A Sabbath afternoon bike ride on a beautiful fall day had turned into an opportunity to search out the beauty in His creation.
"When you see something that you think is beautiful, tell me, and I will take a picture of it," I told the family as we unloaded the bikes from the bike rack. "What's beautiful to you may not be beautiful to others, but that's okay," I continued.
The idea came to me on this Sabbath afternoon. How can I encourage myself and my dear family to really open their eyes to evidences of God's love and greatness? On this beautiful fall day, I knew that much beauty awaited us on the much familiar bike trail. And we were setting out to freezeframe the beauty.
Lily and I rode side by side, her thin, little legs pumping hard to turn the tires over the gravel. The boys rode fast ahead, too concerned with mileage to be concerned with beauty. Brad was somewhere in between the two groups.
But when she said it, it struck me, and the profoundness of this sweet little five-year-old's words pierced me. Of course, she didn't realize the depth of what she had just spoken. She simply meant that if you looked straight ahead to the path, you missed all of the flowers lining each side of the path. And my little girl thinks every flower is a personal gift from God to her.
The beautiful often lies right there beside us, waiting for us to slow our breathing enough to behold it, embrace it.
"Amber, that's what you do sometimes," I said to myself.
"You are so concerned with looking straight ahead that you forget to slow down and look right there around you where the beauty really lies."
The small moments. The seemingly insignificant things that could delight us so had we stopped to breath them in and make them a part of us. These are the breaths that fill us full and overflowing with life. Real life. Real, God-blessed, joy-filled life.
So, as the tires grinded over the gravel, the mind determined itself to become consciously focused on the present.
"This is the stuff of life," I thought. "These are the gifts from God that make life more than just ordinary. These little moments are the ones He's crafted just for us, love gifts to His children, but we miss them because we're running our race at lightning speed."
Schedules. Appointments. Housework. Jobs. All necessary things. All things that must be completed to prevent chaos and disarray.
But all things that can entangle the soul and mind. Things that can become our masters if we're not alert and cautious.
But there are the things that set a soul free and fill the lungs with joyful life, sustaining life, filled-to-the-brim-and-overflowing life...
Laughing children, pedaling as fast as their legs can push the pedals. Water flowing out of the earth, trickling down over rocks, sustaining life. Tall, strong trees growing out of the side of old stone walls - an amazing sight to behold.
Breaks taken for freshly pressed, cool apple cider that tastes oh-so-good to the parched mouth. Flowers of all colors lining a shady bike path. A sign reminding us that no motor vehicles are permitted which means we're permitted to ride without worry and carefree.
Brightly colored blue birds zipping past us, too fast and fleeting to be captured. Children conquering fears as they climb higher than they thought they could (and doing it alone). Picking and enjoying crispy, sweet pears that are so juicy you have to wipe your chin after each bite. The few last tomatoes and peppers rescued from a garden that is returning back to the earth.
A silly song made up ad lib by a sweet little girl who holds her mommy's heart. A bouquet of flowers picked by the boys for me, their mama. That scent of pure, raw nature; the one that clears your mind and eases your soul.
Freshly mowed fields that span for as far as your eyes can see. My little girl riding carefree on her daddy's strong shoulders. Blue skies and white puffy clouds. Cool, tree-lined, gravel roads that lead to many God-sightings. Rays of God's light peeking down through tree-tops.
Knowing that "from the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another."
For some inspiration to awake your soul to the gifts around you, go here. Make sure to view the video to hear a wonderfully inspiring song that speaks the words of living in the present...