Photo from Steve May.

Life is interesting. We learn so much long after the moment of our choices and interactions have come and gone. We never know when we’ll cross paths with someone and what the outcome will be. For example:

  • You get a job because your interviewer took piano lessons from your mom and thus he knows your character and work ethic and is able to look past your lack of job experience.
  • The classmate you held your breath around, but chose to be kind to when everyone else called them names, brings their child to you for help because they remember you.
  • A stranger sparks up a friendly conversation with you in your native language and no strings attached, after you’ve been watching your every move and unable to speak freely for over 2 weeks.
  • You decide to hold your tongue with someone, only to find out later that they are your biggest customer’s cousin.

We never know when our interactions will make someone’s day or destroy a bridge to something wonderful. We never know when we’re going to be the one receiving the blessing of a stranger or be the blessing someone so desperately needs.

Can you identify moments when you’ve been on either side?

Recently I had the opportunity to cross paths again with a childhood family friend. Our families went to church together and we lived 4 miles apart. We ran in different, overlapping circles as life in small-towns would have it.

We crossed paths because her mom and I have become friends and were making art together one night when she announced, “Courtney is getting published!!!” I went on Facebook to find out more and was excited to be welcomed aboard the launch team for her first book, Uncluttered.

I have read and reviewed the book. It is worth reading and is officially available for purchase on February 1, 2019! This is one of those moments that the blessings flow both ways. I get to read her book (and say I know the author!), celebrate her success, and sharing it with others. Plus, she offered to share one of her blogposts with us. I do hope you enjoy it.

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Like a Turtle on a Fencepost

by Courtney Ellis

Alex Haley, author or Roots, kept a photo in his office of a turtle on a fencepost. When asked about this odd conversation piece, he’d respond:

Any time I start to think, ‘Look how good I am,’ I look at the turtle—me—and realize I did not get here by myself.

Sometimes Daryl and I talk about the shoulders we stand on, all the people who helped get us to where we are. Our families, our professors, our mentors. From my parents schlepping me to ice hockey games all around the state of Wisconsin to keep me out of trouble (“A kid on the ice is not in hot water,” my dad is still fond of reminding us) to all those dear friends who babysat for our kids so Daryl could finish his dissertation, we have been richly blessed.

Like the turtle, we didn’t get here by ourselves. Neither did you.

It’s good to remember, isn’t it? In an age where entitlement reigns and self-actualization is actually a thing, it’s good to take a moment and remember where we’ve come from and all those who have boosted us up. And not just our friends and families, either, for God has done far, far more than we could ever ask or imagine.

In fact, we didn’t just start on the ground like the turtle. No, it was much worse than that. We started out separated from a loving God by the depth of our sin. And there was nothing we could do to fix things.

Fleming Rutledge, in her book, Not Ashamed of the Gospel, puts it this way:

We don’t like that part about being [powerless], so we substitute another gospel, the American gospel: ‘God helps those who help themselves.’ As many polls have shown, vast numbers of Americans think that comes from the Bible. It can’t be said too many times: it does not come from the Bible. The Bible tells us exactly the opposite: When we could not help ourselves, Christ died for us.

We needed a rescuer. Thanks be to God, we have one. In the book of Romans, Paul puts it like this:

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

We’re not turtles on fenceposts, friends. We’re sinners saved by the amazing, overwhelming, gracious, generous love of the living God.

Now that’s worth an Amen.

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If you enjoyed that, there is a whole lot more on her website, courtneybellis.com!

Being part of Courtney’s launch team reminded me afresh, that none of us can do this life alone. The little interactions we have with others in our daily lives matter, even if we don’t realize it at the time.

I pray that we keep being intentional in our interactions and that we all recognize, and say thank you to, those who help us along the way…

Here are a few words from others about Uncluttered:

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