A Vision Manifesto–How it changed the way I look at life

This year I responded to the challenge to state my manifesto of life and create a vision board. Each year in January, Valorie Burton, a life coach, speaker, and best-selling author, issues her challenge for woman (and men) to develop their personal Manifesto and Vision Board. Her five-day coaching leads you through the process, and challenges everyone to think about who they are, who they want to be, and what they want to accomplish.

I realize through the process of defining my goals and the things I would like to experience in my life, that it will happen only if I change my way of seeing things. I also recognize that I need to change my feeling of being “less than” other people.

That whole “less than” is a blog post for another day, but I have determined that I AM worth putting in the work for the vision for my future. Many of the goals stretch me out of my comfort zone, but I recognize that when God stretches me out of my comfort zone, the results are always a great learning experience. God is at the center of everything I want to accomplish, and many of my dreams for the future are rooted in him.

In case you are not sure what a manifesto is, the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “a written statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives, or views of its issuer.” We often relate manifestos with political statements, but the fact is that most of us have a manifesto of life even if we have not written it down. Our core values are an integral part of the manifesto.

The manifesto I worked on encompasses several areas of life: spiritual, relationships, health, work, and finances. Last year I did the same challenge and I met some of my goals, but others went by the wayside. This year was a good opportunity to revisit my goals and I prayed about what my life needs to look like.

One of my goals last year was to write on my blog more frequently than I did the year before. I accomplished that goal with 44 posts vs. 9 posts in 2021. So I have become a firm believer in evaluating my life at the beginning of the year and stating who I want to be and how I want to live my life.

This year after I completed my manifesto I had it made into a mouse pad. I put it as a background on my computer. I made a copy and cut the five sections so that I could put them where I would see them the most. I made a bookmark of my spiritual goals and that is in my Bible. I made a copy of my health goals, and it is on my refrigerator. My work goals are taped to the top of my computer. I decided that I am going to let them permeate my life everyday so that I do not forget what I want my life to look like. Ultimately this is who I am striving to become, and I want to honor God with my life.

Doing a manifesto and vision board certainly changed the way I look at my life. It made me see that there are already some of my values and goals that I am accomplishing. And it gave me permission to dream big. With some trepidation, I decided to put my personal manifesto on my blog. Maybe some of you can check in with me occasionally this year to see if I am living the things I am professing. I may even give a monthly update about how things are going, what is working for me, and what I may want to revisit.

I would like to challenge you to join me in making your manifesto in life. How do you see your spiritual life, relationships, health, work, and finances? What are your heart desires? What are the things you have control over and how are you going to see yourself in accomplishing your dreams? I am grateful to Valorie Burton and her vision to lead individuals in such an important task. It was sometimes difficult for me to examine myself and put into words the dreams for my life. Do not be afraid of the work. It will be more than worth it in the end.

Psalm 37:23-24: “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.”

©Linda DeLay Wallace 2023

Retreat!

For several years I have participated in an annual writer’s retreat (now a writer and creative group) in the Ozarks. Each year I make goals and some of them I hit, but more of them I miss. Despite that, I eagerly look forward to joining a group of women each year. For one in our group, this means designing and making some fabulous quilt patterns and even starting award winning quilts. For another of our group it is a time to really focus on reading and spending time with God, listening to his voice and discerning his calling on her life. Each one of us has an area where God has gifted us, and sometimes we question exactly what it is that he is asking of us. When I look at the other women here, I see women who are seeking God, even during times of wavering faith and difficult trials.

Then there is me. For some reason, I have always let myself be plagued by doubts and the belief that I really do not have anything to say. I had a heart-to-heart with someone recently and she literally called me out on how I make excuses for not writing. Basically, she told me that if God has called me to write something, why am I doubting God? That made me do a lot of self-examination. Quite frankly, I don’t really like what I see.

Why is it that we say to God, “Lord, use me in whatever way you want,” and then when he convicts us of something he is calling us to do, we have all kinds of excuses why we cannot do the task. Just look at Moses in the book of Exodus. God told Moses that he (Moses) was going to lead the nation of Israel out of Egypt.

But did Moses believe God’s word and set out to do the task at hand? No, first he said “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11) Once God answered that question, then Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your Fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” (3:13) After God answers Moses’ questions, Moses then says, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you?'” (4:1) After hearing God’s assurances on this and even throwing his staff down and turning it into a snake, Moses still was not quite convinced he was the man God needed. So Moses said, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” (4:10).

By this time the Lord grew angry with Moses. I wonder if he was beginning to think he should have chosen someone else for the job! And yet, he still used Moses for the task once Moses finally reconciled himself to his path.

So I wonder, am I a little (or maybe a lot) like Moses? I feel God’s call to write, and yet I sometimes make excuses. “Lord, there is someone out there more qualified than me.” “But Lord, I don’t know if anyone will read my work or think it is good.” “Lord, I have never had a book published. How will I even do that?”

And like when God was angry with Moses, I wonder if he doesn’t just get the tiniest bit irritated at my reluctance to do the thing he has called me to do.

Are we not all occasionally like Moses? We have clearly had something put on our heart by God and yet we tend to let our doubts and fear overtake our knowledge that God equips us for that which he calls us to do. So this week, my goal is to write more than I ever have during our time together. And if you are one of my regular followers, maybe you will see my name in print on more than just my blog posts in the future! Stay tuned to see if Linda makes more excuses or quits saying, “But God . . . ” We may all be surprised.

My cozy retreat space this year.

Don’t Eat Your Young

I grew up on a farm and occasionally my dad would come in from chores and complain about a sow that ate her young piglet. Now this was an extremely rare occurrence or we would quickly have gotten rid of all our pigs. But it occasionally happened. Recently, curiosity led me to explore why this happens. Sometimes a sow eats her piglet if it is stillborn, in order to make sure that the remains do not contaminate the rest of the newborns. Sometimes she accidentally rolls over and squishes the piglet, thus resulting in injuring the piglet beyond help. But then occasionally there is the rogue sow who just turns to cannibalism for some reason. All of these are regrettable instances. And truth be told, we are horrified just even reading about it.

But a recent conversation led me to think about eating the young. We experience cannibalism in the church on a frequent basis. Oh, it may not be intentional in many cases, but it happens. We have our spiritual young who are born into the church, and yet, we sometimes savage them and “eat” our young.

It may be the former alcoholic who slips and takes a drink. Instead of walking along side of them and giving them some tools and resources to cope, we condemn them and make them feel low enough for us to grind them with the toes of our shoes. Instead of showing grace to the person who lets out a swear word, we gasp in offense, making them so uncomfortable they never return. I have seen church ladies judge a young woman for her clothing, rather than welcoming her and mentoring her in the Lord. I particularly remember one instance when a new Christian, who wore a blouse that was low cut and a skirt that was too short, was so castigated about not dressing appropriately that she never came back to the church. The irony was I watched some of the young women who had been long-time members of the church dress every bit as immodestly without a word being said.

A newborn Christian needs to be tenderly loved and tended to the same way in which we care for a newborn babe. We don’t expect them to immediately be able to walk, talk, and be toilet trained because they are not yet mature. Why do we expect mature behavior from brand new Christians? And why do we condemn them when they do not live up to those expectations? A baby learning to walk is not condemned the first time they fall, but encouraged to get up and try again. Shouldn’t we be the same way with the new Christians we encounter?

So this challenge is for me and you. Take an honest look at how we treat new believers who do not grow as quickly as we would like. Also, be sure that the things we are judging them about are not just traditions or unspoken rules (of which most churches have plenty) but are truly attributes that Scripture wants us to acquire. And if we have a rogue swine that ferociously eats new Christians, well . . . maybe it is time to get rid of the rogue.

Thankfully, I know of many individuals and churches that do an excellent job of getting their young believers into the Word of God and letting the Holy Spirit grow and mature them. For that I am truly grateful, especially since I was one of those new babies at one time. Maybe as a body of Christ, we need to have a process to nourish our young Christians and help them flourish in good health. Let’s learn to identify and curtail reasons why we would eat our young and let them grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Christmas Continued . . .

Christmas and the New Year celebrations are finished for another year. Facebook has been flooded with pictures of family and friends. Those who dreaded the holidays because of the loss of a loved one, the increased levels of stress and anxiety, or just the thought of being alone for them, can breathe a sigh of relief that it is over. The clean up has commenced and is even completed for some people. Usually January 1 is the day I take down all the decoration and pack it up until after Thanksgiving.

It is somewhat bittersweet for people like me who love the family gatherings, the holiday decorations and lights, and the overall ambiance. From Thanksgiving to my annual New Year’s Eve party, I love it all! This year has been a little more difficult in getting everything finished since I had a bout of vertigo to deal with after Christmas. But at last I have gathered it into a somewhat manageable place in anticipation of getting my house back to normal.

Here is the thing about the mindset that Christmas is over. It’s not. The reason we celebrate Christmas is because it commemorates the occasion of Jesus Christ taking on human flesh and becoming like us. Scripture tells us plainly that Christ was human. He was tempted in all the ways we are tempted, and yet he lived a sinless life.

The thing that makes all of this significant is that not only did he walk here on earth among us, but he died for the forgiveness of our sins. His shed blood was the ultimate sacrifice that makes God’s grace a truly magnificent gift to us. His resurrection and ascension back into heaven, his original home, makes it possible for us to have just a glimpse of what is to come for us when we believe his word and acknowledge him as our Savior.

So one way to celebrate the joy and meaning of Christmas all year long is by remembering to read the Bible and find out what happened after that lowly birth. From Jesus stumping Jewish scholars at the age of 12, to living a sinless life, to gathering and teaching disciples, to his death and resurrection–all of Scripture tells the wonderful story of Christ and the true meaning of Christmas.

So here is hoping you find a joyous year ahead that is full of learning and growing in your faith. And that your Christmas lasts all year long!

The True Story of Christmas

During this Christmas season we tend to focus on the story of Jesus’ birth as narrated in Matthew and Luke. However, I love to read the story of Jesus as told in John. John doesn’t start his writings with the birth of Jesus, but rather he shares Jesus, who was present as the Word since the beginning. This is so important that the first 18 verses of John focus on Jesus as the Word and the light.  

John 1:1-18  (NLT)

In the beginning the Word already existed.
    The Word was with God,
    and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
    and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,[a]
    and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
    and the darkness can never extinguish it.[b]

God sent a man, John the Baptist,[c] to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

10 He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

14 So the Word became human[d] and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.[e] And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

15 John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’”

From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.[f] 17 For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God,[g] is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.  (NLT)

At Christmas time, it is easy to get caught up in the story of a child born of a virgin and placed in a manger because there was no room at the inn. In many ways the Christmas story is fascinating in its telling. It would actually make a good book, don’t you think? A virgin birth. A skeptical fiancée. A visit from an angel. A journey to Bethlehem. The visit of the wise men. The flight to Egypt. It has all the makings of a gripping story.

But when I read the first 18 verses of the book of John, I remember that the story of Jesus is far more than just that of his birth.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Jesus was with God in the beginning and he was the Word and the Word created everything. He was present as the Word of God in the very beginning of the creation of earth. He spoke the earth into being—everything was created through him. Jesus was and is and is to come—he is infinite. Something we have difficulty wrapping our heads around. He existed with God.

Colossians 1:15 – 17 says, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

In John 14:8-11 Jesus was interacting with the disciples and Philip, who had been with him since the beginning of his ministry said “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me. 11 Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do.”

Jesus was light and his life brought light to everyone. His light shines in the darkness and the darkness will never extinguish it—no matter how it may seem at times. He came to a world that rejected him. Yet, he still loved us and his light still shines forth.

He brings salvation to a world that needs him desperately. We become children of God when we believe in Jesus and acknowledge him as Lord and Savior. He brings light to our darkened world.  John 12:46 says, “I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark.” So no matter how dark things around us seem, we can count on the Lord to shine in the darkness.

Jesus became human. He left the glory of heaven, left the presence of God, left all of the angels and heavenly beings who worshiped him, to become human. He followed a plan that had been laid the minute sin entered the world. For thousands of years, he knew what his destiny was, and he did not balk. He shed his glory to become flesh. That is pretty amazing when you think about it. I am not so sure I would want to leave the glories of heaven to become a frail human. But Jesus says in John 6:38 “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”

This Christmas we need to remember not only the Christ child who was born of a virgin, but also the man who was God in the flesh. We not only need to celebrate his birth, but also his death and resurrection. Because he did all of this for each of us.

.Philippians 2:19 says, “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

His name is exalted from the time of his birth when the angels celebrated, to the time of he shed his blood for our sins, to his resurrection. That is the true story of Christmas.

Christmas Traditions

When I was growing up during the Christmas holiday my mom would get together with my aunts and they would make candy all day long. They made divinity, fudge, chocolate peanut butter balls, peanut brittle–and the list went on! But another of our holiday traditions was opening one present on Christmas Eve. I remember carefully trying to figure out which present would be THE one that would have the best gift in it. Inevitably, I would choose the one with socks!

After I was grown, my mother started a new tradition. She collected Department 56 villages. When I say, she collected villages, I mean she had an entire room devoted to them. One of her friends wired the lights up so that all she needed to do was hit the remote for the village to come to life. Setting the village up and taking it down each year got to be such a huge chore, that she decided to leave the room up year round!

My children loved seeing the village and for every Christmas my mom received multiple new pieces as gifts. Her Department 56 club would tour her house for Christmas. Every year she hosted an open house for all the family and friends. When I would bring friends home for Christmas, they would marvel at how much decorating and baking she had done. Quite frankly, I miss my mom the most at Christmas time because she would go all out and decorate her house to the max for Christmas. Honestly, I do not know how old she was when she finally let someone else take over the job of putting up the outdoor lights–but it was well past the time she should be climbing a ladder.

When my husband and I married we started a new tradition and would always go to the Christmas Eve candlelight service, followed by a drive by one of the streets that was all decked out in Christmas lights. And my children got to open one gift on Christmas Eve. Sometimes they even opened socks.

My husband has passed on and my children are grown with children of their own. New traditions have started. Three of my grandchildren help me put up my Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. Now instead of being together on Christmas Day, we are together for Christmas Eve. I love that time together and I get out my Christmas headbands and we eat, open presents and just visit.

The one tradition I have continued is attending Christmas Eve candlelight service. I never tire of hearing the story of Jesus’ birth and most of all of his life, death, and resurrection. I love the fact that I have a Savior who left the glories of heaven and took on all the humanness that we each have every day. I love reading about his life and teachings. I am forever grateful that he covers me with his grace each and every day.

So while we all have traditions, and sometimes even some frantic, hectic moments during the Christmas season, make it a priority to set aside time to just soak in his presence and peace. If I am not back on here before Christmas, I am wishing each of you a blessed Christmas as you celebrate the birth of the Savior.

John 1:14 “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Screaming Fits

My friend and I went shopping and I purchased new hangers for my closet. I absolutely love these hangers because a) they all match, and b) the clothing does not seem so crowded together when I use them. We also found a new Christmas store that had absolutely lovely things in it that I can only dream about because they are not in my budget (not to mention I already have WAY too much Christmas stuff!).

After shopping we decided to dine at a Chinese fast food restaurant. We were enjoying a leisurely meal when the door was thrown open and a lady stormed into the restaurant. She threw her hands up in the air like a referee calling a touchdown and began to yell. When I say she began to yell, I mean she was screaming at the top of her lungs at the staff. Things like, “You are fired. You are a lazy bunch of people who are not doing your job! The drive-through is extremely slow and there is no excuse for that.” She was taunting the staff to come over and face her.

photo by bowie15

Initially, I thought maybe it was a store manager who had totally lost control, because she had a red apron on similar to what the workers were wearing. But then I noticed it had a totally different logo. My friend and I assumed she had gone through the drive-through and they were too slow for her. She became inappropriately angry–or dare I even say, full of rage.

As she continued her rant, finally a young man came up to her and politely asked her to leave. She was screaming in his face and at that point he escorted her out the door. She left, but we watched as she continued to pace up and down the sidewalk outside the restaurant.

My friend and I decided it was time to leave. As we started to exit, the young man was extremely polite and asked us if he could get us anything else or even a drink to go. We declined and then he offered to escort us to our car since the woman was still agitatedly walking up and down the sidewalk. We told him it was not necessary, but we did not tarry getting into the car!

My friend and I discussed what had happened, and quite frankly, we were glad she did not have a gun in her hand. I suspect if she had, we might all have been injured or even dead, she was that out of control. In all honesty, most of us have been in a slow drive through line at some point and may find ourselves becoming irritated. I am grateful that our action is not to come in the store and scream at the top of our lungs. Frankly, some of us have watched YouTube videos showing unacceptable incidents that have taken place in drive-throughs. But I had to wonder what happened in that woman’s life that made her so full of rage.

In all honesty, in my younger years, I struggled sometimes with anger and as a result acted inappropriately on occasion. It was only after I truly focused on letting God take control of my words and actions that I started becoming less hateful and more kind. I am grateful that as we become Christians and let the Holy Spirit do his work in our lives things like rage no longer control us. If we truly let ourselves be ruled by the Spirit, we are going to be focusing on love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control–all fruit of the Spirit.

The fact is anger is an emotion all of us experience at one time or another. But when we let that anger fester and boil over, it is harmful to both ourselves and those around us. By learning to recognize and appropriately respond to our anger, we avoid enacting scenes like the one we witnessed in the restaurant.

Proverbs 29:11 says, “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.” So my prayer to God is to not foolishly let anger lead me to sin against God, but to instead practice using the fruit of the Spirit that God has gifted to me.

A Father’s Arms

This past weekend I attended a worship night at our church. Of everything we do at church, worship nights are one of my favorite things. I came early so I could sit in a row close to the front and on the outside of the aisle, because of, well, short girl problems. If I am farther in the row and someone tall sits in front of me I may as well have saved myself the time of coming early.

As worship began and we were singing in earnest a father with his son nestled in his arms slipped into the row ahead of me. It was obvious the young boy, who was well past toddlerhood, was tired. I noticed when his eyelids gently shut and he snuggled deeper into his father’s arms. Soon he was sound asleep and even the enthusiastic singing all around him did not wake him up.

I watched as the father continued to hold his child tightly while he was singing praises to God. He held him during our entire worship service–sometimes when he was standing, and sometimes when he was sitting. But through it all he continued to lovingly hold him in his arms.

As I watched the son put his arms around his father’s neck when he finally stirred, it hit me that he had a lot of trust in his dad. I don’t think he was concerned about falling, or being abandoned while he slept, or any other myriad of things that a person can think about when they put themselves in someone else’s hands. He just cuddled up to his dad and slept, and all was right with his world.

Isn’t that the way it should be with our heavenly father? We know our father loves us and we should be able to trust that he has us when we are weary and tired. He will hold onto us and not let us slip from his grip. Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29). In 1 Peter 5:7, it says “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (NLT)

For some reason, seeing the young boy and his father reminded me that we have a heavenly Father that cares about us and when we are tired and weary, we can trust him to hold us in his arms and not let us fall. Until we take our last breath we can trust God to be holding our hand. What a beautiful reassurance I have when I read Isaiah 46:4 “I will be your God throughout your lifetime – until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you” I am grateful for a father’s love and the knowledge that he will not let me go.

Siblings Weekend

This past weekend my siblings and I rented a house in Branson, Missouri for a siblings weekend. This is our second gathering since Covid travel restrictions have lifted. While we were missing one sister, and a couple of the husbands, the rest of us had a lovely, relaxing (except for the long-distance drives for some of them) weekend.

Three of the siblings made the delicious evening meals and we had chicken picata, grilled hamburgers, and meatloaf. Everyone pitched in together to cook and clean up. But the best part for me was the homemade donuts my sister made–because I sort of begged her to make them. Don’t worry–we had some left to take home with us. We played games, laughed together, talked about old memories, and made new ones. We also did the obligatory silly sibling (and in-law) picture together, as well as a more serious one.

We did not go to any shows, eat meals in a restaurant, or any of the other touristy things I usually do when I am in Branson. We sat on the balcony overlooking Table Rock Lake, and talked and talked and talked. Usually when we get together it is for a special occasion or holiday and it is hard to visit with one another during those times. I know we all appreciated the relaxed pace of the weekend, although my brother was bummed when he could not find his college football games on tv.

One of the things I love about our time together is the fact that each of us has their own distinct personality. To say that we are all strong-willed, is somewhat of an understatement. But despite that, we seem to understand each other and allow for our differences. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and believe no one is aware of them like family! But despite that we seem to still love one another. We can certainly squabble like most siblings do, but beneath it all is an abiding love of family and a respect for who we are.

Photo by Debbie White

We were lucky to have parents who disciplined us, taught us the value of hard work, and most of all, loved us. The dynamics of our family changed after Dad, and then Mom, passed away. We all lead busy lives and are not together as much as we were in the past. We each have our own families that are integral parts of our lives. We are finding that unless we make a deliberate plan to be together, time slips by and suddenly we look up and it has been months since we have seen each other. Our sibling weekend is a commitment that we will always try to make a place in our lives for one another.

I realize that there are some of you out there that have families that are fractured and highly dysfunctional. And in all honesty, my heart aches for those individuals I know who are caught up in the drama that some families can bring. But for me, I realize that my family is where God placed me. They helped shape and mold me and I am grateful for that gift. So here is to many more sibling weekends together as long as God allows!

“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.” –Desmond Tutu

So You Are a Toe

Several weeks ago I managed to injure my big toe in the klutziest of ways. I was rolling up an area rug to take it out of the house and have it cleaned. Because it was so heavy, I was trying to hold one side with my foot, while still rolling the other side to make it even. The rug rolled back and hit my big toe, with the resulting feeling that it jammed it up into the rest of my foot! Needless to say, I jumped, the rug unrolled, and I had to start the process over again, with my toe throbbing the entire time.

The next morning when I looked at my foot there was a huge bruise from the toe all the way up to the top of my foot. I did not go have it x-rayed, because I have had broken toes before and there is not much they do for them except tape them and sometimes put you in a stiff shoe. However, I saw my rheumatologist for my regular follow-up a day later and she noticed my toe. I told her the whole ridiculous story of how I hurt it, and she insisted I go for an x-ray. I reluctantly went and found to her surprise and my delight that it was not broken. But that toe took forever to heal.

It is a funny thing about the body–every part serves a function. If you are like me you don’t think a lot about your toes, until one of them gets hurt. Then you limp and try to protect it as much as possible.

I was reading in 1 Corinthians 12 and was reminded that the church is a body and it has many parts. Some of those parts may seem insignificant and are not highly visible, but they still play an important role. And believe me, the toe plays an important role in helping balance the body!

It is a strange thing, but generally true, that the most visible parts seem to get the most glory in the church. We seem to value highly the ones who preach, sing, and teach–all visible parts of the body. But the ones who change dirty diapers in the nursery, take out the trash, and clean the baptistry are not noticed so much. Yet they play valuable roles in being part of the body.

Paul says “But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.” (1 Corinthians 12:10, NLT) He further notes in verse 11, “In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary.” Believe me if the trash is not taken out, the restrooms are not cleaned, and dirty diapers are not changed, we begin to sit up and take notice.

Do not wait until you stub your toe to notice how important it is to the body. In the same way, take note of all of those individuals in the church who are playing such vital, almost unseen roles in the church. And, if you are a toe? Know that you are truly appreciated in the church of Christ.