Wake up in the morning and open your eyes wide. See the beauty in the world, smile and give thanks. See the ugly in the world, weep; then refuse to let it win. Do this and a life will be lived.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

She Will Not Be Moved

Believing means trusting in something you can not prove with the scientific method. It isn’t always easy. There are times when our beliefs get lost in the struggle, when distractions come our way and faith sits patiently by. Then, there are times when belief is all we have.
In 2005, I met a woman named Mattie Jackson. Mattie taught me what it is to believe. Against all odds, she wakes up each morning, lifts her hands in praise and smiles.
Mattie is a mother of three daughters, Erika, Tanza and Taneya. Mattie's love for her children runs deep but there is something very different about her story. Mattie doesn’t get to share holidays with her girls, take them shopping or even see them smile. All three women died of different illnesses before their mother’s sixtieth birthday.
Most can’t imagine surviving the loss of a child. Mattie was no different but when faced with the impossible, she refused to give up on faith. As a young woman, she had made a decision to believe. She had invited Jesus into her heart and given her burdens to His grace. From then on, she couldn’t be moved.
Mattie not only survives, she lives each day to the fullest. She isn't afraid of tomorrow. Whatever life throws at her, she continues to laugh, to dance and to dream. She focuses on her grandchildren and hope for the future. She is there for everyone in her family and in her community. She is a mother to strangers and though she cries, she never complains. She knows her girls are with the Lord.
“I can’t question it. Their time was not in my hands. It was in God’s hands,” she said to me.
When faced with doubt, she goes to a quiet place and opens her Bible.
“I read the book of Job. Everything was taken from him but he persevered. He knew the Lord would deliver him. That is how I feel.”
Whenever I feel like giving up, I think of Mattie and I wonder if I am capable of such faith. In today's world, there are so many questions. I often catch myself focusing on all the wrong things. I try so hard to hold onto the ins and outs of life, I forget the most important thing of all. No matter the circumstances, He is as He always was, He will not be moved. As long as we believe, we will not be moved.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Life Seems Short

Life moves neither slow nor fast. The rate at which time passes depends wholly on an individual’s perception. To a child, the winter months seem to drag on and on. To a parent, they go by to fast. The realization life is short comes to us as grown ups, instantly provoking a desire to make the minutes last longer. The more we try, the faster time seems to go.
There’s a moment right after I wake up in the morning when life stands deceivingly and apparently still. I lie in bed with my eyes half open, adjusting to the sunlight, and nothing is really happening. I’m not thinking about the future or the past. I am content and peaceful in the space between.
I wonder; if a person were to treat every moment as the space between, would time still seem like an adversary? To live fully in the present, a person would have to let go of obsessions about yesterday and tomorrow. Is it even possible?
People were designed to remember and to think ahead, to make choices based on the potential outcome. Our past and our aspirations are an important part of who we are. Just the same, they shouldn’t overshadow the here and now. How we live in the here and now is, after all, how we create our memories.
Life seems short but the value of what we are experiencing this very moment will never be contigent upon time. Time moves forward and backward. The here and now is something more. It is a gift. I believe we are meant to relax in it, to enjoy it and when possible, to use it wisely.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Faith Isn't a Feeling

I’ve come to realize there is a river, deep and violent with the current flowing downstream. You can ride it or sink into the place where time ceases to exist. It is a choice. I don’t know why were given the choice but I know the right one. To live is to accept the challenge of surviving defeat, to overcome the distance between panic and serenity. To live is to believe there is something greater than yourself, that the answers are His, not your own.
There are no lucky ones. We all are blessed with the gift of life and we all carry burdens along the journey. It is our responsibility to act with courage and give those burdens to the grace of God. No one escapes trials, but some do allow trials to weaken the spirit. True courage is refusing to let go, no matter if your hands are bleeding.
The smartest people in the world aren’t the scientists and the billionaires. The smartest people are those who dedicate their lives to love. We were created to be in relationship with one another, with relatives, with friends, with spouses and with neighbors. We were designed to be in a relationship with God.
Faith isn’t a feeling. It isn’t contingent upon life being easy. Faith is coming face to face with an angry river and, rather than looking for a way around it, choosing to stay on course. Faith is a choice. I don’t know why were given the choice but I know the right one.
Be willing to seek out the light in the dark.