Want What You’ve Got! (spin)

A baby walker must have seemed like a good idea to my parents at the time. Not yet toddling (though filled with plenty of momentum), I probably appeared to be an ideal candidate for the wheeled vehicle as they positioned it on the wooden farmhouse floor and placed harmless, little me on the seat inside for the first (and the last) time.

I took that hunk of plastic for a reckless spin with eyes sparkling wildly and bare feet barely touching the old floorboards. When they finally caught up with me, I was promptly un-seated and my new toy quickly disappeared – never to be seen again.

One of my favorite things to do as a young girl was to spin around in circles in the living room. Arms spread wide and eyes (sometimes) open, I would whirl around until overcome by dizziness. I can still remember the sensation of falling to the floor and letting the world continue to spin while I fought to sit still. As soon as I could stand up without leaning to one side or the other, my outstretched arms propelled me into yet another flight and I would fall, giggling, to the floor. Over. And over. And over again.

I grew up in a community with some pretty amazing parks, but my favorite was next to the local branch of our public library. The library was something of an attraction, but the main event was what happened outside, at Hippie Hill. It was the 70’s, so maybe this spot earned its name by association with those who frequented it, but I really don’t remember any hippies. All I remember is climbing to the top of this smooth, grassy hill, laying down with arms extended pencil-style overhead, and letting the downhill grade do the rest.

All around me were other kids and even some adults (maybe hippies?) doing the very same thing – rolling with increasing speed toward the gentler slope at the bottom. If you would let yourself roll until you couldn’t squeeze out another revolution, you would lay smiling at the bottom in grass-angel position until the approach of another speeding body signaled that it was time to mount the hill and begin again. Roll. Rest. Repeat.

There is something purely magical about momentum when you’re a kid.

The adrenaline rush and nauseating dizziness created by spinning wildly, rolling powerfully or twirling gracefully is something that most of us walked away from long ago. The freedom to be a child, unchained from the judgmental tyranny of onlookers, disappeared  for most of us with the acquisition of driver’s licenses, babysitting jobs and prom dates.  Now, as adults who are responsible for children, we strap on the protective gear and smother them with safety, steering clear of Hippie Hill and other kid-magnets with risks we would rather not entertain today. Or tomorrow. Or ever.

It’s one thing to become wiser and safer, but with wisdom and caution often come anxiety and rigidity and stiffness toward the mystery and energy of simply being alive. We grow up – that’s what what we always wanted, right? – and we grow dull. And tired. And tense. The sheer exhilaration of being alive is tempered by a drivenness for managing life and we find ourselves sitting atop the hill in a walker without wheels, afraid of what might happen if we were to let gravity whisk us down the slopes of life at a pace we didn’t set. At a speed we cannot fully control. On a trajectory that we haven’t mapped out for ourselves.

The psalmist paints a portrait of that spinning inner child, all grown up and yet all grown down in the Kingdom of God:

God—you’re my God! I can’t get enough of you! I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God, traveling across dry and weary deserts. So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open, drinking in your strength and glory. In your generous love I am really living at last! My lips brim praises like fountains. I bless you every time I take a breath; My arms wave like banners of praise to you. I eat my fill of prime rib and gravy; I smack my lips. It’s time to shout praises! If I’m sleepless at midnight, I spend the hours in grateful reflection. Because you’ve always stood up for me, I’m free to run and play. I hold on to you for dear life, and you hold me steady as a post.” Psalm 63:1-2, 5 (The Message)

Some of us have forgotten that all we really need in order to live life to the full is the outrageously generous love of God.

Some of us are so busy standing up to fear and worry that we’ve allowed these bullies to dictate how we live – yet God Himself stands up to them for us so that we can revel in the magic of momentum while we roll and run and play… and spin.

Our world has a desperate need for spin doctors of the barefoot and giggling variety.

You may have to actually close your eyes to remember what it felt like to be this ridiculously alive – so close ’em tight! Feel the breeze on your skin created by your twirling, the tickle of the grass as you rolled down the hill. Want What You’ve Got in your memory-bank of living and make it your goal to get some of it back today.

Daily Questions: Which childhood activities bring back sensory-memories of feeling free, unchained, exhilarated? How might you recapture these feelings in some tangible way today? When was the last time that you played with a child? Surprise your own (or borrow someone else’s) and simply drink in the energy and imagination of a child! Smack your lips! Shout your praise! Wave those arms! Come alive.

Want What You’ve Got! (weekend)

Image

Wait for it…Fruits and vegetables

 

 

I know. Me, too. I hate to wait.

In the past week I have waited to fall asleep (for hours – not cool), waited for my son to board a plane (and for the line at TSA – always a trip), waited at the DMV (yup – did that, too), waited at the dealership while my oil was changed (gotta love that waiting room coffee), waited for my son to finish soccer practice (late – again)…

Hurry up and wait. Some days this could be my personal motto.

Patience is a virtue. Really? I’ve heard this before, too, but mostly from my children’s snarky lips when they perceive that I’m not being patient.

Patience is also a fruit. A fruit of the Spirit. He gives this juicy fruit in the company of eight other varieties – qualities and attitudes that, no matter how hard we try to display them, are only attainable when we are ready to receive them.

Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-Control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

As impatient children, we tire of waiting on God. When will He answer? When will He move? When will our rescue come?

The Psalmist feels our pain as he cries out: “I waited and waited and waited for God. At last he looked; finally he listened.” Psalm 40:1 (The Message)

In the meantime – in the waiting – what are we to do?

While waiting to fall asleep, I decided that maybe there were prayers to be prayed and conversations to be had with God, so we talked first and then I slept.

While waiting at the airport, I sat beside my son and we hung out – we talked and I watched him play a video game.

While waiting at the DMV with my son, we giggled about the order in which the customer numbers were displayed on the call-board – is there any rhyme or reason to that system?

While waiting for my car to be serviced, I read a book and brought work to do – I came prepared to fill the time.

While waiting in the car for soccer practice to end, I thanked God for coaches who love their sport and like their players enough to let practice run long. And I talked to my Mom on the phone.

Praying. Talking. Sitting beside. Watching. Giggling. Reading. Working. Thanking.

Waiting.

Want What You’ve Got this weekend, even if you have to wait for it. Munch that tasty Spirit-fruit and trust the Gardener to give you more as it ripens and is ready to eat.

But don’t just sit there watching fruit ripen… Hurry up and LIVE!

Want What You’ve Got! (grass)

Marriage

Marriage (Photo credit: Lel4nd)

My husband and I are quickly approaching a milestone anniversary.

Would I say that our almost-30-years of marriage has been a perpetual walk in the park? Of course not. Life happens and reality bites, even for the happily yoked.

Our union has seen seasons of growth and seasons where everything seems to be buried under three feet of snow. Such is the nature of relationship – winter and spring, summer and fall.

Budding and blooming, we’ve been silly in love. Holding hands, starting our family, sharing firsts of every kind. Windswept and barren, we’ve felt the chill of change and seen the leaves drop from our tree as if in one fell swoop. Side by side we have weathered bitter cold and sweltering heat, learning how to be there for each other through the years of ups and downs and sideways.

Being in relationship is hard. Whether marriage or friendship or family-tied, the tug-of-war created by personality and circumstance is real and tenuous and inevitable. Many go the way of “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence,” opting for a different set of challenges in hopes that the landscape of new and other will be more pleasing than the well-worn here and now.

Don’t get me wrong – some relationships should be ended. Sometimes it’s not enough to tend your own garden and wait hopefully for the other to join you there. Our brokenness is sometimes more than we – or our life-partners – can bear. Like pouring gas on a fire, some people simply set each other off. We know this. God knows this, too.

In the midst of our relational realities, we have been given direction in the Scriptures regarding how we are to live among our biological, spiritual and nuptial family members, not the least of which is found in Colossians 3:8-10, 12-14:

“But now put these things out of your life: anger, losing your temper, doing or saying things to hurt others, and saying shameful things. Don’t lie to each other. You have taken off those old clothes—the person you once were and the bad things you did then. Now you are wearing a new life, a life that is new every day. You are growing in your understanding of the one who made you. You are becoming more and more like him. God has chosen you and made you his holy people. He loves you. So your new life should be like this: Show mercy to others. Be kind, humble, gentle, and patient. Don’t be angry with each other, but forgive each other. If you feel someone has wronged you, forgive them. Forgive others because the Lord forgave you. Together with these things, the most important part of your new life is to love each other. Love is what holds everything together in perfect unity.”

Through the fence, things often appear more lush and green and inviting. This can be attributed to many things, not the least of which is the expense of hiring a landscaping expert to do the work of keeping up appearances for the rest of us.

Today, let’s choose to work in our own yards – caring for our own grass and flowers and (if your yard is anything like mine) pulling our own weeds. Together we are becoming something that looks a little bit more like Jesus everyday.

Want What You’ve Got – including the required maintenance – and watch your well-watered, love-infused relationship garden grow.

Daily Questions: What long-term relationships are you in? What challenges to unity do you face in these relationships? Are you tempted to look over the fence, or are you able to focus on your own relational landscape? Re-read the Colossians 3 text above and take note of the words and phrases that jump out at you… How might living into this text help your garden grow?

Want What You’ve Got! (thrift)

English: The Community Closet Thrift StoreI’m walking into the consignment store with Groupon in hand.

I spent $10 to buy the opportunity to get $20 worth of merchandise – an instant 50% off sale! I don’t really need anything, but that’s never stopped me before.

Searching through the racks of gently worn clothing, I realize that I’m always attracted to the same items – black pants (though I always wear my favorite pair). Shoes (to add to the ridiculous number already gracing my closet). Dresses (even though I rarely wear them). Jewelry (for when I dress up – see dresses). Purses (see jewelry).

Nothing that I’m looking at is even remotely a need, yet that Groupon burns a hole in my pocket. I settle on a pair of khaki pants – similar to my favorites which have long since been laid to rest in their hole-y state – and a pair of black shorts with lots of pockets (for traveling). I avoid the interesting jewelry display at the counter because by now, I know I’m weak. If it glimmers with potential at all, I’m afraid I’ll buy it.

Because it’s affordable. Because I can.

I’m reminded of something I have been known to tell my children while shopping together – “just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean you need it.” Such wise words for the younger generation, right? For a fleeting moment, I wonder where I came up with that, since I so rarely subscribe to that way of thinking myself.

I don’t like to shop retail and I simply cannot stomach paying full price for anything. Consignment stores are great because the clothing is in good shape and probably recently laundered. Thrift stores are amazing because my purchases help to support a cause, which makes me feel better about buying all of that inexpensive stuff that I just don’t need.

It’s safe to say that shopping is my preferred form of entertainment.

But when I look at the stacks of jeans in my closet (which I forgot to mention earlier – I always look for jeans while shopping, too) and the piles of t-shirts beside them, I’m convicted by this season we’re in and suddenly I don’t Want What I’ve Got.

In Matthew 16:26 Jesus reminds us that “it is worth nothing for you to have the whole world if you yourself are lost. You could never pay enough to buy back your life.” (ERV)

The Message words it this way, and these words are a fitting reply to my hungry, bargain-hunting soul:

“What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself?”

Ouch.

The truth hurts.

Today I am compelled to shop my own closet for entertainment and to avoid adding to the excess already found therein.

Today I am motivated to weed out those things I don’t wear or don’t really like so that I can donate them to my church’s upcoming clothing exchange event.

Today I admit that no matter how found I am, there are hints of a lost soul being dropped here and there – hints that I need to take seriously and respond faithfully to.

Because I Want What I’ve Got in Christ more than what I’ve got in my closet.

Consign that.

Daily Questions: Where do you find duplicates and triplicates of purchases in your home? My husband has jokingly (but rightly) told me that I could open a clothing store with what’s in my own closet. Identify the excess, as I am doing today, and do something meaningful with it! Donate it to a thrift store or charity that you support (shoe collector? Check out Soles4Souls donation programs: http://www.soles4souls.org/ ). Give it to someone who needs or would love what you’ve got! Consider starting a seasonal exchange at your church or even with a group of friends. I’d love to share what our church is doing! Email me for details: brita@pinkshoesministries.me

Want What You’ve Got! (condiments)

A bottle of Aceto Balsamico di Modena, aged fo...I’ve been known to collect condiments.

It sounds stranger than it really is – trust me. It’s just that I’m drawn to yummy ways of dressing up what would otherwise be normal food.

And I don’t relish normal.

Crammed into my pantry cabinets are bottles and jars of things like Tuscan Herb Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar with Fig. Jalapeno Peppers and Vodka Marinara with Mushrooms. Basil Pesto and Artichoke Hearts. Capers and Piri Piri Peppers in Oil. Raspberry Chipotle Marinade and Chocolate/Strawberry Cream Spread.

I don’t set out to overdo it! I just see these deliciously odd accompaniments on the shelves of my favorite stores and I can’t help myself. So the condiment collection grows.

During this season of Want What You’ve Got I have been challenged to re-think my habits – especially those which result in excess and waste. A trip through my cupboards is proof that the dietary needs of my family are not only being met, but exceeded.

There are unopened jars, cans and bottles in my cupboards whose expiration dates have come and gone. I have so much on my shelves that I forget what is there and end up buying more at the store – just in case. Instead of Wanting (and actually using) What I’ve Got, I keep stockpiling and hoarding while folks around me get by with less or go without.

This can’t be what God has in mind concerning His economy of love.

Proverbs 21:26 says that “some people are greedy and never have enough. Good people are generous and have plenty.” (ERV)

I have made it a goal during this season of Lent to Want What I’ve Got in my cupboards, refrigerator and freezer. Instead of spontaneous and disorganized grocery shopping, I am trying to use what’s already there and to be thankful for every single bite.

It’s easy to be greedy – and greed is never really satisfied, is it? There’s always something more, something different, something spicier or sweeter – some new-fangled condiment to add to the collection.

Consider this your greed-therapy session for the week – an intervention via the God who made a better way for us to live. Want What You’ve Got if you’ve already got plenty, and be generous with the leftovers. (Would you like a dollop of Habanero Ketchup with that?)

Daily Questions: Take an honest look through your food storage areas today. Are you utilizing what you already have, or do you have to rearrange the shelves each time you bring groceries home – to make room for the new? Consider a short-term Want What You’ve Got fast and eat only from the current stock in your cupboards. Have lots of extra food? Consider giving some to your local food bank.

Want What You’ve Got! (bandage)

I am seriously digging liquid band-aid!

Red Cross

Red Cross (Photo credit: afagen)

Call me a human billboard, but this stuff works wonders on dry, cracked fingers. I have a terrible time getting band-aids to stay put around my nails where the dry, winter air (and a touch of hand-washing OCD) takes its toll, but a few drops of liquid bandage does the trick every time!

When applied, this new twist on wound care bathes the affected area with antiseptic and then dries to seal the injury so that it can heal. It doesn’t sting. It doesn’t crack. It simply coats, covers and protects. For my moisture-challenged digits, liquid bandage is a beautiful thing.

Living with athletes pretty much guarantees that injuries happen. From the vicious strawberry earned while sliding into second base (wearing shorts without sliders) to the attack of brutal blisters from a new pair of cleats, my household is no stranger to woundedness. We rarely Want What We’ve Got while feeling the pain from yesterday’s game or workout, but the old adage is absolutely tried and true: It goes with the territory.

Sure – most injury can be avoided! Just take a seat on the bench and stay out of harm’s way.

Lots of folks choose to live life like this, avoiding the risk of injury by sitting back and watching others get hurt. We create band-aids to protect ourselves from heartache, disappointment and discomfort, but these homemade seals leak and get wet and fall off far too easily when exposed to the storms of life.

When gauze and tape don’t cut it and we find ourselves exposed to painful words and circumstances, some of us lash out at others – seeking, in some insanely justified manner, to cause hurt to the ones who’ve injured us. The problem is, while in these seizures of misery, grief and retaliation, the innocent become our victims, too.

Jesus knew what it was like to be hurt by the angry words and bitter actions of others.

“People insulted him, but he did not insult them back. He suffered, but he did not threaten anyone. No, he let God take care of him. God is the one who judges rightly. Christ carried our sins in his body on the cross. He did this so that we would stop living for sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you were healed. You were like sheep that went the wrong way. But now you have come back to the Shepherd and Protector of your lives.” 1 Peter 2:23-25 (ERV)

Christ chose to stand up to the bullies of this world by standing down; opting for the eternal protection of His Father over the temporary safety offered by earthly allies. It was an ugly battle, and there were wounds, but the balm of restoration flows freely from the hand of God like so much sealing, healing liquid bandage.

You are in pain – He knows that.

Your wounds are deep – He sees them.

You may not want the cuts, scrapes and bruises that you’ve got, but you’re in good company. Jesus had them, too.

Daily Questions: In what ways are you wounded? What stings? Bleeds? Cracks? What kind of wound-care are you receiving, and how is that working for you? What does your life need to be coated with? Covered with? Protected by? Are you ready to receive your healing through the wounds suffered by Christ? Do you want to be well?

 

Want What You’ve Got! (wall)

20130311-222142.jpgWhen my first-born left home to attend my alma mater – three states and one thousand miles away – a hush fell over our home.

Our daughter is a force of nature, so of course the absence of her energy and activity (plus a steady stream of like-minded friends) left the rest of us sort of reeling in the wake of her exodus. There were days in those first months when I would have welcomed a whisper or a word from the walls inside her room – anything to ease the disconnect of being the one left behind.

On one such day, as I was passing in front of the wall between my children’s bedrooms, the dusty frames displayed there caught my eye. Years before, when our daughter was in middle school and our son a little tyke, we decided to use this wall to display school certificates and awards. Being blessed with children who have given us no shortage of frame-able material, the wall quickly filled and we never were successful at keeping it current.

I wondered how this display made my son feel – the remaining occupant in our partially-empty nest. I thought about all of those articles I had read on how to handle the transition when a child moves away (don’t make their room into a guest room or office – at least not until sophomore year). The ridiculous thought – what if these walls could talk? – prompted me to begin removing frames from this neglected gallery… and a great idea was hatched.

As it often goes with great ideas, however, birthing them is a whole lot easier (and more fun) than actually parenting them to completion. When I decided to make this wall into a whiteboard – so that it could speak – we were in the WalMart paint department while the fumes of new vision were still fresh, with plans for sanding and painting the wall in the hall over the fall break.

That was 17 months ago.

One might argue that my lack of follow-through in this project was fueled by a desire for things to remain the same… the family together under one roof. The comforting buzz of music and noise from upstairs. It is hard to Want What You’ve Got when those you love aren’t where they used to be (even if where they are is where they need to be).

Some of us are in that place where the life-transition grace period has expired and it is simply time to move on.

Some of us have great ideas and wonderful plans that were placed on the back burner far too long ago (can you smell the scorch?).

Some of us need only Want What We’ve Got in order to turn that corner or to light a fire under that pile of old frames, removed from that paint-thirsty wall, so that who we are becoming can emerge and find land-legs.

This past weekend I rallied the troops and we now have a shiny white wall where the past used to be. Who knows what this wall will say now that it’s marker-ready? There are notes to be written, reminders to be shared, math problems to be worked out, art to be created, poems to be dreamed, scriptures to be wrestled with, prayers to be prayed…

Life to be lived.

Some of us need to… Shhh! Can you hear that? I think your walls have something to say!

Daily Questions: What unfinished projects are parked in your queue? Some of them have likely out-waited their usefulness, yes, but which ones are still relevant? Want What You’ve Got when it comes to unfinished business this week! Schedule them or dump them – stop carrying that weight around! What life-transitions are overdue for you? Where are you digging in your heels, waiting for tomorrow to turn this corner or make that change? What dingy walls in your house and memory need a fresh coat of paint?

Want What You’ve Got! (weekend)

Remember photo albums?

Those weighty books with thick, plastic-covered pages which, when peeled back, revealed a sticky surface for mounting photos of people and places and events worth remembering? I’ll bet you have half a dozen of them tucked away in a closet or under a bed somewhere. Mine are stored in a trunk that doubles as a coffee table and they don’t see much daylight, poor things.

Some of the photos in your albums are ancient, dating back a generation or two, chronicling the lives and days of family members you may never have actually met.

Some of those pictures are embarrassing, with hairstyles and expressions and clothing choices you would honestly rather forget.

And inhabiting some of your albums are photos of trips and vacations with dear friends and family that this weekend, you need to be reminded of.

If you are fortunate enough to have a photo album collection, you are blessed to have a visual history and record of at least some of your memories! Have you ever showed these photos to your kids? To your grandchildren? How long has it been since you’ve tripped down this photo-induced memory lane with your spouse?

Every picture tells a story, and your stories were meant to be told! Grab the dust rag, unearth those bulky volumes, and Want What You’ve Got this weekend by remembering and celebrating your life and your loved ones the old-fashioned way, compliments of Kodak.

 

 

 

Want What You’ve Got! (awesome)

Big Heart of Art - 1000 Visual MashupsKid President is awesome! If you haven’t taken time to view his Pep Talk on YouTube, you really should. His laugh alone is worth waiting for the video to stream, but the message that this young prophet speaks is frankly one of the most important being spoken to our world today.

Because we’re all hungry for awesome.

We Like, re-Tweet, Share and Pin awesome. We follow, watch, comment on and get excited about viewing awesome. Be it music or teaching or video or sports, we get hooked by the awesomeness of others’ accomplishments and creativity. Yet when awesome goes viral, as it has for Kid President, our tendency is to be satisfied with observing awesome when what we ought to be doing is finding ways to be more awesome ourselves.

Kid President’s message doesn’t say: Look at how awesome I am, but rather: Look in the mirror, people! You be more awesome!

The downside of awesome is that people get hooked on your awesomeness and fail to wonder and explore and discover their own, choosing to live vicariously through you while letting their own potential and giftedness fall through the cushions on the sofa where they sit. Like the popcorn, coins and cracker crumbs harbored there, our dreams and ambitions may never again see the light of day unless we choose to Want What We’ve Got and do the difficult work of excavating the ruins of our lives for the awesomeness we were meant to display in our own, unique contexts.

Awesome is relative. Awesome means choosing to act and live fully, using every tool in your belt, every crayon in your box, every ounce of energy supplied by every calorie you eat – every single day.

My personal awesomeness is rooted in the raw material God gave me to live into, shaped by my choices and experiences and connections, and activated by the energy of God’s Spirit as He breathes life into these dry and brittle bones.

The God who created you knows just how awesome you are – inside and out! Psalm 139:13-14 celebrates this truth:

You alone created my inner being. You knitted me together inside my mother. I will give thanks to you because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made. Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of this.” (God’s Word Translation)

You, my friend, are amazingly and miraculously made by our God whose creativity and appreciation for variety knows no bounds! You have been endowed with everything you need to be more awesome in your own skin, and today is the day that your soul needs to be made fully aware of this truth.

Don’t want the awesome that you see in the world! Instead, want the awesome that God has placed inside of you. Want What You’ve Got!

Daily Questions: What or whom do you consider to be awesome? What is it that makes them awesome? Look up some synonyms for the word awesome (words like: surprising, eye-opening, fabulous, stunning)… which words remind you of you? Take a marker and write some of these words on your bathroom mirror this week and begin to see yourself as God does!

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Want What You’ve Got! (help)

Help

Help (Photo credit: Hil)

When I walked out of the travel agency, I felt a wave of relief and excitement about my family’s upcoming European vacation. You may wonder how one could feel anything but excitement about traveling abroad, but days earlier as I sat eagerly at the computer to create an awesome itinerary for this once-in-a-lifetime family trip, excitement quickly turned to anxiety and in a matter of minutes, I was overwhelmed.

Sometimes there are simply too many options. Even with a clear window of time and one pre-selected destination, I found myself tangled in the World Wide Web – frozen by a seemingly infinite number of possibilities.

Travel agents aren’t exactly en vogue anymore, but it was abundantly clear that what I needed most of all – in order to insure the success of this family investment – was help.

When it comes to housekeeping, I can use all of the help I can get. Every couple of weeks I write a check for the young mom who helps me keep my house clean. If you know me at all by now, you know that hanging around the house isn’t really my thing, which makes housekeeping something of a four-letter-word in my world. By seeking help in the areas that challenge me the most, I am freed up to provide help in the ways I am uniquely equipped to do. This check that I write is part of the help I can give and in turn, I am blessed by the help I receive.

Paul talks about this as being part of God’s plan (the helping-one-another-part, not necessarily related to keeping house):

Once the commitment is clear, you do what you can, not what you can’t. The heart regulates the hands. This isn’t so others can take it easy while you sweat it out. No, you’re shoulder to shoulder with them all the way, your surplus matching their deficit, their surplus matching your deficit. In the end you come out even. As it is written, nothing left over to the one with the most, nothing lacking to the one with the least.” 2 Corinthians 11b-14 (the Message)

My deficits are many and include travel planning and housecleaning, but God has given me plenty of things that others need. Your deficits are an opportunity for me to invest my plenty in ways that make us both better people and faithful stewards of what has been entrusted to us.

According to author Ann Lamott, help is one of the three essential prayers (Help, Thanks, Wow copyright 2012 by Ann Lamott, Riverside Books):

“We say, Help, this is really all too much, or I am going slowly crazy, or I can’t do this, or I can’t stop doing this, or I can’t feel anything. Or, Help, he is going to leave me, or I have no life, or I hate the one I’ve created, or I forgot to have a life, or I forgot to pay attention as it scrolled by. Or even, Help, I hate her so much, and one of my parents is dying – or will never die. Unfortunately, we haven’t even gotten to the big-ticket items yet: cancer, financial ruin, lost children, incontinence.”

On any given day, our prayers for help cover a lot of ground. As I sit here this morning, already I have asked God for help in at least a dozen situations pertaining to my life and those I love. And I believe He hears our cries for help! But here’s the rub…

God answers our prayers. Yup, that’s the rub.

God answers our prayers, but instead of zapping us with holy help in a cloud of fire and mystery and miracle, the help that comes from the Lord almost always comes through people. This messes with those of us whose pride and privacy issues serve to keep others at arm’s length.

We post no trespassing signs around our lives and pray that God would help us with our needs… And then we wonder what’s taking Him so long.

What’s wrong with this picture? Today some of us need to Want What We’ve Got – which may very well be a need for help. Until we are willing to receive God’s help through people, or to be God’s help to people, we won’t be positioned to receive the answers to our prayers that God is eager and ready to give.

Daily Questions: Have you been crying Help and then waiting for lightning to strike? How might God be trying to answer your prayers through the people around you? Are you willing to let your need be known so that God can rally His troops? If you are equipped to be the answer to someone’s prayers, are you paying attention to the needs of those around you? Will you act to meet those needs when God calls?