Confessions Of A Worker Bee

If you are a worker bee like me, you probably find great satisfaction in accomplishing tasks. Some part of my mind finds worth and value in my productivity, and my days are filled with goals to be accomplished. Some are mundane like laundry or chores. Others have more impact like mentoring or counseling. Whatever my task, I feel most valuable and significant when I’m doing something.

Confession: sometimes, that idea translates to my faith. There are times that I feel more valuable to God because I’m doing something for Him like serving at church, or coaching someone in ministry, or leading a bible study. When I’m busy doing good things that honor God, I’m tempted to believe that He loves me more than when I’m not, as if my activity earns or prevents His acceptance of me.

Thankfully, the apostle Paul wrote a letter to a group of people who grappled with the same issue, and he clearly refuted the idea that Christians can work hard enough or be good enough to earn God’s approval.

“Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by keeping the law? Of course not, for the Holy Spirit came upon you only after you believed the message you heard about Christ.  Have you lost your senses? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?” Galatians 3: 2-3 NLT

In this Thanksgiving week, I’m reminded of how thankful I should be in light of what God has done for me. The 10 Commandments….the Laws of Leviticus….the commands in Scripture to be pure, holy, and blameless….well, I could never, ever live a life of perfect obedience! I mess up. Daily. Paul taught that Christ came to free us from the prison of guilt and shame from the sins we commit. Our failure to perfectly obey the Law reveals how desperately we needed a Savior who could provide another way for us! Just as importantly, Paul taught that no human effort earns God’s favor….only belief in His son does.

So, the next time I lose my senses and confuse my activity and God’s favor, I’ll remember Galatians chapter 3. My human effort cannot make me worthy in God’s eyes. Even my best efforts fall short of His standards. Yet, I’ve been made worthy because of the sacrifice of Jesus. Worthy. Loved. Accepted. Forgiven. Valuable.

I can’t comprehend His love….His pursuit of mankind…His desire to be my friend….but I’m oh, so thankful. Nothing I do (or fail to do) can change His love for me! 



Griswold (Don’t) Wannabe’s Part 2

griswold houseNext week the first wave of holiday festivities rolls in with Thanksgiving! I, for one, can’t wait for walks in the woods, pumpkin pie (which I’ve already been enjoying), and the Alabama/Auburn game. Some years I have hosted the festivities; other years I’ve been a guest in a family member’s home. Either way, all those festivities require responsibilities of me.

Yesterday, I shared a Holiday Help List for those of us who will be guests this year. Our goal should be to be a blessing not a burden to those who host us over the holidays. Our hosts likely spend hours, if not days, in preparation for our arrival, and the least we can do is to show our appreciation while we visit.

If you are hosting people in your home this Thanksgiving and Christmas, you might be overwhelmed with a never-ending task list: fresh linens, polished furniture, the perfect menu, a manicured lawn, and the facade of a peaceful family. Yikes! By the time your families arrive, you might be already tapped out! Never fear. your Holiday Help List is here! I’ve compiled a few tips to help you manage a house full of people and still keep your sanity.

Do lower your expectations – things aren’t going to go perfectly. Don’t expect your dysfunctional family to suddenly act like Miss Manners has personally mentored them.

Do provide your guests with a space to call their own – make space in a closet for their items and clear out a bathroom for their use. Giving them space means their clutter is out of view and not underfoot.

Do delegate – ask others to pitch in to set the table, get something out of the oven, or take out the trash. Ask kids to put ice in the glasses and refill drinks. Request everyone to help clear the table when the feast is over. Asking for help doesn’t make you less of a host; it actually invites people into your world where memories are made.

Do model the way – begin the holiday meal by sharing why you have invited everyone to your home. Be specific as you share why you are thankful. Your words will be a blessing, and they just might be contagious.

Do share your plans – letting your extended-stay guests know what to expect will help everyone. Planning a few activities at specific times gives everyone something to look forward to (movie night, shopping day, meal time, etc).

Do relax – sit on the couch and chat with your family for an hour or two. Play cards. Drink hot cocoa and go for a walk. Don’t do…just be. Your guests will actually relax more if they see you relaxing, too. Trust me, if they need something, I’m sure they can find the fridge or the TV remote.

Let’s not just “make it through” the holidays. Let’s relish our time with family and friends! Let’s not sweat the details….let’s lavish our families with love and attention. Perfection isn’t the goal. Memories are. So, clear out a closet and pull a few extra chairs to the table, and then be with your family and friends. No, really. Be with them. Love them. Make memories with them.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!



Griswold (Don’t) Wannabe’s

griswold familyI thoroughly enjoy this season of the year and all of the traditions my family has come to love.

Like watching our all-time favorite movie, Christmas Vacation. Even though we’ve seen that movie hundreds of times, we still laugh at the true-to-life scenes.

Remember the scene in Christmas Vacation when the extended Griswold family arrives? Too loud. Too many critiques. Too much information. And as their visit continues, they are needy, messy, demanding, and yes, even embarrassing.

I love that family because it’s a fictional one that makes me laugh at the awkward moments they cause, but no one – trust me, no one – wants that family to come for a visit. Ever. So to help us all avoid being that family, I’ve compiled a Holiday Help List to ensure our families are a blessing to our hosts, not a burden.

Do take a gift – a small gesture of gratitude at the beginning of your stay goes a long way to setting the tone of your visit. Remember, your host likely spent hours preparing for you. Be appreciative.

Do lend a hand – pitch in to prepare meals and cleanup afterward so that the host isn’t overwhelmed. But be sure to follow the host’s lead. It’s not your kitchen!

Do contribute some groceries – bring a few side dishes or desserts. If your visit lasts several days, consider taking your hosts out for dinner one evening or supplying a few meals at their house. (Unless, of course, your name is Aunt Bethany. No one wants Jello Mold with kitty litter topping.)

Do show interest in others – disregard any notions you already have about your extended family and get to know them in a fresh way this season! (That includes getting to know crazy Cousin Eddie. You can do anything for a few days, right?)

Don’t leave your belongings lying around – keeping your items in your room helps to eliminate a little clutter from an already full house.

Don’t let your children run wild – your hosts WILL talk about you after you leave. Don’t give them ammunition. Send the kids outside to play or keep the noise level to a minimum. Prep the kids in advance to say please/thank you and be respectful.

Don’t be a couch potato – get out of the house! Being gone for an hour or two each day of an extended stay allows your host to have a mini-break. No matter how much they love you, they need a break!

Trust me, even if we follow these guidelines, we can still find ourselves in the middle of frustrating or awkward moments over the holidays (think: the swat team busting through the Griswold’s windows after Cousin Eddie hog-ties Clark’s boss). If we plan to be a guest in someone’s home this Thanksgiving or Christmas, let’s at least make a plan to be a blessing rather than a burden.

If you are the host rather than the guest this holiday season, check back tomorrow for a Holiday Help List just for you.