Want What You’ve Got! (the end)

Rose from ashesI sit at the kitchen table, slowly addressing the huge stack of graduation announcements for my son. My youngest, who ten minutes ago still needed me to lay down beside him at bedtime so that he could fall asleep. I look at the young man in the photos as I stuff cards into envelopes, and I’m genuinely mystified as to where the time has gone. This parenting adventure, though overrated at times, has been more sweet than bitter and I’m suddenly aware of just how difficult it’s going to be to let go. I can’t believe we’re down to the last month of high school – and childhood’s end.

Sitting across from her, I can’t help but see the toll this cancer has taken. It’s a short visit, but it feels infinitely more important than any face-time we’ve ever had before. We sing, we pray, we talk, we laugh, and all the while I’m crying tears on the inside, fully aware of how surreal these moments are. And how holy this space is. And how ill-prepared we are for life to end.

Were you there when they crucified my Lord? I wasn’t either, but today it isn’t a stretch for me to imagine how Jesus’ family of followers felt as the horrific events of “good” Friday played out. No one wants what they’ve got when something beautiful is ending, whether that thing is childhood, a relationship, a job, or the life of someone they love. But Jesus taught that endings are a prelude to new beginnings:

“It is a fact that a grain of wheat must fall to the ground and die before it can grow and produce much more wheat. If it never dies, it will never be more than a single seed. Whoever loves the life they have now will lose it. But whoever is willing to give up their life in this world will keep it. They will have eternal life.” John 12:23-25 (ERV)

Kids grow up and become adults, and the baby I once held will one day nurture life in others, too. People die. Sisters and mothers and daughters – and even the Savior of the world – reach the end of their days, and their lives are planted like seed so that the rest of us can grow to be better, stronger, kinder, wiser people. We may not see the bloom on this side, but I am convinced that the garden that awaits us is a resurrection garden, full of life and color and fruit and energy that this broken world of ours could never sustain.

When you don’t want the endings you’ve got, you are in good company  – even Jesus asked for a Plan B. But just as Jesus’ life did not end with His death, but ushered in the Kingdom of God, so your endings will be the start of something God-ordained and new.

It’s hard to see it now, I know, but seed takes time to grow. Give it time – and Want What You’ve Got while you wait.

Daily Questions: What are the endings you are facing today? Some endings feel good! What do you look forward to in this next, new season? Some endings are brutal. What do you dread most as you face this loss/change/transition? Maybe you’ve been holding onto a “seed” that, if planted, might bring life and joy and health and good stuff to others! Think about what needs to die in your life so that God’s resurrection garden can grow.

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.

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! (brand)

Be yourself / Sé tú

(Photo credit: victor_nuno)

Have you updated your resume lately?

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s how it rolls…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Want What You’ve Got! (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?

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Want What You’ve Got! (weekend)

Remember photo albums?

Those weighty books with thick, plastic-covered pages which, when peeled back, revealed a sticky surface for mounting photos of people and places and events worth remembering? I’ll bet you have half a dozen of them tucked away in a closet or under a bed somewhere. Mine are stored in a trunk that doubles as a coffee table and they don’t see much daylight, poor things.

Some of the photos in your albums are ancient, dating back a generation or two, chronicling the lives and days of family members you may never have actually met.

Some of those pictures are embarrassing, with hairstyles and expressions and clothing choices you would honestly rather forget.

And inhabiting some of your albums are photos of trips and vacations with dear friends and family that this weekend, you need to be reminded of.

If you are fortunate enough to have a photo album collection, you are blessed to have a visual history and record of at least some of your memories! Have you ever showed these photos to your kids? To your grandchildren? How long has it been since you’ve tripped down this photo-induced memory lane with your spouse?

Every picture tells a story, and your stories were meant to be told! Grab the dust rag, unearth those bulky volumes, and Want What You’ve Got this weekend by remembering and celebrating your life and your loved ones the old-fashioned way, compliments of Kodak.

 

 

 

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! (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! (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)?