To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. 
~ Ecclesiastes 3:1

So, yesterday a small group of women assembled in our home to begin a five-week Bible study of sorts. We will be taking a journey with Ann Voskamp ~ the journey toward living a more grateful life, as we capture and count God’s gifts moment by moment. 

After grabbing some coffee and chatting for a few minutes, the seven of us sat down together as a group for the first time. 

Some of us know each other, some don’t. So, as a get-to-know-you type exercise, we each set about introducing ourselves. 

But not in the usual way. 

First, we did a little math and subtracted 10 years off our ages. Sweet! Everyone was excited about that. Then we took turns telling about our lives as if we were back in that time and place a decade earlier. 

Several of us lived in different homes and one even lived in a different country. Most of us had kids at home, but one was actually living as a “kid” again herself, under her mother’s roof as she returned to school to pursue a second career. 

Many tales brought laughter, like the one when a woman told of her mom’s funeral and near mistake on the music CD brought to the service. Intending to bring her mother’s favorite artist, Elvis, singing “How Great Thou Art,” the wrong CD was grabbed, and as they placed it in the player in the car on the way to the chapel, out blasted the Bee Gees singing, “Staying alive, staying alive!!!!”

We all laughed heartily! I pictured her mother jumping out of the open casket and starting to dance and sing along. 

In addition to the laughter, there were some tears. Like the mom sitting next to me, who reminisced about how young her now grown children had been and the sweetness of that stage of their lives. This year she knows at least two will leave the nest to launch into their adult futures, and she misses them already.

After stepping out of the time machine, we also introduced ourselves as the women we are today, along with the relationships and circumstances that enrich (and sometimes complicate) our daily living.

Finally, we reflected on the gifts from God we had witnessed over the course of those ten years. Troubled youth had grown to mature young adults, marriages had become stronger. A new marriage had blessed one of the ladies. And of course, the grandkids! Lots of love and joy experienced and expressed around our little circle.

Something I’d planned to be a 15-minute activity ended up consuming an hour. What a rich hour it was! And how it gave each of us insight into each others' hearts and lives, a depth of understanding we would have missed without the time travel reflection.

It also gave us perspective ~ a witness of God’s faithfulness over time and circumstances. 

I’m so thankful for this new group He’s brought together. I can’t help but wonder where He’ll take each of us over the next ten years. Will we still be hanging out in my family room sharing our lives with each other? And wouldn’t that be a kick? 

Already I know the first gift I’m writing down on my new gratitude list ~ these funny, tender, very special ladies and the journey we’ll share ahead.

Dear Lord,
Ten years can fly by so quickly. But those years are comprised of a myriad of gifts You want me to recognize and receive. They are found in the moments when I stop and really see. Moments that bring me joy and tears and new challenges. Help me not live them in a vacuum, hurrying toward each tomorrow without savoring the todays. Help me see each gift and take the time to say thanks.