Saturday, September 16, 2017

This day

           A little over a week ago, most of our family went to the mountains.  We arrived on Friday evening to rain.  Cold rain.  Pounding rain.  And fog, lots of fog.  We were completely enveloped by a blanket of chilly, damp, grey.  We couldn't see more than a few feet in front of us.
           The next morning...same thing.  More cold, grey, rain, fog.  We'd look out over the valley on our porch and saw...absolutely nothing.  I'd have never believed even a tree, blade of grass, or any other living thing existed out there in that vast white deadness.  And it lasted all. day. long.  And into the evening.
            Isn't that like life sometimes?  We feel alone, discouraged, fearful.  Slogging through some hard or exhausting time.  Anxious and uncertain about what's around the bend.  Thinking we're surely the only one.
            But faith says we're never ever alone.  Faith says God's in control. Faith says all of God's promises are "Yes!" in Jesus.  Faith says we walk by faith in our never-changing omnipotent God rather than worrying and wobbling along based on our ever-vacillating unreliable feelings.
            And faith says everyday--every single day--is a gift to be opened and enjoyed, not a burden to be endured or wished away.  Even the hardest of days have God's fingerprints all over them.  As such, they are His never-to-be-repeated gift of 1,440 minutes for us to love Him and love people.

            Sure enough, Sunday dawned spectacular--a gigantic painting only God could craft.  The sun melted the darkness with an astounding show of color and clouds.  It had all been there all along--all the trees, all the valley below, all the birds and butterflies and mountain ranges.  Just because we couldn't see it, didn't matter one iota.  The rain and fog temporarily clouded our vision, but not the reality of what was still there.  It was always there.  A brand new, sparkling day.  But isn't everyday like that?
            Thank You Lord for every gift of a new day.  Thank You that You promise that "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness." (Lam.3:22-23)  Thank You that those very words were written by the "weeping prophet," Jeremiah in a time of great sorrow and distress for the people of Israel.  Despite the fog of sadness and tragedy, Jeremiah knew God was still there.  Jeremiah trusted that God still loved His people.  And he still believed in God's forever faithfulness and endless mercies.
             A very dear friend of mine just lost her godly, wonderful Mama.  And right now, I'm sure the fog of sorrow and the rain of missing her feel overwhelming, even oppressive at times.  But I also know that the Lord Almighty is there, working and moving and redeeming and reviving in the midst of it all.  We might see the clouds, fog and rain on this side, but her Mama, oh her Mama on the other side, sees nothing but glory, light, wonder, radiance, joy, love, laughter...and Jesus.
            Apparently her Mama's favorite verse, and one she recited every morning, is Psalm 118:24: "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."  I had to smile when I heard it, because it's always been one of my favorites as well, and it's the first thing I say out loud every morning. That along with Ps.143:8 "Let me hear in the morning of Your steadfast love, for in You I trust.  Make me know the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul."  I speak them both out loud each morning to Mr. Bingley (since he's the only one up) so my heart can be reminded that this new day is a gift from God.
          And it's His gift to you too.  Might these verses counsel our hearts that the Lord wants us to rejoice in this day.  That His love for us is steadfast--no matter what's going on or how we might feel.  And that He will guide and direct us this day--for these glittering, never-to-be-repeated 24 hours of time.          
        As long as He gives us breath in our lungs, might we rejoice in Him, expend ourselves in love, and live this day to His glory.  Let's do it this day...until He takes us Home.  And then, oh my then, well why don't we let John Donne tell us--
            "I shall rise from the dead...I shall see the Son of God, the Sun of Glory, and shine myself as that sun shines.  I shall be united to the Ancient of Days, to God Himself, who had no morning, never began...No man ever saw God and lived.  And yet, I shall not live till I see God; and when I have seen Him, I shall never die."
           Until that glorious day when we see Him face to face, this is the day the Lord has made.  Because He made it, because He's given it to us, we will rejoice and be glad in it.
          Until that wondrous day of our Homegoing, this day, this very day, we will obey, forgive, love, give, trust, worship, and rejoice...all by His grace, all for His glory.
           To God--to the Resurrected Sun of Glory, our Redeemer, the Ancient of Days, and our King of Kings--be all the glory.  




Thursday, September 7, 2017

One of those days...

        The other day, I had "one of those days."  Nothing major or even specific had occurred.  I guess it was more like a million teensy piranhas nibbled away at my joy and hope, so that by the end of day, I felt utterly discouraged and defeated.  Honestly, looking back, I'd have to point to a lack of sleep as one of the major contributing factors.  But throw into the mix sorrow over various hardships some dear friends are facing, as well as plain old feelings of being completely overwhelmed by too much to do with too little time and ability to do it.
        But here's the thing: when these feelings of discouragement and anxious stress overwhelm me, I'm inevitably doing one thing...and failing to do another.  Let me explain.
       What I'm doing: fixating on all the tasks, difficulties, and challenges facing me totally apart from Christ.  Yep, figuring and calculating and planning without taking into account the sovereign power, abounding love, amazing grace, endless mercy, and infinite power of Almighty God.
      Gee whiz, will I never learn?  Please tell me I'm not the only one whose default position, all too often, is to unconsciously but pridefully assume it's all up to me and my paltry abilities and resources.        BUT IT'S NOT!!  God's Word provides us with a stunning treasure trove of promises of God's limitless ability, wisdom, power, and provision.  But we have to choose--yes, choose--to exit the pity party, open the Word, and ask God to speak to us and strengthen us through His Word.
       Just today, in fact, I sent this promise to one of my children who was feeling really overwhelmed at work:"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." (Isa.41:10)
       Or how about "God is able to make ALL grace abound to you, so that having ALL sufficiency in ALL things at ALL times, you may abound in EVERY good work." (2 Cor.9:8)  That's a lot of "alls" and a mighty nice "every" thrown in there, right?  Yet somehow we think it's all up to us?
       And there's this one: "'I will never leave you nor forsake you;' So we can confidently say, 'The Lord is my Helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?'" (Heb.13:5-6)
       And "He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?" (Rom.8:32)  
      Yes, I could go on and on and on, but check it out yourself.  There is nothing like God's Word!  When those feelings of fear or anxiety or despair set in, open the Word.  Open and read.  Open and be filled.  Open and be reminded of Who your mighty Lord is, all He has done, all He has promised, and all He will do.
         I mentioned there was one thing I did wrong but also one thing I failed to do, and it's related to all of the above.  I failed to preach the gospel to myself.  Because nobody preaches to you more than you.  And the question always is--what are you preaching to yourself?  What are you muttering to yourself?  Words of life or death?  Words of hope or despair?  Words of rock solid Truth or of vacillating lying emotions?  Are you preaching the good news of the gospel of our Redeemer and Savior or the bad news of your feelings, your inadequacies, your fears?
        Even if we don't have a Bible handy, when those feelings of discouragement and fear assail us, we need to start preachin' right then and there!  Before those beginning little thoughts morph into a monster mountain of fear and despair, we need to quickly, immediately, ASAP start preaching!  Preaching God's Truth.  Preaching the true Truth.  Preaching the gracious Truth.  Preaching the powerful Truth.  Preaching the joyful Truth.  Preaching the you're-never-alone Truth.  Preaching the God's-got-this Truth.  Preaching the He's-never-ever-failed-me-before-and He's-not-gonna-start-now Truth!
        Preach the gospel whether you "feel" like it or not.  Because the power's not in us, or our emotion, or our abilities, or our anything.  The power is in Jesus--the beautiful, omnipotent Living Word and in His supernatural written Word, the Bible.
        I don't know if you're having "one of those days" or if you're having a whole, long, hard season of those kinds of days, but this I do know: our God is able.  Infinitely, eternally, perfectly able to help you, lead you, equip you, strengthen you, comfort you, and empower you to get through it to the other side.  Not somehow, but triumphantly.  But you've got to remember not to do--don't trust your crazy emotions and assume it's all up to you.  And you've got to remember what to do--trust God, open His Word, and preach that life-giving Word to yourself.
        To God be the glory.
       
       
         

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

See you in the morning

        "He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.  And He who was seated on the throne said, 'Behold I am making all things new.'  Also He said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'" (Rev.21:4-5)
         "Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.  Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26)
         "Because I live, you also will live." (John 14:9)
         Oh what sweet words to hear from the lips of the Savior--words of Life.  Real, eternal, glorious, abundant, resurrection Life.
        How thankful I am for Jesus today--for all He is, for all He did for us, for all He's promised us, for all He's given to us.  His death for our sins.  His grace and forgiveness.  His mercy.  His love.  His righteousness.  His joy.  His hope.  His Word.  His promises.  His complete and utter defeat of sin and death.  His resurrection to new life.
          Yes, Lord, we answer with Mary that "We believe this."  We believe...even through tears.  Even through confusion.  Even through sorrow over the death of those we love...but that You love far, far more.  Because You live, we know, know, know that our dearest, sweet Lynda will live.  Because You live, we know that wise, gentle Dickson will live.
         Because You live, we know that our every loved one in Christ who has gone on to heaven,  they live right at this moment.  They are more alive today than any of us who still reside in these "shadowlands" can even imagine.  Even as we weep over missing them here, they rejoice there.  They see as we are all meant to see.  They are experiencing wonders that we cannot begin to comprehend.  They see You face to face and hear You saying to them "Well done, my good and faithful servant."  They "laugh on glory's side"--all the pain of cancer vanished.  All the harshness and hardship of this often cold, dark world, long forgotten.
       "Death is swallowed up in victory," says Paul in I Cor.15:54.  Oh how I love that promise.  Like when we wake up from a really horrible nightmare.  Have you ever done that?  Perhaps dreamed that something terrible has happened--perhaps all your family has been killed--when suddenly you wake up and realize, stunned beyond words, that it was all a terrible dream.  You want to weep for joy and astonishment.  Such an extraordinarily joyful moment, and now your regular old life seems infused with far, far greater preciousness and wonder and joy.  Those people you had taken for granted just the night before, they've suddenly become ever more dear to you.  They are still here, you think, amazed and with sudden and overflowing gratitude.  Death has become swallowed up in victory.  
        Yet that is simply a tiny hint, a whiff of the victory over death that King Jesus has given us.  And that is merely the teeniest glimpse into the wondrous and beautiful reality that our dear Lynda and Dickson and so many, many more loved ones are experiencing right this moment.  Their death has been swallowed up in victory and they dance and laugh and sing on glory's side.  Praise You, Jesus praise You!
        I've said it so many times before, but when our loved ones go to heaven it's so true--we feel deep pain in our hearts and yet at the very same time have a song--a glorious, joyful song--in our souls.  Thank You for the song of redemption You've put in our souls, Lord Jesus.  And thank You that those we love who are no longer on this earth are alive, fully alive, with You, singing that song at the top of their lungs.
         One of my favorite stories comes from Joni Eareckson Tada who said she's often thought about what she'd like on her tombstone.  Here are her words: "When I was little, just growing up, when it was time for the family to go to bed and the lights would be turned out, we would hear--called from around the house--'See you in the morning!  See you in the morning!'  I would say that to my sisters as I went off to sleep.  'See you in the morning.'  I think I might like that on my tombstone: 'I'll see you in the morning.'"
          Precious Lynda and dear Dickson, we will see you in the morning.  Thank You for your faithfulness here on this earth.  Thank You for your extraordinary love and wisdom and kindness.  Lynda, we have one less prayer warrior on this earth, so we will try all the harder to pray and love and encourage and give as relentlessly as you did.  Thank You for showing us all how it's possible to finish well and to run all the way to the finish line with your eyes glued on Jesus and your arms pumping hard to greet the Savior you loved so well, so incredibly well.
          We will see you in the morning.  And until then, we will keep running our race all the way to the end, all by His grace, all for His glory.
         To God--our Savior, Redeemer, and Resurrection Lord--be all the glory.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

A game-changer question for decisions

        I've always been one of those folks who struggle with decisions...or more specifically with making hard decisions.  No wonder I despised taking the SAT.  I would agonize, "Well it could be answer a...but then there's always a chance that this other factor comes into play, so it could be c...and d's a non-starter, unless you consider..."  Oh mercy, multiple-choice tests threw me into a tailspin--please, oh please, let me write an essay about this instead!  I'd happily compose pages explaining all sides of the dilemma...and then maybe you can decide.  Sigh. 
        The same can hold true in life.  Hard decisions are so, well, so hard.  For one thing, this old stick-in-the-mud detests change.  But any kind of decision--no matter which way you decide to go--always involves and results in change of some sort.  But I want my children, my friends, my family to stay right here with me all the time; no change, no growing old, no moving away allowed.  Is that really too much to ask?  Apparently yes.
        No wonder I have such a hard time clearing out clutter--everything has some meaning. For instance, this was daddy's seersucker jacket and even though nobody in our family can fit into it, I have to keep it.  Or this was Aunt Janie's frying pan and even though it's a bit rusted and worn out, I have to keep it.  Or these were the gazillion pictures our children painted in preschool, I have to keep every. single. one. of. them. And books, oh mercy, just go ahead and sign me up for one of those hoarder shows when it comes to books.
       But clutter, I'm discovering, is essentially the inability--or the refusal--to make a decision about giving away or throwing away some item.  And for a girl who struggles with decisions and change, this is, to put it mildly, a challenge.
       Life, however, consists of nonstop decisions and constant change.
      And here's the great news for those of us who wrestle with decisions and change: Almighty God is the Source of perfect wisdom, knowledge, and power.  "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!...For of Him and through him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen." (Rom.11,33,36)
        He is eternal, constant, and changeless.  "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." (Heb.13:8)
       And He has promised that He will never, ever leave us nor forsake us. "Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you." (Deut.31:6)
       Yep, we may sometimes feel as if we live on some cosmic helter-skelter roller coaster, but the truth, the true Truth, is that our Lord's in complete control, He's with us every moment, and He's got everything we need for life and godliness.  (2 Peter 1:3)
       Translation: God's got this, so trust and follow Him.  We don't need to be able to see the way ahead...God sees it.  God's already  in the future, and He's got that future--and us--securely in His nail-scarred hands, so we can go to Him first, then make those decisions, stop the hand-wringing, and enjoy the ride.
        And can I add one question that I recently heard on a podcast that was a game-changer for me? When you're struggling with which way to go on a challenging decision ask yourself this question: "Am I being led by love or pushed by fear?"  
        Am I choosing based upon my fears or based upon God's love?  Am I allowing fear to push me into the "safe" choice or am I allowing God's love to  lead me into His often more adventurous ways?  Another way to put that is am I living, deciding, and moving ahead in this area based upon my fears or my faith?
        Today if you're facing some difficult decision or some unwanted change, maybe you can join me in first asking yourself that question: Am I being led by love or pushed by fear?  If it's fear, we all know the antidote--faith in our forever faithful, infinitely powerful, perfectly wise, and extravagantly loving Lord.  Faith over fear.  Love over fear.  Our Heavenly Father over fear.
        Lord, in all our decisions of life--big and small, easy and challenging--teach us and enable us to choose based upon faith in You rather than fear of the unknown or the imagined.  Help us to be led by Your love this day and every day.  To God be the glory.  
       

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Start today

                         
        The events of the past week have been beyond disheartening and disturbing.  Frankly, there have been many moments when many of us have felt down right despair.  How is it possible that such hatred, horrific racism, vitriol could exist right here, right now, in our nation?   The horrible underbelly of sin has been on full display, and what an unimaginably ugly, terrible, destructive picture it is.
        It's been hard to even know how to respond, but one thing I do know: our only hope is the redemptive love and forgiveness of Christ.  How I pray the Lord would move mightily in our nation to bring conviction and redemption...forgiveness and healing...restoration and revival.
        And you know what?  It has to begin with every one of us.  In our every human heart.  We each need to ask the Lord where any pockets of hatred or prejudice might be hiding in our hearts.  And then we confess those areas as sin and ask God to enable us to love as He loves. To see as He sees.  To forgive as He forgives.  To understand, serve, encourage, strengthen as He does.
        Seems like a nearly insurmountable task, doesn't it?  And it is...in our own strength and ability.  But it's not us, but Him.  It's not us loving, but Him.  Not us forgiving, but Him.  Not us bringing reconciliation, hope, and healing, but Him doing it for us and through us.
        We simply have to start.  Stop letting the fact that we can't do everything prevent us from doing the something that we can do.  Start small...but start.  Love, encourage, forgive, help in small quiet ways...but start.  Don't allow the size of the mountain ahead prevent you from lacing up your hiking boots and then simply starting, putting one foot in front of the other.  Golly, that's been my problem with writing lately--allowed myself to be too overwhelmed to even begin.  So instead of writing something, instead of writing anything, even writing it really poorly, I failed to even start.  I kept pushing away the challenging  in favor of the comfortable.  I kept choosing diversion rather than confronting difficulty and doing what I know deep down God wanted me to do.  
         And here's how I overcame that discouraging, self-defeating inertia: I simply pulled out my computer, refused to be sidetracked by reading endless emails, and began typing.  One letter at a time.  One word at a time.  I took that first step of typing and trusted that God would do all the rest--give me the words, put those words together, and maybe use those words to encourage someone else who might be struggling.  And before I knew it, that teeny tiny beginning had become a something.
        Yeah sure, it's not even close to everything...in fact, it might be next to nothing...but it's something.  And guess what?  That's good enough for me, because God hasn't called us to do everything...or most things...or even many things...but to do the something that He's given us to do.  To love, to forgive, to encourage, to serve, to strengthen those He's placed in our path and in our lives.
         God's Word says, "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)  With our Almighty God, it's never too late to start, and it's always too soon to quit.  
         So start today.
         To God be the glory.

Monday, August 7, 2017

This day, this marble

        Maybe it's the looming start of the new school year--another year beginning already?  Our children another year older already?  The summer nearly over again already?  Or maybe it's our 30th wedding anniversary tomorrow--how on earth could it possibly be that long?  (But I sure am thankful for every one of those years!)
        Whatever the reason, this time of year always seems to remind me that time's passing and that I need to treasure each day as the priceless, irreplaceable gift that it is and use it--not wasting a moment--to God's glory.  
        This is the only August 7, 2017 any of us will ever have.  Duh, you say?  Yet how many of us squander this precious resource--blithely tossing away it's seemingly endless seconds and minutes in mindless or meaningless pursuits?  How many minutes scrolling through facebook or twitter or instagram?  How many minutes flipping through channels and watching some dumb show we weren't remotely interested in?  How many minutes mindlessly munching on snacks when we're not the least bit hungry?  How many minutes shopping or perusing catalogues when we don't need a thing?  Ouch...at least for me.  All I can say is, I can squander some serious time.    
        Now for the record, there's nothing necessarily wrong with any of that stuff, BUT before we know it, those minutes and seconds turn into hours and hours of wasted time.  Time we can never get back.  And in the midst of that time wasting, I have to ask myself--is what I'm doing feeding my mind with that which is true, honorable, pure, lovely, commendable (Phil.4:8)?   Hmm.  Not so much.  Or is what I'm doing demonstrating my love for God or my love for other people?  Or is what I'm doing helping and serving others?  Or is what I'm doing in some way bringing glory to God?
        All good questions to ask before we find ourselves inadvertently slipping and sliding down a rabbit hole of wasted moments...minutes...hours...days...years.  And goodness, what about all that time we squander gossiping or grumbling or worrying or scheming?  Boy, those minutes are far worse than wasted--they're destructive, devastating, and sinful.  Forgive us Father!
        One of my favorite verses that I need to revisit time and again--because let's face it, we FORGET!--is Psalm 90:12: "Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom."  So simple, but so profound.  God is the One who can and will teach us to value and use our days profitably, eternally, contentedly, and, yes, gloriously.  Even the most mundane moments--if yielded to Him and seeking to honor Him--can be suffused with glory and eternal weight.  
        But we've got to consciously pause at the start of each new day and ask the Lord to enable us to live this day for Him and by Him.  And we've got to keep "checking in" with Him throughout the day--getting a mid-morning or mid-afternoon or early evening course correction or wisdom infusion or joy renewal.  Constantly touching base with our Heavenly Daddy is like a heavenly GPS for our hearts--making sure we're still headed on the right path and staying true to our ultimate destination.
        I recently heard a powerful example from Ray Vander Laan that I don't think I'll soon forget.  He shared how an old rabbi had a giant jar of beautifully colored marbles on his desk.  When asked why, the rabbi responded that when he was younger, he decided to count the number of days he would have left in his life if he lived to be 90.  Then he put that number of marbles in the jar.
       Each morning, he would take one marble out of the jar, put it on his desk, and ask the Lord to enable him to live that day's marble in a way that would be pleasing and honoring to God.  Then at the end of the day, he'd pick that marble back up, and ask the Lord how he did with that day's marble?  Did he glorify God?  Did he love others?  For what did he need to ask forgiveness for that day? For what did he need to give thanks?  Then the rabbi would throw away the marble because that day was finished and gone forever.
         Wow.  What a graphic and convicting reminder that this day--this August 7, 2017--is a beautiful, irreplaceable gift from God.  Oh how I want this day to be one in which I love God, love others, serve unselfishly, grow wiser, encourage others, express gratitude, ask forgiveness, live joyfully, and use my gifts and time to glorify God.
          Help us, teach us, Father "To number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom."  Teach us, help us to use this lovely, one-of-a-kind marble in ways that please and glorify You.
         To God be the glory.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Savoring the sunrise


         What a sunrise.  What a Creator.
         I've taken so many pictures from these magnificent mountains, yet I must say, they never get old.  Oh how I hope and pray that the "awesome wonder" over what God has made and the gift of this world's stunning beauty will never, ever grow weak and dull for any of us.
         How dare we see a sunrise or sunset with a ho hum attitude!
         Or the delicate, fleeting splendor of a butterfly--
        Or the joy of moments with those we love (not to mention the happy sweetness of a four legged buddy!)--
          It's all too easy to become so preoccupied with other "stuff" (hello cell phones) or worries or to-do lists or what we're doing next week or the mess of our world that we miss it!  We miss the glory happening all around us all the time.  We miss the wonder of laughter with a loved one or the scent of a gardenia or the shrill cry of a hawk or the looping acrobatics of a swallow or the scrumptious taste of chocolate melting on our tongue.  How much joy we forfeit, how much peace we squander, how much happy wonder we throw away, because we're lost in some alternate universe of busyness or anxiety or technology-fueled amnesia.
          In other words, what we're thinking about, what we're turning over and over in our minds can cause us to miss the "precious present."  The only present moment we'll ever have with those we love.  The only present moment we'll ever have to give God glory for the great things He has done.  The only present moment we'll ever have to savor the beauty.  The only present moment we'll ever have to choose gratitude and wonder.  The only present moment we'll ever have to forgive, to thank, to encourage, to serve, to appreciate, and to love the people the Lord has put in our lives.
           I sure don't want to miss it...not any of it.  Lord, help us to think rightly so that we might see, feel, and act rightly.
         "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence a, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." (Phil.4:8)
           "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.  For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace." (Rom.8:5-6)
           What are we thinking about?  What are we setting our minds upon?
           All I know is that when we're fretting or grumbling or comparing or scheming or worrying then we're not setting our minds on the Spirit.  When we're distractedly surfing our phones with any moment of boredom, then we're not focusing on the things that are true, lovely, and commendable.     And in the process, we're missing all the priceless gifts of the precious present.
            Father, help us to set our minds on You and on all You've given us in each and every never-to-be-repeated moment.  Help us to put down our phones and lay aside our worries and instead savor the sunrise, laugh with the loved one, and stare with wonder at the swallow...and in it all, to give You glory.  
            To God be the glory.