When You Want More

Last year I read several posts by bloggers I admire encouraging people to use the cloth napkins and burn the good candles—in other words, stop waiting for some vague perfect or special moment and enjoy what we have. There’s nothing to be gained from locking the nice dishes in the buffet or drinking from paper cups when crystal is available. I loved and embraced that idea. Sometimes it felt kind of indulgent, but the money was already spent (or the gifts already given), so the only way to make them worth the money was to use them. Enjoy them. So I did. And then I expanded that concept—I wanted only the best food. When servers delivered incorrectly prepared meals, I got huffy. I complained about inefficient service. I sulked when things didn’t go my way. I bought clothes because I read that you should love everything in your closet—if it didn’t make you happy, you should get rid of it. I drank better wines and only a certain kind of coffee. And so on. And, truly, I’ve never felt less content. This ugly feeling of dissatisfaction with anything less than perfect pervaded my internal world as well. I started comparing myself to others. Instead of rejoicing for writers who experienced success, I felt cheated. I was unhappy with my weight, so I disliked those who were smaller and healthier and prettier. I became all-too-aware of the loose skin and crinkly lines under my eyes—and the lack of it on those who were younger. I started seeing all that was imperfect about me, about my life, and I felt sad. Insecure....

Who SHOULD I Compare Myself To?

“If only I could write as well as she does.” “ Wouldn’t it be great to sing like that?” “I wish people were drawn to me the way they are to her.” “I can’t do this as well as she can so I’m not going to participate.” “Why can’t I be…. smarter, more talented, more popular, more gifted…?” All I can see is what she has that I don’t. We all have thoughts like these. I fight these thoughts daily. Sometimes I struggle with not wanting to use my gifts because I think they’re not as good as what someone else has or because I’m coveting someone else’s gift. Thoughts like these bring pain to our hearts. We feel left out: like we’re not good enough. We feel like God must like them more than He likes us. We all want to be loved and admired. But the truth is these beliefs go against the whole purpose of spiritual gifts! The whole chapter of 1 Corinthians 12 is clear about the role of spiritual gifts in the church. This verse sums it up: “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” 1 Corinthians 12:7 (NIV) To “each,” to every individual believer, a public demonstration of the power and purpose of the Spirit is given. These gifts are the Holy Spirit showing Himself through each believer. It’s not about us; it’s all about the Holy Spirit revealing Himself. For what purpose? To bring us together for the good of all and for the glory of God. How can there be pride when it’s...

You Don’t Know Jack!

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; Luke 6:37 ESV Chances are you see just a peek into the window of the world that others live in and with such limited information it’s time for us to stop and admit that we really don’t know jack! Oh, I know I am going to be stepping on some toes today, my own included. It’s so easy to make a remark and a snap judgement about how someone handles the pieces and parts of their world that others see. You know, how they act with their spouse, kids, job, any or all of these (and many more) are out front for others to “see” and watch. What we don’t know is what’s really going on in that person’s world and why they might have acted or responded the way they did. Listen sweet friend, this is something that I’ve wrestled with for some time now. Here’s the deal, God will not let me let it go. But before I go much further I want to stop and make sure that you hear my heart, please oh please, hear my heart, because my words don’t always say the right thing. You and I have got to stop judging people and start giving out great big whopping dose of grace to those around us. Now, I’m not talking about any situation in which you are physically in danger. If that is happening then seek immediate help. I’m talking directly about the part of us that looks at another...

The Green-eyed Monster

Is there someone you’re jealous of right now? Have you recently looked at social media and thought, “Why can’t I have that (fill in the blank)?” I know God is speaking to me when I repeatedly hear the same message from different sources. Recently, that happened when I kept running across Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (NASB). As I looked at the meaning of the original words for “rejoice” and “weep”, I realized this isn’t talking about the casual “Way to go” or the hasty “I’m sorry.” It means feeling the joy with someone on a deep level so that it becomes my joy. It means weeping with someone in his or her sorrow so that it becomes my sorrow. God is using this truth to speak to my heart about my struggle with jealousy, pride, and self-seeking. Too often when I hear of someone’s success or see them receive attention and accolades, my first response is jealousy. That is an ugly truth. There have been times when I didn’t “like” something on Facebook because of jealousy. There are times when I don’t “rejoice” with someone because I am too busy thinking about what I want. How sad to think of what I miss out on because of this. When I do choose to rejoice with someone, I get the privilege of sharing his or her joy! When I hear of someone’s sorrow, I offer sympathy but don’t always enter into their sorrow with them, because I don’t want to leave the comfort of my own life or take the time. But...

I Hate Her Pretty Hands: Why Envy Is Really Unbelief

Her hair always lay the right way. She even had it cut like Mary Lou Retton. Perfect. Straight. So opposite of mine. Mine was quite unruly. Curly, you see. I must have figured out how to do something to it because I could feather it. Feathering was still very popular in the 80’s. Early 80’s, mind you. I could never break dance either, much less get may hair to lay and flip around like Mary Lou on the mat. No, I was way too shy and wasn’t even sure I knew how to do the worm thing across my arms. I can do it now. Bet your boots, I can do it now. Then there were the kids who could get on the monkey bars and flip and spin and penny drop. I was never good on those things. Well, I wasn’t as good as I could have been had I had the right hands. You see, I was born with weird and wrinkly hands. They’re dry as well, so that makes me void of the cool squeaky hand thing on the monkey bars, flag poles, windows and whatever else normal hands stick to. I was always jealous of that sound. I used to have to slip a lick on both palms just to stick to the bars. Try doing that and feeling cool about it in the sixth grade. Envy. I had plenty of reasons to be envious. I believed I didn’t have cool hair. I knew I would never have Palmolive hands. Funny thing is, those things haven’t changed. I still have crazy curly hair and weird...

My Mauve God

In 2010, I read a ton of books written by Christian leaders. I felt like God opened my mind, and the insights from these amazing men and women poured into my soul. However, something began to irritate me – I became a little jealous of God’s glory in these people’s lives. His Spirit shone in brilliant colors that seemed to overshadow my seemingly lackluster  life. For example, one leader saw the physical manifestation of Jesus during a very difficult time in his life. Another leader witnessed the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which came down on his audience like fire. And another leader performed a miraculous healing with the power of Jesus’ name. I began to feel inadequate because I had never experienced any of these things, and I desired so much to see God’s glory in my life. I contemplated all of this while I was helping my kids color at the kitchen table. I had just bought a jumbo box of crayons, and I was intrigued by all the shades of the same color. I felt the Holy Spirit tell me to pick a color. I chose pink. Then He told me to gather all the shades of pink I could find. He had me write the name of each crayon in its color on a piece of paper. By the time I was done writing all the shades of pink, I had a list of over 20 colors. I folded the paper and stuck it into the pocket of my jeans. I knew God was going to teach me something. Once I put my kids to sleep for naptime, I...

Competing Affections: Is it Time To Walk Away?

You shall tear down their altars, break their pillars, and cut down their sacred poles (for you shall worship no other god, because the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God). Exodus 34:13 & 14, NRSV My husband and I were visiting my sister for one of her epic social gatherings, which she adores.  My husband was sitting with a crowd, in the dining room, talking and enjoying himself at the head of the table.  I was standing in the archway, between the dining room and the living room, staring at his handsome face. I love to see him have a good time.  He is a wonderful laugh-er, and laughing he was when a blond woman came out of the kitchen.  She purposefully strode over to my husband, knelt down, placed both of her hands on his thigh and began to sing to him.  She stared adoringly into his face, and I stared, disbelieving, at her. After the shock wore off, my husband looked up at me with wide eyes.  We exchanged astounded gazes as she poured out her serenade to him.  I could see his discomfort while he measured his desire to be polite with his survival instincts. It was at this point that I woke up.  Whatever you have read about pregnancy dreams, they have all happened to me.  I have saved humanity several times, I have honed my martial arts skills, and I have even dealt with marital predators. Upon awakening, I could identify more specifically the emotion that I felt in the doorway of my sister’s house.  I was jealous.  So, naturally, I...

The Truth Of the Matter

If you speak to any insecure woman long enough then you are bound to get to the root of the cause and likely, it isn’t a pleasant situation. You see, lurking in the fast paced, get-it-done, information superhighway known as the internet is a not so hidden evil: pornography. Unfortunately, I have gone to generic websites only to see a flashing image in the sidebar that screams for attention. For some, the attention can turn into sin. It did for me. Having never even clicked on the image to see what it was about I did several things that caused me to sin: I judged the woman who’s face I saw. I became unsatisfied with my own self and the way God created me because I did not compare in physical appearance to the woman who’s image I’d seen. I became enraged at her and other girls like her and the men who continued to obsessively keep them in business. It put me in bondage. God had to set me free. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.James 3:16 I had become envious of what I believed I did not have: my husband’s sole desire; a body like I had when I was 20; and answers as to why these girls do what they do. Then God spoke to my heart… In the midst of angry thoughts towards these women God put images into my head, new ones. I saw an older man and He spoke directly to me. He said, “She is my daughter. I was never there for...

Do Not Stop On Tracks

Do Not Stop On Tracks I pass this sign on a daily basis. The tracks run between a tiny section of Linden Street between a set of stop lights a block or two apart. Much to my chagrin, trains often use this track when I am in a hurry to get somewhere. But please, who would be silly enough to stop on these tracks? Still, it seems to be human nature to ignore these kinds of signs. And children who live near train tracks have to be told over and over not to play on the tracks. Sometimes, it seems, that we flirt with danger. I’m law abiding (I’ve never gotten a speeding ticket!). So, stopping on these tracks isn’t really an issue. But, I found God asking me, “So, what tracks do you stop on?” Me? Law abiding, Amy? I have recently become acquainted with a woman who is new to my church. A friend told me I had to meet her because we process the entire issue of singleness in the same way. My interest peaked. However, we barely got introduced when she needed surgery. My friend was trying to find meals for her and I volunteered to make something and took it on Sunday. Monday night I made my famous chocolate chip cookies. I always make plenty to share, so I decided to drop some cookies off to her as the medicinal impact of cookies is well known. When I stopped in, her nieces were there to watch a movie with her. The cookies couldn’t have had better timing. I was there for minutes, but I...

Better than Shakespeare

There is an email circling around, perhaps you have gotten it. It includes a youtube link to Oprah’s new book study, where she discusses why she rejected the Church. You can watch the video here. This is her quote: “Then (the pastor) said, ‘The Lord thy God is a jealous God, and I was…caught up in the rapture of that moment, until he said ‘jealous’. And, something struck me. I was…about 27 or 28…and I was thinking, God is all, God is omnipresent and God’s also jealous? God is jealous of me? And something about that didn’t feel right in my spirit, because I believe that God is love and that God is in all things and so that’s when the search for something more than doctrine started to stir within me.” Oprah and I (believe it or not) have a little something in common. Sometimes I read a verse in the bible, and I, too, am “struck”. Sometimes something doesn’t sit right with me. Sometimes it seems to contradict what I believe I know about the nature of God. Does that ever happen to you? So, what do we do when this happens? Well, we have some choices. We can decide that God must be bad, and reject him. We can decide that the Bible must be flawed, and reject it. Or, we can treat it like Shakespeare. Let me explain. I was an English major in college, so I studied a bit of Shakespeare. You have probably also read a play or two, even if it was eons ago. What do you remember about it? Most of...