Do you really deserve it?

Have you ever given a gift to someone and instead of them saying “thank you” or showing appreciation for the gift, they take it as if it was something they always deserved and you were just finally getting around to giving it to them? If you have, you understand how frustrating this is, if you haven’t, I assure you, live long enough and you will.

Blame participation trophies, government handouts, or whatever you wish, but our culture and generation has started to believe everything is entitled to them. They don’t need to work or earn anything. It’s the “I got a degree, so now I deserve a bosses paycheck” mentality and it’s ripping apart the work ethic and the gratitude of our society.

Unfortunately, the issue of entitlement and lack of gratitude isn’t a new issue. It may have been classified as something different back in Biblical times, but in Luke 17:11-19, Jesus faces the same issue:

11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy[a] met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” 14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. 15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

In this story, Jesus saw the men with leprosy and had pity on them — they weren’t entitled to healing, they didn’t work for healing, they simply were blessed with Jesus’ pity and love. Yet, only one of the ten returned to say thank you for the gift of healing he had been given. Jesus saved these ten men from being outcasts in their society, they were able to rejoin their families and friends. They could be a part of the working class again and no longer have to beg for a livelihood. Not only did Jesus give them healing, he restored their status and their families, yet they still did not say thank you.

What I find interesting is the one that did come back and say thank you was a foreigner. Back in the times of Jesus, the Samaritans were despised by the Jews, so as Jesus healed the men, I wonder how many were Jews and how many were Samaritans. Did this man come back and say thank you because he knew Jesus was a Jew and therefore it was even more of a statement and miracle that Jesus chose to have grace on him? No one would have questioned Jesus’ choice to heal the Jews, but a Samaritan was a whole other story. Maybe the others felt they were entitled to Jesus’ healing powers, after all, if they’re of same cultural backgrounds they were supposed to have an upper hand in society. But does that make it right to ignore the gift given and go on without gratitude?

Do we as American’s tend to feel entitled to all that is given to us? As Christians do we just figure since we prayed the prayer once we are entitled to the grace given and forget to say thank you to Christ for his sacrifice and his daily grace? Or do we truly appreciate every gift that is given to us? Do we have an attitude of gratitude, never letting an act of service or a gift be given without a thank you?

Honestly, it’s easy to get into a rhythm of entitlement. Our society surrounds us with images and messages that we deserve everything and it’s our right to have what we want. But God’s society teaches us to live life knowing we deserve nothing, yet are given everything because of God’s grace, mercy, and love for us.

Jonah 4 is another perfect example of our entitled mindset. In this chapter of the book, Jonah is sitting in the hot desert sun, God provides a source of shade for him to sit under, but then some bugs come along and eat the leaves causing the plant to no longer provide shade. Jonah becomes furious with God because he no longer has shade and once again is out in the blistering sun. Yet what did Jonah do to deserve the shade? Instead of seeing the shade as a gift from God that was graciously given and can be taken away at any time, Jonah felt he was entitled to the shade and it was God’s duty to provide it to him.

If you don’t believe you’re living an entitled life, think through these few examples:

Your janitor takes out your trash every day, they miss a day because they were busy doing something else…do you help them out and take out your own trash or do you get frustrated because they didn’t find the time to take it out? When was the last time you thanked the janitor for keeping the office clean?

You’re on a team and your team goes out for dinner or for an activity, do you gratefully appreciate wherever they chose to go, or do you complain because it’s not the exact place you wanted to go? Do you complain about the driving of the coaches or do you appreciate the money spent on getting a car so the team gets to go out on fun adventures and isn’t stuck in the hotel all weekend?

When you continue to pray a prayer, but God choses to respond in a different way than you asked, are you appreciative for the response and thankful for a God who cares enough to listen, or do you get upset and abandon your faith because you felt entitled to the result you didn’t get?

Whatever it is you feel you are entitled to, realize everything in this life is a gift. We aren’t entitled to God’s grace, His grace is a gift given to us. If He choses to extend judgement instead of grace, we shouldn’t be upset because we don’t deserve anything but judgement.

So please stop living an entitled life. Live a life full of gratitude. If someone does something for you, say thank you. Say thank you a hundred times a day, to the cashier, the waitress, the janitor, to whomever it is you tend to take for granted. Don’t be like Jonah or the nine ungrateful lepers. Be thankful for the shade and the healing God has given you, and if it’s taken away, say thank you for the time it was given. Be grateful and see everything as a gift. I promise you, your life will become a million times brighter when you do.

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The Journey Through Change

Change isn’t always easy. Yes some people thrive off change, the new excitements, the new memories, and the chance to restart wherever you go. Others hate change, it causes anxiety, stress, and the thought of having to restart somewhere new seems like the end of the world. For me, I’m somewhere in the middle. I love to meet new people, make new friends, and have a clean slate to start from, but the thought of leaving the people I’ve met and come to love in the places I’ve lived cause extreme heartbreak.

This past year and a half I’ve lived in Richmond, VA — I’m not gonna lie, it’s been an extremely challenging year and a half. I’ve had two failed relationships, left an internship for a job that was different than I originally thought, went through a cycle of friendships before I was able to settle in, and even transitioned churches because I just didn’t feel at home. But among all those challenges I’ve met some of the most incredible people, friends who poured into me, challenged me, and helped me grow through the process. I’ve gotten to know a group of volleyball girls who I’ve grown to love spending time with and investing in, making this move more difficult than I originally thought.

As I get ready to move I think through the past moves I’ve made in my life and what’s helped me transition well. Through every up and down, every place I’ve lived, I realize it’s always about the people. The people is what makes moving hard but it’s also what makes moving exciting. A year and a half ago, I didn’t know any of the people I’ve grown to love here in RVA even existed. A year and a half ago, Richmond was just a place on the map we learned about in history class. Now it’s a place that will always have a piece of my heart, not because the city was so amazing, but because of the people who took time to invest in a midwestern girl who was starting off on her own.

USPAV 2017 Girls

God calls us to love people — yes the city is important, the structures are cool, and the sports are fun, but the people are what makes a place purposeful. Everything we are called to do in a city revolves around loving the people of that city. As I’ve learned that, I’ve started to understand that if God calls me to move, I need not be upset or frustrated. He’s calling me to love the city/country/state he’s put me in until he calls me to move and love someplace else. This home is temporary, our real home is in Heaven and when the earth becomes a mere place to make relationships geared towards Christ and not a possession to hold onto, it can completely shift our perspective on change from one of fear and uncertainty to one of joy and excitement.

Whenever I start to get really upset about the changes happening around me, or am chillin in my room crying because of the people I’m leaving, I’m reminded of the journey and life of Paul. Paul lived his life on the road. We get to experience and learn so much through his letters, but do you ever sit and think about the fact that the reason he had to write letters was because he wasn’t with the people in person? Paul constantly reminds the churches of his love for them, read any of his letters (the 13 Epistles) and you’ll see his unique investment to each group of people making up the church in that city. Paul missed the friends he made along the way, but it never stopped him from pursuing the life God had called him too. He didn’t resist change or resent God for making him leave again, but instead he used each and every opportunity to make an impact on the place he was in. He kept in touch with the people he left and invested in the people he was with. It allowed him to make an impact that God has continued to use through today. If Paul had told God “No, I’m not moving again, I like these friends here too much” then we might never have had the “Roman Road” or the book of Ephesians (one of my personal favorites). Instead, Paul wrote in Philippians 2:17, “But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice of service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all.” Through physical suffering and emotional pain, through shipwrecks, sickness, loss of friends, and years of traveling, Paul found unrelenting strength through his faith.

As I move and am heartbroken to leave the people of RVA, I’m challenged and excited to invest in the people of Ada, MI. I will have the opportunity to be back with my immediate and extended family and given the time to invest in those relationships. I have college friends I’ll get to reconnect with, and high school friends I’ll be closer too. There’s a church I’ve been following from afar who I’m excited to finally call home. Yes I’m leaving a wonderful group of people, friends who’ve become family, and volleyball girls that will forever be like my little sisters, but God’s shown me both through life and through scripture that He is with us wherever we go. At times it might not be clear as to why our path is leading where it is, as I’m sure Paul was a little confused at times while sitting in jail or experiencing another shipwreck, but God never fails. He will come through no matter what the change is we’re facing.

So as I leave this place I rejoice in the memories, learn from the pain, and thank God for the opportunity to meet the people I have. And for as long as I live I will stand by the words of Isaiah 6:8:

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Finding Amazement

Amazement : An overwhelming feeling of surprise or astonishment


This past weekend I flew to Indianapolis for one of my dearest friends weddings. While on my flight back, I ended up sitting next to a young boy who was traveling alone. I don’t know if this was his first flight but during takeoff, I couldn’t help but notice how he stared out the window in amazement while so many other passengers were already engrossed in their work or movies.

It got me thinking — the first time people fly they go through a wide range of emotions. Most are completely amazed by the airplanes ability to hold all the people, luggage, and machinery it takes to operate, yet still fly so easily. Some have hesitations, but chose to trust the ability of the plane, the past planes they’ve seen, and the testimonies of people enough to get on the plane. Some are excited to see the world in a whole new light, and any fear they may have had begins to slip away.

Yet, overtime all of these emotions seem to level out. People who travel a lot lose the amazement of flight. They no longer stare out the window mesmerized by the takeoff and landing. They don’t admire the mountains, oceans, cities, fields, and millions of people they fly over. They simply pull out their book, put in their headphones, or start their work the minute they sit in their super small seat. Some even close the window, completely shutting out the view. They’re still trusting the plane to get them from place A to B but are no longer excited for the journey, instead they’re simply there, using the plane for a means to get to their end.

As I thought through this, I couldn’t help but notice how it not only happens to our flights, but more importantly, it happens to our faith. When starting off, new Christ followers are on fire for God. So excited about the journey ahead, maybe slightly fearful but irregardless they trust the ability of our Creator to get them to where they’re going. They stand amazed as they see the world in a whole new light, admiring what God has created and the difference His presence makes in their life. But as time goes on and they become more comfortable in their faith, life happens, and the church experience is no longer new, they become unamazed. Simply going through the motions each day — still trusting God, but no longer enjoying His journey fully — just simply getting through the ride.

I’ll be honest, it’s easy for me to be amazed by God when I’m in a new place. Sitting on a mountain side in California a couple weeks ago, there was no prompting needed, I could easily dwell on the amazing ability of our Creator and the magnificent world He has made. But in the mundane of daily activities? I mean how do you find time to be amazed by God when you’re drowning in work or running from one activity to the next? When at the end of the day the only thing that amazes you is how great your bed feels when you know you can fully give yourself into sleep?

Truthfully, I’ve found it’s not hard, it just takes effort and the ability to be still. You see, on the mountaintop in Cali I’m by myself, no cell service, no interruptions, no distractions, just simply me and the amazing creation around. At home, I have work, practice, friends, Netflix, and a host of other distractions. In both places, I have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside me. In both places, I have the ability to talk to God, but in one place I have the desire and amazement, in the other I have distractions and deterrents.

I’m guessing for you, it’s the same way — in the quiet of your life, you’re able to focus on God and His amazing nature, but as soon as your day begins He becomes a mere item crossed off your list instead of the mindset guiding your thoughts. With the Holy Spirit dwelling inside us, we have an irreplaceable gift — literally God lives IN us… that alone should make us live constantly amazed.

Hebrews 12:1 states, “Since we are surrounded by such a great crowd of witnesses let us throw off everything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles us and let us run with perseverance the race that is marked out for us.”

When was the last time you “threw off everything that hindered you?” Don’t misunderstand this, this isn’t asking when was the last time you got rid of a bad sinful habit or repented of your sins but with the distinction made, the writer is separating what hinders you from what entangles you. Both keep you from spending time with God and reaching His full potential for your life, but our hinderances don’t have to be sinful. Maybe one of yours is binge watching a season or show on Netflix — although not sinful, is it helping you “run with perseverance the race that is marked out for you?” Or maybe your job is so overwhelming that it constantly consumes your mind — again not sinful, but it’s keeping you from spending time with God. So what are your hinderances in life?

Now let’s be real — for some people (like myself) your schedule always seems to fill up, whether it be with every church activity or a wide range of interests, you’re never sitting still. I’m not suggesting you change your entire lifestyle, but rather re-learn to be amazed. Throw off a few hinderances so you have time to think as you go from one place to another — turn off the music and enjoy the drive home. Notice the cute houses or the busy street — marvel at the fact that every single person you pass, God knows indefinitely. Admire the fact that each person, tree, dog, or whatever you pass was created uniquely by God’s design — no two things look exactly alike. Or turn on the radio and appreciate God’s gift of music and the people He’s chosen to give the gift too.

Choosing to be amazed isn’t difficult but so often we bog ourselves down with so much stuff, we don’t give our minds time to dwell in amazement. We put God as an item on our to-do list: morning quiet time  prayer before dinner  said goodnight grace √  and then fill our day with every other activity we can think of.

Instead why don’t we try threading God throughout our day. Teaching our minds to notice the amazing world He has blessed us with. Spending time reading His scripture to learn, instead of to check it off our list before rushing off to answer emails. Seeing each interaction we have as not just another interaction at work, but realizing the person in front of you or on the phone with you is a unique individual created by God, loved by God, and known by God.

I challenge you to change your mindset, be like the boy on the plane, sitting in amazement even if nothing is new. Run the race God has for you, not the busy race the world is telling you to run. Enjoy the small moments. Thank God for the unexpected blessings. Notice the sunny day, love the uniqueness of those around you and pray for a heart of amazement.

Throw off the hinderances, dwell in the Spirit, and I promise you’ll be amazed by our Creator.