how to love your actual life — the one you are actually living right now

 You know, sitting here with our newest little addition to our family, I’m realizing that it was about five years ago,  I exchanged a few emails with a pregnant mama from Denver who was waiting on her fourth child to arrive. Love this woman — because this mama has explored how to manage life at its frantic pace with her daughters in tow without missing the miracles all around her. She has intentionally stopped, in order to fully see. It hasn’t always been that way for Alexandra Kuykendall, but her new book Loving My Actual Life: An Experiment in Relishing What’s Right in Front of Me recounts how she has focused on today’s grace in order to not miss out on the life God has for her. This is not a journey of perfection, but of a fellow stumbler whose hope is to fall in the direction of Christ as often as possible. Sitting here with our littlest girl, welcoming Alexandra to the front porch today….

guest post by Alexandra Kuykendall

“M

om, can I have a play date at Daisy’s house?”

I was on the school playground to pick Genevieve up from school and she wanted instead to go home with her friend.

Well this was a waste of time I thought. 

Why did I drag two littles into the car, drive down here, now with half an hour to waste before needing to go pick up Gabi from practice after school, when I could have been at home attending to the 3,251 things that needed to get done?!

There is not enough time for me to waste like this!

Frustration easily mounts in my head.

And then Heather came and sat down next me and I relaxed a bit. I hadn’t seen my friend in a while.

My sweet friend who is parenting alone since her husband Jon died two and a half years ago. Heather, who I always want to encourage, always want to hang out with, and never seem to have enough time to make my intentions reality.

“I went to grief counseling today.” We sat down right where we were, on the edge of a concrete planter, and made space for the updates and the hugs while our kids circled around us.

The “I’m hungry”s and “Can we go?”s beckoned us to get up and move, but this time together was so rare, we blocked out the whining and focused on each other.

As I drove to the middle school, the next stop in my afternoon’s route, I thought not a waste of time at all.

There is something about being open to the person God puts in front of us, and putting our own agenda’s aside.

I still needed to leave to pick up Gabi at a certain time, but I could fully use those few minutes by sitting with my friend and listening.

In fact Jon, Heather’s husband, is a great reminder to me that people are my priority because every single day really is a gift.

It can be so cliché this thought of seize the moment, but when you are with a friend who would love to capture some of the moments back, to go back in time to be with someone who is no longer here, the glaring truth that life is fleeting is unmistakable.

All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel!

He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, He brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times —

so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.  ~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (The Msg)

I will never be able to give Heather what she truly wants, her husband back. But I can offer my prayers on her behalf, trusting God to meet her with what she needs.

I ask myself: What can I do in this moment that will make a difference? What can I offer her with what I have right now?

My truest calling as a follower of Jesus is to love God fully and others fully. How much more to show that than giving them my full attention when present with them?

Because this is the place where our lives and God’s purposes intersect.

This one life we’ve been given. How will we use it today?

It doesn’t have to be with thousands of “followers”; it has to be right here in our core.

With our Creator hearing our prayers, knowing our heart churnings, feeling our feelings right along with us.

It is here in our innermost places that we relish that we are made as image bearers and we live out of that creative genius. It is here that we make our mark on the world— one conversation, one help, one prayer at a time.

There is no show here. Just an earnest desire to be my best and live my best so God will say I used this one life well.

Loving My Actual Life. Loving. Really loving it? I think I do. And yet there are a million distractions from the goodness.

My life. Not her life. Or your life. But mine.

Circumstances and details that have been assigned to me by chance, by choice on my part or others’, by God’s design.

Sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish between those, but it really doesn’t matter. It’s the only life I have and I’m the only one who can claim it as my own

It’s a coming to terms with and embracing.

Actual. Not virtual.

Not imagined. Not dreamed of.

The circumstances or details are not as I would wish or design if I were in charge.

But that’s part of the exercise, right? The loving within what is, rather than what I wish would be.

So I look at them honestly, these parts that make up my every day, and I am grateful for the good. And I even work to be grateful for the difficult because I know, though painful, it can shape me for the better. So in all things I give thanks.

Life. That breathing, pulsing, beating portion of time that I am here.

Because I guess that is what defines a life in part, the time you are here and what happens in it.

And Jesus who says He is “the life” beckons me to come to Him for more. Because just as He says He is the life, He says, “Come.”

All you tired, overwhelmed people, come and I will give you rest.

So yes, I want to love these days, hours, minutes I have here and I want to draw closer to the One who breathes life in.

Because I want to know I’ve done my best with this one life when I pass from it to the next.

 

From church basements to the set of Good Morning America, in writing and in speaking, Alexandra Kuykendall offers women grounded perspective on how to approach the “crazy busy” in front of them.  She is also the author of The Artist’s Daughter: A Memoir.

Her words today are from her newly released book, Loving My Actual Life: An Experiment in Relishing What’s Right in Front of MeThis newest book’s entertaining, poignant recount of Alex’s nine-month experiment to love the ordinary moments of her life is a reminder to us all that our fresh start can begin today. Through her signature transparent storytelling, join her as she tackles everything from her family’s morning routine to adding adventure back in to her daily grind.

This is a book for any woman that has found herself wishing for more satisfaction in the here and now, for finding God in her actual life. Essentially — a book for all of us.

[ Our humble thanks to Baker Publishing for their partnership in today’s devotion ]

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