steveMy children are now officially grown. My youngest of three just turned 21 years old this past week. “How does this make me feel” you may ask? “OLD!” I might answer. But it also gives me an occasion to look back at life for a bit.

The birthday parties, the vacation trips, the backyard camp-outs, the tickle fests. I can still feel the indescribable feeling of holding my babies in my arms as they slept. The tears as they cried from a hurt or a heart-ache. The pride in their accomplishments. I can still see their joy on Christmas mornings, or when they showed me their successes.

I also remember those times when I really wanted to do something or get something or go somewhere, that were never realized because that time and money was needed for my children and family.

The years of raising my children have been a real, honest to goodness joy. I can’t help but think that they were some of the best years of my life. Strangely, I also seem to remember that they were some of the most difficult times of my life as well. Is this a contradiction? How can something that is so difficult and painful be the most joyous and beloved?

I have come to realize that God, in His generosity, gifts us with talents and abilities that lead us to our vocation. That vocation may be as a parent, or a sister/brother, a teacher, a friend, etc. Whatever those callings may turn out to be, it is in the doing of them that we find our joy. A teacher may spend countless hours on one specific child, reading, explaining, teaching, encouraging. A real chore, but when that child succeeds, there is no greater joy to that teacher’s heart. An athlete may achieve a championship after grueling hours of physical training and practice, but the heart of that athlete is satisfied. A parent may spend a lifetime of teaching, sacrificing, and loving, have their heart crushed and lifted to unbelievable heights, spend uncounted dollars on their children, but in the end, what else would bring real joy to a parent?

Part of our vocation, our calling, is to be God’s children. To be our Lord’s people. So, what is it that fills that heart? As God’s people, what would you spend time on, sacrifice and cry for? What would you spend hours training for that would satisfy your heart? What would be worth all the effort needed to accomplish something that would fill you with joy?

When you reach that mile marker in your life, and you have accomplished something difficult and painful, what would cause you, as God’s child, to look back at it and despite all that pain and effort say to yourself: “YES! Given the choice, I would do that all over again!”

What would you sacrifice for? What would satisfy your hungry heart? What would bring you JOY?

During this season of generosity, of peace and love, think about it, think about how you would arrive at your destination and find joy. Any ideas?
Steve Reyes


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