What Does God Owe Me?

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I talk about Frankenstein’s monster a lot here (apparently), but imagine with me for a second: You’ve created something. It’s your masterpiece, a work of art. You’ve made it for a specific purpose – to accomplish a goal. You’re energized by the idea that this thing that has never existed before has come to be – and you’re ready to see what you can do through it.

You bellow in amazement, “It’s alive… It’s ALIVE!”

But two days into this experiment of yours, your creation decides to go off-script. It doesn’t like the purpose you created for it. It doesn’t want it. Instead of serving you, it’s decided to serve itself. Instead of living in gratitude for you – for the sacrifices you made to create it – all it wants is to worship itself. Actually, your creation goes a bit further. Not only does it want to worship itself, but it also wants you to worship it too.

You are taken aback by the audacity of this creation of yours. It was bad enough that it chose to disobey and do something contrary to your purpose – but now it’s insisting that you do whatever it wants? Doesn’t it know that it was just created yesterday, and has finite knowledge of the world around it? What makes it think that it can possibly comprehend what is truly going on in its life?*

This is Where We Get Things Twisted

When I fell away from God, it wasn’t because I believed He didn’t exist. In fact, no matter how far away I got from Him, I knew He was there. I fell away from God because, despite what I’d have said at the time, I believed His true purpose was to serve me.

I either stopped caring about what the Word of God actually said, or I didn’t know enough because I wasn’t being fed by the Word. Instead, I thought God should do what I wanted because I was “serving Him.”

After all, if I profess to be a Christian who worships God and I try to live my life in a way that follows His Word, He owes me – right?

He should give me what I want and act (in a way that other “so-called” believers have said) like a blue genie from Aladdin. But instead of getting three wishes, we can have whatever we want, as long as we come under the guise of obedience to Him.

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There Are No Guarantees You’ll Like

When it comes to serving God, there are no guarantees. People act like once you become a Christian, you’re life is going to suddenly become easy. That’s not true – you have God there with you and you feel His presence in Your life through His word, but you are not immune to pain.

Right after Jesus gives the Beatitude, He gives commands to believers about how they ought to live, He says that we should bless those who persecute us so that we will be like our father, “for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45)

There are no guarantees that you’ll never feel pain again, or that your life will be somehow carefree and easy-peasy now. In fact, there are guarantees to the contrary:

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

In fact, in the same chapter as the one above, Jesus says:

“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12)

Jesus promises that we will have trouble if we follow Him. It was never about giving us a life of ease, it was about growing us in holiness so we could be more like Him.

You remember Jesus, right? The one who:

  • Had 12 disciples, one of which would betray Him to death and sell Him for the price of a slave
  • Was raised in a family where no one understood Him, and where His own brothers didn’t believe that He could be who He said He was
  • Traded all the riches and glory of Heaven for a lowly birth in a cattle stall, born to parents who had practically nothing
  • Had to be snuck out of the country by His parents as an infant because a bloodthirsty king felt threatened by His birth
  • Had to hear the whispers of the townspeople who didn’t believe Mary’s account of what had happened to her, thinking she’d committed adultery and Joseph was a fool to have married her
  • Hung out with tax collectors, prostitutes, and sinners, and got to hear whispers and disrespect from everyone around Him
  • Created the world and all that was in it, only for people to think of him as nothing because He wasn’t born with social status
  • Upset spiritual leaders because He was unwilling to compromise about the truth
  • (I could go on, but there’s already a book about Him – look it up if you haven’t read it yet)

Are You Ready for the Answer?

What does God owe me? He owes me nothing. He is the Creator, I am His created being. He doesn’t owe me safety, wealth, health, or happiness. He never promised we’d have easy lives.

Despite the fact that He owes us nothing, He is generous to us beyond measure. He provided a way out of our own sinful condition in Christ. He granted us forgiveness if we come to the cross in repentance. He never owed it to us, but He generously lavishes His mercy and grace on us.

And sometimes, He chooses to do even more. He chooses to delight in giving us the desires of our hearts (when our desires are in line with His). He sees fit to bless us with families, good health, a measure of prosperity… but He owes us none of this. If “all” God ever did for us was to sacrifice His Son to save us from our sin, that would be more than enough.


*This is not scriptural – this is my take on how I’d react if I were in the same position as God – with a creation that rebels and decides to pursue a purpose other than the one I intended for them. God was not surprised at the fall – in fact, He’d already been making provisions for Jesus to come and reconcile man to the world.

Nor is the account of the creation accurate. God made things out of nothing – whereas the best we can do as a reflection of him is to make things out of some element of what He was already created. Yes, we can make chalks and pastels, but the pigments are gathered from what is already in God’s creation. Even the knowledge we have to create comes from the Creator.

Where Does My Help Come From?

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If you’ve been reading this blog for some time, you know I talk about struggles with anxiety and depression. I’ve got a husband and two children with a genetic disorder along with one more child who seems to be showing no signs of the genetic disorder. My life hasn’t been easy – sometimes the hardships are caused by my own poor life choices and sometimes they’re due to no fault of my own (nor anyone else’s).

People have told me, “I don’t know how you do it,” as if it’s somehow miraculous that I can keep going with the things stacked against me. The truth is that no one expects what will happen to them: whether it’s a cancer diagnosis, a genetic disorder, or some other form of loss. We can’t control what happens to us – all we can do is respond sometimes and do the next right thing.

My Journey to Where I am Now

My grandma died when I was 8 years old, not long after we’d moved from the place that I called home. I hated the new place I lived, and I missed my grandma terribly. She was the coolest grandma, and she left a gaping void in my life. I wanted to be where she was, so I wouldn’t have to experience a world without her. At the young age of 8 years old, I was thinking about suicide.

My mom didn’t handle the death of her mother well (does anyone, really? I am not looking forward to that day, myself). Her way of coping was to drink, and right around that time my dad confided in her that he’d betrayed her trust. That sent her into a downward spiral of drinking that lasted for several years. Around this time, my two uncles came to stay with us: one who had an undiagnosed mental condition (schizophrenia, probably brought on by a combination of intense grief and years of drug abuse) and one who was just getting out of prison.

All that change left me feeling like an open wound. My mom took me to therapy sessions to try to cope with my grandmother’s death, and while that seemed to help a bit (I did learn about the benefits of journaling), it didn’t help with the question that was ringing out in my ears ever since my grandma died: “Where did she go? What happens after we die?”

I’d always believed in God, one way or another, but I had very confused views because my mom was searching. Before we moved to the new area to take care of my grandma, we’d been to a Catholic church, a Mormon church, and were taught by Jehovah’s witnesses. Interestingly, none of these belief systems talk about the true salve of the human experience that I would eventually learn about: Christ and Christ alone. They all feel that the Bible was not sufficient – which is odd to me, considering that all three of these faiths claim to believe the Bible while simultaneously denying its power.

“So We Can’t Have Fun AND Say Jesus’ Name?!”

A while after my grandma died, my sister started attending youth groups. She encouraged me to come along – so I did, to one. My sister explained that it was a “Fun night” and she’d get extra points for bringing a guest, so I was her plus-one. All I can remember is that they had us guess the weight of a really big Bible and had some other games. (I won the weight-guessing game and got a small prize as a reward.) The thing is – not once in that time did I hear the name of Jesus.

I didn’t know much about church, but I did know that you’re supposed to hear Jesus’ name.

I spoke to my sister afterward and told her I didn’t want to return to that church again. “Why?” she asked.

“Because we were there for an hour and a half and I never heard the name of Jesus. That’s the whole point of going to church.”

“It was a fun day,” she protested.

“Oh, so we can’t have fun and say Jesus’ name?” was my smart-alecky retort.

She later invited me to a church that did say Jesus’ name – and that church ended up being the one I stayed at for over 20 years.

Here’s How I Do It (No, Really!)

I mentioned earlier that people tell me they don’t know how I do what I do. First of all, what I’m doing doesn’t feel like much in comparison to what many other people are going through. That said – I do what I do through the help of Jesus. I trust in Him and I believe the Bible is 100% true and infallible. That’s not coming from a place of naivete. My faith has been shaken before, but that was because I didn’t have the right perspective of who God/Jesus is.

God is not:

  • A genie to grant your every wish
  • A passive person who’s willing to love at the cost of justice
  • A vengeful person who has no affection for His creation
  • Santa Claus
  • My homeboy (the creator of the world deserves far more respect)

I struggled in my faith because I could see things happening in my life that I didn’t want to happen. Instead of trusting Him and learning to grow my faith, I blamed him and started to question His goodness. I wanted him to be my genie or Santa Claus, and because I wasn’t getting what I wanted, I started to view him as detached from His creation (or perhaps, not there in the first place).

He had proven Himself to me over and over in my life, yet I chose to turn my back on Him. That was not His fault, but mine.

So after all of that – how do I go on in difficult circumstances? I trust God. I read His Word to learn more about His character and I obey His commands to the best of my ability. Not because I am trying to keep with some system of good works, but because I know that doing so will be pleasing to Him. I want to honor God with my life instead of dishonoring Him as I have done in the past.

I know I don’t have to “be good” to earn His salvation. If that were the case, none of us would ever be saved. We don’t even have the ability to desire Him without the Holy Spirit’s intervention in our lives. I’ve made many mistakes in my life – some of them even as a self-professing Christian – but my goal now is to honor Him by using the time I have left to speak the truth in love.

How do I do it? By trusting God and leaning not on my own understanding. I’m finally starting to learn what that looks like.

The Advantages of Creativity

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Anyone who has known me for 1/2 a second knows I’m a fan of Lin-Manuel Miranda. The dude is a poster boy for theatre nerds everywhere, and I love how unabashedly he celebrates life, cultures, and the arts. I have a love for the arts as well, instilled in me by my grandma, who kicked all the butts by being in a traveling acrobatic group in Europe as a teenager, and by soaking in as much art and culture as she could. Hers came in the form of museum trips, romantic relationships with artists (my grandpa, for one), and ballet.

When it was her night to watch me, my grandma would put on classical music and tell stories based on the ballets that had the music in them. That was how I grew up – and that was why I’ve always loved classical music, even when it wasn’t really cool to do so as a teenager.

Have You Been Depressed for No Reason?

I don’t know about you, but sometimes depression sneaks up on me for no good reason. On Friday, I was at a Bible study, among women I know and love, who are kind and thoughtful and always willing to lend an ear. We were all having a great time, and then it snuck up on me. This nagging feeling that I couldn’t identify at first (which, to be fair, I should be able to spot right away by now). It was depression.

I have no idea why I felt that way. I like to do a quick self-evaluation when I’m feeling that way to see if some of it is quasi-founded, and where it’s coming from. That day, despite quite a bit of searching on my part, I could not identify what was causing it. I was just incredibly sad, for no reason at all.

Sure, I could have talked to some of the ladies about it. Maybe I should have. But without a way of knowing what even brought it on, I didn’t know what to say. I kept quiet and tried (unsuccessfully) to snap myself out of it.

Couldn’t Focus on Work: More Frustration

I came home from the Bible study and tried to get started on work. In my head, I thought perhaps my feelings were because I spend so much time at the Bible study that I don’t get as much work done as I do on a regular day. So I hopped into the computer chair, logged into my work account, and couldn’t focus.

If the depression/anxiety was from me not getting as much work done, why was I now unable to do any work? I was frustrated and knew I needed to do some things around the house, but I didn’t want to go straight to housework with nothing to show for the time I had available to me.

So I started working on a creative project that my job is currently running. They even offered pay for our time (although I knew I was going to have so much fun coming up with things that I didn’t want to charge that much for it). I wrote out some parodies to some music by my favorite actor/producer/director/whatever-else-he-wants-to-be-later and I felt an almost instant mood shift.

Body Doubling for Creative Tasks

There’s a group hangout my work uses, and some of my coworkers use it for body doubling. I didn’t even know what that was. In fact, as a person who used to work in a stunt show, I immediately thought of finding someone to get a root canal in your place or something. I was interested to find that it’s simply doing tasks alongside one another, even virtually.

Breaking Up Monotonous Tasks with Creative Ones

I decided to dip my toes into the body doubling world and I found myself working faster because every time I looked over at the screen to my friends, they were clearly hard at work. I find it difficult at times to finish my creative tasks because, although I love them, they’re harder to justify than less-creative tasks.

Despite the depression and anxiety I felt earlier in the day, I was able to write out two different parodies (one which is partial and another full parody) for the project.

Why Creativity is Important Today

Creativity gets a tough break. I was talking to a fellow poet on LinkedIn, and he agreed that writing copy is far more lucrative than creating art seems to be. He’s been writing copy for some time now and he would like to break into the world of earning money from his poetry, but he hasn’t found much interest.

We speculated as to what could be the cause: an increase in demand for self-serving writing? A decrease in appreciation for art? What it boiled down to in my mind is that everyone wants to sell something – and they would rather you sell it for them with your custom copy about their product than to read a poem written in your voice about something that happened personally to you.

Unfortunately, the de-emphasis on creativity comes at a cost.

After all, art connects us to one another. You don’t have to have personally lived through my story to identify with me when I write about losing my grandmother – one of the few people who seemed to understand me – at the age of eight years old. You don’t have to have been a part of the epic love story you’re hearing in a new song to re-experience those soaring emotions.

Art provides us with a reminder that the guy next to us – although he comes from a different background, political stance, and belief system – is still a human being. It gives us insight into the human experience for other people.

Jewish women used art during the Holocaust for several purposes. It gave them a way to document the atrocities, provided some protection from the officers, and was also a form of escapism. Some of the art is whimsical, full of color. In fact, Charlotte Buresova mentioned a desire to portray beauty and grace rather than the hunger and horror they were experiencing. I think that creating art was how they kept hope and strength alive in those unbelievably heart-wrenching circumstances.

While we are far from Nazi Germany, we are living in polarizing times. People are all too apt to spout off obscenities and insults about those who don’t share their own views. There is such vitriol in the world when it comes to people who aren’t carbon copies of us – yet I dare to believe that if we would simply open our eyes and allow ourselves to see the humanity in one another, we could begin to heal some of the great divides among us.

Maybe I’m naive, but I feel like creativity could have a hand in that healing. Art with a purpose.

The Scarcity of Unity

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We’ve been learning a lot about unity lately at church. We’re extremely fortunate to fellowship in a church where everyone seems to get along really well, but we also realize how rare that can be. Everyone’s got their own horror story about what church they came from, why they left, and the unpleasant things that go into all of it.

There’s a saying, “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone,” but I think a converse of this rule is also true. Sometimes it takes going through the really bad stuff to appreciate the good things that come by, and we’re very thankful for the good things we’ve found here at our current church.

Unity doesn’t Mean a Clone Trooper Army

At home, we’ve been watching Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The interesting thing about the show is that it allows you to see the clones without their helmets on. Although they all look the same, the show creators took care to try to differentiate the clones by giving them different haircuts, tattoos, and personalities. But when it really comes down to it, if you had a group of clones that were all the same age and gave them all the same haircut – they’d still be nearly indistinguishable from one another.

The most enjoyable thing about unity in a church (or anywhere, for that matter) is when everyone is dynamically different from one another. The Bible talks about how we are unified to Christ and are part of His body (1 Corinthians 12: 12-31), but that we are all different members of that body. Some self-professing churches are so insistent on unity that they make sure the message is the same, no matter where you go. That’s not unity: that’s an army of clones.

What Should the Body of Christ Look Like?

Well, on this side of eternity, it’s messy. We’re a bunch of flawed humans, after all. But as believers, we should agree doctrinally and defer to one another when it comes to matters of preference. This means calling out sin when we see it (in gentleness, humility, and love) and having the right focus on things that are inconsequential or are conscience issues.

The body of Christ should be in harmony with one another. Pastors and elders should be respected (as long as they’re following God’s commands) and church members should be willing to submit to their leadership. All members of the body should be working toward holiness in humility, considering others better than themselves, and spurring each other on in righteousness. One of the main markers of believers is their love.

Frankenstein’s Monster

Photo of a man wearing a Frankenstein monster mask by Bruno Guerrero on Unsplash.

The irony is that so many churches find themselves in shambles because the love that was to be a trademark of their communion is nowhere to be seen. Instead, people nitpick and rebel against their pastors and elders for reasons that are unfounded. They cause division and strife where there ought to be unity.

Pastors avoid conflict and don’t deal with sin as they should. They allow damaging influences to remain among their flock instead of weeding out the wolves. They don’t abide by the Bible’s command to live in self-control, and they seek financial gain rather than having a sober mindset about the enormous tasks required of them.

If I were to liken these church bodies to something, the closest thing I can think of would be Frankenstein’s monster. It’s a hodgepodge of things that don’t work together – and maybe random body parts are rolling or running away. My sweet momma-in-law has autoimmune disorders (not one, but multiple). Her body is constantly fighting against itself, and I imagine that these bodies would work in much the same way.

Back to Music

When churches are in discord, it’s not pretty. There are no illusions to visitors that this place may be a good place to be, either. They can see the petty gossip, the irritation, the eyeballs rolling in the back of peoples’ heads. These churches are not a witness of anything, other than the sinful corrosion of human nature and selfishness. It’s like a room full of musical instruments being banged on, strummed on, or blown into with no rhyme or reason.

But when churches are unified, it’s a sweet invitation to those who are outside of the protection of Christ. It’s like a siren song, in perfect harmony (sans the negative connotations with sirens). They see a bunch of wildly different people, all together under the same roof to talk about and worship God. What a testimony! It’s a symphony of love and grace when we can humbly confess how undeserving we are of Christ’s forgiveness and yet, He died in our place.

It’s hard at first, to believe that anyone could love us despite the darkest corners of who we are. When we see that love reflected in the eyes of other believers, that love becomes more tangible. Who wants to go to a church where the people say, “Jesus might love you, but I sure don’t!”?

Confession Time

In the past, I have really sucked at being unified. If I wanted to make excuses for myself, I could say it was because I was young, and then because the church was not right, and then because I was hurt by a church, but the truth is that I knew what I should have been doing and I didn’t do it.

I knew what the Bible said about gossip, but I did it anyway. I knew that, if the church was doing the wrong things (or if I didn’t feel right there), I could have left on good terms instead of trying to stick it out in stubbornness. And I knew that nothing good has ever come of me staying home and not being involved in ministry, but I wanted ample time to lick my wounds. That backfired on me in a major way.

I’m thankful for God’s patience with me because when I look back, it seems I was testing it at every turn. I didn’t have a right understanding of God, but my husband did. He steered me in the right direction every time I started to lose my way.

How did I find my way to this church? How did I continue on in the faith instead of giving up? It was love that propelled me. Not my love, but the love I saw in others who had far stronger faith.

Lord, Help My Unbelief!

In Mark 9, there’s a really poignant and moving story. A father whose son was demon-possessed took him to Jesus to be healed. The father says, “If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us,” and Jesus responds by telling him he needs to believe. The father, weeping, responds, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!”

It’s interesting to me that he started with “Lord I believe” and then said, “Help my unbelief!” I think it’s because I’ve often echoed those sentiments myself. He doesn’t have the faith he wants or the faith that he knows he needs. Even so, he knows who can grant him that faith and help him increase in faith.

I feel that a lot of spiritual ailments stem from having an inaccurate view of who God is. Had I really mulled over the majesty and power of God, I wouldn’t have relegated him to a tiny area of my life as a teen. I would have searched the scriptures about relationships rather than thinking I needed to retaliate when I felt like I was wronged. I would have left bad situations differently than I did. And I would have jumped right into ministry again, knowing I needed it because it’s a vital aspect of being a member of the body.

I have a tendency to freak out when things go wrong. When the unexpected happens, I try to rush to patch up the sinking ship. I rarely take a second look to see if God’s using a bad situation to get me to focus on what matters. But like that father, I pray for God to help my unbelief. I want to trust in Him more. I want to reflect His image.

God’s not done with me yet. I still have plenty of growing to do. I work out my salvation with fear and trembling, and I pray that He makes me more in His image every day. I’m thankful for unity with Christ and for unity with other believers.

The Power of Music

Photo of a person playing ukulele
Photo of a person playing ukulele by Porapak Apichodilok on Pexels.com

There’s something about music that’s magical. It has the ability to speak to our souls, even without words. When the right lyrics are added, it can take us through an entire range of emotions – sometimes within the same song.

Music and My Childhood

I was not a musical kid. My sister took choir in elementary school and told me my singing was bad… so for years, I sang badly on purpose to avoid trying and being hurt by another insult. I had a deep appreciation of great music: I grew up listening to Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Queen, and Elton John, among others.

It wasn’t until I got close to my teen years that I tried to sing again, for real. I had a friend who lived and breathed to sing. She was joyful and exuberant, and it made me want to sing too.

I joined Choir in high school, but I only felt comfortable singing along with other people. At church, it was a different story. I didn’t feel as awkward there, and I joined the worship team. I still didn’t know any instruments, though.

Musicians and Inspiration

That same friend’s brother was in a band. Actually, she had two brothers, and both of them played metal music on a regular basis. I didn’t have any family who played music – at least, not that I knew of. (My dad knew some chords/songs but I was definitely not exposed to musical instruments/live music as a kid.)

Watching them play made me want to learn an instrument. And since I ended up dating her brother (the bass player), we went to Guitar Center a lot. With the income from my new job washing windows, I decided to get myself a guitar. It was a black acoustic Fender, and I named it Jack. I had high hopes for Jack.

I started taking a guitar course at my church. The instructor had over 30 years of experience playing the guitar. As I said – I always had an appreciation of music. I knew good music when I heard it. So when I heard the instructor with 30 years of experience strum the guitar, it sounded like magic. I could close my eyes and an entire world would open up before me, composed entirely from his music.

The Disappointing Truth

But when I tried to strum the guitar, it sounded like a broken machine. A factory – a heartless and soulless robot. And like I’ve said before – if I didn’t take immediately to something, I dropped it. Jack was relegated to a corner of my room. A thing to strum when I felt like it, but since I didn’t like how it sounded, I rarely felt like it.

That’s how it stayed for about 15 years. Eventually, I gave Jack to a family member, who I thought would take care of it since they were learning guitar. (It turns out that he sold or gave it away. I’d have liked for him to ask if I wanted it back first.)

A Re-Awakening

While I was homeschooling my kids, my daughter had a music class. Very basic – but I decided to get them some instruments in case they wanted to learn to play. I bought my daughter a ukulele – and like Jack before it, it remained in a corner of the room for a couple of years.

When the pandemic hit, however, I found myself with a ukulele and a whole lot of spare time. Even more important: through the years, I had learned not to give up. My husband is very determined and I picked some of that up from him. My children both have NF1 and I often had to fight for their care. I learned not to give up just because something is difficult.

All the Love for Kailie the Ukulele

I’d heard ukulele was an easy instrument to master, so I decided to take online classes through Skillshare. The instructor was really cool – he just dove right in. No scales, no music theory – which is what I needed at that time. He got me into it to the point where I began printing out music and trying new chords.

Eventually, I commandeered the ukulele I bought for my kids (don’t worry – I replaced it) and named it Kailie. I figured it’d be fun to have a name that rhymed. Anyway, I greatly enjoyed learning ukulele, and I didn’t feel as awkward with it since I could strum with my fingers. I often found myself in the garden practicing songs or bringing Kailie along where I went so I’d have something to do.

No Phone? More Time to Get Creative

I should also add that this likely wouldn’t have happened if I kept my cell phone. I’d used my cell phone as my main source of entertainment and distraction for years and decided to get rid of it earlier in the year. As annoying as it was at first not to have a phone when everyone else did, I eventually loved it.

I drew, I wrote poetry, I painted and played ukulele. I belted out songs on my karaoke machine. I was able to express myself in ways that I certainly wouldn’t have if I were on social media and had a cell phone. I tend to get addicted to such things.

And Now I’m Addicted

Speaking of addictions, now that I’ve awakened this musical bug and built some confidence, I want to try everything. My dad-in-law’s father was a musical man, and when he passed, his instruments were given to several family members. One niece got the keyboard, another niece got his guitar. My dad-in-law got the mandolin.

Somehow, all of these instruments made their way to me. My niece decided not to take the keyboard with her when she moved out of the back of our house, so we kept it. My dad-in-law saw me playing ukulele one day and decided to give me the mandolin (I wept when he did – the whole thing had so much significance to me). My other niece gave my daughter the guitar for Christmas one year.

Learning the Keyboard/Piano

I am slowly learning to play the keyboard, and I can read the music on the treble clef. I’m learning about key signatures and scales as well, bit by bit. I started singing at church again (there were many years I didn’t) and when I get the music, I plink out a few notes at home to practice. It’s so much fun for me to be able to see the harmony and melody.

The Mandolin – Giving It Time

I learned a bit of the mandolin on Skillshare as well, although it seems a different beast from ukulele entirely. I plan to revisit it, but I don’t want to become too overwhelmed with learning several instruments at once, so for now, I’m fine-tuning my ukulele knowledge and working on piano and music theory.

Guitar – The Reprise

I’m also planning to revisit the guitar one day. I might take it out and play a few things on it here and there, but I’m not ready to dive in fully because I’m trying to pace myself. Once I feel like I have a decent understanding of music theory, ukulele, and piano, I think I’ll pick up the guitar again. (Mine is a classical guitar and it feels ENORMOUS compared to my ukulele.)

Singing as a Way of Life

I’ve been singing a lot more than I ever did. I love musicals (singing, dancing, and acting?! What’s not to love?) and I find myself singing them everywhere I go. I sing worship songs as I go throughout my day too, along with quirky stuff like Weird Al. When I hear theme music, I just gotta try to hit those notes.

As I mentioned, I’m singing on a worship team again. This Wednesday we had practice, and it was so much fun blending my voice with the voices of others. The leader said we sounded good together, and that little comment was such a blessing for someone who was almost discouraged out of singing entirely.

Lessons for a Younger Me

One of my favorite things to do is to imagine different scenarios. One of those scenarios is “What would I do if I had a time machine?” so I’m going to answer that right now in the context of music.

I’d tell a younger me:

I know your strumming doesn’t sound like his. He’s got over 30 years of experience and you’re just starting out – know how he got that way? Practice.

Yes, it’s hard and your fingers hurt – but keep trying. Even if you totally suck at it. Those hours will add up, and before you know it, you’ll have been playing for a year.

Don’t want to play guitar? Fine. Pick something else. Ukuleles are $40 – play that instead. I love the uke. Learn to read music. Do all the music theory things. Stop giving up just because it’s not easy – you’re going to face a lot of things that aren’t easy. Some of the best things in life are difficult.

It wasn’t until I was in my mid-thirties that I tried to play an instrument again – and when I did, I loved it. That’s too long. If you’re reading this, don’t wait too long to try things. Don’t give up when things get tough. It’s worth it to see it through.

The Power of Community

Photo of a group of friends' shoes by Ingo Joseph on Pexels.com
Photo of a group of friends’ shoes by Ingo Joseph on Pexels.com

Today I started treating my daughter’s NF1 with MEK inhibitors. To understand the significance of this, you need to know several things:

  • They need to be taken on a schedule, and I’m not a Type-A person. MEK inhibitors need to be taken within a specific window: at the same time, 12 hours apart, and they must be taken 1 hour before or 2 hours after she eats. My brain nearly broke just figuring out the logistics today, and I take forever to prepare food, so I’m nervous about this.
  • I’m kind of weird about medication. I see the value of it, of course, but if I don’t absolutely need to take it, I don’t. And I’m the same way with my kids – I’m so careful about not over-medicating them that I sometimes fall too much on the other side.
  • Speaking of “weird about medication,” there are some alarming warnings! I’m supposed to wear gloves while I administer these MEK inhibitors to my daughter. The irony is not lost on me that the thing I’m putting IN HER BODY is the thing I need to wear gloves to handle. I nearly get a panic attack just reading the warnings.
  • I don’t prepare myself for things. There are certain things – usually related to my kids’ health, that I don’t mentally prepare for. Instead, I like to pretend it doesn’t exist in the hopes that it won’t happen and I won’t need to deal with it. (Not wise, I know – I’m just being honest!) So I completely forgot she was supposed to take them until she got up at 6 AM today to tell me. I could have taken a bit more time to digest it and prep my heart.
  • Today was a “quick start” day. Normally, I have time to help make my husband’s lunch, fill his water jug, and think before I start my day. This morning, I apparently slept through the alarm and my husband got his stuff ready himself. I didn’t realize it until he came in to finish getting ready – and that was right around the time I learned it was time to begin the MEK regimen.
  • I struggle with anxiety. If the above info didn’t already tip you off, I’ll give it to you straight: anxiety loves me. I struggle with it on a fairly regular basis and some days it doesn’t want to leave me alone. It feels like being trapped in a room where the water’s rising and you can’t breathe. And that’s how it felt today.

I’ve been attending a weekly women’s Bible study, where we pray for one another and go over the message from that Sunday. I immediately realized where I was going anxiety-wise and decided to send out a STAT prayer request.

Throughout the day, I was flooded with messages that they were praying, ladies telling me to let them know if I needed anything, and words of encouragement. It helped put my mind at ease and though the peace didn’t come immediately, it did come.

I let my workplace know as well, and although the views that some of them share are very different from my own, everyone was very kind, supportive, and willing to help in any way they could.

You don’t realize how meaningful it is to be surrounded by uplifting people until you find yourselves in the midst of some. It helped me get into a better frame of mind and not be so stressed that things weren’t going according to my timeline for the rest of the day (there were a lot of interruptions).

What Happens Without Community?

I can’t speak for everyone else, but without community, I flounder. If the COVID pandemic has taught us all anything, I think it’s the importance of community. Being isolated from others gives many of us the tendency to turn inward onto ourselves and dwell on dangerous thought patterns.

The pandemic has become a crisis on many levels: not only a health crisis but an economic crisis and mental health crisis as well. Human beings crave connection and being starved of that connection has an awful effect on a person’s state of mind. There were a few times I wanted to die. (Depression got out of control during the pandemic.)

Rural areas are known to have higher rates of suicide than urban areas, with rural Wyoming topping the list of suicides in the US in 2019. Isolation doesn’t have a great effect on the human psyche. (My husband was thinking about moving us to Wyoming – I’m repeatedly grateful he didn’t.)

KIT: Keep In Touch

When I was in junior high and high school, the end of the year was a momentous occasion. Students finally got their yearbooks and passed them around, from friend to friend, gathering up signatures to treasure (we thought) for the rest of our lives. (The truth is, when you’re an adult, you hardly look at them anymore.)

Mixed among the typical “Stay Cool,” “Stay Sweet,” or “Have fun this summer,” were messages that said “Keep in touch,” or simply, “KIT.” Fellow students would list their phone numbers there, with an open invitation to contact them over the summer. (I realize I’m showing my age here, but stay with me.)

Today, we don’t make phone calls. We text, we message – sometimes we even email. But we don’t make phone calls. And despite the fact that it’s now available to us (not just a weird futuristic thing like you’d find on Star Trek), we rarely video message people because we’d rather not have to clean up a corner of our homes or get out of our PJs.

So how are we supposed to keep in touch in areas where we’re still on lockdown? We have all of these things working against us:

  • A fear of talking on the phone
  • A fear of appearing on video chat
  • An apprehension around sending messages (indicated by the “…” on the other end and then finding the person hasn’t sent you anything or a simple “message recieved” notification with no reply back.

The answer is that we have to push back against our fears and the false convenience of just doing it ourselves and “not bothering anybody.” We need to have fellowship with each other – it’s not an option, it’s a must. Get it in any form you can, because without community, we suffer.

So throw a line to that friend you haven’t heard from in a while. Conquer the fear and pick up the phone to chat for a bit. Send some selfies to a friend of yours to let them know you’re thinking of them (make sure they have a cell phone first)! Invest in your community and give them opportunities to invest in you. No level of social distancing requires that you be emotionally distant from your friends.

Sourdough and Determination

Photo of a homemade loaf of sourdough bread by Monserrat Soldu00fa on Pexels.com
Photo of a homemade loaf of sourdough bread by Monserrat Soldu00fa on Pexels.com

Although I’m two years late for the pandemic-induced sourdough baking phenomenon, I wanted to talk about some life lessons I’ve learned about sourdough.

A Bit About Me

First, though, some history. I’ve always been the cautious one. Maybe it’s got something to do with the fact I’m the firstborn and internalized my parents’ anxieties, I don’t know. But from the time I was a kid and my brother and sister were doing flips on my parents’ bed, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I was convinced that I would break my neck and be paralyzed from the neck down like Christopher Reeves.

I wasn’t a risk-taker. I’d ride my bike and, if I was going too fast, imagine that the next day’s newspaper was going to have me on the front cover, talking about how I’d died from running into something because I lost control of my bike.

Sure, a little bit of caution never hurt anyone. But mine was in overdrive. When I sang in front of people, I sang badly on purpose so that, if someone thought I was a bad singer, it didn’t matter. I danced silly on purpose because again, it wouldn’t hurt to be bad at something if I wasn’t really trying. Of course, there were things I naturally gravitated to that were relatively easy for me: acting, writing poetry.

But if it was hard, I either didn’t do it or I didn’t try to do it right.

I’ve always been a music lover, and as a teenager, I decided to learn to play guitar. I made it to maybe three sessions before I grew frustrated that the way I strummed the guitar didn’t have the same finesse as the man teaching me, who’d been playing for over 30 years. I quit, and years later I gave my guitar away to someone else I thought would appreciate it.

I don’t like doing the hard things. Life itself is a hard enough thing.

Then it Dawned on Me…

When I was finally mid-way through my thirties, I realized how much I’d missed out on. All because I was worried to be bad at something. Afraid to fail. And despite that realization, I did it again, with sourdough bread.

One of my best friends (we’ll call her B) is also a homeschooler, and she bakes sourdough bread like it’s nobody’s business. I’ve never seen her with a flat, tough loaf of bread. The crust is always perfectly browned without being so hard that you can’t eat it.

When I met her, I’d already baked some bread using store-bought yeast, so I was sure I could perfect this sourdough bread thing. I asked her for some starter and began to feed it in preparation for what I was sure would be an epic loaf of bread.

She told me to handle it gently, but I went all-in, kneading it as I would a loaf made with store-bought yeast. I don’t think it rose much. I didn’t cook it for long either, so it had a chewy texture instead of the kind of crust you’d expect from sourdough.

I tried it a few more times, and every time, something went wrong.

I wasn’t even nailing the “feed the starter” step, so I dumped it and let it go. I don’t think I had intentions to pick it back up, either.

Encouragement from a Friend

While fellowshipping after church, somehow the conversation got on the sourdough bread B makes. I mentioned that I tried it and it wasn’t as good – to the point where my son said he likes hers better and I replied, “So do I!” My friend M overheard me saying I couldn’t do it and looked me in the eye.

“No, don’t say that. You haven’t done it yet. You just need to practice!” She was staring into my soul with her blue eyes as she made me promise I’d try it again. I couldn’t say no.

Can the Starter Become the Finisher?

The next time I had an opportunity to get B’s starter, I did. (It didn’t take long. There are a lot of homeschoolers at my church and we all attend a weekly Bible study.) One of the things B had asked me when I told her it didn’t taste the same was, “Did you watch the video?” (I hadn’t, so I decided I’d watch it this time.)

I took a look at the video and made the bread as I watched it. I asked B some questions as I tried and failed a few times:

  • How far in advance should I feed the starter if I want it bubbly?
  • My starter is really liquidy. Do you think I need to add more flour?
  • Mine doesn’t get a good crust on it, but I put a ton of flour on it. Should I use less flour?

Slowly, but surely, the bread got better. The loaf before the last loaf I made was nearly perfect. Almost to B bread status. In fact, my son told me it tasted like her bread. That was when I knew I’d “made it.”

I’ve always been great at starting things, but I haven’t been great at finishing them. I’m glad I didn’t give up on making sourdough because hearing my son say those words and watching my family devour the bread was reward enough.

Curious about what happened to the last loaf I made? I failed again. But it wasn’t a fatal failure, because I know where I went wrong and I’m going to do it again. (I baked it too long and I overworked the dough again. I was super-enthusiastic after my success and got too into it – haha!)

Trying New Things

There’s a magic in trying new things. For whatever reason, nothing compares to the first few times you hear a song or watch a quality piece of entertainment. Before you know all the lyrics. Before you’ve learned all the lines.

During the pandemic, I took up the ukulele. I have a lot of fun playing it when I’m in the mood to do so, and I try to brush up every so often even when I’m busy so I won’t lose the skill. I also taught myself how to read piano music (in a very rudimentary sense). I can plink out a few notes from a song, even. There’s still plenty to learn about music theory and playing. I would love to play by ear someday.

I also have a mandolin and a guitar. I plan to start those someday also, but for now, I’m trying to focus on the ukulele, keyboard, singing, and music theory.

Do What You Dream, Bastian

When I used to watch The Neverending Story, I bawled at the end without fail. Why? Because in her desperation, the Childlike Empress begged Bastian, “Why don’t you do what you dream?” Although it’s a cheap knockoff, Sharkboy and LavaGirl had a similar effect on me. I believe that it was because I had such a strong fear dominating my life that I never tried anything outside my comfort zone.

I didn’t simply start to love music during the pandemic. I’d always loved it – but I was afraid to try. I didn’t start singing until years after my sister quit choir because she told me I sang badly. I never danced in public – not even at prom with a really sweet prom date – because I was afraid the cool kids would laugh at me.

The years I wasted because I was afraid to fail.

When I was in my mid-thirties, I did the math. Even if it took years to learn guitar, I’d have known it by now if I’d stuck with it. I’d be halfway to where the pro was experience-wise, too. And it wasn’t just guitar. I could have done a lot of things if I’d simply stuck with them. I’ve got two left feet, but if I’d tried, maybe I’d have been a decent dancer by now.

Free to Fail

I fail all the time now. I dance in public. In the grocery store, at the gas pump (around my husband to embarrass him). I bring my uke around with me and if I have a spare moment, I’ll play a little. I try new songs I haven’t mastered yet – ones with strumming patterns I can’t even comprehend. I sound clunky when I play them, but I still play them.

If I could offer one piece of advice to my younger self, I’d tell her that I’m going to screw up. It’s part of being human. But if I keep at the things that matter to me – that I really want to learn – no matter what anyone else says or does, I’ll be grateful for my time on earth because I’ll know I didn’t waste it being afraid to start. I would encourage her to be free to fail.

Time Travel and Inspiration

Have you ever felt like a beat-up old pair of shoes? At one time, you were a shiny new pair, straight off the assembly line and tucked into your cozy box, but then one day someone had the audacity to swoop you up and tromp through the mud with you.

You’re not new anymore. You’re beaten up, worn out, and you’ve definitely seen some stuff. All those assembly-line dreams seem to be dashed, and life didn’t turn out nearly as idyllic as you’d envisioned it.

Wouldn’t it be nice, in those situations, to do a bit of time travel? To go back to your younger self and let her “bright side” perspective rub off on you? Let her remind you that there is always hope?

I got to experience that tonight as I looked over my past posts. Things that I wrote years before the pandemic – years before it felt like the entire world had gone mad. I was hopeful then. I trusted God more. It wasn’t sheer naivete, it was faith.

Faith is a Strength, Not a Weakness

In today’s society, it seems many people have written faith off completely. Perhaps not all forms of “faith,” but true, Bible-believing faith. People see it as close-minded, and fewer people than ever believe that its words should be taken literally. Many see faith as a crutch – that it’s for weak-minded people.

Throughout my life, my faith has been shaken. I have found myself angry at God for allowing people to die that I didn’t want to lose. A couple of years ago, I was so disenchanted with my circumstances that I began to believe that God may not be real. I felt that my faith was only hurting me, and since it no longer seemed to be serving my purposes, I nearly abandoned my faith.

Fortunately, I didn’t leave the faith altogether. I was angry, bitter, and rebellious, but by God’s grace, I didn’t completely leave. But the experience left me broken: an unraveled version of who I used to be.

I didn’t want to hear about God. I didn’t feel like He was “for me” anymore, and rather than realized it was I who had left Him, I made myself out to be the victim. It was His fault I’d suffered the hardships I’d endured, and without Him, I’d be happy. Despite my years of saying otherwise, I viewed God more like Santa Claus or a genie meant to grant my every wish.

Why did I land in this crisis? Not because of the failure of God (He never fails), but because of my failure to have an accurate understanding of Him.

Who God Is

Contrary to popular belief, Jesus wasn’t just a “good teacher.” If you knew someone who went around claiming to be God and upsetting established religious leaders, would you call that a good teacher? I’d call that a crazy person. Yes, He taught – but many of the things he taught were misunderstood by His audience.

Jesus was controversial, not passive. He intentionally used divisive comments to weed out his followers. He wasn’t a people-pleaser who was the moral equivalent of “Do you, boo-boo.” He rebuked sin, called it out, and antagonized the Pharisees and Sadducees. He was nobody’s “homeboy.”

And yet – Jesus never sinned. He healed people and forgave them of their sins. He hung out with a bunch of societal losers and cast-offs – people the upper crust wouldn’t give a second thought to. He spoke words of life and astounded teachers with His knowledge of scripture.

Jesus showed us God’s character by doing His will. He said as much in John 5:16-30. Is God loving? Yes, of course – but he is also just. That’s why Jesus had to die.

God is a good judge. That means that He doesn’t take bribes and can’t be manipulated. If you knew a victim of brutality and went to the trial, only to find the judge had pardoned the offender, would that be justice? Of course not. You’d be justifiably angry that a corrupt judge had let a violent person go free.

In the same way, God can’t allow sin to go unpunished. That’s why He sent Jesus to be a propitiation (substitute, atonement) for our sins. Jesus lived a perfect life and bore our sins so that we could have eternal life if we trusted in Him – but it’s not something we can earn for ourselves.

Are We Good People, Really?

People often say, “I’m a good person, I think I’ll go to heaven.” But to go back to our courtroom example, that’s the equivalent of someone beating another person and then saying, “Hey, judge – I think you should let me go because I donate to charity every year.” Again – that wouldn’t be justice.

It’s convenient to think of ourselves as good people. “I’m not as bad as the next guy,” you think, “I check all of these boxes when it comes to good deeds, so God should let me into heaven.” But if you’re being honest with yourself, you know better than anyone what a terrible person you are. And I’m not just pointing the finger at you – I, too, am a terrible person.

If we were truly good people who went around with noble purposes all the time, we would always say exactly what we think. After all, if you’ve got nothing but goodness welling up inside you, why wouldn’t you share it with the world? But our thoughts are some of the darkest corners of ourselves. We hold secrets that we hope no one ever discovers – why? Because we know how evil we are, and we don’t want to see the look on peoples’ faces when they find out.

Human nature is fallen. “None is righteous… no one seeks for God. All have turned aside,” Romans 3:10-12. If we were good by nature, why on earth would there be serial killers, murderers, rapists, child molesters? None of that should exist – and none of it would have existed had mankind not sinned in the first place.

So if we’re not good, then why do so many believe that they are?

They believe it because it’s convenient. It allows them to keep their heads down and continue living life as usual because they don’t need to confront their own sin. They would rather believe the lie of their own goodness than do something about their broken condition. “I’m good at heart” becomes their crutch: the claim that they’re willing to stake their lives on.

Hope Through Heartache

There’s an old saying: “It’s easier to tear down than to build up.” By my own actions and my own pigheaded rebellion and misunderstanding of God, I nearly demolished my faith. I wanted to believe that God didn’t exist because I felt like the time I spent serving Him amounted to nothing. I didn’t understand what He was doing and rather than trust Him, I ran away.

It’s taken a long time to even get to a point where I feel comfortable talking about the Lord again. I have been extremely fortunate in all of this, and now that I’m on the other side I can see that God never left me, even in the midst of rebellion. I will never understand how He could love such a disobedient creature, but He has.

I was talking with my daughter today about how difficult it is to share my faith now. Before the great apostasy of my life, I talked to everyone about Jesus. It nearly drove the people I loved crazy, but I was excited about what God had done in my life. I wanted to encourage people and strengthen their faith.

What I did had left me spiritually anemic. I’d stopped praying, stopped reading the Bible. I fed myself with influences I shouldn’t have and played with fire. If the Bible said not to do it, I was doing it, if in a small way.

Time Machine Grace

Tonight, I remembered that I had a WordPress blog and decided to take a look. I thought I’d read up on some old posts and maybe share a few musings. I wasn’t ready for the post I would read.

The last post I’d written was about works in progress. I was frustrated because I felt like I didn’t finish anything, and I shared a story about how I used to get halfway through “organizing things” and leave messes throughout the house.

And then I shared a quote from C.S. Lewis about how painful God’s “renovation” process is – and that Philippians 1:6 promises that “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.”

I closed the blog post by saying, “I may be a mess, but I hope I’m a mess that points to Him.” And that was exactly what this beat-up pair of shoes needed to hear.

Works In Progress

I haven’t had the energy to write lately.

It’s not that I don’t think of things to write… because every now and then, I’ll write a poem or something. It’s that the things I DO want to write are works in progress.

A work in progress is such an exhausting thing. There are so many parts of me that just want to type out a story or blog, without doing the necessary work to refine and fine-tune it. It’s so much easier to throw a bunch of words on paper than it is to have to take a hard look at them and decide what I need to change about it.

On top of all that, I ask people their opinions on what I could change (which is great, if you know how to do it right, but apparently I don’t). They inevitably tell me I need to do a lot of work, moving things around and yet somehow figuring out a way to make sense despite it.

What usually happens through this process is that I end up with it all torn up and no idea how to patch it back together.

I get overwhelmed and then refuse to touch it for a few more months. And part of the reason is that editing doesn’t feel like writing, and I know I should be writing. (That’s what all the writing memes say, right?)

It reminds me of how I used to drive my husband crazy early on in our marriage.

I would see something that I needed to organize, so I set about the job, pulling things out in an attempt to make a “clean slate” for me to start putting things back into. The problem was that sometimes, I would stop there for a period… so my husband would come home to a mess and I would tell him, “I started organizing things today,” totally proud of myself, and he’d look and say, “I can’t tell…”

Since then, I’ve learned how to organize my stuff and make sure I FINISH what I start. I haven’t learned how to do that yet with my writing.

I’m on a writing page on facebook called, “Write Away, Mommy”. There was a live video from her today about completing our work. I confessed that I have many things on that list… but I’m still not sure whether I’m going to change that in the near future. I don’t want to be a flake – I want to finish what I start – but sometimes I honestly don’t even know where to begin.

What do you do when you don’t know where to begin? When I’m cleaning or organizing, it helps me to remember I can just start in one corner. I just need to figure out what a “corner” of a story looks like.

We, too, are all works in progress. When we invite Jesus in, we think He’s just going to adjust a few things. He has a different plan – one that is quite messy! C.S. Lewis said it well in his book, Mere Christianity:

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

I’m so grateful that God finishes what He starts. I’m thankful that He doesn’t leave his handiwork in its messy stage. Philippians 1:6 says “…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

I am a work in progress. I don’t have things figured out. Most days, if you find me, you will find an absolute mess: but I thank God that He is continually working on me (and that He gives me the grace to work out my salvation with fear and trembling – Philippians 2:12).

I may be a mess, but I hope I’m a mess that points to him. Soli Deo Gloria.

When God says “No”

For a person whose dreams are as big as she is crazy, it is sometimes hard for me to imagine laying those same dreams down at Jesus’ feet. There have been many – MANY times in my life where I had a dream and God said “No” to it.

There was the time I wanted to act in Hollywood.

No.

The time I wanted to go into direct selling – twice.

No.

The time I wanted to own a magazine.

No.

The time I wanted to become a youth pastor.

No.

The time I wanted to become an accomplished writer by taking an awesome writing course.

No.

“No” doesn’t always mean “Never.”

In fact, many times, the dreams we have are noble ones… but we have to remember that God’s timing is not our own.

I truly believe I’m meant to be involved in youth. I think I may have been guilty of what many mainstream Christians can be guilty of: assigning God’s voice to one of my own desires. I’ve come to accept that I may never be a youth pastor,  but that doesn’t mean I can’t help out in youth and use my talents to the glory of God in my church’s youth group. I don’t have to be the top of the chain. God doesn’t call everyone to a high position of power – if that were the case, all the church custodians in the world would be living against the will of God.

In my life, I see God calling me to humility more often than positions of power.

I see Him reminding me, as often as necessary, that it’s not about me. I am meant to glorify God with my life, and help others. I should be a support and encouragement to those around me. The Lord has led me, through my pastor (& also through my husband), when I have begun to get off-track. Through their leadership, I have often heard the refrain, “You are a mother first.” Admittedly, it wasn’t one I was too fond of at first. Eventually, I realized that motherhood is the highest calling I have right now. It’s also one with some of the least recognition, which is probably why I took issue with it! Pride is no joke!

As our good shepherd, God leads us. Along the way, He is watching to see if we will listen to His voice.

He will be faithful to instruct us, but we must listen carefully and refuse to dig our heels in if He should say something we don’t want to hear. We must go where He leads, not where we think is right.

You may wonder, “What if it’s something we REALLY want? Can’t we just do that one little thing?”

There are no small things to God. If we disobey and do our own thing, we are not living for Him, and not acting like we are even His.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27

If we are His, we follow, even when we don’t understand.