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! (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! (weekend)

Messy RoomFloor.

I’m pretty sure that my son’s room has one, its just that I can’t remember what it looks like (it’s been so long since I’ve seen it).

Guess what he’s going to be doing this weekend?!

Looking around at the piles of clothing, books, sporting goods and teenage-toys strewn across his alleged floorboards, it’s pretty clear to me that our children are doing everything they can to get what they want in this permissive society we live in… and they’re learning from the masters. We are intentional about teaching our kids to use their manners, show respect for others and to do their best in school (aren’t we?), yet we continue to add to the illusion that more is more and enough is actually a four-letter word. We do this – I do this – by example.

Maybe your room is clean and you won’t need to spend most of Saturday and a few hours on Sunday to unearth your bed (actually, that’s not a problem for my son – his loft bed is the only thing you can see right now – only getting to the stairs requires tornado insurance), but maybe there are closets or shelves or piles in your home that are sending confusing messages to those who live with you or will visit you this weekend.

Look around your home today – do you Want What You’ve Got? On this third weekend of our Lenten adventure, we’re beginning to realize that there is always another angle to consider when it comes to faithful living. It’s not all about me for the believer in Jesus who longs for God’s Kingdom Come!

“We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well.” (1 Corinthians 10:24 MSG)

If this is true, then our example is foremost in showing others a better way to live. Our kids (spouses, parents, grandchildren) won’t necessarily Want What They’ve Got unless we do. This weekend, let’s take action! Let’s show them how.

Daily Questions: Where does your excess show up around your home? Do others see it? Start with the areas that are most obvious to others and ask yourself what messages you are sending through your stuff. Is there something you need to do in an effort to help others live well, by your example? Maybe it’s been a long time since someone told you to clean your room?

 

Want What You’ve Got! (drama)

red stage curtains

I have this friend on Facebook.

Actually, she’s the friend of a friend and we’ve met only once in real life. I can count on one hand the number of times I have visited her page (and it’s entirely likely that she would say the same about mine), but her status posts to my newsfeed, so I see her there when I log in at night.

And every night it’s basically the same post: Good Night! (or) Sleep Well! (or) something to that effect.

Now, this has begun to drive me nuts. Seriously! If this is the extent of what you have to say, do you really have to use social media to say it? This is what runs through my head – unedited – each time I scroll past the nighty-night post. Where are the stories? Where is the action? Where is the interesting or engaging or heart-wrenching stuff?

I’m beginning to see that what I want from my Facebook community isn’t connections or reunions or cyber-friendships… it’s drama.

On a typical weekend night you will find me tuned in to Netflix with my family. Having opted out of television subscriptions, Netflix allows us to watch an episode of whatever suits our fancy sans commercial interruptions. But lately the things we’ve been watching have been getting under my skin. The violence and sarcasm and disregard for the good of others that permeates pop culture is mirrored so clearly in what we watch for entertainment that lately I’ve been sickened by my own attentiveness to it.

It appears that the world is addicted to drama and I am not immune.

In the spirit of Want What You’ve Got, it’s true that we all have drama. Even in the quietest seasons of life we have family members, neighbors and co-workers whose real-life situations play out like a made-for-tv movie. At any moment on any average day we find ourselves cast in a variety of sit-coms and dramas (maybe even a bit of sci-fi action), because the world we live in looks more and more like the world of entertainment we have chosen to subscribe to.

Don’t you, on most days, look forward to collapsing on the comfy couch at home, leaving the drama of your life and friends and family behind (at least for the night)? Yet what do we do from that comfy seat after putting the day behind us? We grab the remote. Or the iPad. Or the controller.

As one drama junkie to another, we have got to stop tuning out reality and turning on our device-of-choice. Whether it’s Twitter or Facebook or PlayStation or the daily news, all we are doing by tuning in is trading one drama for another – the real one in which we actually play a role for the vicarious or imaginary one where we can identify with the characters or not because when we’ve had our fill, we can simply shut it off.

You may not want the real-life drama you’ve got, but it’s yours. Yours to affect. Yours to minimize. Yours to transform into stories that can motivate and instigate and inspire. If we don’t Want What We’ve Got when it comes to the details of our own lives, we have to ask ourselves why we mindlessly seek someone else’s drama, too. By turning on the nightly news or camping on YouTube or staying up late to watch another episode (because we just have to see what happens next), what if we are squandering our opportunity to actually live life in lieu of watching someone else live theirs?

Our world is crazy and scary and full of stories (real and fictitious) that capture our attention and threaten to consume our best energy for living. We as a society are so wired-in to the constant newsfeed (and drama-roll) that it’s no wonder so many people are so afraid of so many things.

This insatiable need for drama is addressed by Jesus in Matthew 6:34b (and for some reason the King James Version keeps replaying in my head):

“Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

What if we say it like this…

My drama is enough for today.

There is enough action, dialogue, tension, plot and character development in my day to satisfy my inner drama-junkie! Today I choose to Want What I’ve Got – simply because it’s mine.

Daily Questions: What stories are being told by your life today? What kinds of drama do you typically choose for entertainment? How might your life tell a better story by your choice to live it (rather than avoid it)?

Want What You’ve Got! (wannabe)

Hand in handI remember sitting on the big, comfy chair in our family room as I filled out forms that evening. It’s been several years since that night – I can’t actually recall what the forms were for – but I have a crystal clear memory of reaching the space on the page that asked for employment information.

A very small line was provided for my answer to the prompt: Job Title.

Now, perhaps it will help you to know that mine has been a fairly circuitous path where career is concerned. An education degree, selected largely due to an anticipated teacher shortage (you know – job security), spit me out of college into a market flooded with aspiring educators who had been fed the same misinformation. After several long and painful years of subbing and interviewing and tearing up rejection letters, I landed at the YMCA via a few strange and interesting work-experiments in my young adult years.

The seven years I spent with the Y were fruitful (mostly for the Y, somewhat for me) and I left exhausted but enthused about a new career path: stay-at-home-mom. This lasted a few short years (serious kudos to moms who make home and family their career – toughest job ever!) after which I went to work part-time in our local church.

This is where it gets squirrely. Church-work may come with a title, but it’s rarely descriptive of what you actually do there. Having spent the past 14 years on this career adventure, I can tell you that there are days when even I couldn’t tell you what my job is – let alone sum it up on a line as short as the one provided on the form in my lap that night.

So, I did what most of you would do. I asked my family for help.

Big mistake.

There was some legitimate brainstorming at first, but things went downhill quickly. I can’t recall any of the job titles suggested by my kids except the one that finally stuck (and is still firmly attached to me today): Wannabe Pastor.

I’m pretty sure that is not what I wrote on the form that night, but these words have taken me on quite a journey in my head through the years – a journey of Wanting What I’ve Got in light of what I don’t have…

A seminary degree. A cool, pastory title beside my name. An office. A collar (though I did find out that anyone can buy these through church supply catalogs – I don’t think they actually require your credentials at check-out). A stamp of approval on my ministry from a sanctioned institute of higher religious education (is that redundant?).

But every single day since my “true” job title was coined, I pay attention to the work I’ve been doing all along. I look intently into the eyes of the women in my small groups. I hand Kleenex to church members who sometimes have no words for what’s breaking their hearts. I get kisses laced with dinner from children every week and hold hands with teenagers who may not actually have washed their hands since they took their last shower. I pray with families. I eat a lot of crockpot meals around crowded tables. And I love on people. A lot. Because that’s what Wannabe Pastors do.

What I’ve got is a career that was tailor-made for me. It didn’t come with a job description (I actually write those myself). It didn’t provide me with a Rev. or Dr. to dress up my signature. But I Want What I’ve Got as a Wannabe Pastor because, at least for today, this is where God can use me.

This is a call-out to all of the Wannabe Rock Stars, Poets, Photographers, Athletes, Counselors, Doctors and Pastors of the world…

You are the best Wannabe for the job! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It’s more than okay to Want What You’ve Got whether it came with an awesome title or not (of course you can always go for the title, too).

You can Wannabe anything you wanna be! (Can I get an Amen?)

Daily Questions: What would you say your “true” job title is today? How does what you do at work connect with who you are becoming? Would taking on a Wannabe job title change the way you look at what you do for a living (or perhaps help you to Want What You’ve Got)? Does thinking about your life like this cause you to ask questions about your job? Your commitments? Your future plans? Go ahead – ask them!

Want What You’ve Got! (pockets)

Khaki pantsI used to have this amazing pair of cargo pants.

Purchased at a second hand store, these khakis were like new when I bought them – and a coveted label to boot. They were lightweight, making them wearable in desert temps, and they fit perfectly – not too tight, not too loose. They never held a stain and they never needed more than a good shake before wearing.

But the most amazing thing about these pants was the pockets.

Of course there were two front pockets, only these ones were deep enough to fit my whole hand inside and to keep whatever I might put in there from falling out when I sat down. There were two back pockets, too, and they buttoned to keep cash or a credit card from being removed inadvertently. Each leg had a generous, button-shut pocket on the side, just above the knee, which made for ideal cell phone storage or for staging a Chapstick. And on the right pant leg, just above the hem, was a small pocket with a Velcro closure that was perfectly sized for a car key.

In these pants a person could shop all day without lugging a bulky purse through the mall! In these pants, hiking was a breeze without a backpack to weigh you down! Not only was I stylin’ while wearing these practical beauties, but I was able to have everything I needed within reach, no matter what the day might bring.

I wore them until the day that threadbare and patched became hole-y and inappropriate – and then I threw them away.

No doubt did I Want What I’ve Got while in possession of this marvelous utility-wear!

Our lives were created with pockets, too. We have just the right amount of storage to get through a day well-equipped for whatever may transpire. When we choose wisely, our lives contain exactly what is needed, as Jesus described in Matthew 13:52 (The Message):

“…every student well-trained in God’s kingdom is like the owner of a general store who can put his hands on anything you need, old or new, exactly when you need it.”

It’s when we start store-housing our excess that the problems begin.

With pockets bulging, over-stuffed with our desires, we feel the weight of the world. We move more slowly, have trouble finding what we need among our wants, and sometimes we just don’t make it through the day for the burden we bear.

Some of us have filled our pockets with problems and worries about our own lives – Will I have enough? Will I be prepared? Will I make a good impression? Do these jam-packed pockets make me look fat?

Some of us have chosen to cram our pockets with the burdens of others, weighing us down and keeping us from having the freedom to move and act and do stuff. Instead of things we need to hold onto, some of us keep finding lint and dirty tissues and even rocks with someone else’s name on them in the deep recesses of the pockets of our lives. Some may even need a belt to keep those britches on for the sheer weight of what we’re carrying around!

Today, dig down deep and take a long, hard look at what you’re keeping in your pockets.

If you can’t honestly say that you Want What You’ve Got, then you’ve got some laundry to do.

Daily Questions: As you begin each day, how do you feel? Weighed down? Burdened? Or light on your feet? What keeps you from finding joy when you need it? Or words of encouragement? Or hope? What are you stockpiling for tomorrow that keeps you from finding or carrying what is needed today? What are you hauling around for others that you need to give back or get rid of?

Want What You’ve Got! (tears)

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I sat in my parked car on the driveway the other day with the cell phone held tight against my ear. On the other end was one of the most dear and gracious women I know, and when her tears began to flow, so did mine. It hurts to let go of our loved ones – to be the one left behind.

Later in the day, as I was loading up the car to make an after-school carpool run, I spotted my next door neighbor in his garage. I haven’t seen him outside for weeks – he’s quite ill and his daughter has moved in to care for him. I stopped to chat and couldn’t help but notice how tired and gaunt his face had become. He told me about the way his condition drains every ounce of energy. He said that most of the time he just wants to rest – to fall asleep and never wake up. His words made me sad and I remembered the tear-stained face of his daughter as she returned from a walk last week. It hurts to watch our loved ones suffer without a way to really ease their pain.

Family drama, broken relationships, fences in dire need of mending, lonely tears of hopelessness which threaten to end a life… From our jail cells to our hospital beds, it hurts to be a part of this desperately broken world.

Are we to want the tears, too? Because I’m pretty sure none of us can really Want What We’ve Got when what we’ve got is so far from the way we want things to be.

Tears betray our true condition. The Psalmist’s words resonate with us in the midst of our trials:

“I’m tired of all this—so tired. My bed has been floating forty days and nights on the flood of my tears. My mattress is soaked, soggy with tears. The sockets of my eyes are black holes; nearly blind, I squint and grope.” (Psalm 6:6, 7 MSG)

From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is filled with the desperate cries of our forefathers and mothers. No one wants to be lost, hurt, lonely, wounded, left for dead, homeless or abandoned, yet these are the days of our lives. If we believe in a good God and yet suffer calamity along with those who have no faith, why in the world should we Want What We’ve Got if what we’ve got only leads us to rivers of tears?

I have only one answer today, and you’re probably not going to like it. It may not be enough to satisfy your need to understand your suffering. I really wish there was more I could say… but the common denominator among the most tear-filled passages of scripture is that, while squinting and groping, we do the only thing we can do while gasping for air and battling to stay afloat… we cry out to God.

If tears are what you’ve got today, you have something to offer to the God who collects every tear in His bottle (Psalm 56:8) and records every pain in His book. Like it or not, our tears draw us toward God, and this may be the only way through the rainy season you find yourself in.

So scream out loud, shake your fists, cry your tears of anger and confusion! The God who longs for you to look His way is going to be there to meet you when you turn, and He can take whatever you can dish out in your struggle to Want What You’ve Got.

Daily Questions: What kinds of tears are you crying today – tears of disappointment? Anger? Frustration? Betrayal? Loss? If the only good thing about tears is that they position us to connect with the God who loves us, are you willing to reach past the hurt to the Healer? Read through the Psalms for proof that God is close to the brokenhearted (start with Psalm 34 & 42).

Want What You’ve Got! (Lent)

One year at camp I heard a pastor share a version of the Ten Commandments stated positively. Instead of saying Thou Shalt Not, this rendition of the original top-Ten list spun God’s commands in such a way that discipline-averse folks might embrace them.

I didn’t write them down. I haven’t been able to find them worded quite the way they were spoken that year at camp. But one of them – the positive interpretation of Thou Shalt Not Covet – burned itself onto my heart around the campfire and continues to send sparks flying each time my green-eyed monster rears its greedy little head:

Want what you’ve got.

The season of Lent has begun on this day with ashes from last year’s Palm Sunday fingerpainted on my forehead; the shape of a cross barely visible in the dark & oily mess as I lean into the mirror for a closer look. My first inclination is to grab a tissue and wipe it off – it’s as if I’ve got a billboard on my face that reads “this is as good as it gets, people.” Dust, dirt, sin, grease. On display for everyone to see.

I want to wipe it off!
I want to fit in when I walk into Safeway for a gallon of milk on the way home.
I want to look normal to the majority of people who didn’t go to church today.
I want to like what I see when I look in the mirror, or in my refrigerator, or at my checkbook, or closet, or scale, or when I look into the eyes of my loved ones at home.

Truth be told – I want a lot of things. I spend an enormous amount of time, energy and resources on acquiring those things. But then what?

When today’s purchases are hanging in the closet, lined up on the pantry shelves or plugged in beside my bed – then what?

Honestly? I want more.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to want what you’ve got? I have.
Today I can’t help but wonder how my life might be different if I were brave enough to believe God when He says:

“Just think – you don’t need a thing, you’ve got it all! All God’s gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene for the Finale. And not only that, but God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus. God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that.” I Corinthians 1:7-9 (the Message)

A spiritual adventure beckons today for those of us who feel the Father’s heartbeat in our chests, though all we can see in these mirrors of ours is an ashy, oily smudge where the glory of God ought to be.

What if, for the next 40 days, we were to climb out of and into our bedcovers with this positive commandment in front of us all day long… Want What You’ve Got.

What if, between now and Easter Sunday, we were to choose what we already have over the temptation to buy more, take more, spend more?

And what if, while wanting what we’ve already got, we were to discover that God has given us everything we need?

How might we be different? How might we be changed?

How about we find out… together!

Watch for devotional thoughts and challenges to be posted here every weekday during Lent. Don’t want to miss a post? Subscribe to Pink Shoes Ministries’s blog and have each Want What You’ve Got post delivered to your email inbox.

Welcome to “Life in the Zone!”

We are ALL a work-in-progress! Whether you feel like someone who is “under construction,” “being remodeled,” or “a renovation project,” each one of us is a piece of work (isn’t that the truth)! God’s workmanship, to be precise (Ephesians 2:10).

Having just spent an amazing retreat weekend with the lovely women of Mt. Vernon Presbyterian Church, perhaps a picture is actually worth a thousand words…

May your own Life in the Zone be filled with blessings this week and always!

 

Interested in bringing a Pink Shoes Ministries women’s retreat to your church? Contact Brita for details: brita@pinkshoesministries.me

 

Hair Gel in the Holy Water

Last week I sat across a (very short) table in the church nursery from a mother and her son. As the staff member who is tasked with preparing families for baptism, this meeting was unique by virtue of the child’s age: Justus is eleven.

Of course, for many of you, this is not unexpected; but for those who worship in denominational churches like mine – you understand. Most of the time, when the baptismal waters part in our congregations, the candidate for baptism is an infant – presented by faithful parents with a future Confirmation class in mind. Sitting with me at the table, however, was a mischievous middle-schooler with an infectious enthusiasm for life and a smile that cannot easily be described but which most certainly takes place not at the lips, but at the cellular level.

Our “splash class” proceeded as you might expect, with myself and mom doing most of the talking while Justus’ eyes danced with anticipation. We talked about what to expect at the baptism. We discussed our understanding of what “happens” in the water, when the Spirit of God hovers over the face of the deep and resurrection-life springs forth. We wondered out loud about how much of this baptism was a profession of faith by Justus in God, and how much was God’s own pronouncement that Justus belongs to Him.

I described the upcoming event in detail so as to dispel any possible trepidation on the part of either mother or son, but the look Justus gave me when I described how the water would be splashed onto his head made it abundantly clear that this guy wasn’t nervous about baptism day; instead, he seemed ready to take on some water, and something told me that Justus had never met a puddle or swimming pool he didn’t like.

Sunday came, prayers were offered, and water was poured over Justus’ bowed head in triplicate, “in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.” A candle was lit, a faith chest presented, and the family of God cheered him on.

After the service, I ran into Justus, whose grin betrayed his feelings about the day. Even as I write this now, I’m not sure what I expected to hear when I told him what a great morning it had been. “Yeah,” he chuckled easily, as he reached up with one hand to pat the hair on the top of his head, “and I got hair gel in the holy water!” He was giggling (and so was I) as he turned toward his friends and walked away.

Hair gel in the holy water.

Isn’t it just like God to meet us where we are? For Justus on his baptism day, a holy transaction took place in the water; something human met Someone holy in the process, leaving a swirling residue as proof in the baptismal font. God made His mark on Justus, and the hair gel in the holy water goes to show that God is ready to deal with the consequences of calling imperfect, mischievous, in-progress people to life in the community of His Son; He can handle the messes we make. In fact, He expects them.

Of course, Justus may not have realized all of this at the time, but that doesn’t make it any less so – or any less perfectly beautiful.