Monday, January 26, 2009

Transfer of Power

In my lifetime, there have been nine presidents. (Stop trying to figure out my age. I was born at the end of a presidential term.) Nine presidents means eight transfers of power, from one president to the next.

Some of those transfers have been frosty, others warm. But all have been peaceful. I’m so grateful to live in a nation where people can agree to disagree, and be civil about it.

With each new presidency has come a great hope among the American people. Hope for change. For prosperity. For peace and the protection of our homeland, our way of life.

Mount Rushmore Sometimes those hopes have been fulfilled. Other times, they haven’t. But I honestly believe, from the bottom of my heart, that each president has done his best. Each one has tried to live up to the responsibilities placed on his shoulders. Each one has tried to make wise choices, and to provide the best possible leadership he can offer.

There’s just one teensy little problem.

Each president has been human.

Only human.

No matter what his credentials, no matter what experience his cabinet offers, the president is still just a man. He’s not a miracle worker.

No matter how many of the right people he knows, or how well he can present a speech, or how good he looks in a tux, there’s only so much he can do.

So as we place our hope in one man or another, as we watch the transfer of presidential power from one leader to the next, we need to remember to criticize gently and pray fiercely.

I’m reminded time and again that there is one transfer of power which will never fail. It is the transfer of my own will, my own faulty reasoning over to the One who is all-wise, all-knowing, and all-powerful. God is loving, gracious and compassionate. And because He knows the future and I don’t, He is much better qualified than I am to direct my steps.

But God is a gentleman. He will never force Himself on anyone. He has given each of us the power to choose for ourselves, along with an offer to show us the way. He stands ready and waiting to help us experience the best lives possible. But we must offer Him the control panel of our lives. He won’t take it by force.

The choice is ours. We can maintain control of our lives, working and preparing and crossing our fingers that everything will work out okay. But we will always know that there are some things we can’t control.

Or, we can give our lives over to the One who controls the wind and the rain, who influences the decisions of world leaders, and who longs to lovingly lead each one of us. And because He is a good and loving and compassionate God, we can know that His choices for us will always be for our best.

It’s a tough decision. I like to be in control. But honestly, I don’t have such a great track record on my own. When I call the shots, things usually end up in disaster. It has only been when I’ve allowed God to guide my steps that I’ve ended up with the peace and joy I desire.

When I find myself at the steering wheel of my own life, lost without a road map, I have to remind myself of the crash and burn experiences I’ve led myself into in the past. Then, hard as it is, I offer the control back to God. Again.

Fortunately, He is patient with me. He is always there, ready to take over when I ask for help.
And I know He’ll never steer me wrong.

Proverbs 3:5 – 6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Monday, January 19, 2009

Spice Girl

I cleaned out my spice cabinet this week.

(Heavy sigh.)

Every time I clean out a cabinet, I promise myself I will not, under any circumstances, let things get that bad again.

But you and I both know the truth.

Let me just tell you what I found. Two cans of baking powder, one dating back to the year 2000. Two full jars of lemon pepper, two jars of thyme, two varieties of allspice, four different flavors of meat rub, two large pepper cans, two round boxes of salt, three containers of corn starch, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.

Or something like that. From now on, you can call me the spice girl.

Spices As I lugged my full-to-overflowing Hefty cinch bag to the trash can, I lamented the waste and wondered how many trips to Hawaii I could have taken with the money I spent on items I already had, but couldn’t find.

Okay, probably not many. But you get the point.

Now I have a sparkling, gleaming spice cabinet. Each time I open the door, I expect a bright light to shine down from above and an angelic chorus to sing heavenly harmony.

We’ll see how long it lasts.

It’s funny, isn’t it? All those times I sent poor Mark to the store to buy things, and I had them right here under my nose. Well, maybe not the pepper. I would have sneezed.

But all the other stuff . . . I went out looking for what I thought I needed, when the exact item I needed was right in front of me. All I had to do was look.

I’ve actually done that for more important things, too. I’ve gone looking in the wrong places for my peace, my happiness, my self-esteem. I’ve tried to find worth in my job, in the way I look or the size of my bank account. I’ve tried to find my value based on what other people think of me.

But the whole time, I had the keys to all of those things right in front of my nose. And His name is God.

You see, God created me, and He thinks I’m great. He doesn’t always like everything I do, but His love for me will never change. He tells me that if I depend on Him, He will give me peace and joy and an inner happiness that cannot be found anywhere else.

I am so valuable to Him that He gave His life for me. He promised never to leave me or forsake me. He is always right there, and He’s given me everything I need.

Still, I go looking in all the wrong places for the things that only He can give. And I end up with a cluttered mess.

The good news is that His love for me is unending. And when I’m ready, He will help me clean out the clutter of my life. Then He’ll replace the old, outdated junk with shiny new life. He’ll replace the chaos with peace.

I can almost hear the angels singing.

2 Peter 1:3 “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him . . .”

Friday, January 9, 2009


My grocery store has recently done some remodeling. It looks great, but honestly! I can’t find anything. It took me years to learn my way around that particular store, and now, right when I was on the brink of knowing exactly where everything was, they went and changed everything.

And I don’t like change.

The aisles, which once ran parallel to one another, are all golly-gonkers. Some run north and south. Others run east and west.

The kitchen utensils, which were once smack-dab in the middle of the store are now in the front. And the school supplies? Next to automotive.

Of course. Isn’t that where you would put the school supplies?

But there is one thing they haven’t changed.

The eggs.

eggs carton 3 Have you ever wondered why, in the grocery store, eggs are stored in the dairy section?

Think about it. A dairy product is a product that is made from milk.

There is no milk in an egg. An egg is liquid chicken. And chickens don’t even produce milk. Shouldn’t eggs be stored with the poultry?

But it never fails. Every time I go to the grocery store, there are the eggs. Right in the middle of the dairy section.

I’m thinking of writing up a petition, urging the grocery store people to store things in more sensible categories. School supplies near the office supplies. Eggs with poultry. Milk with beef.

But then, would the leather products need to be stored near the beef as well? And would that mean pencils – made from wood - would be sold in the plant section?

Hmmmm . . . maybe we’d better leave the eggs where they are.

It’s funny how we often resist change. After all, isn’t life just a series of one change after another? We grow. We learn. We move. You’d think we’d be used to change. But many people would rather stay in their same old routines, even if those routines aren’t good for them. Even if change brings improvements.

I should know. I’m one of those people.

Though change can be uncomfortable for a season, it is often necessary to make our lives better. Richer. More productive. And let’s face it. Most things in life are going to change anyway, whether we like it or not. We might as well make the most of the changes we face, and enjoy the ride. Fighting and resisting usually results in nothing more than a bad mood.

Though this world is filled with transitions and replacements, there are a few things we can count on. In the midst of changing grocery stores and changing lives, we can take comfort in knowing that some things will always stay the same. Things like the beauty of a sunrise, and the peace of a snow-capped mountain, and God’s love for us.

And even the eggs being stored in the dairy department.

Psalm 52:8 “I trust in God’s unfailing love forever and ever.”

Friday, January 2, 2009


Last week, my family and I visited the San Antonio Riverwalk. It was all decorated with twinkling Christmas lights and glittery trees, and mariachi bands played festive holiday music.

We were expecting the Riverwalk to be crowded this time of year. What we weren’t expecting, however, was the great sea of college football fans.

auburn vs. georgia football game Our visit just happened to fall on the weekend before the Alamo Bowl game. Everywhere we looked, there were face-painted fans wearing purple and white for Northwestern or yellow and black for the University of Missouri. And you couldn’t even get a ticket for a riverboat ride. The boats were sold out. Entire college bands floated down the river playing their school’s fight songs, followed by entire boatloads of football players.

We figured since we couldn’t actually ride the boats, we’d just enjoy from the sidelines. So when the Northwestern band floated past followed by the Northwestern football players, we yelled, “Go Northwestern!” We became quite popular as the players waved and cheered back at us.

Then, when the University of Missouri band floated by, followed by the University of Missouri players, guess what we did?

My mama didn’t raise no fool.

We yelled and cheered at the top of our lungs for the University of Missouri.

They loved us, I tell you. Our little family was, quite possibly, the most popular family on the Riverwalk that evening.

I love that we didn’t have to make a choice. If I had to choose my favorite college team right now, I couldn’t. Ask me again in a few years. My favorite school, I’m sure, will be the one that offers the best scholarships to our children. Money talks, you know.

But while my choice of college football teams doesn’t really matter, there are many choices I make each and every day that do matter. A lot.

As I think about my new resolutions for my new year, I’m reminded that my goals are pretty meaningless if I don’t back them up with my choices.

Those extra pounds I want to lose? My choice. No one forces me to eat potato chips and chocolate truffles. I make the choices about what I eat; therefore, to some extent, I make the choice about what I weigh.

And what about that book I want to write? That garage I want cleaned out? Those friendships I want to build?

They can become reality, if I make the choices, day by day, step by step to achieve my goals. Otherwise, they will remain exactly what they are – lofty dreams.

(And yes, a clean garage is a lofty dream for me. Have you seen my garage?)

I don’t know about you, but this year, I want to stop talking about my goals, and actually achieve some of them. In order to do that, I’m going to try to make better choices. I know that my goals won’t be met in one fell swoop, but in small steps. Over time. One small choice after another.

Joshua 24:15 “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."