You Are Not a Good Person

“As it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one, no one understands, no one seeks God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” Romans 3:10-12 (ESV)

People say it all the time.

They say it out of pride.
They say it to gloss over bad behavior.
They say it to remind others that no matter how bad they are, someone else is worse.
Maybe you’ve even said it yourself.

“I’m a good person.”

Seems harmless enough, right? Deep down, it’s basically true…right?

Well. Let me be direct.

NO.

No, no, no, no.

It’s not true. People are not ‘basically good,’ regardless of how insistently our culture has tried to convince us that we are. From the moment we are born, we are self-seeking and sinful. Our focus, though it may be unintentional at times, is almost always on ourselves: how I can get what I want, when I want it, how I want it, where I want it, from whom I want it, and for whatever reason I want it. You know that’s true. I’m not saying it’s impossible to do anything without a selfish motive, but our natural inclination is almost always self-focused.

What gives anybody the right to say they’re a “good” person, anyway? Ask ten different people and you’ll get ten different answers. “Good” has become a relative term. Ice cream is good; friendships are good; our day was good; the dog got a treat because he was good; and even God is good. But therein lies the problem. Look at the list again. All of those things I just mentioned are not at equal levels of goodness, but in giving them all the same descriptor – “good” – we start seeing them all on the same level. Let me put it a different way: when we call ourselves “good,” we are both elevating ourselves and lowering God.

Uh, WHOA.

Take a breath and read that again.

When we call ourselves “good,” we are both elevating ourselves and lowering God.

I think we can all agree that God is not on the same level as us.

Over time, we’ve lost the real meaning of goodness. There is only one human being in the history of ever who was and is perfect. Jesus. While we should strive to be like Him, we should also remember that God set the bar high, far too high for any of us to reach. That’s why Jesus was worthy to die on the cross for us – because He is goodness. He is the very embodiment of everything good. He had to be that good, because our sin is that bad. Your sins, from the littlest lie to your secret pornography addition to your habit of gossiping, are what killed Jesus on the cross. It’s painful, isn’t it? The moment we skim over the badness of our sin is the moment we open a door for Satan to tiptoe in and quietly convince us that we really are good after all. And that is a dangerous place to be.

Truth booth: I’m in a frustrating season of my own making. I don’t feel close to God right now because I haven’t invested in my relationship with Him, and I have no problem acknowledging that I know I’m not a good person. I’m more than aware of my shortcomings, and I can say with absolute certainty that there is nothing inherently good about any of us when we are left to our own devices. But I know with absolute certainty that the following is true too: there is hope. There is hope for us weak and flawed humans. When we choose to follow God and transfer our hearts and our lives over to Him completely, He develops within us the only true piece of goodness we will ever have: Himself.

 

My Excuses for Why I Haven’t Gotten Christmas-y Yet + Things I’m Thankful For

Here are all my excuses for why I haven’t gone swimming in Christmas spirit yet:

  1. …………
  2. I have none.

It’s so depressing, you guys. Christmas just snuck up on me this year. (Yes, I know, “snuck” is not a word…whatever.) All I’ve done is listen to some Christmas music while unpacking my new house.  I haven’t bought any Christmas presents yet, and I haven’t even made a list of presents I’m giving! This never happens to me, because I LOVE CHRISTMAS. Daniel Some might say I love it a little too much. I am that person who:

  • finalizes her Christmas gift list by October,
  • starts listening to Christmas music on November 1st,
  • has at least four or five presents bought (and possibly wrapped) by mid-November.
  • is ready to put up the tree long before the week of Thanksgiving,
  • and walks up and down the Christmas aisles of every store with the giddiness of a two-year-old eating cotton candy.

All of the busy in my life is finally starting to slow down though, so I’m ready to vomit Christmas all over everyone like I usually do. My to-do list for this week includes figuring out what I’m giving people, putting up our Christmas tree/stockings/wreath, and mayyyyybe doing some Black Friday shopping? We’ll see about that one. For the sake of my husband, though, I won’t bypass Thanksgiving. I love Thanksgiving too, and I have an abundance of things to be grateful for.

Family time.
As both of our families grow and move, it becomes more difficult each year for all of our schedules to align. More than ever, I cherish the time we are able to be all together. I hate how far apart we all are, but I’m thankful to have people I love enough to miss.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving parade.
Staple of my Thanksgiving experience. I even love the ads, especially the Hershey kiss handbells and B.C. Clark’s anniversary sale. I’ve carried this tradition from Stillwater to Pawnee, to Perkins, to Thackerville, and probably eventually Durant, and I literally can’t remember a Thanksgiving that didn’t include watching it. I hope my kids love it as much as I do, and even if they don’t, they’ll have to watch it anyway.

Daniel’s CPA successes.
I’m so, so proud of him. Those tests are killer, and he’s already passed half of them. I’m so thankful for his hard-working, persevering attitude – he applies it to every area of his life, not just the test-taking part. He’s a rockstar.

Technology.
I’m thankful for Netflix, as silly as that sounds, which has provided endless entertainment and unexpected moments of genuine laughter, not to mention all the inside jokes with Daniel and with friends who watch the same shows we do. I’m thankful for Pandora, which has allowed me to enjoy Christmas music on my phone while my iTunes is currently inaccessible on my thousand-year-old Macbook. I’m thankful for Skype, which gives us the chance to actually see the faces of dear friends who are far away and not just hear their voices.

Friendships that last.
It really is lovely to have friendships that aren’t threatened by time or distance, the kind of friendships you’re comfortable with and confident in. We are in a hard season of saying goodbye to many friends who are moving on to new things, but it’s beautiful to know that the really genuine friendships won’t dissolve. I’d take a small handful of those friendships over   dozens of shallow ones any day.

Celebrating the holiday season in our new home.
Moving was an emotional experience for me. The three years we spent in our old house was the longest amount of time I’ve lived in the same place for the last 8 years, so it was difficult to pack up and leave. But God, knowing my sentimental soul and in His tenderness toward me, orchestrated our move so that it took place right before Christmas, the time of year I look forward to and love the most. I’m grateful to start out this new Hendrickson season during the Christmas season.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Hug your loved ones close and eat an extra piece of pie!

How about you? Are you a “Christmas immediately” kind of person like me, or do you wait until after Thanksgiving to get in the spirit of things?

God is Not My Servant

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
Daniel 3:17-18 (NIV)

I’ve realized something lately. Human relationships are based heavily on selfishness. As kids, we say “please” and “thank you” because we know we will be rewarded for doing the right thing. As adults, we help someone out with the unspoken understanding that they will return the favor at some point. The problem with this attitude is that it too often translates into how we feel about our relationships with God. We unconsciously try to fit the all-knowing, almighty, unparalleled Creator in a small, manageable box we can keep in our pocket and pull out when it’s convenient.

Here’s the deal. If you haven’t already figured it out, you can’t keep God in a box. In the same way that our salvation through Jesus isn’t based on good works, our relationship with Him isn’t sustained by good works.

Often I find myself reading my bible and hoping that my day will be better, NOT because I spent time with the God who made me but just because I read the book you’re supposed to read every day.

We tell others that we are “praying with expectation that God will move,” when what we really mean is that we’re praying with expectation that God will move in a way that we’ve already figured out is the best possible way for God to handle that situation.

We try to impose our own futile, short-sighted advice on God, when what He really wants is our trust.

Just because we do the right things doesn’t mean He’s always going to do what we want. And to be honest, I don’t really like that. It’s more comforting to believe that if I pray enough, if I read my bible enough, if I serve enough, if I fast long enough, God will heal that baby who’s dying or pull that friend out of drug addiction or fix that couple’s marriage. But if that were true, the foundation of our faith would be rocky. If there were a way to earn things from God, what would be the point of Jesus’s death? We wouldn’t need Him to be our salvation anymore because we could just do it ourselves. If God simply did everything I wanted, He wouldn’t be God. I would be God.

For another thing, the thought of living my life trying to earn God’s affection sounds exhausting. I would never have true joy or peace because I would live in constant fear of not doing enough. Thank the Lord that we don’t have to live like that. God is not my servant. He’s the King. I am the servant. If I get angry because I pray for something and God gives me a different outcome that I didn’t want, I don’t even understand who He is. People who don’t follow Jesus will never understand why we would choose to follow a God who does things we don’t understand. But that’s exactly why we are different. We choose. We choose to believe God is good, even if we never understand why something happened. We choose to keep following Him, because we trust that He is always right.

And He is, you guys. He is always right.

8 Moving Tips to Preserve Your Sanity

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“I just love that glorious feeling when you’re moving into a new house and everything is going smoothly, and you have plenty of boxes and packing materials, and you can’t believe your luck because you haven’t hit a single snag!”

Said nobody, ever.

I haven’t moved a ton, but I’ve moved enough times to know that things never go as smoothly as you hope they will, and it always takes longer than you expect it will. BUT. I’ve also moved enough times to pick up a few neat tricks to make the process slightly less torturous!

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#1: Know where to find boxes.
Before you go spend a bunch of money, take advantage of your surroundings. Tons of places give away free packing boxes, including liquor stores, bookstores, and grocery stores. These boxes typically have thick bottoms and are great for supporting heavy loads. They also tend to be the best size for dishes and cookware – big enough to pack a decent load, but small enough that the box isn’t too heavy to pick up. And don’t be afraid to ask smaller local businesses if they have boxes too! A much-deserved shout-out goes to Bliss Boutique, a downtown clothing boutique that filled up my car with 15 huge boxes!

#2: Organize packing supplies.
Gather up everything you’ll need and keep it together in a basket so you don’t have to go looking for a new marker every fifteen minutes. My go-to packing items include: boxes (duh), scissors, heavy duty packing tape, Sharpies, oversized labels, and any useful packing materials like newspaper, towels, tablecloths, foam peanuts, and bubble wrap.

#3: Label absolutely everything.
Self-explanatory. It helps SO MUCH. Don’t leave a single box unlabeled. You might be able to look at a box and know where to put it, but if other people are helping you move, they won’t. When you write a label, include both the contents of the box and the room the box should be taken to in the new house.

#4: Pack non-essentials first.
I have to be honest…I didn’t really follow this rule this time. We had a little over a month between the day our offer was accepted and our closing date when we got the keys, and because I didn’t want to sit in an empty house for a month, I refused to take down any wall decorations until this week (much to Daniel’s chagrin). However! I did pretty well paring down the rest of our stuff and packed away most of the things we don’t use as often. Don’t play the “what if I need it?” game with yourself. Look at the remaining amount of time you’ll be in your current house and make reasonable decisions about what meals you’ll fix, what clothes you’ll wear, and what household items you’ll actually need to use before you move out (like cleaning supplies, clean sheets, etc.) – then pack the rest.

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#5: Get rid of stuff.
What’s the point of boxing up and unloading a bunch of stuff that you don’t like or don’t need? Take advantage of the fact that you’re already going through literally everything in your house and get rid of some of the mess. Purge every room; nowhere is off limits. Go through your dishes, your small appliances, your clothes and shoes, your books, your office supplies, your games, your decorations – seriously, everything! Toss something if it’s broken, dirty or stained, or even if you just don’t like it anymore. And don’t forget to allocate a big box for “give away or sell” items.

#6: Make a million lists.
Make a list of bills you pay, mail you receive, services you use, and subscriptions you have so you can change your address for each of them. Make a list of things you’ll need to have readily accessible when you move in so you can pack them separately (toiletries, phone chargers, medications, etc). Make a list of people who have helped you move so you can take them to lunch to say thank you. Make a list of things you’ve already done so you can cross them off and feel better about your life in general.

#7: Pack a suitcase.
Regardless of how short or long your moving process is, you eventually reach the day when you move your bed out and finally spend that first night in your new home. To make the transition easier, pack a separate suitcase with things you’ll need easy access to while you’re unpacking boxes, including shower stuff and a few changes of clothes. Pretend like you’re staying at a friend’s house for a few days – what would you need to pack? Along with your suitcase, pack a bag with clean sheets, pillows, and blankets so you can make your bed as soon as it is assembled in the new house.

#8: Leave room for grace.
I stole this lovely phrase from my friends over at The Unedited Movement, and it’s worth repeating over and over again. If you run out of boxes or bubble wrap, it’ll be okay. If something breaks, it’ll be okay. If you have to keep a giant refrigerator in your laundry room for a month before you move, it’ll be okay. Leave room for grace. Our lives aren’t perfect, but God can handle all the messy details, including the chaos that is moving. Take a deep breath, and then let it out and keep moving forward.

In addition to my own ideas, I got some fantastic suggestions from a few readers that deserve to be shared too:

From Christina (Life With C-Bev):Don’t take your clothes off hangers…just put a slit in the top of a trash bag and pull the bag over 20ish clothes at a time. Then when you get to unpacking…all you have to do is rip the trash bag off and hang up the clothes already on the hangers.”

From Susan: “Pack one box (or laundry basket) with things you will need first, or may even need while you are moving: toilet paper, paper towels, light bulbs, a shower curtain, cleaning supplies, hand soap, trash bags, a small first aid kit. Also, pack an overnight bag with sleepwear, two changes of clothes, and basic toiletries. That will save you rummaging around trying to find your clothes when you are tired and haven’t unpacked yet. And, don’t forget a couple of bath towels!”

From Dianna:Label,label,label. Try to have an idea of where you want things to go before moving in. Breakables= over wrapping. Make sure you and Daniel are on the same page of the moving plan. Unpacking bathroom and bedroom and then kitchen. My kitchen is almost always last since I like bathroom and bedroom essentials first. You have toiletries and bedding. I don’t know if you are moving with lots of help or no help, however, I would still do it the same way. My heirloom pieces I do myself. If something breaks then your helpers aren’t devastated they broke something that can’t be replaced. Dolly’s are an important tool(if you have one). Extra blankets or towels for protecting furniture. I could write you a book. hope this helps.”

From Jacklyn: Dollar stores tend to always have a rack outside of their broken down, sturdy boxes, with a variety of sizes. Since they are broken down, it makes it easier to get home with & place some in each room to be packed w/out taking up a lot of space. You could also have an ice chest packed with water & sandwiches/snacks etc.. That way no one has to stop to take food or drink orders & have to leave or come up w $$ for a delivery. This way everyone can eat & have something to drink whenever they need to. This would be especially good for any diabetics helping out.

From Nicole: The best places to get boxes are liquor stores. The boxes are sturdy and have removable dividers inside. And they always have an abundance. Second, grocery stores on their load days. Find out when those are and ask them ahead of time to save them for you and pick them up before noon. Also, local newspaper printing places have their leftover ends of roles of printing paper for sale for cheap. It’s the best way to go for packing paper! Oh, and always remember what box you packed your silverware and salt and pepper in. And buy new toilet seats.

From Jessica:Don’t bother packing up clothes from your dresser. Just remove the drawers and load the dressers in the truck, then out the drawers back in. You may want something to cover your intimates drawer though. :) Make sure you bring a grocery bag with hand towels, hand soap, toilet paper and a plunger. You will need all of these. It’s a good idea to make this the first thing you add to your new house. My big job is always making sure I know where the bedsheets, covers and pillows are. We usually agree on a bed frame placement before we move things, so it’s the first thing that gets out together. When you’re exhausted and know that you have to unpack the kitchen tomorrow, nothing beats flopping into your already-made bed. We move a lot.”

From Hannah:Label everything!! The room and what is in the box. It will make it easier to find the essentials when unpacking. Also, when unloading try to put the boxes in the rooms that the stuff will be unpacked and put away/displayed in.

From KyLeigh:I would suggest taking the time to go through and get rid of stuff while packing up! This ensures less clutter and time spent doing it in your new home! I would also suggest loading the kitchen stuff last and unloading it first.If you have enough help when unloading I always suggest to start unpacking the kitchen while people continue to unload boxes and bring them in. That’s less bodies in the way and the easiest place to know where you want to put things! You can usually be about done unboxing the kitchen by the time everything else is in and you’re already 1 room down and it tends to be a good amount of your boxes that are out of your way! Lastly, I also suggest labeling every box on at least 2 sides and the top with what’s in it and what room it goes in at the new house! That way whoever is helping doesn’t have to ask a million times “Where do you want this box to go?” Good luck! Moving isn’t easy, but a little bit of organization goes a long way!

From Rebekah: “IPOD -have techno or energetic music going even if on low…I believe it magically gets everything moving quicker.”

From Christi (Christi Gulley Custom Floral):Wardrobe boxes and lots of them…they are the best. Also, use that cellophane on a roll stuff to bind up drawers and doors on armores etc…you literally do not have to box all of your stuff in your drawers…just remove drawers and wrap them with the plastic wrap and load up the drawers…make sense? We even left our silverware right in the caddy…just wrapped it up and stuck it in a box. also, i did purge and organize our office supplies (which were already in little organizer caddies, but then we just wrapped them right up too…so much easy.”

From Cindy:Pack clean sheets, towels, bath soap in your dirty clothes hamper or laundry basket…that way no matter how tired you are at the end of the day you can take a shower, make the bed, and go to sleep. Everything is better in the morning. Label boxes with the room and 1,2,3. 1 needs to open first to be able to function, 2 would be nice to open this week, 3 is decorative or just needs to be stored.

I also love this 8-week comprehensive list from Good Housekeeping – wish I had found it 8 weeks ago!

I’m so ready to be done with the whole moving/cleaning part – but I’ve been a BIG fan of the unpacking part. I love starting fresh in a new place. And I’m so thankful that we’ll be moved in just in time for the holidays.

Have a happy day – I’m off to unpack more boxes!

Our Last Night in Our First Home

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“I already know I’ll cry buckets when we spend our last night in our current house – because it was our first real home. We lived in an apartment for the first six months of our marriage, but we’ve been here ever since. That’s three years of memories – dinners with friends, bible studies, movie nights, birthday parties, and hundreds of conversations. Three years of laughing, crying, fighting, forgiving, building, learning, growing, hosting, and just being. It won’t be easy to leave a place that’s been such a blessing to us.” — from The Next Hendrickson Home

How dreadfully hard it is to say goodbye to such a lovely home. Our house has held more love and learning than I ever could have guessed it would when we moved in. The last three years have been such a joy!

Last night was our last night. I wasn’t 100% sure it would be, but it was. I couldn’t sleep, so, being the overly sentimental sap that I am, I stared up at the ceiling and mentally walked through every room in the house, trying to retain as many memories as possible. This house was quite a project in the beginning. It had been a bank foreclosure for awhile and was in desperate need of some TLC. But regardless of the terribly painted walls and the weak, sagging wood floors, I’m pretty sure I had a vision the first time I walked in the front door. Like…maybe an actual vision. From God. It was as if I had a video playing in my head, a beautiful picture of people being in our house, and of this home being a place of warmth, safety, and hospitality. I saw people enjoying themselves here, feeling protected, cared for, comfortable. Somehow, from the moment I set foot in it, I knew our home would be a place where people’s chains were broken and walls were torn down. And good grief, if it hasn’t been just that. I can’t count the number of Gospel moments this house has held: some painful, some joyful, but all beautiful.

It’s a bittersweet thing, saying goodbye to a house. Sometimes, I feel silly being sad, because it’s not like we’re moving to another country – we’ll still be in the same town, just on a different street. But to be honest with you, I think the reason it’s bittersweet is because I feel like I’m leaving more behind than memories. This move seems to be signaling a change in season for us. And that’s hard to come to terms with, because I have really, really loved this last season. I have loved the freedom, the spontaneity, and the newness. I will miss it, in the same way you miss your favorite sweater that finally becomes too worn out to wear. I’ve loved this season, but it’s time for an even better one. It’s time to move forward. Toward what, you ask? Ha…your guess is as good as mine!

“You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place… like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.”
— Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran

Homeowners (Again)

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We bought a house yesterday. Is this real life? We bought a house yesterday!! Thank you so much to everyone who has celebrated with us!

I’ve moved a few times before, but I’m always looking for ways to do it more efficiently! What are your very best moving tips? I wanna hear them!

To see inside our house, check out this post!