Crossing the Finish Line: What Compels You?

Several weeks ago, I signed up for my first 10K race. As race day approached, I started to second-guess myself. A week-long mission trip had interfered with my training schedule. In addition to that, a five-day virus left me on the couch for — you guessed it — five days.

shoes

Just a few days before the big event, I decided the sickness had done enough damage. I peeled myself off the couch, laced up my shoes, and started running. My short two-mile prance around the neighborhood didn’t bode well. I felt tired, short of breath, and shaky-legged.

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Bad Grades and Confessional Booths

I’ve always been a perfectionist. When I was younger, my hunt for perfection manifested itself in a drive to get good grades.

In fact, the first time I got an F on any assignment was in college. It was my sophomore year, I had four tests in two days, and my health class got the short end of the studying stick. 

I remember flipping that exam over and seeing a bright red F — the substance of my nightmares. My first reaction was sheer horror. I thought I was going to have a panic attack. 

And then I just felt relief. 

 I had just ruined my no-F streak. The pressure was finally off. I had failed something and the world hadn’t ended. After years of stress and worry, it felt liberating.

That day I learned that recognizing my limitations and failures could be a freeing, healthy thing.

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Why I Fail at the Fruit of the Spirit, Part 2

The work client who cancelled on you last week just did it — again.

Your two-year old throws his sixth tantrum of the day.

You’re only five miles from home when gridlocked traffic seems to materialize from nowhere.

It’s times like these when patience seems to run thin. Real thin. And if patience is lacking, then love, joy, and peace have probably jumped ship long ago.

magnifying glass

Last week we looked at how the fruit of the Spirit is a God-fueled way of living. Today we’re going to do a little inventory. When (if ever) is the fruit of the Spirit evident in our lives? How do we even know?

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Babysitting Memoirs: The Dead Mouse

A few months ago I introduced you to the Smith* family and their dog, Cocoa. If you haven’t read about cuckoo Cocoa, do it now. It will shed a lot of light onto the second Smith family fiasco — The Night of The Dead Mouse.

T’was a few nights before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring — not even a mouse. The mouse wasn’t stirring because it had collapsed on the floor, and died right there just a few hours before.

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Why I Fail at the Fruit of the Spirit, Part 1

I’ve been confused about the fruit of the Spirit for a long time. When I was little, I used to think they were actual fruits. I’d picture a delightful fruit bowl overflowing with bright colors and tangy, sweet scents.

Fruit bowl

As I matured, I began thinking of the fruit of the spirit as another Biblical to-do list. Master them and you would be inducted into sainthood.

But there was a problem, and that problem was life. Whenever I felt like I had finally “mastered” love, joy, peace, or patience, I would get stuck in a two-hour traffic jam or be forced into a group project with someone who was truly hard to tolerate — let alone love. I pictured God shaking his head at me and saying, “Her fruit basket is one apple short of patience.”

Think about your fruit bowl. Which elusive fruit keeps falling out of the cornucopia?

Maybe you’re like me on some days and the only thing you can find in your fruit bowl is a few dead fruit flies

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Extravagant Giving

What is your favorite Christmas present that you’ve ever received? Was it a childhood toy that you had wanted for months? An expensive leather jacket? A surprise trip or getaway?

presents

When I was 14 my parents surprised me with a camcorder that I absolutely loved. Last year my husband bought me a unique purse made by Rachel Shelton.

However, I think I received my all-time favorite Christmas present when I was 10.

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Slow. Down. This. Christmas.

Get the tree. Trim the tree. Deck the halls. Buy the gifts. Wrap the gifts. Attend work parties, family celebrations, and friend get togethers. Throw a Pinterest-inspired party.

Sounds exhausting, right? You probably know first-hand that it is.

The first year Andrew and I were married, we had a hard time deciding what to do for the holidays. His family lives in St. Louis, and my family lives in Indianapolis. We also had several extended family parties in Michigan and northern Indiana.

Not wanting to miss anything, we decided our motto would be: “Go all the places — have all the fun.”

grumpy christmas

Hundreds of miles and several (awful) audio books later, we had gone to all the places. And we did have all the fun. But we were also exhausted and grumpy.

We entered the new year sick, stressed, and disconnected from each other. We were so focused on doing everything that we didn’t do anything well.

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Take God off Your To-Do-List

I don’t know about you, but I love to-do lists. There’s nothing more satisfying than checking off the day’s errands and chores when I finish them. It makes me feel like a productivity machine.

Yesterday I took my paper-and-pen to-do lists to the next level and downloaded some funny to-do listhigh-tech apps. One of these apps actually has a robot voice that starts insulting you if you haven’t crossed anything off the list in a while. The app developers claim it makes getting things done “addictive.” Am I addicted to running errands? No. Am I terrified that Siri’s evil sister will hunt me down if I don’t complete my tasks? Absolutely.

Let’s face it: our culture is obsessed with productivity. We’re infatuated with getting things done. And this is harming our Christian walk.

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