Friday, June 26, 2009

Retro Sacrifice

I was feeling a little retro the other day, so I pulled out some earrings that once belonged to my grandma. Very fun earrings, BUT they are clip-ons. Tight clip-ons. When I first put them on, my ears began to scream in pain. I knew that it was going to be a sacrifice if I was going to wear them. The fashion outweighed the pain (for a few hours at least).

Just as fashion can involve pain and sacrifice, being a Christ-follower often involves sacrifice and pain. I can readily list what I sacrifice. Unfortunately, my list of what I sacrifice often overshadows why I'm making the sacrifice. I get so caught up in my list of what I give up or must endure that I lose sight of the reason.

As athletes train, they sacrifice and endure pain because they have a goal in mind. As Christians Paul encourages us with comparisons to athletes: "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever." 1 Corinthians 9:24-25

If I only focus on the sacrifice, I lose sight of the prize and will most likely never make it. That's a sobering thought.

How do I focus on the right thing? Again, referring to Paul: "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13-14

I must make the conscious decision to focus on the prize rather than all the sacrifice. If I can endure my ears being squashed for the sake of fashion, I would hope that I can endure sacrifice for the sake of Christ.

Friday, June 12, 2009

High Maintenance

Just as my shift was almost over at the coffee shop, I had a high-maintenance customer. Not only did he inform me that on his previous visits, his order was not the way he wanted it, but he told me to write down exactly what he wanted. He was very specific! Although I complied with all that he asked, my attitude wasn't very cheerful. On the inside, I was definitely complaining!

I don't think we often realize when we are high-maintenance. I've been taking a hard look at myself and my relationship with Christ, wondering if I come across as high maintenance to Him.

Do I approach my time with Christ as a chance to tell Him that He hasn't been delivering what I want? Have I been giving Him a list for Him to get right? Instead of seeing the effort that He puts into my life, am I only seeing the lack of getting my own way?

I know that I am really good at presenting requests to God, but is that all my relationship consists of? Am I just a high-maintenance customer to Him?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Generic Flour

A couple of years ago I talked to some people about generic flour. As Scott has recently spoken on Generic Christianity, I was reminded of my generic flour story.

In our early days of marriage I purchased some generic flour. Every item that I made with that flour turned out bad. I decided that all generic flour was bad and was willing to shell out the few extra cents for brand name flour. Almost ten years after that experience, it hit me how that one package of flour turned me off all generic flour, and I began to think about what it would take for me to try generic flour again. At first I couldn’t imagine anything making me want to try it. Ultimately I opened my mind to the possibilities of that one brand being bad or even that one package being bad and that maybe not all generic flour was bad. As I thought of the flour, I saw a parallel to what so many people feel about Christianity.

So many people have had a bad experience with Christianity, which has turned them off it forever, just as I was turned off generic flour. These people may have been hurt by someone in the church or by a situation in the church. Whatever the negative experiences they may have had, should they turn away from the church and Christianity forever? What can make them want to try again?

I went ten years without even thinking about trying generic flour. Honestly, it took me a few months after first thinking about until I was willing to buy and use some generic flour. If it was so hard for me to purchase a bag of flour, how much harder must it be for someone to reconsider Christianity?

Can we live our lives in a way that we can help that transition be easier for others? Can we live our lives in a way that doesn’t create the negative experiences for others - the ones that turn them off Christianity?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Magic 8 Ball

Remember the toy, Magic 8 Ball? You ask a question, shake it, and then an answer appears on the toy. How many times do we treat our faith like a Magic 8 Ball?
Have you ever prayed, “God, lead me to Your word today,” then flipped open the Bible and whatever page you landed on is God’s word for you that day? What about asking God to give you an answer to a decision? Have you prayed for God to give you a sign? For example, as you are driving, you pray that if God wants you to go ahead with a certain project, then the stoplight ahead will be green and if He doesn’t want you to go ahead, it will be red. Then you get to the stoplight to find it yellow!
It’s a good thing to seek God’s will and direction, yet we try so often to seek His will while adding our own qualifications. Telling God how to answer us isn’t really relying on faith.
Faith involves waiting and listening and fully seeking God. Just as it is foolish to shake the Magic 8 Ball to find out the answer to a serious question, so it is foolish to treat our faith like a Magic 8 Ball.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Honest, I'm not perfect

On the radio today I heard an eHarmony commercial featuring Lindsay Lohan. In it she addresses rumors and many of the negative exploits she has been involved in. When it was over, the DJ said the commercial made him like Lindsay again. I was feeling the same way. There is something refreshing about a person admitting her faults and even poking fun at herself.
Why does it seem so natural for us to hide our faults and mistakes? If we do admit we were wrong, we might be hit with a lawsuit in some situations. I don't think this is the driving force behind our cover-ups though.
In Genesis, Adam and Eve tried to hide from God when they did something wrong. It was a natural, instinctive reaction. We know we aren't perfect, yet we don't want to let others see that. We tell ourselves that it is more important to save face with others and to make ourselves look good, rather than be honest about who we are and what we've done. This troubles me. I think it takes a lot of courage to humble oneself and own up to one's mistakes and shortcomings.
I consider myself to be an honest person, but when I think about this, I don't feel so honest anymore.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Who prayed?

Although I would like to say that every single day I pray blessing on Corner Coffee and Corner Church, the reality is that I don't. Yesterday morning I did though. I prayed knowing that we fully rely on God and need His blessing and provision. My heart was definitely into it and not just saying some prayer by rote.
Cheryl told me yesterday that lunch was really busy. This morning I saw Allison, who worked yesterday at the shop. She said it was unbelievably busy during lunch and that they kept running out of things. She told me she even thought, "Who prayed?"
Because I had heard a good report, I prayed again for the shop this morning and thanked God for what He had done yesterday. He heard my prayers and blessed the shop, which made me want to give Him thanks.
Today, lunch was busy again. Just when I thought our lunch rush was over, in walked more people. This happened a few times. It was again an answer to prayer.
God doesn't always answer my prayers like this, but I hope I can always be faithful to give Him credit when He does.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Random Kindness

Yesterday as I was looking over some items at a store, I heard a lady apologize to Kaiya for bumping into her. I didn't see the lady bump her, but I guess I wasn't really looking. Then the lady did something odd. She asked me if she could give both my girls a dollar. I stammered that it was up to her since it was her money. To be honest my first thoughts were that I don't know this woman, so what is she going to want in return? What's the catch? Why would a stranger give both my children a dollar?

I decided that although I didn't know her reasons, I would accept this as a blessing from God especially when I heard my daughters comments. Abrea exclaimed how nice that lady was and how we should invite her to the coffee shop. She innocently accepted the kindness.

How often do we perform random acts of kindness for others? How often do we do that for strangers?

From another angle, how often do we question the motives behind kindnesses we receive?

How often do we question what God gives us?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Math Homework and Mistakes

This year Kaiya has math homework, which is to be checked by parents before it goes back to school. When I find a mistake, I tell her and she works to fix it. She then comes back for me to re-check it and/or get my help.
In life we often make mistakes. Our mistakes often can not be completely erased. It's like doing homework in pen or using an eraser that never completely removes all the pencil marks. Traces of our mistakes can remain. Not a comforting thought!
Another uncomfortable thought: being corrected. How is our response to correction? We may get defensive when someone corrects us. We may let our feelings overwhelm us. We may lose sight of all the things we have right and let only our mistakes define us. For example, we might falsely think, "If this one thing is wrong, then all of me is wrong." All of these responses prevent us from fixing the mistake and moving on.
I want to be more like my daughter. When she has a mistake on her math homework, she works to fix it. She doesn't get bogged down by negative thoughts. Instead, she fixes the problem and seeks help if she can't do it on her own.

Saturday, January 31, 2009


Scott recently talked about how we are responsible to but not responsible for people. This can be a hard concept. For example, Scott and I are responsible to Kaiya and Abrea by getting them to bed at a decent time (although we don't always succeed at this). We are not responsible for how quickly they fall asleep though. We can't control that. We can't be responsible for it. We can only be responsible to them by giving them the opportunity to have a good night's sleep.
When I work at the coffee shop, I am responsible to the customer - to provide quality ingredients, to follow the recipes, to charge the correct amount. I can do my best to provide a quality environment. I am not responsible for how they like/dislike their drink or food. I am not responsible for what they think about the shop. I am not responsible if they spill all their food (although I can make the choice to replace their food in order to show kindness).
I find freedom in the idea that I am only responsible to others and not responsible for others. I don't have to carry the burden of whether the lives of others are successful, fulfilled, happy or not.
Now, if I can just live that out....

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fear of the broken

Ever since our downstairs toilet flooded, Abrea has not wanted to use that bathroom.  Last Friday the sink broke in one of the bathrooms at the coffee shop.  Abrea has not wanted to use that bathroom since.  I've tried to convince her they are both okay, but she is afraid.  Maybe she is scared that something bad will happen while she is in them.  I'm not really sure why, but she is afraid of the broken.  My natural instincts say get over it.
Do I get over it?  How often do I fear the broken?  The broken situation?  The broken person?  Do I avoid the broken because I'm scared?  Scared that I will become broken?  Scared that it will break more if I'm there?  
I don't want my child to live in fear, but am I setting the right example?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

People pleaser

So, Scott talked about people pleasers on Sunday. Although he wasn't only preaching to me, I know that I provide a lot of material for him on the subject. Scott talked about the fact that we will fail at being pleasers but that's okay. I know I fail at being a pleaser, but it is very hard to accept that it's okay. I know I won't be able to succeed, but somehow accepting failure isn't easy. In some ways it feels like quitting. Scott mentioned a freedom coming in acknowledging and accepting our inability to please. It reminds me of bike riding.
This past summer we took the training wheels off Kaiya's bike. She was quite happy to have them on even though they were breaking and it was really difficult to ride her bike. When the training wheels were removed, she fell down and crashed and cried. She didn't want to keep trying. She was failing, and it did not feel okay. Somehow we convinced (or maybe just forced) her to keep trying. Eventually, she realized it was okay if she fell or was wobbly. Her confidence grew and she learned how to manage her bike without training wheels. She found a new freedom in pedaling hard and fast down the sidewalk. She will probably crash again sometime in her life, but that's okay. She has the freedom of riding her bike.
I now have the challenge of finding freedom in accepting that it's okay not to please. I don't really know what that looks like yet, but I hope I can learn it soon.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


This Sunday Scott talked about how busy we are as people. I understood what he talked about because I feel like our lives are extremely busy. I wonder how much of my "busyness" comes from growing older, my lifestyle (job/family), or being married to someone who I affectionately refer to as the energizer bunny. Scott has the ability to keep going and going and going. Although I have many things that vie for my time, I am the one responsible for what I choose to do and how I feel about it.

On Tuesday evening (after a long day of doing things I hadn't planned when I woke up that morning) I decided to rest. I really struggled with feeling guilty. I could visibly see the many things I needed to be doing (i.e. the floor really needed to vacuumed and swept), yet I told myself that relaxing was okay. I don't know if I really convinced myself, but I didn't do any of the things swirling in my mind to do. I still need to work on not feeling guilty when I relax.

Somehow this week got fuller by the minute. I kept adding more things to my schedule. This afternoon as I looked at my weary children, I felt plagued by guilt. Our girls are extremely flexible most of the time, so it is easy to keep dragging them from one thing to the next without stopping. It makes me realize that I have a lot to work on when it comes to "busy".

Thursday, January 8, 2009


I have moments when I feel quite content with whom I am and wonder about the idea of a sinful nature because I feel like I am just fine. How misguided I can be! Then, there are other moments when all I see are the negative, ugly parts of me. Those parts I often try to disguise and hide from other people and even from myself. Why is it so difficult to truly be ourselves – the good and the bad? Why do we feel such pressure to present some perfect version of ourselves? No one is perfect, so why do we often feel we are the only ones who have so many faults? On the flip side it is really easy to make ourselves into something better than we really are and then cast judgement on others.

I want to be honest with myself about who I really am - looking at my faults and my gifts. If I can be honest with myself, then I can work on being honest with others.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


I often find myself planning conversations in my head, anticipating what someone's reactions will be and what he/she will say. I've never had a conversation that went just like I anticipated though.

I find myself questioning what things I should and should not say. Is ALL truth worth saying? The truth hurts sometimes. Am I a jerk for saying the truth even when it hurts? Or am I a bigger jerk to let the truth go unknown?

I wish I could always say the right things at the right moments. I wish that I could always speak every word out of love and compassion. The truth is that I don't always say the right things and that I don't always speak out of love.

My desire is that I would get better in this though. I desire to speak the truth out of love.