.  It has been over twenty years since I have had the honor of sharing from God’s Word in a classroom setting. There was always a small part me that believed that I would get the chance to once again be a part of a ministry besides sitting in the pew.  

It is evident to me as I think on these things that God has another plan. As much as I try to believe, I do not believe that it will ever happen. Through the small things and the biggest things, life has certainly taught me this lesson over and over. Things are harder for those who don’t believe. And they’re much easier for those who do. Lord knows that I’ve created a thousand life obstacles by crowding out my faith, or by blatantly ignoring what it was whispering to my heart. It has made life harder because I had to tear down a thousand walls brick by brick by finally believing they had to fall. This is one wall that I have not been able to tear down.

That being said, I must say that I have witnessed others who have endured a divorce and/or failure brickin marriage go on and teach and “do things” in the church as if it never happened.  That opportunity has never been offered to me.

I am not bitter about the price I have paid for my failure or the opportunities that others have been given. It just saps my ability to be inspired at times.

So it’s becoming more important to me that I not waste too much time dwelling on what will not happen and focus on what can be done because my time is running short.  Now before that gets misconstrued, I am not dying, at least I don’t have any plans on dying anytime soon. But blogs and websites like mine are dying daily.  I cannot help but think that this website… this blog… my stories… my words that I write will be the only voice that I will ever have. In no time at all it will be silenced.  

So what can keep me inspired until that day comes? I thought it would be nice to share one thing that has always brought inspiration to me.  As many of you know, I love music.  All types and all styles. It brings me inspiration and I never write unless I have music blaring through my headphones.

One of my favorites is one that I am sure not many people have ever heard of. I am blown away by the composer, Ólafur Arnalds. I discovered him on Spotify.  His album called, “Living Room Songs” is a masterpiece.  Each note has purpose.  The melodies are unique.  Emotion is ever-present.  It Living Roomtakes me on a journey every time I listen. Sometimes it breaks my heart. Sometimes it heals it. I always feel something.  I’m always inspired.

The story behind the album is that he committed to writing one new song each day for a week.  At the end of each day, he gathered a small string section, and there in his living room, they recorded  what he’d written that day on a live microphone. No editing and no overdubs.

It’s beautiful in its imperfection. Each time the piano bench cracks, the pedal squeaks or a violin string falters in pitch for a moment, I smile to myself.  I love that they moved ahead, not feeling the need to repair or hide the ‘mistake’. And somehow, the song actually becomes more beautiful for it.  At the end of the week, it was done, finished – created and shared with the world… all it’s flaws exposed.

That gives me hope.

I’m inspired by what he was able to accomplish in a day – in a week.  And I can’t help but consider what I could do if I lived with that kind of intention and fearlessness.  If I’m honest, it’s scary for me to commit to something before I’ve got it figured out and know what the outcome will be.  Listening to this music makes me want to fly without a net. And it makes me think I can.  It makes me braver.  Not because it’s perfect and grand – but because it’s imperfect.  The flaws are evident… but they still are powerfully touching.

Just like you and me.

We spend so much of our lives trying to cover up our flaws and shortcomings, but what if we could just embrace them and move on?  What if we didn’t let them stop us?  What if they simply became part of the story we’re sharing?

What if I didn’t have to have it all figured out before I was willing to begin? What if I were willing to fly without a net?  What if I lived my life with more intent and focus? What if I made peace with my imperfections and shortcomings?  What if I even embraced them and made them a part of my story? What could I share with the world? What might it inspire in others?

Regardless of the type of music you like, I think almost everyone reading this will fall in love with “Living Room Songs” by Ólafur Arnalds.  It’s perfect background music, especially on rainy days and Saturday mornings. It has become one of my favorites – because it’s more than a piece of music.

It’s an exercise in fearlessness and exposure to what is real, flaws and all.

And that… inspires me.

NOTE: I have attached a video of the process and recording of “Living Room Songs”.  Enjoy!!!

To Be Silent… to Listen… and to Hear

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

….a time to be silent and a time to speak….

                                                                   (Ecclesiastes 3:1,7)

Taking some time from writing… to be silent, to listen, and to hear.

Won’t you join me?

I Wonder… a lot…

I have been absent for a bit. I guess being busy with life and work has me distracted, but I wanted to share a few thoughts this morning before the day gets too busy.

wonderThese are just a few rambling queries, so don’t take them too serious, but they are thoughts that leave me silent and more often than not leave me with more questions than answers.

Here we go…

I wonder in five years from now, will I remember what I did yesterday? Will I remember what I do this week?

I wonder why life is so easily forgotten?

I wonder what we would do differently if we knew nobody would judge us?

I wonder if we knew that everyone we know was going to die tomorrow, who would we visit today?  Why are we not going to them now?

I wonder why we accept regret as an option for our behavior?

I wonder if my greatest fear will ever come true?

I wonder if I have been the kind of friend to someone who I would want as a friend?

I wonder why the older I get, I question what I once considered wrong is now not so bad?  Did it change or did I? Is it possible to know, without a doubt, everything that is good and what is bad?

I wonder which is worse, failing or never trying?

I wonder if not now, then when?

I wonder why God put us messed up broken people in charge of telling the world about Him? Didn’t He know how bad we would be at this?Question-Mark-Balls

I wonder why all the atheists I see are so mad at God? If they don’t believe in Him then why is He so significant in their life?  Why don’t they just talk about something else?

I wonder why people get so caught up in arguing about things of the Bible that really have no impact on eternity?  When you start your thoughts with “God couldn’t…” it is a slippery slope to true unbelief.

I wonder how can I live in such a way that I can show the love of God to others who don’t know Him? It often seems fake and “plastic”. I wish I could break down the walls between me and other people and really let them see God’s love.

I wonder why we are all so afraid? All around me are people with an underlying panic, a fear driven manic that keeps them moving so they don’t have to really think about their life.

I wonder what impact my life will honestly have on others?  How can a person live for 70 to 80 years and then be so quickly forgotten? Then I wonder why some people are always remembered? What is the secret? How does that happen?

I wonder if life is so I-Wonder-1920x1080short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do?

I wonder if we are doing what we believe in, or are we settling for what we are doing?

I wonder why we live in this great battlefield for the souls of men? It seems so dark at times, but then God shows up. I’m looking forward to the day when the battle is over.

I wonder why we so easily value things above people?

I wonder what kind of life my grandchildren will have?  It also is followed by the fact that I fear for their future as well.

I wonder, and honestly so, how God makes all this work out for my good? But He does.

Just a few questions I am pondering on this day…

I wonder if you read them?

I wonder if they made you think?

I wonder… a lot…

The Rest Is Still Unwritten

One of my favorite books is “Give Us This Day” by Sidney Stewart.  He was an AmeGive Usrican soldier who survived the Bataan Death March that took place during WWII.    The story as told by Stewart,  was held captive by the Japanese in the Philippines.  He became a captive because the US military pulled out of the Philippines and abandoned him and about 11,000 other American soldiers.  He endured the horror and atrocities of the Death March itself where he was forced to walk over 90 miles where most of these soldiers died.  The total death toll is not known, however, it is estimated that over 20,000 soldiers and civilians died during the march.  He then was held captive for over 4 years as a prisoner of war (POW).  The story of his experience, compassion, friendship and faith moved me to tears.  Once I started reading it I could not put it down.  It is a great story of honor and perseverance of the human spirit.

I loved turning the page of that book.  Why?

Because it was a story that needed to be written and more importantly, it was a story that needed to be read. I think we all want to be remembered and I think all of us have a story to tell. As the evidence of this post will show, I do not have the talent to write a book, especially not one that could impact the world like Sidney Stewart’s book. 

However, I think that most people are eager to leave something behind bearing their name; many of us can’t bear the thought of passing through the world without smudging it up a little with our fingerprints.  We seek creation, and the logical conclusion is a story to tell. Now, I know I don’t have a story like  Sidney Stewart’s, but that is not to say that I would not like to try to put something down on paper for my kids and grandchildren to read.

However, the thought of me writing and reproducing a story is foolishness to me.  Does planet earth really need my remnants?  Do I owe this to humanity?  The obvious answer is a resounding NO!!!

So, do not look for my book on the discount table at the local Barnes & Noble.  It will remain in the safe confines of my computer and maybe one day it will be extracted by my children.  Maybe they will have a good laugh and a good time remembering the memories of a life that was once part of theirs. 

Maybe…just maybe, they may even print it off and place it on the same shelf as Sidney’s.

Truth is… we all are writing our story.  It is just we are not putting it down on paper. I can’t help but see our livnotebook-pen-writing-stylees as stories we’re writing and telling as we go. We wake up to a blank page and fill it throughout the day with our thoughts and actions. And as we look back on the chapter that’s closing (2014) – and forward to the unwritten page before us, we can’t shake the question, “What kind of story are we writing?”.

Is the life we are living a love story? – a how to book? – a mystery? – a tragedy? – a comedy? I’m sure that it could be all of these at times, and more.

So here we stand.  2014 is written.

For some of us, it was a year filled with struggle and hurt. For others, the greatest success and happiest moments of our lives. But one thing we all have in common is… it’s in the past.

A new year of blank pages is before us, ready to be filled with the best experiences we can dream up.

But we have to face the unwritten page, and that can be harder than it sounds. There are all kinds of obstacles in our way, tying our pages together, boarding up our hearts, building walls around our dreams – doing anything and everything to stop us.

But regardless, it will be written.  Even if we don’t get out of bed, the story continues. Even if we do what we did yesterday, the story continues. Even lack of thought will fill the page.  

Don’t let what has been dictate what will be. We all have choices.

Just because something has been a certain way for some time doesn’t mean it must continue.

Just because you chose something yesterday doesn’t mean you have to choose it tomorrow.

Even if you can’t change your circumstances, you can change your thoughts and actions. You can change what you do and you absolutely can change the story you’re telling.

What if we’d approach the new year as a blank page waiting to be filled with the greatest story we could tell?  What if we’d laid down our past experiences, expectations, mistakes, successes – and start fresh? What if we’d walk forward knowing that if we’re still here there’s something beautiful The-rest-is-still-unwrittenwaiting for us to discover?

Welcome to your new chapter.

Write it well. Live it beautifully… and remember the rest is still unwritten.

My Christmas Wish For You

In the midst of this Christmas season,I want to take a moment to honestly share my Christmas wish christmas_wishfor you. I post this to serve as a reminder of something we already know, but so easily lose sight of in the hustle and bustle.

Christmas is not about the gifts you’ll give, or the things you’ll receive.

It’s not about the miles you’ll put on your car, or packing your bags for the flight home.

It’s not about throwing the perfect party, or wrapping a box with the perfect bow.

Your checklist will betray you.

It’s about the time you’ll spend with family who feel like friends, apresentnd friends who feel like family.

It’s about the thought you’ll put into choosing the perfect gift, and the effort you’ll put into assembling a new toy.

It’s about visiting someone who is lonely, baking cookies for a neighbor, or giving to someone in need.

It’s about Love.

Most importantly, it’s about the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.  I hope this year you will accept Him into your life as your Lord and Savior. Nothing you do this Christmas would be greater than doing just that.

You’ll soon forget the gifts themselves.  

You won’t remember how the table was set, or if the room was perfectly decorated. 

But you won’t forget the feeling.  

You won’t forget the laughter, the conversation, the kindness, the thought.

You won’t forget the love.

Don’t miss it this Christmas.

Accept the salvation that is found in Jesus Christ and love one another.

That’s my Christmas wish for you.

The Journey

A few months ago marked my 44 years of having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. 

However, in many ways, I still feel like a young Christian that is stumbling over nothing, falling The Journey Logodown and having to pick myself to try again.  I never thought that the journey to become like Christ was as long as it has been for me.  I thought I would be there by now, but it seems I’ve only just begun.

As I write those words, I wonder if I’ve been too open about my walk and struggle in my Christian walk. I have had people comment to me in the past about how shocked they were to hear how I had struggled in my life. They could not believe that I failed in my first marriage and in my ministry. The only words I could come up with in response was that I was sorry I let God and them down. 

It is something that I live with everyday. I am torn between what could have been in my ministry and where I am at today.  The lessons learned from my failure has made me so much more compassionate towards those that have failed or struggle in this life.  Something that I did not even consider in the years that I was in the ministry. 

My failure broke me.  The price of failure has been one that I am still paying for even after 20 years.  

Truth is, I am not a person that finds joy in sharing my failures.  But one thing iindexs true… I have had more than my fair share of them.  I have to be honest and try to not deceive anyone into thinking that I have everything in my Christian walk all together. I surely cannot deceive myself, I have to live with it everyday.

So how do I be an open book and not be honest about my past failures?  It would be easy to just write generic, short little gleeb articles that give advice with no experience. I see them all the time.  I cannot do that.  I try not to give advice.  I write to remind myself of the lessons learned by my failures and successes.  I try to influence by being an example of what can happen in your life when you take your eyes off of Jesus Christ. I try to give the reader something to ponder.  The truth is my life has been one to be used as an example of caution. If it can happen to me… it can happen to you.

My relationship with God cannot be summed up in a FACEBOOK post. I read catchy little Christian phrases on FACEBOOK that annoy me to no end. Often they are posted by people I know personally and I want to pull my hair out.  I get so frustrated because when people favorpost them, it seems to me that it dumbs down the real relationship a person should have with Jesus Christ.  That somehow by posting if you love God… re-post this message and He will do you a favor.

I do not want to speak for God but I do not think God is not in the business of doing favors for me or you just because we re-post this.

Here’s my up-front disclaimer: I’m not fond of Christian jokes and one-liners. I might be a terrible stick-in-the-mud, but when I pass a church marquee sign posting a “Christian” message, I wince. Although I fight the urge, I read it. And sometimes I need to seek God’s forgiveness for the thoughts that enter my mind after my car has passed by.

I drive about 30 miles to work everyday. On my drive I pass a church where they post phrases on their church marquee. They change it often.  Before Election Day, it read: “To find God, turn right and go straight.” I am sure every left-leaning friend I had would be outraged by what it said. 

Another time the sign read, “If God gave you the same priority you give Him, would you be saved?” My instinctive response was a low growl. I wasn’t being convicted by the Holy Spirit; I simply have an adverse reaction to being smacked in the head with weak theology. God gave me all the priority He intended by giving His Son to die on the cross for me. Salvation comes from the acceptance of His Son and His death that paid the price for my sin. My salvation is not dependent on my priority on any random day.

Why do we insist on using catch phrases to attract our community to Christ?

I understand people are well-meaning.  I am trying extremely hard to not judge but this week I have read FACEBOOK posts such as:

“God answers knee-mail,”

“God loves everyone, but probably prefers fruits of the spirit over religious nuts.”

“Sitting in church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than sitting in a garage makes you a car.”

“Why do some people change churches? What difference does it make which one you stay home from?”

“Don’t make me come down there–signed God.”

Or consider the church sign I passed while driving to work this week. 

It read, “WARNING! Exposure to the Son may prevent burning.”

My response is always the same: “Huh?”

Do we really want to guilt people into worshipping with us? When people read these messages and the out-loud response is, “See? THAT’S why I don’t go to church!” we’ve failed our community–and our faith.

Sure, I get it. But why does it make me crazy? Statements like these are patronizing, condescending, and place the reader on the defensive side of living.  It cheapens the journey that most of us are on.

StonesI am not innocent of doing it either, here’s one that I am guilty of posting –  “Turn your stumbling blocks into stepping stones.”  

As if!  You’re still on the ground with a bloody nose and scrapped knees and I’m trying to tell you how to take those stumbling places and grow? Come on!  Catchy little slogans do nothing to help you or me grow in Christ. I need Christ and I need Him constantly!

And, to be honest, it doesn’t take a stone to make me stumble.  I’m pretty good at stumbling over sand, over a crack in the sidewalk.  It’s never something big thing or I would avoid it.  It’s always the little things that cause my fall, my failing…..and then I grieve, beat myself up and tell God I’m sorry, I won’t do it again (but I will)….and that I should be past all of this by now, but I’m not.

And, then, like a child, embarrassed by my failings, but suffering in my pains, I run back to God and am welcomed by His grace, his love and forgiveness.  I’m always embarrassed to face Him, to come to Him and tell Him “I did it again!  I’m so sorry!!”  And He forgives, He bandages my wounds and He offers to walk with me even as I stumble along.

Are we really trying to reach out to those who are far from God? If the answer is “Yes,” we need to speak and write the words that others understand and will respond to positively.

The FACEBOOK audience is composed of moms and dads, children and grandparents, friends and facebook3neighbors that do not know Christ. They are overworked, tired and stretched to the limits emotionally, mentally and financially to consider the importance of having a relationship with Him. They are searching for something more meaningful than Christian one-liners. All too often they are searching in the wrong places.

We have an incredible opportunity to reach people for Christ.  But it will not happen with a catch-phrase posted on FACEBOOK and truth be told it will not come from any of my writings and postings to this blog site. It will only happen when we meet and love people where they are at in life.  It will happen when we develop relationships that are deeper than FACEBOOK postings.

My desire is to have my writings be an encouragement to those that want to reach others for Christ. I want to show people that my journey has been one to note because of the lessons that can be learned from it.  I have no belief that my words will reach the masses but maybe they will reach one WELCOME-your-churchthat will be encouraged to live for Christ in a deeper way and reach others for Him.

As far as reaching people on FACEBOOK.  Let me just say that if you insist on posting those Christian one-liners, please make sure your other postings and life live up to those postings. 

As for church marquee signs, perhaps we simply need to say, Sunday Services: 8:30, 10:00 and 11:30 a.m. All Are Welcome!

With God’s spirit, those words might be more than enough.

 

 

 

I Think It’s Called Heaven

The world we live in is filled with anger, rage, violence and pain. We look for peace, long for peace, but fail to find it. We call for tolerance, but it eludes us. 

How can we find that one thing we all want, desire and need… peace?

I grieve over lost lives, broken hearts and bitterness of the soul that has made peace, forgiveness and love more elusive than ever.

But, there is a passage of scripture that offers the solution to all of this.  It’s a difficult passage, in fact it’s impossible.  It means we have to set our own desires, our own wishes aside and put others ahead of ourselves.  It’s impossible without the help of God.  


It’s impossible unless we humble ourselves and put others first.  


Here’s how Jesus described this life that can change everything…

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,  bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either.  Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.  If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.  If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount.  But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.  Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.  Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”              Luke 6:27-38

Can you imagine how our world would change if we treated each other in this way?  

Without God’s help that’s impossible,  but imagine a place where this is the way everyone lives.

  I think it’s called…  heaven.

Of Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men and Hoping To Find A Better Way

As I scan my timelines, I see battles. I see people taking sides over current events.

Good people.  Well-meaning people. All with different opinions.  All saying they are not arguing The-problem-with-arguing-with-idiotsbut just trying to prove they are right and that the person who disagrees with them is not just wrong but that they are an idiot.

Who is right and who is wrong?

To be honest most of the people I see making comments and posting on FACEBOOK do not have clue as to what they are talking about. Most of them have grown up in protected environments and have NEVER faced anything remotely close to what is going on in the news. That includes me as well.

I find it so ridiculous that so many of the posts on my FACEBOOK wall are re-posted from satire political sources. If you are re-posting stuff without doing some research to see that it is legit then why bother? All you are showing is your ignorance. If you’re getting your news from “The Onion” or any other satire site and thinking it is real then you have a serious problem.

Here is NEWS for you… ALL NEWS SOURCES and the Republicans, Democrats and the much hated, Tea-Party ALL have sites that are filled with propaganda. All of these “sources” have agendas and they play all of us. I constantly get posts that when truly researched there is just enough truth to stay on topic but the trouble starts in the details of the articles. Most of it is WRONG. Again… those of you posting  those things, please at least try to do some research.

People try to come off on FACEBOOK as if they have the answer… they are right and if you disagree wrong_thumbyou are naïve, uneducated and/or just plain stupid. They present themselves as having the answer to all problems because so many of them post and comment on things such as the issues in Ferguson, the Eric Garner Death in New York, Immigration, Amnesty, the Keystone Pipeline, Voter ID laws, Fracking, Global Warming, Net Neutrality and a boatload of other topics.  Now most of these people I know. I know where they come from and I know where they grew up. In most cases I know their education level. Most of those I see post barely got out of high school and if they did go on to college they surely did not take the subject matter to be the experts and know-it-alls they come off to be on FACEBOOK.

Now before you think I am coming off as being the only “smart one”… I am not. I learned long ago that FACEBOOK is not the arena to discuss or have legitimate debate about issues of politics, science, music or Christianity.  Truth is… I don’t have all the answers and I don’t waste my time trying to convince people to change their mind on FACEBOOK.  I know what I believe and I know what I think.  People are entitled to have their opinion and have a right to believe what they believe. But just because you think differently from me does not make you right.

I have discovered that those issues I tried to convince people was right when I was 30 years old were really wrong now that life experience has shown me how wrong I was.

I don’t care if you post what you believe or even what you think… but if you are trying to use FACEBOOK as a platform to change people’s minds you are crazy. People do not want to discuss or debate…they want to ARGUE. I have yet to meet anyone that said…”Wow, I am glad you posted that article from (Blue Nation Review / Fox News) cause it changed my mind and now I am going to become a (liberal / conservative)”.

So who is right and who is wrong?  That’s not for me to decide.

Again, truth is… none of these well-meaning people have the “right” to tell the other that they are wrong or right.  It only causes a deeper divide in this country.

We are more polarized than ever. No matter what side of the coin you are on… each think that the person on the other side is wrong and an idiot. There once was a time that we could find common ground… now I think we have lost that in America… sadly I think our country will never be the same. HERE IS MORE NEWS… WE ARE ALL TO BLAME FOR THIS!!!

At least for a few moments can we experience  “peace on earth and good will to men” even if that simply means with those friends that disagree with you.

For this moment, for this season, can we put down our verbal weapons? Can we call a truce?

Can hate not be so strong?

There has to be a better way.

Can we try to finish 2014 and enter 2015 with peace and hope of goodwill where there once was division, hate, unrest and hateful words.

In this Christmas Season… let’s have our conversation stay out of the mine fields of division and let’s love our families while we can regardless of which side of the argument they fall on. My prayer that we honestly experience peace on earth in our relationships and in our families.

Merry Christmas and let us all hope for a better way.

Then They Do

Then They Do.

Being Grateful Everyday

I cannot let November get away without doing something to reflect and remember why I should be grateful each and every day for my life. It is easy to let the negative in life over shadow the positive. I-will-be-grateful-for-this-dayI want to be grateful about my blessings each and every day of my life. 

I was reading today that the power of gratitude has been scientifically proven. According to the article, you can have more health, wealth, and increase happiness with being more grateful.

Why wouldn’t we all want that? 

That little question has helped me realize even on my hardest days I can always think of
things that made the day okay and make me grateful.

As I write this from my computer, I notice that my furnace is making my home warm.  My television is on in the background, music blares from my headphones and my wife is making dinner from a kitchen stocked with modern appliances and clean, running water. 

I don’t live in a big house. It’s not located in a neighborhood filled with SUVs and white picket fences.  But I’ve got more space than I need and I’ve got more things than I need.

Our bills are paid and sometimes, there’s even a little left over.

All things to be grateful for. 

But I am discovering that what keeps most people from being grateful is the false picture they have in their mind as to how it is supposed to be. So many people I know live this life with false expectations.  They feel entitled and deserving of things not worked for or earned.  It isn’t about “stuff”.  It’s not money or status…and it certainly won’t be found in the pursuit of those things.

The secret to gratefulness is hidden away in the ordinary moments we experience in search of the extraordinary ones.

That being sgratitude2aid, there needs to be a distinction between what being thankful is as to being grateful. The dictionary defines gratitude as a state of being grateful; Gratitude is a noun. Thankfulness is defined as aware and appreciative of a benefit; Thankfulness is an adjective.’

It seems gratitude is the state of being and thankfulness expresses that gratitude.

I choose being in a state of gratefulness.

Life should teach us that if we have food in the fridge, a roof over your head and spare change in your pocket we should be thankful – but they will never make you grateful. You can’t assess your true level of gratefulness by looking at your checking account or your 401k.  Because we struggle to feel satisfied. We fight urges to compare and complain. We wrestle with feelings of jealousy and failure.

Why is that? It’s simple really.

From my personal experience, I have discovered that you have to dig a little deeper to find that really makes you grateful.

Now time and space do not permit me to write about everything that I am grateful for but here are few things that being grateful is all about….

  • The old memories of a time you laughed so hard with childhood friends that it hurt, but you couldn’t stop and didn’t want to. These memories cross my mind often.
  • It’s growing up having a few great friends, and the one you tell your secrets without fear of judgement or betrayal.
  • It’s the remembered “innocence” of believing in the wonder of a Christmas morning.
  • It’s the love you have for your mother, the center of your universe growing up and the pride of your family.
  • It’s the memories of a brother and grandparents that have passed on before me.
  • It’s remembering the moment you accepted Jesus Christ and your life would never be the same.
  • It’s the memories of swimming and playing ball on long hot summer days.
  • It’s the memories of the first time you fell in love.
  • It’s receiving that diploma after working so hard for it.
  • It’s holding your child in your hands for the first time.
  • It’s the cherished memories of bedtime stories, ballgames, school plays and graduations.
  • It’s finding your one true love when you thought love had passed you by.
  • It’s picking yourself up and having an opportunity to start over… another second chance.
  • It’s still having to catch your breath when your wife walks in the room.
  • It’s having a true understanding how lucky you are to have her in your life.
  • It’s the smile on your wife’s face when you come home at night.
  • It’s the way she instinctively reaches for your hand when you walk by her side. 
  • It’s about the home she has made for you.
  • It’s date nights with my forever love, the long talks, and getting through the hard days together.
  • It’s fighting back the tears of joy when your grandson says, “Hey Grandpa”.
  • It’s when a young man takes you to dinner to ask for your blessing… and it’s when your daughter calls you to tell you she said “Yes!!”.
  • It’s when your children take time to talk to you.
  • It’s a heart that’s still beating strong.
  • It’s the phone call from your doctor saying the tests are clear.
  • It’s the clear memories of three close friends that are now in heaven.
  • It’s still having a friend that is as close to a brother as it can get. 
  • It’s the reminder of spiritual scars and the Grace of God that keep me focused on Jesus Christ.
  • It’s the picture frozen in your mind of the most beautiful sight you’ve ever seen.
  • It’s looking back at the footprints that you left behind that are good and honorable and the ability to forgive yourself  for the footprints that weren’t.
  • And simply put…It’s family.

Don’t miss being truly grateful this Thanksgiving.

Remember… the secret to true gratefulness is hidden away in the ordinary moments we experience in search of the extraordinary ones.

 

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