Recently I challenged our Ultramax Team and then also some of my running groups to a 30 day gratefulness challenge.  I wasn’t sure what to expect because quite honestly, sometimes I get annoyed by everyone’s gratefulness posts on facebook.  But, in light of how easy it is to travel down the road of negativity especially in the face of tragedy, I thought I might give it a try.

The rewards have been quite unexpected and I will share some of those later.  But today, I wanted to share day 27 through this blog because it marks the start of our Montana vacation and I have quite a few beautiful pictures to share.  So here goes….

Today I am grateful for beauty of God’s creation.


In a world of Ipads and smartphones, amusement parks, video games, movies, toys, toys and more toys, and every imaginable convenience and product to help avoid boredom, yesterday I was keenly aware of how much wiser God is than man.

We have been given the blessing of a two week vacation in Montana. Yesterday during the day, we took our kids to Splash Montana, a mini waterpark. Before coming on this trip, our son Eli was convinced and also quite hopeful that Montana was the land of waterparks. Alas, on our first full day here, we decided to indulge his hopeful mind.

And, indeed it was really fun. Our children both love to swim and it is so fun to watch them learn to do small things like go underwater or jump off the side of the pool without anyone holding their hands or swimming for 3 feet. I love to watch them learn and I love to see them having fun together.

With all it’s attractions and all the effort someone has put into that water park, it paled in comparison to the beauty and the amusement our kids found in nature. At home, we have a sandbox. It is a wonderful sandbox, not just the little plastic box you buy at Toys-R-Us, but a giant sandbox built by Mark and my dad as a gift to Eli on his 5th birthday. It is sandbox deluxe.


But yesterday we discovered God’s sandbox.

God's Sandbox, Emory LIvesay, creation

We walked a quarter mile down the road from our cabin and ventured down the creek bed.


Eli and Emme quickly took off their shoes and asked if they could walk across the creek to the island. The island was full of sand, rocks, and dirt. We had no buckets, no trucks, and no shovels. It was so peaceful, so simple, so nothing, but so everything.


This simple event reminded me of how we keep filling our lives with things and products that we think will make our lives better, when in fact, God has already provided the best for us. An amusement park pales in comparison to the beauty and the amusement we are finding in nature. A pop-tart is an enticing breakfast option when in fact, God gave us oranges, apples, and bananas, all with more nourishment than the pop-tart will ever bring. An I-pad or a smartphone, while not innately bad, serves as a distraction from true connection to one another and to God. So many times the things we want, the things we are enticed to buy or add to our lives actually act as a poison and we don’t even realize it.

And, so today, I have to be humbled and grateful to God for the creation of the simple things. Trees, lakes, rivers, the wind, the sun, and the moon, the clouds and the sky, animals, flowers, and even sand.


For nothing I will ever do will compare to the greatness and majesty of what God can do and has done.

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