1/1/2016… Saturday? No… Friday…

…and  I didn’t even stay up super late last night (or early this morning) or “party” or get drunk or anything else that might explain why I thought today was Saturday…

Except…  maybe…

I don’t have to be at work today – unless my “work phone” rings (I am on call)…

And usually the mornings or days that are this peaceful are Saturdays…

This morning, as I peeled back the foil covering over the little yogurt container (of the yogurt I was going to eat), I saw on the underside of the foil top this quote from Oscar Wilde:

I adore simple pleasures.  They are the last refuge of the complex.

Simple pleasures…   What a thought…

What are some of the simple pleasures in my life?

  • A quiet, peaceful Saturday (or in today’s case, Friday) morning…where I can enjoy a cup (or two or three) of coffee, as I sit on my patio in my backyard…watching as my puppy is undoubtedly digging to China from underneath the shed in my backyard… I see occasional glimpses of her body as she passes the opening she created when she dug her way under the shed in the first place…
  • Watching my older dog, as he slowly meanders around the yard, and then returns to a cushion to lay down and rest…
  • Being able to sit in a chair on my back patio and drink coffee to begin with…
  • Feeling a light, cooling breeze on a warm, sunny day, as the new year begins… Well, ok…  I live in Florida…  warm, sunny days on January 1st are the norm…not the exception!!
  • Knowing that I am blessed by God, and that whatever comes in this new year, God will be with me… knowing that I will not ever be alone as I journey through and face the unknown future of this new year…

I think I will see how many more “simple pleasures” I can discover this year…

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…in everything, give thanks…

How easy it is to rejoice and give thanks to God… when it is a beautiful day and the sun is out and the birds are singing and everything is going “your way” and “all is right with the world”…

But… how hard it is to rejoice and give thanks when that is not the case… during those times when life seems to be crashing in all around you and you feel as though you are engulfed and about to drown in one of the many storms that life can throw at you…

Rejoice and give thanks to God then???  Seriously???

Yet, that is what God’s word says we should do in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

But… when a child of ours has died… when we are struggling to make ends meet financially, and no matter what we do, it doesn’t seem to be working… when we or a loved one has just been diagnosed with stage four cancer, and nothing was wrong two weeks ago… when the love of our life has just died, and there is a hole in our heart deep enough and wide enough that someone could drive a mac truck through… when we have been betrayed by someone we have loved and trusted… when we have been the one who has hurt another or done something illegal or unethical or immoral, and now we have to face the consequences of our choices… when life just isn’t working out the way we think it should, and there doesn’t seem to be anything we can do about it…

In these times and so many others not mentioned…

How can we rejoice?  How can we give thanks?

Perhaps in those difficult and challenging times, we can find a way to rejoice and give thanks to God…  if we can understand that it is NOT God’s will that these circumstances be happening in our lives…  and if we can realize that we will not be rejoicing about or giving thanks FOR the circumstances that are happening in our lives…

But if we can remember that no matter where we are in life, and no matter what is happening in our lives, that God is there to love us and to give us strength and courage and that God will walk with us through every circumstance that happens in our lives… even the ones we cause through our own sinfulness…

If we can remember that, maybe then we can find a way to rejoice and give thanks…

So why am I thinking about this today?

Because… the day is beautiful… and the sun is out… and the birds are singing… and everything is going “my way”… and “all is right with the world”… and I just thought how easy it was to rejoice and give thanks to God…

And God said…

“… and God said, ‘Let there be…’ And there was evening, and there was morning…”

And another day begins…

Don’t you know that God could just bring everything to a screeching halt?

If God wanted to make it so, the entire universe, of which we on this planet Earth are such an infinitesimally small part, could just be made to disappear as if it, and we, never even existed…

But still, God, in His infinite mercy and grace and faithfulness, continues to say, “…let there be…”

And another day is spoken into existence.

Once upon a time, they lived joyously ever after…

Once upon a time … They lived happily ever after!

The typical fairy-tale beginning and ending… life nicely and neatly described, wrapped up and summarized with these statements.  It is a fact though that real life lies between the statements… in the spaces where the periods (…) are.  And the “real life” that most people lead cannot always be summed up so neatly with “…they lived happily ever after” because not all of life’s stories end like that.

Actually, living “happily ever after” does not indicate the end of life, but rather the end of some difficulties or challenges that have been resolved, so that from that point on, one lives “happily ever after”…  Implying no more problems, difficulties or challenges will ever again be a part of that person’s life…

And that’s where the fairy tale quality comes in… because everyone knows that for as long as one is alive, in reality, there will always be difficulties and problems to encounter and challenges to overcome.  That is just the way life is in our world.

But what if we tweaked the phrase a little?  What if, instead of saying, “they lived happily ever after” we said, “they lived joyously ever after”?  Can one live joyously in spite of problems, difficulties and challenges?  Can one live joyously amid hatred and violence and war?  Can one live joyously in spite of sickness or suffering or death?

While some might say, “No! It is not possible!” I believe that it is possible.

Living joyously does not mean that you always feel happy… It doesn’t even mean that you always like what is happening… because living joyously is an attitude towards life… a way to face what comes at you.  It suggests a hopeful outlook, in spite of (whatever)… It means living courageously… It means asking for help when you need it, and giving help when others ask… It means trusting… It means not giving in to the fear and despair that can so easily overwhelm…

I don’t know about others, but I can’t live joyously on my own strength… I need help to live joyously… and my help comes from the Lord… from Almighty God… from the Creator of all that is… from the One who walks beside me through all of life’s ups and downs and to whom I look for strength and courage…

One of my favorite Psalms (Psalm 121:1-2) says it all:

“I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from?  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

This is my story… this is how I try to face life… joyously ever after!!