My granddad was hysterical. He loved to tell stories about growing up on a farm and being in the Navy. He was a cook on a ship and I can imagine he drove everyone crazy with pranks and tales. He could also mix up the best bundt cake in Longview, TX, and he gave away hundreds of them. The day he was written up in the local paper for giving away his cakes topped all of his life achievements, and he had many. He always wrote a Christmas story for us and we read the story of Jesus every single year in their living room on Christmas Eve. I loved playing football or whiffle ball in the front yard, or flying down the giant hill on North 10th Street on our bikes or a sled if we were lucky. I even loved when their mean neighbor, Mr. Fitzpatrick, next door would come outside and steal our ball if it went in his yard. It was awesome. I remember those days and they were good. I was young and life was different.
Very few are unfamiliar to this feeling of exhaustion. Maybe you are legitimately walking through something so hard right now. My mom wants to be well after two years of feeling drunk from having a major stroke. She can't balance long enough to walk in a straight line. She misses being a normal person. Maybe this is you too? My cousin is ringing in this Christmas season with her three kids five years after losing her husband to suicide AND she has cancer. Can you relate to this pain? My brother is an addict and his children desperately want him to just show back up in their lives and be human again. They are tired of making excuses for him. They are not alone in missing loved ones who still walk this Earth.
I can't go back, but I am going to dig deeper this year. There is much good on this planet, truly. Every moment is rich with life and love and pain. God is listening to my words as I type them. He gives newness with every moment I have with my family. Renewing my love of life with memories and new experiences. He shows me so much need in this life and the millions of ways I can settle in and show up. All of the stories I hear from women on a daily basis remind me that I am not alone. No one is immune to pain or hardship, and everyone is ready for peace. I'm even going to be nicer to my dog this year.
I led a song this week at Life Austin called Healer. I see every face in the crowd as I sing. If not literally, I feel a heavy cloud of need in the room. I want to relieve some of the burden for a moment by reminding them of who God is. He is mysterious, yes, but He also lifts burdens and He feels pain and He created us all in His image. I can't make you see Him like I do, but I can do my best. I remember the good because He tells me to, and I remember the pain.
This life is short. A blink. I will open my eyes wider this year. So many things we fixate on just don't matter much at all. People matter though. You matter. You are here for something big. And if we readjust our gaze, we find joy and meaning and hope in the little things. Reach out further this year.
Get outside and see this incredible space we have to live in. Right after you scream as loud as you can for as long as you like, take a moment to breathe it all in. This year we remember the pain and feel the dirt in our hands and we grow. No matter what, we are going to live in this house. No matter how broken, no matter what pain remains, we choose to live, and if I could choose for you, I would choose life too.
I'm lifting up everyone I can think of today in prayer to the Lord. He is good and He has you on His mind today and always.