Birthday Gifts

Usually on my birthday, I just write in my journal. I usually stay up late until the clock hits midnight and I turn another year older. Then I put the pen to the paper and start writing. I’ll write a reflection on the year, the highs and the lows and the lessons from God woven into my story. As I tried to do that today, I was overwhelmed.

It hasn’t been a year that can be summarized on a couple pages of my journal. It hasn’t been a year that could even be wrapped up by the eighty some blogs I’ve posted. I can’t look back on the year and come up with three main points, type them down, and put on bow on it. 365 dollars can’t even buy your textbooks for a semester. 365 text messages barely gets you through week. But give God 365 days and He’ll turn your whole world upside down in the best way possible.

All I can really think about when I look back on the year is that God has been  really really good to me. He’s been good to me circumstantially. I’ve got an awesome family and wonderful friends, old and new. I went from an incredible learning environment in Ames, Iowa to another phenomenal learning environment in Waco, Texas. All of my physical needs were met with abundance.

But if my list ended there, I wouldn’t be content. I probably wouldn’t even be happy. Because my contentment doesn’t come from the list of things above. My contentment comes from the God above. And today at nineteen, looking back, the good news, that this all-powerful and all-good God loves not just me but this whole world enough to die for the darkness and crap and sin this world and myself contain, and that through the truth of Jesus’ resurrection and the fruit of the Spirit we are changed and transformed and renewed, has never been more real.

He gave me so many opportunities to proclaim that this year. He gave me such an awesome storyline to live. My prayer is for more opportunities to shout about His love and grace and justice in the next year as I begrudgingly leave my teens and have to start acting like more of a grown-up.

If you’re a Christian, the greatest gift you could give me for my birthday is to share the good news of Jesus with your friends. Send them an e-mail to set up a coffee date. Text them a verse that’s been on your heart. Invite them to church next Sunday. Maybe repost this blog for a start.

If you think that the Gospel sounds about as real as the tooth fairy, I’d love to have a dialogue about faith and I’d love to hear what you believe. E-mail or facebook or text message me. Share what you believe and then maybe ask why I think Jesus is worth writing about and living for. Tell about the god that you believe in. Or maybe tell me about the God you don’t believe in; I probably don’t believe in that god either. Open your mind to the possibility that this could be true. Because if it is, it’ll change everything. He will change everything.

Birthday dinners and intentional living

One of my favorite Greenwald family traditions takes place on family birthdays. We all go around the table and say something that we like about the birthday person. We usually make it around four or five times until we run out of adjectives. What I love about that activity is that it is intentional. We don’t just get together around the table and talk about how the vikings lost in overtime or whether our spring breaks line up this year. We  go around in a real orderly fashion and very intentionally communicate directly to the birthday person that they are not only loved but they are liked.

Anyways, last night one of my best friends down here had a birthday. After the Baylor Bears sloppy victory, we went to Cheddar’s and celebrated. It has became really apparent in a month down here that close friendships don’t just happen. Getting to know people takes intentional conversation and it’s easy to never move past small talk. So right after we order, I bring up the Greenwald tradition and ask if everyone wanted to go around and say what they liked about Jared.

The first person to go said that they liked that Jared was from Minnesota, since they were also from Minnesota. I’m in my seat thinking maybe it was too soon to play this game and we should wait for the March or April birthdays to bring it back out. But the next person said something that describes Jared to a T. She said that likes how Jared is intentional. And he is. He’s one of those guys who asks how your day was and really wants to know the answer. He’s the one always taking the conversation deeper, listening more than he talks, and sharing what’s on his heart with ease and comfortability. We went around the table a couple times and it was good and it was intentional and it was much better than talking about how awful the Baylor defense looked last night.

But intentional isn’t just something we have to be in conversations and relationships. It’s something that needs to permeate our whole lives. The hardest adjustment to college has been the lack of structure. There is nothing, other than that stupid Baylor attendance policy, keeping me from doing nothing all day. So it’s on my shoulders. Am I going to wake up at 8 or 10?  Should I do that study guide? Am I going to get that blog up or not? The bigger question is if I’m going to live intentionally or not.

I was on a buddies porch the other night listening to some sophomores talk about their freshman year. One was sharing about his spring semester. It was “frat season,” the weather was nice, and not much was on his plate. What was interesting was that he described this time as awful. He said that there was such a lack of intentionality, of real conversations and accountability and responsibilities that it was awful. He came back this semester determined to live differently, and the difference is night and day. Intentionality changes everything.

Join me this week in living intentionally. Let’s see every minute of every activity and every word of every conversation as a gift. Let’s set our alarm clocks and move the snooze button out of reach. Let’s make our days count.

The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied. Proverbs 13:4