Monthly Archives: October 2022

Simply Serviceable


We were listening to playoff baseball on the radio during a recent road trip. The announcer was talking about a player and detailing several teams that he’d played on. The broadcaster said, “he’s turned himself into a serviceable player.” But the way he said it almost sounded like an insult. The player was not a superstar, not a name everyone would know, but he’d obviously made a career playing baseball at the highest level. Looking at it objectively, this man’s career was successful considering how hard it is to make it in the major leagues in the first place. Just because he wasn’t the most famous player didn’t make him a failure.

The use of the term “serviceable” bothered me, so as is my custom, I looked up the definition. I liked what one source said, “helpful, useful” ( But then I found a definition that captured the negative connotation I’d picked up on from the radio because it said, “good enough to be used for a particular purpose but not very attractive or exciting” ( It seems like it’s natural for us to be drawn to people and things that are highly attractive and exciting. Our celebrity culture demonstrates that it’s possible to be famous for being famous. Our social media lives are distorted and manipulated to show only the best, whether the images are authentic or not. We feel like we are less than when we compare ourselves to people who are more successful by society’s standards, more money, bigger house, fancier cars, nicer clothes, better careers. Being “good enough” in our world often equates to failure in our eyes. We feel like we’re “nobody” if we aren’t a popular or well known “somebody.”  

But maybe being serviceable should be our goal. To be helpful and useful to our families and communities means we are dependable and stable. To have a particular purpose suggests we have reasons that inspire us to be proficient and capable. We are asked to serve multiple roles in our lives. To be of service in so many areas is a great accomplishment even if no one highlights us as the best or most successful. Most of us will not achieve flashy titles or over-the-top headlines, but we will create caring homes that support our children. We will help our senior parents navigate the aging process. We will be team players at work and school. We will volunteer our time and effort at church, at our kids’ activities, or for causes that we value.

We will demonstrate devotion and dedication when we show up day after day. We can take pride in being reliable, loyal, and committed to others. We can find contentment in serving others well. We should strive to make the term serviceable a compliment, not a slight. Many of us may never know the extent of the positive impact we have on people, but that doesn’t make us any less important to the world. Seeking to be serviceable is a worthy way to live. Being good enough is simply good enough. 

The Course of Belief


Last Sunday, the weather finally turned chilly in North Texas. I was so excited that sweater weather had arrived (at least for a few days), so I grabbed a pair of boots I hadn’t worn since winter. I gingerly reached into one of the boots because it seemed like something was inside it. I pulled out a bracelet that I hadn’t realized I was missing since I don’t wear as much jewelry in the summer. I was so excited to find the bracelet that had been hidden away. I immediately put the bracelet on and wore it to church. It is from the company Luca + Danni and has the word “Believe” stamped on it, but the word is jumbled, not linear as written words usually appear. 

I loved the bracelet the first time I saw it because my journey with belief has not taken a linear path. Our belief in God does not steadily increase in predetermined increments over the course of our lives. Instead, our experiences with faith tend to ebb and flow. Sometimes, we feel grounded in our faith, sure in our convictions, certain that we know what we believe. We feel our faith growing stronger and deeper. We feel authentically connected with God through prayer and service. 

At other times, though, we may feel completely lost. We may be confused about what we believe about specific matters of faith. We may feel that all our prayers fall flat and that we are disconnected from God. We may not know what we believe anymore. We may feel stuck in a desert place, tired and dried out. Life circumstances may become so trying that we wonder where God is. 

Faith does not lend itself to being wrapped up in a neat and tidy bow. Belief can be scattered and messy. We often feel ashamed to admit that fact, assuming everyone else feels confident in their beliefs. And some folks do act like they’ve never had an ounce of doubt. But we can take comfort in knowing most of us have felt our belief slipping at times or felt our faith is hidden so far below the surface, we may never find it again.

Our belief in God can always expand and strengthen. There is always room for growth.  Often, this happens by asking hard questions, exposing our misgivings, and stretching our understanding of God’s work in our lives and in the world. Engaging in those exercises will necessarily create some chaos in our beliefs. Perhaps a linear path in terms of what we believe wouldn’t work anyway because linear faith could be static and stale. 

We can rest assured that we can bring our muddled beliefs to God seeking guidance about how to put our beliefs back together. Having faith that whenever our beliefs become scrambled, God is willing and able to help us find it again and again as long as it takes. Even if it takes a lifetime. 

Let’s Go


During the opening act of a recent concert, I was sitting in the middle of a row trying to figure out the best route to the ladies’ room when I overheard the group of women next to me say they were going to the restroom. I told my husband Ben that I was going too because everyone in the aisle would move to let them out. I started to feel a little weird though following them so closely. So, when I ended up at the sinks beside the woman who had been sitting in the seat beside me, I felt the need to explain even though in retrospect I’m sure it was completely unnecessary. I said, “I think we’re sitting beside each other. I got up when you did so I could get out of the aisle more easily.” Thank goodness she was nice in response to my rambling. She said, “We should’ve grabbed you and said let’s go.” 

I was surprised and delighted by her response. I thought, that’s the attitude we all need, especially one woman to another. My respect for her statement only grew over the course of the concert – we didn’t say another word to each other – but the group we were there to see was The Chicks, who are very into women’s empowerment. What if we as women stopped comparing and competing and instead adopted the woman at the concert’s approach? A new version of the old mantra of military soldiers, “no man left behind.” 

If we said to one another, when you’re in a tough place, I’m going to come to you, grab you, and say let’s go. Not because we can fix each other’s problems but because we decide to be present in times of trouble. We promise that we won’t abandon our friends. We take care of and encourage them. We won’t let them isolate and hide in their misery. We insist on sharing their burdens. When a woman’s children are hurting, we rally to support her.

But we don’t limit our attention to those we know well, we also care about our community. When we see others suffering, we pour out our compassion. We stand with women who are disadvantaged or abused and don’t immediately blame them for the circumstances in which they find themselves. 

In the Biblical book of Ruth, this oft-quoted verse appears: “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16).  Many times, this verse is used in support of spousal relationships, but these words are from Ruth to her mother-in-law Naomi after the deaths of their husbands when Naomi planned to return to her homeland. The story of Ruth and Naomi is about solidarity among women. Ruth stands by Naomi, and Naomi helps provide for Ruth. They are in it together. 

Sometimes it’s hard to reach out to others. We worry that we’re reading the situation wrong or that our help won’t be welcomed. Maybe we need to merely let others know that we are open and available to support and encourage them. But sometimes we need to follow the concert woman’s advice: grab someone and say let’s go … to coffee or for a walk or to get help. What would happen if women stood up for other women on a continual basis? I, for one, would love to watch that world unfold. 

Win or Lose


My ten-year-old son Alex decided to run for President of his elementary school’s student council. I was a little worried because Alex is tender-hearted, and I didn’t want him to feel sad if he lost. But he seemed determined, so we made posters, and he wrote a speech. His platform was all about kindness being the most important thing. We talked about how it didn’t matter if he won or lost, we were proud of his willingness to try. 

One day though, Alex came out of school crying. Someone had defaced one of the posters with his picture on it. Of course, I flew into mama bear mode and marched into the school office to deal with it. Thankfully, the administration and teachers were already on the case, and the principal talked to Alex about moving forward even if another person acted cruelly. We told him he hadn’t done anything to cause the situation and encouraged him to continue his presidential run. Fortunately, he received an apology from the student who’d made the bad choice. After all of that, we were especially proud when he persevered and gave his speech to the students in fourth and fifth grade. He had to wait another day to find out the results. We reminded him that he’d done the best he could and that his effort was the most important part of the process. He’d put himself out there and had done a great job. 

On the same day that Alex gave his speech, I was racking my brain for a writing idea. When writers can’t come up with ideas, we tend to descend into doom and gloom fairly quickly. I began to wonder if my blogging was a fruitless endeavor. Had I been wasting my time for the last three years? Was I wrong to think that God had called me to write in this manner? And that was when it occurred to me. I’d told Alex that effort was what mattered most, but I didn’t apply the same standard to myself.

As adults we don’t give ourselves credit for our dedication, commitment, discipline, or hard work unless we see positive results. If we aren’t successful by the world’s criteria, we consider ourselves failures. Recently, a couple of friends and I were talking about a viral video, and one friend mentioned that the last time she’d checked, a site must have 100,000 followers to monetize. If that’s the mark of success, I’m far from it. But if I celebrate my effort, then maybe I can at least pat myself on the back.

The day I started writing this piece, we still didn’t know if Alex had won the election. He came out of school and told us we would receive an email with the results later in the afternoon. But before and after school, we reminded him that we were proud of him, win or lose. And that was the truth. I was so impressed that he’d taken a chance and followed through on it. So, when Alex found out he’d won the election for Student Council President, we were delighted because he was so excited. But our pride had been present the whole time. Perhaps we can remember that the next time we feel like we’re not measuring up. We can choose to be proud of our efforts, win or lose.