I found out a friend just landed a book project.  I’m happy for her.  But I also hate her a little.  She’s worked hard for it, putting in the time and work and persistence.  I’ve been busy changing sheets and cleaning crayon-ed walls and adopting a kid. I haven’t had much time to write.

And today I’m sad I don’t have a book contract.  Today I’m sad I don’t have deadlines and revisions and advances.  Instead I have fitness classes I don’t know how to teach and a 6 year-old I’m about to lose to first grade.

If I’m honest, I’ve occasionally thought about what I could do if I had a different life.  I could drink Pearl lattes and write for hours a day.  I could move back to Boulder and hike for inspiration.  I could spend a month in Maui avoiding the nudists and sharks and trying to form my own voice in a loud and vibrant creation.

One of my best pals was recently looking to move to San Francisco.  She spent hours on my couch looking for decently priced apartments.  Because of her slightly decrepit one-eyed dog, she couldn’t find an affordable place.  So, she began looking for an apartment for those in the petless population.  The prices were amazing, the locations were better and the carpet didn’t smell like crap.

And she sat in my living room more discouraged than ever.

If you have a dog—even an old, one-eyed dog, don’t look at apartments that don’t allow pets.

If you want to breed discontent, think about what you could do if your circumstances were different.  If you want to be unhappy, compare your life with someone else’s.  Look at houses outside of your price range.  Spend too much time thinking about what you could do if you had money to build an orphanage or the stamina to run a marathon.

Or, deal with the fact that you’re a crazy cat lady and stop looking at apartments that require pet-free living.

By all means, we need to keep dreaming.  But don’t let your dreams exclude what’s already on your plate.  The life of internet perfection is appealing.  But I already have the gift of today staring me in the face, asking me to frame my dreams within reality.  Life is not in the next phase—life is today.  And there’s a constant invitation to embrace what we can do instead of resenting our present situation.

Maybe my limitations can give me freedom.

Maybe I can learn to swim even if it’s in smaller waters.

A full life doesn't mean living my ideals-- a full life means I don't let my longings kill the joys of today.

The apostle Paul said he’s figured out how to be content no matter what—in pain, in ease, in hunger and in plenty.  There’s a God who says the Kingdom isn’t just coming—it’s now.  And God hasn’t waited for perfect circumstances to show himself or transform lives.

We can do anything because of the Life in us.

The activity of God doesn’t hinge on our circumstances—the sky is the limit, even if we’re bedridden and alone.  Even if we’re depressed, jobless, dealing with disobedient kids or waiting for a book contract.

Maybe I’ve been wrong to wait for a shift in my externals.  Instead, I should pay attention to the places around me where sparks are already ignited.  How can I be consumed by Life urging me to be an agent of change right now?

A book contract feels good.  Getting over myself feels better.

Today, I’m thankful for days at home.  I’m thankful for bruised shins because my kids can’t figure out how to pick up their toys.  I’m thankful for spit up and suburbia and 23 loads of laundry a day.

Embrace the now.  Move with purpose.  Give in to Life.