Grace is Strong The bridge of grace will bear your weight, brother. Thousands of big sinners have gone across that bridge, yea, tens of thousands have gone over it. Some have been the chief of sinners and some have come at the very last of their days but the arch has never yielded beneath their weight. I will go with them trusting to the same support. It will bear me over as it has for them. Charles Spurgeon, Pastor and Author Once more, Never think that you can live to God by your own power or strength; but always look to and rely on him for assistance, yea, for all strength and grace. ~ David Brainerd, Missionary When I hear Christians say, “I don’t do this, and I don’t do that, and I am following a set of rules,” I immediately recognize that they know very little about the grace of God. They are trying to live the Christian life in their own strength. But Paul says, “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” ~ J. Vernon McGee, Radio Preacher and Bible Teacher


I have this frequent nightmare where I’m underwater, just below the surface of a pool. The water is as grey as the skies above, and I’m cold. So cold. There are brown autumn leaves resting on top of the water, gently rippling from the breeze above. Somehow I know that they are from my parents’ Catalpa tree. I’m in their pool. I stretch my hand toward the air, but for some reason I can’t reach the space where water and breeze meet. And throughout the dream I’m calm. Too calm, even though I know I’m drowning. Awake, I know the dream isn’t real. But it is. It starts with the sound of the cork squeaking out of the bottle, making my heart skip with anticipation. Even as often as I hear it, it still feels forbidden and exciting. As I pour it, the weight of the bottle feels as familiar as that dream, down to the gurgling sound of the pool filling up. But it’s the first sip that really gets me. The taste of the tart white or bitter red on my tongue. The feeling of warmth that coats my belly, gives me courage and makes me believe I’m funnier. It tells me I’m better with it, and I nod my head yes in agreement. I know I should stop at the bottom of the first glass, but I pour another and sometimes another. My head is still above water, I think. I keep drinking. And when I do, it drags me swiftly down. Instead of thrashing to save myself, I go calmly with chagrin upon my face. I know the place it takes me all too well, and I’m comfortable there, despite knowing the extent it holds me back and pushes me down. At the bottom of my third glass, the numbness comes. Pain, hurt, bills, everything is gone. It’s only me and my stemless glass. Eventually, I sink. I’m drowning again. I’ve heard plenty of stories about how my grandfather loved the bottle a little too much. He would come home angry from the bars night after night, frightening my mom into tears. And my mom started smoking as a young girl. She tried to quit for years, but never could. Am I addicted? Hell if I know. I know I don’t feel addicted. I feel stuck. And I know I don’t want to be an addict. I don’t want the blood of an alcoholic, or a smoker, or this ticking time bomb of DNA to define me. I want my work, my mind, and my kind nature to define me. I want me to define me. I am so fucking tired of the cycle. I’m tired of the headache every morning. And I’m tired of that nightmare. I want to dream of blue skies and rays of sunshine instead of grey waters and chill in my bones. I want to watch my children play with clear eyes, instead of through the fog induced by last night’s choices. I’m also completely afraid. Afraid of knowing who I am sober. Afraid of regaining control. Afraid of asking for help. Afraid of not drinking. Am I ready to commit to that? Is that what I want? What I need? That’s it. This is where it ends. It won’t control me, like it controlled my grandfather. I will not drown at the bottom of the bottle. It stops today, I swear. Right after I finish this glass.

Sometimes people look for some kind of miracle when their life is in a fix. Other times, people may pray for a miracle when a loved one is seriously ill or when they face a life threatening challenge. I remember praying for a miracle when I felt I hadn’t done well in a school exam. Somehow I did pass and that was my first personal experience of my own miracle, albeit a tiny one. In the recent Haiti earthquake, there were many “miracles” of afflicted people surviving for many days under the rubble without food or water.What’s a miracle and how does one recognise one? Wikipedia gives us a number of interpretations of what we mean by a miracle:- An unexpected event attributed to divine intervention. A fortuitous event. Any statistically unlikely but beneficial event, such as the survival of a natural disaster. An event which is regarded as “wonderful” regardless of its likelihood, such as birth. Survival of a terminal illness. Escaping a life threatening situation. Beating the odds. Some “coincidences”. In all of the above, the common thing is some unlikely or unexpected occurence, or something that just seems so incredible such as the birth of a child. I have never witnessed the miracle of a child being born but a few years ago, I was lucky enough to be just outside the hospital maternity where a friend was giving birth. I heard some faint crying and then 20 minutes later, the beaming father invited me in to see their newly arrived baby son. And there he lay cradled next to his mother, with his eyes wide open and looking as if he had always been there. It was one of the most beautiful and miraculous moments of my life – I can’t even imagine what it would have been like for the proud father. miracle of a baby Just how did that little baby boy happen? “I am realistic – I expect miracles” – Wayne Dyer In reality, everything around us is a miracle if only we can learn to see and recognise these miracles. By living your life as if everything is a miracle, every moment becomes something to savour and live in awe of. You naturally get to feel great appreciation and gratitude for your life, knowing that you are blessed with such miracles all around. To help you become more present to all the miracles in your life – I have split them up into 5 specific categories. As you read the remainder of this post, I invite you to treat this as your own personal journey into the world of miracles. After every section, please pause for a few seconds, breathe deeply a couple of times and simply become present to that miracle. Lets begin our journey:- 1. The miracle of life. The greatest miracle is that you are alive and able to engage in this conversation with me. Just think about it – how is it that a mass of flesh and blood is able to partake and experience what we call life? What allows us to experience the world through our senses? If you have never thought about your very life as a miracle, please take a pause right now. What is it that makes your blood go through your body – and what’s that universal intelligence that makes you tick? Isn’t it a miracle that somehow life evolved on this planet we call earth, which just happens to be the right distance from our star and where during the course of billions of years, just the right conditions came about for some hydrogen and carbon molecules to gel together and finally evolve into you and me? I am giving myself permission to repeat what I just said here, since I am so in awe – just how is it that a soup of organic materials somehow evolved into the wonder of you and me? It all seems to happen like magic – and yet we hardly ever pause to reflect on the biggest miracle of all. Life – our greatest miracle and gift – and even more reason for you to appreciate it every day. “Each of my days are miracles. I won’t waste my day; I won’t throw away miracle” – Kelley Vicstrom 2. The miracle of love miracle of love After the miracle of life, the greatest miracle is that of love. But what is love? Love is much greater than what we feel romantically. It is what makes us sing, dance and makes us human. “Love doesn’t make the world go around, it just makes the ride worthwhile.” – Franklin P. Jones Love is the most amazing thing in our lives. It is what makes us human, what makes life worth living – in the grander scheme of things, nothing else truly matters. The size of our homes, bank balances, the beauty of our partner, the speed of our car – all those things pale into insignificance when we face the miracle of love. “Where there is great love there are always miracles” – Willa Cather Love leads to other miracles such as kindness. Have you noticed how great you feel afterwards when you have done someone a kind deed? Through the miracle of our love, we can indeed transform the world – even a hug, a loving touch or just a smile can cause the miracle of healing others. There are so many simple things we can all do on a daily basis to bring more love into our lives. Together we can all make this an even more beautiful and miraculous world than it already is. So from today onwards, appreciate and acknowledge all the love around you and in you. Look for ways of spreading your love through compassion and making a practical difference to those around you. 3. The miracle of your body To experience this thing we call life, we need our bodies to function as well as possible. Our bodies somehow sustain themselves, grow, repair and fight to stay alive till the very end. There are trillions of chemical reactions and exchanges going on within us every second and everything seems to run like clockwork. Even when disease or decay sets in, our bodies continue to strive and sustain themselves almost like magic. The durability of our body is a miracle in itself – I remember when my first nephew was born a few weeks prematurely and he spent the first month of his life in an incubator. It was heart-breaking to see this little guy, a tiny bag of skin and bones fighting for dear life and getting stronger day by day, ounce by ounce. Experiencing something like that sure opens you up to the miracle of life – and also makes you realise that perhaps there really is something much bigger than us out there and indeed within us. From today onwards, why not commit to take great care of your body? You only have to take some simple and practical self-care steps and your body will begin to miraculously heal itself and sustain you for the rest of your life. 4. The miracle of nature the miracle of life Where does one even begin to extoll the sheer beauty of our natural world? Let’s start with one of the main symbols of beauty in our society – the majestic flower. Have you ever looked at a beautiful flower closely and failed to be moved by its magnificence and symmetry? “The miracles of nature do not seem miracles because they are so common. If no one had ever seen a flower, even a dandelion would be the most startling event in the world” – Unknown Author A flower is but just one example of all the wonderful nature that makes up our earth and indeed beyond the earth. Look at the sky this evening and marvel at all the twinkling stars all around us. Just how do those points of light just stay there? And who put them up there? Everything in nature is so beautifully symmetrical and perfect – it is almost like a universal master craftsman or craftswoman was at work. From today onwards, please spend some time in nature daily and simply appreciate the miracle of what’s around you – from the humble ant to the majestic oak. And then for the rest of your life, be in continuous awe of the nature around you. miracle ant 5. The miracle of your creativity Only a few years ago, before the advent of the internet, it would have been impossible to even envisage you and I having this conversation via the medium of the blogosphere. And yet today, we can send out a single message to thousands of people around the world in seconds. As a species, we are incredibly creative and intelligent, and sometimes there seems no end to what we are capable of. You are capable of so much – and probably a lot more than what you are currently doing. You can literally create your own miracles – if you choose to do so. From my perspective, the challenge really is to channel this creativity into something that benefits the greater good. So from today onwards, put your own creative gifts to work – and create your own miracles to make the world a better place. “I have found in life that if you want a miracle you first need to do whatever it is you can do – if that’s to plant, then plant; if it is to read, then read; if it is to change, then change; if it is to study, then study; if it is to work, then work; whatever you have to do. And then you will be well on your way of doing the labor that works miracles.” – Jim Rohn It’s in your hands to see life as a miraculous experience. miracle of nature Make the rest of your life a miracle Your journey of seeing the world as a miracle has only just begun. From today onwards, your eyes and the other senses have been opened up. See everything around you as the miracle that it really is – and your life will never be the same again. So everything is a miracle, how will you live from now onwards? #FLAWLESSCONCEPTS


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