Unsatisfied By Average

The Musings of a Stubborn Believer

Category: gratitude (page 1 of 2)

Australia in Retrospect [This is My Confidence]

The highest heights are often to be found in the least expected places…
Least expected, that is, to a world quantifying success with finite formulas.

I’ve been to the heights. And not standing on a stage before thousands. Nor on some glittering crest of conquest. (As high as those honors are…)

One thing is always the same. I’m always shorter on the highest heights… By the distance of heel to knee.

PC: James Tregenza doanddare.org

This time, it was on a dusty bit of ground surrounded by benches, throbbing hearts, deep attention.
I have never climbed higher. Never seen the world wider than I saw it then. Never looked smaller in my own eyes. Never felt closer to Heaven.

No surprise.

To those who have found eyes for higher glory, though the beauty of the high places always surpasses our dreams, it is never entirely unexpected…

“As long as I live, I will remember his words– 

‘…Mostly, I’ve met God properly.’

That broke me wide open As though standing on holiest ground, I was filled with a smallness; a trembling… How is it that I am even allowed to touch what is this holy?“*

Though every memory fades at least a bit eventually, my wonder will never cease.
Nor will love for new friends with a beautiful foreign accent.
Nor will firm faith that we’ll meet again, if not on this round earth, then inside pearly gates.

“Hey– remember when…?”

Yes, I remember.

morning stars: checkout | PC: Jasmine Tregenza

Before it was over I had the opportunity to try to crunch the essence of 40 pages of worship notes and days and days of prayer and pondering onto 5 minutes of film. 

This is my confidence.

morning and miracle bend
later: snowy mountain living
friends in Victoria

*journal entry, January 20, 2014


It’s the morning after Thanksgiving.
I miss it already.

So I’m going to keep it going another day, another week, another month…

We compare notes around the hearth and it turns out we’re all thankful for more than circumstances…
We’re thankful for the sunshine. And we’re thankful for the shadows, which always prove that there is a sun up there.
We’re thankful for happiness. And we’re thankful for strength, gained at the cost of ease.
We’re thankful for uncomplicated communion, and for friendship tempered by tears.
We’re thankful for sympathy, a gift best given by a heart that knows what it is to hurt…

We’re thankful that He sees beyond this moment and hands us what we’d choose had we His eyes, His heart. We’re thankful that He condescends to suffer humanity to share His joy, His tears. We’re humbled at the confidence he bestows upon erring mortals when he gives us His Name, His reputation…

Let the chime stay in the kitchen another day, a reminder to express Gratitude.
And let Thanksgiving never end.

God of the Open Door

Good morning world.

This one thought has me tingling this morning, so I’m here to shout from the [blog]top before I run out the door.

I’ve spent much of my week working the problem of addictions. (as is my business.)
One big, scary word, little scientific consensus within the mental health community when it comes to definitions and limitations.

And I’m not about to jump into the ring and argue what is and what isn’t.
Anyway, definitions have never made anyone free.

Here’s the word of the day.

“Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it…”

The God creative and redemptive, merciful and authoritative, sacrificial and strong, fearful and wonderful, perfect and beautiful, righteous and wroth–

He’s the God of the Open Door.

If there were no other reason to serve Him, that one would be enough.
It’s enough for me.

Her Name Was Mary

“Ok, tell me everything you know about this girl.”

I’m on a quest of discovery. And I’m after everything my friend might know.

“Well, she’s a really pious woman.”
                                                “Or… wait.”

–  –  –

Yeah. My thoughts exactly.
Almost without exception, her contemporaries thought differently.
For after all, she was the girl who’d been robbed of parents before she was ready to stand on her own, and had subsequently turned to find love where it can never be found. She was the one who, whether intentionally or accidentally, had thrown away her innocence, her youth, her purity, her piety in the crime-soaked business of human flesh for sale. And to boot, seven times she’d bowed to the dark side, and become a currier for the worst kind of darkness.
She was.

But then, then there was that awful day when she was caught in the act… Dragged from the bed to the street, and thrown in a cowering heap before the Lord of Glory.
And there was that beautiful moment when her broken shame, her stripped-bare necessity, appeared in the shadow of the undiluted Love of Infinite Eternity.

And she got it.

She got it.

Of course the pharisees would always maintain that Jesus regularly ate breakfast, lunch and dinner at a prostitute’s house.
Of course they’d say that what was could never be fully erased.

Of course, we say the same of others. We say the same of ourselves.
You know, that a crippling past must necessarily have a strong effect on one’s usefulness future. That this girl should never know as she might, what it is to trust. Or that, at the very least, it might take a lifetime to learn. And love? Well…

Yes. We often say those things.
And of course, there is an element of truth to them.

But there’s a reason this girl named Mary (which name means “Rebellious,” by the way) is my new favorite Bible character.

Because her story is the story of the power of grace to overcome, and to turn my past into my greatest advantage.

Let me gently remind the world that the home she shared with her big brother and sister was the place Jesus always came to when it was time to rest. That these were, apart from His very own, His best friends on earth. And that after her turning, this girl gained eyes for things everyone else missed.

Because the brokenness of her past was the richest possible backdrop for the truth about Grace, and the power of Love.

Remember that in the midst of the noise of a traditional Jewish party, while everyone was consumed by the festivities, one girl had the presence of mind to anointed her Lord for burial. That when everyone else was consumed with the protocol, this one girl sat at the feet of the Desire of the Ages, and watched Him, all ears, all eyes, all heart.
Remember that on that dark friday, she was there. When they carried Him to the tomb, she was there.

And let me remind you that on resurrection morning, Jesus appeared to one, and only one friend. And that friend was neither Peter, James, nor John.

Her name was Mary.
And she was a former prostitute.

I can’t help but wonder, might it be because she understood something about Love that everybody else missed?
And might that be because God makes “all things work together for good…”?

“Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.”

 “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Ro. 5:20

–  –  – 

Shoes kiss the pavement over and over. Rhythm of breathing and stride. We push miles behind us one at a time, while the truth is soaked in silence.

And I? I’m so taken.

“So, you see why this story, this girl . . .”. . .

Thanksgiving [Because I Belong.]

It occurs to me that without a few key gifts in this life, all others are rendered meaningless.

The eve of Thanksgiving. I flop into bed with Romans 8 on my heart, fresh from neighborhood youth Bible study.
And as I ponder, as I set to counting blessings once again, I suddenly see how this one gift makes all others worth counting…

You’ve read the stories– Joe Wheeler style.
You know, the ones where some little orphan waits for Christmas, wants nothing more than someone to belong to. Someone to want them.

I’ve always read them with somewhat of an “awwww!, poor kid.” reaction.

But you know, I’ve recently found out that that poor kid is me. 

– – –

I look up from my Bible and my friend’s lip trembles, and I catch it in an instant, because my heart does the same.
It’s this word– “Debtor.” 

I’m a debtor. Romans says so. (and my heart tells me the same.)
I’ve never seen more selfishness in the mirror in my life. Nor foolishness. Nor pettiness. Nor pride.
It’s awful.
A debtor I am.

But right on the heels of this word with such weight, on this eve of Thanksgiving, comes this other word–


I’m adopted.

I’m a debtor, not because I’ve sinned, but because I belong.

– – –

My head finds the pillow. My tears join my friend’s.
I shake my head in silence, and though orphaned I should rightly be, I fly again at open arms.
And my Thanksgiving prayer is simple:

Thank You for wanting me.

– – –

Thanksgiving tradition: All kids in the kitchen. At once.
feast for the eyes
pilgrim zone
best ever: sharing the all-American holiday with Australian friends and sweet neighbors
no indians this year…

Cost of Giving

Like all gifts, Heaven’s almost always come with the price tag removed.
And that’s no accident. Because one shouldn’t be able to casually calculate the cost of giving…

–  –  –
–  –  –

Crickets sound and I quiet my iPhone in the dark. It’s not long before I’m smiling.

Thanksgiving day.
Best day of the year.

Gifts pile up all year long, and of course we say thanks along the way…

(I hope.)

But today is different.

Today we sing over our gifts, and keep singing.
But there’s more than that…

Because a step back to take in a full year’s worth of grace gives us a little bit better sense of the cumulative cost of the giving.

You know, the price tags are always removed before the gift is wrapped up pretty… Heaven does that too. Even if we were informed of exactly the purchase price, we wouldn’t remotely be able to compute…

So we’re given another way to understand.


There is only one kind of person in the world that can grasp the value of a priceless treasure.

It’s the man or woman who rejoices over the gift they don’t understand until their own hear bursts with giving-back.

Gifts I’m rejoicing over (and over) today:
A bleeding Brow.        John 19:2
The Father’s Hands.     Luke 23:46
The innocent Face.     Mark 15:14
Everlasting Arms.      Deut 33:27
Eyes that never wander.    Psalm 33:18
A Heart that never forgets.    Isaiah 49:15 

Bloom Anyway!

Part of me is not ready for summer to be over.
Not ready to watch the yard change out its summer coat for dusty brown, one blade at a time. Up here we tend to flower beds, fruit trees, and turf 10 months out of the year, so that 2 months can be beautiful– August, and September.

But part of me is ready.
I tip-toed over to Chantée’s rock garden yesterday, as if one false step would chase away the perfect mountain morning. We’re past due for frost, but still rainclouds from a zealous monsoon have kept the heat in every night…
And so in the chill of an almost-October morning at 8,000 feet there were still flowers singing glory amongst the rocks.

Thought I:
Boy, you’d think it was about time for hibernation. Seriously, all this praise will come to a screeching halt in a few days, for frost can’t be all that far away. Be quick and spread seed. The time for blooms is past…

Or is it?

When I tiptoed back away from the garden, little flowers that wordlessly sing hallelujah had taught me another lesson…

Bloom anyway.

Let the frost come! For one last glorious moment color will shine through crystal, and then the flower’s work will be done.
Sing to the finish.

If spring is time for growing, and summer is time for loving, then fall is time for giving.

And that’s the most beautiful thing of all…

Taste of the Tour

Words fail of conveying sufficient depth and gravity.
Clichés like: “I’ll never be the same” apply, but still don’t tell it like it is…

I throb thankfulness while I grope for expressions worthy, and finally conclude-

Our best statements are understatements.

Because once again, our God has outdone Himself, blessing when we went to bless.
How I needed the quiet. How I needed to see the rocks that cried red. How I needed the battle to refocus. How I needed to be broken and healed, raised up out of weakness, charged to fight…
Reminded that I am nothing.
Reminded that “All things work together for good…”

All things.

Thank You Jesus.
Thank you, beautiful friends from all over the continent…

We love you…

Taste of the Tour from Sean Nebblett on Vimeo.

It Seemed So Far Away…

Just a few days ago, it seemed so far away.

I know the smoke is making eyes water in Iowa, 1,000 miles away. And I know that the flames have left blackness half the size of the state of Rhode Island, (and counting fast) where last week were the most beautiful forests to be found a day’s drive in any direction. 
It makes me sick.
But it still seemed far away.

Even two days ago as I stood in uniform with a stethoscope around my neck, eyes and throat burning in acrid smoke and blowing dust, watching 10 trucks and two dozen men battle 300 acres of flames while 4 other fires burned simultaneously in our district with less attention (from one brief dry thunder storm)– even then, I could look past the crest of Arizona’s third tallest mountain where the aspens put on their show right after the first frost, and see the smoke… 

But distant is changing.

My lungs are on carbon overload. 
Ash falls like snow from time to time.

All day we listen to the radio call signs of people we know by first name, in gear for the inevitable.

A fire that started 70 miles away is now barely 30.
And most of the time it is too horrendously windy to use the 20 helicopters and 8 slurry bombers at the disposal of the thousands of brave men trying to fight it.

The Nebbletts flew over the fire themselves tonight. (thanks, Google Earth) and then over to the place they call home, and then back again.

And then they fell serious.

And in a moment, it was as if everything around me came into focus.
–Like all at once I could see things I wasn’t able to, when the fire seemed far away…

Treasure. Simple. Things.

Treasure the frying pan you’ve scrubbed so many, many times. I looked at ours long and hard when I pulled it out of the suds this evening. There are plenty of people that left home this week wishing they had room in their car to take theirs as they fled. 
Treasure the worn corners of the cozy rugs that testify of life lived in your house.
Treasure the dandelions that audaciously grow in the gravel of your driveway.

Dandelions are better than ashes.

Treasure the steaming bowl of soup.
Treasure the down in your pillow.
Treasure the eye’s twinkle.
Treasure the blue sky.
Treasure life.

Treasure life.

Tomorrow it might not be here.
Or at the very least, it might be very very different…

and if you think about it, please pray for rain…


I have this little theory: 

Remembrance is the better part of Thanksgiving.

It’s far too easy to say “thank you” for the blessings in front of our eyes, 
while forgetting the sacrifices that purchased them for us. 

I’m pretty sure when the pilgrim fathers sat down to that first feast, 
their thankfulness for the provision was sharpened by their
memories of starvation.

(as indeed, they ate within sight of the graves of more than half of their original number)

It would be well for us to remember…

…remember smiles as well as tears. 

And be thankful for them both.

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