Happy to Be Alive {what will you do with this gift?}

Over a year ago I gave birth to an 11 pound baby. I realized how unusually large he was, especially compared to my small frame. But initially I just walked away from the hospital grateful I didn't have to have a C-section. And then, I hear the stories of family and friends who have more difficulty delivering their "normal" sized newborns, and I begin to realize what a miracle it is not only that I had a vaginal delivery, but that I also walked away with minimal tearing and a normal recovery.

Every breath we're given, Every. Single. Day. is a miracle. That God breathed one breath of life into one human being and it's kept millions alive since is incredible!

But I certainly don't act like it. I have a nice place to sleep at night, and my kids do too. We don't worry about our next meal (unless I've neglected meal-planning and grocery-shopping, but that's not real worry). We stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter, and we have yet to get dehydrated or malnourished. We're pretty well dressed, even if we don't keep up with current fashion trends. All of our bills are paid on time, our apartment is fully furnished, and our vehicle has never run out of gas.

Not only are we alive and safe, but by most of the world's standards, we have it made!

And what do we do with this incredible gift of life we've been given? We desire more things. We want to have more fun and be more entertained. We want more, give less, and are more removed from our neighbors and even the people in our own homes than ever before. We do very little to help others enjoy these everyday luxuries or meet our Source of comfort and security.

I just finished reading a book by Regina Brett called God Never Blinks: 50 Lessons on Life's Little Detours. She survived breast cancer, and through that wrote many powerful insights into appreciating the life we've been given and living it well.

Her insight is not too far off from another book I recently read by Veronica Chambers called The Joy of Doing Things Badly: A Girl's Guide to Love, Life and Foolish Bravery. In this book, she too shares how surviving a very serious breast cancer diagnosis gave her a second chance at living life with more passion and less fear.

Then, the movie massacre happened.

I learned about it while Daniel was with friends watching Batman in our local theater. I couldn't stop finding out more information and learning about the survivors and reading more as they announced the 12 who weren't so lucky.

And through it all, one survivor blogged her experience sharing her testimony. She still believes she serves a merciful God. Amen!

Then, I read a blog post from someone that didn't make it. A month before, she was on vacation in Toronto and went to the mall for sushi. Once there, she changed her mind last minute and got something in the food court instead. After purchasing it, she got a strange feeling she couldn't shake, and walked outside in the rain. Once around the mall, she heard sirens and saw police and ambulance rushing to the exit she had just left. There had been a shooting--some were wounded and one was killed.

It happened at the same spot she was getting food. It happened at 6:23 and her food court receipt had a time stamp of 6:20. This is what she says about that experience:
I was shown how fragile life was on Saturday. I saw the terror on bystanders’ faces. I saw the victims of a senseless crime. I saw lives change. I was reminded that we don’t know when or where our time on Earth will end. When or where we will breathe our last breath. For one man, it was in the middle of a busy food court on a Saturday evening.
I say all the time that every moment we have to live our life is a blessing. So often I have found myself taking it for granted. Every hug from a family member. Every laugh we share with friends. Even the times of solitude are all blessings. Every second of every day is a gift. After Saturday evening, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given.

In the same summer she is again at the wrong place, at the wrong time--caught in another shooting. This time, no weird feeling to save her. Just family and friends and the boyfriend that was with her mourning their loss.

Life is a miracle and a gift that none of us truly understand. We're floating along in our cushy lives, maybe grateful, maybe content, maybe sometimes living the Christian lives Christ calls us too. I know I take it all for granted too much. Am I living this life as the blessing that it is? Have I appreciated this moment, this season of life? Because I will never get it back. Disease and crimes and accidents are far too common to think I'm the exception. Even so, time is it's own thief, whisking away moment after moment until we're left with mere memories wondering, Did I live this thing right?

Because it's not just about appreciating what we have. It's about sharing the Gospel. This isn't my home, and everything I do is one more step toward someplace else. God's already given me the Kingdom--it's up to me to decide if that's the direction I wish to take my steps. I'll know I lived this thing right if I have helped even one person get there too.

Lord, thank you for the miracle of life! For breathing Your breath of life into Adam and keeping me alive on that same miracle. Thank you for my family and wonderful friends and this cushy American life. May I not take it for granted or squander it away on pleasing myself for pleasure's sake. May I be a light that shines for you in this dark world. Comfort those who are mourning, give peace to those who are in turmoil, and surround us all with Your love. May we not be selfish with these gifts, but be healed by them and use them to bless someone else. Love you and can't wait to see You! Amen!