Thursday, February 9, 2012

either one or the other

I used to sneakily follow Hispanic people around Wal-Mart in Texas, trying to understand what they were saying, because I was working on a minor in Spanish at college.  I was so excited on the day I realized I was actually eavesdropping because I understood!  (Conscience stricken, I stopped that practice immediately and turned to watching Spanish soaps instead.)

I can say the basics in Spanish, but it annoys my son.  He looked up how to say a phrase.  No matter what I say to him in Spanish now, he replies “Mi umbrigo esta en fuego”, which I believe means his bellybutton is on fire.

Besides being able to say simple things, like “Do you want milk?” or “Where is the bathroom?” I remember the strangest phrases in Spanish, like “Que quervas, y yo sin frenos!”, which means “What curves, and me without breaks!”  (I’m certainly not going to teach my 14-year-old son how to say it!)

But one Spanish phrase is my favorite.  "En que puedo servirle?"  It means, “How can I serve you?”  It rolls off the tongue.

Over lunch today I read what Philip Yancey wrote about Dr. Paul Brand’s servant lifestyle, “The pattern I observed in Dr. Brand and his family reinforces a trend I have noted among various Christians I have interviewed for magazines.  Not everyone fits the pattern, surely.  But I have encountered it often enough that I can almost lump these interview subjects into two sets:  Christian entertainers and Christian servants.  The Christian entertainers…we fawn over them, reward them with extravagant contracts and fan mail.  They have everything they want, usually, including luxurious lifestyles.”  (Ten Fingers for God, by Dorothy Clarke Wilson)

I sat for a long time at the kitchen table after I read Yancey's observation.  Which one am I?  Entertainer or servant?  An aspiring writer, I’ve spent a lot of time the last few months educating myself on how to build a readership online, how to write a book proposal, how to create a website... But after reading about Dr. Brand, I am forced to define what it is I'm trying to accomplish by writing.  Do I seek to entertain or to serve people with my words? 

Jesus says, "Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant." (Matthew 20:26) 

I choose servant.  Even as I say it out loud to myself I realize that perspective changes how I go about everything.

So I ask you, in all sincerity, En que puedo servirle? Would you leave a comment and tell me –in what areas of life do you most need a strengthening word? 


  1. Staying focused, going the distance. I want to be in contact and prayer with God all day long. Sheesh! How does one accomplish that? I spend great one on one time with Him in the morning and then tend to leave him in my big comfy chair at home while I go on about my day. I know I should turn to Him for EVERYTHING so why do I not think of Him first in so many situations?

    1. What a great question! The first thing that comes to my mind is to practice the discipline of thankfulness. You should read Ann Voskamp's book "One Thousand Gifts". Her friend challenged her to write down 1000 things she was thankful for, so she kept a notebook with her, and throughout the day she would write down little things she was thankful for, even the tiniest things, like the beauty of the sun on soap bubbles rising from the kitchen sink. It transformed her life as she became conscious of the goodness of God all day long. (She has a website, too, called "A Holy Experience".) More than anything I would say the discipline of practicing thankfulness has put me in tune with God all day long. It usually starts when I open my closet -almost every day I say, "Wow, God, thanks for a CHOICE of clothes." (After a trip to Africa I really appreciate this richness now.)

    2. Thanks Christy, I am currently reading Ann's book and following her blog. I also started my own notebook of things I am thankful for in January. I have noticed that it makes me more aware, I will continue. Thanks so much for the encouraging words!

  2. Replies
    1. I'll think on these things. So sad -if only I could cure your loneliness by coming over for a chat!!!!!!!!! Loneliness is certainly a price of being a stay-at-home mom. I think I went into that phase and then out of it and now back in it again as we keep getting tastes of the empty nest. Miss you!!