“How we spend our days is, of course, how we live our lives.”

Annie Dillard

Dear Readers,

Our part of the south has seen more rain than I care to experience this spring. Even so, the birds are singing, flowers, planted last season breathe new life. Releasing the most exquisite blooms.

I trudge through wet grass, a scowl on my face, Lola, prances. 

I’m so glad you are joining me today. We took a day trip Sunday, a week ago. I would  love for you to sit a spell and allow me the honor of sharing it with you. 

We drove three hours in blinding rain, sipping coffee, sharing memories from a place we once called home. A place that feels familiar, smells of Mountain Laurels, Honeysuckle, and fresh air. There’s a lushness on top of that mountain I’ve yet to find anywhere else.

We pulled into the parking lot, passed through heavy double doors, slipped into a pew.

There was something in the atmosphere, both light and heavy at the same time. It draped around my shoulders, pulling me in.

Mere weeks ago, I gazed at the screen, watching with thousands of others, as a life was celebrated and grieved. A life, that ended much too soon. A young man, tragically killed when he answered a call for help.

Grief and joy weave a beautiful tapestry, but, not without pain. Visible, physical, soul piercing, breathtaking pain. Visceral pain.

In her book, I Will Carry You, Angie Smith, wrote the words:

“Grief and joy danced together as if they had a right to.” 

There was lively music, praise, worship, tapping of feet. Joy.

And grief.

A hush settled over the sanctuary as the Pastor took his place.

Pastor Sam, husband, father. The grieving father. Chills covered my body, as I took in his face. A face filled with both grief and joy.

“Though he slay me, I will hope in him” Job 13:15a (ESV)

There are places, times in my life I mark. Mark them with remembering stones. This moment, worthy of marking.

This moment, a moment, when time hung still though the clock ticked gently forward.

Moments when you know, you know, you’ve been invited onto the dance floor with Jesus. In that moment, you step into the grief, raw places of pain, and there is joy. Unexplainable, supernatural joy. You dance to the rhythm in complete abandon.

The question  was posed, “What does it mean to live inspired?”

Oh. My. Soul. Only Jesus, only God can weave joy and grief in the same heart. In the same face.

How do you live inspired when you sit in the valley of the shadow of death? How do you live inspired when your own story is one of searing pain, and a disease without a cure? How do you live inspired when you’ve prayed all the prayers and still have no answer. How?

I think of Habakuk and his bold words:

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there is no fruit on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though the flocks disappear from the pen
and there are no herds in the stalls,
yet I will celebrate in the  Lord;
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation!
The Lord my Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like those of a deer
and enables me to walk on mountain heights!
Habakuk 3:17-19 (CSB)

Habakuk was committed to living inspired.

Curtis Bartlett was committed to living inspired.

Will I? Will you? Live inspired even when death shadows life, and grief pierces deep? Even if, when, there is no cure? Even in the unanswered prayer?

I want to tread on the mountaintops with Jesus. I want to sit at the feet of God and sing his praises. I want to live my life in such a way others see Him in me. See Him even if there are no crops in the field. Even when the story is hard and there is no cure. Even when whispered prayers go unanswered.

I want to dance with Him.

Until that day, there will be times, many times I suspect, where I will be called into the dance of grief mixed with joy. So will you.

In fact, James 1:2 (NIV) tells us, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” 

Can I just tell you on the other side of the trials, there is a life. Life everlasting.

“…that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:15-17 (NIV)

We rode down the mountain towards home. I ran my fingers across the words Live Inspired.

The young man who tragically lost his life left behind a legacy. A legacy of living inspired.

Pastor Sam, the grieving father, now holds this gift in his broken heart.

“Grief and joy danced together as if they had a right to.”

Angie Smith from I Will Carry You: The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy

Before I leave you with this story, there are some things I want you to know.

I asked Pastor Sam Bartlett if I could share this story and he said yes.

You can listen to his sermon here.

You can read the stories of those whose lives were touched by Curtis Bartlettby following the hashtag liveinspired.  #liveinspired 

You may also leave your own story of living inspired using #liveinspired

If you do not hold the hope of salvation and eternal life, you can email me here for more information. 

Gifts of Grace

PS: I’m blessed to serve you in this place, to share with you the Gifts of Grace as I journey through the wilderness. I picture you across the table, hands wrapped tightly around your cup, sharing life, and laughter, and tears. As I share with you my own daily struggles, I long to hear what yours may be. Sharing the realness of life. You can do that by commenting below or reaching out to me here.

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