Wednesday, September 26, 2012


My brother is good with words. He was an "English and Writing" major and he has the ability to make anything I write (or anyone else writes, for that matter) sound better. In fact, he could edit this blog post in about 5 minutes; and it would be clearer, more concise, and easier to read. What can I say, he has a gift.

I have heard that excellent writers pays particular attention to word choice. Is a word the best fit? Does it have the most specific meaning? Are they using it correctly? Would another word work better?

Lately, I have noticed that we often use words but they don't mean what we think they mean when we say them. Was that sentence confusing? It made sense in my head. I clearly need my brother's intervention...Joel?

Perhaps I should try an example:
My sweet 6 year-old daughter sometimes often comes home from school and complains to me that she is starving. Since the definition of starving is "deprived of food," this is a huge exaggeration. Is she intentionally lying? No. It's an issue of semantics: the meaning of the word. There is a discongruity between what she thinks the word means and what the word actually means.

But, I want her to know the difference. I want her to know that there actually are 6 year-olds who are "deprived of food." I want her to develop compassion for them as well as gratefulness for the cheese stick she can get out of the fridge. For this reason, I try to encourage my kids not to use the phrase, "I'm starving." They can say, "I'm hungry" (which interestingly can mean either "starving" or "desirous") or "I want something to eat."

Another common scenario is when my son says that he needs a new Lego set. I try to tell him that he does not need a Lego set; he wants a Lego set. (And that his mother thinks we need to sell or give away some of the Legos we already have....I digress.)

I have always thought of a need as something a person had to have: water, food, shelter. But I looked up the word on and it gave the definition: "want, requirement." Have we as Americans actually modified the definition of a word by our use of it? That seems crazy.

I just started a book about getting rid of "excess" in our lives. At first, it was hard to imagine our family lived in excess. It sounds so exorbitant. The definition of excess was "overabundance of something" which sounds like you have to have bins or closets overflowing with food and supplies.

But then I checked out the synonym list: spare, duplicate, surplus, waste. Wow. According to this, we live with excess and lots of it. So, we have a challenge. An obligation even. To sort. To give. To share. To be godly stewards (managers) of all He has given us.

Spiderman warns us that, "With great power comes great responsibility." I'd like to suggest that knowledge is power and with it does come great responsibility. So I hope to use it wisely. Anyone else want to join me? I just might need some help along the way.

Monday, September 24, 2012


This summer was a summer of reading for our family.

I read memoirs: Girl Meets God by Lauren F. Winner, Look Me in the Eye, My Life with Aspergers by John Elder Robison, The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls.

I read fiction: The Testament by John Grisham, Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult, and The Boxcar Children Books 1-7 to my children. 

And then I read another genre of books (their backs are labeled "Christian living" and "religion" but they should be labeled "Warning: this book has the potential to change your life!): Reckless Faith by Beth Guckenberger, The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. 

These are stories of people who are allowing God to transform their lives: the way they think, the way they give, the way they live. These books, along with my memories of reading The Hole in the Gospel by Richard Stearns and with challenging sermons by our pastor and engaging discussions with friends have been rocking - and wrecking - my comfortable, little, Christian world.

I am being challenged with new thoughts about poverty and war. About my responsibility for the welfare of God's children across town and across the world. It's overwhelming and unsettling, and I have more questions than answers. But I am seeking and praying and trusting in God's ability to help me hear his voice and to be obedient day by day. Step by step. Dollar by dollar.

I recently read a quote on a friend's blog that she confessed to hearing on the radio, so I am not even sure whom to credit, but it is worth considering, "The opposite of poverty is not wealth; it is enough." 

I love the idea of enough. Not in need, not with excess, but enough. Just the right amount.

It's the same principle that God commanded when He fed the Israelites manna in the wilderness: "Then the Lord said to Moses, 'I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test then and see whether they will follow my instructions." (emphasis mine) -- Exodus 16:4

I wonder if the principle of enough is a kingdom principle. Jesus shares parables that warn of the folly of building barns for excess and admonishes us against storing up riches on earth. 

Are we to live with a such a level of trust that we daily dependend on God's faithfulness to provide enough

Do we miss out on God's blessings and miracles because we insist on planning ahead and holding so tightly to the things of this world to the point that we render God's intervention unnecessary. 

Is it okay that hundreds of thousands of children die daily of preventable diseases while my children live in excess...with more than enough?

What does living with enough look like? How is God challenging you to share your "excess" with those "in need"? 

I'm not sure what this means for our family; but I have a feeling we are starting a new journey, and this is just the beginning.