Truly Living

HappyWe are meant to thrive and to flourish.  We are meant to live joyfully.  We are meant to live content lives, rejoicing whether we have a lot or a little.  We are meant to be filled as we fill others.  We are meant to receive, in order to give back.  We are meant to show love to strangers, to the undeserving, to all those around us.  We are meant to do all of this under the umbrella of God’s great love and purpose.  Trusting that He is pulling the strings.

In all reality, doing all of the above is freaking hard, if not impossible to do some days.  In fact, it seems like most days, we are in a constant battle against ourselves.  There’s a war raging against the peace that God promises.  Many times, it seems like we’re losing that war.

The worries, concerns, doubts, pains and fears that we deal with are normal……..but they shouldn’t define us.  The struggles are meant to strengthen us.  To teach us that we are not meant to handle life’s pressures on our own.  God is our Rock, our Dad, our Friend, our Creator.  He’s all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving and He’s always available……if we choose to connect with Him.

Something that Christians often fail to recognize is this: people can get through life without God.  Folks can cling to other things like their stuff, accomplishments, nature, people, etc.  Is that how we were meant to live though?  To just “get through life”, day by day until we die?  To rely on the temporary, always aging, imperfect ways of things?  I would argue that we are meant to live for so much more.

Jesus is our hope.  He has already taken care of the dirty work.  He has offered us all the gift of salvation, of joy, of peace, of unsullied perfect relationship with Him…..we just have to accept it.  Again, we’re not forced to, but it’s there for the taking.  What a blessing and what a hope!  We should be the most excited people in the world!

Sadly, many “Christians” who claim to follow Jesus don’t look any different from the rest of the world.  They hit their alarm clocks at the beginning of each day and just survive…..that’s it, just get through the day.  Stop it!

Friends, every day is a blessing.  Every breath is a gift.  Every trial is an opportunity to know God better.  We’re meant to live in complete freedom, knowing that Jesus has prepared a place for us!

Living with this perspective is truly living.

God Bless,

Paul

She Was a Good Car

Selling CarToday, we sold our car.  It was our first new car and it still feels like we just brought it home.  We purchased it when life was much different.  I had just started a new job and we didn’t have any kids.

Fast forward 8 years and here we are…..we now have 2 beautiful boys, 2 & 6 years old.  My wife is now an AMAZING stay-at-home-mom and I am still working at the same great place.  Our new, inherited vehicle was my mother-in-law’s…..she passed away from cancer a few months ago.

Things sure have changed.  Ups, downs, career changes, health changes, life changes….pretty wild.

I’m gonna miss our car.  From the milk and coffee stains, to the cracker crumbs, to the apple juice splatters on the roof, to the beach trips taken, to the trips from the hospital with our freshly new baby boys…..good times.

I know it’s just a hunk of metal, but it was our hunk of metal.  It represents a large chunk of our lives.

So now it’s time to make new memories.  To spill more milk and spread more crumbs.  That’s how it works.  You close one chapter and begin another one.  It’s sad and fun at the same time.

I’m reminded today of how quickly life flies by….of how things never stay the same.  Most of all, I’m reminded of how temporary it all is.

I can’t imagine this world and our temporary conditions being all there is.

The only thing that lasts forever is my faith in Jesus.  My faith itself never changes, but the journey certainly does.  Each day is a new adventure and an opportunity to learn and make new memories.  God is good.

God Bless,

Paul

LISTENING, FOOTBALL AND THE DAY MY WIFE SHOULD HAVE KNOCKED ME OUT

ListenIn the 10 years that I’ve been married, there have been many lessons learned.  Many of those lessons have needed reinforcing…over and over and over….I’m a slow learner apparently.

If I could pull one of the many truths out of the marriage hat, it would be this: SOMETIMES, IT’S BETTER TO SHUT YOUR MOUTH AND LISTEN VS. SAYING ANYTHING AT ALL.

You see, as a male, I want to fix things.  I want to solve all of my wife’s issues and settle every one of her nerves.  I have a desire to be this vending machine….pop in a problem quarter and I’ll spit out a can of wisdom.  In a perfect world, it works…..in a realistic world, not so much.

Sometimes, a listening ear and a silent mouth are the best gifts to offer.  To allow my heart to be absorbent, like a sponge, to my wife’s care’s, concerns and passions.

It’s one thing to just be present….it’s another thing to show empathy.  To make eye contact, nod the head in understanding and turn the football off for a bit.

I’m really not one to talk.  As I’m writing this, I’m reminded of the day that my oldest son was born.  My poor wife was being a soldier in that hospital room.  Pushing, sweating, groaning, being more of a man than I could ever be.  We had football on in the background to keep things calm and relaxed.  My wife asked me for ice chips or something and I didn’t hear her.  I was watching football (oh you stupid man).  “PAUL, I NEED ICE CHIPS!” suddenly jolted me from my trance and I quickly grabbed some for her.  The nurse swiftly shut the TV off to avoid my wife knocking me out.  It’s funny looking back, but at the time, I wasn’t present in spirit, only in body.

As a guy, being emotionally available and identifying with feelings is tough because we’re not wired that way.  It’s certainly good to give it a valiant effort though and it takes practice.

When it comes down to it, I don’t need to have all of the answers.  I just need to be there.  To be available.

I’ve discovered that sometimes, what’s most necessary are 2 arms, readily available for a bear hug, always.

God Bless,

Paul

I WANT IT NOW!!!

Throwing tantrumWe’re such an “instant gratification society” aren’t we?!  With technology booming and advancements in just about every area, it’s almost hard not to be in this mindset.

From DVR’s to fast food to internet shopping to phones to instant coffee to whatever….there’s a sense of entitlement in regards to the accessibility and quickness of things.  We all fall subject to this.  You know when you’re in the middle of something and your computer freezes up?  You wait patiently for the status bar to slowly creep across the screen because progress takes time, right?  Right?  Ummm, no, not so much.  You and I both act as though our precious time is being wasted in such a dramatic fashion, it’s almost comical.  Actually, it is pretty comical.

Just as we expect life to conveniently and quickly come together, we often expect God to work in the same way.  I know I do at times.  “God, I really wanted that job, but it didn’t work out.  Why did you let that happen to me?”  “God, I’ve been praying for peace and comfort, but I don’t feel any different.  Where are you?”  “God, I prayed that you would heal this person and they passed away.  Where were you?”  These questions sound familiar?

I think we’ve all asked questions somewhat similar to these.  We do so in expectation of an answered prayer quickly and exactly.  When that doesn’t happen, we tend to get discouraged, to give up.  It’s a natural inclination to sway in this direction, but WE MUST NEVER GIVE UP, EVER!

God doesn’t work on the same timeline as us for one simple reason; He’s not human, He’s God.  We only see what’s in front of us, merely guessing about the direction of our future.  God sees the whole picture.  Instead of going at our pace, He’s way ahead of us, waiting around the final turn, on one knee, arms stretched, awaiting our embrace.  He’s like a proud Dad, wanting our love and trust in return.

God knows us better than we know ourselves.  He knows what makes us tick.  He knows our insecurities.  He knows the exact things in our life that would cause us to turn to Him.  Sometimes, He allows the times of despair, because He wants us to seek hope and peace.  Sometimes, He’s quiet, because He wants us to pursue him more diligently, consistently and passionately.  Sometimes, He closes a door, because He has another door open…one we may not see yet.  He does all this because He’s more interested in our journey, in our character, in our ability to show love, than He is in our comfort.

The bible talks about perseverance.  You know, fighting the good fight and pressing forward at all costs.  It all sounds pretty glamorous and righteous, but it’s so freaking hard to do sometimes.  It’s a daily decision.

Practically speaking, if we desire to know God better, we just need to keep going.  We need to keep doing what we know how to do.  We need to keep praying, Keep seeking, keep hiking, keep working, keep singing, keep writing, keep reading, keep socializing, keep doing whatever it is that brings us closer to Him.  If you and I are open and our hearts are truly seeking Him, we will be changed, in due time.  That’s a promise.

Sure, sometimes God does answer our prayers quickly and exactly.  It’s really cool when that happens.

Most of the time, God seems to work a little outside the box.  Ok, a lot outside the box.  That’s good, because our “instant gratification selves” typically desire things within that perfectly symmetrical box.

God ALWAYS has our best interests in mind.  Slowing down and trusting that our relationship with God takes time is the key.  It’s worth the wait.

God Bless,

Paul