Cardboard Blessings

Women had written on both sides of a piece of cardboard. As background music played, women walked in, one at a time, holding her sign in front of her. The side that showed to all of us in the room described a burden, struggle, or doubt that impacted her life and faith. There was some tough stuff: drug abuse, pride, self-doubt, a relative’s suicide, chronic illness, abuse, and more. Each woman carried her sign like a confession, a public admission that her life wasn’t perfect.

Something marred it and still impacted her life. In some cases, tears sneaked down a woman’s face as she walked in front of the room and down the center aisle. In many cases, tears streamed down the faces of those of us who read the sign and saw a glimpse of women’s hearts. Perhaps we were catching glimpses of our own hearts.

Then each woman flipped her sign to reveal something that had changed in her life, a way God had provided, a truth about who she has become, or a truth about God she is claiming because of who God is. The flip side revealed redemption and blessing. Each of the women’s lives is not tied up in a neat and tidy bow, but she has changed. God has provided and changed her even if her circumstances haven’t changed.

Tears still flowed but with a renewal, cleansing, and gratitude.

One person in the room had a different perspective. One person stood on the platform by the podium.

When women walked in, instead of seeing the burden or struggle, she saw the redemption. She saw the end result (or at least, the present result) before she saw what led up to it. She glimpsed the renewal, cleansing, and gratitude. She saw the redemption, regardless of what preceded it. She was already thankful for the result before knowing what led to it.

If only life was like her perspective and we could be assured that whatever we are enduring is worth the result.

Yet we can.

We may not know the specifics, but we can trust that God is redemptive, and He has a sovereign perspective. He knows how He will change us and how we will respond. He knows how we will rely on Him, and how we will give Him glory.

He. Knows. It. All.

He. Knows. You.

Trust Him. Seek His perspective.

We Whine Too Much

“I have to go to the store now.”

“Well, I guess I have to go to work.”

“I wish all this stuff would just happen on its own!”

How many times do you say or hear others say they “have to” do something…with a hint of whine, reluctance, or disdain? Perhaps we don’t want to work our way across that super store, finding the few items we want among the rows and rows of options, people who are grumpy like us, and cashiers who seem to want to be anywhere but there.

Not everyone has the options we have to shop where we shop and to be able to afford it. Not everyone has the opportunity and ability to work. We often take our blessings for granted, and whine and complain about them. We get bored.

 photo cactus_zpsvsldtsa5.pngWe need a fresh perspective.

It’s not that we need to be overly excited about everything going on in our lives. We just don’t have to see our routines as drudgery. We don’t have to see the limitations of our lives without realizing we made many of the choices that got us where we are (and were often excited about those choices at the time)…and that we have the opportunity to make many choices today that impact tomorrow.

And we choose our attitudes.

Perhaps you’re dealing with some difficult stuff today, and it seems out of your control. Yet, you can control how you respond. Like the saying goes, “You might be given a cactus, but you don’t have to sit on it.”

Filter every detail of your life today through God’s perspective. See the blessings in the routine and in the turmoil. Notice the opportunities you have and choices you make. Pay attention to your attitudes.

Trim the whining, whether it comes out of your mouth or stays in your head. It’s tainting your joy…and those around you.

Giving Up Hoops for Relationship

God didn’t create us to jump through hoops:

  • Attend church? Check.
  • Get an education? Check.
  • Be part of a family? Check.
  • Get a job? Check.

God created you for relationship. Relationship with others and relationship with Him. Unlike many teachers, coaches, and friends, God is not into favorites based on what you do, even if you’re doing it for Him. He emphasizes relationships, not accomplishments.

God will respond to you whether you’re in a relationship with Him or not. To be honest, we’re always in a relationship with Him. He’s our Creator, and we can’t get away from that no matter how much we deny it.

Instead of checking things off our lists, we can engage with and respond to Him personally. And that means we remain and grow in our relationship with Him. We don’t respond for a specific result or response. We can’t show compassion because it makes us feel good or exercise humility because it looks good on us. Living out God’s characteristics aren’t about getting a desired result or response but remaining and growing in relationship with God. To focus on a response and result is a futile use of our time and efforts. Staying in a relationship with God should always be our motivation and foundation.

The purpose of humility is to acknowledge God for who he is, establishing and maintaining a proper relationship with him. The result of humility is acknowledging God for who he is, establishing and maintaining a proper relationship with him. Humility is about our relationship with God. Obedience is about our relationship with God. So, really, we can minimize our checklist to one thing: our relationship with God.

Put it first, and it keeps everything else in perspective.

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There Is More Than Enough

How many times do we look for more? We’re looking for just the right rug to go in the living room, or the right guest towels, welcome mat, throw pillow. We want the right necklace or shoes. We want a good recipe to try. We want a better phone, more reliable car, more (or less) roomy house, or a job that is more prestigious, better paying, or more flexible. We want more. Yet God says,

There was more than enough. (Exodus 36:7)

I know it might not be the things I named. Perhaps it’s more time to do what you most want to do, even in God’s name. Perhaps it’s the ability to travel more, help more, serve more, study more, pray more, become more. Even when object of our longing is noble, that same longing can get in the way of our faith. We want more when God says there is enough. God might provide more in the future, but for the time being, there is enough.

The context of Exodus 36:7 is the building of the tabernacle. People brought offerings for the building of the sanctuary, yet there was enough.

Enough to accomplish the task God intended.

Perhaps we don’t think there is enough because we go beyond the task God intends. We have plans of our own. We don’t try to understand the task in front of us, so we keep gathering, which keeps us from building and completing what God says we should be doing.

Defining God’s “more than enough” as our “not quite enough” reveals our hearts are set on ourselves instead of God.

What is “not enough” in your life? What does God have to say about it? You might be surprised and find He declares you have more than enough.

There’s a Limit to Your Baggage

There’s only so much of your past God will allow you to take into your future.

So the Israelites remained stripped of their jewelry from Mount Horeb onward. (Exodus 33:6)

Knowing what we take into our future is limited is comforting…until we consider we might not get to take the things we want. We don’t like not having control. But the truth is, if left up to us, we’ll take stuff God never intended us to carry and things that will get in our way and we’ll fail to take some of the stuff that we’ll actually need.

We simply don’t have the perspective to know what God will use and how He’ll use it. We don’t have the perspective to know what we need to hang onto, at least for a season, and what we need to leave behind.

It’s not just the stuff of the past, present, or future; it’s our thought process that surrounds it all. It’s how much we let it consume us or how much we choose not to focus on and learn from something. It’s choosing our own way instead of God’s.

Let God do your packing and unpacking. He knows the trip ahead of you.

Why Am I So Tired?


It’s true. It seems to take more energy and effort for me to submit to God, yet I am most exhausted when I don’t.

I’m not saying submission to God is always energizing and never tiresome. However, when I feel most drained, least motivated, and incredibly overwhelmed, it is rarely when I’m close to God. (I almost used the “never” word, because I can’t think of a single time I’ve been close to God and felt overwhelmingly drained or apathetic, but that word is a strong one I very rarely use…just in case.)

Submitting to God isn’t easy. It takes an intentionality that is draining at times. But it’s worth it. It always puts me in a better place. (Despite my unwillingness to use “never” in the earlier paragraph, I’ll gladly use the all-inclusive “always” here!) It’s counter-intuitive. Put forth more effort to get more energized and motivate? Humble myself to grow? Accept someone else’s authority in my life in order to live the life that is best for me?



If you read much of God’s Word, you’ll know Jesus lived a counter-intuitive life and taught others to do the same. What makes sense by the world’s standards might be upside down according to His.

We have to have the right perspective in order to survive and thrive the life that God intends.

I recently read a statistic that suggested most people who survive an avalanche die because of their misguided energy. They try to save themselves by digging out of the snow. The problem is, they don’t know which way to dig, so they might actually dig themselves deeper. There’s a simple survival tip to avoid the dangers of digging in the wrong direction: Spit. Yes, a simple spit test to see which way the spit falls. That gives a clue as to which way to dig.

Expend the right kind and direction of energy and effort today.


Living Out Great Expectations



You have done amazing things we did not expect. You came down, and the mountains trembled before you. (Isaiah 64:3)

Many times, the difference between expectations and reality causes disappointment, but it can also cause surprise and celebration. Throughout the Bible, God showed up in amazing ways that people didn’t expect. Follow God’s lead.

Be understandable. If people don’t understand what you’re saying, they won’t follow, learn, and grow. They’re not going to understand everything you say – just as you sometimes won’t understand their perspective – but strive to find common ground and start there.

Be passionate. You’re not going to be excited about everything you’re doing all the time, but keep your passion level in check. People around you can sense if you’re going through the motions or if you’re seeking, learning, and growing. Passion is contagious.

Be protective. Avoid being overly protective or developing co-dependent relationships, but pay attention so that people aren’t getting left behind, lost, or hurt. Set healthy boundaries. Invite accountability. Learn lessons of responsibility and consequence.

Be attentive. Get to know the people around you – their interests, quirks, experiences, and dreams. As you get to know and care about people, they’ll trust you more. Listening might seem like it’s a small thing, but it’s one of the most inexpensive, sacrificial, generous gifts you can give.