You Won’t Know Until You Try

I’ve been writing for the last half hour. However, after reading what I wrote, I deleted every single word! I probably should have kept it. Used it for another day. I feel I have something to say but all I can think about is how nice the weather is. How I’d enjoy being home with my wife dreaming out loud about buying a little piece of property and building something. Something like a barn. Maybe getting a cow too. But I have work to do. What’s wrong with me? My wife wants to know what I’d do with a cow anyway. I’m not sure but acreage just doesn’t look complete without a small water hole, a barn and a black cow. See why I can’t write anything? I should just head back to the office.

Life is too short

Maybe this is a call to all of us to take time as often as possible to dream a little. Dream out loud. Find a place to write and write whatever comes out. Just don’t delete it like I did. LIfe is too short to get caught up in schedules we’ve created that are usually too full. Too full to dream. Too full to enjoy living. Too full to be creative. Too full to think about owning a cow. Instead we can easily turn into robots. Going through motions that eventually take us down. Exhausted. Too tired to enjoy much after 5 o’clock. Even if it makes one wealthy, what is lost getting there is much more valuable than anything we gain.

So, take time. This week. Start small. Take 30 minutes. Then an hour. Write. Dream. Take a drive. Remove one thing from your schedule. The results could be amazing. You won’t know until you try.

The Choice Is Yours

Have you made any resolutions for this year? Millions of people write down plans every January they hope to follow but statistics show that 92% don’t follow through. What does this have to do with you? Whether you’ve made your list or not, I think you’d agree it’s important to have a plan. But even with a plan, often the business of our day and unexpected circumstances can easily get us off track. It’s easy to find ourselves floundering and spinning our wheels. If you’ve been there before, you know it’s difficult to do much of anything when you’re stuck.

 Stuck never gets the same result as passion.

 So, how do you get unstuck and develop a plan? While there’s a chance I can persuade you to write out a plan, it’s not probable that one article will cause you to follow through with your new plan. However, if you were to recognize the importance of a simple plan, that’s just the start you need. So, here’s my encouragement. Take time this week to find a quiet place. Bring a pen and paper and let your thoughts run wild. What would you do if you had time? Resources? What’s one thing you’ve neglected because everything else got in the way? Write that down. Now what would it take to get there? This is a great way to get your thoughts out of your mind and down on paper. Your plans don’t have to be an over the top, blow your mind, type of plan. It can be really simple. Yet with simple still comes the need for follow through that helps plans become reality. Most often, our ideas never get off the ground and we find ourselves back in the 92% bracket. Regardless of what you write down, make finding your way to God’s presence an every day occasion. Fill your heart and mind with His word. Pray for wisdom as you follow out your plans. Choose to be one of the 8% and there’s a great chance you’ll have a great year.

Another One of Those Days

Have you ever had one of those days? You know, thinking you should be something more than you are? Or at least more than how you see yourself? Recently, I texted my wife to see how she was doing and she was having ‘one of those days’. It boiled down to her feeling like she hadn’t gotten anything accomplished all day. Does that sound familiar?

If you feel that way too, let me remind you of a few things that are often overlooked: Every book you’ve read. Every Disney movie you’ve watched 100 times. Every smile you’ve shared. Every football you’ve thrown. Every meal you’ve prepared. Every bicycle you’ve pushed. Every lunch you’ve made. Every homework assignment that left you feeling like you were back in school. Every field trip. Every school play. Every trip to the bus. Are you with me? Not to mention every text or email you’ve sent to someone who needed it. Every idea you’ve ever written down. Every door you’ve opened. Every letter you’ve written. Every time you’ve listened to someone else in need. Even on the days when you feel less than your best, you’re more than you can imagine to someone you’ve touched along the way. And, by the way, that list above barely scratches the surface.

There’s someone on the end of every one of your smiles, hugs, handclaps, encouragement, tears, emails, meals, and conversations who needs what only you can give. Go with that and you’ll be everything you need to be to everyone who comes in contact with you.

Our Eye On Home

by Kimberlee Stone

I was sitting on the front porch when Roxy and Sable started sniffin’ the air. Instantly the rain came at a downpour, even leaking through a few of the boards overhead. I scooped Roxy up and ran inside. Sable looked at me with weepy baby browns. “You’re not making me go home in this are you?” As I curled up in my favorite chair, both dogs ran circles of delight around each other that they’d found shelter from the storm. I propped the heavy front door open but kept the storm door closed so I could enjoy any outside light that snuck in.

Sable appeared right at my feet when I went to make a cup of coffee. I practically tripped over her more than once but was giddy with excitement at having a big dog in the house (note to self: begin big-puppy shopping soon). After I made my way back to my comfy spot, the dogs were ready for a nap. Roxy relaxed in her bed and Sable plopped down in front of the storm door. Thinking she wanted back out, I opened it all the way even as the rain pounded the ground. She didn’t budge. She was content as long as she could do one thing…

Keep an eye on her home.

The front of our cabin has a perfect view of the back of Sable’s house. On the typical day she saunters up a worn pathway to the front porch after her owner leaves. She spends warm afternoons lounging beside me or underneath the shade of the cedar tree. Oh, but let her hear the crunchy-crunch-crunch of her owner’s tires along the gravel and I’m all but a memory. I can’t blame her; her heart lies with her master. He provides food, a place to rest, and keeps the local coyotes from approaching. You can be sure I tempt her with treats throughout the day, but no milk bone has ever been enough to outrank the loyalty she has for her owner.

How about you? When was the last time you thought about Home? Not your pitiful earthly dwelling made from fancy stone and expensive brick; you know the Home I am speaking of. When was the last time you felt like Sable who eagerly waits and watches everyday for when her Master will return?

I’ll be honest and say that life gets in the way. Storms come over the mountain and my problem makes me take my eyes off Home. Or better yet, when circumstances begin going my way. Things I’ve prayed for appear on my doorstep. A dream comes true. I go a week without losing it in front of the kids. The bills are paid and there is money left over. The boss gives me the employee-of-the-month award and the best raise I’ve ever had—and a beautiful haze lures my eyes away from Home.

Yes, our present circumstances must be taken care of. We can’t sit on the front porch and gaze into the clouds all day. But can we afford to get so sidetracked with the hardships or beauty of life that we avert our eyes for even a second? I think not.

I urge you today to take heart—this world is not our Home. (That should be the best news you hear all day!) What about you? Are you expectantly waiting? Are you hopefully watching? Can you hear the pangs of this world that echo He could return for us any time?

You better believe that people are in the fight of their lives at this very second. I know some who are sitting in ICU right now believing for the healing of a child. I know a family warring against the terrible sickness of cancer taking their loved ones life. Someone is fighting for their marriage, someone is praying that grief doesn’t overtake them. And yet, someone has never been richer or more successful than they are today, and someone is fortunate enough to be living out their greatest dream. However, midst the trial, midst the full extent of the joy, I hope we all find the strength to be like Sable and…

Keep our eye on Home.


Division or Unity?

9:00 Traditional Service: Choir. Robes. Orchestra. Hymns. Anthems. Pulpit.
11:00 Contemporary Service: More guitars. No Choir. Fog. Cool lighting. Younger people on stage. Jeans.

Years ago I visited a church where the pastor wore a robe in the first service, a suit in the second and a casual outfit in the third. The choir sang the early service, an ensemble in the next and the stage was cleared for a band in the last service. Whew! I left wondering if that really worked or why it was necessary. In another church I noticed the pastor wore a suit and tie in all 3 blended services and there were thousands of people in attendance. Is it the look or the message? In our attempt to become everything to everyone are our choices causing division or building unity? You may have heard something like this before; “You really should go to the 11 o’clock. The worship is way better.” Or “Mostly old people go to the early service and the choir sings.” How does this unify the church? But there are others who seem quite happy with the choices.

Hear me out. I’m just asking. Recently overheard on stage: OMG we couldn’t dare be on stage without a suit and tie. They would come unglued. Who is they? I’ve also heard a few say; we won’t have a choir because that is SO old and traditional. What? Who said? Someone at a conference with a cool pair of jeans? (I like cool jeans) 🙂 Then there’s the opposite; “that” contemporary music isn’t worship. Maybe someone who refused to change anything? Come on! These ideas suggest that we have to dress a certain way or play a specific type of music to experience worship. I understand that you’re not typically going to find someone with all the Gaither homecoming video’s at a Gungor concert. But isn’t there a way to connect the two? Should we really have to split everyone up?

A few years ago a well known church tried to oust their new pastor because he decided to change the two morning services to blended rather than have a separate traditional and contemporary service. He felt by having both a traditional and contemporary service they were consciously splitting who they were with one service eventually seeming like the winner and the other the loser. Imagine an outreach to the community where music is involved. Which music team should be sent? Which pastor would you send? The one with the tie or without? By the way, you don’t suddenly become contemporary by removing your jacket and tie do you?

I recently asked this question on Facebook and Twitter. Do you think having both a traditional and contemporary service on Sunday morning builds unity or division in the church? Overall there were more than 130 responses. I was shocked by the feedback. Most people said they felt two different style services eventually causes division.

A number of people have asked where I stand on this matter. It’s tough because I’ve been to churches where this model seems to be working. Overall, I think there are creative ways to involve both traditional and contemporary styles in one service without alienating anyone. I believe that model offers opportunity to work together and also helps us become a stronger community. Anything less seems like we are more focused on ‘our feelings’ and not focused as much on being the body of Christ.

What do you think? If you’re more traditional would you be disappointed if your pastor wore a pair of jeans while he spoke? How about those of you in a contemporary service? What if this weekend during your contemporary, band driven service there was a choir? Would you be cool with that? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Does your church offer a traditional and contemporary service? Is it working well? Or, do you feel that multiple style services cause friction and/or disunity?


I’m sitting alone in the living room of our cabin surrounded by hand hewn logs, a stacked stone fireplace and our dog who has pushed her way between me and the back of the couch. It’s Thanksgiving and I’ve been considering the many things I’m thankful for. Where do I begin? Some things are the obvious: God, my wife, our children, our family, our friends. You know the normal list. But I’m thinking about a few people who aren’t always on ‘the list’.

I’m remembering my first piano teacher Marjorie Watson, who showed such love and patience and helped give me a wonderful musical foundation. Dr. Dorothy Shuford Griffith who I was privileged to have as my last teacher. She gave up so much of herself to invest in me and I’m forever thankful. In addition to my parents, she believed in me regardless. Paula Boyette for inviting Kim Crisafulli to our College & Career bible study/party. A year and 6 months later Kim Crisafulli took on Stone as her last name. I’m blessed and grateful!

Pastor Joe Wright, who I met during the summer of 1997. Thanks for finding me in the middle of 5,000 people and taking time to ask about my family. I never dreamed our conversation would change my life forever. Joanne, our tireless social worker (servant). We are so thankful for the opportunity to know you. There’s nothing like watching God’s hand move. Thanks for introducing me to a brave young teenager who had the courage to give her baby (our daughter) the chance to live and for choosing us to be parents; there are no words except thankful. Her braces came off two days ago and her smile makes my heart flutter.

To Mercy Ministries for your amazing passion to young girls and for the opportunity to be chosen by another brave and courageous young woman to be parents to a wonderful, healthy boy. It’s because of you that I drove 32 miles to pick him up from his grandma’s house last night because he was homesick. I didn’t mind.

Today will offer new opportunities for new memories. But for now I’m remembering. Have an incredible Thanksgiving and take a few moments to think about a few people who’ve been part of changing your life.




Worship Without Limits

Worship shouldn’t have limits. However, when worship is placed in a box only to be taken out for the Saturday or Sunday weekend service, worship loses its flow. Psalm 150 says, “let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” We’re also told to pray without ceasing and Psalm 34:1 says our lips and life should offer praise continually.

Continually means recurring regularly or frequent.

Not interrupted. Steady.

If we set boundaries around worship only to be visited certain times of the week, we miss out on an opportunity to experience the relationship with God we were meant to have.

Last year, I traveled to more than 20 churches and I usually ask this question; “What gets in the way of your worship?” I hear these answers: time, schedule, worry, pride, self, kids, fear, work and so many other similar reasons. It seems most of us have filled our week with so much stuff that worship has often been set aside for a one hour weekend church service. Sound familiar? I’m sure we’d agree that the sermon is important along with the music and the offering and the videos and Sunday School and children’s church and everything else church has to offer for that matter. But more important is for you and me to live out worship every day.

And that is more important than any song we can sing. Or the latest must read book. Or the latest sermon series. Or the biggest and best conference in the land.

This is really more than a blog. It’s a call to take down the fences and walls that divide and separate us from God’s presence. Let’s throw away the box and let worship roam free. That’s the way it was meant to be.

Our Story

Some years ago we found out we couldn’t have children. That was tough to hear. And living with that reality was even harder. We thought the first Laparoscopy would take care of everything. Then the second. And yet a third. Have you ever gotten your hopes up only to have them dashed like waves against a rock wall? It leaves you breathless. Unsure of how to cope or communicate. You make decisions you wouldn’t ordinarily and life feels like a fog that won’t lift. That was our world for two years.

“When are you guys going to have kids?” This was the question we heard more than too many times. Baby shower invitations were difficult to open and it wasn’t long before depression moved in like a cloud over our home. Been there? Writing about it brings up memories of great difficulty but living on this side of pain reminds me just how far God has brought us.

I traveled almost every weekend during those years which left my wife home alone. Alone, to deal with the pain. Even when I was home I wasn’t present when it came to discussing children. I can’t find any explanation why I didn’t communicate with her, but I didn’t and time dredged on. One particular weekend I was at an event when a gentleman approached me and introduced himself as Pastor Joe. He asked about my family and then the question came.

Do you all have children?

I told him we didn’t and then for some reason I told him we couldn’t have children. I didn’t mean to tell him it just sort of spilled out before I realized it. He said he was sorry and told me he and his wife had struggled with infertility year earlier but that God had blessed them with a beautiful baby girl through adoption. He told me with a smile, that they now were enjoying their grandchildren. Before he left he asked me to contact him to discuss coming to his church as music guest. Since he had never heard me sing or play, I figured it was a nice gesture and that I’d never see him again.

Six months later I contacted Pastor Joe and was invited to a 4-day conference at their church. I didn’t realize meeting him in the midst of thousands of people would be the beginning of a truly amazing story.

I arrived late on a Saturday afternoon, nervous but ready for the days ahead. Sunday morning went well and after lunch I invited some friends to the evening service. They came and brought a couple with a little baby. When I was introduced to their friends, I commented that their baby was cute. They thanked me and said they had just adopted him a couple months earlier. The next evening a gentleman purchased my CD and asked if I’d sign it. There’s a first time for everything. He gave me two names to address the CD to. I’m not sure why. but I asked him if the names he gave me were his children. With a huge smile he said, “yes, they are my adopted children.”

After a round of golf the next morning, my friends called and invited me to lunch. Their worship leader joined us and ten minutes into our conversation he asked if my wife and I had children. I told him no and he commented that he and his wife didn’t either. Finally, I had met someone who was like us. Then he said, “but we are adopting in a couple months.” What?? Unbelievable! I thought everyone in this town must be adopted. I remember most everything about that moment. The tree we parked under. The cracks in the pavement. The slightly overcast day. I don’t remember much about the food or any of the rest of our conversation. My mind was racing.

The next morning Pastor Joe picked me up for lunch. On the way, he told me about a woman who had requested prayer the night before for a young lady she was working with planning to give her child up for adoption. She was praying the child would be placed in a christian home. Pastor Joe said, “I know we haven’t talked about you and your wife’s infertility since last year but is this something you may have interest in?” I was glad I was sitting down. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I couldn’t speak for a second. I remember him saying, “are you okay?”  Finally, I told him what had been happening ever since I had arrived. He said, “Regi, did you ever stop to think that maybe God is up to something?” That’s one lunch I don’t remember and I like Chinese food. I called Pastor Joe’s assistant as soon as I returned to my hotel room. Within a few moments I was on the phone with the social worker. After a 20 minute discussion she asked if I’d like to meet the birth parents. Whew. I’d never done this before. “Yes”, I blurted out. I was leaving early the next morning so she didn’t know if it would be possible. But she called back to say we could meet that evening after the service. I couldn’t tell you anything about that final worship service except that immediately after the final prayer we were walking out the door. My heart started beating faster. I felt like I needed to let down a window.

And then we were in the parking lot. Waiting.

As we sat in the parking lot, I could hear my heart pounding against my chest. My mind was racing. I wondered if I’d be cool enough. I was afraid my accomplishments wouldn’t measure up. I felt inadequate. Then a car pulled up 3 spaces over. A young couple appeared. Hesitant. Half smiles. With obvious apprehension. Table for 4 please. And there we were face to face sipping our cold soda’s when the birth mom quietly brought out a small pad of paper and pen and started asking questions. I answered until she seemed satisfied. The birth father hadn’t said 2 words. So, I asked him what he enjoyed doing. He shrugged and said he liked to bowl. Funny, God has a sense of humor. At that time I was in two bowling leagues. And, of course, that sparked an instant connection. Bowlers unite! Writing about this feels like it all happened yesterday.

After about an hour we said our goodbyes and I joined Pastor Joe and his family for dinner. He asked if he could pray for God’s will and we did. If you would have known me during this time of my life, you would understand just how unusual this story is. I didn’t talk much about having children. This left my wife reeling with frustration and the pain of not having me there, willing to communicate during our journey with infertility.

The next morning came early. Pastor Joe picked me up for the airport and just as I got in the car he said I needed to contact the social worker right away. I called and she informed me that if I wasn’t serious about adoption that I needed to tell her because the birth parents had called saying they wanted more information about our family. Whew! I figured now was probably a good time to call my wife back in Nashville to tell her what was up.

When Kim answered the phone I said, “you’re never going to believe what I did last night.”

I was home within a few hours after our talk and we started collecting pictures and we videoed Kim saying hi to the birth parents. We sent everything Fed-Ex and waited. I had no idea that Kim had slipped a letter in with the package to the birth mom.  Here’s part of that letter.

I can’t imagine what you are feeling as you are preparing to make one of the greatest decisions of your life. When Regi told me we were going to be among those considered to be your little girl’s parents, I cried and cried and cried. I never dreamed it could happen. But I realize how hopeful our future is and how God can work miracles in very mysterious ways. Please know above all that whether or not you choose Regi and me, it is my hope that you find peace in your choice of parents and that you gain the wisdom needed to make this decision. However, If we are your choice, you can be assured every night before you go to sleep that your baby will be loved unconditionally. My arms have longed to be filled with a baby for so long that I don’t know if I would ever let go of her. We are truly honored that you’ve even considered us. You have given me yet another moment’s strength and another day’s hope. May your years be filled with peace, love and happiness.”

The next few days seemed like forever.

The rest of our story is written by Kimberlee.

The phone call from Regi came out of nowhere. I was in the bathroom putting make-up on to go to my job selling make-up. Life was miserable. And I sure didn’t want to hear my cheery husband calling from an exotic location where he’d probably ordered room service the night before while I ate a bologna sandwich. (Okay, so Kansas isn’t exactly exotic, but at the time, anywhere was better than the hole I was in.)

To top things off, he called with a story about a baby. The last thing this woman dealing with infertility wanted to hear was about some rosy-cheeked baby he held between services so I tuned him out. I don’t know at what point I started listening, but I remember sitting down as my freshly applied mascara turned into big black tears. As if God were whispering in my ear, I suddenly knew this baby girl would be ours.

Two years earlier, my doctor confirmed my suspicions of infertility. So after many tests, my last option was outpatient surgery. All I remember as I lay in the recovery room is Regi telling me that it would be nearly impossible for me to have a baby. Instantly everything became clear. God had kept a record of my sins. Every scripture I’d ever highlighted in bright yellow had been a big lie. Too angry to cry all my tears, I determined that when the Big Guy and I got alone, we’d have it out once and for all.

You know that feeling you get when your electricity goes out on a night when the moon is hidden by clouds? That’s what the next two years were for me. Anger. Tears. Guilt. More tears. Ugly, ugly night. Eventually I would learn that the darkness has to come in order to give way to the light. It was during this time that I found my way to a 13-week Bible study and embarked on a journey of learning about God in a whole new way. A funny thing happened when I got honest with myself and God—my heart began to heal. Finally, two years later, I began letting go of things that I had no right to carry.

And the lights came back on.

I stood firm in my faith and acceptance of God’s love for me just the way I was. I found scripture I never knew existed. And I wrote through the pain. Before long, it was the beginning of a new year and I believed in my heart that I would become a mom this year, that my body would be healed this year. The days came and went, with nothing. Again I questioned…Are you there, God? It’s me, Kim.” I even tried to take back all the anger and guilt I had given Him, but He couldn’t remember where He put it! Helpless, I looked up and said, “What are you gonna do? Drop a baby out of Heaven into my arms?”

I guess you could say that’s what He had in mind.

Upon returning from Kansas, the man who had never even discussed adoption with me could hardly be contained. We wrote some letters, scrounged up the best pictures of family we could find, and took pictures of an empty room that we hoped would be filled, before sealing our dreams in a FedEx envelope. We waited for one very long week until the phone rang at 11:00 p.m. on April 15th. Thankfully, it wasn’t the IRS.

It was JoAnn, an angel from heaven in the form of a social worker. She told Regi, “Before you go to sleep tonight think pink. You’re going to be a father.” She said something to me next but all I remember is hearing the word “Mommy” and then crying. This time, the tears didn’t hurt.

We headed to Kansas on July 4th and by the next day we were at the hospital awaiting our precious daughter to be born. It seems crazy that we shared so much laughter and excitement with the birth parents and their siblings, parents, friends, and my sister who flew in from Florida. But it was like a puzzle taking shape before our eyes. No fear. No doubts. No anxiety. Just peace as the pieces began to take shape.

When my baby girl was placed into my arms for the first time, it was like the hand of God was handing her to me. She looked at me and all I heard God say was, “See how much I love you? You had to wait because your gift wasn’t ready. I’ve never left you. I’ve never turned a deaf ear to you. And I haven’t punished you like you thought you deserved. Don’t ever forget how much I love you.”

I assure you that the road to Kansas and finding my way to being a mom was a difficult one. I felt so forgotten, so unloved, and so disgusted with myself that I didn’t think there was any hope for my dreams to come true. I know now that the path God carves for us in the mud sometimes takes a completely different route than we imagined. You can’t be afraid to trust where He leads just because you might get a little dirty. Do you need to hear from Him? Then search for Him with your whole heart. I remember praying that someone would come my way who could help me through my depression, who I could talk to when the pain got unbearable, who would simply understand me. Know what I heard God say? “I’m not sending anyone to help. This is about you and Me.” And it was in His true faithfulness that God met me, at my lowest pit and changed my life for good. Oh, I’m grateful for the children that call me Mom. I’m grateful for my husband who obediently went to Kansas because he thought he was there to sing a few songs. I’m eternally grateful for the brave girls who chose life and gave us the privilege of becoming parents.

But more than that, I am forever grateful to a merciful Father who loves me. Who works all things together for my good. Who never leaves me or forsakes me, and who doesn’t deal with me according to my sin or repay me according to my iniquities.

He has written a story we’ll never get tired of telling.

I Don’t Go To Church To Worship

‘I go to church to worship’ is a statement most of us have said or would agree with. However, when we go to church to worship, our experience often depends on the song choices, the ambience, the volume, whether the pastor is there, or some other expectation we have. Have you ever been to the mall just because? If so, you’ve probably bought something you didn’t need and felt like you wasted your time and money. However, if you’ve ever been to the mall to purchase a pair of tennis shoes or a belt your experience is probably much different, right? You know which store or few stores you’re going to visit and you probably already have a price in mind. The difference is focus.

Through the years, as I’ve attended church to worship I often left feeling like I hadn’t really worshiped. My mind was some place else. My heart just wasn’t in it. The songs had too many words. I was coming off a busy week. The pastor was out of town. You get the point!

However, as I’ve learned more about becoming a daily worshiper, my experience with church has changed.  Becoming a daily worshiper brings focus. Becoming a daily worshiper means I walk in church wanting more of Jesus. That means the songs don’t all have to be on my top ten favorites list. The senior pastor could be on Sabbatical and that’s okay. Worship is my responsibility and privilege every day. So I decided!

I’m not going to church to worship anymore!

Now I go to church with worship instead of to worship. This simple principle has allowed me a greater opportunity to experience God’s powerful presence rather than expecting a song or someone to do something extraordinary for me to find my way to worship.

If you want church to become more than a place you visit once a week to worship, try practicing worship throughout your week. Allow it to become part your every day. You may find, like me, that you’ll start going to church with worship and that will change church forever.

What are some ways you’ve found to worship throughout your week?

Holy Rain

Growing up in the South, we always referred to a slow rain as a sprinkling. Others called it a mist or a drizzle. Whatever you call it, it gets everything wet. If you watch the grass or a bed of flowers during a sprinkling, it seems like the flowers take on a different personality. And the grass seems to spring to attention as if the rain has somehow caused it to realize its full potential.

I love the rain. I love to listen to the rain.

When I was eight years old my grandparents lived in an old farm house surrounded by pecan trees and gnats. There were many afternoons when the sky produced clouds and an afternoon shower. After a shower the evening became muggy or cool, depending on the time of year. But one thing was certain at any time of year: the rain changed everything. There was nothing quite like sitting on my grandparents’ front porch in their old gray wooden swing, listening as the rain poured onto the tin roof. Years later, I still enjoy a good rain. Not the kind that comes with harsh winds, thunder, and lightning, but the gentle kind: sprinklings, afternoon showers.

Sometimes I experience an altogether different kind of rain. I can’t see it. I can’t touch it. I can’t smell it. But I can feel it. It permeates every nook and cranny of my being. I call it a holy rain. I don’t know why, really. I guess because the same God who causes the rain outside to fall also has something to do with this rain as well, and it feels very similar.

Have you ever been in the middle of a bad or difficult situation where you didn’t know what to do but then you felt calm around you? Have you ever experienced peace when your mind was in turmoil? I have, and it’s really much like the rain in a way. If you imagine peace falling just like the rain, all around, soaking your entire being, bringing gentle comfort and unexplainable peace, that’s the rain I’m talking about.

Growing up I used to hear people talk about God being right beside us. I wasn’t really sure what that meant. Fortunately, my four-year-old son seems to grasp it better than I did. My wife recently told him that God is everywhere. The other night he had her look under the bed to see if God was there. He was so certain that God was there that he expected my wife to find Him under the bed or behind the door.

Many religious groups have their gods in clear sight so they can touch and see them. But we pray to and worship one who we can’t see. We know, however, that when we pray or worship God, He smiles. There’s also a little scripture well hidden in Zephaniah 3:17 that says God rejoices over us with singing. That’s powerful. No other god makes that claim. The reality is He is always near us, longing for our conversation and worship. We need to have the ability, like my son, to feel certain at all times that God is right beside us.

When it rains these days I can’t help thinking that God is blessing the earth so that it may flourish. That is exactly what He does in our lives. He rains down grace, mercy, faithfulness, healing, or whatever blessing He sees that we need. He is a gracious God who loves us more than we could ever imagine. Regardless of the circumstance, time of day or year, there is always something to give God thanks and praise for. And it’s that belief, that awareness of His really being there, just as real as the rain, that allows His holy rain to soak our lives, helping us to reach our full potential.

Have you ever felt God’s presence fall like rain?