Want What You’ve Got! (weekend)

Bubbles and shell

Bubbles and shell (Photo credit: Fellowship of the Rich)

This weekend I have the unique privilege of spending time with a family of four, in preparation for their baptisms. Do you remember your baptism?

I don’t. I was tiny, judging from the size of the baptismal gown that has been worn by many a baby in our family’s faith tradition. Many of us share this memory-gap when it comes to our initiation into God’s family, coming from traditions with deep roots and long histories.

The language I’ve inherited for these baptism classes I teach is kind of fun – they’re called Splash classes. Usually I meet with the parents of a baby or young child, discussing with them the connection between water and Spirit, and talking through what they can expect on baptism day. We light a candle, share stories from our experiences with the sacrament, and we talk about what it means to be a member of God’s family – at any age.

One of the gifts that is given to each family is a page-full of ideas for living out their baptism as believers in a dry and thirsty land. These suggestions for walking wet as a family include things like praying together at mealtimes and bedtime, listening to scripture songs in the car, and modeling a life of God-seeking for others by “getting caught” reading your Bible and praying at home.

Walking wet means living out a whole slew of potentially trite sayings – things like: Practicing what you preach. Walking the talk. More being ‘caught’ than taught.

Walking wet means keeping your cup full (vs half-anything) so that there’s enough Living Water in your life to splash around in. To splash on others. To have some fun with!

I don’t know your story. I don’t know whether you were sprinkled as an infant, dunked as a grown-up, or whether you’ve been splashed on by the Spirit in some equally supernatural way.

This weekend, will you consider what it means to Want What You’ve Got in terms of Water supply?

If you’ve been baptized, will you take time to remember and thank God for your faithful family members and the nudge of the Spirit that brought you to the river’s edge?

If you’ve been involved with God’s family but haven’t yet taken the plunge, will you consider joining many who, on Easter, will take their first dip in God’s sea of forgiveness and forgetfulness on this grace-filled day?

And if you’re dry and dehydrated and seek something holy to quench your thirst, will you come to the Water for something much, much better than the temporary beverage this world is trying to sell?

Whether it’s a puddle or a birdbath, a pond or a wave, a squirt gun or a water balloon… let’s make a Spirit-splash and Want What We’ve Got today!

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! (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! (pisa)

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Leaning Tower of Pisa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We have an awesome photograph of our daughter standing in front of the Tower of Pisa. You may know it as the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Standing beside her European tour guide (our family’s former exchange student), our daughter 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 day 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 locations 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 that 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! (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?

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?

Want What You’ve Got! (challenger)

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It has recently become clear to my family that we are in need of a car. With my husband’s commute of more than 90 miles each way to work, our well-used and mileage-laden minivan has begun to send signals that it is road-weary and ready for some respite time on the driveway. A few weeks ago we began our vehicle search…

Before we knew it, we were standing in front of the car of my dreams – a Dodge Challenger. Moments later, we were on a test drive and I was salivating over this muscle car that I had never dreamed we might actually one day own.

Exercising great restraint, we stayed out of the dealer’s cubicle and opted instead to wait and test drive a few other models before making a decision, which we did, but two days later we were seated inside the Dodge salesman’s office – contemplating financing and sitting face-to-face with paperwork on the dream car.

It was taking a really long time (I guess it always does), and we had a family study group to host and feed in only a few hours. My husband finally, wisely, turned to me and said that we should go home, think about it, and come back later in the week if this was really what we wanted to do. He was right, so we left – fully intending to return and take our baby home in a day or two.

Our study that night was the study I mentioned at the beginning of this Lenten series, and the concept that was introduced as we sat around the living room was the idea of having enough. If we have what we need, can we seriously say that this is enough and allow God to re-allocate our excess for the benefit of those who don’t?

After everyone went home and my husband and I were cleaning up, he said:

“I don’t think you’re going to like my take-away from our study tonight.”

Holding out hope that he wasn’t going to say what I thought he was going to say, I waited for the kicker…

“I think the Challenger is more than enough.”

And he was right. I knew it. Didn’t like it, but I knew that what he was saying was true.

The faithful response to the needs in our lives is to meet the need. Our need was for a road-worthy vehicle which would safely get my husband to work and serve our pocketbook as well. Ultimately, we decided it was also in our best interest to buy a vehicle that might not harm the environment any more than necessary, either, and so our hybrid purchase sits on the driveway today, sporting 50 miles per gallon and smiling at me every time I look outside.

I may not smile back as much as I would have if my Challenger sat outside instead, but I can honestly say that I Want What I’ve Got. May you also opt for that which is enough today so that your overflow tomorrow might be just enough to meet the needs of those around you – those who are waiting for the smile that only you can give.

Daily Questions: What purchases are you contemplating in the next several months? Are you willing to honestly evaluate your needs and buy only that which is enough to meet them?

Want What You’ve Got! (stories)

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I spent a recent weekend at a retreat with some of the most amazing women I’ve been blessed to know. Throughout the event, woven into the fabric of our time together, were bursts of laughter, warm and comforting hugs, honest questions, brilliant epiphanies, the sting of tears, and… stories.

Our stories – the re-telling of our trials and triumphs – aren’t always the stories we want to claim. Many of us have experienced things in our lifetime that we still wish hadn’t happened.

But our stories make us who we are today, and who we are today is a work of God! Each challenge we’ve faced and every turn of events we’ve navigated serves to shape and define us. This is what I noticed as I listened to the stories being lifted up by the women around me, and as I saw each of my sisters in her present reality (uniquely gifted, impassioned and equipped to serve) I was struck by how each is the sum of her stories plus the power of her God.

You may not like all of the stories of your life. You might not willingly embrace your past or see yourself as a holy equation in process. You may not Want What You’ve Got – the trauma and issues and drama you’ve been dealt. But your stories are only part of the math, and if you’re breathing, there is more calculation yet to be done.

Today, think back to elementary school and consider yourself a holy story problem! Stop trying to undo what cannot be undone and instead choose to yield to the One who knows how to do the math.

And tell your stories to those of us who need to believe that God is working it all out in the present problems of our lives, because we need you to Want What You’ve Got so that we can, too.

Daily Questions: Think back over your life and remember some of the trials God has seen you through. What difficult or painful situations has God delivered you from? How has He redeemed your stories? How has God used your stories to bring hope, perspective or healing to others? Is there a story from your past or present that God wants you to be telling (and to whom)?