when i don’t have all the answers


when i was little we called them dittos. you know, those single sheets of busy-work paper that the teacher used to give us? some call them work-sheets. we had to fill in all the blanks. and i loved them. because i loved the look of having all those blank spaces filled in. i liked having all my i’s dotted and my t’s crossed. i still do. i like knowing what’s going on. i like having the answers. but in real life, we don’t, do we? we don’t have all the answers—ever. not this side of things, anyway.


so i’m learning to live in that tension of having blank spaces but also being at peace. knowing that the Author of my life and yours can be trusted and has a plan. i’m learning to look at a paper and not have to scan to fix all the punctuation or capitalization. it has been freeing to settle into the fact that i don’t have to have answers for all my questions. i still don’t like it. it feels uncomfortable at times. but it also feels more real than when i fooled myself into thinking i knew exactly how it all worked.


so now, when i start feeling panicky about things i don’t know, i just start listing the things I do Know:

  • I know I was created by a loving God, not accidentally formed by ooze. I look around at the complexity of nature’s balance or inward at the workings of the amazing human body, and I know it was all designed. God’s fingerprints are all over this creation.
  • I know that Jesus lived, died and rose again. And because of that—I have amazing grace and freedom. I believe the argument that Josh McDowell puts out there (and maybe he got it from CS Lewis? I don’t know) that Jesus was either Liar, Lunatic or Lord. Those are the options based on the life he lived and the words he said. I choose Lord.
  • I know that God places a high value on wisdom and I should too. And that “all the richest treasures of wisdom and knowledge are embedded in Christ and nowhere else.” (Colossians 2:3 The Message) So to be wise, I need to know Jesus more.
  • And I know that Jesus told us to Love God and Love People. Those are the greatest commands and that’s something tangible that I can work on.


all the rest? i just don’t know the answers to all of the “whys?” but it’s okay. i can live with that. i can thrive in that. because I Know the important stuff and that’s enough for me.


how about you? what do you Know?


Photo Credit: futureshape on Creative Commons

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Paint over Wallpaper

I’ve been painting my garage. We had the cement floor (which was pitifully broken and uneven) replaced. For the first time, we have a level, usable garage floor…woohoo! And since everything was already out of the garage, I figured it was a great time to paint the walls. They really needed it. (As you can tell by the pics)

You can’t tell how bad the floor was from this pic…but it was bad.
Smooth, flat floor. Love it!

The right side wall was floor to ceiling peg-board. The left side was un-finished dry-wall and the back wall was the “piece de resistance.” Two-thirds of it was painted peach. One third was wallpapered with 18-inch square paper that is light green with red cars on it and looks like it’s from the 1950’s. Then, tacked in random places, there were several pieces of paneling. I never noticed how gross the walls were until I decided to slap on a nice coat of white paint.

Now, I’m pretty experienced with paint. I’m not a trained professional but I have painted a lot and I have even been paid to paint before. So that part didn’t concern me. But I am not a fan of wallpaper and I have very little experience in dealing with it. So, I tried in one small area to get it off with wall-paper remover. Anyone else tried this before? It’s bogus. It doesn’t work. (If you are an expert at this, don’t bother emailing me with instructions. This is my second bad experience with wallpaper…and let’s just say we don’t get along. I will not be messing with it again if I have any say in the matter.)

So when the stubborn wallpaper refused to be removed, I figured, why do I care (other than my perfectionist tendencies)? It’s just my garage! I decided I’d just paint over the wallpaper squares. Why not? But I learned something new. Wallpaper remover doesn’t remove wallpaper very well. But you know what does? Paint.

I know, you’re wondering why I would want to cover up that groovy wallpaper.

Yeah, I painted over it and suddenly it was peeling off onto my paint roller. In complete squares! This frustrated me greatly at first. I didn’t want to bother taking off the wallpaper because it had seemed really stuck on. This is only my garage, after all and I really didn’t want the extra work. I didn’t want to waste my time or my paint. None of this was going according to plan! But as complete squares began to fall off the wall it was obvious that I’d have to change my plan. So, rather than fight it, I rolled with it (haha…I wrote that and then realized it was a pun.) I painted over all the wallpaper, peeled it off and then painted the wall again.

It’s not done yet…but it’s looking much nicer!

And it got me thinking. There’s a lot going on this year for our family and it feels like so many things are up in the air. I told God the other day, I don’t mind change at all. But I hate limbo! I don’t like the feeling of not knowing what is around the bend. For some reason, there’s been a lot of that for us lately. (Maybe cuz I’m telling God I don’t like it and he’s going to teach me the same lesson until I learn it?? Yeah…that’s likely. So I’m really trying to learn it now.)

This painting thing didn’t go according to plan. But actually, thinking outside the box and using the paint to remove the wallpaper was a better method than the traditional removal. And the end result was better than if I’d just gone with my plan and painted over the wallpaper. My life feels like this right now. I’m wondering why traditional things aren’t working, why things don’t seem to work according to plan, etc. But my favorite two verses in the Bible ring in my head daily. And this is just another lesson that He’s using to hammer home these truths: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and he will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3: 5-6

That “lean not” part is so hard for me. Is it hard for you too? I want to lean on my own understandings…to have everything figured out. I feel more comfortable that way. But God is asking me to trust Him with ALL my heart…to trust and lean not. Then He will guide and direct. My wise friend Heather, who I’ve mentioned before, has a great quote for when she can’t figure out what God is doing: “God has me on a need to know basis, and obviously, I must not need to know.” So once again, I’m placing my trust in Him. I’m rolling paint over wallpaper, even if it seems silly and weird. And I’m believing that the end result will be something better than I can imagine.

Can you relate? Are you in a place where you have to stop leaning on your own understanding? Care to join me in a walk of trust? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below!




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Little Boy Tears

Tears welled up. My seven-year old just didn’t get it. “But why can’t I play baseball? I feel fine!”

I had just gotten the surprising diagnosis that all four of my children had mono. And “Seven” wasn’t sick at all. He was full of energy and ready to play. But he couldn’t. Due to the risk of a spleen rupture, the mono diagnosis came equipped with a ban on all physical activity for two to four weeks. So, I had the pleasure of looking my three boys in the eyes in the exam room and telling them that they would miss the next four weeks of baseball and lacrosse, umpiring, bike riding, wrestling, trampoline jumping, etc.

Now some kids don’t even like sports (my daughter is one of those…she was actually thrilled to receive her “Get out of gym class free” card), some kids like playing and others loooooove playing. My boys fall into that last category. As soon as the doctor walked out of that room, all three boys had tears in their eyes and the youngest was actually bawling. I felt so bad. I held it together until we were in the van and then I lost it, too. I knew how much they looked forward to each game and my stomach was literally twisting in knots. At first, they thought I was teasing them but once they realized I was really upset for them, they actually calmed down and tried to comfort me! It’s rather funny looking back but it didn’t feel funny at the time.

And now I’ve become the drill sergeant who has to enforce the “No playing, running, biking, doing-anything-remotely-fun-outside” rules. I understand the risks and that’s why I’m not allowing them to do the things they want to do. I know that although the odds are small, if they did rupture their spleen it would mean emergency surgery and a dangerous loss of blood. I’m not willing to risk that so they can play. But I totally get how strange this feels to them. They can’t see their spleen, can’t feel it, can’t touch it. They don’t see the big picture like I do. They just have to trust that I have their best interest at heart, even when it feels like I’m just being mean or overly protective.

I can’t help but wonder how many times I’ve complained to God about something that seemed unfair to me because I just couldn’t see the bigger picture. Trust is tricky. It requires that we let go of our pride and the insistence that we know what is best for our lives. It requires us to relinquish control…something that is very uncomfortable for the control freak inside most of us. And it requires that we actively believe in God’s goodness even if the evidence looks bad.

If my seven-year old just looks at the evidence that he understands, I’m a mean mom. I’m not letting him do anything fun even though he feels just fine. It doesn’t make sense to him. But he knows that I love him and that I want what’s best for him. So he’s obeying me. He’s trusting me even though it makes no sense to him.

I believe that is what God wants from us. He wants us to trust him enough that we will obey him and believe in him even if our circumstances make no sense to our own eyes. Sometimes, we get to a point where we can look back and see why he wanted us to do something that we didn’t understand. But sometimes we don’t ever have that hindsight. Sometimes we never get to see why. We just have to trust anyway. And there is a freedom that comes when we truly let go and trust God’s plans regardless of what we see.

I am learning to rest in that place. I hope you are too!





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