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finding meaning in the mundane

SNOW: Why I’m begging for more

Living just outside of New York City means that when Old Man Winter rolls in we have the opportunity for snow from time to time.  So far the 2015 version of himsel hasn’t been too bad.  We narrowly missed the #Snowpocalypse of 2015 which have led many to call it #Snowgate 2015.  We may not have gotten three feet, but we did end up with somewhere between 6-9 inches.  And people bought a ton of eggs, bread and milk!  I guess our region will be having an awful lot of french toast this winter.

The kids absolutely loved sledding, building snow forts, avoiding yellow snow, throwing snow balls, and everything else that kids do in snow.  I loved the snow too–but for different reasons.  I loved the snow because I’m a visual guy.  I need to see something, and the snow is one of God’s incredible gifts to us.  Yeah, I said it.

The Snow is one of God’s gifts to us.

Here’s why… Psalm 51:7 says,

Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Snow covers over everything.

Few things are exempt from it’s cloaking power.  With every flake that falls, the canvas grows whiter and whiter.  Everything looks fresh and clean after a good snowfall.  It covers all the ugliness left behind by fall.  All the decaying things and all the brittle brokenness of this world.  It reminds me of how God has “covered” my sins because of what Jesus did on the cross.  How Jesus forgave the ugliness, brokeness and sin in my life so that I can know God and be in His presence.  The fact that Jesus was willing to pay the penalty for what I rightly deserved is something that I can never forget.

Snow

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Snow reflects the light.

A fresh blanket of snow in the afternoon sun can blind just about anyone.  Especially after you’ve come out of the drab interior of your winter hibernation.  Your eyes can barely contain all of the light that is bouncing around off of every snowflake.  It reminds me of how we have been set in this world to reflect the Light of the world–Jesus.  God’s forgiveness washes us white as snow and makes it so that we can shine brightly in this world!

I’m a summer kind of guy, I can’t wait to be sitting on the beach with sand in my toes…  but everynow and then boots in the snow are good too!

~Peter

And just for fun, here are my crazy kids out in the snow!

Snow

Noah

Snow Cover

Grace

Snow

Leah

 

My 2015 Goals

I’ve been chatting a lot on social media about goals this past week.  It’s still the beginning of the year, which means that there is still a lot of energy being applied to meeting the goals we’ve made.  This is good! We should keep pressing towards our goals.  I wrote about why I’ve given up on resolutions and switched to goals over here.  Read that for the back story…

Goals are the type of thing that if you miss the mark, you just do a little mid-course correction.  I have a friend who has a great saying in life…  “Just monitor and adjust”.  That’s the way that goals are.  If you mess up by say driving through Chick-Fil-A and ordering a deluxe chicken sandwhich with a large lemonade, and a large fry, there is always a fresh start, and a chance to continue eating healthy.  Not that that happened…

This past week I instagramed a few pics as I’m taking steps towards my #2015Goals.

#2015Goals

IMG_6397 IMG_6398

Funny thing is, you may not understand just how risky those pictures are in my world.  But they are a big part of achieving my goals for 2015.  More on that later…

Here’s my #2015Goals…

  1. Be healthier: Mentally, Physically, & Spiritually.  This one probably doesn’t need a lot of explanation.  At the end of the year I want to be in better physical shape than when I started the year.  Unfortunately, that won’t be too hard for me.  Mentally, I want to focus on being positive and less stressed this next year.  Spiritually I want to follow Jesus more and more each and every day.  I want to love Jesus more this time next year than I do right now.  I want to be increasingly more faithful to what He’s called me to throughout this year.
  2. Read through the New Testament.  I love the New Testament.  God has been writing a story from Genesis to Revelation, but I love that as the Church we find ourselves in the New Testament, and I want to be more and more familiar with it.
  3. Risk more.  Sometimes it becomes so easy to live a safe life.  A life that has goals so low that it would be impossible to miss them.  It is easy to say “No” to dreams and visions you have simply because they could cost something.   These types of goals could hurt a bit, or make you uncomfortable.  Maybe I’ll get made fun of by friends, or colleagues.  Or what will my family think?  I’ve been cooking up some ideas, some things that I want to do, but they seem risky to me.  Well, this is the year that I’m going to have courage and RISK MORE!
  4. Memorize 20 verses.  I want to have scripture constantly on my mind, and in my heart.  I always admired my dad faithfully taking out his verse cards and setting those verses to memory.  I want more of that!
  5. Consistently blog and thoughtfully express content.  I know that I’m healthiest when I am taking things in and also putting things out.  What I mean is, I love to read, but I also love to write, speak, teach, etc.  So, this certainly helps me with my first goal of being healthier.  And I’d love to have your help with this one.  What are some things that you think I should write/talk about?

So what about you?  What are you shooting for this year?  What are your #2015goals?  Drop them in a comment, share them on instagram/facebook/twitter, and use the hashtag #2015goals.  I’d love to hear what you are focused on this year.

~Peter

 

How Deep the Father’s Love For Us

In the near passing of Mr. Bear, I realized just how much I love my kids.  And that silly old bear reminded me just how much God loves me.  Click here to read more about that.  So, that has been on my mind a lot lately.  I am overwhelmed by how much God loves me.

God's loveWhile making the drive from Scotch Plains to Nutley, I love to fire up my itunes radio and listen to the Kings Kaleidescope station.  And the song “How deep the Father’s Love For Us” came on.  It reminded me all over again of what I was already thinking about.  So, I couldn’t help share this great song with you.  This was written by a song writer, Stuart Townend who was setting these deep truths into song.  Soak in the depth of these words,

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

That is incredible… God’s love is so big, so strong, so unending,and such an overwhelming force that He would give up His only son, Jesus, so that He could have me.  He did this even in the midst of my brokenness, my sin stained life.  In the mess of all my ugliness God took what was beautiful, and perfect, and dashed it on the cross in order to put me back together and bring me to Himself.  That is a ridiculous amount of love!  To much to begin to understand.

He goes on to write verse 3,

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Every good in me, has been found in every horrible thing that was done to Him.  What can I boast in that doesn’t originate in all that God has done for me through Jesus on the cross?  Is it my marriage?  My kids? My job?  My family?  My home?  What is it?  All of those things point back to what Jesus did on the cross.  Because without Jesus, I would be an uglier, messier, sinner than I already am.  That’s a scary thought!  Townend’s words ring true in my life, “But this I know with all my heart, His wounds have paid my ransom.”  And I am so grateful…

~Peter

Here’s one of my favorite versions of this song… And remember just how deeply God loves you.

The Passing of Mr. Bear

Love from our heavenly FatherMr. Bear, a.k.a. MaBear, a.k.a. Crusty Bear, a.k.a. Crunchy Bear, is my youngest daughters absolute favorite stuffed animal.  This past weekend my wife Tiffany headed off with a friend to the Whatever Craft Weekend leaving me home with our three kids.  My goal this weekend was to brush their hair, make sure their teeth were perfectly clean, and that they house never once got messy.  My goal this weekend was to have an absolute blast with the kids.  I was determined to have the kids brag to their mom when she came home about me.  I was on my way to accomplishing that, until I found out that Mr. Bear was possibly gone forever.  I took the kids to see Paddington that night and I’m pretty sure that Mr. Bear came too.   While tucking Leah into bed she said to me,

“Dad, I need my Crunchy Bear before I go to sleep.”

And all of a sudden, that’s when I realized, Mr. Bear was no where to be found.

UGH.  What in the world was I going to do?  I panicked.  I ran to the car to find he wasn’t there.  I searched under every cushion, and shook out every blanket on the couch–he wasn’t there either.  I called the movie theater and left three voicemails just in case they didn’t hear my number the first time.  I called the movie theater until someone finally picked up.

“Yes, hello.  I have a bit of an emergency.  Mr. Bear is gone.  I was in theater 3, seated in row H, seats 1,2,3,4.  Did anyone find a tan bear, he responds to Mr. Bear, Ma Bear, Crunchy Bear, and Crusty Bear.”

Okay, so I left off the “responds to bit”.  But calling the movie theater was my final straw.

“Sorry sir, all I’ve got here is a my little pony.”

My heart sank into my toes.  How was I going to look in my little girls eyes and tell her that her bear was gone?  My heart was broken for her.  I didn’t even want to tell my wife about it when she checked in with me that night.  It was all too much for me.

But then I remembered—the kids had been playing in the basement.  I flew down the steps and scanned the room to find Mr. Bear sitting up with his well worn, well loved neck flopped over still sipping on tea, just as he was earlier that day.

God's LoveI sat on the couch that night thinking about how a stuffed bear caused me so much emotional heartache, and how this small cotton creature was able to captivate so much of my time.  It reminded me of how my love for my daughter, and for each of my kids, is so strong that it would cause me to tear apart my house for a small stuffed animal.  It reminded me of how much I love being a dad, and what a privilege it is to hold these kids hearts in my hands.  It reminded me of how the smallest things often matter the most.

But I went to bed that night thinking about how much my Father in heaven loves me.  If I love my kids that much, it is unimaginable for me to think about how much God loves me, and them!  I thought of this verse,

You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead?  Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not!  So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

Matthew 7:9-11

If God loves me more than I love my kids, than that is pretty incredible.  And the same goes for you!  You are loved by God more than you’ll ever know and He delights in providing even the smallest things for you.  Sometimes it’s the small things that count far more than the big ones.  And don’t you forget it.

~Peter

Why I’ve given up on New Years Resolutions

New Years ResolutionsIt’s 2015.  How’s it going?  Let’s have a quick check-in…  How are those resolutions that you made just a few days ago? I’ll tell you what, it’s tough isn’t it?  Here we are less than a month in, and it seems like they are already slipping too far out of sight.  I bet by now that you’ve eaten someting you resolved you wouldn’t, called someone you said you were done with, or you choose your couch over the treadmill.

I don’t do resolutions.  In fact, I’m done with resolutions.  They alwasy feel like I’m trying to boil the ocean.  Someone once told me that we shouldn’t try to boil the ocean, it will never happen.  So, I’ve given up trying.  I’ve given up because I hate the way that it makes me feel when I fail.  I’m pretty sure that I have failed nearly every resolution that I have ever made.

That’s because I’m a broken, imperfect, flawed, human.  I am trying to figure out how to go through life and become all that God desires for me to be.  I’m trying to find my way, and help others.  My guess is that you are very similar to me.  Our stories are similar…

Eventually we burn out at the gym.

Eventually we stop eating paleo, vegan, natural, clean, or whatever variety of eating is the current rage.

Eventually we go back to whatever makes us feel good even though it hurts us.

Eventually we go back, we give up, we give in.

And that is why I’m so thankful for grace!  Grace is the unmerited, unearned favor of God.  The beginning of the year always reminds me of my need for grace and my constant struggle against grace.  I’m reminded of my need for grace because of all of the times that I fail my resolutions.  But I am also reminded of my struggle against accepting grace because my resolutions make it seem like I can accomplish something on my own.  If I check off all the boxes on my list, I will be successful and happy.  It makes me feel like it’s possible to be a self made man.

That’s why I gave up on resolutions.

But I haven’t given up entirely, just on resolutions.  In the beginning of the year I set goals, not resolutions.  Goals allow breathing room for grace to squeeze in.  I’ll share my goals with you later, but for now, how’s it going?  Just remember, you are human, and you are going to make mistakes, and slip up.  Don’t worry.  There’s grace for that.

~Peter

 

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