Category Archives: Life

When You Feel Like a Nobody In a World Clamoring For Fame

Last month our family snorkeled off the coast of Cancun at what is part of the world’s second largest barrier reef.  The next day we pulled on wetsuits to wade through the turquoise cenotes (natural sinkholes) in caves underneath a Mayan jungle. In these limestone caves were the most spectacular treasures of sparkling stalagmites and stalactites, and in the ocean new surprises to be seen around every fan of coral. On both days it struck me that from the above ground view you would never know what beauty lied beneath. That hidden under the sea and a remote jungle was beauty never to be seen by most people, every bit as spectacular as a sunset displayed for the whole world to see.

God could have left these hidden places void of his splendor. But when He called his creation good, it wasn’t based on how many millions would see it. It was good simply because he beautifully created it, even if not seen by a soul.

This isn’t our how our culture thinks though, is it? According to our “go big or go home” way of thinking we might even question God on his strategic marketing plan: “Wouldn’t such beauty be better placed where it could be seen by the masses?

But this same misguided mindset isn’t just in business (or ministry), it filters into our thinking – personally – in subtle ways. God created us with a longing to be known/to be seen. But we miss seeing his knowledge of us, and pleasure in us, is enough.

We’ve bought into the lie that our value is based on the recognition and accolades we receive from the world. Is it any wonder the mom making endless peanut butter & jelly sandwiches and running carpool, or the mom whose nest is nearly or now empty, might struggle with significance and contentment?

But it’s certainly not limited to moms, it’s all of us – in every field and walk of life. Just consider the explosion of reality TV stars, YouTube sensations and InstaFamous bloggers. The clamoring of teens and adults for more “likes,” more popularity/fame, more hustle, more people paying attention to us. As author Sara Hagerty writes in her new book Unseen we live as if “performance earns our keep.”

But in our search for significance we’re never completely satisfied. There’s always more to be had. But when we’re so consumed with what everyone else is doing and how we compare, we forget God divinely placed us right where we are. Some will have big audiences and lots of applause. Others will have only their small little tribe and maybe not much, or any, affirmation at all.

But he sees. He put you there. With purpose. And he delights in you, not because of what you’re doing but because he made you.

Can you believe “the One who created praise itself,” (as written by Hagerty), the one who knitted you hidden in the womb, it is he who delights in you! And he doesn’t care how many followers you have, what your platform is or how successful you are.

Do you see him standing there cheering you on? Can you hear his applause?

I hope so. Wherever you feel hidden, less significant, unproductive or not enough may you know his pleasure today and find true contentment in him.

When I think about what I saw in the ocean and in the underground caves, and when I’ve been deep in the trees on a mountain hike, or peering out at the landscape surrounding the oh so tiny Portuguese village of Marvao, I am utterly awestruck that God saw fit to place some of his most magnificent creation out of view.

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Hope That Sprouts Peace

I’ve never been one to pick a word of the year. Not that I have a problem with it, but my tendency would be to feel like I had to stay camped out on that word even if God was moving me toward something else. If that makes sense.

What I have been doing though is using alphabet building blocks to spell out a word or phrase as a visual reminder of a specific truth. I’ll call these “here and now words,” since they are simply whatever God is impressing on me for now. It’s amazing since paying attention how frequently in Bible study and everyday life the present word or theme crops up.

My first word, after being given the set of blocks was “weakness.” If you read this blog regularly, or follow me on Instagram, you may remember I wrote a couple posts about God showing me weakness is strength since it is in our inability and need that we see his power and might. Well, I’ve seen my need alot lately. And seeing who he is for me in my weakness, it is now “hope” that I’ve adopted as my “here and now word.”

I first encountered “hope” as a recurring word at Christy Nockel’s Night of Hope Christmas Concert. She likened her story (and song) of the Amaryllis, a flower that blooms in the winter when everything is cold and dark, to God’s love breaking into the sin and darkness of this world in the person of Jesus. The Light of the World who came to give hope.

After the concert I listened to the Amaryllis song over and over again so it’s no surprise really that when the handmade Christmas card (pictured above) arrived, “Hope” jumped out at me, There it is again. Ever since clinging to hope seems indirectly related to what I’m reading, my conversations and circumstances. Like I said, “It’s amazing since paying attention how frequently… the same word or theme keeps cropping up.”

So to realize in picking back up 1 Peter (which I literally started reading in September, but put down for a couple months until last week) that it’s all about living hope is not random.  In fact it seems the reason I never fully got through it in the fall is because this message is what God wanted for me now! How cool is that!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a LIVING HOPE through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus ChristThough you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

This hope is not found here, but assures us of something so much greater. This hope reminding us to keep an eternal perspective can change the way we view things now. This hope we are called to by the God of all grace and is met in Christ who himself will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish. This hope does not disappoint!

Therefore, as Peter concluded his letter, “Peace to all of you who are in Christ.” Peace. Perhaps my next “here and now word.” What about you? What’s your word, or what inexhaustible truths are you seeing in his word?

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Just Like The Greatest Showman

All the shine of a thousand spotlights
All the stars we steal from the night sky
Will never be enough
Never be enough
Towers of gold are still too little
These hands could hold the world but it’ll
Never be enough
Never be enough
For me”

If you’ve seen the movie, “The Greatest Showman” these words from the song “Never Enough” will be familiar.  If you haven’t seen the movie, go! I loved learning about the history of the Barnum & Bailey Circus. The music was fantastic (been listening ever since on repeat) and the acting great. But it was PT Barnum’s self-discovery after chasing his dreams that stood out to me.

***Spoiler Alert***

Having grown up with very little, Phineas Taylor Barnum aspired to provide his family with the same lavish lifestyle of his wife’s upbringing. He didn’t want his daughters to lack anything in the way he had as a child. However as his dreams turned into reality, and his business began to enchant the masses, it only whetted his appetite.

When his circus performed for the Queen of England, he met famous Swedish singer Jenny Lind and signed her to tour with him. For Barnum the sky was the limit; the world at his fingertips. For his wife and girls, his presence and love all they wanted.

Though I’m uncertain if the movie’s portrayal of what happened next is factual, the scandalous onstage kiss Jenny gave Barnum as retribution for rejecting her advances is what led him to finally see his false gods. Money and fame ruled him. Despite all he was acquiring it was never enough. There was always more to be had. But never without great expense.

And aren’t we often just like him?

We look at others’ online feeds, stories and boards and determine what we have is not enough. We compare ourselves to those around us, and feel less than (or better than) based on what we have or don’t have. Just like Barnum we go chasing after what we think we need. What we think will bring everlasting happiness. What is it for you- Money? Fame? Appearance? Popularity? Comfort?

In our culture today it all seems attainable. With YouTube and Instagram, even fame is no longer limited to actors, singers and politicians. “Regular” people can become instant sensations, acquiring the following of masses, gaining contracts for product endorsement and earning thousands each month. Teenagers and adults alike, clamouring for “streaks” and “likes” and even buying “followers.” As if these numbers make us worthy.

Again like Barnum, we’ve lost focus of what truly matters. We’ve bought into the lie that “life” is found in something other than God. No matter how much success, accomplishments, recognition, extravagant trips, designer goods, bonuses, attention or followers, it’s never enough.

I drank champagne with kings and queens
The politicians praised my name
But those are someone else’s dreams
The pitfalls of the man I became
For years and years
I chased their cheers
The crazy speed of always needing more…(From Now On)”

None of it will ever be enough because these things weren’t meant to satisfy. They can’t. They aren’t big enough or valuable enough to give us worth, and they lack the power to give us lasting love and happiness.

The only thing that can bring us true joy and peace cannot be acquired. The hole in our soul can only be filled in Christ.

And from now on
These eyes will not be blinded by the light
From now on
What’s waited till tomorrow starts tonight
It starts tonight
And let the promise in me start
Like an anthem in my heart
From now on…
And we will come back home…”

May we see the temptations and traps for what they are. And find true life in the One who beckons us to come and graces us with treasures that will never rot.

“Come home! come home!
Ye who are weary, come home!
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home! (Softly and Tenderly)