I’m sitting on my bed typing.  The dryer hums in the background and crickets chirp outside.  I savor the gentle peace of this moment.  It’s cool tonight—fall has arrived.  I pull my sleeves down over my wrists and enjoy the laptop’s warmth on my legs. I breathe deep and look around.  Folded laundry sits near me; I might forget about it until tomorrow.  Friday’s leftover stack of school papers reminds me that I must prepare for the week ahead.

“The week ahead”, this phrase plays over and over again in my mind.

I fast forward 7 days and attempt to comprehend the sights and sounds of next Sunday.  My family and I will leave for NYC mid-day, in preparation for the release of One Light Still Shines.  Three short hours takes us to a world that appears far different than ours, but it is not.

The essence of our days remains the same.  We all experience life’s circles.  These ever flowing bands wrap themselves around us.  The cords of life and death intermingle and sometimes confuse the heart.  One moment yields stunning victory and another, crushing defeat.  Bittersweet.  I know it all too well.

No matter where we live we need the same things to survive- love, encouragement, help, hope, and friendship with the One who will never leave us.  On the bad days we must believe that tomorrow will indeed surpass today and that this life contains beauty currently undiscovered.  On the good days we must continue moving forward and not settle for the places we’ve currently landed.  The truth is this: our lives brim with endless potential found in receiving love, and finding that we have something of value to give away.  The greatest beauty lies in that which we give to others.

This world needs you.  You hold a unique treasure, only you can love others your way.  The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit (Proverbs 18:21).  I give you this challenge: encourage one person today and after that, encourage as many others as possible.  See what happens: watch the way they are changed and feel the love explosion within your own heart.   Giving life always fills you with EVEN MORE life!

So this is what I think about next week—I’m preparing for an extravagant opportunity to give love, to live love and to proclaim the amazing love of Jesus over every person in this world.  The venue is different than that of a typical day.  The area is larger than my general reach, but the end result holds the same opportunity.  My aim?  To give the hope that God has given me.

Freely I have received; freely I will give.  Sounds like a recipe for the best Christmas morning ever.