Friday, April 16, 2010

About a Bag

I've been asking Jesus to change my heart. To make it more His own.

Am I the only one who is scared by this? Honest to goodness, I had the feeling of "I need to just ask Him to change me." And then I carried that feeling around for a good 4 or 5 days and didn't do a darn thing about it. I was too nervous.

I'm the type of girl who has always thought that if I really prayed for God's will in my life, I would be on the next plane to remote Africa for life. I also remembered fearing that God's will would be for me to marry an ugly dude, but that's another story. (And I was 16 and clearly shallow.)

The point is, there was a disconnect in me...I didn't (and probably still do not, fully) understand the joy in obedience, or the excitement in submission. For whatever reason, I viewed God as someone who would say, "OK, I've got one here who just prayed the prayer. I'll have her marry someone who she finds very unattractive and then ship them both off to a faraway country where they'll be forever unhappy in their obedience."

Why did I think like that?

And where am I going with this?

And why do you continue to put up with my rambly self?

Here's the thing. Since asking for my heart to change, I feel like it is changing. The changes might be microscopic so far, but they are changes, still.

I want to be careful in sharing this journey that I'm on with all'aya'll. I want to make it clear that I have not "arrived". I do not know the answers. I am not better. I am not holier. I do not believe that my mansion in the sky will be painted a prettier color or have fancier chandeliers hanging.

I'm fumbling my way through, like always. But I think there are lots of us on similar journeys, and there's just no good reason to walk on separate sidewalks, where all we can do is wave to each other.

So, the bag.

This is me with the bag. This is me saying, "Cut the picture off right about here". This is me with the freakishly large hands, holding the bag.

I got this bag today. At our joint-venture garage sale.

It eyed me across the driveway.

And the whole thing is, I'm not normally a red kind of girl.

But I inquired about the bag and it happened to belong to my cousin Mindi, who was the recent recipient of my $0.50 plastic box grater. It was the end of a slow garage sale day, and we were doing what is inevitable...we were trading stuff.

For years and years, I have found the urge to get a new bag when Summer rolls around. That old, familiar urge pinched me on the ear when I was in TJ Maxx last week. Those bags, all lined up and color coded. It didn't seem right to leave without one.

But, I did.

We keep talking about how to be better stewards of our finances. What does God expect us to do with what He has blessed us with? Is He mostly hoping that I'll have a fresh, new bag at the start of each season? Or does He wish that I wouldn't be quite so concerned with those sorts of things? Would He rather I concern myself with the things that concern Him?

So now, I have this. It probably won't match with anything I own, but does that really matter when I'm a girl wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt and pukey-brown pants with a stain on the leg?

I think not.

I like you, New Bag. I think my life needed a little dash of red.

"And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the of the field and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are." Matthew 6:28-29


59 comments:

  1. Wow. You have become a great teacher. Thank you for writing your inspiring, heartfelt words.

    ~XOXO~

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  2. I love you. You crack me up. I know that wasn't your intention. But I was roaring laughing. I think the same way about submission/will etc. The same way!!!!!!!

    God spoke to my heart one day and I got a message that has altered me forever, for the better, better than anything I could have ever imagined. Now, I'm afraid to submit. OK, nut case right here waving at ya!!!

    I love that you traded for a new bag and wove that into this post somehow.

    You're twisted, in a good way!

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  3. i'm so glad that you are sharing your journey. it's honest and heartfelt and the same way so many of us feel. thank you for sharing you. :)

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  4. I really connected to this post. I have often prayed that God's will in my life be done. However, He and I both know that, inside, I am holding something back, because I am really nervous that His will includes a life outside my comfort zone. And I am all about comfy! So thanks for joining me on that sidewalk and making me laugh at the same time!

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  5. HA! this is so understandable. I've had to stop praying for patience because I couldn't handle the lessons in patience the good Lord would give me. I call them Lesson's on my blog and I seem to fail every one, especially cashier lessons.
    Love the new bag.

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  6. i love this post! I think we are on the same journey. BABY STEPS!
    The more I think about it, the more I realize how profound "What about Bob" is for our Christian walk.
    BTW I too was petrified that God would send me off somewhere to be a missionary sans toilet paper...and I LOVE LOVE LOVE toilet paper. It's somewhat humbling that now that I feel relatively sure that toilet paper will remain in my life, and I feel less nervous about asking God to change me, that he DOESN"T start with trips to Africa...He gives me cereal boxes...and I STILL have to blog about it four hours later before I do something. Good for you in obeying. Compromise ruins a celebration.

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  7. As with the last post and this post, I have so much I want to say but I don't even know where to begin. Maybe I'll just see you at the garage sale tomorrow and give you a hug. The last few posts, you have read my "mailbag," so to speak.

    and LOVE, Love the red bag. (and your cousin Mindi!)

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  8. Your post comes tonight with such meaning for me. Thank you.

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  9. my friend and I were talking about this very thing just an hour ago...what the answer to "that prayer" would be and how we were kinda scared of it. Thanks for putting it in perspective.

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  10. This post spoke DIRECTLY to my heart. Thank you.

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  11. Hear, hear! Waving to you from the sidewalk! ;)

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  12. I hope you find Peace in your Heart and just be Happy being You.U Inspire! He will lead your heart in the right direction.~Cheers Kim

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  13. Also, the Red Bag is darling and looks perfect for Summer.I often let things find me if I am having difficulty figuring it out for myself.~Enjoy Kim

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  14. Just wanted you to know that I've been following your blog for a little while now. Our only daughter (for now) is also adopted and what a beautiful experience it has been for us. I just love your inspiring writing. It touches my heart. Thanks for putting yourself "out there". It takes courage and grace.

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  15. I had those same fears that you did about having to go to some far off land or never even getting married! I have been trying to "serve with joy" this year and it's been one step at a time, one day at a time. God will see us through if we truly want Him to!

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  16. Amen, Sister!!!
    I have been on this same path this year. It seems that things that were once so important to me { silly things} are just so insignificant now. I am learning so much about myself in the process.

    BTW... I think we all need a red bag in our lives... I have two. WITH POLKA DOTS! They go great with my black-stained sweathshirt and holy jeans!

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  17. Cute bag. My favorite color is blue...and so are my pants.

    : )

    Julie M.

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  18. The journey is never what we expect. Enjoy it along the way.

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  19. Good post today. You face and question some of what we all do. One step at a time. One prayer at a time.
    Country Blessings,
    Cindy

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  20. You never cease to inspire Shanny. I think you are amazing just as you are, such a genuine soul! Glad your stepping out of your comfort zone, with the red purse anyway.

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  21. 'ok, I've got another one here who prayed... the prayer.' what a riot. I know, I hesitate, & knew, knew, knew that's what would happen to me. My parents always said I'd have to find the apostle Paul in topsiders, before I'd settle. Life's changes for us, have made me believe it's what you do with what you have. Be it Dooney off the Sak's rack or xyz off the Goodwill bin. ONe of my favorite pictures from world wide media is that of Mother Teresa & Princess Diana together outside an orphage in India. No, I can't justify Diana's lifestyle of opulence, but bless her heart-- what's a girl to do when you can actually marry a prince? Challenges I haven't stumbled across, but perhaps her 'going off the map' had deeper ramifications. I know that's a whole sack of unknowns for a Saturday morning with cartoons in the background. But..... I think God works in the little corner's of our minds, no matter the count of the egyptian cotton we sleep on. It's what we do with it. (or our faith in it)I think God's messages & examples in scripture really start to work on our hearts if we read & listen, associate with other's, walk on the same sidewalk & actually chat-- that changes our hearts. I could continue on about Lady Di, her choices in her personal life, but that's not for me to worry about. I need to make the cheerios.
    Incidentally, I don't think Christ was actually telling the young rich ruler to sell it all. I think he was making a point about his lack of understanding of stewardship & his understanding of the law. Actually tongue & cheek.
    ps. that sign that says 'Money can't buy you happiness, but I'm willing to give it one more try!', or something to that effect... I think the eclectic approach to our faith is where most stumble. It's the not trusting in the bag. Or the hair color(that's my weakness)or the shoes or the matching sofa & draperies... Perceptions are so deceiving.
    Love your ramblings. Sorry I made more ramblings on your space.
    Great thoughts. :)

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  22. Wonderful post and I'm so on that sidewalk with you, with the same feelings and thoughts......as I think a lot of us are....by the way, great bag! I so wanted to come up your way for the sales yesterday, but had already commited to a day trip with hubby to Illinois.....have a great weekend!

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  23. I absolutely love your "ramblings"...They always have a super lesson and this red one is perfect. I love that verse...you brought it to life. And your hands, not man-hands in any way. Thanks for sharing how God is working even in little ways. The little ways add up!

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  24. I like the bag BUT I like the jeans even more.

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  25. that is a fantastic post my friend. i love your transparency & i gotta admit, i love that red bag too!

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  26. I love your post.
    Thanks for always speaking form your heart, it warms mine:)

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  27. hm, i'm feeling right at home here :)

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  28. everything about this post makes me smile from ear to ear. You are such a fabulous writer!

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  29. Why,oh why, do we make serving and loving the Lord so difficult?? It has taken me so long to finally get comfortable with who God made me and where he put me in this life. I picture him smiling his awesome smile and saying," come here, and give me a hug, I love you so much,you really made me smile as I watched you trying to figure out my plans for you. And all I wanted was for you to love me and gratefully enjoy the walk we had together." Thank heavens we have a life time to figure it all out!! I guess my problem is I see what he has done for me, and what to do so much for him. P.S. I sure am glad he gave you that really handsome,talented,hard working, crafty, smart, conservative for a husband!!

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  30. Thank you again for having an open sharing heart.
    I have a love/hate relationship with refinement.
    I love that God loves me enough to change me and I hate it because it is usually painful and feels never ending. I love to be on the other side of it all.
    Right now, I am going through a life shattering experience that somehow, even through the pain of it, feels more like an adventure and an opportunity----I think He is powerfully at work and I more than not-like it...
    I think He is smiling delightedly at you with your new bag!

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  31. Feeling the same thing........I can't not feel it. I can't not think about everything differently........wish I could have ventured over to the garage sale to say hi, but it didn't work out. God bless your journey....becoming more like Him :)
    ~Heather

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  32. I. heart. you.
    And you didn't have to marry an ugly dude. And you only had to go across the ocean to get your baby.
    Red will be good for you.
    p.s. I'm right with you in having freakishly large hands. ;)

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  33. Isn't it freeing when you give yourself over to God?! I'm still learning to do that as well. Everyday is a renewed decision to be the person He wants me to be, not the person who has the cutest outfit and perfectly manicured nails. Who has time to be perfect?! I'm realizing right there with you the 'joy of obedience' and my prayer everyday is "give me clean hands and a pure heart", nothing else matters. The fab bags at TJ MAX are just bags, but You have a heart after God.
    Thank you for sharing your personal journey, it's encouraging.

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  34. 'love hate relationship with refinement' well said Annie. Sorry to be so wordy. Love the bag, love the jeans, love your blog.
    & I think God is smiling over your bag & your appreciation of refinement & beauty. :)
    Can you tell you had me thinkin?

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  35. i love the new bag! and from the outside looking in, you are the type that brings africa to you. you are doing your part right at home...more than most!!

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  36. Oh my goodness I could have written portions of this too!
    It is so scary to surrender and ask God to change me. I fear what it will require of me yet I know that in not asking I will miss so many blessings He has in store for me. Good for you in being willing!

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  37. I love your new bag, it will go with everything!

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  38. Love this post and love your bag too.
    -FringeGirl

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  39. thank yo so much for your inspiring words - I so enjoy your blog -
    and the purse is great Too!!!

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  40. Because of Jesus's blood, God already sees us as righteous. All He wants from us is to love Him, really love Him, know Him, spend time with Him, adore and enjoy Him. Then that relationship shines through you. There is a book called "The Naked Gospel" by Andrew Farley. Great book, that is very thought provoking. Life with God is a great adventure... and for every adventure we need a bag to carry our treasures... love your bag!

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  41. You are totally not alone on this. I think I have struggled with this my whole life {yeah, I'm only 25, but still}. Feeling like if I give it all to God, He's going to ship me off to some little tribe. Your post was such a good reminder to me that His will is far better than what I have planned for myself, so I just need to give my life fully to Him and let Him do a good work in me. Thanks for sharing your heart.

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  42. I think we're sitting beside each other in the same boat. On the bag topic...I saw one on Old Navy website and thought "that would be a great Allegan bag" ;)

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  43. Oh goodness...you never cease to amaze me with your insightful words!!! Love this post!

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  44. You aren't alone Shannan. God is moving in His church. He's drawing us all closer to Himself. The Spirit is moving. Something is coming down the road. A challange? A revival? I don't know. But He's alive and moving in His people in ways I haven't seen before. I'm scared, but excited. And glad He's moving in you too.

    We need to get together.

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  45. You are so funny. I love the bag. You deserve a cute summer bag after such a winter! And I love whoever took all of those pictures with you holding it!

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  46. Wow! That's awesome stuff right there girlfriend. Love it!

    Definitely made me take a new look at my bag fetish. Whaaaaaaaaaa!

    Thanks!

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  47. Thank you. I am constantly amazed at how you can put thoughts together.
    You have an amazing gift!

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  48. I remember one day...finances tight...noticing that we were OUT of anti-perspirant. OUT. NOT cool. I like a certain brand, an expensive brand. One NOT in the budget. But shuffle shuffle, move move and tada whittled my groceries down. Stepped into Target and said, "God, please please just let me hit it on sale" And on an endcap in the back of the store, there it was 75% off, 75!!! And I was able to stock up. And I wept. He really really really loves me, he loves me so much that He wants me to get MY brand of anti-perspirant. It really REALLY is in the little things...

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  49. I love the bag,I love that it is red, I love your pucky brown pants with a stain, and well I think that just means one thing, a bag fetish leads to a whole lotta love! :) muwahh, happy Monday, or is it Tuesday, no definitely Monday!

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  50. It's almost spooky how closely your words mirrored those of our pastor this Sunday morning, right down to the verse about the lillies. Thanks for sharing! I'll be re-reading this one a few times I think.

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  51. I am on a soul searching journey right now...
    seeking to find the "me" that was "in Love" with Jesus a number of years back... I got a little lost on my sidewalk... (stopped at too many garage sales I think!!) .. and I have been on this path... anyway... it is starting to peek out in my blog... just wanted to say... Yep... you are right... there are people on that sidewalk with you! =)

    I love your bag!! I am a bag girl... free... reusable...garage sales... good will... once in a very blue moon... Macy's (when i go to Seattle without a bag and I NEED one) =)

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  52. Thank you for this post! I keep asking God to change me, and I too am changing slowly, but surely. I've let go of grudges - that's a huge change for me, but so much more to go! Wow good post :)

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  53. thank you so much for posting this. It really hits home with me right now!! You are an amazing woman, keep up the posts, you never know who you'll touch!

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  54. Dang it...I've missed so much on your blog! OK....seriously, we are on such a parallel path at times....I just can't wait to talk face to face....I remember when I prayed that God would prune me....and I was serious....I'm like....do it! I had this romantic notion of seeing someone in a garden with hand pruners, gently plucking stray bits here and there. HA.....next thing I knew...I hear the 'beep beep beep' of heavy equipment backing up and chain saws starting up. You are on a good path Shanny.

    PS You are deliciously thin. Enjoy it. I mean it.

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  55. This is an awesome, honest post. And I love the bag. Good for you for passing up the pricier purses at TJ Maxx -- I admit, I succumbed to the lure of a new purse last week at Kohl's!

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  56. thank you. so much for that post. i put down my computer and just asked the same thing. i want to do His will and let Him change me. super hard, though. super. but your post made me put aside all those things that i want to hold back and not submit and not let myself give to Him. thanks so much for doing that. and always be so inspring and uplifting!!! love it. love the whole dang blog. and those cute as can be kiddos. love it.

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  57. Love the bag! And red goes with everything! I read in a magazine once where a woman said 'red is the most neutral color I know'!! And really it does go witha anything:)

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  58. Hello sweet Flower Patch Farmgirl - I'm new here. I couldn't sleep, so decided to catch up with some of my fave blogs and weaved my way to yours! I'm enjoying reading through your posts and getting to know you. My buns are sore, legs from the knee down are numb, eyes are burning. I don't even know what time it is. I know it's after mid-night. The time on my computer screen is broken, so I really can't be sure. But I can't stop reading. I go from laughing out loud (hard to do when I'm trying to be quiet) to reading something that touches my heart and I think "awwe that was so sweet!" Your kids are a hoot and are melting my heart. Lovin' your lil' girl's outfits. I love your down-to-earth-ness. And your take-me-as-I-am attitude.

    This post in particular was thought-provoking (I like using words that have dashes). Sometimes I get caught up in having to have something like someone else has syndrome. Thank you for the reminder of what's really important and to be good stewards of what the Lord has given.

    I think I have those same pukey brown pants. I think every Mama has a pair.

    Okay, now I'm rambling which is a sign that this 40-something Mama needs to get in bed.

    By the way, I'm not a stalker. I have a life, kids, husband, and a house.

    Blessings,
    Marie
    http://emmacallsmemama.com

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  59. Oh my, due to the late hour I realized after posting my comment that my son (Brandon) did not sign out of his Google acct after using my computer. Not that it really matters I guess - but wanted you to know that it was really written by me, Marie.

    Now I'm getting sleepy, can you tell?

    Blessings,
    Marie
    http://emmacallsmemama.com

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