“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that can’t be shaken, let’s continue to express our gratitude. With this gratitude, let’s serve in a way that is pleasing to God with respect and awe…” (Hebrews 12:28).

Here in North Carolina, I am getting a little impatient for more fall color. Yes, a few trees have started to turn, and yes, some leaves have fallen, but I swear November last year there was a lot more going on!

I understand the idea that it is not tomorrow, nor yesterday, but this moment that is the gift it is important for me to receive. But, once in a while, I still manage to lose focus on life as it is, and all that is beautiful this day.

So, the trees—not so brilliant as they might be—tell the ongoing story of the seasons. And a few difficult hours taking care of my elderly dad—not sharing stories or sipping tea on the porch—is the present, irreplaceable gift of family. And it is this day, this moment—not my dream of travel and visiting grandchildren—where I either celebrate the ongoing gift of life or I pass by the opportunity to live in the absolute fulness of a grateful heart.

Because my understanding of, and my experience of, “Pressed down, shaken together, running over,” is only going to be as generous as the opening to my own heart. What I’m talking about is being “open-spirited.”

“Not a real word,” my editor said when I used it in a book. “Perhaps you meant open-hearted? Or open-minded?”

“Nope,” I replied, “I meant open-spirited. As in someone whose spirit is wide open, someone who has the intentional receptivity to allow God’s spirit to move in them and to learn and to grow as a person of faith.”

“All right then,” he said. “So, it’s a word now.”

“Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full; pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap,” (Luke 6:38).

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Derek Maul has written for many news outlets, including the Tampa Tribune, The United Methodist News Service, All Pro Dad, FOCUS Magazine, Newsweek, USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, Presbyterians Today, Guideposts, Chicken Soup for the Soul and many other publications. Read Derek Maul’s daily blog posts at www.derekmaul.wordpress.com.