About a year ago I sat on the back porch of our home in Peoria, Illinois. The sun was shining through the windows and there was a cool breeze.

The windows were rattling... they were pretty cheap windows, actually. In fact, the whole porch was pretty cheap. It had green, worn carpet. And a little hole where some mice found a way into the house.

The house wasn’t the greatest either. I mean, I loved that little house. But it was tiny. Our family had no space to spread out. It wasn’t made of the greatest materials.

Peoria was a challenge as well. On one hand, almost all of our friends lived there. It was there that we put down our roots. But over time it felt less and less like home. Less like "our soil." As an artist, it was a challenge to feel inspired and to grow.

The challenge may have had more to do with our general circumstances than with our city. I felt used and abandoned by the church community I served for a decade. Olivia had died. My work wasn't working. So many poorly attended concerts. So many attempts at new things which seemed to bomb. Many of our friends seemed to be growing cold in their marriages, or getting divorced.

Our own marriage was feeling cold as well.

And then COVID.

Hope felt scarce.

I knew we needed a change, but couldn't find the energy to try yet another thing.

I sat on the back porch of our tiny house, in Peoria, with all of the above...

The sun shone on my face. It felt warm. There was a gentle breeze. And I thought to myself,

This is the best moment of my life.

It felt like heaven.
I think maybe it was.

In that moment, something clicked for me.

Nothing had changed. Yet everything felt different.

What we want the most is so very close.

It could not be any closer. It springs up from within us.

And nothing in this world can separate us from it.

When we feel like we're living through hell, it’s easy to believe that heaven is far away. Heaven is not far away at all. Even in the middle of the most hellish moments, it could not be any closer.

Heaven is here.
Listen and you can hear it.
Look up and you can see it.
Slow down and you can feel it.

The best moment of my life

A year ago on my tiny back porch in Peoria