The Extraordinary Promise Of An Ordinary Day

Special days get more respect than ordinary days.  We routinely look forward to birthdays and anniversaries, vacations and retirement.  Even looking toward the end of the work week can ramp up the anticipation of a couple days away from a normal schedule.

Yet that is not where we spend most of our lives.  Most days involve the routine.  Holding down a job.  Household chores.  Taking care of family.

If we see those common activities as reluctant obligations, we set ourselves up for feeling worn down and unfulfilled.  We even run the risk of being trapped by drudgery, and gradually slide into resentment.

That doesn’t sound healthy, useful or promising.  It might be better to backup and rethink how we feel about ordinary days.  If we don’t, we could spend most of our lives unsatisfied.

Here’s what can happen on an ordinary day.

We can make the effort to look for small pleasures, nuggets of joy, appetizers of the marvelous.  It doesn’t have to be anything major.  But we can frequently overlook little things that we can enjoy, things we experience but perhaps failed to fully appreciate.

While working a job, whether we enjoy it or not, we are providing for ourselves and perhaps our families.  There is great honor in being responsible, taking care of ourselves and others, providing whatever is needed.  It may not be the job we wanted, but we can still be grateful for the opportunity to work and the benefits it provides.

Everyday there are opportunities all around us to learn about our world and the people we meet.  We can gain a greater understanding of the what and the why.  That knowledge grows exponentially, as the small item we learn today is added to the small tidbits we’ve learned other days.  They feed each other.

When we combine increased knowledge and life experience, it can mature into wisdom.  We might gain wisdom during the extra special days.  But more often it comes from the gradual accumulations of an ordinary life well lived.

We can find small ways to show kindness.  To us it may seem like no big deal.  But to those who receive that kindness it could be an enormous gift.  You’ll never know how meaningful it may have been to someone.  Some small thing you do can change a life.

Whether working or not, every day is a chance to prepare for whatever life goals we have chosen.  Today’s effort may not seem like much.  But when added to all the other small things we’ve done, it prepares a solid foundation for the future.

For believers, every day is another chance to gain another glimpse of God.  We learn a little more of the divine truths.  We discover how we can better express our faith and act.  We gain a bit more insight into the majesty, wisdom, and love of God.  We grow.

And Christians have another reason to appreciate every day.  Some day God will wrap up the human experience, and call all who have claimed him unto himself.  It will probably start off as an ordinary day, until it isn’t. 

It would appear that it’s never really necessary to have an ordinary day.  There are extraordinary opportunities before us every time we wake.

In its own small way, every day can be a small adventure.

God has given us a free will to choose how we will proceed each new day.  We can dread it, or celebrate it.  We can trudge along with our eyes to the ground, or we can look around and see what is special.  We can feel trapped by a mind-numbing routine, or hold on to the promise that each new day brings small unexpected delights, discoveries and opportunities.

God never meant for us to be bored or depressed.  He did intend to be there for us no matter what life brings.

If we allow him, he can help us climb out of whatever wears us down, and into a better day.

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Dave Soucie lives, serves and writes in Indianapolis.

The Cliché That’s Always True On A Higher Level

We’ve all heard it.  If we’re looking for a job and don’t get it, we mutter this saying under our breath.  If we do get the job, we whisper it to ourselves, hoping no one heard, feeling relieved.

“It’s not what you know, but who you know.”

I don’t need to explain this conventional wisdom.  Sometimes it’s true.  Other times it just seems like it’s true.

What happens if we change the circumstances?  Instead of thinking about a job search, what if it’s about us and God?

There are some academics who know a great deal about God.  There are theologians who have a thorough understanding of complex truths.  Then you have some church folks with decades of Bible study under their belts, who can quote scripture till the cows come home, and always feel they know exactly what God wants you to do or not do.  Plenty of facts, not much fruit.

Their vast knowledge [the “what you know”] does not guarantee that they know God on a personal level [the “who you know”].

Please understand me.  There are wonderful and godly academics, theologians, and church lifers who have a close connection with their Lord.  They walk with him daily.  They can be an inspiration to all.

I am referring to those who know facts but not him.  This is our version of the Pharisees that Jesus confronted.  They know enough to be dangerous to those who want, more than anything, a closer walk with God.

Imagine reading an email from someone you don’t know well or at all.  It seems a bit harsh, and your defenses quickly rise to red alert.  But if you do know the person, and know that they are kind, considerate and thoughtful, someone you would never imagine being hostile, you will interpret their email completely differently. 

This is one reason that atheists and others have such a hard time understanding Christian scripture, especially the New Testament.  They don’t know the author, and automatically assume the worst.  They are reading somebody else’s mail, and just don’t get it.

I’ve been guilty of amassing Bible knowledge without looking past the facts for the face of God. It’s similar to looking for the easier things to accomplish, something we can quickly scratch off our to-do list.  It’s harder to invest our time in a relationship.

I’m not the one to lecture others on how they fail to be as close to him as he wills.  I’m with those who have failed.

Here’s my personalized version of that tongue twisting confession of Paul in Romans 7.  I know what I need to do to walk closer to God.  But what I shouldn’t do [allowing the urgent to interfere with the important], that’s what I do.  Repeatedly.

So, I’ve begun making a new effort.  Again.  I’m reading more scripture, not because I’m teaching or preaching or writing, but because I need to listen to God.  I’m spending more time in prayer, getting things off my chest, talking them through, waiting for divine insight.  I’m looking for ways to clear my head of a thousand and one other matters, and just sit with God.

I would invite you to sit with me, but that’s not how this works.  I need to be alone with him.  You need to be alone with him.

Here’s the counter-intuitive payoff:  By not worrying about the “what you know,” and focusing on the “who you know,” I will gain a deeper understanding of the things of God, the “what you know.”

And so can you.

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Dave Soucie lives, serves and writes in Indianapolis

The More We Mature, The Less Obvious The Changes

In the 1860s, Scottish surgeon Joseph Lister came up with a novel idea.  He believed that doctors should wash their hands before they performed surgery.  Other medical professionals followed his lead.  Today what was once a glaring change in healthcare is now standard practice.  Later a new antiseptic was named after him: Listerine.

Around the same era, it was decided that maybe patients should have sanitized sheets, instead of the infected ones used by the previous patients.  Should we wipe the accumulated putrid pus off the operating table before we begin the next procedure?  Maybe someone ought to mop up all the dried sticky blood from the floor from time to time.

Early on, whenever there was a significant advancement in sanitation, the change was very obvious, noticeable to all.  Today, as healthcare providers continue to fine-tune patient safety, the improvements may not be apparent to the general public, and only noticeable to those directly involved.

And so it is with Christian Discipleship.

When someone first begins to pay attention to their spiritual walk, they may have some major adjustments to make in their behavior.  It could involve how they’ve treated others, or life priorities, or things they’ve been doing that have impacted their own health and longevity.

When those changes are made, everyone around them will probably notice, and probably be affected in a positive way.  They may admire the one who has made the changes.  They may be motivated to look at their own lives, contemplate making their own changes, and act.

But what’s next?  As the believer continues year after year to be more open to God’s leading, the changes may become less obvious to others.  The changes are less likely to be in our observable behavior, and more likely to involve adjustments in how we see the world, how we understand the will of God, how we let God purify our souls.

The temptation would be to assume that since we’ve eliminated the glaringly obvious problems, we’re done.  We’re not.  This is a lifelong project that will never be finished until we are safely in the full presence of God.

The emotions that once enslaved us to act in harmful ways remain with us, toxic lava buried deep waiting for a chance to erupt.  These are threats that require constant vigilance.

The ill will we may have once felt for some others goes into hiding, safely tucked away in some dark corner of our hearts.  It’s an opportunistic menace whenever we encounter someone who reminds us of those times before we learned to care for all.

The arrogance of pride, believing that we know best, and that no one human or Divine has the right to tell us anything never fully dies.  It’s a peril that can raise its ugly head whenever our natural selves want to once again seize control and poison our relationship with God.

These areas of growth will not be so much physical, but mental, and they are equally important.  They may rarely involve actions, but primarily attitudes and perspectives.  It will include growing in our understanding of the nature and purposes of God, how we live out Christian discipleship, refining purity of mind, and a more Christ-centered worldview.

If effective, those out of sight changes will become somewhat noticeable to those around us.  It’s just that the changes may not appear to be as obvious.

It is in the process of constant evaluation, continual adjustment, and ongoing refinement that we find our best chance to grow closer to what God always intended.  It is a lifelong project in our effort to make him proud.

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Dave Soucie lives, serves and writes in Indianapolis

He Wants To Walk With Us

Who doesn’t need someone extraordinary to walk beside them?

The burdens of life weigh heavy on the heart.  Uncertainties about what lies ahead make us anxious.  Responsibilities, whether accepted eagerly or not, take their toll.  The big questions of life nag us, making us wonder why we are here, what we’re to do, what’s the point.

We may have someone special who is always there for us.  But since they have their own burdens, uncertainties, responsibilities and questions, they may not be able to be as much help as they would like.

We need someone who transcends all that holds us back, someone who is far more capable than you and I.

We need a benevolent friend who puts our needs above all else.  A willing ear who allows us to unburden ourselves.  A gentle hand that soothes and guides.  A comforting presence that understands, more than we, what we need to hear.

In order to make his presence more real, God chose to assume the form of one of us.  We call this the Incarnation, when God became a man known as Jesus.

There are two main ways we can think of his presence among us.  In the New Testament portion of the Bible we see the gospel narratives, four biographies of the life of Jesus.  There is a reason there are four, and a reason they overlap.  [See “I Was Thinking Of The Ice Cream Drumstick” posted Sept 7, 2018]

They tell us about how Jesus interacted with people; his empathy, wisdom, compassion, power, and vision for those who choose to be children of God.

We can watch how he handles different people in different circumstances.  We can grow our understanding of how he reveals the purposes and plans of God.  We can be awed by his above and beyond sacrifice, that greatest expression of love.

But it doesn’t end there.  The other way we know him is by inviting him to walk with us.

When we are feeling pressure from all sides, and need the quiet confidence of a strong friend, we draw strength from his presence.

When life makes no sense, one thing after another, we need someone who can help us look past the craziness and see the clam beyond the moment.

When we feel all alone, that no one understands, no one sympathizes, no one cares whether we exist or not, we can know there is someone who understands us better than we understand ourselves.

When we hurt, we know he has suffered.  When we have had great loss, we know he can fill us.  When we need a sounding board, he lets us get it all out.  When the pain is too deep for words, he walks with us in silence to console our souls.

And as we walk along, he gently leads us to where we need to be.  Because of his great love, he guides us through all the rough terrains to get us to a safer place.

That caring companionship begins, and only begins, once we acknowledge his care and invite him to be beside us.

Until that time he patiently waits.  Never demanding.  Never forcing.  Never harassing.  Never giving up.

More than anything, he wants to be there for us.  He wants to walk with us through life’s tragedies and delights, our best days and our worst.

He never intends to replace others, but he himself is irreplaceable, and will remain so past the end of time.

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Dave Soucie lives, writes and serves in Indianapolis

Does A Forgiving God Really Refuse To Forgive?

There are many ways to describe God.  We can talk about the image of a loving father who provides, guides and sacrifices for the children in his care.  There’s the suffering servant of Isaiah 53.  In John 1 we read about the Word of God, when God took human form as Jesus and “made his dwelling among us” [literally “pitched his tent”].  Think about the waiting father who eagerly watches out for his wayward son to return home in the story of The Prodigal Son.

All valid.  Each of these, and others, give us their own unique perspectives on the character of God.

Jesus made a statement once that, at first, appears to contradict these other images. In Mark 3:29 he says whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.”  [NIV]

Whoa!  What is that?  What is he talking about?

To understand this, we need to start by exploring the meaning of blasphemy and the Holy Spirit.

It seems most people assume that this is about those who take God’s name in vain.  When someone does this it’s wrong, and Christians are offended.  It shows deep disrespect for a loving God who offers so much.  Believers probably won’t say anything, but don’t assume they didn’t notice.   

The greatest disrespect anyone can show God occurs when they refuse to allow him to fulfill his purposes in their lives.  He wants to give and give and give.  It’s disrespectful to refuse his gifts.

Imagine telling a loving parent, grandparent, uncle or aunt that you have no interest in whatever they want to do for you.  You tell them to leave you alone and that you don’t want anything to do with them.  That’s just rude, inconsiderate, childish, and … disrespectful.

To blaspheme God is to reject his generosity in a hostile way.  But Jesus didn’t mention God, he was referring to the Holy Spirit.  Why the difference?

The Spirit is that part of God that we can welcome into our hearts.  It’s our ongoing connection with all of God, his branch office in our souls, our modem with the Divine.  The Spirit encourages, guides, teaches, and comforts.  It’s our link with God that enables us to remain connected to him upon our deaths.

These are the purposes of the Spirit.  It’s how we continue, throughout our lives, to benefit from the generosity of God.  The Spirit wills to do so much for us.  To reject its role in our lives is insulting.

And that is how we blaspheme the Holy Spirit.  God will forgive anything we have done, including rejecting him.  But we have to be willing to be humble enough to ask him for forgiveness.  

If we’ve told God to take a hike, that we want nothing to do with him, then we can’t have a relationship with him that enables us to ask for forgiveness.  If we shut the door in his face, there’s no way we can talk.  There’s no way we can ask for forgiveness for anything because we’ve declared he is not there.

But as long as we live, we can open that door.  We can talk with him.  We can build a relationship.  We can repair the damage.  We can be forgiven of anything we’ve ever done, anything, including having previously denied him as long as we ask.

Of course, we have to mean it.  Our apologies to God must be genuine.  We then have to do our best to avoid repeating whatever caused us to need forgiveness.

So, it’s not about God not wanting to forgive.  It’s all about our willingness to allow him to forgive.

Some will always refuse.  But as long as we live, we have the opportunity to open that door.

God has done so much for us, including for those who have rejected him.  He wants nothing greater than to have a loving relationship with us, which is why he is eager to forgive.

If only we would let him.

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Dave Soucie lives, serves and writes in Indianapolis

What Fruit Tells Us About Hell

I know.  Who in their right mind wants to read reflections on Hell?

Pick one:  1.  Spend a couple minutes reading celebrity gossip, which means nothing.  2. Spend a couple minutes reading about something that will have enormous impact, whether you care or not.

Hell has some really challenging PR problems.

A few years ago, a movie came out in entitled “Heaven Is For Real.”  I read the book and saw the movie.  It was okay, and I’m sure it was an inspiration to many.  But it might be more helpful if someone made a really good movie entitled “Hell Is For Real.”

Why?  Because most Americans have either intentionally discarded the concept of Hell because it threatens their world view, or have unintentionally chosen to just ignore such an uncomfortable and inconvenient subject, or assume it’s only for really evil people like Hitler.

I think it’s always helpful to check in with Jesus and see what he has to say.

  • Matthew 25:31-46: Metaphorical goats are not allowed in Heaven.  If you’re one of those people who love cute little goats doing goat yoga, this isn’t about those goats.  It’s about people who do nothing to show compassion.
  • Matthew 7:24-27: The unwise builder without a foundation is swept away.
  • Matthew 13:24-30: Weeds are bound and burned.
  • Matthew 25:1-13: Those who aren’t prepared are shut out.
  • Matthew 7:21-23: Heaven is for those who actually “do” the will of God and not just talk about it.  How much does one need to “do”?  I don’t think we’re supposed to know because human nature tells us we’d do our best to do as little as possible.  Instead, we’re to do our honest best.

It would appear that Jesus thinks Hell is for real.

Let’s think about the character of God.   The Fruit of the Spirit described in Gal. 5:22-23 is a partial description of the personality of God; “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

Hell is being completely cut off from God.  [2 Thess. 1:8-9]

1 John 4:8 tells us that “God is love.”  Since Hell is the complete absence of God, being completely cut off from the qualities of God, there is no love in Hell.  The New Testament tells us about three kinds of love; God’s love, family love, and friendship love.  In Hell, there is no love of any kind.

There is no divine love that provides us with all things that we need, all things that are good.  There is no family love, where you feel a special bond with your own people, where a family sticks together and helps each other through thick and thin.  There is no friendship love, the special closeness you feel for those you have chosen to be with, those you enjoy being around, those that share your interests.

Since the marriage relationship is meant to be a blending of all three types of love, there can be no one special for you in Hell; no spouse, no girlfriend or boyfriend, no one who cares for you in any way.  You will be completely alone in a sea of miserable selfish souls.  I saw a church advertisement once that read; “Who in Hell cares?  No one.”

Hell is being completely cut off from God.  None of us have yet to experience anything remotely that awful.  We have all had a taste, but it’s only been a hint of extreme and eternal hate.

God is the author and perfect example of love, joy, peace, patience.  The opposites would be hate, depression, hostility, and impatience.  Those are Satanic qualities, and what you can expect to experience in Hell, all the time, to the extreme.

God also is kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness.  Therefore the opposites, cruelty, apathy, undependability, and harshness, are of Satan, experienced in the extreme throughout all of Hell, forever.  God is self-control, therefore Satan is a lack of control, undisciplined, fly-off-the-handle unpredictability.

I and most others believe God has given us free will.  We need to be able to show that our choices are genuine.  We can choose him or not.  If not, then he has to provide a place for those who, by their actions, have shown he has no place in their lives.

God, always the perfect gentleman, will always respect our choices.  Heaven is for those who intentionally, actively, and publicly claim God.  Hell is for those who don’t.  It’s that simple.

Here’s one major misconception about Hell; many people believe God condemns people to Hell, that he subjectively picks his class pets and delights in tormenting those he despises.  No.

Instead he pulls up in an amazing four-wheel drive rescue vehicle, tells us he can save us if we jump in before disaster strikes, and then peels out and gets us away from the danger.

Many decline, and are left on their own.  When that happens, it breaks God’s heart.

I believe allowances are made for those who are truly ignorant, or incapable of understanding what’s at stake.  I don’t know the details, but I do know God is understanding and compassionate.

But since you’ve read this article, you are not ignorant, and I will assume you do indeed understand.

God pulls up in his rescue vehicle.  The door pops open.

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Dave Soucie lives, serves and writes in Indianapolis

That Other Four-Letter Word

Four-letter words have a ….. reputation.  There’s %#!~ and @$*&, and others.  There are still others that enjoy a great reputation.  Love.  Care.  Hugs.

And then there is this other four-letter word that gets a mixed reaction.  Some cling to it because it sums up what motivates them day after day.  Others keep it at arm’s length, or even further, because it’s expectations and demands.

Why the difference? Why do some cherish it while others are repelled by it?

There are those who are uncomfortable with the word because it might cramp their style.  It would restrain their freedom to focus mostly on themselves.  They would have to set aside their own needs and desires in order to be a help to people close to them or even people they’ve never met.

We are told that in order to be happy and fulfilled we must do whatever it takes to be self-actualized.  It doesn’t much matter how it might affect the lives of others, as long as we are able to be free.

They may not acknowledge any power or authority higher than their own.  Having blinded themselves to the image of God within, they glide through life believing that they are accountable to no one, a deceit that keeps them blissfully selfish.

But others see the word differently.  They see it as a call to action.  They know that although they didn’t seek it, they have a responsibility for people around them.  They gain self-esteem by setting aside their own needs and desires in order to care for others.

There are a lot of things in life you can change.  Regret is not one of them.  They want to be able to know that they did their best to be helpful.

Some they help may never notice what has been done for them, or why.  But those who respect and cherish this other four-letter word know that regardless whether their efforts are recognized or not, they are compelled to make the effort.

They may or may not succeed, but they must try so that the threat of regret might not haunt them.

They know others don’t see it this way.  Yet knowing those others are repelled by this word, those who embrace it gain a level of pride the others may never know.

Whether they recognize it or not, they have learned the importance of this word from God himself.  God has given them the drive to push themselves, to set aside the satisfaction of self, and the will to look after the needs of others.  He leads the way.

They are determined to do whatever it takes to fulfill their voluntary obligations, summed up with that other four-letter word.

Duty.

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Dave Soucie lives, serves and writes in Indianapolis

Celebrating The Small Successes

It’s a weekend.  I look at my to-do list.  Because of weather, timing, or something necessary not yet in place, I can’t do this, or this, or this.  But I could finish that, and that, and that and enjoy the satisfaction of crossing it off the list.

We may have had grand ambitions to affect massive change, touch the hearts of millions, and accomplish the impossible.  That might work out for some and the world might be a better place because of their efforts.

But that’s not how the story works out for most of us.  We may not be able to cross off everything on our to-do list.  But we can celebrate what we have done.

When we touch a life in a positive way, we can have an enormous impact on someone who needed that show of kindness.  It might not have seemed like a big deal to us.  But it could have helped them manage another day, and encourage them to pass the kindness on to someone else we’ve never met.

We may never score the touchdown and hear the roar of the crowd as they cheer the victory.  But we can move the ball down the field.

That smaller accomplishment may not gain the acclaim given to the one who crossed the goal line, but it may have helped win the game.  You’ve made a difference whether in sports, or business, or with some community project.  You were part of the solution.

Several years ago, we all became aware of the meaning of the “bucket list”, things you want to experience before you pass.  The downside of such a list is that it can set up false expectations of what is realistic.  If we don’t check them all off our list have we failed?

No.  We can be grateful for what we can experience without setting ourselves up for disappointment.  Dreams are fine, but they are clouds not anchors.

Recently someone gave me a very nice compliment.  Actually, I was a bit shocked.

It was very affirming.   It doesn’t make up for decades of disappointments, and lost opportunities, and the realization that we never personally affected massive change.  Yet it was a reminder that we can have small successes that need to be celebrated.

We have made some difference, and the world and ourselves are better off because of what we’ve done.

We may never finish this, or this, or this.  But we can be a snowflake that nudges a clump of snow, that begins to slide down the mountain, starting an avalanche.

More likely, we may never know how our honorable efforts have helped others.  So, we remind ourselves that even without seismic changes, we have done something worthwhile, a victory we can celebrate.

Whether we see the results or not, the dream of having a positive legacy can continue to motivate us to do that, and that, and that.

Let’s celebrate.

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Dave Soucie lives, serves, and writes in Indianapolis

 

Peace Beyond The Turmoil

What will life look like down the road?  The answer may depend on how willing we are to take a deep breath, reflect, and accept a broader and more seasoned perspective.

Ryan and Sierra sit on their back-patio swing and watch their three kids play.  Ages 3 to 8, they don’t seem to be bothered by the turmoil that has kept the family at home these past few months.  The oldest knows some things, but can’t understand the magnitude of the challenges.

Ryan and Sierra do understand, all too well.  Ryan has been furloughed from his job, but might soon be able to return part-time.  Sierra can work from home.  They are being careful, and have so far managed, grateful for her steady income.

But it is not just the pandemic that worries them.  The political hostility has divided the country in ways they couldn’t have imagined.  The social tension is disturbing, the worst they’ve ever seen.  Their parent’s retirement security may be threatened, and they can only partially disguise their worry.

It appears that part of the collateral damage of Covid 19 is that it has strained nerves to the breaking point.  Like with the medical and financial impact of Covid 19, it will take years to fully understand the social and emotional toll felt by all.  The last few years, and especially 2020, will be studied and analyzed for generations, and probably much longer.

Still watching the kids, Ryan broke the silence.  “Dad reminded me yesterday of the old proverb; ‘Success has a thousand fathers, but failure is an orphan.’  He wanted me to remember why there is so much finger pointing going on, with so many people blaming everything on each other.”

Sierra shook her head.  “You can see that both in the political landscape and the protests.  That and too much pent-up male testosterone which has made all of these problems so much worse.”

He shook his head and grinned.  “You do like bringing that up, don’t you?”  She turned to him and smiled.  “You know I’m right.”

They watch their kids for a while, grateful for the blissful days of childhood, the innocence that shields their kids from the anxiety that has stolen peaceful sleep from all others.

Sierra, still watching them, said.  “I have to wonder what unknown crises they will have to deal with years from now, especially when they’re looking after us.”

“You know it will be something” Ryan answered.  “Always something else.  I hope that by that time we’ll look back on these days and be satisfied that we did our best.  Some are handling things with calm knowing that they can get through it. ‘God works for the good…'”

“‘ …of those who love him'” she finished.  “I think some, and I hope including us, will be proud how we faced it all.  I’m afraid that others will look back and be sorry once they regret how they acted.  That will be embarrassing.  But not us.”

Without looking at her he reached down, held her hand, and repeated “But not us.  And we’re also so humble.”  She laughed.

In recent times they’ve had to be more intentional about finding the humor, appreciating the small pleasures, and reminding themselves of all the things that have worked well.  It’s those blessings that have helped them face the ongoing stresses of the time.  Although tempted to be overwhelmed, they have chosen to keep going for everyone’s sake.

He asked “So should we be optimistic pessimists, or pessimistic optimists?”  Her brow slowly creased, and she cocked her head.  “And what is the difference?”

“Maybe an optimistic pessimist would be someone who is cheerful now, but resigned to things ending badly.  Sort of being in denial as a coping mechanism.  And a pessimistic optimist will be someone who is certain we’ll have one challenge after another after another, a never-ending string of problems.  But in the end, well, it will turn out okay.”

They sat for a moment.  “With our faith, how can we not believe it will end well?” she answered.

He agreed.  “My thoughts exactly.  So we breathe deep, feel his peace ‘which transcends all understanding’, and just keep going.”

“Speaking of going, I just got bit” Sierra said as she slapped her ankle. “We need to go in.”

Ryan stood up and looked toward their kids.  “Who’s ready for some VeggieTales?”  The kids began to run to the patio door.

He reached out to help her up.  She smiled, squeezed his hand, and they walked back inside.

This family of faith knows that although they will always face tough times, they know they will never face them alone.  They have each other, and a loving God.

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Dave Soucie lives, serves, and writes in Indianapolis