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at the freshly renovated park in Managua

July 29 found me boarding an airplane to return home from one of my favorite places in all the world. I’d just spent 7 1/2 days in Nicaragua. It’s one of those places where I find myself missing it and missing the people before I even begin packing to come back to the US.

Their culture, their smiles, their joy and gratitude… there is nothing like it here. And that makes me sad.

I don’t want to take US culture and impose it on Nicas. That’s not what I’m there to do. Rather, I think we could sure use a good dose of their culture here.

Everywhere I go, people are complaining. They don’t have enough time in the day, they want a new phone, their life stinks, their kids can’t go back to school soon enough, they don’t like any of the million and two articles of clothing in their closet… the list goes on. And that hurts my heart in such a major way.

It hurts my heart to hear anyone complaining like that.. but it especially hurts when so-called Christians are engaging in that kind of attitude just as much as those who wouldn’t be caught dead in a church.

Doesn’t God want us to be a picture of Him? Aren’t we, as His church, supposed to represent and shine Him to others? And yet.. so often, church people in the US only want God when He is convenient for them. Nobody would tell you that, but it’s the way it is. We’ve got the lifestyles to prove it. We go to church and listen to sermons and sing along with songs about how He is more than enough, more than we will ever need… and then complain that the store doesn’t have the right color and size combination of the shirt we want to buy, that we have to drive out of our way to fit in the activities we’ve plastered our calendars with, that we have no time to breathe anymore. How does that kind of life match up? How is that a picture of who He is? Actions really do speak louder than words.

Over the last year or so, I’ve been consciously changing my “I need” statements. Because I don’t need so much of what I ever thought I did. And when I deliberately change the statement to say “I want” rather than “I need”… somehow it seems less important anyway. And I realize that most of the things I thought I needed but really don’t.. most of those are things that, sure, they might be nice now and then, but I can’t even actually say I want them.

This is helping me to simplify my life. It’s taken work on my part, and will continue to take effort. I’m still not there yet. It is a journey. Not an overnight transformation. But God has so used the beautiful country of Nicaragua and the people there to work in my life and influence me to better paint an accurate picture of Him through the way¬†I choose to live. He has been transforming my mind and my life as I have been choosing to let Him be my every need.

People keep telling me that I need a new car. But the reality is.. I don’t. I can’t help but think of all the people who don’t have a car at all. My car runs and it stops. It takes me where I am going. Isn’t that enough? I believe we all need to just drop the complaining¬†attitude and the mindset that says we need and deserve all this stuff. I can’t take it anymore. It’s making me so sick. And I mean literally, it makes me feel sick to see this attitude all over the place.

I feel like this post could come across as really judgmental, but it isn’t meant to be that way. I’m looking at myself too. Not just others. I don’t have this all together yet. As I said, it’s a journey. A process. God is changing my mind as I choose to give over to Him my needs and wants, my thoughts and attitudes. I’m excited about what He is doing in my life, and I am excited to see what He has planned for each of us who make the choice and take the action to let Him work in us and make us new.