Raise your voices;

Make a beautiful noise to the Eternal,
All the Earth.
Serve the Eternal gladly;
Enter into His presence singing songs of joy!

Know this: the Eternal One Himself is the
True God.
He is the One who made us;
We have not made ourselves;
We are His people, like sheep grazing
In His fields.

Go through His gates, giving thanks;
Walk through His courts, giving praise.
Offer Him your gratitude and praise
His holy name.

Because the Eternal is good,
His loyal love and mercy will never end,
And His truth will last throughout all generations.

(Psalm 100 – The Voice)

It was a perfect moment held together by crimson, threaded through three distinct souls. The rich color of the evening-glow would be remembered in halo, as if memory took a picture and aged it with all the beauty and grace a moment can contain…
Life is a road where joy and sorrow meet. We bend our knee and bleed our souls before our God – just and tender. Seeking all good things takes work. The fruit the Spirit provides isn’t obtained by idle hands. If we want charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, & chastity we need to be willing to climb the tree that hangs over the edge of the waterfall.
To flip the adage a bit: we miss the tree for the forest.
We want and want and want…comparing our lives and feeling forlorn when they don’t measure up.
Yet, that evening, with disentangled vision, veil pulled back, I saw the perfect moment. My beautiful friend, Teresa, and her daughter joined me for dinner at Shakespeare and Co. I know Teresa’s spirit. I knew, because of her love of history and memory, that she would love this restaurant.
I am honored to know this woman. I hope everyone has a Teresa in their life. She is my iron sharpener and cup filler. There is never judgement. I remember a time where I was worried about training someone at work. I was fretting how I would translate what this person would need to know. I was self-absorbed, desperate to look good. Teresa stopped me and said, “Melissa, train her because you love her and want her to do a good job.” It was such a simple word given by a friend - a sweet rebuff of my attitude. We continually carry each other’s encumbered weight of sorrow. If I am crazy – tipping into insanity – I know I can reach out to Teresa and she will settle me down, focus my heartbeat to God.
I digress.
Our small little corner of the restaurant was perfumed with the spirit of God. Every word, every moment, was so special. We varied in age and experience, but we all came wanting. We came with cups full; splashing the overflow gladly on each other. The filling up and pouring out was of equal portion – cracks and strength all evident. I was keenly aware of the body of Christ in this moment. A fragile miracle lightly held and oh so precious!
I started a little experiment. I began to mentally take note of the sweet moments that came to my life. As I did this, I soon realized how often God blesses us in exponential ways. He truly does desire to give us all good. He loves explosive praise from our lips.
In all likelihood I have exhausted this analogy, but I love the moment where Susan and Lucy first encounter the resurrected Aslan. There is a battle raging. Many have turned to stone, and the White Queen is waging wrath on her pending doom. It is such a critical time in Narnia - a time when Aslan (our Jesus character) should be hopping to action. He should be running to save the day.
Does he do any of these things?
Not immediately.
His first course of action?  
He plays with Susan and Lucy. They run up and down the hills. He tosses them in his big paws. They laugh. They have a moment so sweet and fair. They are experiencing the victory before the battle. And, this is what these moments furnish. They present a glimpse of our victory. In the middle of the fight we can look back at these moments and give praise to our God for them.

The name of the True God will be my song,
An uplifting tune of praise and thanksgiving!
My praise will please the Eternal more
Than if I were to sacrifice an ox
Or the finest bull. (Horns, hooves, and all!)
(Psalm 69: 30 & 31 – The Voice)

A few weeks ago I did a Costco run. It was a beautiful night. The heat of summer was cooling as the sun fell. The clouds, puffed up and expansive - floating mountains - displayed His Majesty! I was awestruck. The rich hues of fragmented light against an already picturesque sky reminded me of sunsets on the beach. Just as I was relishing in fond memories, praising God for His creation, I heard a group of screams come from behind me. It was the Scalf Family pulling in to do some Costco shopping of their own.
This was a divine orchestration – a hand of providence. I was just about to get in my car and leave. The Scalf’s just happened to come in at that point and time and in to that very row I parked in. They had just finished dining at one my favorite restaurants, The Pub, which had led the conversation to thoughts of me.
We were both blessed. This was a moment captured. I can almost see God taking a photograph of this moment, peeling back the protective screen on His photo album, & sticking it to the contact paper. Underneath He might right something like, “got a kick out of my children’s surprise in the Costco parking lot, those joyous faces – priceless!

Father, out of Your honorable and glorious riches, strengthen Your people. Fill their souls with the power of Your Spirit so that through faith the Anointed One will reside in their hearts. May love be the rich soil where their lives take root. May it be the bedrock where their lives are founded so that together with all of Your people they will have power to understand that the love of the Anointed is infinitely long, wide, high, and deep, surpassing everything anyone previously experienced. God, may Your fullness flood through their entire beings.
(Ephesians 3: 16 – 19 – The Voice)

Those joy moments fill our souls and renew our spirit. And, there are far more than we think. I LOVE “The Voice” translation of Ephesians 3: 16 – 19. The richness He provides gives us strength. The Holy Spirit, residing in our hearts, gives us power. His love is the rich soul where we flourish. The depth of this love, a cornerstone, is the foundation of our faith. And, we are meant to share in this love with others. We are not solitary creatures. God ushers us into community. May his fullness truly flow through our entire beings.
I try to have dates with God. At times they are planned, others are impromptu. My car was up for its next service. I love my dealership. They take really good care of their customers. I went in early. I brought my journal and my Bible (actually my Kindle with Bible App). I lost track of time delving into the Word and discharging chaotic thoughts. A moment that was almost too lovely to behold.
As I survey my life, moments create tapestry. There are snags and miss stitches, but it sure is a gorgeous creation. The memories are far sweeter then sorrowful:
A tiny hand reaching up to grasp mine as we walk on the beach at the close of day.
A sweet boy, “my boy”, running up and down the hall and every time he passes he says, “Wissa, I love you!”
My sister breaking out in dance to Needtobreathe’s “Brother”.
My Dad telling a story about his childhood or time in the navy.
Mom sending me a sweet random email.
My sister’s laughter filling the room when she says a word wrong.
The tender conversations and depth of understanding my sisters and I have.
My sweet friend cleaning out her jewelry and thinking of me – giving me little treasure troves.
My friend Teresa and I’s obsession over everything pumpkin.
A late morning talk with Amy and Dave over bagels  and lochs.
Sophie’s tender act of grace in reaching out.
Each time a guest at the Hope Lodge says how blessed they are that we are here.
Silly conversations with my Facility Manager.
Aiden saying I am important to their family & simply wanting to spend time with me.
Wyatt’s excitement dance.
Haley’s curling in.
Comfortable silence when fatigue has reached its zenith that happens amongst good friends.
Coffee shops with people I love.
Sharing the nerdy adventure of the Renaissance Festival.
Brunch with friends.
How the smell of a campfire can take me back to childhood.
The emotion of a great movie.

The list could go on and on and on….
So I challenge you to take time each day and actively see the sweet moments. The moments that ease the ache and make everything a bit more heavenly!

And then Jesus began to pray:
I praise You, Father – Lord of heaven and earth. You revealed Your truths to the lowly and the ignorant, the children and the crippled, the lame and the mute. You have hidden wisdom from those who pride themselves on being so wise and learned. You did this, simply, because it pleased You. The Father has handed over everything to My care. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son – and those to whom the Son wishes to reveal the Father. Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Put My yoke upon your shoulders – it might appear heavy at first, but it is perfectly fitted to your curves. Learn from Me, your weary souls will find rest. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.
(Matthew 11: 25 – 30 – The Voice)

Let the word of the Anointed One richly inhabit your lives. With all wisdom teach, counsel, and instruct one another. Sing the psalms, compose hymns and songs inspired by the Spirit, and keep on singing – sing to God from hearts full and spilling over with thankfulness. Surely, no matter what you are doing (speaking, writing, or working), do it all in the name of Jesus our Master, sending thanks through Him to God our Father.
(Colossians 3: 16 & 17 – The Voice)


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