Are you an Achiever-Believer?

I went to great lengths to find this picture of my old table!


I felt the grooves of the soft wood on the palms of my hand, as I decided whether or not to purchase the table. “It’s hard to find handmade tables like this anymore,” The owner said. “After the industrial revolution, many craftsman went out of business. Each table used to be unique with it’s own carved details and imperfections, like this one. But society became more concerned about quantity and uniformity. Since machines were more efficient, here we are.” The owner explained the craftsman of the table was a famous artist from Italy. I wasn’t sure he was telling the truth (it was a craigslist purchase after all), but the story touched my heart and the table was beautiful.

For years, I held on to this impractical table. It was a sticky, soft wood – impossible to clean for a mom with three kids. It was like putting your dinner plate on a layer of maple syrup every night. And it was heavy (you need a team to move it heavy).  But I loved that table. I loved the grooves and waves of the wood that peeked through the dark stain, and the industrial bolts underneath. Mostly, I loved the story behind it and the idea of supporting a craftsman who loved his work.

I have a book on personality types and I am the “The Achiever.” I see a little achiever in my son too, always looking for the next task, the next responsibility, the next goal to reach. In school, the achiever in me piled up straight A’s, extracurricular activities, awards and benchmarks to success. I viewed love as something to be earned.

In college, I became a Christian and everything changed. I encountered God, I encountered His love. I learned His love is unconditional – not based on my performance, my efforts or achievements. I encountered a God who wanted to be with me, not for what I could do for Him.

A simple truth still refreshes my soul: God is after my heart not my output.

I didn’t have my eye on the handmade table because of it’s industrious capacity, I had my eye on it because it’s a piece of art. Intention and passion shine through the design of the table. It’s unique, made by a creator who cares about the details.

Ephesians 2:10 says,For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

For my fellow achiever-believers, we need these truths breathed into our lives. If not, we become consumed doing work for God while missing out on spending time with God. We are loved for our form, not our function. Our Father, the great craftsman, delights in being with us. He doesn’t form us into His image in assembly line fashion. He takes pleasure in the process and invites us to enjoy the process too. Yes, we are created to do good work, but first we must remember we are His work.

My son has been making school lunches lately. He made lunches for two weeks straight even though I never asked him to. Monday he woke up late, I made lunches and didn’t think anything of it. On the way home from school he said, “I’m so sorry I didn’t make lunches this morning, Mom. I was really tired.”

I looked at my achiever son and brushed his hair out of his face. I told him not to apologize, that I never expected him to pack lunches for me.

Then I spoke words to him every achiever needs to hear:

“I love you for who you are, not what you do.”

When People Walk Away

“When you follow the plan of God for your life, you will lose people along the way.”

My wise mentor, Julie Gorman, said those words to me. They are words I don’t like hearing but I know are true. Julie is an incredible author who writes marriage books with her husband, she is more sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit than almost anyone I know. When she ran full force toward the call of God on her life to help marriages, she lost friends. Some dropped her on social media, some criticized her business plan, some left for other reasons. Julie explained to me this process helped identify who the message was for. Our church, business, writing, creative outlet, mission work, etc. –  isn’t going to be for everyone. We can’t be everyone’s flavor, and that’s okay. Here’s the crossroad:

Will we let discouragement win or the will of God?

When Jesus sent the apostles to preach to the lost, he said (Matthew 10:14) “And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from you feet when you leave that house or town.”

What he didn’t say was, “Focus on those who won’t listen and become so discouraged about it that you no longer have the strength to take the message to anyone else. Stay focused on those who don’t receive and neglect those who will receive.” Nope. He didn’t say it because it doesn’t work. Some people don’t want to hear it at all, and some want to hear it from a different source, and that’s okay. Our job is to keep going.

Will you faithfully show up to do what God called you to do and say what God called you to say, even when people walk away? Will you have the courage to keep focused on God and people in need? There is fertile soil somewhere, our job is to go find it.

Embracing Your Set-Back as a Set-Up

I just recently spoke at my home church (see video above…and high five to whoever made that snazzy cover for the video!) The topic was embracing your set-back as a set-up.

The reason why this topic has been on the forefront of my mind lately, is because we recently had our own set-back to embrace. Our landlord told us that he was getting a divorce and he needed his house back. We had a fantastic deal, and we loved our house. Moving was not something we planned to do this summer, but it had to happen.

We quickly found out that the market is HOT right now here in San Diego. People seemed lined up to rent or buy, things would rent within hours or come off the market just as quick. Even though we are in a position to buy, there was a quote that stood out to us by Warren Buffet, “Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful.” The housing frenzy here caused us to hold back and we agreed to rent a while longer.

Rental prices are no joke either. In addition to embracing higher rent prices, let’s face it, moving is just a pain. I’m pretty sure I pulled all my shoulder and calf muscles, multiple times (I do need to know when to quit).

We also had the extra layer of this move setting our adoption process back. Moving means we have to do the home inspection all over again, as well as some of our paperwork and disaster plans.

Then there is my sense of security and my disdain towards the unknown. I was more of a mess during the house hunting process than I’d care to admit.

We found a place, it’s about a mile west of where we were before. At first, I liked the house. It was fine. It was hard to see past the gaudy gold chandelier, but it was fine.

We are a couple weeks into the move, and I don’t feel the same. I absolutely, LOVE our new place now. We changes the light fixture, we added our own touches, there are perks that weren’t even on my radar (hello huge master bedroom closet!) I’m so glad I got pushed out of my comfort zone into a better place. Our set-back really was a set-up.

We all face set-backs like this occasionally and it can be hard to see them through the lens of faith. But what if the set-back you are experiencing is really a set-up? What if there is a bigger purpose, a bigger plan and a blessing on the other side?

If you are experiencing a set-back, watch the sermon, it will encourage you!