Want What You’ve Got! (shhh!)

8ELEVEN-silencePeople can be so infuriating, can’t they? Even in the church.

I was once referred to as Saint Brita by a co-worker who had a penchant for gossip and tiresome chit-chat, often at the expense of those who were not present to explain or defend themselves. I guess I had established myself as someone who wasn’t keen to participate in these third-party tirades, so as I was approaching one day, he called out – Hey! Here comes the Saint!

I wasn’t really sure how to take that.

On the one hand, I was actually offended, at the very least by the tone in his voice.

On the other hand, though I am far from being saintly, I suppose I prefer that label to a variety of others he might have used.

I really can’t recall how I responded at the time, but I’m pretty sure I opted to smile and keep on moving toward bigger, better and more meaningful things. But I stewed about it later. He got under my skin.

Rules of engagement for believers are challenging at best. Sometimes it hurts much more to bite my tongue than it would to spew poison right back at those who hurt and maim with their unkind and provocative words. I tend to move relatively gracefully through such war zones only to find the wounding rhetoric looping in my head for hours – even days – afterwards. I think of all sorts of comebacks after the fact, which riles me up and distracts me from seeing what is really going on: how easily I’m hacked by an enemy for whom no method of intrusion is off-limits.

I stumbled upon these words after my “sainthood” was established, and I have literally clung to them for dear life ever since:

“Excuse yourself from any conversations that turn into foolish and uninformed debates because you know they only provoke fights. As the Lord’s slave, you shouldn’t exhaust yourself in bickering; instead, be gentle—no matter who you are dealing with—ready and able to teach, tolerant without resentment, gently instructing those who stand up against you. Besides, the time may come when God grants them a change of heart so that they can arrive at the full knowledge of truth. And if they come to their senses, they can escape the devil’s snare and walk freed from his captivity and evil bidding.”  2 Timothy 2:23-26 (The Voice)

Sometimes the best response to the one who picks a fight is silence.

So today, in the face of immaturity and insensitivity, excuse yourself. Preserve your strength. Respond gently. Teach tolerantly. Instruct without resentment. Keep your wits about you. Walk free. Want What You’ve Got.

Daily Questions: When was the last time your patience was tested by someone whom Rick Warren would call an EGR – Extra Grace Required? Were they being foolish? Mean-spirited? Opinionated? Judgmental? Speaking out of turn? Un (or Under) -informed? Critical? (Or just annoying?) Shhh! What is the quietest response you can muster under the circumstances? How can you avoid burning a bridge that might be an EGR’s most direct route to the foot of the Cross? Will you meet them there this week?



Want What You’ve Got! (alarm)

English: The face of a black windup alarm clock

English: The face of a black windup alarm clock (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the most-used and indispensable items in my possession is a small, battery operated alarm clock. Without its help, my children would have won the most-tardy award every year in school.

If you must know, I sleep with it just above my pillow, on the mattress, so that when it goes off I will hear it and need only extend an arm to retrieve and silence it before dozing off for a five-minute increment of snooze-sleep. These days it takes a few snooze cycles before I’m sufficiently roused to start the day, but it used to be worse.

Do I set my alarm on days when I have nothing important to accomplish – no meetings or classes or appointments to keep? Are you kidding? Nope. I use my alarm so that I don’t miss the things that matter – like the opportunity to earn a paycheck or spend a day hanging out with my family or friends.

There is a smoke alarm in the laundry room, next to my kitchen. Years ago we learned it best not to keep the alarm in the kitchen, due to my delicately-honed culinary skills. The day that my children heard the fire detector’s alarm sound and followed it up with the announcement that “dinner’s ready!” was the day the relocation took place. Annoyances aside, this alarm may very well have saved my house from being filled with smoke during episodes of aggressive cooking through the years.

Security systems often find their way into our homes in seasons of fearfulness. During one such season, our security company gave us a convenient little key fob to use for arming and disarming the system. What a terrific idea! Our three year old son thought so, too, every time he pushed the distress button after commandeering my keychain. Several apologies later, to the nice policemen who answered those distress calls, the key fob found a nice home in the drawer where I keep my owner’s manuals and the incidence of unwarranted soundings of the alarm were minimized (much to the relief of our entire neighborhood).

We use alarms for things that matter – things like keeping our commitments, insuring our safety, and preserving our possessions. We Want What We’ve Got, so we take measures to keep it, sounding alarms to keep things in check.

So… where’s the alarm to bring us closer to God?

We set alarms every morning to wake us up on time, but where’s the alarm to rouse us from our self-induced spiritual comas?

We set alarms to keep intruders from entering and taking what is ours, but isn’t there an alarm to sound when thought-invaders and joy-stealing bullies overstep their boundaries and threaten our carefully chosen way of life?

I attended the funeral of a dear, older gentleman from my church last week. Near the end of the service, because he had been in military service, an honor guard presented his widow with an American flag. As the first salutatory shot was fired outside the church door, everyone jumped. And wept.

The abruptness of death is what many will say is the wake-up call of the heart.

Losing the companionship of someone we love calls into question our priorities and loyalties and often strips away the pretense that our attempts at living can create. After such a great loss of life we find ourselves dissatisfied with the trivial and petty concerns that used to hold us captive.

Like the powerful blast of the honor guard’s rifles, death sounds an alarm that has the potential to wake you from sleep and draw you close to the heart of the Father, whose welcoming arms are at the ready to embrace you – no matter what state you are in.

This week, as Easter celebrations draw near, hear the metal blast of hammer-on-nail. At the executioner’s stake, the alarm is sounding…

Wake up!

Stop hitting snooze!

This matters!

Life was meant to be lived, and newsflash:  You are alive!

As Holy Week approaches, Want this wake-up call You’ve Got – the life, death and resurrection of a selfless Savior and redeeming King!

Daily Questions: You know, you need not wait until you’re grieving to heed the sounding alarm that says: Connection with God matters. How might you tune in to the soft whisper of the Spirit as He calls out to you in the midst of the events we remember in the coming week? What kind of alarm will it take to awaken what’s snoozing inside of you? How might you participate with God in sounding the alarm for others?

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! (weekend)


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.


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! (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! (pisa)

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Leaning Tower of Pisa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Originally posted as part of a Lenten devotional series, Want What You’ve Got! (pisa) provides food for thought for those who seem to be leaning today.

We have several awesome photographs, spanning a number of European vacations, of various family members standing in front of the Tower of Pisa. You may know it as the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

My favorite version of this family photo op pictures our daughter standing beside her European tour guide (our former exchange student), and she is clearly pleased to be there, posing in front of one of the world’s most recognized structures. Famous because of its failure to stand upright as a building should. Recognized because of its structural malfunction.

Even before its completion, the Tower of Pisa leaned. The ground on one side of the Tower was too soft to hold the structure level, causing it to sink. As the upper floors were constructed, engineers tried to offset the tilt by making one side taller than the other and as a result, the Tower is actually curved.

In recent years a massive reconstruction effort took place in order to save the Leaning Tower from the gravity of its fate. Tons of lead counterweights were added to its base to keep the walls from eventually tumbling down, but because of the obvious tourist attraction, it was determined that any fix could not alter the angle of the lean – only keep it from continuing to tilt. Having been deemed stable in 2008 (for at least another 200 years), the Tower still leans at an angle of 3.97 degrees.

I’m willing to bet that back in 1173, the Tower’s architects didn’t intend for their monument to lean. They started with a plan, just like modern builders do, but were met with unexpected conditions and unanticipated complications once the work had begun.

They had choices at every turn. They could have stopped the project or changed the building’s location to an area of stable ground. They could have altered the design and made the building wider or shorter than originally planned. With every choice, their creation acquired character and substance, ultimately making it into the architectural wonder that it is today.

There had to be some for whom the Pisa debacle was both a disappointment and an embarrassment. Others who were further removed from the construction itself may very well have gotten a chuckle out of watching the fancy new building begin to lean. The Tower team was likely the butt of many jokes in surrounding communities – you can imagine how that must have played out.

In all likelihood, the builders and owners of the Tower of Pisa did not Want What They Got when they realized they had built their house on sand. Little did they know that hundreds of years later, tourists from around the globe would be lining up with toothy grins for snapshots in front of their project-gone-south.

Some of us rolled out of bed today feeling like the butt of someone’s thoughtless joke because what we’ve been working so hard to build is beginning – ever so slightly – to lean.

Some of us are the architects of amazing and wonderful ideas and plans that seem to take on a failed life of their own every time we roll up our sleeves and go to work.

Some of us honestly don’t Want What We’ve Got because what we had pictured in our heads isn’t even close to what’s playing out in front of our eyes.

We’re disappointed. We’re embarrassed. We’re malfunctioning. We’ve failed.

From where we are standing, everything we’ve ever dreamed of is leaning 3.97 degrees off-center and the best we can do is throw some lead on the other side in an attempt to keep the whole thing from crashing to the ground. If we didn’t know better, we would be people without hope, blind and bitter about our inability to predict whether the work of our hands will stand or fall or lean…

And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.” Isaiah 42:16 (KJV)

The good news is that while we cannot see what happens next, God can! Where there is uncertainty, God will navigate! Where there is darkness and confusion, God will illuminate! Where things are crooked and leaning, God will set them straight! Where there is hopelessness, God will not forsake!

Who’s to say that your current structural failure cannot be redeemed? Just look at the Leaning Tower of Pisa! Want What You’ve Got!

Daily Questions: Where has your life failed to live up to your plans? Are there adjustments required? Can you finish this job on your own, or do you need to call in a team of experts to help you finish well? Have you considered that God may have His own plan for the work of your hands? Are you willing to let Him decide whether to right the tower or make a monument out of your mistakes?

Want What You’ve Got! (earplugs)

Individual silicone earplug worn at ear with E...Each spring, as women gather for an annual retreat at a local camp, we prepare a packet of pillow treats. This year’s version was a small blue box which contained a chocolate mint and a pair of earplugs.

Sleeping in a room with others whose sleep habits are different from our own can range from unsettling to nerve wracking to disturbing, and yet most of these women find that it’s worth the disruption every time – to be able to experience God’s presence there in a way that they simply aren’t able to on their own. A pair of soft, foamy earplugs can ease the intrusion of night-sounds from others and can enable us to rest in communityeven if everything about that community isn’t ideal.

Earplugs act as a buffer between our senses and the noises made by those we do life with, making it possible to live with the distractions around us.

My family attended a concert last fall in the gymnasium of a small local college. The headliners were the real draw, but the warm-up band was one we were also eager to hear (a new band formed from a long-time favorite group, recently separated). We had an opportunity to sit in the second row from the stage, so we took it! This was the new band’s very first concert and we weren’t going to miss out! But as the music began to rattle the metal rafters of the drafty old gym, my ears began to pop. Then hurt. Then sting. We stuck it out for a couple of songs but ended up moving all the way to the back wall of the room to protect our ears, albeit too little, too late. The damage was done and my ears hurt for days afterward. Earplugs would have been a good idea.

Earplugs protect our hearing and minimize the damage caused by poorly mixed sound and the sometimes ridiculously loud-living of others.

It can be excruciatingly difficult to Want What You’ve Got while lying sleepless next to someone who is snoring the night away. It can be painful to Want What You’ve Got when what sounded like a great idea ends up sounding like something that no human ear ought to be called upon to endure. And it can be awfully hard to Want What You’ve Got when the words and choices and actions of those around you blast loudly through your own efforts to live a peaceful, well-ordered life – and yet, here we are. All in this together.

Earplugs offer a subtle, unseen way for us to be proactive in creating harmony in a dissonant world (unless you go for the hot pink or neon orange variations).

Earplugs can create space in our jam-packed living conditions so that we can think and rest and move about without alienating those closest to us whose habits and volume threaten to create discord.

James 3:17-18 says it this way:

“Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.” (The Message)

If you’re finding it difficult to Want What You’ve Got while living with (and sleeping with) some intensely distracting sounds, remember this…

If you have to wear earplugs in order to sleep at night, you are in relationship! You are not alone! Healthy, robust connections with others aren’t accidental – they only happen when we do the hard work of getting along and treating each other with dignity and respect (and by choosing to quietly put the earplugs in place, as needed).

Daily Questions: What are the life-noises that tend to drive you crazy (think actual noise as well as felt noise – like people’s opinions, attitudes, actions, etc.)? What or who is the source of this noise? Is enduring this noise necessary in order to keep relationships/community intact? If yes, what might your ‘earplugs’ look like? What gentle, subtle choices can you make to buffer against the loudness around you? If no, maybe it’s time to cut some cords or turn down the volume on some of your personal live-feeds in order to Want What You’ve Got.

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! (wedding)

Wedding bouquetIn a few short months I will be traveling abroad to share in the joy of a family member’s much anticipated wedding. Though we have no real responsibilities concerning the event, my family is making plans for travel, lodging, financing (ouch!) and – of course – what to wear.

I bought my dress months ago (actually, I bought two dresses, just in case I changed my mind), but apparently I’ve over-indulged in comfort food this winter. To the tune of (at least) a couple of pounds, I’ve got some dieting to do. At least that’s what the scale is telling me.

Why is it that I can never seem to Want What I’ve Got where weight is concerned? I look in the mirror and I can’t say that I have real problems with what I see there, but then I jump on the scale and immediately feel the need to pop some appetite suppressants and drink a gallon of water. It isn’t that my dress for the wedding doesn’t fit, so what’s really going on here?

Amy Grant had a song that I listened to in the 80’s – my mind hit the play button just now:

“You’ve gotta know who to – who not to – listen to… They’re gonna hit you from all sides, better make up your mind who to – who not to – listen to.”

There’s a voice inside my head that says perfection is the goal. And for me, perfection was 8-10 lbs ago.

There’s a voice shouting out from the media that says “you’ve gotta look like this” as I walk past the freshly-pressed Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition at the grocery store.

There’s another voice that says I can only enjoy myself and feel good about life if I can manage to wear my skinny jeans for more than two hours without cutting off the circulation to my feet.

And there’s a really loud voice, disguised as the people I love, that says I’m only lovable when I look good to others. This lying voice tells me that looking good is inseparable from things like height/weight charts, the body fat index, how I look in a swimsuit and whether I can still wear my pre-pregnancy wardrobe.

Amidst the clamor of voices vying for my attention comes the still, small voice of the Spirit, who whispers:

“…what matters is not your outer appearance – the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes – but your inner disposition. Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in.” I Peter 3:3-4 (The Message)

Last week one of my sisters in the faith shared an unedited epiphany with our study group. I found myself teary-eyed as she boldly proclaimed (forgive my poorly paraphrased translation) that…

I am beautiful to God just the way I am! This extra weight says that I’ve quit smoking! This gut says that I’m a Mom! These sags and bags say that I nursed my babies! I have a husband who loves me for just being me! How can I not be okay with who I am?

How can I not Want What I’ve Got?

For me – and for my friend – there will never be a shortage of critical voices to listen to…

Scales. Calipers. Pant sizes. Media. Competition. Perfection. Guilt.

The challenge for us today is to know who to – and who not to – listen to.

Because the voices… they will hit you from all sides.The best course of action for living a Want What You’ve Got life in a get-what-you-want world is to make up your mind and tune in to the voices that speak truth, improve your disposition, increase your capacity for grace, and cultivate inner beauty.

I may delight for a moment in being the ‘perfect’ weight, but that moment will pass and my critic (the scale) will remain. May you choose instead to delight the heart of God by wearing your true, ageless beauty on your sleeve – no matter what size that sleeve is.

Daily Questions: Are you satisfied with your current weight and fitness level? If not, what is the source of your dissatisfaction? Is Wanting What You’ve Got an option for you in this area, or is your physical state keeping you from pursuing the kind of beauty that gives glory to God? What can you do about it? Whose voice do you need to listen to today?