Friday, July 29, 2016

Arts in the Park

Daily Gratitude Year 4- Day 209: Today, I am grateful for "Arts in the Park"... another reminder to "love the city you are in." 

Last night, I was too tired to cook. Too tired to do much of anything extra. But, instead of lamenting the fullness of the week... and one more day to go... we chose to plug into the offerings of our small village. I am so glad we did!! 

Randy and I sat in Idlewood Park park from 7-9pm listening to live music. It was the last of the free summer concert series on Thursday nights we call "Arts in the Park". It was presented by the Morton Fine Arts organization. We have enjoyed every show we attended this summer. What typically might have been nap in the chair time... or TV time at home on Thursday nights...has been fun evenings out. Impromptu dates in the middle of the week that fit right in to our schedule (and budget). 

Dinner at the park was under $10 and benefited a local organization. The music by "Cousin Eddie" was fantastic. Really good! The atmosphere casual. The people relaxed. Friends joined us. Friends and community members were all around. I sat there thinking, about our blessings. 

One pair of young siblings were an additional show a they turned cartwheels, giggled and gathered dirt from head to toe. Randy observed that they must have found a mud puddle! They were filthy and so happy. The husband was up and down several times tending to everyone's needs. They were such a sweet sight. 

The wife, I did not realize until we were leaving (there were in front of us) held a baby. A very, new baby was cradled in her arms. I only noticed the babe as they packed up to go. We imagined they were heading home for quick baths (or maybe not so quick based on the dirt to skin ratio) for the older children and the hopes of everyone getting a good night's sleep. The kind of good sleep that comes from an evening in the fresh air. I hope they did. 

Earlier this month, Jeremiah 29:7 grabbed my eye. It has resurfaced again today. This morning, the lesson is once again a reminder to care about the welfare of where God has planted us. The city, the people, our neighbors (all of them) and even the leaders . Let's look at it again: 

But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.-Jeremiah 29:7 

So, we are not exactly "in exile". Still, we all have seasons we feel certain we are "in the wrong place". The seasons life feels like we are in the wrong town, the wrong climate, the wrong state, the wrong culture, the wrong job, the wrong heath situation, the wrong school. the wrong neighborhood or maybe... the wrong church or even thew wrong marriage. The challenge and direction in The Word is to "seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you." 

What if we began to pray fervently for the welfare of the place and the people around us? It is where we have been planted? It is a way to "love our neighbors" and it honors God. I can't promise the circumstance will change...but I can promise that we will change. From the inside out our hearts and attitudes will soften. 

Nearly 30 years ago, we came to the Peoria area. We have spent most of it in Morton...the village our boys call "home". It is where we have been planted. It is not an exile situation by any stretch of the imagination, but I don't think it is where we thought we would be, either. It is definitely, where God has placed us. He has allowed us so many amazing relationships and opportunities to serve. 

Each one of us comes to a place where we must look at where we are and choose. Will I be content where I am? Will I choose whining and complaining because it is not where I want to be?

Choice to act outside of human nature is part of our "soul-breath". God breathed it into us. It is our human superpower because we were "created in His image". 

I am grateful for THIS place!  We have made a life not just a living. It is not always "a wonderful life" but there is such goodness and opportunity around us. We sleep safe. We travel roads in relative safety. We drink clean water. We have "people". We have heat and air conditioning. We have pumpkins and sweet corn. We have enough. We have plenty. We have abundance. We have music in the park on a Thursday night. 

Today, I am grateful for "Arts in the Park"... another reminder to "love the city you are in." 

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