Being Present to the Present


A few years ago, I bought a set of DVDs called Sunrise Earth. They are exactly what you think they are. Each program is 50 minutes of spectacular sunrises in some of the most beautiful places in the U.S., captured without any additional music or commentary. In short, the filmmakers let nature speak for itself.

I confess that I haven’t really watched any of these until very recently. I even forgot I had them.

But I rediscovered them and found myself watching the beauty of nature unfold. Instantly, I was in North Maine at Kidney Pond, watching a mother moose with her calf cavorting in the water. I could literally feel my blood pressure falling and a feeling of calm and serenity coming over me.

I confess. Too often, I don’t see the nature in front of me because I’m too focused on where I have to be on Wednesday or something coming up on Sunday. I fret and I worry about what may or may not happen in the future or what could or should have happened in the past.

I can’t change either one of those. I can choose to live in this present moment and be alive to all that God is unveiling before me. I can choose to look out my window and see the sunset (or God forbid, actually forklift myself out of bed at the ungodly crack of dawn to witness a sunrise).

I can also choose to be thankful for the moment I’m living in. I can decide that I don’t want to be so obsessed over the future and the past that I miss this present. Jesus said that tomorrow will take care of itself. And that God will take care of you when that tomorrow comes. It won’t make one bit of difference if you worry or not, because fretting over the future won’t change one iota of it.

So I’m going to continue to be a broken record and say that I want to be fully present to where God has me right now, whether it’s everything I hoped it would be or not. I can look down at empty hands and see all that I am missing out on or I can see those hands as ready to receive all that God is preparing for me in a future that is so much bigger and wilder than anything I could ever dream of on my own. It’s all about my perspective.

It’s my choice. It’s your choice, too.


Things I Love 18: I’m Not Eighteen Nor Am I Alice Cooper

island hammock

I’m sitting all alone on a Saturday night (through nobody’s fault but my own). It’s not so bad. It’s good to be alone every once in a while instead of always needing to be around people and events. I’m not saying I want every Saturday to be like this, but one in a blue moon is good for me. It might even help this blog. So, starting at #446, I continue:

446) The new family tradition of the water balloon toss where none of us really know the rules and none of us are really any good but all of us have a grand time anyway.

447) The thought that when I get turned down romantically that she’s the one ultimately missing out and not me (insert smiley face here).

448) Discovering an old band like The Cardigans and realizing they had so many great songs other than their one-hit wonder song.

449) That I’m not in control and I don’t want to be in control. God is more than capable without my help or expertise.

450) God allowing me to wake up this morning.

451) Being 41 when so many family members and classmates and friends won’t ever get to see that age.

452) That I may actually finish this book I’ve been raving about for weeks (but not really reading) called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.

453) With God, I’ve learned to never say never to anything because God is the ultimate Master of Surprise in relationships, careers, or anything else you can think of.

454) Both cats and dogs (and who says that I should have to choose one or the other?)

455) Having 411 songs on my iPhone and a freakish amount of variety that I can carry around in my pocket.

456) That your smart phone has way more capacity and memory than the computers at Apollo during all those space missions during the 60’s and 70’s.

457) Getting hand-written notes.

458) My lava lamp that I got from Spencer’s on sale for $10.

459) Jesus loves me where I am but refuses to leave me there.

460) Finding deals at Goodwill like my $7 red suitcase.

461) Old-school country music like Patsy Cline and Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash.

462) Living in Nashville.

463) That my movie tastes include movies like Bridget Jones’s Diary.

464) Seeing the movie Grease in an actual movie theatre (but not when it first came out ’cause I was a bit too young for it then).

465) Going to McCreary’s Irish Pub and knowing just about everyone who works there and them knowing me by name.

466) Going in to Target for one thing and coming out with everything but that one thing I went in there for.

467) Nerding out at McKay’s Used Bookstore (which also has DVDs, blu rays, records, books, and anything to satisfy my inner geek).

468) Shopping and eating local whenever I can to support the community.

469) Being an Independent and not drinking either the Republican or Democratic kool-aid.

470) That both Sarah Palin and Nancy Pelosi get on my last nerve.

471) My collection of old transistor radios (which I am happily accepting donations for).

472) That as of this writing there are only 178 days , 1 hour, 3 minutes, and 7 seconds left until Christmas. Not that I’m counting.

473) Being able to google anything to make myself seem a whole lot smarter and hipper than I really am.

474) That death, hell, and the grave do not have the last word. Jesus does.

475) Finally beating a level on Candy Crush saga.

476) That my 70+ suntan spray will probably keep me safe in the event of a nuclear holocaust with only minor sunburn.

477) My old 1828 Bible that is still in very good condition.

478) Only 532 more to go (and I didn’t even need a calculator to figure that out!)

479) Realizing that forgiveness is never earned or deserved but is purely and simply grace lived out.

480) Having the very best sister in the whole wide world (and no, that is not up for debate or just my opinion, it is a fact).

Getting Ready for the Big Premiere (My Nerd Blog)

I’m beyond excited about the December 14 premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. I plan to be there for the midnight showing and yes,  I will probably pay the extra $5 to see the 3D version.

I’ve loved The Hobbit book as long as I can remember and I’ve read it every year for at least 12 or 13 years running. Which is good and bad. It’s good because I know the story so well. It’s bad because I know the story so well and I’ll be able to tell every time the film deviates from the book even just a little. Yeah, I’m kind of a nerd that way.

In anticipation of the first of a trilogy based on the book, I pulled out my DVD of the old animated version done by Rankin-Bass, the same duo who brought you such Christmas classics and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town. It’s not the best animation and some of the voices for the characters are over the top. Yes, it’s cheesy circa 1977. But I love it.

It gets pretty close to the book, or at least as close as 78 minutes will allow. I can certainly relate to ol’ Bilbo Baggins, who gets roped into an adventure where he’s in way over his head, but manages to come out all right in the end.

If you do happen to catch this on DVD or on TV one night, you might recognized the voice of the narrator/Gandalf the Grey as none other than legendary director John Huston. That has nothing to do with the new movie or anything else, but I thought it was cool.

If you want to continue the amazingly fun and cheesy adventure, check out the animated versions of The Lord of the Rings and Return of the King. I’m including a link to so you can purchase these for your own collection and be as nerdy as me!

My two cents on spiritual warfare

A group of guys and I have been watching a DVD series on spiritual warfare by Chip Ingram called The Invisible War (and yes, that was a shameless plug). It got me thinking about the mindset of so many American believers (including me) regarding the whole topic of spiritual warfare. Plainly put, either most of us don’t believe there is an war going on with an enemy that is constantly seeking our destruction. If we believe, we sure don’t live like it much of the time. Again, me included.

The war is real. The enemy is real. In this world, we are not tourists on vacation, or passengers on some kind of luxury cruise, but soldiers engaged in battle. Our ignorance of the battle and our enemy can only do us harm. We need to wake up to realize that we are under attack. But here’s the best part.

The battle is already won. Chip Ingram said, “As believers in Christ, we don’t fight FOR victory. We fight FROM victory.” That’s the good news (which is why it’s called the gospel!). But there is still a battle.

We fight back by putting on the armor of God as described in Ephesians 6: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit. We should pray these on every morning and pray these for each other on a daily basis. We should pray with eyes wide open to the spiritual realm, asking God to give us eyes to see the battle around us like the Elijah prayed for his servant when they were surrounded by the Syrian army. We should pray for discernment and wisdom. Most of all, we should pray at all times to be Spirit-filled and Spirit-controlled, taking every thought captive and submitting them to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

We must fight together. If you are fighting the enemy on your own, apart from other believers, you may succeed for a season, but you will ultimately grow weary and faint. You will stumble and fall. You need other believers praying God’s protection over you, encouraging you and keeping you honest.

We fight ultimately with one weapon– LOVE. Not as a feeling, but as a decisive act of the will. We fight by showing that Calvary’s love is stronger than hate and that love overcomes anything. Chip Ingram said, “Love is giving to another person what they need the most when they deserve it least.” Love is doing whatever you can, even to your own detriment, for the good of the beloved. It means dying to yourself and your rights and own ideas about how the world should work.

So live with eyes wide open, hands raised, side by side with your brothers and sisters in Christ. And remember that the battle is already won and that we have overcome!

As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.