Tuesday, December 11, 2012

On Finding My Christmas Spirit...O Christmas Tree

I wrote this post several years ago but have only ever shared it privately with family and friends. However, I read it every year as I settle back into the annual struggle of holiday busy-ness, Christmas delivery deadlines, and the temptation of (and subsequent fall into) the materialism we 1st world peeps have come to know so well. I read it as a reminder that I can lift myself out of the commercialism that tends to suck the true meaning of Christmas right out of me, and I think the message is important enough to now share with you. May you find peace and rest amidst the societal to-do lists that plague us all during this...joyful?...season and most...wonderful?...time of the year.


Over the past several years, I've gotten real big on the "why's" behind things. I guess it's a desire to be sure I'm not falling into carrying on some man-invented tradition that "conveniently" coincides with bringing God some (relatively small amount of) glory.

I was really (and I mean, REALLY) unmotivated this year to put up the tree (or any Christmas decorations for that matter). I've had a very hard time, overall, getting into the Christmas spirit, which is completely and totally out of character for me. Perhaps it's because I've felt so incredibly awful the past six months (tired, achy, icky, blech.) Or perhaps the older I get, the quicker Christmas seems to sneak up on me, and it just doesn't seem "time." I mean, really, weren't we just hitting the pool in 90 degree heat for swim meets? When the heck did it get to be December?!?

So last night, about a week and a half later than usual, we finally got our tree. After an impromptu trip (unfortunately, a necessary one, we realized, when we got the lights out of the attic) to Target to get two of their last three boxes of tree lights, we managed to get the tree lit. No energy for ornaments by that time, but at least the lights were on.

Today was no exception in the fight to attain some resemblance of Christmas spirit, but after much prodding and tugging (quite literally) from the kids, I finally got up enough energy and desire to put ornaments on the tree. I'd like to say it was because the spirit to decorate finally hit me, but in reality, it was a Type-A desire to fix all the "clumps" of ornaments the kids had already managed to create. Because, let's face it, if I don't the tree just might fall over from its unbalanced-ness. That was my excuse...I mean reasoning...I mean story, anyway. 

As I dug into the ornament chaos my kids had called "decorating", I couldn't help but huff and puff in my frustrated and grumpy state of mind.  And as I found a Christmas station on Pandora and was singing (loudly) along with it, trying to force myself into feeling all Christmas-ey, I was consumed with three thoughts:

1.) Who decided we should bring a TREE into our homes to decorate this time of year. I mean, really, there's a TREE in my living room.

2.) Why do we put lights on it in the first place? I know, it was originally candles (to mimic the flickering stars in the sky, I now know), but that would be absolutely foolish in this day and age (and probably was back then, too.) But who thought getting your hands all scratched up forcing strands of lights onto tree branches was a good idea? And why so many choices? White, colored, large, mini, all blue, blue and white, blinking, bubbling-the options are ridiculously endless. 

3.) And finally, ornaments. How did we go from nuts and figs and paper flowers to Santa Claus heads and nativity scenes and "New Home 1997"?? Why do some people go the all-ball route and others of us are set on hanging every single ornament we've ever made since we were three?

I couldn't help but marvel at how this tradition has exploded into a ridiculous amount of time and work for just a few weeks of enjoyment. As I started unfolding the tissues and opening ornament boxes, though, the Christmas spirit began to envelop me, little by little, with every ornament I unveiled. As I started to put each ornament on the tree, those three thoughts bouncing around in my head, I came to two very monumental realizations.

First, (and it seems quite obvious now) there's no real right or wrong color choice for lights or ornamental theme. Every tree is an individual reflection of those who are decorating it. For some, it's a beautifully symmetrical tree where all lights and ornaments are of the same color, shape, size-like one you might find in the Biltmore or the Capitol Building or a Macy's picture window in New York City. 

For others (and this includes us), your tree tells a story. For me, there are ornaments from just about every monumental occasion in my life, my husband's life, and my childrens' lives. There are ornaments that my kids made in kindergarten and preschool and there are ornaments that I made in kindergarten and preschool (some of which I remember making.) There are ornaments from marriage, births, moves, achievements, hometowns, vacations, hobbies (lots of musical notes and song quotes on ours), jobs (lots of airplanes and gifts from old bosses), ornaments that were my mom's and used to grace the trees of my childhood and ornaments that used to hang on my husband's grandmother's tree. Every year, our tree is a living chronicle of over 100 collective years of memories. From the moment we unwrap an ornament and place it on the tree to the moment we take it down and carefully wrap it back up again, we are continuously reliving some of the sweetest moments in our lives. 

Perhaps one of my favorite ornaments is a small, ragged stocking. On the white cuff, torn bits of paper from what used to be a question mark that had been glued on. Sticking out of the stocking is a paper note from my mama, explaining how she made the stocking when she was young and pregnant with me. 

Which leads me to my second realization. Probably more important than what you put on your tree is the actual act of decorating it in the first place. What good are all those ornaments if you don't experience the sweetness of the fond memories that accompany them? And what good is it if you don't relive those sweet moments in life with the ones you love? With each ornament we revealed tonight, someone would say "Oh, I remember making this one with Shelby," or "I remember when Nathan made this in Mrs. Monza's kindergarten class," or "This one was made just for me by my Aunt Annie in 1982." 

With each ornament, I realized that I almost missed the opportunity to pass onto my kids the most important history lesson they will ever learn. Their own. And that of their parents. And their grandparents. And their great-grandparents. There is a legacy on that tree that is like no other.

So while the origin of the Christmas tree may have started out secular, I believe it has become one of the most important and imperative traditions in keeping with the spirit of Christmas. Because of Jesus' birth, we have the opportunity and freedom to worship him in so many ways this time of year. Because of those who came before us; who shared with us their stories; who risked their lives to tell the world about Christ; and those who came before them or would come after them, we have the opportunity and freedom to relive that history each and every year. 

One of the many ways we can bring glory to God is by spending time with the ones God has put into your life, continuing with the tradition of passing your history and the history of Jesus from generation to generation, and allowing his spirit to enter into your heart even when you don't seem to have the energy to receive it. 

How great it is that we have the opportunity and freedom to be able to keep our history and that of our savior alive. We are, in a sense, creating our own legacy with each and every light we burn, song we sing, ornament we hang, and moment we share.

May you experience the spirit of Christmas that God has intended all along.

Monday, July 30, 2012

On Accepting Help.

I had surgery recently and my recovery has taken way longer than I expected. This has been a big (like, Mt. Rushmore big) problem for this Type A, always-on-the-go, homeschooling troop-coordinator business-owner mother of two. The doctor said total bedrest for a week, then up and about, slowly, as I can tolerate (which, in hindsight, I interpreted as "back to life as I knew it" when I should have interpreted it as "1 hour up and about, 23 hours in bed, for the following few weeks.")

Aahhh bedrest. At first I welcomed the idea. A whole week of lying in bed, watching TV, someone bringing me three square meals a day, the puppy snuggled at my side. Like vacation without having to pack! One doctor-odered, fully-justified week of being waited on without guilt. A busy mom's dream, right? 


The first week is a total blur. Pain, drugs, no appetite, more pain, nausea from the meds cuz I couldn't eat because of pain, no appetite, more drugs. Total. Fog.

I'm no stranger to surgery (and it's subsequent recovery.) I have a heart condition that required a pacemaker at the age of 21 and have had three surgeries for that alone thus far, plus I've had my gallbladder and appendix removed (on separate occasions.) Granted, this surgery was a little more intense (abdominal, not elective, emotionally troublesome) but I'm an old hat at surgery and recovery. I thought, "I got this. Bring on the vacay in my bed!"

Wrong again.

I'm currently 18 days post-surgery, still in pain most hours, and committed to the couch the majority of my day. What the heck?!? Is it because I'm older now and recovery is slower? Probably. Did I set my expectations too high for how soon I'd be back to normal? Most likely. Was I passively dismissive when the doctor said six weeks recovery time? (Six weeks? Pssshhh. I'll be back at it in three.) Ok, fine. Yes.

Being on bedrest gives you ample time to think about all the things that need to be done that aren't getting done because you're the only one who does them (notice I didn't say "because you're the only one who CAN do them." More on that later.) The laundry is piling up, the sheets on my bed need changing, and there's pink slime growing in my shower. I've spent countless hours the past two weeks watching these things take shape and mourning the fact that I can't fix them right now. I'm definitely a fixer.

It's not that my house is ever perfect. In fact, it's quite the opposite. I'm surprised my husband has stuck around as long as he has with my messy-ness. He must really love me. 

The truth is (humble hat on), I'm no stranger to the laundry piling up or pink slime in my shower. That is, in fact, quite the norm around here. I'm busy. If given the chance, I will most definitely choose to bake or Tweet or play a game with my kids over a date with a shower brush and some Scrubbing Bubbbles. 

The issue isn't the fact that these things need to be done. They ALWAYS need to be done! The problem I am having is that, right now, there is nothing I can do about them. I physically cannot scrub my shower or change the sheets on my bed. And. It's. Killing. Me.

But, it's also showing me how much I don't usually let others in to help when I need it. If given the chance, I'm first in line to bring a meal or shop for someone else. But when it's my turn to let others bless me, I resist. Why? Is it because admitting I need help means work on someone else's part and so I feel guilty? Probably. Is it because I don't think they will do the laundry the way I want it done? (Whites on hot, colors on cold, bleach with the towels.) Absolutely. Is it because I'm too prideful to let them see that my house is in utter disarray and I worry what they will think of me? Most definitely. 

It's not that I'm the only one who does things around here. It's that I'm the only one I allow to do things around here. Others CAN. Every single one of my friends run perfectly fabulous homes and have perfectly taken care of families of their own (and probably all have pink slime in their shower, too....ok, maybe not ALL of them.) 

What these past 18 days have shown me (well, the coherent ones anyway) is that it not only takes a village to raise your children. It takes a village to help YOU be the daughter of a King. One who loves but also allows herself to be loved. One who gives freely but also receives graciously. And One who serves but allows others to wash her whites on cold.

Go let someone help you. It's actually quite freeing.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

On being a phony.

I admit it. I'm a total phony. But don't judge me too quickly. Cuz you're a phony, too.

We're all hypocrites on some level. Come on, you know it's true. We've all found ourselves yelling, "Stop yelling at me/your brother/your sister!" We argue with our spouse or are children (or both) on the way to church only to turn our frown instantly upside down the moment we step inside. We smile and tell others we're "great" when they ask how we're doing when what we really want to do is vomit our true feelings all over them. Yep. We're all on the phony list.

On any given day, you might walk past my house and hear me hollering at my kids to put their dishes in the dishwasher; or, you might hear me and my husband engaged in a very "spirited" conversation about the bills. If you were a fly on my wall for a day (or an hour), you might just think I had an alter personality who has shoved the woman you know and love aside and taken complete control of my body and mind. Trust me, you really might.

For me, the magnifying glass exposing my phony-ness feels even more amplified because I lead others in worship. From the stage on Sunday mornings, I often struggle between helping others step into communion with our LORD and savior and, well, stepping into communion with him myself. Most Sundays, I'm so preoccupied with my own sins and failures that I forget to connect with those listening. Selfishly, my purpose on that stage is to make my way through the internal war that rages on inside me, not you. Alas, someone will inevitably find me after a Sunday of singing and comment about how much they love it when I sing or how much they enjoyed the music that day. What they don't know is most times I'm choking back tears because I feel like I'm so not worthy of being on that stage leading others. I can hardly lead myself.

But, there's a beautiful side to being a phony. Without our phony-ness, we can't recognize the truth and we can't help others through their own phony-ness. Without our hypocrisy, we can't experience the beauty of repentance or restoration. If we were perfect to begin with, what would be the drive to become more like Jesus? Love like Jesus? Witness for Jesus? 

Hypocrisy should serve as a sort of self actualization, reminding us we are all equal at the foot of the cross. Change in our phony-ness comes when we realize our fallibility, and the fallibility of others, are one in the same. 

While I probably won't ever stop seeing my phony self in the mirror every morning (and again every evening) I will fight that alter personality until the day I die so "she" will never be able to take my heart. My heart that belongs to Jesus, despite my sins and struggles and total failures on a day-to-day basis, does not belong to the world. This heart of mine that God says is His gets torn in pieces regularly, so much so I want to run away and hide or put up a wall that can't be broken down. But despite feeling one way yet portraying myself another, my desire is to never stop fighting no matter how defeated I feel. And that's what matters to Him.

Go embrace your phony life.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

On Egalitarianism, Submission, and Boundaries in a One-Christian Marriage.

There's a topic running rampant on the blogosphere (and Twitter) right now, thanks to one of my favorite bloggers, Rachel Held Evans and her hashtag #mutuality2012. I've spent the past several days mulling over some of the posts, my favorites so far being Pam Hogeweide's "My Failed Christian Marriage," found here, and one by Addie Zierman, found here (which I will quote from a few times because I love it so much.)

The notion of egalitarianism in Christianity (that men and women are equal before God and in Christ and in relationship with one another) is a controversial one that varies in its perceptions and interpretations across an expanse of generations and denominations and theological backgrounds. One's view on submission generally follows based on their view of the former and its place (or lack thereof) in the church (and, subsequently, their marriages.) 

When I first became a Christian in 1998, I relied heavily on the ideals and theology presented to me by those whom I had quickly come to respect in the church I was now part of. Having grown up in a denominational church with little talk of God outside of Sundays and holidays, I was completely unaware of what it meant to have a genuine relationship with my creator. All I knew was this set of rules I was supposed to follow and when to sit or stand or kneel during mass. Tagging on the heels of someone else's faith came quite natural to me when I was a kid, and it's what came naturally to me back in 1998. To some extent, I still find myself hitching a ride from time to time.

Along with this new-found "relationship" came the desire to fit in with my new Jesus-loving friends, and I was desperate for their approval. At first, it felt a little like high school all over again, albeit without the caddy games and name-calling of my past. These people genuinely loved me and cared for me and wanted what was best for me; and I, in turn, trusted them. I longed to please them with finding success in my faith, although admittedly at the time I had no idea what success looked like or how it was measured for someone of my new-girl-in-the-pew stature. So when they proposed to me the idea of submission in my marriage, I took their words to heart and did everything I could to find success in the role of suitable helper.

My husband was not a Christian, and I have no doubt that without my church and the women in my life at that time, my marriage would have failed. I don't say that to place blame on anyone or to make anyone think I was a victim. Quite the contrary, I was a total mess; A young mother who married even younger and felt as though she missed out on life despite vowing she would never have changed a thing. I am confidant if it weren't for these women (and the amazing grace of God), I would have failed my marriage miserably a long time ago.

So I listened to the "wisdom" of these women I had come to idolize and had entrusted my faith to. I relied heavily on their direction and interpretation of scripture. 

I wouldn't say I wasn't "allowed" to think for myself. I was encouraged to read and study and pray. But being a new Christian with no firm biblical foundation meant I asked questions and sought advice...lots of it...and trusted their answers wholeheartedly and without question. When it came to being a wife with a non-Christian husband, they quoted scriptures like Ephesians 5:21-23 and Colossians 3:18, and encouraged me to put 1 Peter 3:1 into practice so that I could win my husband over "without words."

I tried. Often. Over and over.

I failed. Miserably. Over and over.

My husband was, and still is, a very devoted husband and an incredible father to our children. Despite his baptism in 2004, (which was NOT to the credit of me being a 1 Peter wife) we have struggled to find a balance in our marriage with God at the forefront. We have both spent the past decade muddling through what it means to be a Christian and love God. And for the better part of that decade, I was definitely not egalitarian. 

My view of submission during that time was that it was a one-way street. As long as my husband wasn't asking something ungodly of me, I was to submit. If he wanted something done, I did it. If he didn't like it, I didn't wear it. If he didn't want me to do it, I didn't even think about it. And, to be clear, this wasn't because it was the way HE wanted it to be. I doubt he never even knew about this standard I was holding myself to. Nope. I made this bed all by my little self. 

With this way of life came a complete lack of boundaries. I held, on my shoulders and on my heart, the weight of my husband's faith (or lack thereof.) I felt responsible for his salvation. (I must watch my behavior so I can win him over.) I felt guilty when he didn't want to go to church. (I must not have been submissive enough.) I lamented over his not wanting to be part of our small family group. (I must not have been loving enough.) After a while, I felt totally hopeless...and, slowly, I found myself tangled in a sticky web of mismanaged submission. 

Fast forward ten years. Where had my independence gone? My individuality? My faith? Had I ever even had a faith I could really call my own? Was this the way God intended my marriage to be? A complete loss of the identity of this daughter he created with gifts and talents and desires for the sake of a biblical directive obviously (now) taken out of context? For the better part of ten years I lived to echo this man I called my husband, rather than what I later discovered was my true calling....to "echo the wild love of God." (Addie Zierman) 

It took uprooting myself and my family and leaving my decade of relationships behind when we made the decision to change churches for me to realize my view of submission was all wrong. It's not, as I had thought for so many years, a one-way street. God wants us to "submit to one another out of reverence for Christ" (Ephesians 5:21) not out of duty or some misguided theology. It's about loving one another so deeply that your greatest desire is to put them before you, "not by default because you don't know who you are, but on purpose, precisely because you do." (Addie Zierman) 

Recently I watched an episode of Cold Case where detective Lilly Rush (I heart her) was investigating the death of a woman killed in 1919 because of her activism for women's rights. I remember a scene during the backstory where the mother and daughter are arguing over women's roles in marriage and politics. The mother said, "A woman's first obligation is to maintain domestic harmony." (To which the daughter later called her mother out for being content to live in a cage where men decided how she should live. Score one for daughter Francis!)

But what the mother said really got me thinking about the phrase "domestic harmony." Aren't we called to pursue peace and harmony with all people in all places and in all circumstances (not just our domiciles?) Shouldn't the reason be far greater than because its what the bible tells us to do? And is a woman who is constantly sacrificing herself and the individuality given to her by God - her gifts and talents and abilities to think and contribute and persuade for the kingdom - really capable of keeping such "domestic harmony?" Speaking from experience, the answer is a resounding NO. 

I believe God created each of us equally with our own set of unique gifts and talents, and he desperately wants us...or, rather, he expects us...to use them for his glory. I'm pretty sure he rejoices when we do so. But he doesn't get any glory when we tuck them away deep inside out of our own fears or misunderstandings.

At it's core, egalitarianism is about understanding the true biblical definition of submission and how it relates to boundaries; boundaries within the church, within your relationships, within your marriage. On the other hand, dutiful submission is without boundaries and can lead to resentment, bitterness, and the potential destruction of one's relationships (particularly when you spend ten years of your life living one way and then decide to swing the pendulum the other direction. Ask me how I know.) 

Regardless of how biblical a woman (or man) thinks dutiful submission might be, "domestic harmony," whether in her household or in her heart, will eventually be replaced by war. It may be a silent internal battle or a full-on cavalry invasion that pushes her over the brink but, at some point, resentment and bitterness take over and domestic harmony goes flying out the window (sometimes literally. Don't ask me how I know this.) 

The boundaries you set for yourself (with God as your director) ultimately protect your individuality and relationships with others and sow the seeds for reverent submission. When we add wisdom and the decision and desire to love all people in all places wherever they are on their journey, these seeds grow into beautiful relationships, mutually beneficial and filled with respect for others regardless of gender, race, or religion. 

In the interest of full disclosure, I still don't have this submission thing down perfect and I don't expect I ever will. I'm an utter mess on most days and I struggle daily to find and maintain a balance between submission and self-preservation. But I find peace in knowing that, in the end, we are all equal at the foot of the cross. And I believe there is great redemption to be found when we put that over what I believe is a greatly misunderstood and less-than-perfect biblical hierarchy.

Go find some harmony.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

On Doing What You Love

A few weeks ago my 11-year-old daughter and I were having a conversation about my at-home business and how much I don't love doing it anymore. The conversation went something like this:

Her: "Mom, why do you work so much if you don't love it?"

Me: "Well, I have responsibilities and we rely on the money."

Her: "But if you could do something else, what would it be?"

Me: "Writing. And Singing."

Her: "So why don't you just do that?"

Me: "Well, it's not that simple."

Her: "Why not?" (At which point I thought to myself, 'What's with all the questions? Is she two again?') 

Me: "Well....uh......you see.....uummmm...I just can't...."

Her: "Mom, you tell me all the time that when I grow up I need to do something I love."

Me: "Yes, I do."

Her: "So why don't you just start doing what YOU love?"

Ugh. Busted. I was so totally overwhelmed by this you-need-to-practice-what-you-preach speech that I really was at a loss for words. 

It's true. I tell my kids almost daily that when they are deciding on a career or life path, they need to do whatever it is that they love; whatever gets them out of bed every morning; whatever makes them feel the happiest when they are doing it; the thing they can brag about doing that they actually get paid to do; the one thing they feel they were created to do. 

And yet, I am a horrible example for this. I fell into the trap of doing what I had to do (aka what someone else thought I should do because what I really wanted to do was "risky," or "unattainable," or "completely unaffordable" or "do you know how many people try to make it on Broadway and fail?") I was never encouraged (by the people paying the tuition, anyway) to go for my dreams. My true dreams. I settled for something less (and an aimless wandering road for several years) because I was convinced my dreams were out of my reach before I had even really tried. I ran the minute I felt resistance and went on my people-pleasing way, at a college I didn't love, with people I definitely didn't love, pursuing something I allowed myself to believe was what I would love if I just tried hard enough. But to no avail. And, on my way out, I vowed to never be that kind of parent.

It's a very common conversation in our household. My husband and kids know what my dreams were as a young adult and they know how much I don't want them to follow my very poor example. Perhaps it is because I want them to learn from my mistakes. Perhaps it's that I don't ever want to hold them back from doing something they really want to do because I think my way or life plan for them seems better. So I tell them to figure out what it is they want to do every day of the week and to cater their lifestyle to the money that will bring them, NOT the other way around. And I've made it very clear to them that if they don't know what it is they want to do or if they don't feel college is for them, I don't want them to waste my money because they think it is what they HAVE to do. I mean, who really and truly knows what they want to do at 18 years of age? 

Success in life is not defined by the money you make, but by the satisfaction you get when you are doing whatever it is you love to do. 

Because of that conversation several weeks ago, the very moment following the publishing of this post, I am writing a business proposal to sell the majority of my (largely-successful) at-home business to a friend and colleague in the industry. It's time. Time to listen to the words of my very-wise daughter. Time to focus on a different kind of success. Time to take my own advice. Time to move on to a much more personally-fulfilling destiny. 

What's keeping you from doing the same?

Go find success in doing what YOU love.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

On Choosing A Mission

There's a common phrase you hear on every airline flight during the safety demonstration. I remember flying before they added the second half of this phrase. It's the phrase about the emergency exits where they say, "Please take a moment to locate the nearest emergency exit, keeping in mind it may be behind you."  The first time I flew and heard them tack that onto the end, I thought to myself, "Well that's completely obvious. Why do they feel the need to point that out?" 

I remember when I was about 15 or 16, I came home and announced I wanted to be a "Big Sister" at the local YMCA after school. I don't remember where I got the idea, but somehow, somewhere, I had learned about it and I just knew I wanted to be involved. The thought of befriending and ministering to and being looked up to by an underprivileged child appealed to me. I was so excited to share what I desired to do with my mom.

In discussing this volunteer opportunity with her, however, I was completely taken by surprise at her resistance and apparent disapproval. I didn't get it. This was a great opportunity that I felt led to participate in. I could have been out galavanting around town after school and getting into trouble. But instead I was trying to be part of something good and positive. How could she be so blind to my fantastic heart?

Then she said something I will remember forever. 

"You're already a big sister. Why don't you try doing something with your own little sister right here at home?"

Those words hit me in the stomach. It felt like I had just swallowed a grapefruit. I had no response. 

It was so true. My sister was almost nine years younger than me and always wanted to be around me. I already had someone who needed me as a friend. I already had someone close I could minister to. And I definitely already had someone who looked up to me as if I were the next Princess of Wales.

Perhaps it was my age or the opportunity to do something on my own without the watchful eye of my parents. Perhaps I just didn't know how to filter through those years of discovering what it meant to be outwardly focused. Or perhaps it was the fact that I had spent year after year taking care of my little sister like a parent while my mom worked nights and weekends that I had completely lost the desire to spend quality time with her. 

Regardless of my reasoning, my mom had a very good point. And being fifteen, I despised the fact that she was right. Nonetheless, I dropped the idea and never thought about it again.

Instead, I spent more time with my little sister.  Being in high school and nine years her senior, I'm sure it lasted only a short time. I'm sure my life got busy with school activities and homework and friends. But the lesson had been learned. You don't need to travel far to be on a mission. Sometimes the mission you could (or should) be focusing on is right where you are; perhaps even right under your nose. And while your focus on, or choice of, your current mission will inevitably change as you grow and change, it's important to seek out the opportunities God has placed before you, remembering you may just find them in the closest, most obvious of places.

Go Choose A Mission, and keep in mind it may be behind you.