Ornament with my brother's print on it, Haven, KS

Life is too short to waste

Life is short, if you think about it. When you’re young, it seems like it’s going to stretch out forever. I remember thinking 30 was ancient when I was a child, that by the time I was that old I would surely have the answers to everything. Well, 30 has come and gone, not by much, but I’m the first to say that the more I’ve learned in life, the fewer answers I have.

It feels like 2013 has been a year of really dreadful news, yet I am so thankful to be able to continue believing that God is good, all the time, especially when life isn’t. But there are days when I long for home. There are days when I am so tired of this broken world and all the trouble it throws at people I love.

But one thing I have learned in life is that if we are still here, God has a reason for it. We have a purpose, and it’s our responsibility as Christ-followers to make the most of the time we have.

Ornament with my brother's print on it, Haven, KS

Ornament with my brother’s print on it, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Psalm 90:12.

Teach us to realize the brevity of life,
    so that we may grow in wisdom.

I learned this verse as a child in a different translation, which is a little more specific. That version asks God to teach us “to number our days” or to count our days. What good does that do, you might wonder? I used to. I used to wonder what good that did, to count our days, because we didn’t know how many we had.

But I think that’s the point. Nobody knows how much time they have. It doesn’t matter if you’re old or young or what country you come from or even what religious system you follow. That won’t change how many days you have left to live. There was one really notable example in the Bible, in the Old Testament book of Isaiah, where God prolonged King Hezekiah’s life (Isaiah 38:4-6) by 15 years. But that’s not normal. God doesn’t do that every time you turn around.

Generally speaking, when it’s the end of our lives on earth, it’s the end. And I’m not reneging on what I posted last Monday about looking forward to eternity. I still believe that with all my heart, that we need to be looking forward to the life to come more than we embrace this life. But with so many other aspects of the Christian walk, we have to find the balance between yearning to go home and living life here.

Don’t ever take this life for granted. Not ever. Every morning you wake up is a gift. You didn’t have to wake up today. Many people didn’t. And you’re not promised tomorrow; nobody is. So if you walk out your door today thinking that this life you’re living is something you’ve earned or something that just happened, you’re wrong. And you’re blind.

Every day is a gift, and it’s a gift from God. He’s the one who gives your lungs the strength to keep breathing. He’s the one who gives your brain the ability to keep thinking. Every good thing in our lives is from Him, and it is our responsibility to be good stewards of those gifts.

I’m still learning this. There are days when I waste time. There are days when I focus on myself. There are days when I only care about me and I ignore what He wants me to do. But the one thing I hope I never do is forget who gave me my life. He gave it to me for a reason, with a purpose, and He has me here for some reason. I don’t always know what it is, but He knows. And that’s enough for me.

Time goes so fast. I was talking about it with a lady at the grocery store yesterday. I don’t usually do that, but she was chatty. So I chatted back. (I rarely initiate, but I’ll always reciprocate like the good little introvert I am.) We got to talking about kids, and I never pass up an opportunity to talk about Baby Hoo, who just turned an astonishing six months old last week. I can’t believe that. Wasn’t it yesterday I was standing at Wesley Hospital, staring at her all wrapped up in blankets she couldn’t wait to get out of? Now she’s sitting up and holding her own bottle and making duck lips when she eats mashed-up mango.

Blink, and it’s gone. And if you aren’t paying attention, you’ll miss it. You have today. You might have tomorrow. That’s what it means to number your days. And when you can look at life like that, you’ll have wisdom, real wisdom, because you’ll understand how short life is. Don’t waste it.

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Baby Hoo, with the quirky little grin that makes me happy

Joy can be contagious

I like being happy. And I like being around happy people. There’s just something about happy people that brightens everything up. Even if it’s been the worst day ever, hanging out with someone who laughs and smiles from a genuinely happy heart is refreshing. Even if you’ve had a good day, a person like that can make it better.

But not everyone in life is happy. Have you noticed that? Do you know people who don’t like being happy? Unfortunately, I do. You know who I’m talking about. They’re those people who suck the joy out of the room just by walking into it. They’re the people who open their mouths and drain the sunlight of its warmth and the flowers of their brightness. They prefer dank, gray misery, and they aren’t satisfied until they’ve dragged everyone else around them down into the depths with them.

Baby Hoo, with the quirky little grin that makes me happy

Baby Hoo, with the quirky little grin that makes me happy

Today’s verse is Philippians 4:4.

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!

Yesterday I got to experience a once-in-a-lifetime event: Baby Hoo in her first Halloween costume (Mickey Mouse, who else?). I don’t know much of anything about babies. I’ve learned more about babies in the last four months than I ever expected. But there is one truth about infants: bring a cute one into a professional office and instantly every responsible, intelligent adult becomes a babbling idiot.

The Hoo Child’s mama (one of my best friends) brought her by my office yesterday afternoon, and I got the opportunity to introduce my coworkers to the little bundle of awesome I’ve been talking up since June. She didn’t disappoint. As usual, she was her adorable, alert, flirtatious self, batting her big blue eyes at everyone and grinning just because she could. I think I had the cheesiest grin ever plastered across my face, but it didn’t bother me. This crazy kid just makes me happy. And a lot of that comes from the fact that she’s just so happy all the time.

Well, maybe I shouldn’t say all the time, because I know she can throw a major fit when she’s unhappy. But generally speaking, she’s a truly laid-back kid, and it doesn’t take much to make her grin. I hope she holds on to that as she grows up because happy people are fun to be around.

I’d had a pretty good day yesterday, in spite of still being exhausted. But all it took was a few minutes with my friend and her beautiful daughter, and I was flying higher than a kite. Just coming to my office to smile at me made my day better. And that got me thinking about being happy in general.

Joy is a choice, and it’s a choice that’s rooted in our perspective. If our perspective is wrong, joy can be hard to find, but if we remember the things that matter in our lives and why we’re here, joy isn’t that hard to grasp.

This crazy kid just grins all the time. It’s not hard to make her happy. And that’s the kind of person I want to be. I don’t want to be one of those joy-suckers, those people who refuse to be happy even when they have every reason. I want to be the person who chooses to rejoice over and over again, in the good times and the bad times. I want to be that person who makes other people happy because I’m happy.

The Bible tells us to be full of joy. That word there, the one translated rejoice, is a verb. It’s an action word. That means it’s something you do. That means it’s something you choose. Joy doesn’t just happen; you have to choose it.

So whatever you’re facing today, choose joy. Remember that God has it under control. He knows what He’s doing, and He’s not going to ask you to face life’s challenges alone. And if you’re having a hard time being joyful, go find someone who is. Joy is contagious after all.

Baby Hoo, a.k.a. Cowgirl Hoo

Baby Hoo, a.k.a. Cowgirl Hoo

And because I can and because it’s just the cutest picture in the whole world, here’s Baby Hoo in her western wear:

Yes, I’m one of those people. I might be a little biased, though….