Sitting In A Moose

photo-1537404381787-4c5e2f676158My daughter and I didn’t have a rigid Black Friday shopping list. Some of the things on our list were off-the-beaten-path tasks, like perusing the shelves of a bookstore to create a list of books to start her expected daughter’s library. I also wanted to help her find a glider or some sort of comfortable chair to put in the baby’s room.

We decided to go into a few furniture stores. They might be too pricey but they’d give us some ideas of what she liked and didn’t like. But we got distracted. We had been up for several hours already even though the sun had just come up. Our feet were already a bit tired. So we decided to sit in some chairs.

One in particular seemed to stand out. It was an oversized recliner that seemed to be covered in some sort of cozy, brown fabric that reminded us of a moose – a huge moose stuffed animal. She sat in it and sank, then started laughing because she felt as if she had sat in and was surrounded by a moose.

But it was cozy – perhaps a bit too cozy for an early morning break.

We didn’t get a chair at that store, and she certainly wouldn’t want a moose chair for the baby’s room, but it gave us a break, prompted some laughter, and provided one more memory for our day. That was the point of the day for me anyway. It wasn’t about the shopping; it was about time spent together. We could have done many other things, and what we chose would have been immaterial. When I look back on the day, it’s the odd moments I’ll remember, including her sitting in a moose.

It is the simplest moments that sometimes create the best memories with my daughters, mom, sisters, friends, and others. It’s the simple texts, brief lunches, acts of kindness, and silliness. It’s moments of time that we give to each other.

Share time with someone today. Savor the moments you have together.

The Giant Cookie

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©2018PurePurpose.org

The cookie dough didn’t seem different as I prepared the tray for the oven. I slid them in to bake, and when the timer went off, I had a surprise: one giant cookie.

I was going to surprise my mom at a family gathering, because she likes the cookies I threw together for the first time a couple years ago. Consistent with the way she bakes, I started with a recipe and made it my own. It was a hit and has continued to be a favorite at many events, so I often make them: lingonberry shortbread cookies.

But I didn’t have enough time to make another batch, so I couldn’t surprise my mom this time.

Less than a week later, I was going to another family event and had told my oldest daughter I’d bring the lingonberry cookies. If they turned out this time, I’d take some to my mom, too, to make up for the failed surprise.

They baked perfectly.

What happened earlier in the week? Maybe I refrigerated them too long. Maybe I messed up an ingredient. Maybe my oven didn’t want to bake well that day.

I don’t know, but I was glad they had turned out this time.

Sometimes we want to give up after something flops, especially when we’re not sure why. We don’t want to spend the time and effort to try again when we might produce another flop. Why set ourselves up for failure?

I know these are just cookies with very little ramifications, but we take the same approach with some of the important things of life. Yes, there is a bit of anxiety with trying again. It’s a similar process but with some newness in it with the added baggage of failure attached. But the result might just be sweet.

Give something old a try today.

Head Banging Time

photo-1506024399685-c2095029481dMy youngest daughter and I usually take part in some sort of Black Friday shopping. We don’t tussle in too many crowds, but there is one store we visit nearly every year. It’s the one worth standing in a line, getting to know our early morning neighbors, and patiently working our way through the crowds. It’s usually small things that we want, and they’re spread throughout the store, but we do our best to work our way through the store to find our bargains and stand in the long line to check out. It takes a lot less time than we usually anticipate.

We each had a cart this year, which was a new challenge, since we’d easily get separated, or one of us would have to manage two carts at once while the other darted through a crowd to grab a couple items.

That’s when the head banging happened this year.

My daughter had jogged a couple aisles over to pick up something (and to her surprise, ended up finding an item she thought was no longer available), and I continued inching forward with two carts. I saw an item on my list and leaned over the shelves to reach one.

Bam.

My head hit the corner of the metal shelf. While it didn’t hurt too badly, I knew it was going to bleed.

I used my sweatshirt sleeve to dab at the slowly oozing blood. My daughter reappeared with her surprise find, and I’m not sure she noticed my oozing head at first. I briefly retold what had happened, assured her I was fine, and we moved on. It stopped bleeding, and it didn’t hurt much, so we wrapped up our shopping at that store and stopped at many more throughout the day.

It wasn’t until later in the day that I actually looked at my head. It didn’t look bad at all, but I realized it was a bit deeper than I first thought. I put some antibiotic on it and went to bed.

I didn’t feel it through the night, but when I woke up the next morning and looked in the mirror, I realized swelling had settled in overnight. My eye was puffy, and I laughed. If I was going to get a Black Friday black eye, at least I had a pitiful story about it!

Sometimes we have cuts and bruises because life is pressing in around us. Other times, we simply don’t watch what we’re doing. We make choices – a bit carelessly at times – and we reap the consequences.

I don’t think we need to tiptoe through life and wrap ourselves in bubble wrap to stay safe – physically, emotionally, or relationally. I think God wants more for and from us than that. We might bleed from time to time, and we might get a black eye or headache, but that’s a cost of engaging with life and having some adventures.

Good Boy

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©2017 Bettis Photography

My granddog knows many commands, and he tries to listen and respond well. But sometimes he gets too excited or distracted.

I spent about a half hour with him recently to break up his long day at home by himself. It was a gorgeous day, so I knew he’d enjoy some outside time. I decided to try to wear him out a bit with a game of fetch. Before I threw the ball each time, I’d tell him to sit, speak, whisper, or lie down. He started to anticipate what I might say. He knew something was coming but wasn’t sure what. He was starting to get tired. And he’d just try anything to hopefully respond to the right command.

He’d go through all the possibilities until his action triggered a “good, boy,” and I’d throw the ball.

We do the same at times. We work through all the possibilities we consider might work in order to get the response we want instead of slowing down, paying attention, listening, and responding more accurately.

We might get the response we’re looking for sometimes, but why expend all that extra energy? Why not take the time to assess what God wants us to do? In fact, God is much less concerned about us triggering a specific affirmation than actually paying attention and listening. God wants us to connect with him, and that takes eye contact, time, and humility.

Otherwise, we’re just running through a bunch of possibilities trying to behave instead of trusting him to guide each step along the way.

Do You Miss God?

photo-1494342645198-ff89d7c12b8dFor those who have left God, do you miss him?

Do you miss what you believed about him or what you believed about yourself in the context of your faith in him?

Do you miss the comfort but also the discomfort, the give and take of the most truthful relationship you will ever have? Do you miss the consistency even in your ever-changing life? Or do you prefer to find some sort of peace in what you believe to be in your own control, managing your own life?

No matter what you miss and what you don’t miss, God is still God. He is still available. He still speaks and pursues and patiently waits. He still moves in your life and in others’ lives. He still loves you.

He wanted me to remind you of that today.

God Space

photo-1515256905698-6cdf82642d06The space we give God is often uncomfortable. It’s sacrificial. It’s unsettling yet soothing.

We don’t create a lot of space in our lives. We fill our hands, minds, and time with technology we have at our fingertips, to do lists to accomplish what we’ve determined to be essential – or at least important, and entertainment that we assess as deserved. We make connections with others, but sometimes those connections feel more distant than we’d like. Sometimes we feel a burden of connecting with others while we wish we had chosen to do something else. Our obligations extend beyond people to what we believe God would want us to do, including who we’re supposed to connect with and what we’re supposed to say to them to help, encourage, or challenge.

But even when we’re trying to honor God with our time and efforts, we tend to carve out little space for him. We feel as if we get an assignment, add it to our schedule, then check it off our list – when in reality, the task itself is rarely his point. He wants us to lean into him through the process. He wants us to yield space for him, give him our humility and authenticity, trust him even in the uncertainty.

He doesn’t want us to simply make contact with someone; he wants us to trust him for what to say, how to listen, what to give, and how to respond. He doesn’t want us to figure out the best way to handle a problem; he wants us to trust him with the next step even if we don’t see the resolution. He does’t want us to declare his name or mention him; he wants us to invite him to fill every crevice of our lives so he seeps through everything we do, say, and think.

Space can be uncomfortable. Whether it’s in a conversation or within our own thoughts, we can squirm a bit and try to fill the space to make ourselves and others more comfortable. But God is okay with space. He’ll patiently wait for us to yield it to him, then he’ll fill it in his own time. And he always fills it well.

When we create space for God, we give him our humble trust. We lean into him, knowing he gives us the core strength and wisdom to take the next step.

Creating God space isn’t a one time decision; it’s one that can be made a hundred times a day. Sometimes it’s a big space and sometimes it’s tiny. It all matters.

Stop Growing

photo-1503919545889-aef636e10ad4Several friends have recently posted photos of their kids on social media with a mention of something along the lines as “please stop growing.” I get it. They want to freeze some moments in time, but in reality, if their kids stopped growing, that would cause even more concern and heartache than the bittersweetness of watching them grow up.

Stop growing? Never.

Watching people grow can be sad in some ways because it involves transitions. Many of those transitions are good if we’re growing in healthy ways, but even when growth is good, it often isn’t easy. Life changes. People change.

God is never content to keep us where we are. He knows there is more that is possible. He knows we have continual potential to grow. To get stuck in a particular place or phase – even if we find it enjoyable – isn’t okay. He wants more for and from us. Of course, he wants to celebrate where we’ve been, but celebrating to camp under and find contentment versus celebrating to appreciate a moment as we keep it in the context of moving on are two different approaches.

Are you growing?

Are you growing well?

Savor moments. Make memories. But keep growing.