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Life Is Short... Drink Red Wine.

jim and i My uncle went to be with Jesus yesterday. Seven months ago he was diagnosed with end stage brain cancer, but now he is partying it up in Heaven, probably in white, but still wearing his sneakers. I imagine him sitting with CS Lewis, the two of them drinking red wine and philosophizing life, politics and Narnia.

These past seven months I have seen him fight.  I have seen him worship. I have seen him speak in tongues when he could no longer speak words (it bypassed his brain, don’t tell me that the Holy Spirit isn’t real). I have seen him gain a sense of humour unlike any he ever had before. I have seen him up-close and personal.

I have seen and I have learned.

Today I want to share with you some things I’ve re-learned in the last 24 hours. Because sometimes it takes a little reality check to remember the important things in life.

1. Make more friends. To my knowledge, no one on their deathbed ever said, “I wish I had more twitter followers.”

2. Drink red wine (if you are legal, you little rebel). My uncle was the healthiest man I have ever known. His diet was stricter than Miss Trunchbull from Matilda. His one allowance was a glass or two of red wine in the evening. A man after my own heart. When he got sick and moved in with us, this became our tradition. We would sit on the balcony and someone would take the shift, fill up a glass and join him. Some of my best memories of him are with a glass in hand on the balcony. Cheers Uncle Jim.

3. Joy is a choice. Choose it. Happiness is a feeling but joy is a choice. Sometimes we just gotta tell our soul that today, we are choosing joy. It’s amazing how the feeling follows, no matter the circumstance.

4. Prioritise family. It’s a weird moment when you look around and realize that your siblings are your best friends. That your parents are your side kicks in life. I’m lucky to have the best family on the entire planet, and it’s easy to be grateful for them but whatever kind of family you find yourself in, find something to be grateful for. Tell them you love them. They won’t be around forever. Bring out embarrassing photos. Make memories.

5. Offense is a waste of time. Life is too short. Offense only ever kills our joy and poisons our heart. People can be jerks, there is bad in the world, but let’s not get caught up in it. Focus on the good, there’s lots of that too.

6. Love Jesus. I am jealous of my uncle’s relationship with Jesus. Is that allowed? Whatever. I’m not bitter. I’m inspired. He worshipped him at every opportunity. I love that. I want that. I plan to pursue that for the rest of my life.

Life is short, make the most of it. Do something crazy. Go for a midnight swim. Watch the sun rise. Go on a date. Climb a tree. Call in sick and do whatever you feel like. Go all “Yes Man” on your life. Why not?

Live.

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Burn Baby Burn

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I got sunburnt a couple of days ago. I got really sunburnt a couple of days ago. Put it this way, if being “sunkissed” results in a nice summer glow, then on Saturday the sun picked me up, violently made-out with me, and left me with a billion hickeys. The result will not be a nice summer glow. And yet, I knew this would happen. 

I went to my usual spot, at my usual beach, with my usual tanning friend. I spent three hours going between my towel and swimming in the ocean, because people who go to the beach without swimming just confuse and kind of annoy me. In 35-degree heat (95 Fahrenheit). But here’s the worst part… I didn’t even put on sunscreen/suncream (I don’t know which word to use so I’m just using both and you can pick your favorite). I know. I’m sorry mum.

Now before you sentence me to Minnesota (where the sun never shines) to spend the rest of my days, let me clarify… I knew I would get burnt. Did I just make things worse for myself? I know that if someone is in the sun for an extended period of time, without the correct protection, the sun will make out with them and leave them with sunburn and blisters. And yet, knowing all that, I did it anyway. Why?

The idea of a tan was more enticing to me than the consequences of sunburn. You’re totally sending me to Minnesota aren’t you?

And yet, right now, I’m experiencing the consequences. I’m sitting in my bright red, freckled up, burnt skin, trying not to move. Seriously, I look like I’m auditioning for a slow-motion movie, and since slow-motion movies don’t exist, it wouldn’t be a very successful audition. Every time I do move it feels like I’m rubbing against a surface of nails and sandpaper. Right now, I regret my actions. I promise, I will never have a one-day-stand with the sun again.

But it is making me think.  And I’m thinking of more than just my sunburn. Why does it take experiencing the consequences of my actions to rethink my decisions? Why am I only just deciding, now that it’s too late, that I would rather wear suncream/sunscreen than get burnt, go tomato red and shed like a snake, freaking out anyone watching nearby?

Now that I’m here, sitting in my consequence, it’s just not worth it.

Why do we do things that we know are bad for us? Yes you do. We all do it. Why do we think we are immune from consequences? We all have little things we do that, despite the warnings, we act upon. And it’s not until we’re sitting in our consequence that we regret it.

It’s the decision to stay up late to watch that Friends marathon (even though you’ve seen every episode five times before) and waking up the next day angry at the world for your decision. I’m guilty of this on a weekly basis, but seeing as Ross, Joey, Chandler, Mon, Rach and Pheebs are actually my friends, I feel it’s my duty. Shut up.

Going a little deeper, it’s the decision to have “just one more” glass of champagne or beer at that wedding or party, even though you know you should have stopped a long time ago. It’s the decision to go into the house alone with your boyfriend/girlfriend… Just to cuddle. It’s the decision to send that text message when you’re lonely and vulnerable. It’s the lie to cover your tracks. It’s the extra purchase on your credit card even though you’re already in debt.

It’s the sin that we justify.

So why do we do it? Because we’ve gotten away with doing it before. We let the enemy convince us that it’s not that bad, or that it won’t hurt anyone, or that it’ll only be one more time. And as we get away with it, our confidence grows, we keep listening to the lies, and we do it again.

But today, I didn’t get away with it.

While it may seem trivial that I’m relating sunburn to getting drunk or sleeping around, it all stems from the same place. It stems from the thought that consequences don’t apply to us. But it’s just not true. Just ask my skin.

There have been heaps of times in my life where I’ve done things that were against my better judgment.  And the consequence weren’t sunburn. There have been times when my actions caused heartbreak, guilt and shame. Sometimes it was only in the consequence that I felt remorse. And that remorse turned into repentance. Which lead to change.

Perhaps sometimes the only thing that will shake us free from our feeling of invincibility, is the harsh reality that we aren’t.

Maybe sometimes we need to hit rock bottom in order to look up.

It’s only in the repentance that we can fully appreciate His saving grace.

If you right now are in the middle of consequence, or experiencing remorse, look up. If you have messed up or felt like you’ve missed the mark, fall into His grace. His mercies are new every morning.

And next time? Think before you make-out with the sun.

Whatever that means for you.

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