Public Storage storage hallway with storage un...

Are you storing too much stuff in a storage unit?

Like many people I have a storage unit that is brimming with items that I don’t have room for in the little shoebox I live in, but that I just couldn’t seem to part with either. For quite a while now, I’ve been toying with the idea that I need to get in there and clear a lot of it out, and that’s just what I’ve been doing recently.

It’s sort of an amazing process because many of the items that I’ve stored I come across and just immediately say, “donate”, while others that hold an emotion or a memory are a lot more difficult to get rid of.

It amazes me that many of these items we keep because they act as an emotional trigger of sorts. They cause us to remember when something happened, who we were with, how it made us feel and all those emotions that are associated with good memories we don’t want to let go of. Because they are touchstones to our pasts, we have a hard time letting go of the item itself. Not because it’s really worth anything, but because it acts as a reminder to help us remember our own history.

Among the many boxes I cleared out, I ran across a Buzz Lightyear action figure from Pixar’s Toy Story. When I picked him up, I was instantly transported to Disneyland when my son was 4 years old. He was star struck when he saw his hero Buzz, and didn’t even want to go and say hello because he couldn’t imagine approaching his hero.

Finding Woody, the cowboy doll from the same movie, brought a totally different memory of the same trip. My son was so happy to play Duck, Duck, Goose with all the characters from Toy Story (Buzz wasn’t there). So much so, that when Woody took his hand, my son who didn’t find Woody as intimidating as Buzz, was thrilled to be with the cowboy. I remember laughing as I watched Woody carefully shaking my son’s hand loose when he had to move on. No easy feat for somebody in costume trying not to hurt a 4 year old’s feelings.

I have a friend who often refers to the need to clear things out so God can bring different blessings in, and she’s not the only one who I’ve heard say something similar. The phrase seems to be very popular today when so many people are clearing their lives out in one way or another whether they want to or not.

Many times when you are doing something (no matter what it is), you notice all sorts of other people doing the same thing. And, I’ve always wondered if it’s because you’re more aware of it so you see it more, or if people are just engaging in the same activities at the same time without even knowing one another.

I usually lean heavily to the former explanation rather than the latter, so, when I saw all sorts of moving sales, estate sales and garage sales happening this last week, I assumed I was just noticing them more because I was clearing things out too.

That was until I actually went to try and sell my things at a few local consignment shops that are really good about seeing items quickly. Every one of them ( and there were a few I spoke with) said they were so swamped with people wanting to bring things in to sell, that it would be at least three weeks to a month before they could even see clear to look at my things.

This really made me think that maybe I’m not the only one who’s doing this clearing out thing, but that many other people are too. And, more than that, there’s something a little more going on than what the surface would lead us to believe.

The LORD many times says we have to give up everything to follow Him, and, when He says everything that pretty much means everything including physical, emotional and spiritual things that we’re holding onto. And, for many of us, no matter what form it takes, that means just throwing it away or just walking away from that something that leads us further from the LORD  instead of closer to Him.

Yet, as I looked at Buzz Lightyear and Woody and experienced the memories they brought up, I thought it could also include not just throwing things away, but actually purposefully giving things to Him for safe keeping. He knows that some things mean so much to us that it’s hard for us to give them up for Him.

It would be so much better for us to place those things that are so important to us in His hands, knowing they are safeguarded by Him throughout eternity. Then it doesn’t matter if the clearing out brings us more of a blessing or not, because it’s then that we realize that His own self and the love He has for each of us is the only blessing that really matters.


A little over a year after the royal wedding, here’s a repost that I hope you’ll enjoy. 🙂 Sarah

Tower Bridge as viewed from the North-East nea...

Would you believe the LEGO replica of Tower Bridge has 4,287 pieces.


There’s a lot to be learned from building with LEGO.

That’s what I was thinking as my son and his friend were industriously starting to put together the Tower Bridge set that my son received from his grandparents for Christmas. According to my mother, it was the very last set in the whole state of Texas, and maybe the world. This was because by the time the first week of December came around, and everyone was atwitter about the royal wedding and marriage of Prince William and Kate, all the sets were pretty much taken. But, my mom being one of the most resourceful people I know, made sure that she found one for my son.

So, there I was watching my son and his friend open the box labeled for 16+ – who knew that there were now LEGO sets designed with the difficulty level to be made by those 16 years old and above? – and all these little bags filled with little LEGO bits came tumbling out. When I say all these bags, I mean there must have been at least 30, maybe more, and unlike the sets for those 16 years and below, the bags weren’t marked 1,2,3 and so on, to be opened and built in some sort of sequential order that is easily tracked in the instruction booklets. No,  those clear little bags were just what they were with no markings at all, which means you have to pay super close attention to the instructions and the process of digging through the pieces to find the right ones because you have no idea where they might be.

By the time they emptied out all the bags and took a look through the 3 booklets of instructions, they were surrounded by 30 plus piles of little pieces. These were obviously, eventually, going to look like the Tower Bridge that spans the famed Thames River in London. But I tell you, all it looked like was little broken bits from my perspective.

Then I thought that’s just what our lives look like. All sorts of piles of bits that don’t even look like they’ll match, let alone be combined together to build something amazing. But this is just what God tells us what will happen if we just believe  Him and allow Him to be the Master Builder, taking all those parts of ourselves that He has handpicked to have a place in us, and our lives, and making them into something amazing.

Sometimes that’s a strange thought during those times of our lives when things seem so disjointed, disconnected and full of little bits, that they will all come together and make something marvelous. But, if we have faith that the Master LEGO Builders can design such a thing to happen, why is it so difficult for us to believe that the Master Builder of Creation can do the same thing with us?

“Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”

Isaiah 64:8

English: www,domain,internet,web,net

People connecting with people drive the web.

Recently I sat in a college lecture hall with a collection of devices that were as diverse as their owners. There were iPods, iPads, netbooks, notebooks, smart phones. You name the device that could connect its owner up, and it was there.

The catch phrases seemed to be, “Can you connect?” or “Are you connected?” as other attendees of the Motherlode Innovation Summit on Technology, otherwise known as the MIST Conference Social Edition, were in various stages of linking themselves to the wi-fi at the local junior college, Columbia College, in the Motherlode.

I didn’t bother even trying to connect. Why? Because although I worked in high-tech. when the World Wide Web was still called that, and was one of the first people I knew to daisy chain my way to what would become an everyday reality, I didn’t have one wi-fi device with me.

No smart phone.

No netbook.

No iPad.

There I sat with my notebook, – yes an old-fashioned paper notebook – and pen waiting for the conference to begin so I could take notes the old-fashioned way, by actually writing them down.

It was one of those strange moments when you realize that most of the people in the room are so much younger than you, that they didn’t quite remember a time without the ability to link in.

The conference was amazing,  giving tips about how to start, and stay, connected. The speakers were informative and by and large accessible, sharing helpful tips for blogging, for SEO, for ways to make yourself known on the web through Social Media. The sheer amount of information was enough to make sparks fly off of people’s fingertips as they typed trying to keep up with it all.

The funny thing was that although it was about using technology to connect to as many people as possible, it was also about connecting with the individual person too. It was about connecting with the mind of the multitude, and the mind of the individual at the same time.

No easy feat, unless you know who you’re talking to and why you’re talking to them, because at it’s very base level that’s what Social Media is all about, connecting with other people. And, that’s what the conference was designed to do, connect those who attended with their own audiences, through using the amazing things they learned there.

When you connect to another person, it doesn’t matter if you use a notebook made of paper or a computer notebook, because it’s not about the vehicle, it’s about the connection.

And, when you think about it that’s what God is interested in too. The connection we each have with Him. He came and paid the pride price for us, so we could have the opportunity to connect with him no matter what our own individual selves, or our individual devices,  look like.

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

2 Corinthians 5:21

The oddest things hit you at the oddest times. Like when you’re in the kitchen just going about normal everyday cooking, like boiling water.

In the last few years it seems like I’ve been in an extended period of waiting. Waiting is never easy. I have yet to meet one person who would actually say they like to wait for anything. Some are more patient about it than others, but, it seems like no one would ever put themselves in a waiting spot.

So to try and make the wait easier, I’ve tried to wait in expectation for the next phase of what my life holds, and what the Lord is going to do. That being the case, recently I’ve realized that that’s not what I’ve ended up doing. Instead of waiting with an active expectation, I’ve actually just been waiting with no expectation. Instead of actively waiting, I’ve been passively waiting.

So it hit me while I was in the kitchen waiting for a pot of water to boil so I could make pasta, that waiting in life is a lot like waiting for water to boil.

Now I know the old adage that a watched pot never boils, but the reality is that if you prepare it correctly, it will, just not as fast as you think it should. All you have to do is get the pot out, fill it with water, put it on the burner and turn on the heat.

Then wait. And wait. And wait.

You can go off and do other things while it boils, but if you stand there and watch it with expectation a funny thing happens. You get to see what goes on with the water as it goes through its stages of heating up, then boiling.

At first, the water is pretty still and it looks like nothing at all is happening. Then, so suddenly you don’t think you’re seeing things correctly, there are small movements as the water starts to flow in channels in the heat. Later, bubbles start to form on the bottom and sides of the pot, just before they rise to the surface and you can truly see that something is happening.

With the breaking of the bubbles on the surface, then you know it’s time for you to do whatever it is that you’re going to with the boiled water. Like, put in the pasta so it can cook, and, you can go on to the next phase of preparing something to eat.

In waiting for the water to boil, it occurred to me that it’s the same with waiting for the Lord. We can passively wait, go off and do something else and not bother to look to see the signs that the Lord is at work. Or, we can actively wait, by doing what we are doing as we live our lives, and at the same time keep our eyes open. If we do this, then we can see the flow of the current of the Lord beneath the surface before what He’s doing boils up to overflowing in our lives.

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth. It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10-11

Shopping. Some of us love it. Some of us hate it. And, some of us really don’t think about it at all, we just do it.

The shopping experience is an interesting one, especially if you’re on a budget, and you’re trying to stretch every dollar to the Nth degree. Take clothes shopping, sometimes you just need a shirt, it doesn’t matter what color it is or what style it is, you just need it. So, you go looking through the racks and find one, then another, and another and all of them will fit the bill.

But, sometimes you’re looking for something in particular, aren’t you? You need a black shirt to go with whatever, and it has to be in a certain style because otherwise it won’t match. It’s that kind of shopping that is draining because no matter how hard you look, if you can’t find that particular shirt, then the whole thing has been a wash.

Then there are times when the opposite is true. You think you have a lot of shopping options. But, no matter how hard you look, you always come back to the same item, over and over, and, over and over again, until at last you just give up and buy it.

Sometimes I do a little shopping when I pray, and I would imagine that you do too. We keep going back to God with a question, problem or issue, hoping He’s going to give us a different answer from the one He’s already given us, then are surprised when it’s the same.

I don’t really like leadership positions. I try to avoid them as much as possible, preferring to stay in the Shadowlands, and help out behind the scenes. So, when I was first asked to lead a Bible study group, I wasn’t too keen on the idea.

So, I went to God in prayer and got a resounding ‘yes.’ But, I didn’t like that answer, so I let it lay quietly for a couple of days and went back again half hoping He would give me a different answer. He didn’t. It was still a firm ‘yes.’ So, I left it alone for another couple of days, all the while knowing that soon I would be trying to dodge phone calls from the teaching director who needed to know what I was going to do. Again, I went to Him, prayed about it, and again got the same answer. ‘Yes.”

My shopping did me no good, which isn’t surprising at all. After all, God is God, and He doesn’t change His mind. But we would still like Him to wouldn’t we? We all want a god who is going to behave himself, a god who is going to see we don’t want to do something and allow us to dictate what we will or will not do. We want a god who will let us off the hook.

But, He’s not like that. He loves us too much to allow us free rein, and He wants a relationship with us too much to allow us to go shopping for an answer that will please us, instead of one that’s good for us. In short, there are times when we just have to accept that He is God and He knows what He is doing, and no amount of shopping is going to change that.

“But You are the same and Your years will never end.”

Psalm 102:27

Some things are just strange aren’t they? Just yesterday I received a message from a friend of mine thanking me for ministering to her the day before.

Day 232

Red Vines can help you minister to others.

As I sat looking at the message, I wondered what in the world she was talking about. I quickly went over the day before, and couldn’t see any way that I had ministered to her. So, I took stock of the day again, this time much more slowly, and still, I couldn’t come up with a thing. As far as I could see, it was just another Sunday.

I though about asking her, but then thought “no”, because really it feels like a stupid question. Someone tells you that you helped them a bit, ministered to them (which is a little step up from just helping) and then you don’t remember what you did? I mean really, aren’t we supposed to remember this sort of thing?

Finally, after a couple of hours of coming back to it and wondering about it, it dawned on me that I just had to know what on earth she was talking about. So, I contacted her and her answer was simple. Red Vines.

Red Vines. The red, tasty licorice candy that’s low in fat and high in sugar. And, because it seems to chew forever, makes it feel like you’re eating a lot of the sugary treat when in reality you’ve only had a twist or two. Okay, maybe three, but that’s not the point.

Her answer left me more confused than ever, I realized that I had given her a box of Red Vines, and they weren’t even mine. They were hers. I had bought them for her when we were at the store the day before. She left them at my house, and, I knew I would see her the next day. So, I took them to church with me to give to her, praying all the while that they wouldn’t melt into some weird red gob of gooeyness as they sat in my hot truck during the service.

When I gave them to her, as far as I was concerned that was the end of it. But, for her, it wasn’t. The act of my remembering to giver her the box of Red Vines reminded her that someone thought about her, remembered her and cared enough about her to make sure that she could enjoy something she liked.

Later, I got to thinking that that’s really what ministry is all about. Thinking about someone, remembering them and then caring about them enough to do something about it. It’s in this very way, in the small things of life, that we can show others how much God thinks about each one of us, remembers who and what we are, and loves us enough to want to be a part of our lives.

“As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.”

Psalm 103:13-14

Because it’s been such a strange weather season in the Sierra Foothills where I live, the plants have had a difficult time knowing when to come out, but the weeds don’t seem to have that trouble at all. They are everywhere.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Around my little cottage, A.K.A. my little shoebox, is a large area that I have to weed whack twice a year. Once when everything starts growing in the spring, then once just before summer when everything has turned a golden brown.

Usually this isn’t an issue. I just do the front yard in one day, and the back yard the next. Then a few weeks later, I do it all again. But, this year, I look at the whole expanse that needs to be done, and it just makes me tired.

I realized this after I dropped my son off at school and pulled the truck in the back of the house. The weeds – that look a little like wheat quite frankly, so they’re not unattractive, just tall – where way taller than they should be. As I sat scanning the yard, looking at them and how tall they are, I realized that I had only done one quadrant of one days work about two weeks ago.

That’s about 1/8 of the acre that needs to be done. In short, not a lot.

It felt like a heavy weight slowly oozed through me as I sat there trying to figure out when I would be able to squeeze in the time to get out the weed whacker and actually tackle them. Then it sunk in that not only did I not have time for another two weeks, but, I was just too tired to do it.

Sometime that’s just what happens in our live isn’t it? We have a task that we know needs to be done, something we’ve done without an issue for years, when all of a sudden it’s just overwhelming. We realize for whatever reason, we just are too tired to tackle it. Then on top of that comes the sense we’ve got such a long way to go to get it done, that doing it seems like an impossibility.

We can get to that spot in a lot of different ways, maybe your workload has become heavier, or there’s been a change in your lifestyle, or your child is transitioning to another level of life, or your parents are. No matter what the change may be, when added to the current load of life, it all of a sudden becomes more than we can handle.

It’s kind of like the old story about the straw that broke the camels back.

But, as children of the Great I Am, we are not called to handle these things on our own. He makes all things possible as we look at Him, not at our current impossibility. He will make a way for us, we just need to trust Him to do it. And, He’ll help us with that too.

“I am the LORD, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me?”

Jeremiah 32:27