Month: November 2014

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.

 

Then They Do

(NOTE: I wrote this on Thursday, November 6th… I am just getting brave enough to post it.)

Oh yeah… tonight was a tough one.

When I say “tough” let me be quick to point out that the word is relative.

Then They doI knew that it was coming and I know that it is going to bring great joy to our family.  But it still was a tough night.

It is one of those nights when you try to look for that chapter in the parenting manual that covers how to handle these type of situations.

Truth is there is no manual. It doesn’t matter if you have been through it before, nothing prepares you for it.  Even when you know it is inevitable.

It is about seeing your child make a decision that they have waited their whole life to make. It is about pushing them where you can while allowing them to make their own choices.  It is about knowing the consequences of those choices.  It is about trust. Trusting them to apply everything you have tried to teach and them trusting you as a parent to let them go when it is time.

I must admit there are tears.  Yes… in the privacy of my hotel room, I am in tears… but not tears of sadness.

When you aAndre and Cassidyre a parent there is so much you anticipate. You assume things. You dream big dreams for your children. You want all of those dreams to come true for them.  You hope and you pray that the dreams you want for them will somehow become dreams that they want as well.

Her mom has waited for this moment since the day she was born. And I have been wishing for her dreams to be fulfilled since I married her mother. Yet, I feel thoroughly and utterly unprepared for this.

Just moments ago, Cassidy called me with the news, the news of a lifetime. Andre popped the question and she said yes. They both decided!—he is the one for her, and she is the one for him—they’ve each found their life partner. We are thrilled for them and my words cannot express how happy we are for them. And though the last few days I’ve known and anticipated this, I am speechless now as I ponder on what to write.

A lifetime of advice can’t come from one note. So I won’t try to cover everyCasssidy Ringthing here and now. And she doesn’t need me to. We have a year of planning.  I know that the time will go quickly but for now I want to stop and just say I am so proud of Cassidy.  Always have been. She has made our job as parents easy.  I trust her and I am confident in the decision she made tonight.

As it was when Crystal got married, I have a year before I will not have to wait up for her to get home at night. A year before it will no longer be my responsibility to make sure she is ok. I have waited for these days to come and you think you are prepared for them. You want all the dreams they have dreamed of to come true… then they do.

And it is then you realize you are not prepared at all.

These lyrics really hit home tonight…

I look over at their pictures,
Sittin’ in their frames.
I see them
as babies:
I guess that’ll never change.
You pray all their lives,
That someday they will find happiness.

Then they do, and that’s how it is.
It’s just quiet in the mornin’,
Can’t believe how much you miss,
All they do and all they did.
You want all the dreams they dreamed of to come true:
Then they do.

No more Monday PTA’s,
No carpools, or soccer games.
Your work is done.
Now you’ve got time that’s all your own.
You’ve been waitin’ for so long,
For those days to come.

Then they do, and that’s how it is.
It’s just quiet in the mornin’,
Can’t believe how much you miss,
All they do and all they did.
You want all the dreams they dreamed of to come true:
Then they do.

As a parent we will face moments when we will “help them find their wings but we can’t fly for ‘em.” Wisdom tells us there will be days when we wish we could step into the moment for them.

But it’s not our stage and it’s not our spotlight.

We’ve gotta let her go.  Life is to be lived moving forward.

You want all the dreams she dreamed of to come true… then they do.

 

Sunday After Sunday

Sunday after Sunday, I have the same thought. 

Sunday after Sunday, I forget to put it into words. 

There is this guy at our church that inspires me every single week. He doesn’t sing (that I’m aware of). Hestage_20lights-R doesn’t plastage_20lightsy an instrument or lead worship. He doesn’t stand up and preach (at least not verbally). He doesn’t run the sound, lights, usher or speak a word. Sadly, I don’t even know his name.Stage Crew

What he does speaks to me every single week.  After our worship team is done and as the Pastor takes the platform, he appears from behind a door. He quietly moves on the stage, sets up a stand, places a bottle of water on it and puts the makeshift pulpit on the stage. Then he quietly disappears to his seat somewhere among the rest of us.

And this speaks to me.  Every.  Single.  Week.

I wish you could see this guy.  I am sure he doesn’t think what he does has any impact on the service. He has no idea what a ministry he has.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. (1 Corinthians 12:4)

This is the sermon he preaches each week while never saying a word. 

PreachEvery Sunday when I see “this guy” do what he does, I’m reminded that we are all given different kinds of gifts. We’ve got an incredible worship team. They sing like I could only dream to sing.  Jae Sims is our worship leader and he has ministered to me like no other worship leader I have ever heard. The guys rock the guitars and make me wish I would have taken lessons and practiced a lot. The people who do the sound and lights and video and usher and greet….all important. All great.

And then there’s this guy….the one that does something that needs to be done and does it so well.

He preaches a sermon by his actions and he thinks no one notices.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it (1 Corinthians 12:27)

What I enjoy about “this guy” is that he is fulfilling his purpose. Again, I don’t even know his name. His “sermon” is short but the message is strong.

Do what God designed and gifted you to do.

Do it with joy.

Do it even when you don’t know others are watching.

Do it even when you don’t feel 100%.

When you use your God-given gifts, that thing that comes naturally, you’re doing so much more than a job or duty. You are bringing Him glory. You are inspiring others to do the same.

There’s this guy that preaches a sermon Sunday after Sunday and never says a word.

Makes me stop and think about the sermon I am preaching today by my actions. 

How about you?