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Cool and stormy mid-summer nights have always been her favorite.

Her favorite place to revel in the scene is the front porch swing, complete with a cup of hot chocolate as her company.  In these moments, she allows herself to rest.   She has no one to impress, no image to maintain, as evidenced by the mismatched running shorts and sweatshirt she wears.  The rain is softly falling outside the safety of the porch, illuminated occasionally by fleeting displays of lightning; the scene bound together in perfect harmony by the crescendos of slowly rolling thunder.

The storm causes the air to smell different, and provides a welcome relief from the skyrocketing temperatures of the day, and a cool front begins to settle in.  She adjusts against the oncoming chill, pulling her legs underneath her and wrapping a blanket around her.  She grabs her favorite coffee cup in both hands, bringing it close to her lips to softly cool the drink.  The wind sweeps through the porch and brings an unexpected shiver.

There, in that little moment as the breeze tingles her neck, the kingdom of heaven is alive in the goose-bumps on her skin.

She may not know it.  She may not even believe in it.  It might even seem like such an insignificant thing.  But that doesn’t matter.  Heaven is not bound by our definitions, understandings, or constraints.  Through the storm, the sounds, the way the air smells, the warmth of the coffee, and the feelings in her heart, the glory of God is playfully alive all around her.

I believe that this was the secret that Jesus let loose;  that heaven – and the Father – isn’t waiting far off for your arrival, but is already breathing and living and dancing and being around you.

I guess it’s a bit shocking to think of it.

But Jesus was right, the kingdom really is among us.  And once we discover it, we see that it’s everywhere.  All around us, God is spilling out.  Sometimes it takes a good story to open our eyes to the magical, ordinary moments of God with us.

So here’s the deal:

I’d like to make a new feature on this blog.  I’m not really sure how it will go, but I want to invite you to tell stories with me about discovering the kingdom of heaven in unexpected places.  Here’s how this will work:

  1. If you are interested, submit a post (of 500 – 700 words) to this email address (kaufman.jake[at]gmail.com) within the next two weeks.  The cutoff date to submit a post will be August 1st.
  2. Make sure your story is creative, surprising, and above all, honest.  Refuse to write something expected and ordinary, be brave and write something personal and compelling.  You can do it.
  3. I’ll select a few posts to share on my blog.  If I don’t select your post, please don’t be offended.  Odds are, it’s a fantastic piece, I’m merely selecting down to a narrow few to post publically.  (I really hope that people submit posts)
  4. If I post your piece, I will make sure to link your blog, facebook, and twitter feeds.  You’ll get full credit and recognition for what you write.  You deserve some air time.

So, that’s it.  I guess it’s time for you to get busy.  I can’t wait to see the surprising and extraordinary stories you write.