Want What You’ve Got! (brand)

Be yourself / Sé tú

(Photo credit: victor_nuno)

Have you updated your resume lately?

If so, then the challenge of portraying yourself as the ideal candidate for potential employers or scholarship committees is fresh in your brain. How do we honestly and accurately summarize our abilities, experiences and personality in a flat, one-page document? Is it possible to be both succinct and startlingly appealing on paper?

There are people who make their living in an effort to say YES to that question! Consultants who help others build a resume to land their dream job have all sorts of tips and tricks to help you stand out in a stack of paper people. A quick web search will locate hundreds of blogs and websites with suggestions for crafting the perfect resume – which doesn’t always seem helpful, does it? Information overload can make it even harder to begin.

It seems to me that much of the difficulty in resume-creation comes from the tension between what we think an employer is looking for and what we truly bring to the table – who we actually are. I’m sure that it’s possible to meld the two into one rock-solid, top-notch page containing all of the necessary key words and phrases required to catch a potential employer’s attention, but I’m just not sure that this method is serving us well.

Enter the concept of personal branding. You know your favorite brand names, right? My son’s top brand right now is Adidas, which he identifies with soccer, his favorite players of the sport, athletic prowess and active functionality. Adidas embodies these things for him and he identifies with those three stripes because they consistently provide what he expects them to: utter coolness.

There is a movement in some career counseling circles that takes this branding concept – packaging a product in a clear, consistent and marketable way – and applies it to the way you present yourself to the world. Some call it personal branding.

Here’s how it rolls…

Rather than trying to re-create yourself on paper in a way that (if you’re lucky) will meet an employer’s expectations, personal branding begins with discovering who you actually are. You are the sum of your experience, education, interests and passions! Personal branding helps you to package yourself in such a way that your true colors are evident in black & white as your resume is reviewed.

After having strayed so far from herself in the resume creation process, blogger Gail Belsky describes her experience with personal branding, under the tutelage of author/guru Karen Kang:

“The truth is, I look like what I am: an editor and writer with a wide range of experience, including aspects of communication and marketing. Kang gave me permission to be that person. She suggested that I build out from my identity, rather than change it entirely. It was enough to give me whiplash, but I was glad to be back.”

It’s a sad commentary on what our world has become when the art of job acquisition requires us to play so completely to the audience that we lose ourselves – our unique, God-crafted identity – in the process. The concept of personal branding, though seemingly new on the job search landscape, is actually quite old. The apostle Paul spoke about it in his letter to the Galatians:

“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” Galatians 6:4-5 (The Message)

Essentially, Paul tells us to Want What We’ve Got! God’s way for His people in this world has always been personal branding. Figure out who you are, put that into words that make sense to others, and then live it!

“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.

Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.” Galatians 5:22-23, 25 (The Message)

Friend, YOU are an original! Maybe it’s time for a sit-down with your heavenly career consultant today. Maybe you have lost yourself in the legalism of the world – choosing a life of responding to people’s expectations instead of living into the one-of-a-kind existence that God Himself created you for. You’ve got much more interesting work to do than simply fitting in – you are your own brand name in the power of the Cross!

God has given you permission to be that person. Want What You’ve Got and market that to the world! Amen?!

Daily Questions: Consider discovering your personal brand! What is it about the brands you are faithful to that keeps you coming back for more? Quality? A particular style or design? Accessibility? Affordability? Make a crazy, unedited list of every unique energy, ability and perspective you’ve been given. Put your true heartbeat down on paper, playing to an audience of One! Ask God for the strength to be your own brand in our cookie-cutter society, and watch for opportunities to Want What You’ve Got!

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Want What You’ve Got! (manual)

A bible from 1859.

A bible from 1859. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s a drawer in my kitchen where owner’s manuals go to die.

It’s a slow death, mind you, but I don’t think they really mind… They have lots of company in there.

A quick look today confirms the presence of manuals for an eclectic assembly of household items: irrigation system control panel, coffee pot, rice cooker/steamer, lawn mower, crock pot, shower head, carbon monoxide detector, wine refrigerator, cordless telephone – should I go on?

Everything we own requires instruction to some degree. Whether we read the book cover-to-cover first or file it away until malfunction and frustration get the better of us, there is a learning curve when it comes to using our stuff.

Most of the time I’ll use an owner’s manual the day I take an item out of its box. Once it’s set up and functioning properly, though, the how-to gets deposited in the drawer with all the others. Only when a problem arises, like when the coffee sprays out horizontally instead of pouring down steadily into the cup, does the manual see the light of day. Useful for troubleshooting and for finding the manufacturer’s phone number so that I can call and complain about the coffee stains on the carpet, owner’s manuals add precious little to my quality of life. So I hang onto them for awhile, until the statute of limitations for that gizmo or gadget has been reached. Then I throw it away.

A lot of us treat the Bible like I treat my owner’s manuals.

We indulge in a quick read when set-up or learning is needed, but once things are up and running, we file it away on a dusty shelf or in a deep, dark drawer with other things we just might need some day.

Malfunction takes place and frustration sets in, so we take the Book out and we open it up and we look for a way to troubleshoot the problem we’re experiencing. If that doesn’t work, we page through in an effort to find a way to customer service – so that we can complain to the Manufacturer about His faulty product (and maybe get Him to send a new one at no additional charge, because the customer’s always right… Right?).

For many, God’s Word is valued about as much as an Ikea assembly pamphlet, serving a limited purpose and contributing precious little to the owner’s quality of life.

Some would say that God is good for helping us get started, but once we figure out how things work, well – we can take it from here, thank you.

Some reach for the Book in times of loss or in throes of fear and find peace in its pages. At least for awhile.

Others leaf madly through when nothing seems to make sense, searching for a way to get to the top of the chain of command – because we get very tired of being passed through the powerless ranks and being asked for the umpteenth time, “will you hold?”

Do we Want What We’ve Got – the words and presence and heartbeat of God in these pages – or are we simply looking for another owner’s manual that we can use to diagnose and repair what ails us – something that serves us – a user’s guide (as if we can use God to get things to work the way we want them to)?

If what Jesus said to the tempter in the desert is true – that “it is not just bread that keeps people alive. Their lives depend on what God says” (Matthew 4:4) – then the Bible is much, much more than a how-to book… It’s a game-changer.

It’s meat and carbs and sustenance. Heck – it’s all six food groups!

Without God’s Word we may be walking and talking, but friends, we aren’t living.

Want the Word of God that You’ve Got today – on that shelf, in a drawer, on your personal electronic device – and let it connect you to the Author Himself.

Your life depends on it.

Daily Questions: Where do the Bibles in your house live? What are your reasons for opening up God’s Word? Are you looking for solutions? Instructions? Relationship? Connection? Food?! The Word of God is living and active, not just small print on a page. How does someone read a Book like that? Or does that Book read you?

Want What You’ve Got! (backwards)

backwards 3 The cover of Cosmopolitan magazine caught my eye as I waited my turn in the checkout line. A smiling Kim Kardashian was flanked by the words:

Get What You Want: The Man, The Money, The Baby.

Wait a minute! Do we have it all backwards – or does Kim? Is it possible that our Lenten refrain – Want What You’ve Got – is as opposed to Kim Kardashian’s mantra as it sounds?

I know that the way of Jesus is counter-cultural, but we can’t get much more opposite than this.

Permeating Jesus’ teachings is the revelation of a backwards Kingdom with an economic system based on the sharing of resources and the generous exchange of love. Unlike those who reign in Kim’s consumeristic economy – ruled by acquisition, competition and power – a successful Kingdom subject lives in polar opposition to the wiles of this world, sold out completely to the Gospel.

Hear Jesus on the subject, from Matthew 19:28 –

Jesus replied, “Yes, you have followed me. In the re-creation of the world, when the Son of Man will rule gloriously, you who have followed me will also rule, starting with the twelve tribes of Israel. And not only you, but anyone who sacrifices home, family, fields—whatever—because of me will get it all back a hundred times over, not to mention the considerable bonus of eternal life. This is the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.”

In light of this month’s Cosmo cover story, don’t Jesus’ words sound exactly backwards?

My daughter babysits for good friends of ours whose boys are a constant source of laughter, insight and drama. One night at our house, one of them was decked out in clothing that was on backwards – tags in front. My daughter told him:

“No big deal, dude. Backwards is the new forwards.”

Later that night, after they had returned home, my daughter received a text message from their dad: “What did you tell my boys?”

“Um – I’m not sure. Why?” she responded tentatively.

When dressing for bed that night, the boys had intentionally put their PJs on backwards. When Dad pointed out their mistake, they boldly replied, “Well, Dad, backwards is the new forwards.”

Those kids were clothed backwards for months!

When we as believers choose to embrace the Kingdom of God as revealed by Jesus – when we are willing to live counter to the self-indulgent nature of the world – we may as well put our shirts on backwards because we aren’t going to fit in.

No matter how hard we may try to fly beneath the radar, backwards is the new forwards in the Kingdom of God.

Want more in God’s economy? Learn to live with less.

Want love in God’s economy? Learn to give yours away.

Want peace while navigating this confused and broken life? Leave the Cosmo girl worldview on the shelf where it belongs and Want What You’ve Got today!

Daily Questions: Who do you know that is living a backwards, Kingdom-focused life? What makes them different? In what ways do they stand out? Does the invitation to “get the man/money/baby that you want” have any appeal to you at all? How might you respond to this worldly solicitation? Other than putting your clothes on backwards, how might you embrace God’s Great Reversal today?

backwards 2

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?