“Comparison is the thief of joy.” -Theodore Roosevelt

Trying to compare ourselves to other people is useless. In fact, it will only drag us down. The only comparison we should make is to Christ. Such a comparison is humbling and freeing at the same time. I fall short of Christ’s standard of perfection (Romans 3:23). However, to know that He loved me in such a special way that He would die for me (John 3:16) brings freedom from the awful weight of comparison. Jesus Christ knew who I would be (including my sins) and died for me any way (Romans 5:8). Such a beautiful thought.

So the next time you start down the path of comparison, make sure Christ is in view. He will give you the best view of yourself. His.

1 Peter 5 6-7

Beauty and the Mundane

Anyone who has seen my Instragram and Facebook accounts knows how much I love sunset pictures.  Tonight brought a beautiful sunset, but I wasn’t able to get pictures at my favorite spot.  I wanted to catch some of the beautiful color so I decided to take pictures near my home.  

I love the life lessons God sends my way through my enjoyment of photography and less than ideal settings.  Life has beautiful moments.  I often wish for more beauty, but the mundane fills more of life.  I am learning that there can be beauty along with the mundane.  The houses in my neighborhood are fairly ordinary.  However, when the sun is setting the ordinary houses shine.  God’s beauty is never far away.

The Hair is Always Prettier on the Other Girl’s Head

I want to start by saying that this is no more true than, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”  But like the saying about the grass it is a thought we believe. 

I came up with this saying after hearing jealous statements about my “naturally curly” hair.  I have to admit when all the right factors fall into place, I like the curls.  However, it usually takes more work than some think.  My usual weekday morning routine includes brushing my hair into a ponytail – the easiest option.  Some days it is the only option.  Naturally curly hair does NOT guarantee pretty curls.  I do not wake up with pretty hair (I mean seriously?).  It takes effort to make my thick mop presentable.  

I believe we have mixed up thinking inside our heads about what grows on the outside of our heads.  So before you think that someone else has better hair (or a better life), remember that the hair is NOT really prettier on the other girls head.  God gave you the hair (life) He knows you should have.  God never makes mistakes.

Contentment with Flooding

As Christians, we often talk about being content with whatever stage of life we are facing.  I want to tell the story about a difficult time in my life.  God blessed and provided in so many ways.  It was still a hard time in life – I faced some hard circumstances.  However, God gave me grace beyond measure.

On Thursday morning, September 23, 2010, I found wet carpet in my basement. By mid-afternoon the sewer water was at a depth of 18”.  I spent hours numbly sitting on my couch with no idea what the end result of that day would be.

About 2:30 that afternoon the flooding had stopped and I had someone to help me figure out what to do next.  A friend took me to the only store that still had a sump pump (I bought the 2nd to last one on the shelf) and helped get it pumping the water outside.  At that point I finally felt some hope because I could do something.  I have never been good at sitting still.

So the clean up process began.  The blessings also starting flooding in (no pun intended).

While the water was still rising, I called a friend and asked if I could stay with them that night and if she would fix supper for me.  She agreed, but that wasn’t all they did.  After cleaning up enough that I felt ok leaving my house for the night, I went to my friend’s house get some food and a shower (and then crash for the night).  While I was eating, they offered to properly install the new sump pump (which could not be done earlier due to 18” of water covering the entire basement.)  We did that and cleaned up a few more things in my basement.

My next blessing came with a phone call at 6 the next morning.  Personally, I think few blessing could come that early (I’m not a morning person).  I found out that there was no school due to the flooding.  I was teaching part time and normally taught on Friday mornings.  I was relieved to know that I could use those three hours for my full time job.  I went to work and had a very quiet day getting things done.

More blessings came on Saturday when someone from church came to re-light the pilot on my hot water heater.  Not only did he re-light the pilot (giving me hot water), but he started ripping out wet carpet and moldy drywall.  I couldn’t find my good utility knife, so he used a cheap one that broke part way through the job.  He still worked on.  Then Sunday afternoon more people came over to help haul things out of the basement.

Many helped through the process.  Some of the men of the church almost hovered like mama hens asking about the furnace that I was going to need to purchase (not a result of the flooding).  The contractor that I chose was a recommendation from a man at church.  One man came to finish ripping out drywall and even took apart a piano and hauled the pieces out (he did get help for the 150 lb piano harp).  Two men came to install the new drywall – the pieces were cut neatly and the job was done quickly.  One of them even brought his two boys to help distract me so I wouldn’t feel like I had to help with the project (I wouldn’t have known what to do).  When it came time to pay for the furnace (and a/c), God provided more than 65% of the cost through rebates.  (I must pause to thank all of my taxpaying friends.  You helped pay for my furnace with your federal and state tax dollars.)  I was also given a nice sized money gift.  My out of pocket cost was a little over $500.  What a blessing when I had to buy a new sump pump, drywall, electrical outlets and other things.  I even had to replace the battery in my van a week after the flooding.

Additional blessings:

  • A job that allowed me flexibility to go meet contractors (not my favorite thing to do, but necessary).
  • The gift of an electric blanket which helped to keep me warm during cold nights when I didn’t have a working furnace.
  • Food gift cards so I wouldn’t have to cook.
  • One blessing came through a trial.  A building inspector came early on and seemingly chewed me out for the things he thought were wrong with the situation.  I did find out from him that I could get a “clean up kit” from the Red Cross (which I did).  In addition, his insistence on having a professional look at my furnace was the reason I found out that my old furnace was unsafe.
  • Months after the flooding I found a newer washer and dryer set (and even a refrigerator) at a garage sale.  There were two teens that hauled the appliances to my home – they even thanked me for the opportunity to do that!

(A side note:  I wish that I could have done a better job of thanking all those who helped.  I have asked God to bless you.  He will do a better job with that than I ever could.)

The trial of the flooding was great (waiting until the day before Thanksgiving for heat was hard to do).  I often had tears in my eyes not knowing what trial would come next, but the blessings were overwhelming.  I haven’t mastered being content with my circumstances, but as I look back I can see contentment with flooding.