Grateful Abundance

IMG_1718I had the privilege of visiting my family in Arizona last week, and we drove to Albuquerque to visit my Nana in her elderly care home. She carefully escorted us down to the dining area, where we sat in wooden chairs amidst dozens of walkers and chatty old folks.

As myself, my sister, her husband, and her new baby son entered the room, all eyes were drawn to us, and remarks about the cuteness and sanctity of the new baby came our way: “Oh wow, look at him!” and “How precious!“ That’s the great thing about having a baby in your company – it instigates a conversation starter with perfect strangers.

(Side note: A few hours later I carried bundled baby Tyler around Trader Joe’s. I embraced the attention given to me per their assumption that I was the mother, taking their questions in stride until someone asked me his birthday. I had to fess up at that point. Yes, I hope that someday motherhood will be a reality for me, but until then I will have to live vicariously through my sister.)

Back in the elderly home, I was struck by the stark contrast between this small little one with perfect skin and the women and men with age-old wrinkles that filled the rest of the room. And yet, both my nephew and my nana have a lot in common. It’s been said that we begin life and end life on our knees: In total dependence on others.

Life is full of beginnings and endings. Tyler, only 7 weeks old with a whole life ahead of him. Who will he be? What will he do? What challenges will he face and how will he overcome them? And my sweet Nana, 92 years old, with an amazing life behind her of raising my dad and his brothers, a life serving and loving others wholeheartedly.

Moments like these are powerful because you begin to see the fragility of life. We are born, we grow up and live for a few dozen years, and then we die. What will you do with the life you have been given?

Personally, I can live with great hope because of my faith. I take heart in living not just for this life but for the life to come. I live for a day beyond the grave, a day where there is no crying or hardship or pain, because of Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross. And this redemptive vision enables me to live today with me great hope.

Seeing the generations together in one room helps you to appreciate where you are in the journey of life, and inspires you to intentionally live each day with renewed purpose: to love others with the love we have received from God.

But living in the moment is hard to do. For me, I tend to grasp after the “next” thing, longing for the next stage of life. I’m now thirty, which is maybe ⅓ of my life. What have I done so far? And what will I accomplish? It’s too easy just to run through life, looking towards the “next” to satisfy us, instead of embracing each day and finding the gift within it.

I recently stumbled upon a poem written by Jason Lehmen. There is great wisdom within this poem that was written when he was only 14 years old:

Present Tense

It was spring, but it was summer I wanted,
The warm days, and the great outdoors.
It was summer, but it was fall I wanted,
The colorful leaves, and the cool, dry air.
It was fall, but it was winter I wanted,
The beautiful snow, and the joy of the holiday season.
It was winter, but it was spring I wanted,
The warmth and the blossoming of nature.
I was a child, but it was adulthood I wanted,
The freedom and respect.
I was 20, but it was 30 I wanted,
To be mature, and sophisticated.
I was middle-aged, but it was 20 I wanted,
The youth and the free spirit.
I was retired, but it was middle-age I wanted,
The presence of mind without limitations.
My life was over, and I never got what I wanted.

Ann Voskamp, author of an amazing book called One Thousand Gifts, writes that in the wake of all the rushing there are a thousand broken and missed things, that in the haste we think we are making up time but in fact we are throwing it away. She concludes, “Our fall was, has always been and always will be, that we aren’t satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other.”

So, my new year’s resolution is to appreciate where I am here and now, to savor the moment, to have the attitude that, “This is the good life.” We cannot live in tomorrow because the gift of today is all we have.

Someone recently said that we should live life like the way we appreciate a five course meal. When eating a delicious meal, you receive each course as it comes, savoring in the flavors of each and every bite. You don’t dwell on what dessert could be like, because all that you have in front of you is a delicious savory soup or a meaty steak. In a really superb meal, you are living completely in the moment, savoring each and every bite, as well as the rich conversation with the people around you. In this new year, I want to approach each day as a delectable meal that God has set out before me to enjoy.

My desire for 2016 is to grow in my ability to savor the gift of each moment laid out before me. Embracing the moment means that I am trusting in the sovereignty of God to lead me and provide for my every need, in His way and in His time. David writes in Psalm 23 that, “The Lord is my shepherd, I have all that I need.” It’s as we understand God as our shepherd and our provider that we can live in the place of grateful abundance.


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