Wednesday, June 29, 2011


     I wonder if what I did was right today.  I wonder if she is mad at me.  Did I say the wrong thing?  Could I have been more kind?  These are questions I face sometimes living a Christian life.  Self-reflection can be a good thing.  I believe God wants us to do it to keep our hearts in a humble place.  It allows us to know if we need to go back and apologize for something or if we can to correct something we have done or not done.  It keeps us accountable to ourselves, God and others.  Most of the time it is a blessing, but sometimes it can be a burden.
     Doubt, fear and worry all can jump in these reflections without any warning.  It’s frustrating when I am thinking about someone that seems angry with me and I dig into the last few days to try and remember what problem I may have caused.  For the life of me, I cannot find a reason.  This can lead to obsessing and worrying that your offense will never be forgiven.  It can take over your thoughts, take over your dreams, or worse keep you from sleeping at all.  I think we have to reflect on ourselves in a healthy way; the way God meant for us.
    Jesus said, blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  Sometimes people will get angry at us, for what seems like no good reason at all.  So then what?  There is never any harm in asking them if you’ve offended them.  Sometimes we are blind to our own actions and need to be told that we have hurt someone.  Pride must be swallowed and the answers need to be a priority.  If we’ve done what is asked of us, we’ve taken a step back and looked at ourselves in the mirror, we’ve asked them and they don’t respond, then it’s time to accept the fact that the problem may be on their end.  No judging just deducing.  It may not even be something we did.  Perhaps they are going through a trial and are not ready to talk about it.
     In this case, all we can do is practice what is called the three P’s:  Prayer, patience, and persistence.  We need to pray for them to forgive us and for our relationship to be healed.  Pray for them in general, and for any trials they may be facing.  Be attentive and look for clues as to what you can pray for them.  We must be patient after we pray and not let the cold shoulder or different attitude from them affect the relationship even more.  Patience means overlooking our feelings and acting in love.  Finally we have to be persistent.  This doesn’t mean that we should keep asking them to forgive us, especially if they’ve already denied we did anything wrong in the first place.  Persistence just means to not give up on them.  Trust that they will come around.  Sometimes things aren’t about us at all and us being there for them is the best gift we could give them.  It shows that we are a real friend and that even when times are tough, we stand by them.  Healthy reflection is looking inward, but trusting God and knowing when to stop.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Not So Great Expectations

     Do you ever wonder why we have expectations?  Saturday my daughter competed in a horse show.  Of course, she was extremely excited the night before.  I’m sure she had visions of standing alongside her horse at the end of the day with ribbons hanging from Belle’s halter and a heart swelling with pride for her well-behaved, cooperative horse.  She did bring home some ribbons, but the horse didn’t exactly reach her part of the bargain, as far as expectations went. 
     I’ve been trying, as of late to find my joy.  Find my joy even when it’s hiding under piles of stress, fear, worry and doubt.  It hides under deadlines, in my busy schedule, in the mess.  It hides like my inaudible voice asking yet again for that same request.  I accidently leave it at home when I’m out in the traffic or a crowded place, reacting to inconsiderate strangers.  My joy is always hiding from me, just when I think I’ve captured it for good.  I tell myself during a peaceful study about joy that I can do it.  I can hang onto my joy the next time it tries to hide.  Then it gets away.  It hid on Saturday morning.
     We were running behind, and had expectations, things we wanted to do before the show started.  The event was held by the American Junior Paint Horse Association and was an amateur show for any breed.  They called it Paint for a Day, and the contestants literally had to paint their horse to enter.  She had big plans for painting Belle.  She wanted to fix her mane and tail and we were running late.  By the time the show was starting we had only managed to slap some paint on, no hairdo and no smiles were left.  The paint job she expected to do didn’t work out, disappointment number one.  However, within the next 30 minutes, she was standing with her horse’s halter in one hand and her second place ribbon in the other.  At least one expectation was met.

     As the day went on we had to endure Belle’s off-day.  She was so uptight and obviously distressed over not being at home.  She doesn’t travel much and has a tendency to act this way when things are different.  She still needs more training and it really shows in situations like these.  I could blame it on the heat, or Belle, or my daughter’s bad attitude, or anything, and I found I was.  My joy had once again hidden and I knew it.  At that moment I didn’t feel sad about it being gone, I didn’t care.  I remember thinking about it and feeling rebellious in that moment.  I didn’t care if I was acting joyful or feeling joyful.  It was what I wanted to be, but did I really?  No, I was miserable.  I could have stopped and looked at the blessings around me.  Right there in that moment.  Looking back I do feel sad.  That show, which we expected to be a fun and exciting day, was a day of complaining and groaning.
     I have to learn not to react to the storm around me.  When the winds are swirling around my head, and the lightning is crashing to my right and to my left, I have to trust.  When I feel I’m drowning in the pouring rain and I feel over my head in the floods of life, I have to trust and rest in his arms.  I have to listen for his voice over all of the distractions and be still and know that he is God.  When the expectations of life get crushed by the storms of reality, I have to see that God is in the real, not the supposed.  When life is happening all around me, I should be able to hear him saying in his calm and sure way, “Peace, be still.”  And I should trust.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

All the World is a Stage

     The community pool is our friend in the summer time.  We are there two or three days a week to beat this summertime heat and enjoy some relaxation together.  I suppose the lifeguards have to deal with many obstacles in their job and this year the rules changed.  They now require that every child take a swim test every fifteen days and they record it in a book.  That’s fine for the oldest, but for the youngster the pressure was on.  I’ve seen him swim.  He’s been doing just fine.  He used to have such a fear of the water and has come a long way.  He passed the first time he tried this summer then the tests started again only three days later.
     He stood at the edge of the pool as the lifeguard stood alongside him and gave him the test instructions.  I saw him nodding and looking in the direction she was pointing.  He looked ready; he looked…nervous.  Then he jumped in and began to swim.  He was to swim around 20 feet then tread water for five seconds.  I watched from a chair and said a little prayer for him, but about half way there it was like he just quit.  I watched and felt disappointed for him; then I went over to talk with him and the lifeguard.  He was told he could have a second chance the next time he came to the pool.  He was so sad.

     Since then, we have been back several times and each time he tries to do the test, it becomes more and more of a negative experience.  He doesn’t even want to try anymore.  I was thinking about it today when we came home from the pool, while I was cleaning.  I remembered when I was in seventh grade and played the clarinet in band.  Every week we would have a chair test.  I would practice all week.  I knew the notes and how to play them.  I knew it without the book.  Most times, though, I would let myself down.  I would get so nervous that I couldn’t do what I knew I was capable of achieving.  I did the same thing when I tried out for cheerleading in high school.  I could barely breathe, much less belt out a cheer.  I had no confidence.
     When I knew I was being watched by many as I got up to perform, I would completely shut down.  I still don’t like to get up in front of people and be the center of attention, but it only causes some slight discomfort now.  I thought about how it is so nerve-wracking to get up in front of plain, ordinary people, but every day we all get up in front of God and perform.  Do we feel nervous?  Do I feel under pressure to perform to the best of my ability?  I don’t think I’ve thought about it this way.  When I am going about my day I have an audience with God.  I don’t need to be nervous, but I do need to know that He’s with me.  He’s with me, and if I fail or do less than my best he will still cheer for me and encourage me with words of promise.  I will get more chances.  I don’t need to see each mistake as a failure, but think of it as a chance to do it again next time.  Next time I will do it better!
     I talked to my son about these thoughts and told him that he wasn’t alone.  We all feel these feelings and we are all being tested.  God is there and He’s real and in the midst of his nervous anticipation he can pray and ask for God to help him.  We all fail.  We all succeed.  Thanks to God we get chances to try again and when we’ve finally hit the mark we can thank Him.  Thank Him that we did it!  Thank Him for the chances.  Thank Him for being there to cheer us to victory.  Most of all thank Him for the challenges in life for without them we could never grow and have the confidence we need to succeed.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Dreams: A Gift from God

     The need to go home was overwhelming.  I had to get there, but the only way was upstream.  I plunged in and began to fight the current.  I wanted to go a different way or a shorter way, but this was the way.  I was in it now and must not turn back.  After swimming for awhile I saw him, just up ahead on the bank.  I pleaded for him to pull me up, but he smiled kindly, and urged me to go further.  Not completely exhausted yet, I agreed without much protest and continued swimming. 
     Just around the bend I saw something in the water.  Something with very large scales and huge teeth, and I screamed for a hero.  Just then I saw him on the bank again with a sling shot.  He swung it around several times in short circles and then let go.  A pebble left the sling as if it was in slow motion and I watched it fly through the air.  I could feel its power and knew the aim had been dead on before it hit anything.  It hit the river monster right between the eyes and down it went without a sound.  I turned to look into the conqueror’s eyes, he was gone.  I continued to swim.
     I was swimming steadily, beginning to feel the fatigue when I heard the sound of swirling water.  I looked up ahead and saw it.  There was a huge, swirling vortex in the middle of the river and I was already being pulled toward it.  Desperately trying to swim in the opposite direction, flailing and paddling with all of my might, I could not break away from its grip.  I began to cry out for help, screaming and pleading.  Just then I felt something brush my back.  I turned to look and noticed that it was a vine.  I grabbed onto it and held tight.  As I held it, I was steered completely around the whirlpool and taken to safe waters on the other side.  I felt the gentle current trying to take me back toward the danger so I let go of the vine and began to swim upstream again.

     I was so tired.   My legs were aching, my side was burning, my arms, oh, my arms.  I asked, “Lord, I need your help.  I’m so tired.  Will you come please?”
     Opening my eyes I saw the most glorious sight.  A raft made of logs was floating right toward me.  I only had one chance to catch it before it passed me by so using all of my concentration and every bit of strength I had left I threw myself toward it as it came along side of me.  I did it!  I climbed aboard the wonderful vessel and laid on its surface.  Never once did I worry that it would float in the wrong direction, downstream.  I was learning to trust.  I closed my eyes and slept.  When I awoke I felt rested and ready for whatever was next.  When I heard the sound of roaring water, a waterfall!  I looked ahead and wondered how I could be heading toward a waterfall when I was swimming upstream.  I didn’t have time to wonder for long, because I was getting closer and had to find a way out.  I cried out again.
     I heard someone calling my name over the plunging falls.  I looked desperately for the source.  There he was on the bank gesturing for me to come.  I jumped off of the raft and began to swim toward him.  Swimming harder and faster than ever before to get to my savior.  When I reached him, he bent and offered his hand to me.  I took it and he pulled me up and out of the treacherous waters and onto the safety of dry ground, home.  He looked at me and smiled.
     “You have arrived, your journey is finished.” Jesus said.  I hugged him.
     “You never once left me alone,” I said, with tears in my eyes.  “You didn’t keep me from my journey that I had to go through to get here, but you never once left me to do it alone.  Thank you.”

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Light at the End of the Tunnel

     Before I knew it the tears were just spilling out of my eyes!  In the midst of it happening, I was taken aback.  Where did these come from?  It has been difficult for me to show my emotions for a long time.  I hardly ever cry anymore.  I’m not sure why.  I think I just got into the habit of suppressing them so that I could do “important” things.  Writing has opened the door.  A cob-webbed, creaky door that has been closed off and forgotten about for years has now been thrown open and the light is pouring in and helping me to see again.  This may sound strange, but even crying can be something to be thankful for, right there in the middle of it all, I was thankful.
     Too many days I have lived just crossing things off of a list.  Clean the house, check.  Go shopping, check.  Study bible, check.  I was being head-led instead of spirit-led.  The spirit was with me all along and sometimes I heard it loud and clear and obeyed it aside from my planning.  Mostly though, I just existed.  I’m ready to start living.  A real life, a deeper one, grounded in living for the one who gave me everything.  I want to stop and smell the roses; ponder what this life is really about and gain every bit of wisdom God has for me.  I want to feel what he wants me to feel.
     Pain is a hard thing to bear, but I believe sometimes that’s just what he wants us to feel.  Instead of avoiding pain, I need to look at it differently.  What is that saying?  There is a light at the end of the tunnel.  There is!  Huge amounts of light.  Wisdom, more joy, peace of mind, tolerance, patience:  the list goes on and on.  Each time, every situation has a different hue of light to fill the void.  While living through a trial, focusing on the light may be the thing that keeps a heart joyful.  When the eyes have been in the darkness for just long enough to adjust to it, a peek down the tunnel could be the key to finding that one speck of light.  Keep peeking.

     Joy is always what he wants for us.  If nothing else in your pain can come to mind, there is always the cross.  Joy can come from that.  For me, lately joy has been the focus of my heart.  I’m trying to find it in the little things.  The cool of the air conditioner, that takes my breath away, when I enter the house in the heat of the day.  The beautiful black bird, with the ruby cheek, that was sitting on the fence at a traffic light.  The giggles of my kids and husband having a tickling match on my bed this morning.  Joy, it’s there!  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.  This wisdom is in the bible for us and though most think of it as a noble verse, a favorite, I’m not sure it has ever been considered a key verse.  I think it is the key.  How can a Christian really live for him without this mindset?  How can you really trust, not worry, love and the rest without joy in the forefront of your mind?
    To make a long story short, those tears the other night were a blessing from God.  They helped me to finally let my heart be heard.  They helped me to be understood and to heal.  Tears in sadness turned out to be tears of joy.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

His Way is Always Best

     Thinking tonight about answers to prayers and how they never cease to surprise me.  When I pray, I learned long ago not to tell God how to fix something, I just pray.  I ask Him to fix it His way and give it to Him.  It always amazes me how He orchestrates these repairs.   Just lately I’ve been asking Him to help me with my oldest, who is twelve.  I have been trying to no avail to teach her responsibility.  Natural consequences and plenty of advice (nagging) and one new plan after another to help us “get” each other, haven’t seemed to quite sink in to the extent that I would like.
     Being with her every day, all day makes it even more difficult.  I’m sure that by now I sound like the teacher from the Peanuts cartoons, mwa-mwa-mwa-mwa…….!  I feel like a broken record.  Do people still use that simile?  Regardless, I feel like one and I despise that feeling.  I would love for her to get up every morning and look at her chore list without a word from me.  I would love for her to be ready to go on time.  Owning her education and being self-motivated would please more than I could even imagine.  So I pray.

      Then it happened.  Last week she was offered the opportunity to help out at a kid’s camp.  She did it with her whole heart and was recognized for that.  I was told by the person running the camp what a huge pleasure it was to have her assistance and that she was welcome to continue for some other campers this week.  On the ride home from the first day, she confided in me how she felt very grown-up.  “I felt like I had a job!” she said.  It made me smile.
     That’s when it hit me.  This is more important than both of us realized when she was offered the opportunity.  We thought of the fun.  We thought it would be a wonderful summer time-filler for her and she loves small children.  I now see it as an answer to my prayer.  God will use this to show her that responsibility can be a pleasant thing.  Doing good for others can be its own reward.  Having them depend on you and coming through for them is so rewarding.  The best part of it all is it’s not me depending on her.
       Never, in a million years, would I have thought to pray for that, but I didn’t need to think of it.  That’s what is so wonderful about praying and giving your problems to God.  Truly giving them up and waiting to see what He will do with them.  He is always faithful to deliver.  Remember to keep your heart open for the answer.  Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.  God is good.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Kid for an Hour

     Eric and I were talking last night and I had a thought.  At what point in one’s life, does having fun become work?  It can be 100 degrees outside and you can look out the window from your air conditioned house and see kids out on the hot pavement skateboarding and biking, laughing and carefree.  It can be an arctic blizzard out that same window with icicles hanging from every surface, and children are happily sliding around and catching a snowball in the nose.  Oblivious is the word that comes to mind.  Happily, wonderfully lost in oblivion with nowhere to be and nothing to get done.
     Wouldn’t it be nice to go back and be in that world again?  I don’t remember ever feeling too hot or too cold to play outside with my friends.  Playing was the center of my attention and nothing else mattered.  I could play outside all day on a Saturday, and sometimes skip lunch and not even recognize it until my mom beckoned me to come in and eat something.  Clocks were just fixtures on the wall that I hardly noticed.  I remember going to a friend’s house and asking my mom how long I could stay.  She would give me an hour limit and I thought that was eons.  Now an hour is barely enough time to do anything.  Time seems to slip away; minutes, hours, days, and months fly by.

     So when does this happen to a person?  Is it when that first job enters your life?  Does it happen little by little or all at once?  I don’t remember, but I wish I could have kept the good part of childhood.  I’m aware that I have to watch the clock now, but do I have to watch it all of the time?  I could ignore it some days and get lost in that beautiful place:  oblivion.  In those times my creative mind could take over and I could be fun for awhile.  Maybe I could schedule oblivion time into my day.
     “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”  And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.   Jesus wants us to be oblivious to some degree.  He wants us to be fun-loving and to laugh and smile and enjoy each other.  He wants us to be at peace and for us to not have stress.  We should trust him like we trusted our parents to take care of us when we were children.  There are some things I’m sure he would prefer that we ignore.
     We pick up things as we grow older.  Racism, political strife, religious disagreements, pride, just to name a few, these are all things I regret I ever gave attention.  They are ugly.  There is no place for them in heaven and there should not be a place for them here either.  If we all spent more time like a child, lost in their world, I believe it would be a wonderful world to live in.  So, on that note, set the timer and be oblivious today.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bad Dog!

     Betty Betty Birddog is a Brittany Spaniel that we adopted 4 years ago, after our ten year old Lab, Chewy passed.  I don’t even think it was a full week that Chewy was gone, before we rushed out to “replace” her.  I knew we couldn’t really replace her, but I had no idea what we were really getting ourselves into with Betty.  I can only say “No wonder she had been taken back to the pound, TWICE!”
    They had warned us at the shelter that she had a habit of getting  away from her human.  I guess we didn’t listen very well, because the very next day after having her for a whole twenty-four hours, Eric had his first chasing down, cornering and tackling experience down the street.  His shoulder hurt for weeks.  She has probably slipped away, using all different M.O.’s at least 15 times in the years since she joined our family. 
     In these years, she has also peed on the carpet more times than I want to remember, eaten a whole loaf of high fiber bread off of the kitchen counter when we were gone one night, completely shredded a rain gutter looking for that elusive rat.  One night she ate about $25.00 worth of Nutrisystem food, once again while we were gone.  Needless to say, she slept alone that night.  She's swallowed a fish hook with a piece of sausage on it at midnight, and after $1,000, and an abdominal surgery, she recovered from that.  And, I think the most memorable antic was when she brought half a rabbit in through the pet door.  Thank the Lord I caught her before she decided to have that meal on the living room furniture.  

     I’ve learned something through having Betty Betty Birddog.  I need to be able to forgive people as easily as I dole out forgiveness to the dog.  I know, she is just a dog and she doesn’t know any better.  People do, right?  Maybe not, especially if they aren’t a Christian; or maybe they are.  Christians make mistakes.  We are all learning our whole lives.  Every day, if we have our eyes open, God has something new to show us about love and forgiveness. 
      On the subject of forgiveness, Jesus said, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”  Each time we forgive someone, we are obeying him.  It seems we have to forgive some people a great deal of times, and that could be the case for our lifetime.  That’s a huge amount of forgiveness that he requires of us.  I’m still working on getting better with forgiving others and letting my grievances go.  As for the dog, I think I’ve forgiven Betty Betty Birddog at least that many times. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I Have an Appointment with God Today

     It’s hard when people don’t understand your love for God.  A life dedicated to serving Him is a life torn.  Days I have planned for Him have to be explained as just that, and in the process things get personal.  Someone takes the commitments I have to mean that I don’t love or care for them.  I do, but I must show my love for him.  I made a promise to Him through salvation, and I want to keep that promise.  It is never my intention to hurt anyone, but only that they might someday make that same commitment and understand.
     “I’m proud to praise God, proud to praise God.  Fearless now, I trust in God; what can mere mortals do to me?” (Ps. 56:10-11 MSG)  I am proud, but also hurt that I have to feel guilty.  I read this verse this morning, and I just wanted to scream the words, but with anger and frustration, not a full of praise kind of scream.  I wanted to justify myself and make everyone who doesn’t understand that love and trust, UNDERSTAND!  Screaming at them won’t work though, for the anger of man doesn’t bring about the righteousness of God.  Prayer and keeping my convictions are all that I can do.  I must deal with my feelings and walk with Him regardless.
     Someday if I am patient, they may come and ask me about those convictions.  They may find them through some other venue.  I pray they do.  I really sat and thought this morning about what the world would be like if we were all Christians.  Think of the conversations we could have.  Think of the relationships that would still be flourishing.  Feelings would not be hurt through angry words, and if they were, pride would be set aside and forgiveness would be more freely given.  We would understand the commitments of our friends and families, and know that serving God came before serving ourselves.  Selfishness would not exist, and another hurting person might be our first thought as we opened our eyes in the morning.  I know that is God’s wish for all of us.
     When I think about it from that perspective, it’s mine too.  I would like a world full of more love and understanding.  I wouldn’t have to explain my service to a God that has given so much to me.  The people around me would know exactly why I want to give Him as much as I can.  He gave me everything.  His son hung in agony and never once blamed a single one of us for what he went through on that cross.  He forgave us right there in the hours of brutal beatings and the slowest most heinous murder I can imagine.  Even when I have a day where I am less than a Christian, and forget my real goals in life and where I am going, he did it for me that day too.  He did it for the ones that don’t understand too and He is patiently waiting for them with open arms.  So, I will be patient and wait too.  Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Those Were the Days

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.  2 Corinthians 7:10
Cute little chubby cheeks and big crocodile tears looking into the lens.  He was heartbroken that I had left for a nightly outing.  Standing at the door and screaming for Mommy, while Daddy tried to comfort his little soul.  Watching old home movies, I don’t really long to go back to that time, I enjoy this time, but I do long for something else.  Watching my children in those videos is priceless.  The sweet chaos and endless noises each clip contained are music to my ears now.  Were they then?  Did I treasure each moment?  I know I didn’t.  Some moments even brought me to tears.
     When I looked at my face in some of those movies, I feel sad.  I didn’t look as happy as I know I was when I think of those times now.  I was wishing I could turn back time and change my attitude.  Regret has no place in a Christian walk, except maybe to help us change the present.  I guess ,in that sense, regret can be a good thing, if it causes us to look at today and decide that we will not regret the here and now. 
     There will still be frustrations today.  I have to look past them and find the joy in every situation.  It’s there somewhere.  It may be hard to find, but it’s there.  I want to laugh more and carry a smile.  I want to stop and listen more and really hear my children, especially now when they are really talking to me, not just chattering.  Sometimes it’s still just chatter, but more often they really want to talk to me.  I want to have time for them in a world with no time.  I want to teach them to find joy and save them from regret.
     A worldly regret never resolves itself.  A person can wallow in it for a lifetime and never find happiness because they live in the past; a past that they can never change. However, Godly regret and true repentance can change generations to come.  No, I didn’t smile in those videos enough.  I can smile today.  I can seek forgiveness from God and my family and I can see the world in a new light.  It’s never too late to stop regretting and start changing.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Opening My Eyes

     What a blessing One Thousand Gifts has been to me.  I thought I was alone.  Joy can be with me, pounding in my heart and in my head one second, and with one harsh word spoken between my children, can be stolen like a vulture swooping down on it’s prey.   I always thought my problem was mine alone.  The book refers to  Luke 9:28-36, “Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus,Master, it is good that we are here.  “Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah"— not knowing what he said.   As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!"  And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.  And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.”
     They wanted to stay in that moment, when all was well and full of joy.  No sorrow, strife, or fear surrounded them, they had arrived and figured out how to be happy.  I feel those moments all of the time.  This morning I took the dogs out after they ate for the morning ritual.  The grass was wet from the nightly watering.  I sat on a porch step and took in the morning.  Sheep bleating, birds chirping a song just for me.  Branches were swaying to the melody.  The same wind brushing my cheeks, causing  me to breathe deeply and sigh.  I was feeling joy.  After much convincing, Peanut got down to business, but Betty Betty Birddog decided I was not convincing enough.  Within seconds, she had stolen my joy.  The secret to it all is to be able to hang onto joy in the midst of life.
     I have to go into life with my eyes wide open.  That song, “Open the Eyes of My Heart” by Michael W. Smith, that’s what he’s saying.  Even in the midst of frustration and irritation with others, I have to look for the joy in everything.  God sees it, so if I try I can see it too.  When I go to God and ask for His forgiveness, I must know that He has to see all of me.  The bad and the good, and He makes a choice to look at the good in me.  That’s how I can forgive and love like God does.  I have to truly SEE!
     I am going to do an experiment for ten days.  The One Thousand Gifts  calls it Eurcharisteo (real joy).  I am jumping in with eyes wide open for these days, and I am going to find as many things as I can to be joyful about and write them down.  I will share them and I will challenge you to do the same.  Reading this book has been such a blessing, but I feel putting this into practice is where the real blessing lies.  I want to live my life with joy and gratitude with my eyes wide open in every situation.  There is always good to see.  Then I can discover the life God meant for me to live.