Tag Archives: contentment

Is Jesus alone enough?


I am working my way through Alan Stadtmiller’s book, Praying For Your Elephants for the second time because of excerpts like the one above. Challenging, with substance and biblical backing and deeper than the fluff and “sound bites” that so many of today’s Christian books fall back on, this book has nailed my heart with conviction time and again.

Stadtmiller goes on to say, “Let me ask you a tougher question. It’s a question that makes people put down books that don’t make them feel good, but it is a question that must be asked. Is Jesus alone enough for you?”

I know my “church answer” to these questions but let’s be real and honest because this struggle is real and “church answers” aren’t always our heart truth. This is the place of scary-change-me-God prayers. The place of self-dream sacrifice so that we might live the life we were meant to not the life we’ve planned. So my answer is, I want Him to be. I want to be able to answer in heartfelt honesty -YES!!!

I challenge you today to sit with these questions for awhile. Spend some time just soaking in them.

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (‭Philippians‬ ‭4‬:‭10-13‬ NLT)

Would you like that Super-Sized?

It was dark when we finally got home last night and it was still dark when I again walked back in the door this morning.  The sun just hinting at it’s coming glory as it began to lighten the eastern horizon.  I wonder if it’s as tired as I am, and I know that’s ridiculous, and yet I still wonder…

The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

Sunrise. Sunset. And a question…What did you do in My Name today?

Well God, I had some great ideas, I made some really Big Plans. We could change the world you know.  But that’s a lot of pressure, changing the world and the Big Things.  I have to get this right.  Maybe tomorrow I will know what to do.

Sunrise. Sunset.  And a question…What did you do in My Name today?

Um, today just flew by, what with the time spent in the “in between” and the kids and the cooking of the dinner…and well, I sang some songs to you.  We had a great jam session in the car and I thought  some more about those Big Plans.

Sunrise.  Sunset. And a question…What did you do in My Name today?

I made some mental notes today.  I think I could write about this…maybe that will be launching point of our Something Big. I am going to do Something Big Lord, I promise.  I just have to figure it out.  I know I was made for Big Things.

Wash.  Rinse.  Repeat.  And the cycle continues and nothing changes and I long for Big Things and I make Big Plans and I chase lightning in a bottle and I get tired of trying so hard to make something happen.  I get tired of peering around corners, knowing and expecting, that Something Big is just around the bend.

Aren’t we supposed to want Big things?  Aren’t we supposed to leave a Big Mark?

And then this question straight from the car speakers…Why are you striving these days? Why are you trying to earn grace?
Why are you crying?

I don’t know…I honestly don’t know…

I am a person of action words.  I don’t sit still.  I desire to be “doing” and I feel like Small isn’t Big Enough. But I am wrong, and I know this, but it doesn’t make it any easier.  I am trying to see Small for how Big it really can be.  And when my heart tells my brain, “it’s not enough,” I remember these words from Ann Voskamp that I have read so many times in recent days.

You don’t have to worry: We all get to make one unforgettable mark. And every day, with every word, we get to decide: Do we mar the world, or mark the world?

Why in the world disdain the small? It’s always the smallest strokes that add up to the greatest masterpieces.

Because the thing really is: Do we ever really know which mark we make — that will matter the most? The extraordinary things happen nowhere else but in the everyday and today can always be the beginning.

I know you’re brave … and you’re scared. Because you keep doing big things that seems so small and you wonder where all this is really going and you only get one life here —

And though you’re weary, you do hard things and you keep getting out of bed, and this is always the hardest part — you keep believing that Christ didn’t leave this world until He showed us His scars — and He won’t ever let you leave this world until you leave your most beautiful mark. To show Him.

We will probably have to be scarred.  In leaving our mark it will probably be messy and it probably will hurt, but maybe this is how we do our Biggest Thing.  Maybe our scars, bravely worn, show a hurting world His Glory and Comfort.  Maybe our stumbles and struggles handled honestly, and redeemed mercifully, show Love and Hope.

So Just For Today — listen: you’ve got to keep going.

His Kingdom is Upside Down and in Him your part is large and lovely and needed and art.

So go get the milk and take out the trash and throw in the laundry and wave giddy to the neighbors because there is a plan and there is a purpose and there is a God in heaven who didn’t just ink you onto the palm of His hands but etched your name right into Himself with nails and He’s hasn’t just got your number, He’s got your heart.

So really — you’ve got to believe it…really, it’s all working out okay.

Because God’s writing your story and He never leaves you alone in your story, and His perfect love absorbs all your fear and His perfect grace carries all your burdens, and your story is a happily ever after because Christ bought your happily ever after so you always know how this story ends.

Maybe my Biggest Thing, isn’t a thing but instead living presently in the daily grind of life. A life filled with scars and struggles but also Love and Joy and I have been missing out as I have searched for it elsewhere.  I am understanding that my Big Thing doesn’t look like I thought it would and that’s how I have missed it for so long.

But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus–the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God. (Acts 20:24)

in Him your part is large and lovely and needed.  It is the true meaning that I had confused for so long in Ephesians 3:20.  “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work withing us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”  We have no idea what Big looks like from the other side…

Sunrise.  Sunset. And a question…What did you do in My Name today?

So, What Have You Been Up To?

I know it’s been a long time…too long. Let me bring you up to speed on what I have been mixed up in. Oh September, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

1.) Birthdays – 7 of them that we celebrated to be precise. Including a slumber party for my now 12 year old daughter and 5 of her nearest and dearest where the conversation swung from ISIS, to music, to “Did you see what she did/wore/fill in the blank” and back again in the blink of an eye around the breakfast table. (Breakfast is one of my favorite times for conversation with my kids and their friends. Maybe it’s because they aren’t quite awake yet or aren’t in a hurry to go off and do “things” but I have found that if I feed them good food they will hang around and keep eating and keep talking and you can learn a lot! And they never fail to make me laugh!)

sports2.) Sporting events – which means practices, and feeding the team, and ticket taking, and ticket selling, and lots of cheering, and even more prayers blasted heavenward for protection. (Thankfully our only ER trip has been on a Sunday afternoon for an infected cut that looked pretty nasty and had gone from 0 to oozing and disgusting in the span of 36 hours.) Then there is a little job I got my husband and myself into this year called Visiting Locker Room Ambassadors. Trust me, not as fancy as the title sounds. In all of this I am considering buying an RV and living in the parking lot at the football field. It would make life much simpler.

3.) Travel – I spent the end of August and beginning of September getting ready for my trip to New York where I made some wonderful new friends and had the opportunity for some real “life” conversations. This was a mid-week trip which meant all the members of my household realized how much “behind-the scenes” work goes on that they were unaware of and yet even out-of-state I was the go-to middle man coordinating rides and pick-up times, and last minute changes of plans.

4.) Homework, Homecoming, and House Renovation – Back to school…back to homework. All I will say is that sometimes a new teacher’s expectations of their students aren’t quite realistic. We are struggling through the work load and learning great life lessons while we do it (says the mom confidently out loud even when she don’t always agree with it in her head.) Then there was the first homecoming and the flowers and new dress clothes (to coordinate with a specific dress color) and the honor of being the freshman attendant and the stress of which group to go with and the parties…which brings me to the house renovations.

I snapped this when the furniture guys went out to "get some tools." I am not sure what tools they thought they had that would have made this fit.
I snapped this when the furniture guys went out to “get some tools.” I am not sure what tools they thought they had that would have made this fit.

“Have a homecoming party” mom says. “We’ll reno the back room in the basement” mom says. “It’ll be great” mom says. So I watch a few hours of HGTV and suddenly I am an expert and have my husband and son removing load-bearing walls and installing header beams and we were all pulling crazy hours in the underworld of our home. (There were only a few tense moments and sleepless nights when my husband was convinced our house was caving in…the things he does for love!)  The furniture delivery guys just got the couch “slightly” stuck in the doorway and had to develop a Plan B (Pivot! Pivot! for my fellow Friends fans) but the basement was finished (enough) in time and my house was full (and loud) and we loved it! (And I think the kids did too.)

The month of September was packed full of craziness, and great experiences, and as always lots of fun. But because of that I have all of these thoughts filling my head, bouncing around off of each other and I can only hope that as they begin to pour out I can make them make some logical sense. (I kind of feel like my head is a balloon that is filled too full and about to burst.)

Here is a taste of some of what is going on up there and headed to you in the coming days…

I am loving getting older (yes, crazy) but I am finally confident in me for the sake of me and not anyone else. CS Lewis said, “The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become – because He made us. He invented all the different people that you and I were intended to be…It is when I turn to Christ, when I give up myself to His personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own.” Love that!

In New York I talked a lot about moments and I want to share some of that with you too. When you think about your life what are you really thinking about? What defines our lives? It’s the moments…the snapshots of memories that are framed like pictures in our minds. These are the building block of our triumphs and our tragedies. Some of my most treasured moments have occurred in the everyday. Moments also frame the pain that leave us breathless and forever changed. I have learned that God’s most gracious gifts are delivered to us exactly in these moments. Steve Maraboli said, “Sometimes it’s the same moments that take your breath away that breathe purpose and love back into your life.” YES! Who isn’t searching for purpose and love?!

And then, I am a fan of the big gesture. I have shared that before. Go big or go home. I have big dreams, big plans. God has been teaching me a lot about the small lately though and I am beginning to understand on a deeper level Ephesians 3:20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” “Infinitely more” to me means huge, big things happening here in the infinitely more place, but I am learning that God is a fan of the small. The small is what, through His mighty power, turns into something big, and chances are we don’t even have a clue.  The words of Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dag Hammarskjold come to mind. “It is more noble to give yourself completely to one individual than to labor diligently for…the masses.” Christ left the ninety-nine for the one. So I will challenge you as I find myself challenged to embrace the small.

So much to say…so little time to say it!

Dear Me – Just Say Thanks

I needed this reminder today because I really need to get over myself and the way I think things should be. Please tell me I am not the only one who has their moments of wanting to stomp their foot or dig in their heels and say, “No!” or “It’s not fair!” when we don’t get what we want. Especially when we have prayed and waited and prayed and waited. Please tell me I am not the only one who finds sullen contentment in a good pity party? Please? Anyone else?

I am not proud of this in myself. This is my humanity. This is when emotion takes over and my heart runs away with my head, even though I know it isn’t right. I totally get what Paul was saying in Romans 7:15 “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.”

Today I needed a “thankful” reminder and God was only to happy to smack me upside the head with it as verse after verse flooded my thoughts replacing my pity party with feelings of humble graciousness. Even, and especially on the days I find myself falling short, God’s grace and mercy cover it all. He continues to bless me in ways that I don’t understand because of my short-sightedness. It’s so easy to lose sight of the haves in the face of the have-nots.

This life is not all about us and our comfort. (Hey me, get over yourself and your ideas of fairness! Yes, life sometimes stinks but you have so much to be thankful for.) God does not promise us contentment in the things of this world but in Him and Him alone.

“Christian contentment, therefore, is the direct fruit of having no higher ambition than to belong to the Lord and to be totally at His disposal in the place He appoints, at the time He chooses, with the provision He is pleased to make.

It was with mature wisdom, then, that the young Robert Murray McCheyne wrote, ‘It has always been my aim, and it is my prayer, to have no plans with regard to myself.’ ‘How unusual!’ we say. Yes, but what people noticed about McCheyne was how content he was to pursue one driving ambition: to know Christ (Phil. 3:10). It is not accidental that when we make Christ our ambition we discover that He becomes our sufficiency and we learn contentment in all circumstances.”
–In Christ Alone, by Sinclair B. Ferguson, pg. 190

Lord, help me keep my eyes on you and you alone.

Enough Is Enough!

stuff people say

Ever stop and listen to people? Most of us are blessed with great things, yet we complain about the most ridiculous inconveniences. This light-hearted video from Journey Box Media made me laugh out loud yet challenged me to answer the question in my own life, “When is enough, enough?”

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. (Philippians 4:11)

That’s a tough one…