Want What You’ve Got! (maintenance)

Dental flossApparently, I have a tiny mouth.

(Those of you who beg to differ, see yesterday’s post: Shhh!)

From my strategic position in the dental recliner, I complied with every request to open wider, turn my head this way, close my mouth around the suction hose thingy, stick out my tongue… All in the name of maintenance.

We all know that dental maintenance pays, right? I have a friend who is a dental assistant and I’ve heard stories, man. Stories of what can happen when we take our dental health for granted.

Kids, floss every day. Seriously. It’s worth it all when you take your place in The Chair.

Today I was told that my gum health is good – no bleeding. Hooray!

No X-rays on this visit, but apparently no trouble spots, either. I was in and out of the hot seat in less than 25 minutes, sporting some pearly white chompers and a shiny new toothbrush to boot.

The things we possess require maintenance. Teeth, hair, hearts, bodies… Feet.

Today is what many in church-world refer to as Maundy Thursday. On this day during what we call Holy Week (the week before Jesus’ resurrection), Jesus shared one last meal with His friends before His arrest. This wasn’t just any meal, either. As they gathered around the table in a borrowed room, the Jewish lot assembled there did so in remembrance of the Exodus – in celebration of the Passover.

Jesus did something shocking around the table that night. Taking the position of a servant – on the floor with towel and water – Jesus performed some badly needed maintenance on the feet of His followers.

Can you imagine how unpleasant it would be to wash the feet of guys who have been hoofing it in sandals for who knows how long since their last shower? Picking up each foot and, with the help of some water, scrubbing off those road-weary hoofs demonstrated to the dumb-struck diners just how unconventional and counter-cultural this Jesus really was.

And it modeled for them the need to maintain what matters most.

“Within pain and filth, there is an opportunity to extend God’s kingdom through an expression of love, humility, and service. This simple act of washing feet is a metaphor for how the world looks through the lens of Jesus’ grace. He sees the people—the world He created—which He loves. He also sees the filthy corruption in the world that torments everyone. His mission is to cleanse those whom He loves from those horrors.

This is His redemptive work with feet, families, disease, famine, and hearts. When Jesus sees disease, He sees the opportunity to heal. When He sees sin, He sees a chance to forgive and redeem. When He sees dirty feet, He sees a chance to wash them.” John 13:11 (The Voice)

We spend a whole lot of time, energy and resources on the maintenance of our possessions and toys. Boats, houses, atv’s, cars, carpets, landscaping, computers, closets… While some of this maintenance is essential, the rest of it is costing us – breaking the bank, so to speak – and keeping us from investing in those things that matter most.

Teeth require maintenance or else you’ll suffer. Cavities, root canals, and crowns all cost much more in terms of time and tender (and pain management) than the few minutes it takes to maintain dental health each day.

Relationships require maintenance, too. So do attitudes and energy. To keep them operating at full potential, all of our investments call for a commitment to ongoing (yes, even routine) preservation efforts.

Dates. Coffee breaks. Naps. Exercise. Prayer. Bible study. Conversations. Celebrations. Dental floss. All a part of the necessary maintenance for those who Want What They’ve Got, and want to keep it around for a very long time.

Daily Questions: Think about the maintenance investments you make on a daily, weekly or regular basis. What gets the most attention in your world? The lawn? The laundry? Kids? Spouse? Electronics? Your own well-being and spiritual health? Weigh the things you value most by the attention you award them… Telling, isn’t it? Maybe there are some dirty feet in your world that need washing today. Maybe there are some maintenance contracts you need to break in order to tend to those feet, and to that which matters most. Want What You’ve Got? Take good care of it today.

Advertisements

Want What You’ve Got! (bully)

Person, Homeless, Bullied, Hiding, Alone, Sadness, Male

maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com

When I was in elementary school – fourth grade, to be exact – I was bullied by a kid named Chris. Chris singled me out early in the year, choosing to call me names other than the one my parents had chosen for me: Burrito and It.

The fact that I can still remember Chris’ face and the names he called me hints at just how deeply I was wounded by his childish and unrelenting teasing. People would tell me – especially well-meaning adults – that boys only tease girls this way because they like you…

Really? I didn’t believe it then. Still don’t.

In high school a bully named Clyde chose me from a pool of classmates. His stares violated my personal space for months – usually followed by whispers to his friends, their stares joining his, and then laughter or inappropriate comments. Or both. He so rattled my self-confidence that I actually sought help from the school counselor to make it stop (which is a big deal in high school – seeing the counselor meant that you were either in trouble or wimpy). I don’t remember it helping – in fact, I think it made things worse. After nearly failing a semester of chemistry with Clyde in the room, one of us had to go. I can still remember how his cruel oogling pierced my fragile self-image. Obviously – scars remain.

Joseph knew what it was like to be bullied – he had endured it all of his life. It probably didn’t help that he was Daddy’s favorite, sporting a colorful testimony of his father’s affection that day as he joined his older brothers in the fields. Joseph was dropped in a deep hole and sold as a slave to travelers by those who ought to have been looking out for him instead. Betrayed by those closest to him, Joseph began a life-journey that he did not choose and that he did not want.

Fast-forward to the scene described in Genesis 50 – Joseph, reunited with the family bullies, has just buried his father. Afraid that their now-powerful and influential little brother may be ready for payback, the clan begs Joseph not to retaliate. In a decidedly poignant foreshadowing of God’s redemptive plan, Joseph responds to his brothers with these words:

“It is true that you planned to do something bad to me. But really, God was planning good things. God’s plan was to use me to save the lives of many people. And that is what happened.” Genesis 50:20 (ERV)

Joseph had learned what our Savior Jesus knew as He hung, dying – a victim of brutality – bullying unto death. Jesus’ words, as recorded in Luke 23:34, are a glimpse into the truth Joseph spoke years before:

“Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.”

They think this will shut me up. It won’t.

They think they can get rid of me forever. They can’t.

They think they are doing this to me. They aren’t.

Let’s be clear – there is a bully at work here – but the enemy of Christ, of Joseph, even the enemy of me isn’t Chris or Clyde or jealous siblings or military powers or church leaders. These folks don’t know what they’re doing! Mistaking the power they wield as their own, these bullies think they are causing harm and inflicting pain.

The bully – the enemy of God – has been rallying troops of broken, hurting, insecure people since the Story began. Jesus knew, Joseph discovered, and I’m slowly beginning to understand that while bullies participate in the work of the enemy, they aren’t him. My battles aren’t against people any more than Jesus was put to death by the power of some nails and a couple of pieces of wood. The person calling me names and reaching out toward me with ill intent is a piece of clay, just like me. Only, I choose to be shaped by the hands of the Potter rather than worked over by a craftsman whose commitment to his workmanship ends when it’s usefulness does, too.

No one Wants What They’ve Got when it’s a bully who’s dishing it out.

Joseph didn’t. I surely didn’t. Jesus didn’t, either. He even asked God to let Him pass on sipping from that cup.

But in the hands of the Potter and the Author of our faith, backwards is the new forwards! God is planning good things, and evil intent can be appropriated and used to shape a vessel that holds Living Water in quantities generous enough to quench the thirst of the whole world. Or fill the tummies of an entire famine-inflicted nation.

So – Want What You’ve Got, bullies and all, and wait for it…

Because no matter how things look today, God’s intentions are very, very good.

Daily Questions: Who are the bullies in your life today? Are you down in the trenches – or down in the dumps – struggling with an enemy you can see with your eyes? Think again. The world thought that the enemies of Jesus got the better of Him on the cross, but the real bully was waiting for Him on the other side. The resurrection proves that Jesus fought that battle and won! Choose today to want the eternal security you’ve got in Christ; stop giving so much power (and credit) to the bullies in your life! They really don’t know what they’re doing!

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! (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! (help)

Help

Help (Photo credit: Hil)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Want What You’ve Got! (papasan)

papasanI have wanted a papasan chair for as long as I can remember. It sounds silly (maybe shallow) – I know. I have a house full of chairs and couches and cushions, but there is just something irresistibly inviting about a papasan seat.

I’ve always been able to dismiss the thought of purchasing a papasan by simply looking at the price tag. While not costly in the world of furniture, I just haven’t been able to justify the buy. After all, this would be my chair! And isn’t it ridiculous for an adult to buy a chair that she has no intention of sharing?

Weeks ago I nearly tripped over a papasan frame while second-hand shopping. This particular store doesn’t tag their items, but when I was given the opportunity to buy it for $10, I simply couldn’t resist. I took my prize home and hung it in the garage until I could earn enough points on my credit card for a soft, cuddly cushion from Pier I. Almost two months after squeezing the generous frame into my little car, I sat down in my very own papasan chair for the very first time.

I don’t sit down much. With work commitments and family activities and church functions and errands to run, it’s extremely rare for me to stop moving long enough to sit during the day. But the first time that I sat in my papasan chair, which is tucked into the limited space between my bed and my bookshelf, I covered up with a scandalously soft blanket given to me by a friend and I closed my eyes. And fell asleep.

Do you have a place where you can go to simply rest ?

As ridiculous as it sounds, when I sit in just about any other chair in my house, I am unable to rest. I see the piles of laundry to be washed and folded. I see the books I should be reading for the groups I’m leading this week. I see the computer where dozens of emails wait to be read and responded to. Rarely am I able to sit for more than a few minutes before my to-do list trumps my need for silence, and reflection turns into production once again.

Each time I take a break from my driven, scheduled way of life to sit quietly in my chair, I can’t help but Want What I’ve Got.

Would you believe that Jesus advised His followers to find their own papasan chairs?

Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.” (Matthew 6:6 The Message)

When I sit still in my papasan chair, bringing only myself (and my blankie) before God, shift happens. Some days it takes longer than others, but eventually my self-centered thoughts are replaced by the comforting presence of the One whose grace I most desperately need and whose gifts I am most thankful for.

Today, why not curl up somewhere cozy and be your quirky self in the presence of God? Make Him your focus so that grace may abound!

Daily Questions: Look around your house today – is there a place where you can minimize distractions and take time out to be still as you get to know God? What would it take for shift to happen for you? Want the space you’ve got by redeeming a nook or a cranny! Some folks I know have a Grace-Space in their homes where family members can go and not be interrupted – a chair or a corner where a Bible or a blanket or a candle are kept for use in quiet moments of reflection and prayer.

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! (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! (turbulence)

This picture from a NASA study on wingtip vort...

I took my seat in the small commuter plane, my view of the tarmac hindered by the craft’s propeller. Sitting three rows in from the door, no one sat in front of me – the other 8 passengers were all seated further back (feeling safer over the wings, I suppose).

As we took flight, we bounced around a bit – no surprise considering the wind that always blows so vigorously in the region we were leaving behind. One passenger in particular came to my mind as we sought to find smooth air – a young man who had seemed particularly nervous as he boarded, asking questions of the flight attendant that I hadn’t overheard. I felt for him as I remembered my own flight experiences over the years, and then I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep.

Turbulence happens. When you choose to fly, you run the risk of unstable air from time to time. Rookie passengers feel every bump and drop as if it signals their end, but you can always spot the veteran – asleep or engrossed in a book even before cruising altitude is reached. Airborne over the Rockies this weekend, it hit me that turbulence is something that makes me Want What I’ve Got.

Life is a lot like air travel, and not everyone buys a ticket. Some are so afraid of flying that they will opt out of life’s opportunities in order to avoid their discomfort and fear. Feet firmly planted on the ground, many will buy into the illusion that to live is to be safe – safe from risk, safe from potential harm, safe from the unknown.

What we miss when we opt for safety-at-all-costs is the indescribable joy that is available only to those who risk it all to fully live!

When I was a fresh young twenty-something, I arrived at the lake a little too late to join my sailing group, already en route to a picnic-friendly beach across the water. They had left a boat behind – a small Sunfish daysailer – but I had never actually rigged a boat all by myself.

I don’t know how long I contemplated my options before I went for it – managing to rig that boat like a boss (as my son would say)! I climbed in and set sail alone with a grin stretched across my face and some lovely wind filling my modest sail. I reached the opposite shore before some of my group did, and I can honestly say I have never felt so equipped to live as I did on that defining summer day.  

Toward the end of His earthly life, Jesus told His friends that, in spite of everything that was about to transpire, “I’m not abandoned. The Father is with me. I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” (John 16:32b-33 MSG)

In this godless world, you and I will suffer. In the words of the pilot of the plane I am on, “occasional bumps will occur.” Unstable air is a byproduct of living in a broken world, but as children of God, we can rest unshaken because the bumps that toss us around cannot hurt us – not as long as we take heart and take flight with the One who has conquered it all.

You may not Want What You’ve Got when the challenges come – in this you are not alone. But maybe it’s high time you realize that peace doesn’t come from not taking risks… It comes from trusting Jesus as you board the plane.

So, if you’re experiencing turbulence today, remember it’s because you dared to fly.

Daily Questions: When was the last time you experienced turbulence in the air? What thoughts went through your mind as you were buckled into that airplane seat? What kinds of turbulence are you experiencing today – on the ground? What do Jesus’ words in John 16 say to you in the midst of the unstable circumstances of your life?