Tuesday, March 29, 2016


The "Curse" of Our Gifts

This morning on facebook a relative posted a short video about the spiritual application of a pizza box. It's a two minute clip about how we as believers are vessels of Christ. Keep it in mind as you read this post because, as I'm sure you know, we cannot take credit for our gifts. James 1:17 reminds us that "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."
  A few years ago at church we all took a spiritual gifts test. The goal was to identify our strengths so we can utilize them for service. I found it super-interesting. A couple of people were asked to speak briefly about their results and they said something that resonated with me and I'm guessing you get it, too.
They said that they know it's a blessing, and they are thankful for their gifts, but sometimes their blessing felt like a curse. That's why I sometimes refer to these things, in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way, as "blursings" because they feel like a combination of a blessing and a curse.
My friend has the gift of administration and she's amazing. Creative and organized, she is a master at making everything beautiful. Dozens of times I've heard people (myself included) say they wish they could just let her do whatever she wanted to makeover their homes. She likes things clean and organized and she's very very good at it.
But, for her, there's a downside. Disorder and mess bug her. Some people could overlook a messy bookshelf, but for my friend it would probably stress her out a little.
Then there's another lady. She spoke about one of her main gifts. The gift of mercy. Oh boy. When she said that this blessing sometimes felt like a curse I knew exactly where she was coming from because I have that one, too.
Several years ago I played "Truvy" in a stage production of "Steel Magnolias". When Shelby, regretting asking Truvy for a short haircut, begins to tear up, Truvy begs her to stop. "Oh sweetheart don't. Please don't cry or I will too. I have a strict policy that nobody cries alone in my presence."
Yep. I may not actually cry, but no one suffers in solitude if I'm around.
I'm glad I'm a compassionate person. But being compassionate means that there are times when my heart aches because of valleys I'm not actually walking through. If you are in the valley and need someone to hold your hand awhile, I'm your girl.
Don't misunderstand, I'm thankful for my gifts. Along with mercy, a couple of my other gifts are discernment and wisdom. I'm so grateful for them. I think if I had had a choice I would have picked those gifts.
But here's my point. I think that there's a reason there's some pain in the gift. What good is mercy all by myself, kept hidden? What good is wisdom if I don't share it?
Is a gift really a gift without some amount of sacrifice? Is it really worth anything if we don't grow, develop, and use it to bless others?
These gifts are meant to be manifold. Paul said in Acts "In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' "
Haven't you noticed that sometimes the best way to lift your own spirit is to bless someone else?
Let's embrace the sacrifice. Like Tom Hanks said in A League of Their Own, "It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard... is what makes it great."
Like when you knit, bake, clean, create, write, craft, or just give your time. When you sit and listen and let your presence chase away loneliness. The time you spend. The risk you take in being vulnerable, the inevitable hurt we invite when we love one another. It makes it sweeter, and richer, and more. The sacrifice of our "blursings"'is all part of the gift.

Friday, March 11, 2016


You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means.

I am fighting a losing battle. Granted, I'm not fighting very hard. Just a few impassioned pleas on social media and a rant or two to family members who probably wish I'd shut up about it already. You know, the usual ways we try to save the world.
But my cause is a noble one. A brave and honorable rescue mission. Free the captive! Slay the dragon! Save the word literally! I'm talking about how everywhere we look, the word literally being used incorrectly or unnecessarily or both. "We literally died laughing." "I literally found it under the bed."
It's driving me bonkers.
 Part of the reason it bothers me so much is that I love words and generally don't like to hear them misused. People have taken to using the word literally for emphasis when that's not it's purpose at all. It's meant for clarity, not to add weight to something. This is a big deal to me and I was just sitting here thinking about why that is.
I think what bothers me is this: We can't just distort the truth to suit our wishes. Literally does not mean "really a whole lot-I mean it".  A couple of weeks ago when I said that the kids at church were "literally bouncing off the walls", I didn't mean they were extra super-duper hyper, I mean that they were so rowdy that I actually saw a kid ricochet off an actual wall.
I fear that one day the definition will bow to the abuse of the word and it will actually be changed in the dictionary.
But it's not right.
I could believe with every cell in my brain that the sun orbits the earth but it doesn't make it true. Even if all of us believed it, it would not make true an untrue thing. It would only make all of us wrong.
I'm talking about absolutes here, and I'm aware of their fading popularity in our world, but that's just the point. The world doesn't want standards? Our culture simply loathes accountability? Too bad. Truth remains. No amount of argument, condescension, ignorance, oblivion, or scorn will fade it.

Psalm 119:89 Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.

 I'm choosing one simple verse to share. There are tons of passages in the Bible about this, but Psalm 119:89 is one perfect example. It doesn't need my help by trying to add any emphasis. Using a word in an improper way does not diminish the merit of the word. Disobeying The Word does not weaken it's sovereignty either.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Before and After

My Week in the Library

You probably have one of those places in your house, too. A messy catch-all where you throw stuff when you don't know where else to put it.
I won't tell you the whole long story, but last week I finally tunneled into "the cold room" and turned it into a tiny library. My boys will probably still call it the cold room, though.
Anyway, as you can probably guess, it was a lot of work. The boys helped a little, carrying books and throwing things away when I asked. I did the painting, though I'm not very good at it.
It took me over a week, I was exhausted at the end of every day, there are still a few things to do, and it was worth it all. Every sore muscle, every scraped knuckle, every wobble of the stepladder that momentarily convinced this very afraid-of-heights girl that she was going to fall to her death was worth the end result.
I bought "oops paint" at the hardware store and I love the colors. I got a set of chairs and matching ottoman at Karen's Treasures, and we have been enjoying our little reading room.
Last night my boys and I snuggled into our new-to-us chairs and I introduced them to Junie B. Jones.
The pictures don't really do it justice. Probably because I took them on my little pink, digital Sanyo. When my photographer friend comes to visit, maybe she'll take some better ones and I'll update you.

 Isn't it lovely? Last night after the boys went to bed, Keith and I sat in our little library and we decided it's the coziest room in the  house.

I'm planning on moving the clock to a different spot because I think it looks weird there, We still need to sort through the desk you can't really see here and we could use a little table to set a cup of tea, but it's mostly done. There is for sure room for more books!
But this is all for now. I will likely have more to say about it later. For now let's just enjoy the fun of before and after.