Laziness related to finances

Proverbs is a great book of the Bible to pull verses out of because it covers so much relatable content. It’s likely you know some of the classics like Proverbs 3:5 (trust in the Lord with all your heart); Proverbs 4:23 (guard your heart above all else); Proverbs 27:17 (iron sharpens iron); Proverbs 16:3 (commit your plans to the Lord); Proverbs 16:9 (man plans, God directs our steps); Proverbs 16:18 (pride goeth before the fall); Proverbs 13:24 (spare the rod); and basically the entirety of Proverbs 31 if you’re a woman.

There are a lot of popular examples because Proverbs is 31 chapters of wisdom found in non-rhyming couplets. For me, reading through Proverbs is a painful thing because too often I realize I am a fool, and if you’re familiar with Proverbs, that’s basically the most detestable thing imaginable. Especially because I’m kind of a big mouth (“those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything.” 13:3).

Another trap I frequently fall into: laziness.

“Hard working farmers have more than enough food; daydreamers are nothing more than stupid fools.” Proverbs 12:11

“Hard work pays off; mere talk puts no bread on the table.” Proverbs 14:23

Woof. I like to imagine I have two speeds: sloth and overdrive. It’s rare I find a compromise in-between. I’m either working so hard I’m a flurry of nerves and action or I’m comatose on my couch watching Netflix.

While I often think about laziness in terms of my productivity, recently I’ve been looking at it as a measure of dedication. Laziness isn’t simply something that stops us from completing a project on time or going to the gym; it can also stop us from reaching the less tangible goals.

For about the last decade, I’ve been trying to get my finances in order. In that time, I racked up more than $20,000 in credit card debt because that’s clearly the solution to become more financially stable. I’d set dates where I would no longer use my credit cards and resolve to do better this time around. But I couldn’t do it.

Looking back, it’s clearly an example of laziness.

I knew what I had to do to get better – stop indulging myself. Stop thinking I can live like everyone else. Stop thinking I need something now. Accept my limitations and live within my means. It’s so obvious and so hard.

I would have moments of clarity and pay off cards, only to see the charges begin to pile up a month later. When I first started using credit cards, I bragged about how amazing it was to get whatever I want and only have to pay $25/month. I clearly didn’t understand interest.

The issue was I was sure of future fortunes after I graduated college that it seemed like I was just one step away from a good income to help me balance out. Even as I struggled post-graduation, I believed my windfall would come. I was still waiting after six years.

Last year broke me. I reached a point where I recognized I couldn’t do this on my own and I had to change if I wanted to get better, while that reached into a lot of different areas, my finances were a big piece.

When 2018 began, I wasn’t excited about my resolutions, but resigned to what needed to be done. No longer was I trying to do better on my own, I had Jesus on my side to guide me toward proper decision making skills.

“Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper.” Proverbs 13:4

I went from being so lazy about my finances to so diligent. This year, I haven’t used a credit card to purchase something I couldn’t actually afford. I set boundaries and stuck to them and the state of my finances is a testament to this dedication.

Here’s the thing: you can’t get caught up on the word prosper and assume it means your windfall. I’ve made better financial decisions this year, but I’m still sweating between paychecks. But I find so much joy in this struggle. I’m prospering because I’m not making things worse for the first time in nearly 10 years.

None of this is to say I’m perfect. When I moved, I bought a $60 comforter I didn’t need and every time I look at it, I wish I had that $60. Funny enough, I don’t remember anything I told myself no about this year. Nothing lingers as a regret in the back of my mind because I didn’t get it.

Money is something a lot of us struggle with in our own way. The Bible specifically mentions how we can’t serve God and money (Luke 16:3-5) because our Heavenly Father understands the hardships we face. It’s what drives the world and having too much or too little affects so many areas of our lives.

I’m not an expert, but these are the steps that helped me move from lazy spender to dedicated saver:

1. Start with God

For so long I depended only on my strength to try and be better with my money. Even when I’d cry out to God, exhausted with my own efforts and at the end of my rope, nothing changed. In those moments, I wasn’t really ready to make the change.

It wasn’t until I fully surrendered everything and said ‘God, I need you’ that it became real in my life. It takes that release and resignation to let God’s will in and watch yours slink to the background.

If you aren’t willing to make God the focus, you will keep struggling with money.


There have been so many moments in the past few years where my budgeting didn’t make sense. I was sure I knew how much money I had and then suddenly I was wrong and I had enough. I owe these miracles to tithing.

Even though I’ve been broke for years, I refused to stop giving back a portion to God because I learned the importance of it from my mother. Her testimony of abundance and blessings was enough for me to desire this in my own life.

One time I met with a banker and he saw my budget and how much I tithed and recommended I take care of myself first. This is an understandable response from someone who doesn’t believe or know the miracles God can do.

If you don’t tithe, or tithe regular amounts, I understand where you’re coming from. Sometimes I think about how much more I might have if I held onto the money. Then I realize something important: if I believe I need my money more than God can bless it, I’m immediately limiting God’s power to my own understanding.

So just tithe and see what God will do.

3. Set goals

Your goals can be actual spending limits or just a general spending plan. I set a few related to how much money I wanted in my bank account at the end of each pay period and about how I wanted to spend my money. Specifically, I decided this year I wouldn’t buy something if I couldn’t justify it as a need. I gave myself some grace periods where I allowed myself to spend a little more recklessly, but on the whole I stuck to this goal.

Having guidelines make it easier to monitor your progress and actually see the difference, which comes to step four.

4. Track everything

I have a Google Sheet that documents all of my finances – my budget, income, goals, and spending. Here I keep track of everything year over year to celebrate how I’m getting better. It also helps me adjust my goals or add new ones because I can see what’s working and what isn’t.

My favorite thing is tracking my spending in categories: Sephora, Shopping, Amazon, Eating Out, Fast Food, Gas, Groceries, etc. I picked my biggest areas of expense to compare from last year.

You might not be obsessed with seeing everything like me, but I encourage you to find some way to actually see how and where you’re spending your money. Last year, when I set up my spreadsheet, the full extent of my spending became clear and I couldn’t avoid it any longer.

If nothing else, surrender to God and begin tithing regularly and you will see your situation turn around. I believe that wholeheartedly because I’ve experienced the miracle first hand. God will do amazing things with your obedience that you won’t understand, but you will enjoy. Let Him bless you and your finances.



Maybe you can’t do it

I can’t do this.

Out of every disparaging remark my brain makes about me, it most frequently likes to tell me what I can’t do. Every new experience, project, and challenge is immediately met with fear because deep down, after more than a decade of reinforcement, I believe that I’m not capable.

It’s not always a direct thought of ‘I can’t do this,’ but it’s usually the theme. When asked to create something completely new at work, I’m sure I don’t have the skills or understanding to actually complete the project. The thought of meeting someone can put me into internal hysterics because I have no idea what to do in a relationship.

The self-doubt is so deep that it doesn’t matter how many compliments my work or social skills receive. It adds to the insecurity because it feels like I’m fooling everyone. I’d like them to meet anyone else to see what talented actually looks like. I’m an imposter. I can’t do this.

Recognizing this is half the battle and fortunately, after some very wonderful and challenging counseling, I have coping mechanisms to push through the doubt. Even when I’m telling myself I can’t do this, I do it and prove to myself I can.

Although I’ll argue there’s some truth to ‘I can’t do it.’

Anytime I rise to a challenge and surprise myself, I know it’s not because I had it in me all along. Honestly, I don’t think I have much in me at all. On my own, I’m terrified of life. Of succeeding. Of failing. Of letting people down. Of proving people right. It’s all too much. Which is why what I have makes all the difference.

It’s not a faith in my own talent and abilities, but the One who gave them to me.

God doesn’t choose the equipped, but equips the chosen

I heard this quote at a Dare2Share conference as a young teenager and I think about it all the time. It’s easy to think about it on a large scale, like Noah building an ark or Moses parting the seas, but chosen looks different in all of our lives.

God chooses people to be full-time missionaries and evangelists and helps them in their work, but He’s also chosen our careers, too. Whether you’re a writer, marketer, factory worker, nurse, salesperson, actor, or anything else you can imagine, it’s likely you have the skills and understanding to do your job. It doesn’t matter if you knew your entire life you wanted to be a teacher or fell into a management position out of necessity, you aren’t there by accident.

When Jesus called His first disciples, they were four normal guys fishing. They weren’t temple scholars or religious folk. They knew the laws but they weren’t especially learned.  You can look around you and think about all the people that are more talented and qualified, but God still chose you. On purpose, I might add.

Unlike a lot of my friends, I had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up. I was good at school and liked almost all my classes (except English, go figure) so there wasn’t an obvious career track for me. One teacher told me I should be a talk show host, which is clearly off the mark. I’m a talker, but I could never maintain a conversation that stayed on time and topic.

It wasn’t until I toured a school my mom wanted me to visit and found a flyer about a major I’d never heard of that sounded exactly like what I wanted to do with my life. Before I fully understood it, God was revealing part of His plan and showing me a glimpse of what I could do.

Despite never having anything to do with public relations, I was instantly very good at it. I don’t say that to brag on my own abilities, but how my Creator designed me to be good at something I wouldn’t know about until it was absolutely necessary.

In Acts chapter 2, we see the disciples receive the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. It’s been almost two months since Jesus was crucified and ascended and the disciples were following Jesus’ command and waiting for His spirit. Suddenly, what sounded like a mighty wind surrounded them and then flames settled on each of them and they were filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4).

They began speaking the languages of all the people around them and people were amazed, although the loudest voices wrote them off as drunk. Then Peter, fisherman Peter, stands up and begins to preach (Acts 2:14-40).

He doesn’t just talk about his experiences with Jesus and vouch for Him being the actual Messiah. He pulls out Old Testament scripture and ties in kings of old and uses the theology of the Jewish people to sway the crowd. We see 26 verses of his speech, and then it just says He kept speaking for a long time.

You know what happened? ABOUT 3,000 PEOPLE WERE ADDED TO THE CHURCH THAT DAY ALONE! (Acts 2:41).

I’ve grown up in the church and while I’d never claim to be a Bible expert, I know it decent enough to carry on a conversation. Could I pull passages and on the spot preach a compelling case for Christ that would convert 3,000 people? Not on my own, and with the Holy Spirit, Peter was able to do something He’d never done and bring about amazing change.

This is just one of many examples I could use to illustrate how God doesn’t place you somewhere if He isn’t going to help you. I’m not saying you’ll instantly become a speaker to teach the masses, but anything is possible.

What I do know to be true is I’ve never found myself in a situation where I couldn’t rely on God to help me through. Even when I’ve failed, I’ve seen His hand and learned something valuable to carry to my next experience.

Next time you’re unsure of your abilities, remember that God has your back. He’s created you special with a unique purpose and for His glory, He will fulfill it. There isn’t a cookie cutter mold He uses for different fields, either. It’s not like I’m the exact same as every other marketing professional. He designed me special and every circumstance I encounter is built around the understanding of who I am and what I can accomplish with God.

Confidence in God’s abilities is way better than confidence in your own, because you know He’ll never let you down. Whereas I’m sure when you’ve tried to accomplish something on your own, it probably didn’t go super well. Trusting in God to equip you for every situation is believing in His basic promises to us.

That’s really the key, I think. Every time I’m walking to a meeting with new people or sitting down to work on a project, the script of how I can’t do it begins to roll. Now, through the anxiety, I admit that yeah, maybe I can’t, but I know my God can, so I got this.

“I’m trained in the secret of overcoming things, whether in fullness or in hunger. And I find that strength of Christ’s explosive power infuses me to conquer every difficulty.” Philippians 4:13 TPT

(you knew that verse was coming)


Forgiveness is more than saying sorry

Earlier this year I read a book with a leadership team about trusting people. In one section, it talked about the certainty that people will betray us in this life, because Jesus was betrayed. My mind was blown. If Jesus, God’s Son/the Word at the Beginning/our Lord and Savior/the Perfect Lamb experienced betrayal, so will we.

Yet when it happens, we act as if it’s this huge scandal and we can never trust someone again. Sometimes, yeah, it’s really awful. Forgiving someone isn’t easy because of what they’ve done and trusting someone new can be even harder.

I think this is where Jesus’ story of betrayal becomes even more applicable. In the Gospels, we learn about Jesus beginning his missions and selecting 12 disciples. These men weren’t randos He found on the street; as long as it had been planned that He would come for us, these guys were a part of it.

We don’t learn about the specifics of each of them, but we do know he called Peter first. More than helping spread Christianity in the beginning, Peter is probably most known for denying Jesus three times after he was told her would do it. Peter swore he would die for his Lord, only to deny knowing him thrice to save his own skin.

When Jesus walked up to Peter in his fishing boat, he wasn’t impressed by his fisherman’s prowess. He knew what Peter was capable of and needed him to be the rock upon which He’d build His church. In that moment, Jesus knew in His hour of need Peter would run, but He still saw his potential.

Judas was recruited as a disciple at some point, too. Can you imagine knowing you had to choose the person who would ultimately cost you your life and let him be an intimate friend? During His ministry, Jesus turned a blind eye to Judas’ stealing from their funds because He knew the greater plan in place. I asked can you imagine, but I cannot imagine in the slightest. It’s mind bottling.


Jesus knew the part each of them would play in His life and death, but that didn’t change his feelings for them. Even if their eventual betrayal hurt him, He still loved them.

In the same conversation that would lead to Him predicting Peter’s denial, He left them with a new commandment:

“Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” John 13:34

Woof. That ‘just as I have loved you’ is filled with so many emotions for me. It’s the unconditional kind of love where He’s telling them I have loved you despite everything, and it’s your job to love others that same way.

Judas and Peter went on two different paths following Jesus’ death. Almost immediately, Judas felt the guilt of his actions and hanged himself. Peter, similarly racked with guilt, had the opportunity to speak to Jesus and feel the forgiveness first hand.

You’re going to deal with Judas’ and Peter’s in your life, both literally and metaphorically (although naming your child Judas is like thinking Jezebel is a good name). Sometimes people will hurt you and the relationship cannot be repaired. But that doesn’t mean you assume every single person after him or her will do the same. You don’t close off your heart because of what one person did.

Imagine if Jesus were like us. He came to Earth, gathered His disciples, and realized how truly terrible humans are. It’s likely He would’ve ascended immediately to Heaven and left us to our own devices, avoiding the horrifying ordeal of the cross. Instead, He loved us at our worst and called us to do the same with others.

Sometimes we throw away something too quickly because we’re hurt. In this case, we could be missing out on something great because we were too scared to forgive our Peter. Or too angry and hurt. Again, if Jesus saw Peter after His resurrection and was like ‘nah, I don’t want a jerk like you to feed my sheep,’ the world would probably be different.

Amen, amen, amen to the fact that Jesus is not like us and sees past the things of this world. He sees us, you and me, and writes a brilliant story for us. He knows it will contain heartbreak and betrayal, but He knows from experience the beauty of what it can bring to our lives.

Please know I’m not saying immediately forgive and welcome back everyone who’s hurt you into your life. That’s unrealistic and can lead to more hurt. I’m simply asking that you and I forgive like Jesus, which means we love like Jesus. We might not have the same relationship with a person, but we don’t harbor feeling of ill-will.

It’s about accepting that it’s likely everyone you know will hurt you at one time. When I look at my own life, I know this to be true. And I know I’ve hurt all those people, too. But I want to love like Jesus and not hold grudges or even tiny feelings of resentment masked by pretenses of forgiveness.

I get that it’s really hard, but it’s also really rewarding.

Don’t let your heart be dulled

Have you ever experienced a mountaintop moment? I’m talking the kind where your whole soul feels like it’s on fire and you can’t wait to share the flames with everyone you meet. Maybe it was a mission trip or church camp that gave you a higher sense of purpose and you believe nothing can extinguish the joy you feel.

Until about two hours after you come down from the mountain and return to your real life.

My first time visiting a mountain top happened when I was 12 years old, the summer before I started seventh grade. It was my first time going to youth camp and my church chose Go Tell at Liberty University. For the first time in my lifelong church experience, everything clicked inside of me. I stood up with the other kids who accepted Jesus into their hearts and even felt a call to some sort of ministry. There’s nothing quite like the first time you experience true salvation and grace from Jesus. I was on fire.

I remember the seven-hour ride home and how excited I was to tell everyone about how I was changed. We finally arrived at the church and I practically jumped out the van so I could run and tell my sister my exciting news, only to see her face tell me now wasn’t the time. We grabbed my stuff and loaded it in the car and finally she explained her somber look.

While I was gone, my dad had tried to kill himself.

It was like I had summited Mt Everest only to descend too rapidly, causing altitude sickness and all the other horrible things that can happen to you when you push your body higher than it can handle.

I sat beside her and listened to what happened and felt all the fire that had filled me begin to smolder. Every detail was like another piece of sand tossed to extinguish it quickly.  I felt like I would choke on the smoke.

Within five minutes of returning from my mountain, everything changed and the reality of life set in again. I didn’t turn from my faith, but my relationship with my Heavenly Father stalled as my relationship with my earthly father began to deteriorate.

“Don’t let your hearts be dulled by… the worries of this life.” Luke 21:34

Toward the end of His ministry on earth, Jesus spoke about the end times and the different signs they would see. He warned His disciples to stay alert so they wouldn’t be caught off guard by His return. He knew how the worries of our lives can slowly dull our hearts.

I’ve never thought about my heart being dull, but when I think about it, sometimes it is. My faith becomes lackluster and my intensity is dampened. I’ll have a day of feeling so alive and ready only to be brought back down by the reality of what it means to be a human.

I can’t stop thinking about if I’ll have enough money. I obsessively budget and throw up a quick ‘please God’ toward the end of my tallying. I know I should spend time in prayer but I’ve been so stressed out I just want to watch Netflix. I’m worried about people thinking I’m an incompetent goon who’s a bad friend, but I don’t seek reassurances from my Father.

The Passion Translation takes the beginning of Luke 21:34 one step further:

“Be careful that you never allow your hearts to grow cold. Remain passionate and free from anxiety and the worries of this life.” 

To be dulled is one thing, but cold? If I made a list of the most undesirable concepts, it would definitely be topped by my heart growing cold. I want to forever remain alive and excited, but life is really hard.

If I allow myself to be too consumed with my own problems and concerns, I will lose the spark inside of me. It doesn’t just stay lit because I prayed to Jesus at age 12. He isn’t in my heart fanning the flames if I refuse to help. I have to fight every day against my own anxiety and remind myself of the fire I carry with me all the time.

We are guaranteed that life will not be easy. Even if you’re literally born with a silver spoon in your mouth that makes you a YouTube celebrity as an infant, you’ll still have something to worry about. Something that will distract you from what matters, and if left unchecked, it will make your heart dull.

I’m not asking you to simply say your anxiety isn’t real because that’s ridiculous. I understand why you worry because I worry. The key isn’t to magically rid yourself of hardship, but learn to hold onto your joy and remember how it can fill you.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Luke 12:34

Our hearts follow our lead. They see what matters most to us and make that their priority as well. When worry is your main focus, that’s what your heart will care about. It will love the control it feels like it has over your anxiety.

Keeping your heart bright and warm is a choice you have to make every single day. I’m going to do my best to choose joy over worry, treasuring what truly matters instead of what will quickly fade away.

Just a reminder that you’re incredible

I want you to know how loved you are. By me, Jesus, and everyone else in this life. You are valuable and important. This world would not be the same without you. Thank you for waking up every day and bringing your special magic into life. 

Most of us don’t like receiving an endless stream of compliments. I meant all of those words, but it’s so easy for your brains to tell you I’m just saying that because it’s the introduction to this post. Or, even worse, if only I really knew you I wouldn’t believe that.  I know that because it’s the same struggle I face.

No matter how worried we are about what someone thinks about us, it could never be worse than what goes on in our own heads. Every compliment is immediately met with either an internal or external rebuttal. We don’t want people getting the wrong idea. We’re really just a steaming garbage pile covered by skin.

For a long time, I believed I wasn’t a good or worthy person. I let the words of others define me and began to doubt every nice word. As a result, everything I did felt fake. If I wasn’t a good person, surely every act of kindness and service must be a facade to cover the stench of the garbage within. I lived in fear that someday a vent would somehow escape and someone would get a whiff, exposing the real me.

Then I wrote a letter from God.

My counselor wanted me to figure out how God truly felt about me, beyond just the words I read in the Bible. Yes, I obviously believe those words are true, but do they really apply to me? I’ve done this, this, and this. I still struggle with that. God loves me, but He probably doesn’t like me that much.

I put off the assignment for weeks because I knew it would wreck me. I was about to face my Creator, and I knew it was going to be painful. I was forbidden to include anything I knew God wouldn’t say, which meant I had to erase all the negative thoughts about myself. They weren’t from God and I couldn’t bring them into the mix.

The process began with some journaling. Using ‘Who You Say I Am’ as a guide, I read specific Bible verses about who I am with God before Finally I sat down at my computer, said a quick prayer, typed a few words, and began to wail. I was ugly crying to the extreme.

What I journaled that fateful evening, March 22, 2018

When I dreamed of you, I knew what your life would look like. I saw all the joy, but I knew about the pain. It breaks my heart to see how you feel. To feel how you feel. There are reasons, of course, as to why I kept those hard parts in. I wish I could explain, but that’s not what you need. You don’t need answers. You need me. Well, that you get. What you need is to believe you are who I say you are.”

This activity brought God’s reckless love to my level and it hit me so hard. Even now, as I reread the letter, the tears begin to fall. It’s written in a similar tone to my own style because I honestly feel like this is how my conversation with God would go.

The letter continues by going over specific struggles in my life and a shame that’s followed me since childhood, but it ends with the words I know He has for all of us:

“I love you so much. I know you know that it was enough to send my son and all that, but I need you to know that that was a hard sacrifice, but when I pictured your face and you doing some sort of weird dance in public, I knew it was worth it. You will always be worth it to me. I know your dad left, but I won’t. I won’t. I won’t. When I showed Abraham the stars and told him his descendants would be as numerous as them, I knew which one was yours.

More than just love you, I like you. A lot. I never text Gabriel about how today you were kind of annoying. Every day I like you a little bit more, and I never like you less. You are special. You are known. You are understood. You are forgiven. Walk with me, and live loved.”

I share these words with you because this love and passion isn’t just for me. God sees all of your weird quirks and habits and remembers how He designed you to be that way. He thinks about how odd you are and it reminds Him that this sacrifice of His son was worth it. Anytime you think you’re less than perfectly assembled, think again.

“This is just too wonderful, deep, and incomprehensible! Your understanding of me brings me wonder and strength.” Psalm 139:6 (TPT)

Once I fully let in the love of God, these words hit home too. I never have to explain myself to God. He has the greatest understanding of me, and He knows. Whenever I think about my perceived inadequacies, I remember how perfectly designed I am, and I let them give me strength.

Friends, it’s easy to believe the lies, especially in a world that tells you to standout while constantly reminding you that you aren’t actually special. It’s easy to get lost in this confusion and assume you aren’t really that great in the grand scheme of things. I’m here to remind you that you are.

Jesus would go to the cross every time, even if it was just for you. He knew all the ways you would fall short, and He did it anyway. He died for you, for me, for everyone.

You, right where you are, are amazing. You are spectacular. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Life without you would be more dull. You shine with more colors than my glitter collection, and let me tell you, it’s extensive.

Remind yourself every day that you are perfect just as you are. God doesn’t make mistakes, especially not with you.

We love you more than you know.

I don’t have all the answers

I like knowing things. Fortunately, I’m alive in a time where I can just ask my phone a question and learn the answer. I don’t have to wonder how old an actor is or when a book was originally published. The Internet is an information super highway that takes the wonder out of situations. Curiosity is cured with a quick visit to Google, with more than 5 million results in .04 seconds.

It wasn’t until a year ago I really began to think about how frequently I let myself live in a world of knowledge vs wonder.

One of my goals this year was to do a fast each month, and surprisingly I’ve been mostly successful. Naturally, I turned to the internet last year for ideas, and came out with some like Netflix, complaining, and social media. One of the strangest suggestions I found was curiosity.

What does it mean to give up being curious? Why is having questions a bad thing? In theory, a healthy sense of curiosity is the foundation of learning. Much smarter people than me have asked the right questions for centuries and solved problems and cured diseases. That’s the good kind of curiosity. I’m talking about the dark side.

With social media, nearly everyone in the world is accessible. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a name and immediately began an in-depth online investigation. I’ll go through tagged photos and end up traveling through five people’s accounts across three social networking sites and realize I’ve reached posts from 2004.

Did learning any of the information in my creep session actually benefit me? Of course not. It just means I’m a creep who probably knows more than she should about a stranger.

Consider these common situations. Maybe you’re watching a movie and want to know the ending or who an actor is. Without thinking, you’ll pull out your phone and do a search online. When you’re with friends and you’re debating something, you’ll make someone look up the answer to determine who was right.

Technology like this is a gift that I think our culture abuses. In moderation, it’s an incredible way to learn more about what you don’t know and become a more informed human. In excess, it’s a way that we remove all the mystery in our never-ending quest for knowledge and control.

Solomon didn’t live in a time where he could Google everything, but the guy had a lot of answers. God gave him the gift of wisdom, so people came to ask him questions and he always had the right response. Turns out, knowing everything isn’t necessarily the key to being fulfilled.

“Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.” Ecclesiastes 1:8

After a long life and 1,000 women, Solomon was tired and a little cynical. The summary of the book of Ecclesiastes is ‘everything is meaningless.’ He married foreign women and followed their gods and the more he learned, the more he lost focus.

Even though it’s unlikely any of us will have 700 spouses and 300 concubines, we have similar opportunities to be distracted by the things we can know. Instead of wondering about something and let it go, we close the gap and solve the problem that likely wasn’t even important.

In my own life, I know this search for knowledge is because I have such little control over everything and like Eve in the garden, I want to eat from the tree of knowledge so I know things, too. This problem is about more than internet searches for me.

I’ve watched the finale to a show I’ve never watched just so I knew how it ended. I’ll watch award shows I don’t care about just so I can be a part of the conversation. I’ve binged shows I didn’t love so I could have conversations with people who are fans.

Perhaps my worst curiosity flaw is needing to know the end of a story. Most people are appalled by my lack of concern over spoilers. Regrettably, I’ve ruined movies and shows for people because to me it isn’t a big deal. I want to know how it ends so I can enjoy the ride. The moment-to-moment anxiety is gone because I know what’s going to happen.

Even this morning I went to Wikipedia to read a plot of a movie to make sure the dog didn’t die. It only occurred to me after I began writing this that I clearly broke my ‘no idle curiosity fast.’

We all want answers for different reasons, but I believe endless searching can put us in the same place as Solomon. Even when I know more, am I any more content or satisfied? Definitely not.

“The Lord our God has secrets known to no one.” Deuteronomy 29:29

We are never going to have all the answers. Even if I can Google most questions and learn the correct responses, I’m never going to be fulfilled by my knowledge. There will always be more.

This is why, October and beyond, I want to be more intentional about what I learn. It doesn’t mean I’ll never Google something again, only I’ll think ‘how important is this to know?’ and ‘what will I gain by learning this information?’

I don’t have all the answers, and I never will. I’m going to stop trying to know everything and enjoy the ride as it comes. Even if it means I have to sit through an entire movie and not know how it ends. Yikes.


There’s always a herd of pigs for you

Have you ever watched a movie and noticed a lingering shot on a seemingly inconsequential object and immediately thought ‘that’s going to be important later?’ Or maybe it had the opposite effect where you didn’t think about it until suddenly it all made sense.

In the 2009 reboot of Star Trek, we get a shot of James Tiberius Kirk staring at the U.S.S. Enterprise as it’s being built. For those who know the story, you understand the importance of this moment because soon James T. will become the famed Captain Kirk of the Starship Enterprise. We’re shown the ship because it will play an important role in the story later.

Sometimes a director can cleverly insert details that seem normal until the end when your mind is blown. Let’s consider Signs. If you haven’t seen the M. Night Shyamalan classic (yes I’m sticking to that description), I’m going to spoil it for you. Throughout the whole movie, we see Mel Gibson’s daughter Beau reject glasses of water because they’re contaminated. His grief over his wife’s death apparently makes him a terrible housekeeper because these full glasses are left all around the house.

It’s likely some people immediately predicted the importance of these glasses, but I didn’t. On some level, I knew it was more than a quirk, but I didn’t anticipate that Mel’s wife’s dying words telling Merrill to “swing away” would lead to defeating the aliens as Joaquin Phoenix knocks one around into the glasses all around the house.

I still get chills when I think about this moment in the movie. Suddenly, as an alien is holding one of the Culkin’s, everything for Mel focuses into place and we see how all these conversations happened for this exact situation. For me, it was just a powerful reminder of that’s how life actually works.

It’s easy to be cynical in movies when people keep colliding in random places or someone has a conversation that somehow solves the whole problem. Maybe it’s not quite as obvious in our lives, but it works the same way. I believe that things fall into place in strange and unusual ways if you just take the time to think about the details.

In the Gospels, we learn about this demon-crazed man who lived naked among some tombs outside of the town. Turns out, this guy didn’t just have one devil on his shoulder convincing him to live wild and naked. He had a whole gang of bad guys named ‘Legion’ using him as a host. As soon as they see Jesus, they panic and ask that they aren’t thrown into a bottomless pit. That does sound awful, tbh.

The next verse is a lot like story foreshadowing:

“There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside nearby, and the demons begged him to let them enter the pigs.” Luke 8:32 (NLT)

Imagine if you were watching this story play out on screen. It would show Jesus and his disciples walking outside of town, with a sweeping view of the tombs and the herd of pigs standing near a cliff. You’d probably think ‘what a strange place for a herd of pigs.’

Jesus lets them enter the pigs and then the “entire heard plunged down the steep hillside in the lake and drowned.” (Luke 8:33)

We need the clever cinematography of movies to show us what’s important and what will have consequences for the plot. It helps tell a better story and keep the viewer engaged. In real life, we don’t get these zoom shots or dramatic pauses to tell us what’s an important detail or person or situation that will affect us later. We don’t see everything, but Got does.

He’s our master Director, orchestrating every scene of our life and placing everything we need if we don’t notice it. He hasn’t forgotten a prop or detail that’s going to keep you from reaching the end of your own story.

Think about your own life. Trace every decision back a decision. Consider every encounter you’ve had. I guarantee in most cases, you can see some movie-like situations. The difference is we don’t see our resolution in under two hours.

Maybe you have already met the person you’re going to marry, but it’s going to take a few years for both of you to figure out. Maybe he or she is just a scene change away. It could be you’ve already made the connection with someone that will lead you to a dream career some day. Or maybe it’s as simple as one person speaking life into you and helping you realize all that you’re capable of.

This is a big area of struggle for me. I want a montage, movie life. I want to get through the awkward times with a humorous combination of scenes featuring an upbeat song. I want the sad times to pass with some Sia song playing overtop so that in two minutes I’m all better. I want to meet someone and know within two hours that he’s the man God set aside for me.

God is the greatest storyteller of all time, and Hollywood is just a cheap imitator of what he does in all our lives. Movies show us a glimpse of the magic and convince us what we think we need, but we’re already living something so much more amazing than any story humans can create.

Even when it feels like you’re story isn’t moving along, remember God has set the scene. Your herd of pigs is waiting to come into play. I hope someday we can all look back on the details that didn’t seem unimportant and thank God for the way he placed everything we needed in our lives.

When I try to control my own life and make things happen in my time, I want to remember my plot is written. Taking control is a disaster. Think Suicide Squad level of disaster. God is my director and writer with the best vision possible, and I’m pressure from the studio to create something entirely different. Together, we just create a hot mess.

I want my life to be the story God wrote when he told Abraham his descendants would be as numerous as the stars knowing I would be one and knowing how important my story would be.

I want that for you, too.

An alternate title for this post is “God uses the unexpected around us,” but I felt the one I used was more mysterious.

Wanting vs. Lacking

When I picture the Israelites who fled Egypt with Moses, they remind me of children in the back of a car during a long road trip. Just unbelievably obnoxious. It doesn’t matter how many times they’re told something, they still complain. Basically Israelites in a nutshell.

If you’re unfamiliar with their story, let’s recap. Moses, a Hebrew boy who floated down the Nile to royalty, returned to Egypt to set his people free after God told him to via a burning bush. Pretty rad so far. Pharaoh said no so God sent a series of escalating plagues like frogs, locusts, blood water, and then killing first-born sons.

Finally Pharaoh says ‘fine, go’ and they leave, but then he changes his mind and pursues them. God then parts the Red Sea and His people walked across on dry ground. As soon as they had safely crossed, he collapsed the water walls and all the Egyptians drowned.

Once they were free, they began approaching the Promised Land, but then got scared of the current inhabitants and were doomed to wander the wilderness for 40 years. They followed a cloud around what I believe is about an 11-mile distance during that time and were just constantly awful.

That’s like three books of the Bible and a lot of laws and lineages condensed into three paragraphs, so my apologies to the scholars out there.

The foundation of following Jesus is faith and believing in the miraculous. I’ve seen some incredible, life-changing things in my life, but I’ve never seen God part a body of water. He’s never sent me a cloud that helped me know where I needed to go. The Israelites witnessed these miracles. And within days they complained. About everything.

So here we have these Israelites traversing the wilderness with God and Moses in the front seat. Several times God was literally ready to destroy them all for their lack of faith and obedience, but Moses would intercede and convince Him to calm down. This analogy basically writes itself.

Within one chapter of their Exodus from Egypt, the Israelites are complaining. They want to know what they will drink, so God provides. They want to know what they will eat, so God provides. Every time something went wrong, they immediately starting remembering their slavery fondly. Yep, you read that right. Despite being provided everything they needed, they still wished they were slaves when they “had it made.”

Like Moses and God, I’m so annoyed by the Israelites. They have so little faith in a situation where they’ve been rescued time and time again. How could they be so foolish? They were never satisfied as a people, always searching for something better and believing the grass was greener before being freed. They constantly sought new idols despite worshiping the living God.

I’m so annoyed because I’m just like them.

Sure, God’s never let food rain down from Heaven for me, but I’ve never been hungry. I might not always eat exactly like I want, but there’s always food in my kitchen. I can’t afford a new wardrobe every year so maybe my fashion is lacking, but I have clothes and usually look like a presentable human. But my thoughts are always filled with how much I want and how much I lack when in reality, I lack nothing.

It’s easy for wanting and lacking to seemingly overlap. We can let what we want overpower our better sense and seem more like a necessity than it actually is. The desire for more in any area of our life is common, especially in a world full of Instagram aesthetics and unobtainable Pinterest boards.

We’re told how much we lack every day. I don’t just want a boyfriend, social media shows me how much I’m missing out on because I’m single. I don’t just wish I had a nicer bedroom design, social media tells me what I should have to make my room cool and modern. Ads tell me I should cook more and buy this latest style of shoe.

No matter where you look, it’s clear you don’t have enough to reach your peak in this world. You’ve never quite attained enough to achieve the perfect aesthetic we all want. That’s all our lives become is wanting.

Generations after the Israelites settled in what would become Israel and Judah, they were exiled because they still hadn’t learn to trust God. After 70 years, they returned and rebuilt the wall under the leadership of Nehemiah. Once the work was done, they praised God and said

“For forty years, you sustained them in the wilderness, and they lacked nothing.” Nehemiah 9:21

What was once a source of annoyance for the Israelites became a point of praise in recognizing how God had never left them. Hindsight, am I right?

In reality, most of our wants don’t matter. When I die, I’m not going to care about whether I had the right throw pillows or the most current style of booties to wear in the fall. We get so caught up on these things of right now that in 20 years we probably won’t even remember we wanted. We’re only going to remember what we had and how we were sustained.

I’m not writing this as someone who has mastered understanding wanting vs. lacking. I usually view the two as equal which is why I’ll be paying a hefty monthly fee for the next four years to pay off a consolidation loan I received for my credit card debt. When I think about everything I purchased with my credit cards, like makeup, clothes, and cheap Ikea furniture I threw away after a year, I’m so frustrated. I remember certain things I had to have, but not $30,000 worth of things. Because yes, that is where my wants got me.

Fortunately, I am better than I used to be. But I have a long way to go. I want Nehemiah’s words to remind me that even when it seems like I don’t have enough, I don’t actually lack anything. My God will sustain me and I’m learning to be content with what I have, not wanting more.

The moral of this story? Don’t be like the whiny Israelite children in the backseat complaining about what you don’t have. Graduate to the middle row with mature, teenage Nehemiah and remember how God will get you through.

And thank God that He sent Jesus to intercede for us just like the Israelites had Moses.

All the small things

The idea of writing devotions is one I’ve toyed with for several years now. I’ve gotten as far as developing a schedule, but something always stops me. Usually it’s that voice of doubt I’m sure all of us know all too well.

“Do you think you honestly know enough to write about the Bible?”

“Who would want to read your interpretations?”

“What happens when you inevitably get some theology wrong?”

And so on.

Eventually I give up my plans and decide to pursue writings like this when I know my Bible better. The problem is the more I read my Bible, the more I realize there’s still so much I haven’t grasped or fully understood. So if I wait until I’m comfortable, I’ll be asking Jesus after year 7967993 in Heaven if He thinks blogs are still relevant.

When I decided to leave social media, I wanted a way to share my writing with anyone who was interested. Surprisingly, people signed up which created a whole new problem: I actually have to write regularly. Suddenly the devotions idea was back on the table.

The morning of my birthday, my first official day off of social media, I found my mind wandering while I read my Bible. I was fixated on what I would write and only half paying attention. Don’t judge me – the part where the people of Israel and Judah are exiled from their land is interesting but very long and usually it’s just prophets prophesying. I know it’s all God’s word but I’m a human and I will freely admit that sometimes I can’t stay focused.

Whatever. Suddenly my attention snapped back into focus in Zechariah 4. The Lord’s chosen people have moved back into their land and King Darius gave them permission to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. An angel appeared to Zechariah through a vision in the night and showed the future prosperity of Jerusalem. One of his messages from the Lord about rebuilding the temple was:

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.”  – Zechariah 4:10

If you’re like me, you despise small beginnings. It’s not that I don’t understand that sometimes you don’t see the whole picture and sometimes you have to just take the first step and then the next and the next. I completely get that. I just don’t like it.

I want to everything everything for my blog mapped out. I want to know what everything is going to look like. But that’s not how God works. If he showed me everything beyond the small beginning, why would I need His guidance?

No, He rejoices in the small beginnings because they are a step toward following what He’s got planned. Zechariah 4:10 is about the large task facing the Israelites, but I think it applies to all of our lives as well.

Change happens in the small victories. It’s not that big moments don’t matter, more that we deal with the small ones every day. We need the small beginnings to get where we’re going. Without them, we either take too large of a step and lose our footing or we never get started at all.

As we enter the last week of summer and approach hibernation season, think about the small beginning you need to make in your life. Don’t belittle it like it doesn’t matter or let it loom too large in your mind.

God rejoices in our small beginnings because He knows the fantastic ending. Let that motivate you today. We’re all moving toward something great.

I’d love to pray for you! If you’re attempting a small beginning or dealing with anything else, let me know