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Signs Along the Way

I am just crazy enough to believe that God is trying to speak to us all of the time- give us signs and messages of his love for us- if we pay attention.  And how best to do that but through everyday experiences?

I have a friend who, every time she sees a red cardinal, is reminded of God's love for her.  She has literally seen cardinals in the oddest places and at the strangest times, but often when she most needed to be reminded of God's love for her.

Notice the purple heart inscribed on the other side of the tree
I can't say that I have a particular thing that reminds me of God's love, but I try to remain open to the many and diverse ways that God speaks to us.  Yesterday as I was walking, I saw this message spray-painted on the side of an old abandoned building. Somehow I was immediately reminded of God's love for me.  Even though I am not the intended recipient of the message (Charles said he didn't write it!), God used it to speak to me... to remind me that he longs for closeness and intimacy with me just because his love is that personal and real.

I know, this might sound downright silly.  But what do you have to lose? If you are open to it, you might want to ask God to show you how crazy about you he is!  And then walk through the day with your eyes wide open and your ears tuned in.... I'm pretty sure at just the right time you will see something or hear something that says, "I love you."

Be the Best You that You Can Be

The day I graduated from High School I walked away from the auditorium with a huge sense of accomplishment.  Not so much because I had a diploma in hand with academic honors, but that I had survived High School being me. Probably one of the greatest struggles of my life in terms of staying true to who I am took place in Middle School and High School.  It was worth fighting the battle back then because I think it may have helped me to gain some stronger "sense of self" muscles, if you will, that have sustained me during other times when the pressure was on to become either more than I am, or less than I am, or something other than I am.

A friend introduced me to a poem by e.e. cummings (1894-1962)  that has stuck with me over time:

"To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, day and night, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting."

I think in our culture we focus a lot of attention on being the best basketball player, or the best pianist, or the best designer with all of the attention being on the mastery of technical skills alone.  The status of "the best" at something will be achieved by a very select few, making it nearly an unattainable goal. There can be only one "the best" at something.

But the thing we can each be the best at is being who we are.   You alone hold the power to be the best you you can be.  No one else can do that for you.  The world needs you to be richly and authentically you if you want to leave a meaningful legacy.  And you need you to be richly and authentically you if you desire joy, purpose and meaning.

Be you today.  And be the best at it you can possibly be!

Hope, Dream, Love, Believe. Anyway.

I'm always amazed at all of the places that truth shows up.  One of the contestants on American Idol sang  this song by Martina McBride last night:
You can spend your whole life buildin'
Something from nothin'
One storm can come and blow it all away
Build it anyway

You can chase a dream
That seems so out of reach
And you know it might not ever come your way
Dream it anyway

God is great, but sometimes life ain't good
When I pray it doesn't always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway
I do it anyway

This world's gone crazy and its hard to believe
That tomorrow will be better than today
Believe it anyway
You can pour your soul out singing
A song you believe in
That tomorrow they'll forget you ever sang
Sing it anyway
Yeah, sing it anyway
I sing, I dream, I love

This song speaks to a commitment that I have made to myself to choose hope, as best as I can.  I choose hope because I would rather live my life hopeful than not. Why not, as the song suggests, believe for the most, live for the most, seize the most, love the most, hope for the most.  Isn't that a much better way to live than the alternative?

I've lived long enough to know that life gets marked by seasons. During those seasons, God is working to develop us, grow us and prepare us for what's ahead,  in ways that we can't often see until we're well past that season of our lives. I would say that we are in one of those seasons right now:  we're right where we're supposed to be, but its not entirely clear what is ahead or specifically what God is doing in our lives.  So, while its difficult for me to always see what this season is about, I do know that one day I'll be able to look back on this season and say, "Oh, so THAT's what was going on and THAT's what God was doing!" What I don't want to do, upon looking back, is this:  "Oh, so THAT's what God was up to!  Well, if I had only known that, I would have been more hopeful all along!"  No, I want to live each day filled with maximum hope  simply because of who God is and how God works in our lives.    So, even though I don't see it all right now, I choose hope.... Anyway.

May we all, no matter what season of life we are in, choose to live life fully.  Hoping, Dreaming, Loving, Believing.... Anyway.

My Town Waking Up

One of the things that makes me not mind the shorter days of fall and winter is to, before the sun has fully come up, drive by homes, businesses and places where people are beginning their day.  I love to see the lights on inside of buildings, and sometimes catch a glimpse of the activity within.  I know, it sounds kinda strange!  But I can't help it... there's just such a good feeling that comes from the scene that is created.  There is something really beautiful to me about the sense I get of those inside who are up, anticipating all that a new day brings, ready to go, willing to work hard and do the things they do each day to find purpose and meaning.  I especially enjoy the scene created by the lights from within glowing in places where people are gathering for conversation and community.
Normal Rockwell
I'm sure I have been influenced by this Norman Rockwell painting, which has been one of my favorites since I was a kid.  I always thought it looked so interesting to be those people inside.  I always wondered what they talked about, what their lives were like.  The picture would always get me dreaming about the story being lived out on the painted canvas.

 This morning, I happened to have my camera with me and caught a few places that I thought looked especially inviting in the light of dawn in my own town.
A well known coffee shop downtown, where people were having coffee together
City Hall.  I wonder what decisions will be made today.

Inside the owner is preparing tasteful yet simple breakfasts for those who will come..  

A place where people with disabilities gather for community and meaning

A quiet entrance to the science building on the campus where I work

Lights are on in the Ad Building on campus as  folks inside get ready for the day.

"So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work.  Then I realized that this pleasure is from the hand of God."  (Ecclesiastes 2:24)

Today may we each enjoy the little things that make life satisfying.