You’re A Hoarder

bf9dbf97ea8051bc052f2ea2d6268d3eI’m a hoarder. You’re a hoarder. He’s a hoarder. She’s a hoarder. Wouldn’t you like to  be a hoarder, too?

Remember the Dr. Pepper commercial from the 70s? It invited us all to come together in our commonality of drinking Dr. Pepper…although I never cared for it much.

We might have more in common, even in ways we don’t want to admit. Like hoarding.

Anyone who knows me will immediately argue, “You? A hoarder? No way!” I don’t have piles in my house. I go through the mail as soon as it comes in the house and immediately toss anything not essential. I don’t have a dozen (or any) storage units. But I’m still a hoarder.

We all hoard something. Sometimes it’s junk that piles up and becomes a tripping hazard, either physically or emotionally. Other times, it piles up and helps build a firm foundation.

Maybe you hoard friendships. That could be good, if you treasure and care for them, but it could also be bad, if you get territorial and overlook other important areas of your life.

Maybe you hoard memories. That could be good, if you appreciate what you’ve had and learn from the not-so-great moments. But it could also be bad, if you get stuck in the past and refuse to grow forward.

Maybe you hoard status and accomplishments. The influence you have on others along the way could be positive…or negative.

Look around (and inside yourself). What do you hoard? Are you building a solid foundation and continuing forward, or are you constructing a confusing obstacle course?


Are You Missing Your Next Step?

1sam-16v7The Lord said to Samuel, “How long are you going to mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem because I have selected a king from his sons.”

Samuel asked, “How can I go? Saul will hear about it and kill me!” (1 Samuel 16:1-2)

There is always a “next step” of obedience. God wants us to move onward. We carry much of the past with us, because it prepares us, it has consequences, and it requires us to continue to wrestle and deal with things. Yet we still move on in  obedience. God invites and instructs us into our next step.

And we will often be able to find something that could hold us back, some reason we should stay where we are just a little longer: some excuse, diversion, or concern.

We may like the familiar, even if we aren’t completely content there, because it’s comfortable, even in it’s familiar pain and struggles. The next step isn’t quite as certain. It could be better; it could be worse. We just don’t know.

But will we only choose based on our own perspective of better or worse? If so, we’ll miss out on some uncomfortable, trying experiences and relationships that help us grow. We’ll stay put instead of taking some amazing journeys, even as they are wrought with complications and obstacles.

Sticky Mud

I’d walked the path before without any problems, but this time was different. It had rained the night before, and Israel soil isn’t used to much rain. As a group of us walked to the Olive Sculpture near our hotel, the mud clung to our shoes. The farther we walked, the heavier our shoes became.

I led the way and tried to find the best path to avoid most of the mud, but it didn’t seem to matter where I walked. Mud caked the bottom of my shoes. A couple people talked about going back, but I kept thinking, “If we just get a little farther, the path will get better. We’ll cleaned off our shoes and find another way back.” But each step attracted more mud, like a magnet that attracted heavier and heavier metal objects. We talked about other things and laughed, but the mud wasn’t far from our minds as it covered our soles.

Then, we reached a path.

11.4.14 path from Olive Sculpture at Ramat Rachel


11.4.14 Olive Sculpture at Ramat Rachel (8)

We scraped and stomped our shoes, and mud flung in every direction. Much of it stayed on our shoes, clinging as if it had been mixed with cement or bubble gum. At least now we were on a more solid path, so we forged forward to see the view that kept us going.

Our shoes weren’t clean, and it was tough to get to the sculpture, but we made it. Doesn’t it often happen that way? We struggle and want to go back, because we’re focused on the inconvenience and mess. If we persevere, we think we’ll reach a beautiful place and leave all the mess behind, but the mess sticks with us…perhaps as a reminder of the struggles we’ve endured.

Maybe we should be thankful for the mud. It slows us down enough to make us count the costs of going where we’re going. Our journey sticks with us. We see the beauty of life because of it, not in spite of it. We don’t just tolerate the journey, we find purpose in it. We stomp off the unnecessary stuff but let some of it work itself off as we continue.

We let God take care of the details as we follow each step He leads us to take.

Keep walking.

Lesson from Nature: Interruptions as Reminders


I was surprised to see trees in the middle of the road. I laughed at the signs, directing drivers to go around. I assume very few would run right into the tree. Perhaps they just wanted to make sure everyone knows which side of the tree to go around. Wouldn’t it have been easier to take out the tree when they made the road? But then I thought,

…if only we allowed more interruptions to be reminders.

We don’t have to clear everything out of our lives just because it’s convenient. We can get so determined to get from point A to point B that we want as straight a line as possible. But when we focus on the horizon, we don’t take the time to notice what’s around us. Slowing down to avoid bumps, debris, or even trees in the road helps us notice what would otherwise be a blur. It certainly might be easier to create a straight line, but what would we miss along the way? How might we “zone out” and reach our destination without experiencing the journey.

We easily become results-oriented. We consider what we need to do, then attack it (or sometimes, we avoid it). Accomplishment is revered as a strength. The farther we get, the more kudos we get from others and the better we feel about ourselves. But what are we missing in the process? Just because we feel good about something doesn’t mean it’s something good.

God isn’t content with good enough. He has the best in store for us…if we’ll trust Him along the journey. He’ll give us moments when we speed down the road, perhaps even faster than we want at that time. He’ll give us seasons in which we feel stuck but learn patience and perseverance. Then, there are the times the road seems to be straight but has a little swerve in it. As we avoid the tree, we notice something beside the road: a glimpse of beauty, a warning sign, or a hidden trail.

Pay attention. It’s our journey, but His road.

I know, Lord, that a man’s way of life is not his own; no one who walks determines his own steps.

(Jeremiah 10:23)


Lesson from Nature: Beautiful Obstacles


Sometimes the view is beautiful, but for some reason, it’s not quite right.

As we drove through the hills of Door County, we saw many gorgeous views, but we couldn’t get a clear, unobstructed view. Something always seemed to be in the way: a car, sign, mailbox, telephone pole, person, and so on. I snapped this photo, because despite the obstacles, I wanted to capture a glimpse of the quilt of colors among the treetops. As I later went through the photos I had taken throughout the day, I paused at this one and thought, “All those obstacles actually make the photo more real.”

Isn’t that the way with life? We don’t want the obstacles. We get annoyed with them. We ignore opportunities in order to avoid the obstacles. But they’re actually part of the reality of life. They make each snapshot of our lives more true, more rich, more colorful. Our lives aren’t edited movies. Sure, we have many choices along the way, but living by faith isn’t living by control. It’s living God’s way. And to be honest,

I’d rather have the obstacles He knows will make my life beautiful His way than create a fake picture-perfect life of my own.

“He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also put eternity in their hearts, but man cannot discover the work God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)